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Written on February 9th, 2012 , The Business of Art

So, there you are, gearing up for another busy month. As usual, “work on website” and “go to networking event” and “get business cards” move to the bottom of the “to-do” list. They can, right? Face it–your schedule is full!

But then business trauma hits– a school loses its funding, a theatre has to cut back its budget, a community organization is cutting the department which contracted you.

How do you turn these moments into success?

First off, allot yourself no more than 10 minutes to spend on despair and the feeling of failure. I would say, “Skip this step”, but as artists, we have a powerful sense of responsibility for everything we do, and our sense of success is very tied to outcome. So go ahead, do what you need to do, then cross it off the list (even if you have to add it to cross it off), and move on.

Secondly, remember that there is not enough time in any given day to both make lots of product (teaching, writing, performing) and do lots of smart business promotion. So set aside days that are only for promotion. Or schedule a few half days. The key is to schedule it, and stick to it.

Now get two pieces of paper, label one “Dream Projects” and the other “Marketing Ideas and Opportunities”. The first half-dozen or so things on each list (bounce back and forth as the spirit moves to help your ideas flow) will be the easy obvious ones. For me, the Dream Projects page included finishing my play “About Face”, getting “About Face” performed, being in more films, and doing more book narration. Pretty vague. I pushed myself to write ideas to write two pages worth. This is a great writing strategy, because instead of stressing over what to write, you stress about covering the space, and your creative brain is set free (lots of studies support this kind of production strategy). This is how I came up with MysteryGrams and our At-Home Mystery Games.

On my Marketing page, I wrote Facebook. Holy wake-up call, Batman!!! I realized I had no idea what networking opportunities there were in my own community, let alone how to increase my cyber-presense. It turns out that for most industries, more than 70% of landed job projects come from referrals. That makes person-to-person networking (or strong personalized cyber connecting) the most important part of your outreach campaign. I began to do research, and over the next week, made it a point to add ideas to the Marketing pages every day. I discovered Twitter. I made better use of Linked-In and All-Star Voices. I began attending networking functions. Suddenly, people were intrigued by MysteryGrams and our At-Home Mysteries.

I want to close with a link to a seemingly non-relevant blog post. It’s about teaching children the skills they need to be happy and successful, but it really applies to all of us in our work. Here’s the original post:   http://zenhabits.net/kid-skills/

And here’s a ‘digested’ version, from the amazing C. Hope Clark (it’s the February 20th entry) http://hopeclark.blogspot.com/

In the mean time, keep on keepin’ on.

Yours,

holly

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