The Art of the Business

A blog dedicated to artists who are serious about their business.

In search of inspiration July 7, 2010

I think any blogger will agree with me on this one: finding inspiration to write is certainly the most difficult part of blogging.

Having to come up with fresh content all the time is a big challenge.

So, I’m going to share with you some ways that I have found to cope, and I’d love to hear some from you, as well.

Link: Thomas Cott

add to del.icio.us : Add to Blinkslist : add to furl : Digg it : add to ma.gnolia : Stumble It! : add to simpy : seed the vine : : : TailRank : post to facebook

 

Using a calendar to plan your social media April 14, 2010

Last month I wrote a post where I encouraged you to commit to a blogging schedule and I promised that it would pay off.

Today, I want to share with you how I help people to plan thier social media (I use this method myself!).

First of all, you need to decide which social media you want to participate in. For many people, this, in and of itself, is overwhelming. There are five main ones:

  • E-newsletters
  • Blogs
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • Photosharing (ie: Flickr)

You can decide based on how much time you have to commit to marketing your business with social media. But remember, there will always be a greater time commitment at the beginning, as you get everything set up and working. Blogging takes the greatest amount of time, probably 2-5 hrs/wk, depending on how often you post. Facebook and Twitter can be easily manged in 15 minutes a day. YouTube and Flickr could take more time, because of the editing process.

You can also make this decision based on what’s easiest. Many people begin their foray into social media with Facebook, because it’s the one they are most familiar with, and they are probably already on it with a personal account, and familiar with the interface. I encourage people to take things slow–to not jump into everything at once. Start with one, get comfortable with it, then move on to the next once you feel you’ve conquered it.

Next, get a calendar and create a schedule. Remember, all of your social media should feed into your other social media, and be connected to your website. The whole point is to drive traffic back to your website where people can find out more information about who you are and what you do, and to contact you if they like.

Here is an example of mine:

I set aside a couple of hours every saturday morning to write my blog posts for the week, then I schedule them in. After the post goes up, it automatically is posted to Facebook via Networked Blogs, and I also post it to Twitter (which you could also have done automatically.) On days when I don’t have a blog post going up on Facebook, I try to share a link that I’ve enjoyed on my Facebook fan page, and I like to retweet links on Twitter whenever I find something interesting.

The key to having a social media strategy is to plan out some things you want to post, but to also be flexible about posting things that you discover during your day that you like, and might be interesting to other people.

add to del.icio.us : Add to Blinkslist : add to furl : Digg it : add to ma.gnolia : Stumble It! : add to simpy : seed the vine : : : TailRank : post to facebook

 

The power of just showing up March 10, 2010

Filed under: Attitude,Blogging,Future planning,social media — Rebecca Coleman @ 8:07 am
Tags: ,

Once upon a time, a long time ago, in a past career, I was an employment counsellor. I would meet with people who were unemployed and looking for work, and help them to spruce up their resume, apply for jobs, or refer them to programs that could help them find work.

I remember one client particularly. She was in the film industry, so we saw her every few months. She had a computer and internet connection at home, so there was really no reason for her to come in and use our resource centre. But yet, like clockwork, every few months, she’d show up at our door, and be looking for work.

Many years ago, I read a book called Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl. Now, Frankl was a Jewish psychologist in pre-Nazi Austria, Vienna to be exact. In 1942, he, like many other Jews, was sent to a concentration camp, along with his wife and parents. By all reports, I can’t imagine a more horrifying or black place to be. And yet, he talks in his book about getting up every morning and shaving himself with a piece of glass. This symbolic gesture of getting ready for the day was psychological preparation, and it worked. Frankl survived the concentration camp–the rest of his family did not.

I know that looking for a job or writing a blog is not nearly the same kind of life-or-death stakes that Frankl faced every day in that camp. But the principle remains the same: the people that got up every day, put on some decent clothes, and showed up at my work every day at 9:30 had a much higher chance of getting a job than those that rolled in at 1 pm in crumpled jeans after sleeping in until noon.

Writing a blog works on the same principle: if you commit to a schedule and stick to it, I promise you will see results. Will every post you write be a gold-medal winner (sorry, the Olympics are kinda dominating things in Vancouver, right now!)? Nope, certainly not. But by writing sheer quantity, you are bound to create some posts of quality. And the more you do it, the better you get…

This image was originally posted to Flickr by chokola at http://flickr.com/photos/22671579@N00/1229450683

And then, sometime around the three-week mark, something magical happens. It stops being more of a chore, and just becomes another thing that you do in your day. It incorporates itself into your life.

So grab yourself a calendar, decide how many posts you want to do per week, and then schedule them on your calendar. Go so far as to write what the topic of each of those posts will be. Set an alarm if you need to. Then write.

Just showing up will give you results–I guarantee it.

add to del.icio.us : Add to Blinkslist : add to furl : Digg it : add to ma.gnolia : Stumble It! : add to simpy : seed the vine : : : TailRank : post to facebook

 

Networked Blogs December 4, 2009

As all of you regular readers (thanks, btw!) know, I like to write quite often about technical tools, gadgets and websites that can help make our lives and businesses easier.

The latest one I’m enamored of is Networked Blogs. Introduced to me by Mary Melinski, Networked Blogs is a Facebook application widget that imports your RSS feed onto your Facebook personal profile or business Fan page. Not only can people read your latest blog post, they can use Facebook as an alternate RSS feed, and be updated every time you publish a new post. I love it, because a. it saves me work, and b. it’s introducing my blog to a new audience.

I have created two screencasts to show you how to use this tool for yourself.

Part 1

Part 2

add to del.icio.us : Add to Blinkslist : add to furl : Digg it : add to ma.gnolia : Stumble It! : add to simpy : seed the vine : : : TailRank : post to facebook

 

Blog success August 28, 2009

Filed under: marketing with blogs,Success — Rebecca Coleman @ 7:21 am
Tags: , ,

At the risk of sounding “boasty,” I wanted to share something with you.

As you know, I went on vacation for two weeks at the end of July and beginning of August. During that time, I didn’t put up one post, in fact, I don’t think I logged into my WordPress account at all. I was, after all, on vacation!

When I came home and looked at my blog stats (not that I’m addicted, or anything), I expected to see a straight line across the bottom. I expected that basically no one had visited my blog, because I hadn’t been putting up fresh posts.

Imagine my surprise and happiness when I saw this:
Picture 1

The period of my vacation is the part on the left, from the beginning until August 14, when I put up my first post after coming home. Not bad. In fact, not terribly different than my “normal” stats.

I’ve been committed to putting up three posts a week, now since October 2008, and this is where I am happy to say, I am really starting to see it paying off.

Additionally, I am so grateful to you readers for your amazing and insightful comments. There have been more of them than usual lately, and I wanted to thank you. You’re awesome, and it gives me a charge every day when I read them.

There are lots of things in store for the fall. I’m working on lots of guest posts with people, interviews with interesting people, and I am, more than likely, going to migrate my blog over to my website, so that I can take advantage of all of WordPress’ excellent add-ons and widgets.

So, continue to stay tuned! (and thanks again.)

add to del.icio.us : Add to Blinkslist : add to furl : Digg it : add to ma.gnolia : Stumble It! : add to simpy : seed the vine : : : TailRank : post to facebook

 

New Arts blogging course with a discount for you! July 22, 2009

Filed under: Arts Marketing,Blogging — Rebecca Coleman @ 5:50 am
Tags: , ,

I’ll be honest with you: of all the social media that I participate in, blogging is the hardest. There’s a couple of reasons for this. First off, blogging takes more time than anything else. It’s a five-minute job for me to create a new Facebook event, or update it with the latest review. It takes me 30 seconds to Twitter. But blogging is a time commitment of about 2-5 hours per week, if you want to be consistent and build up a following.

Secondly, there’s the problem of inspiration. If you have a niche arts blog, it can sometimes be very difficult to come up with 2-3 new posts per week, even if those posts are short. I have to admit, sometimes my inspiration well is can be pretty dry.

Well, help is at hand. Marianne Devine writes a great blog called smArts and Culture, and like me, she’s dedicated to helping artists to market their work. She has a brand-new 10-week course to help you start a blog, or breathe new life into your existing one. It’s called Arts Blogging–Without the Angst.

It’s available now, and if you use this code ARTOFTHEBIZ, you will get a 30% disount. Check it out–I highly recommend it!

UPDATE: The discount ends August 15, so get a move on!

add to del.icio.us : Add to Blinkslist : add to furl : Digg it : add to ma.gnolia : Stumble It! : add to simpy : seed the vine : : : TailRank : post to facebook

 

How to be a better blogger June 5, 2009

Filed under: Blogging — Rebecca Coleman @ 12:27 am
Tags: , ,

Ah, hindsight, how I love you.

This post is my 100th.

I started blogging as The Art of the Business in January, 2008, as a regular, monthly contributor to The Next Stage.

Funny thing about launching a blog. It’s not hard to do. Pick a topic, pick a name, pick a platform (I’m WordPress through to my core), and go. What’s hard is finding your voice, and sustaining it.

I don’t know if I can help you find your voice. Eight months after launching my blog, and committing to (mostly) 3 posts a week, I am still very much finding my voice. I started out writing about tips and tricks for marketing your theatre production or art practice, but have often written about social media, specifically in the context of marketing. My most popular posts to date involve Twitter, and the loss of the mainstream media (and some ideas about what to do about it).

As I continue to blog, I’m sure my voice will grow and change–it’s just inevitable.

I feel like I am in a bit of a reassessment phase right now with my blog. I’ve been doing it for a while, and  I’ve established a readership. Things, in other words, are cooking along as they should. But there’s always room for improvement, and it is my intention to reassess my blog over the coming weeks, and start to make (hopefully, positive!) changes.

Let me share a couple of really wonderful resources I’ve found recently on blogging that might help you to do the same, if you are so inclined (or to finally take the plunge and start that blog).

ProBlogger is an an amazing resource. Recently, Darren Rowse, who is THE dude at ProBlogger, started and ran a challenge called 31 Days to a Building a Better Blog. Really good stuff–concrete, lots of practical advice and exercises. And now that I have a bit of spare time, my plan is to go back and walk through the course. You can do the same, or you could just buy the e-workbook (it’s a steal at $19.95).

You know how I’m always harping on about how you need a plan for blogging? How you need to post consistently? Andy Wibbells shared this lovely spreadsheet/blogging plan the other day. I’ve downloaded it to my desktop for future use.

Finally, I want to ask your opinion (which is clearly much more important than mine). What kind of posts would you like to see in the future on The Art of the Business? Which ones were your favorites? Should I update something?

The comment section awaits with bated breath…

add to del.icio.us : Add to Blinkslist : add to furl : Digg it : add to ma.gnolia : Stumble It! : add to simpy : seed the vine : : : TailRank : post to facebook

 

Are we losing the mainstream media? February 3, 2009

Last week, I got an email from Michael Harris, who reviews plays for The Globe and Mail here in Vancouver. It said:

I’m afraid I have some bad news… The Globe and Mail has cancelled its weekly Vancouver theatre listings, effective immediately. As I’m sure you’re aware, everyone in print media has had to make a great many cuts.

Today, we learned that The Globe and Mail cut 10% of its workforce.

It’s no secret that traditional print media has had to scramble in the wake of an explosion of online content. First off,  there are millions of bloggers out there, writing away about their passions or areas of expertise. Then, traditional sources of media, like newspapers, are increasingly going online–either repurposing their hard-copy stuff, or using the web to instantly report breaking news. We are becoming more and more attached to our computers. A phone book arrived on my doorstep this week, and when I went to replace last year’s version, found I hadn’t even unwrapped last year’s  yet. I get my phone numbers from Canada 411.

Hard-copy media is writing about the very phenomenon that is happening to them. Recently, Michael Mccarthy and Gillian Shaw wrote articles on Twitter for The Vancouver Courier and The Vancouver Sun. How did they do the research? Twitter.

According to Tris Hussey who recently published a post called “Smart Journalists Tweet While Newspapers Wrap Fish”:

They’ve (journalists) seen the handwriting on the wall, and they see that it’s adapt or become fish wrappers. The Vancouver Sun and Reuters aren’t the only news folks on Twitter of course. Almost all of our local news outlets are on Twitter and interacting with the community at large. What do we get? Headlines pushed to us. What do they get? News sources. Lots of news sources.

Times have changed. Information is exchanged electronically and faster than the events themselves (which does lead to inaccurate information at times), journalism and journalists have to change as well.

If  traditional journalists are changing the way they write stories, then so do we have to adapt. I get paid to pitch stories to journalists, and hopefully score previews and reviews for my clients. In these times of shrinking column space and but a booming internet explosion, I am finding myself connecting more with mainstream media online (or as many of them that are online), and pitching stories to non-traditional, internet-based writers like bloggers.

Embrace the revolution!!

add to del.icio.us : Add to Blinkslist : add to furl : Digg it : add to ma.gnolia : Stumble It! : add to simpy : seed the vine : : : TailRank : post to facebook

 

A Who’s-Who of the Vancouver Theatrosphere January 26, 2009

It’s happening. Slowly, but surely, more and more Vancouver theatre companies are choosing to get online with Web 2.0 technology. Simon Ogden and I have been preaching this gospel for a long time: it’s not enough to just have a website any more. In order to really extend your reach to a new audience, you need to embrace new technology and get a blog, a facebook page, or a twitter account.

In an industry that is chronically underfunded and overworked, and tends to be a bit afraid of online innovations, it hasn’t been easy to convince people that they need to join the  Web 2.0 revolution.  But we’ve managed to convince a few.

Welcome to the blogosphere two new blogs: Biz Books and Ruby Slippers. They join these theatre bloggers already girldivingmaking a go of it (thanks to Simon for compiling this list):

  • Green Thumb Theatre – Green Thumb is a local company that specializes in theatre for young audiences.
  • Lois in La La Land – Lois is a stage manager at Pacific Theatre, and writes a good blog.
  • Pi Theatre – The blog of Pi Theatre.
  • PuShing It – Blog for the PuSH Festival, currently on.
  • The Next Stage – Simon Ogden is the number one Theatre blogger in Vancouver.
  • Soul Food – Ron Reed is the AD at Pacific Theatre, and I think, may be Vancouver’s first Theatre blogger.
  • The Theatre Department of UBC – written by the ever-on-the-technical-edge Deb Pickman.

How about you? Interested in starting a blog and reaching out to your audience? Come on in, the water’s great!

If I’ve missed any, please post the feed URL in the comments section below.

add to del.icio.us : Add to Blinkslist : add to furl : Digg it : add to ma.gnolia : Stumble It! : add to simpy : seed the vine : : : TailRank : post to facebook

 

Creating meaningful blog connections September 28, 2008

(Originally published on September 22, 2008 on The Next Stage)

On August 10, 2008, in the wee small hours of the morning, a propane station blew up in Toronto. The video and the information was all over the internet long before it reached the mainstream media, even Television.

Lorraine Murpny, taking over the world, one blog post at a time...

Lorraine Murphy, taking over the world, one blog post at a time...

Local blogger Lorraine Murphy, otherwise known as Raincoaster, was awake that night, and saw the first reports about the explosion coming in on her Twitter feed. She immediately blogged about it, linking to videos, photos, and other blogs. Her blog ratings for that post were very soon #1 on Google.

Lorraine Murphy is a professional blogger here in Vancouver. Her blogs include teenymanolo.com, ayyyy.com (link blogging), The Fearless City project, and, of course, Raincoaster. She is also a social media consultant, and teaches a workshop called Pimp My Blog (details at the end) on how to grow your readership in a meaningful way. She defines meaningful connections as “linking to you, reading you, leaving comments, or recommending you to their friends.”

She shared some of her tips with me, in this, the third of my three-part series on blogging.

1. Be aware of different ways for people to access your blog.

You can physically go to the website and read the blog, you can subscribe to the blog through RSS readers, or by email updates (Feedburner can help you to write the code needed to create this widget for your blog, if you don’t already have it). The more of those options you can make available to people, the more people you can get to read your blog.

2. Blogrolling:

Blogrolling is still happening, but it is not as popular as it used to be. Blogrolling is kind of like having a links page on your website—you put your favorite blogs on your blogroll, and hopefully, those to whom you are linking, put you on theirs. “In addition to putting someone on your blogroll, also write a post about it,” is Murphy’s big tip about blogrolling. It gives them an extra boost.

3. Linking to other blogs in your posts

Linking and quoting other blog posts is a great way to increase traffic to your blog. Murphy warns against linking to Wikipedia or corporate websites or BoingBoing. Your link love will go unrequited–they are too big to care too much about linking to you. Linking to other bloggers is going to get the attention of individual bloggers and draw them to your site as they check trackbacks.

4. Commenting on other blogs:
Probably the best way to create a following is to post high-quality, appropriate comments on blogs that you are reading. “Add value or add amusement,” Murphy says. Don’t forget to leave your name and the URL of your blog so that they can follow you back to your blog.

5. Write often, and write well.
“Keep it short,” Murphy says, “just get it out there!” She recommends 100-200 words per blog post, and be sure to include at least one image. “It’s a multi-media platform—use multimedia!” Use keywords, but not too many—Wordpress will only allow 10-12 keywords and categories per post. Write about only one thing in your post. Write at least one blog post per week, three is optimal.

6. Include buttons on your site to connect with social networking
Buttons for Facebook, Digg, stumbleupon, del.icio.us,technorati, feedburner, and fark, right on your website, will make it easier for people who’ve read your post to share it with their network if they really like it. If you have a WordPress or Blogger blog, this feature is built in, but if you are running your own show, installing these buttons could help increase your readership. “It’s good to enable people to follow you around,” says Murphy. But she also reflects that a very small percentage of her readership comes from hits off of Twitter or Facebook.

7. Know your blogging platforms
Tumblr is a new blogging platform, similar to WordPress or Blogger. It’s pretty slick, but unlike WordPress or Blogger, it doesn’t allow you to connect with people off of Tumblr. So your audience potential is smaller. The WordPress.com platform is probably the strongest blogging platform available, and is probably the best in terms of Search Engine Optimization.

8. Add your blog URL to your email signature
”You wouldn’t think that it would have that much pull, but it really does,” says Murphy.

Pimp My Blog
takes place on Saturday, September 27, 10 am—2 pm, at  Tradeworks Training Society, 87 E Pender St. The course costs $150, which includes all materials, including computers. Email raincoaster@gmail.com to register.