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

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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.

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The power of just showing up March 10, 2010

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

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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

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Blog success August 28, 2009

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

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

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

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How to be a better blogger June 5, 2009

Filed under: Blogging — Rebecca Coleman @ 12:27 am
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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…

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