A Sweet Business Plan for Success

“Business Plan!”

Did you cringe?

Many people cringe at the mere mention of a business plan, especially if they prefer to live in their right-brain over their left-brain. Of course most of us use both sides of our brains — some appear to use neither side! — but we all resonate more with one side or the other. (See our previous blog, Right-Brain, Left-Brain.)

Business plans live in the left or logical side of our brains. For those who prefer to use right-brain skills, a business plan can seem daunting.

At S2 Seminars, we realized we could help right-brain thinkers if we could find a way to translate some of the business plan “code” into language more suitable to the way they think.

Drumroll please…. enter the S2 Seminars Honeycomb Business Plan Model!

The honeycomb is symbolic of the industrious bee, his propensity to work in teams, yet able to work independently, and his sweet, Return on Investment (ROI), honey! (No, I’m not getting fresh with you!)

The hexagon shapes in honeycombs fit together in a wide variety of configurations which are conducive to building a plan, especially if  you don’t initially know the order your pieces need to be placed or how many you will need.

We recognized that 80% or more of the content in typical business plans is common to all plans. By starting with these common components, you can develop a plan that works for you.  If others who need to see your plan require more components, simply add them on to what you developed for yourself.  (For reasons to have a business plan, see our blog “Because You’re Worth It).”

Here are the most important components of a business plan.

Basics: Your company name, structure, address, phone, web site, social media, your business description and other introductory information.

Vision: Includes vision, mission and value statements. Why are you doing what you are doing and how will you do it?

Products: What are you selling – products, services or both?

Money: How much do you want to make? How much will you charge? What are your financial projections?

Markets: Who is your customer? Where is your customer? How will you reach your customer? How will you bond with your customer?

People: Who is on your team? What skills do you lack? Who can you hire or barter with for the gaps in your skills? Or, do you get training so you can fill the gap yourself?

Summary: The Executive Summary or overview of everything you’re planning. This is written after the rest of your plan but presented to potential business partners and financiers BEFORE the main plan to entice them to read more.

Writing a business plan is the first step in making a living from your art.

S2 Seminars is pleased to offer a two-day workshop for creative and performing artists called A Sweet Business Plan for Success. We will lead you through all these components in detail, helping you ferret out answers to important questions and flesh out a business plan that works for your goals, whether it’s simply to have a roadmap for business success or to secure funding.

At the end of the two days, you will have a business plan that’s 85 to 100% complete, (depending on its complexity, your ability to provide information and who needs to see it) so you can get on with making money from your art.

For more information, check out our events page.

Shelley Goldbeck, 
www.S2Seminars.ca

S2 Seminars, Grow Exponentially – use both sides of your brain!, is a partnership between Shelley Goldbeck and Susan Cramer. To learn more about running your small business, contact us today.

 

Because You’re Worth It

Have you been asked/expected to donate your art? Play for free? Speak at an event for no charge?

It’s often for a good cause.

Or my personal favourite… exposure!

When I’m asked to perform for exposure I say, “People die from exposure!”

Of course, as artists learn their trade, sometimes they have to do projects for experience, which differs from exposure. With experience, you get your mistakes out of the way so when the Big Show comes (whatever that may be for your art), you’re ready!

I read a Facebook post several years ago by a woman, a professional speaker, who was approached by Oprah’s team to present at their up-to-$1000-per-seat event.

For free.

The conversation went something like this:

The author of the post asked the producer on the phone, “Are you getting paid?”

Oprah’s producer replied, ” Yes.”

“What about the receptionist? Is she getting paid?”

Again, Oprah’s producer replied, “Yes.”

“The janitor?”

“Yes.”

Not surprised but disappointed, the author said, “Yet you expect me to work, after taking 16 years to get my education, practicing for years, becoming better with every performance — so much so that I’m considered an expert — for free?

To which the producer responded, “But it’s Oprah.”

(Hmmm… this reply has a bit of “exposure” odor to it, doesn’t it?)

Not shaken, the author queried again, “Is Oprah getting paid?”

I’d like to tell you the producer eventually saw the light and was able to negotiate an agreeable speaking fee for the author.  But, it was Oprah and things were done her way.

Being expected to work for free is common among my fellow musicians, poets and speakers and my numerous friends who are painters, dancers and other creatives.

Why should artists be paid? Here are 13 good reasons. I’d love to hear your reasons.

  1. Art education costs money. Lessons, classes, degrees and certificates all have their price.
  2. Art costs money to produce: paint, canvas, instruments, costumes, demo CDs, studios, props… the list goes on.
  3. Art takes time. Think of the hours you invested getting good at your art — playing an instrument, perfecting that move, capturing the curve of a face, getting your speech timing just right.
  4. Artists need to eat.
  5. Artists have marketing costs like any business: business cards, website, travel, supplies, instruments, technology, etc.
  6. Artists cope with criticism, pain, pressures, self-doubt and rejection, perhaps more than others because of their vulnerability when exposing their art to the world. (Maybe they deserve hazard pay!)
  7. Artists must create and cultivate a fan base to be successful. There are many ways to do this, but they all cost money and time.
  8. Being an artist carries greater risk than other professions. There’s no safety net of a weekly paycheque here. Gigs and sales are often sporadic and unpredictable.
  9. Art is vital to our culture, our education and indeed, our happiness. Why do we not attach higher value to it?
  10. Few artists get filthy rich, but shouldn’t all artists be able to make a living using their gifts?
  11. It’s a myth that getting paid demeans the art. The greatest art in the world has monetary value.
  12. Everybody needs money. Artists are part of the everybody.
  13. It’s not a sin to be paid for doing what you love. Many people do it and haven’t been struck down by lightning!

Your art is a valuable contribution to society.

Your being PAID allows you to make that contribution. Otherwise, you’re relying on  others for sustenance or earning a paycheque with busywork that doesn’t scream who you are like your art can.  Why should you have to let these distractions stifle your creativity and productivity when others are “allowed” to do what they love and earn a living doing it?

Today I challenge you.

Change your beliefs about artists and money.

Artists deserve to be paid.

Shelley Goldbeck, 
www.S2Seminars.ca

S2 Seminars, Grow Exponentially – use both sides of your brain!, is a partnership between Shelley Goldbeck and Susan Cramer. To learn more about running your small business, contact us today.

Creating a Marketing Plan, Part Four: How To Implement your Marketing Plan

This is the fourth in a four-part series on Creating a Marketing Plan for your arts business.

In our previous posts we discussed Who is Your customer? Where is Your Customer? What Matters to or Bonding with your Customer. In this post we look at some ideas for How to Implement your Marketing Plan.

Now that you know who your customer is, where they hang out and what matters to them, you are ready to start marketing.

The good news?  There’s more than way to accomplish this goal. Here are some tips that have worked for us.

  1. Get a system. Create a calendar to regularly put action into your marketing plan. We recommend a simple spreadsheet using MS Excel or Apple’s Numbers. There are apps you can download to integrate your calendar with other functions. Or use Google Plus where you can use the calendar, store and share documents and more. You can even go low-tech and use a paper calendar. It doesn’t matter. Just have a system. And. Use. It. If you schedule web site updates for 3PM Sunday, keep that promise to yourself or reschedule within 24 hours.
  2. Plot out your plan. Research how often you can message your customers without losing their trust. For some it’s daily, others, weekly. You might get away with sending a weekly blog or newsletter (with four times more info as sales copy), (which is tweeted and shared on Facebook automatically); two additional Facebook posts (which are automatically tweeted) and one presentation at a non-profit luncheon where you get to sell your books/CDs. Your research will dictate your frequency. Follow others in your industry. Are you comfortable with their frequency and messaging?
  3. Pre-fill content, wherever and whenever possible. For example, you can write ten blogs one weekend and schedule them to release once a week over the next two and a half months. Prepare content ahead even if you can’t have it generate automatically. You have a system, remember? You can write all your Facebook messages for the month. Collect your images, links, etc. in a file on your favorite device. They’re ready to copy and paste into your posts as you need them. With some preparation your Facebook chores can take only a few minutes each day. Technology can help. Often you can set it up so that when your blog goes live, it notifies your social media of choice. Linking the channels you use is easier than ever and will save time.
  4. Focus. You can’t do it all. Some say it’s better to NOT be on a social media channel if you aren’t active. Pick the top two or three media your audience uses and wow them. If you’re wildly successful and have more resources, you can expand your channels in the future.  If you’re on Facebook, be there. Answer comments. Share information interesting to your tribe. Be frequent and regular. If YouTube is your main channel, do it well.
  5. Measure and test everything. For example, install analytics in your web site so you can see who visited, how long, which pages they clicked on, how long they stayed on the page (were they reading it or just passing through?); all vital information. Test Facebook posts by posting the same message twice, each time with a different title. Which title garnered more likes/views? These are more clues to what resonates with your customer. Test email subject lines by sending the same message to two different groups using two titles. Measure which title elicited more reaction.

We’ve really only scratched the surface of Creating a Marketing Plan but if you implement a few of these tips you will enjoy exponential growth over doing almost nothing!

If you’re serious about making money from your art business, Create a Marketing Plan. If you need help, let us know.

Shelley Goldbeck and Susan Cramer
www.S2Seminars.ca

S2 Seminars, Grow Exponentially – use both sides of your brain!, is a partnership between Shelley Goldbeck and Susan Cramer. To learn more about running your small business, contact us today.

 

 

Creating a Marketing Plan, Part Two: Where is Your Customer?

This is the second in a four-part series on Creating a Marketing Plan for your arts business.  Link to Part 1, Who is Your Customer?

Part Two: Where is Your Customer?

In Part One of Creating a Marketing Plan we identified who our ideal customer is and what matters to him/her. Now that you know that information, finding your customers will be easier. Here are some tips for where to find your customers.

  1. Create a list of possible media. Your list might include your web site, your blog and social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat; traditional media like print (including books/magazines), radio, TV; and newer media like podcasts, YouTube and webinars. Business cards, postcards, brochures, and promotional gifts (pens, water bottles, bags) are all part of your marketing, as are how you dress, how you speak; even the cleanliness of your car sends a message to clients.
  2. Now that you have your list, it’s time to analyze each medium’s effectiveness in reaching your ideal customer. For example, if your ideal customer is a soccer mom, you will likely find her on Facebook. If your client is the CEO of a small company, good luck reaching him on Facebook! Odds are LinkedIn will be his social media of choice. This might require you spending time on the various media to find out who’s there and what they’re saying.
  3. If you don’t know where your customer hangs out, do some research. Ask past customers how they like to communicate with you. They might like frequent short messages on Twitter rather than reading a long technical blog article. They might prefer podcasts because they spend long hours in a car. They might like to post pictures on Instagram. 

Once you’ve determined where your customers are, the next step is to join them there. Set up your Facebook account, start writing your blog or the script for your video, decide if you’ll find your following on Pinterest or Instagram or neither! (Where NOT to be is as important as where TO be!)

Finding your tribe is a process. Very few get it on the first try.

Most artists, authors, speakers and other influencers are not using the same media nor speaking to the same audience with the same message in the same way they were two decades ago!

So be kind to yourself as you build your business. Baby steps!

If you need help setting up your systems, call us.

Once you find your following, what are you going to say?

In Part Three of Creating a Marketing Plan, we cover “Bonding with your Customer” or Matching your Message to your Customer.

 

Shelley Goldbeck and Susan Cramer
www.S2Seminars.ca

S2 Seminars, Grow Exponentially – use both sides of your brain!, is a partnership between Shelley Goldbeck and Susan Cramer. To learn more about running your small business, contact us today.

 

Link to Part 1, Who is Your Customer?

Creating a Marketing Plan, Part One: Who Is Your Customer?

In our past blog, I Have My CD, Now What? we discussed why you need a marketing plan.

And we promised to show you how.

In this four-part series, we’ll look at various steps that are integral to planning, building, and executing a marketing plan for your business.

A few decades ago I participated in a community theatre production. Once we had our parts, our first exercise was to “get to know” our characters. We did that by creating a back story for them. In the script we found clues to why the characters were the way they were and we made up back stories to explain their current state.

At the time I wondered why we were bothering. What we wrote would never be performed or revealed in any way.

Then I realized that none of us could “be” our characters if we didn’t really know them. “Being” a character is far different from “doing” a character, as anyone who has sat through a badly performed play can attest.

It’s the same with customers. We can’t serve them, meet their needs or sell to them if we don’t really know them.

The first step to creating a marketing plan is to get to know your ideal customer.

Who is your ideal customer?

The answer is NOT “everyone”, despite being the most common answer!

In our world of infinite choices and combinations you and your product will never appeal to “everyone” so get over it!

Here are some tips for discovering your customer.

  1. Think about one person who was most excited about you or your product. What does he/she look like? What does she want, need, have, etc.? What does he drive? What makes her heart sing? How many children does she have or does she even have children? Does he cook? Does she travel? Does he play an instrument? What does she read?
  2. Think about what you can do for her. Don’t even think about what she can do for you (buy your product) before you know why she wants/needs your product. You waste your resources and risk alienating a potential future customer when you’re not sure. How will your product improve her life/health/happiness?
  3. Think about why. Why does your ideal customer care about you or your product? (Or, what would it take to get her to care about you and your product?) What values do you share with your customer?

This is not a comprehensive list of questions because all our customers are different. The important part is to ask questions. Make no assumptions.

You might find it helps you to draw a picture of your ideal customer or create a collage of everything your ideal customer cherishes.

Caution: if you do not complete this painting-the-picture-of-your-ideal-customer step all future steps are at your peril! It is imperative that you know the wherefores and the whys of your customers’ buying decisions if you ever hope to sell them anything. You can only accomplish this if you know them intimately.

Once you’ve arrived at honest accurate answers to this question, “Who is your ideal customer?” you’re ready for Part Two of Creating a Marketing Plan, Finding Your Ideal Customer.

Shelley Goldbeck and Susan Cramer
www.S2Seminars.ca

S2 Seminars, Grow Exponentially – use both sides of your brain!, is a partnership between Shelley Goldbeck and Susan Cramer. To learn more about running your small business, contact us today.

 

 

What is Your YouTube Strategy?

If you choose to do only one thing for your business in 2018, having a YouTube strategy could result in your best Return on Investment (ROI).

ROI is all about inputs (what you invest) versus outcomes (what you get back).

If I invest $10 and get back $100, that’s excellent ROI. If I invest $100 and get back $10, I’m losing money like a sieve.

If I invest 200 hours to create a painting that I can sell for $50, I’ll starve.

But if I can duplicate and sell that painting for $50 to 100 customers, that’s $5000 and I’m making a living wage ($5000 made divided by 200 hours to create equals $25 per hour).

In today’s world, there are many places to invest your time and money. The emergence of video as an important marketing tool can’t be ignored.

Well, it can, but you won’t be as happy with your ROI.

Here are some interesting facts about YouTube:

  • YouTube gets over 30 million visitors… per day.
  • 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute!
  • Almost 5 billion videos are watched on YouTube every single day.

See more YouTube statistics.

Depending on your audience, it’s very likely you’ll find them on YouTube. That’s why you need a YouTube strategy.

The Plan

Your plan begins with creating your own YouTube channel if you don’t already have one. Even if you do, you might want to create a new one specifically for your business.

Here is a good basic YouTube video on how to create a YouTube channel.

Here’s a more thorough explanation with screen shots in a blog for creating a YouTube channel.

Once you have a channel you need to add content.

But where do you get video content?

You can share other people’s content or you can create your own. Mostly you’ll create your own. After all, promoting you and your art is why you have a YouTube channel!

How do you create video content?

Here are seven tips to help you create good content.

  1. Most of our devices come with video cameras that are far better quality than we’ve ever had. They’re simple to use.  Editing software is widely available and easy to use.
  2. Remember to pull your devices out of your pockets and capture the moments of your life.
  3. Ask friends and family to record you at your craft, perhaps a piece of one of your music performances or you teaching a child to paint.
  4. You can make videos on how to do certain techniques that make you a better artist. If you have a trick that makes a beautiful creation, produce a video and share it with the world.
  5. Create a slide with your contact information to attach to the front and back of your video.
  6. Edit. Edit. Edit. Attention spans are shrinking daily so it’s wise to get to the point and keep it short with no unnecessary footage.  If you don’t grab your audience in the first five seconds, they’re gone. If you bore them along the way, they’re gone. We recommend one to two minute videos, and up to five minutes if they’re VERY interesting.
  7. You can even hire professionals to help you create content. (We can recommend videographers. Contact us.)

Post your videos to YouTube.

Then remember to tell people about your video using other media like your web site, Twitter, Facebook, and email.

Why do you need video content in your marketing mix?

There are at least five good reasons to use video content:

  1. Consumers want it. Remember those statistics? There is an appetite to learn using video.
  2. Connection. Arguably, video allows us to get better connected. When customers can see you, hear you and see your work, they’re more apt to trust you. And if they trust you and like you, they buy from you.
  3. Choice. That’s the new consumer desire. They want to choose how they consume their media. Some want written words, some want to hear them. Some want pictures, many want video.  By going to where your customers are, you are adding to their choice and increasing the chances they’ll choose you.
  4. Video is a unique way to promote your business. While customers are online, the majority of businesses have yet to discover the power of video. You can lead by pioneering video marketing in your category.
  5. Video is an ideal way to promote visual and performing arts, simply because… it’s visual! Event planners want to see you before they hire you. Having a presence on YouTube is vital for getting those gigs.

At S2 Seminars we are a “practice what you preach” company. We recently fired up our own YouTube channel. See our first video here.

We produced a half dozen “spots” which we will use to promote ourselves, our seminars and our other products. We plan to release them one at a time, strategically.

We will combine our YouTube strategy with our other marketing and promotions, like this blog, which is sent to Facebook and Twitter when we post. And we’re tracking it all in our marketing plan.

If you would like some help planning your YouTube strategy, contact us or attend one of our courses.

Shelley Goldbeck and Susan Cramer, 
www.S2Seminars.ca

S2 Seminars, Eradicating Poverty in Artists by Teaching Business Skills, is a partnership between Shelley Goldbeck and Susan Cramer. To learn more about running your small business, attend our workshop, 3 Must-Have Tools to Market Yourself on a Shoe-String Budget.

Do I Need a Facebook Page?

Social media has revolutionized the business world.

Having a Facebook page can be an integral part of your marketing plan. Here are four reasons to have a Facebook Page for your business:

1. Conversations:

Companies can now speak directly to their customers and receive feedback, in essence having conversations.

The value of a conversation is immeasurable.

Think back to a recent conversation you had. The sharing of ideas may have changed your perspective on an issue. Perhaps your understanding of the opposite view has grown. You may have changed your actions as a result of that conversation.

By having conversations with your customers through a Facebook page you can learn what your customers want or need. You can tailor your product or service to meet their expectations.

2. Being Human:

When companies advertise, they tend to use “Adspeak”. We’ve all heard Adspeak, it’s what makes ads sound like advertisements.

And most of us have learned to tune out that kind of talk.

On a Facebook page you can have fun, be real, and show your vulnerability, all human characteristics not usually found in adspeak.

3. Building a Community:

The most successful businesses build communities they can go back to again and again with new products and services. These communities often consist of raving fans, the ultimate customer. Build community by:

  • Posting useful, relevant and interesting links
  • Asking fans to contribute with comments
  • Organizing contests and promotions
  • Providing a place to leave reviews and other feedback
  • Offering incentives for activity on your page

4. Search Engine Optimization (SEO):

Having a Facebook page for your small business can be an effective way to direct traffic to your business website and blog. Activities on your public Facebook page can also give you an SEO boost when they are indexed by search engines.

Building and using a Facebook page is one of the tools covered in our workshop 3 Must-Have Tools to Market Yourself on a Shoestring Budget.

Shelley Goldbeck, 
www.S2Seminars.ca

S2 Seminars, Eradicating Poverty in Artists by Teaching Business Skills, is a partnership between Shelley Goldbeck and Susan Cramer. To learn more about running your small business, attend our workshop, 3 Must-Have Tools to Market Yourself on a Shoe-String Budget.

New Year’s Resolutions

As 2017 winds down, many people reflect on the past year and look forward to a better 2018.

For some that’s as far as it goes: looking.

Some resolve to change something. Weight-loss, getting fit and smoking cessation are the three of the most common resolutions.

By Valentine’s Day most of those resolutions are long dead.

And the few that survive? What is the primary difference?

They had a plan!

Simple as that. You can pontificate and declare your intentions but without a plan nothing happens.

The plan isn’t magic either. You just need to implement it.

It helps if you write down your plan and read it over once in awhile.

In 2007 I decided I wanted to call myself a writer. I had been writing since age eight, published here and there, but truly making a difference in my job with my writing skills. It was time to break out!

But how?

I started with two steps.

#1 Read More. Every writer I admired or followed recommended voracious reading. As a child I was a ravenous reader but books became a luxury when I was raising children. One day I realized if I gave up computer games and TV, I’d have plenty of time to read. I set a goal of one book per week. I kept a spreadsheet so I could measure my progress. I carried a book with me wherever I went. In eleven years, I have read 1100 books, having eventually settled on a comfortable pace of two books per week.

#2 Write more. Having a weekly newspaper column was a dream of mine but lacking a degree in journalism proved a formidable obstacle. Then came blogging. I realized I could fulfill my urge to express my opinions… without permission! I wrote weekly (my Plan) for several years, honing my skills and venting my soul. That led to other writing opportunities and before long I felt confident billing myself as a writer. All that reading significantly contributed to my writing ability.

YOUR plan does not have to be elaborate. It can be as simple as two steps, written down, checked on monthly, and quietly implemented.

But there must be a plan. Without it, it’s like the nursery rhyme,

“If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride.”

If you would like help with your plan, contact us or attend one of our workshops.

Shelley Goldbeck, 
www.S2Seminars.ca

S2 Seminars, Eradicating Poverty in Artists by Teaching Business Skills, is a partnership between Shelley Goldbeck and Susan Cramer. To learn more about running your small business, attend our workshop, 3 Must-Have Tools to Market Yourself on a Shoe-String Budget. 

Left – Brain, Right – Brain

The creative side of the human being is housed in the right side of the brain. Logic and reason live on the left-side.

We all have both sides (at least in theory! Some people do leave one to question this!) but we each use the two sides in varying degrees.

Most people tend to favour one side over the other. An accountant will use the left side for most of his thinking. A dancer uses mostly the right.

The accountant might be stumped when asked to come up with new ideas to promote his business. That activity requires the imagination of the right-brain.

The dancer’s eyes might glaze over at the mere whiff of a spreadsheet, which is the domain of the left brain. That doesn’t mean the dancer can do without spreadsheets. (The dancer needs a good accountant!)

Most of us require both left and right-brained thinking in our businesses. The logical thinkers tend to chirp, “I’m not creative!” when right-brain tasks are suggested. The creative thinkers will declare, “I can’t do math!” when tasked with analyzing data.

But we CAN expand our brains. The lefties can learn to let go and loosen up. Their imaginations can be ignited. The righties can be taught to focus on numbers that matter in their businesses and learn skills to make those numbers work for them.

The partners in S2 Seminars know the importance of using both sides of their brains. Shelley has decades of marketing and business experience, which has caused her to exercise both her creative and business senses. As a project management professional (left-brain tasks) and artist (over on the right), Susan knows the challenges of balancing business with creativity.

These right/left brain challenges are why S2 Seminars was born. Shelley and Susan saw a need to teach business skills to artists to help them stop suffering from “starving artist syndrome”.

Join us for one of our workshops.

Shelley Goldbeck, 
www.S2Seminars.ca

S2 Seminars, Eradicating Poverty in Artists by Teaching Business Skills, is a partnership between Shelley Goldbeck and Susan Cramer. To learn more about running your small business, attend our workshop, 3 Must-Have Tools to Market Yourself on a Shoe-String Budget.

 

3 Things You Can Do NOW to Make Your 2018 Resolutions Come True

Resolutions aren’t wishes. They’re commitments you choose to act on… or not.

2018 is almost here. If you’re like 41% of Americans, you’re probably already thinking about how you’ll commit to the changes you’d like to see in your life next year. Unfortunately, only 9.2% of you will feel you’re successful in accomplishing those resolutions by the end of the year. These stats were collected and published in January 2017 by Statistics Brain Research Institute, a group of people passionate about numbers. More importantly, they say:

People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions.

That’s all well and good, but how do you move from wanting a change to stating a resolution then making it come true?

There are three things you can do today to get going.

  1. Shout it from the rooftops! The more people you tell, the more people there are to help keep you accountable for what you’re trying to accomplish.  Just make sure you don’t accidentally commit to more resolutions than you can possibly fulfill in one year.
  2. Write it down. As simple as this sounds, it works — commitment is reinforced when you involve more of your senses. Writing is both physical (touch) and visual (sight). Read what you’ve written aloud when you’re done, and you add two more senses (sound and hearing), strengthening that commitment even further.
  3. Get help. When you don’t know how to proceed, getting help is one way to fast-track the endless hours you’ll spend searching and attempting to teach yourself the answers on the internet. It’s a wondrous place but it can also burn through your days with ease.

Make 2018 the year your resolutions come true!

Leave a comment below. We’d love to hear your opinion, especially if this has worked for you in past too.


Susan Cramer is a partner in S2 Seminars, Eradicating Poverty in Artists by Teaching Business Skills. To learn more about running your small business, attend our workshop, 3 Must-Have Tools to Market Yourself on a Shoe-String Budget. 

Blogging for Business

Businesses that blog get 70% more leads than businesses that don’t.

I read this in a marketing newsletter a few years ago. It surprised me and maybe that’s why it stuck in my head.

Since then I’ve learned that consistent blogging is useful for building your brand. It makes sense that the more you contact your customers, the more they trust you. Ideally they think of you when they need your product or service.

I put this to the test last spring when I teamed up with two expert gardeners to create a series of workshops on growing food. We were on a shoestring budget so we blogged every other day to start. Then we went to twice a week, then weekly.  It wasn’t too difficult with three of us contributing. (See www.GrowFoodCalgary.com.)

The results were amazing! Within days of launching our blog we shot up to the top of search engine rankings on many important keywords.

Of course blogging wasn’t the only tactic in our strategy but I became a believer in blogging. Now I counsel all entrepreneurs to blog.

5 Reasons to blog:
  1. Blogging is an inexpensive way to have conversations with your customers and potential customers.
  2. Blogging is a personal touchpoint. To build a brand (bond) with your customers, you need many touchpoints. Personal touchpoints like blogs outperform ads.
  3. Blogging helps you position yourself as an expert. Increased credibility leads to trust, which leads to sales.
  4. Blogging boosts Search Engine Optimization (which means people looking for you or what you have to offer can find you by inputting certain words into a search engine.) SEO almost takes care of itself when you blog. Save money on SEO by simply writing good content that is relevant to your audience.
  5. Blogging leads to more income. Better relationships with your customers translates into increased revenue.

Are you convinced to blog yet?

You’ve decided to start blogging, but how?

10 Tips on Blogging Successfully
  1. Brainstorm topics. Create a list on paper or your favourite device of all topics, catchy titles, questions, anything related to you, your art, and the people you’d like to buy your art.
  2. Select a blog provider. There are many. This blog is on WordPress. Choose from dozens of free templates and start almost immediately.
  3. Begin writing your first blog. Choose a topic that you know well from your list. Create an outline: Here’s one way: Grab your audience with a good title, hook them with a great opening, tell them an engaging story, make a  compelling  point, and finish by helping your audience apply it to their lives.
  4. Keep it short. 350 to 500 words is enough. The thought of writing a huge article can be daunting and cause procrastination and paralysis!
  5. Read it out loud. It’s amazing how stilted our written work can become. You’re having a conversation so keep it real.
  6. Edit. Edit. Edit. Edit mercilessly, removing any words that don’t need to be there. Check spelling. Improve grammar. Choose stronger verbs.
  7. Enlist an editor/proofreader. A fresh set of eyes make a difference. (Your spouse or co-worker will do!)  We tend to get wrapped up in our work and we miss errors.
  8. Include a good quality image. Ideally you have your own pictures but accessing free and low cost images is easy. Readers are more likely to read blogs with images.
  9. Do not neglect the details. In WordPress, they provide a TAGS section where you can input keywords. This step is vital for Search Engine Optimization.  A well-written blog will include words and phrases that your audience will use in their searches. (See the tags for this blog below).
  10. Add blogging to your calendar. For example: make an appointment to write your blog outline on Thursday. Flesh it out Friday. Edit Saturday. Share with your editor/proofreader  Sunday. Post Monday. The most effective blogs are consistent. Adding blogging to your calendar helps you be consistent.
Blogging Bonus

Besides creating a stronger bond with your customers, positioning yourself as an expert,  and attracting new customers, here is another bonus to blogging:

If you were to blog weekly, (with two weeks vacation!) in one year, you have 50 chapters in your book!

Some of the best-selling books were born from the author’s weekly blog or email newsletter.

Writing a book is a great way to position yourself as an expert. If you’ve always wanted to write a book, blogging could be the push you need to get going.

Blogging is good business. Are you convinced yet?

 

Shelley Goldbeck is a partner in S2Seminars, Eradicating Poverty in Artists by Teaching Business Skills.