Art for Everyone: The Little Known Studio

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Art, Exhibition, Start Ups

This weekend, whilst visiting a friend in Essex, I set out on the Leigh Art Trail.

You’ve still got the weekend to check it out if you’re in the area. From Landscapes on display in Kitchen showrooms to prints in fashion stores and some more conventional gallery spaces showcasing everything from three-dimensional depictions of the Southend Pier to beautifully embroidered pieces inspired by traditional tattoos, (prepare for cliché) there really is something for everyone! But get a move on because it wraps on 19th September!

But I digress. It was here I had the pleasure of meeting the brilliant Andy Downes in his gorgeous little gallery meets studio space on Leigh-on-Sea High Street.

The Little Known Studio is currently presenting Dave Nevard, who grew up in a family of artists, and takes inspiration from artists like Picasso to developing a new and exciting interpretation of modern expressionism. Alongside this Andy Downes, a self-taught artist, shows a selection of his vibrant and experimental portraiture delivering insightful, moving depictions of his subjects every time. This perfect pairing provides visitors with a brilliant array of work combined to create a perfectly complementary display.

Andy’s work has also recently been recognised by the Leyden Gallery in London and is part of their 24th Platform for Emerging Artists exhibit, which is running right now! Visit the Leyden Gallery Website to learn more.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg with Andy. Not only is he a brilliant artist in his own right, but he has a dream… to make art completely accessible to everyone.

Pre pandemic, every month he would provide up and coming artists the opportunity to present their work within his gallery even hosting a monthly mingle to promote and discuss the artwork on display.

Then, as if pre-empting what was to come, on the 22nd March (a day before the lockdown was announced) Andy launched what must have been one of the first lockdown online exhibitions from The Forum in Southend-on-Sea. Check it out on YouTube!

Now the world is opening up Andy is embarking on his most ambitious project yet.

As well as his studio in Leigh, he will be expanding soon into a warehouse in Southend-on-Sea, a much bigger space with beautiful big windows, perfect for workshops and exhibitions.

And Andy has transformed this space himself! A plumber by trade, this once dark and dusty room has been given a lick of paint, received a mass delivery of easels and even had a toilet installed to properly enable the facilitation of classes and arty activities in the future.

He intends on encouraging anyone and everyone to use his space and explore the many wondrous possibilities of art creation. During our conversation he depicted an idyllic scene of a family: Parents and Kids, using his new studio to paint alongside each other, learning new skills together.

He is starting an artistic revolution in Essex by reimagining what a modern creative community should be and long may it continue! Everyone should be following him on Instagram because he is incredibly inspiring, and I can guarantee whatever his future may hold it is bound to be bloody brilliant!

What do you do in your business to create creative opportunities for your local community? Let us know in the comments!

Welcome Back to the 20s: The Swing Era

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Dance, Education, Start Ups

Similarly to the 1920s which began with the Spanish Flu Pandemic the 2020s have hardly been a stroll in the park so far.

But like the rich and brilliant iconic era that sprung from a post-war period of lockdown and depression, like a phoenix from the ashes the arts will rise again and kick start this decade!

Copyright Wayne Fox Photography All Rights Reserved

And with the centenary of roaring twenties well and truly upon us Birmingham based dance company, The Swing Era, is coming back fighting with a relaunch of their incredibly successful dance school and their diverse event offerings.

In 2014 Martyn Nelson, founder of The Swing Era, embarked on a mission to teach the people of Birmingham how to Lindy Hop and they have recently proudly celebrated their seventh anniversary!

From the humble beginnings of offering the metropolitan town of Moseley Lindy Lessons dance classes quickly expanded to include Lindy Levels, Solo Jazz and the occasional specialist lesson in Shag, Shim-Sham or Jitterbug. This only grew dancer’s knowledge and appreciation of dances from the 1920s all the way through to the 1950s.

Copyright Wayne Fox Photography All Rights Reserved

As the community grew so did the call for social events including freestyle dance evenings, Big Band Nights, holiday celebrations, drop-in classes and trips to the bothy for some after-class fun.

He has created a beautiful and loving community in Birmingham and the Midlands. When you step into a Lindy lesson you immediately enter a group of people with a common interest. With the additional connections the groups have on various social media platforms you’ll instantly feel part of the family.

But they have an events department too! Filled with everything you could possibly need to make any upcoming events the perfect homage to the twenties, thirties, forties and fifties.

Again, this began somewhat incongruously with requests to the company for dancers to appear at themed events to set the scene for visitors.

Copyright Wayne Fox Photography All Rights Reserved

Noticing a niche in the market for different packages for vintage events, with the rise in popularity of television programmes like Peaky Blinders putting the West Midlands on the map and realising the centenary of the 1920s was not that far away, The Swing Era Events Department was launched.

Pre-pandemic their events went from strength to strength diversifying into the Wedding and Hen Parties, Birthday Celebrations and Corporate Events providing everything from First Dance Choreography, Swing Bands, DJs, MCs, Live Performances, Taster Classes, Flash Mobs and Decoration at events and festivals all over the Midlands. They had even branched out into school workshops and corporate team building programmes run over six weeks concluded by a performance.

Copyright Wayne Fox Photography All Rights Reserved

By expanding into events they have increased brand awareness of the company locally and nationally and raised funds to boost their dance community.

Of course, during the last year and a half The Swing Era has had to close many of its services to uphold the government coronavirus laws and guidelines, but they have been able to run online workshops in Jazz and Lindy Hop.

With a team of amazing instructors desperate to get back in the classroom and a huge community of passionate dancers, this company will be one to watch over the next few months, relaunching their events department when restrictions lift and hoping to bring back their dance school in September! So keep an eye on The Swing Era Website, Social Media or sign up to their mailing list for updates. You’ll find them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

I don’t doubt that The Swing Era will be the guiding light of the decade heralding us into the new modern, new but hopefully still roaring twenties.

Is their a way your business could diversify in events? Think about how this could improve your brand visibility and internet following.

Do you already run events with your arts company?! We would love to hear from you so hit us up in the comments below!

Boosted Ads vs. Targeted Ad: How to Choose the Right Adverts on Social Media

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Promotion, Social Media, Start Ups

Spending money on Social Media Ads can be a little daunting, especially if you’re a small-scale arts company with a small to non-existent budget.

A good place to start is to know exactly what you’re spending your money on!

So, what exactly is the difference between a Targeted Ad and a Boosted Ad, and how will they help you reach your social media goals.

What is a Boosted Ad?

We’ve all seen Facebook ask us if we would like to Boost a post that is doing particularly well, sometimes they even offer us free money to kickstart our campaign, but what exactly does this mean?

Also know on Twitter as a Promoted Tweet and recently introduced to LinkedIn, a Boosted Ad is when you take a regular post that you’ve made and pay to improve its reach.

Generally, the better the post has done organically the cheaper it will be to promote as the platform, like Facebook, can see the existing data on your post and compare it to previous content.

This data is then used to find a wider audience who are more likely to engage with your content. It is worth noting your extended reach through a Boosted Ad is more likely to be pre-existing customers and followers but you can opt to generate new leads.

What are the benefits of a Boosted Ad?

Why would you choose to use a Boosted Ad over a Targeted Ad?

  • Generally, it’s cheaper. But that is because Boosted Ads are more limited. In regards to formatting, there is very little you can do to change the original post other than adding a Call to Action (CTA) Button.
  • Some marketers prefer Boosted Ads as they appear more organic than Targeted Ads. They look like a regular post other than small grey writing near your business name saying ‘Sponsored’.
  • It has a simple budgeting process by which you set the total budget and amount of time you would like the boosted post to run for then a daily spend is calculated for you.
  • The data already exists so the Social Media Platform will already know who to target without you having to break it down even further. It is for this reason that you get a more limited targeting ability.
  • It’s great to improve overall reach and impressions. It can be good for improving your brand awareness, stats like your follower count, likes, shares/retweets and other forms of social engagement.
  • It can be super helpful for smaller, shorter campaigns whether boosting the traffic to your website to highlight new content or raising awareness of a one-time-only event.

What is a Targeted Ad?

Also known as a Social Media Ad, using Target Ads opens a whole box of opportunities across your community platforms.

Broadly speaking, Targeted Ads are better for achieving goals like increasing app installations, improving website conversions, upping your video views and excelling orders from your online store! They can have a bigger, more immediate impact than Boosted Ads.

It takes a little bit more legwork to set up as you’ll need to join a whole myriad of ad managers including getting yourself a Facebook Ads Account. I recommend if you’re new to Social Media Ads you start here as you can oversee ads across all Facebook Platforms including Instagram and Messenger.

There’s a range of ads you can opt for from In-Feed ads, side ads, messenger bots and influencer marketing partnerships to name but a few options.

You’ll probably wanna also download yourself Facebook Business Manager (Previously known as Pages) where you’ll be able to view all of your analytics so you can gain more knowledge on what content works for you and your brand and how your ads work alongside this.

What are the benefits of a Targeted Ad?

Why would you choose to use a Targeted Ad over a Boosted Ad?

  • You have way more formatting options, getting to choose your style of ad and where it appears with a variety of alternative appearances including Carousel Ads (pictures that keep scrolling horizontally round and round), Slide Show Ads (one photo to the next) and Canvas Ads (which allow you to select the ad for a full-screen view). You can also catalogue your products so users can view the full range of what you offer.
  • You can add more dynamic CTA buttons with a wide variety of functionalities to drive your campaign goals more effectively. Goals include gaining unique reach, signing up to your newsletter, improving event RSVPs, collecting new leads, directing more traffic to your website, promoting products and increasing your conversion rate.
  • It comes with a wider range of targeting options, including age, gender, location, interests, and hobbies, so you can ensure your ads reach your Target Audience. Watch you don’t get too specific though! You still need those data bots to find you a wide potential audience.
  • They have way more analytical data available allowing you to properly track your campaigns, tweaking and refining them as you go and allowing you to learn a lot more about how Social Media Ads can be used to boost and complement your sales funnel.
  • It offers A/B Testing for your ads so you can approach them from different creative angles and figure out which ones work better for you can your company.
  • They allow for more flexibility when setting budgets so you can adapt your spending for maximum impact, whether you want a slow and steady approach or an accelerated delivery for super-speedy results that pack a punch. You can limit both your lifetime spend and daily spend separately and choose whether you’re paying for impressions or click-throughs.
  • You can schedule when your ads appear, whether this is limited to during your office hours or dependent on your time zone.

So, which one should I choose for my Social Media Campaign? 

Well, it depends on what your end goals are, both long term and short term.

When you’re starting out, the best thing to do is to try out a combination of both to help you figure out what methods work best for your arts business.

If you need more advice please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

If you have any hints and tips for Social Media Ad Campaigns of your own, please let us know in the comments!!

Target Audience: The Generations and How to Target Them

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Branding, Marketing, Start Ups

Baby Boomers

Born 1946-1964

This revolutionary generation lived through the evolution of the teenager and the invention of Rock and Roll.  They are brand loyal to the last and all about research. So prove yourself with great customer service, selective upselling, tactical advertising that personalised to them and offer them rewards for their service. They spend roughly 1 hour on social media a day, love Facebook over other platforms and are way more likely to share content! But beware, they will also unfollow brands they think are too spammy and are wary of online sales so ensure you have a flawless checkout in place.

TEXT FROM INFOGRAPHIC

Time Spent on Social Media: 1hr per day

Preferred Platforms: Email, Facebook

Customer Behaviour: Brand Loyal, Love Research, Wary of Spam;

How to Target: Great Customer Service, Selective Upselling, Tactical Personalised Advertising, Sharable Content, Flawless Checkout Process, Don’t Spam.

 

Generation X

Born 1965-1980

Growing up in a time of shifting society and rise in industry this generation is more likely to hold business leadership positions or be entrepreneurs. They spend up to 2 hours a day on social media and use the internet and customer reviews before they purchase products or services, so ensure you provide lots of information about your brand. They also love Facebook but around half the generation can also be found on Instagram. They love value for money so consider providing them with coupons or vouchers. Like the generation before them they also have concerns about privacy, so make that checkout process lock tight!

TEXT FROM INFOGRAPHIC

Time Spent on Social Media: 2hrs per day

Preferred Platforms: Email, Facebook & Instagram

Customer Behaviour: Love Research, Word of Mouth and Reviews, Value for Money, Concerned About Privacy.

How to Target: Detailed Brand Info, Space for Customer Reviews, Offer Coupons or Vouchers, Flawless Checkout Process.

 

Millennials | Generation Y

Born 1981-1996

The first digital natives alive, they have seen Nintendo consoles starting with the NES, through the Wii and to the Switch, meaning they are much more likely to buy products online than their predecessors. But beware, they aren’t as susceptible to traditional forms of advertising. They are entering their prime earning years and want to build an online relationship with the brands they love, following them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. So be innovative and keep up with trends, gather those reviews and offer incentives. By building online relationships you can offer rewards for loyalty and interaction, if you can turn it into an app, even better. Finally, they love audio content, so get podcasting, either with your own or through sponsorship and advertising.

TEXT FROM INFOGRAPHIC

Time Spent on Social Media: 2.5 hrs per day

Preferred Platform: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube

Customer Behaviour: Digital Natives, Want Online Brand Relationships, Prime Earning Age, Don’t like Traditional Adverts, Love Audio Content.

How to Target: Be Innovative, Follow Trends, Offer Incentives, Loyalty Programmes, Target Podcasts.

 

Generation Z

Born 1997-2012

Fully-fledged technical wizards who have grown up around an ever-growing tech industry.  Spending almost 3 hours a day on social media they prefer YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat or TikTok and love experimenting with new platforms, so an omnichannel approach with interactive content will be your best bet for capturing this market. They have short attention spans but are excellent multitaskers and care deeply about social and environmental causes. They love a brand story and the ability to contribute content and interact with their favourites. They’re brand loyal but will jump ship if a company is unethical. They love an influencer, but wordy ads can put them off so get straight to the point!

TEXT FROM INFOGRAPHIC

Time Spent on Social Media: 3 hrs per day

Preferred Platform: YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok and Experimentation

Customer Behaviour: Short Attention Span, Great Multitaskers, Brand Loyal, Cause Conscious, Love Interactive Content.

How to Target: Multi-Platform Approach, AR/VR Content, Brand Story, Interactivity with Audience, Include Relevant Influencers, Stay Ethical, Be Short and Snappy.

 

Generation Alpha

Born 2013-present

The Offspring of the Millennials, born with iPads in their hands. It is predicted that they will live on a planet with an overabundance of people, the population set to be 9 billion by 2030. There will be the highest ever cohort of over 60s meaning that Generation Alpha will have to take the strain of an older population. Who knows what’s going to come from this generation? But it’s worth watching this space!

TEXT FROM INFOGRAPHIC

Offspring of Millennials. Predicted to live on a planet with a population of 9 billion by 2030 and the highest ever cohort of over 60s ever seen.

Who knows what’s going to come from this Generation?

But it’s worth watching this space!

 

Have you got any techniques or tricks you use to target different generations? Let us know in the comments!

stage babies

Stage Babies: A Booming Business Idea

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Business Skills, Start Ups, Theatre

Guest Post by Producer & Designer Rachel Dingle

 

Stage Babies was born (eh) from several personal experiences.

I was working as a set and costume designer on a play in London and it was a huge job. Looking back far too big for one person to do on their own. But we did it and it was awesome. One of the characters was pregnant throughout the piece (the first bump I ever made!) and at the end she has a baby. It was barely onstage for a minute. It was essentially a kid’s toy and 100% the bottom of our priority list. But I could hear the audience reacting to it, and the ‘clearly just a doll’ was a hot topic in the loos at the end.

It took so much blood, sweat and tears to create that show – so it was so upsetting that something so seemingly insignificant can make such an impact, and take the attention away from what was a really good piece of theatre. And is what the audience were thinking about afterwards.

I also saw a drama school production of Ragtime, which is set over a few years and the baby didn’t grow and wasn’t the right skin tone. And it irritated me.

So I experienced this annoyance both as a creative and an audience member. And I thought I could do something about it.  Anytime a baby appears onstage (or in real life) it inevitably distracts people. Maybe it’s a human instinct? Who knows, but if it’s going to happen it should be a positive experience “Oh wow that baby looks really real!” rather than “That baby is so obviously fake…”

I got in touch with a really good mate who is also a professional props maker and we both said let’s do this. So we started Stage Babies with a couple of hundred pounds. We bought some fake babies, added better hair and weighted their heads, bodies and limbs. Made different types of pregnancy bumps – of different sizes and colours – and added weight to them too. It’s fascinating how it alters they way you move! It allows actors to just act rather than having to fake being pregnant too.

Since we started about four years ago we’ve hired our reproduction babies and pregnancy bumps to London fringe venues, off west end venues, school productions, NYT, drama schools, short films and most recently a music video for Loyle Carner.

It’s a little side hustle that makes a small but significant difference to people’s projects, and it also gives us the opportunity to network with so many amazing people. And we love that!

Check out our website www.stagebabies.co.uk

Find out more about Rachel at Show Up Productions.

Command Fringe Festival: Continuing through Coronavirus

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Business Skills, Festival, Start Ups

Usually this time of year I have packed up my life into a suitcase and I’m sitting on the floor in a friend’s living room surrounded by magazines, reviews and lists of everything I want to see at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

But thankfully in times of adversity and disappointment there is always one group of people who step up the plate: Students!

Unjaded and enthusiastic, a group of students from East 15 Acting School at the University of Essex launch what I hope will be a new yearly event: Command Fringe Festival. An all online, all experimental, all awesome internet theatre extravaganza!

The incredible array of ideas and variety of software used can give all arts organisations food for thought when navigating the storm that is this pandemic.

Here are my highlights from this ticketed event: an array of companies, training and professional and a myriad of ideas you can bring to your own company.

Rainbow Socks by Maryam Noorhimli

This Bunker Theatre Monologue was reinterpreted for a zoom screening showing a pre-recorded film edited like a YouTube influencer. The piece discussed what it means to be LGBTQ+ and Muslim with camera angles changed to reflect positives and negatives in an almost Golem and Smeagol way reminiscent of Lord of the Rings. Fundamentally it is about how it is ok to be an individual with your own views and your own story. It ended with Maryam dancing all over her apartment in her rainbow socks! Something I think we should all be doing more of during this pandemic!

Each arts business is ultimately about the people who built it so think about the short form content you could write and produce autobiographically and how it could appeal to your audiences using different camera angles, props and simple costume to explain the story.

MAN By George Hargreaves

Think Radio Play come dramatic podcast. A short monologue following a young man and his brush with drugs. Simple but effective, the great music choices and realistic sound effects (from playing Call of Duty on your games console to the soothing timbre of background birdsong) is what brought this piece to life, with excellent writing and performance pulling it all together

Creating drama through podcasts could be a cheap yet effective way of introducing new work during these bizarre times. There are loads of websites, like FreeSound, that offer free sound effects and royalty free music for you to use in your pieces or, if you’re feeling really adventurous, you could go out and record your own!

The Many and Varied Lives of Rock by Sisu Theatre

A lovely concept, Sisu Theatre have created a modern-day epic poem following the story of a rock from it’s creation on earth and throughout history. Again, taking place as a live event on Zoom the story was passed between different voice actors with subtle filmed loops of different landscapes from flowing rivers to ebbing waves cleverly designed to universally resonate with the subject matter.

A continuing saga like this could easily be developed and marketed as something to dip in and out of, easy listening to do your work to or go for a run with. Each section could act as a mediation session, something becoming more and more popular in the current climate. It felt good taking some me time whilst listening to a tale about time.

Caged Bird Sings (an extract from The Dripping Mirror: A Burlesque Musical) by Runt Theatre

Runt Theatre are embarking on the epic task of devising a new musical during this pandemic! Set in the 1930s and combining live music, sketch comedy, dance and burlesque this production looks set to reimagine the boundaries of musical theatre. You can check out their awesome acapella music video on Facebook.

There are plenty of music groups, from Broadway to bands, choirs to orchestras, professional to amateur and everything in between, all over the world who have used this technique. They create video content using Zoom (or similar apps) for rehearsals, individually recording their parts, mixing them together and creating music videos in the comfort of their own home! So, get on it!

Good Day Gone Bad by Jonathan Bensusan Bash

A live zoom performance which is incredibly relatable in lockdown telling the story of a man struggling with anxiety and, let’s be honest, who isn’t struggling with mental health problems at the moment! Clearly filmed at home but with lovely thought to the LED lighting which changed colour and intensity dependent on the mood and location of the action.

This beautifully presented story, driven by individual experience and told through simple direction would be easy to replicate. With Amazon Prime to hand for your next day delivery LED strip lights and majority of houses painted magnolia you can achieve some great special effects creating a perfect environment for your performative content.

The Curse of Being a Pisces by Jean-Paul Mark Shlom

I’m a sucker for anything remotely sci-fi so I absolutely loved this interactive zoom performance. Set in a slightly alternative universe there were similarities to our world but lovely nods to differences told through the set and lighting alongside Athena, a more advanced and sassier Alexa. It also included chatting to audiences via Zoom having them shout out answers and choose the direction of the piece.

To make something like this work it would need to be performed to small groups but with a length of around twenty minutes, you could perform it multiple times a day to make it feasible. Kinda like a small-scale escape room business model. It is a really clever way to keep the live, interactive nature of theatre alive during this pandemic!

Aidy the Awesome by The Gramophones Theatre Company

The Gramophones Theatre Company is one to watch and, though nothing can replace the real deal, Aidy the Awesome reignited the spark of my love for Children’s Theatre. Through this YouTube Video Aidy the Awesome, with help of the Super Nana Network, sets out to defeat Ron De-Chocolate who has stolen stories from the world! It packs a punch of Girl Power with simple cartoon video effects, bright costumes and excellent multi-roleplaying this could have stepped straight of the CBBC channel.

If you are looking to create work the whole family can get involved in, then take notes from The Gramophones. With a fun, superhero warm up routine in the middle and a special mission for viewers to contribute their own stories they encourage online interaction and provides parents and grandparents with a great lock down activity to do! So, think about how you can improve online engagement and provide content suitable for the whole family to enjoy!

Thoughts of an Incoherent Mind by Puro Caos CT

This piece is European Fringe Theatre at its best cleverly reimagined for the online realm. This is what I had been missing and it felt like being back at Summerhall sipping Pickering’s sitting in Anatomy Lecture Theatre. Puro Caos cleverly entwined a plethora of multimedia on Zoom: some live elements, some pre-recorded, all feminist. They interwove multilingual performances, charcoal drawing, stop motion and live polls all tied together with matching lipstick.

This is a performance BE (Birmingham European) Festival should check out. Not only is it edgy, experimental and ever so slightly random but it perfectly demonstrates how work like this can be built for an online medium. Hopefully this will encourage you to try new things, mix together art forms, film them from different angles and get them on Zoom.

Global Enhancers by Global Enhancers

A masterclass in how to interweave different online platforms and media to create a performance. Global Enhancers began with a Facebook live countdown to a product launch of the ‘Global Enhancer’, a product which records and archives your memories. The website launched (built with Wix) and included videos, images and text content beautifully formatted and presented. This had an ‘advert’ to the anti-business website with even more content and concluded with a live Zoom, which was hacked into by a previous employee, who asked you to turn on your cameras to stand up to the revolution.

I felt like a treasure hunter as I explored the websites! The videos were brilliant parodies of News Reports, Documentary, CCTV Footage, Online influencers, Brand Ambassadors and Staff Interviews with excellent attention to detail. I especially loved Teenie and her Pops, a social media influencer offering 20% off your purchase with the code TEENIE20.

We see inspired Sci-Fi like this all-over streaming sites from Mr Robot and Upload on Prime Video and all over Doctor Who. But this piece was special, complete genius, and amazing inspiration to people looking to create work online by utilising a multitude of platforms and content to create a performance. If this is the future of site-specific work, then it is bloody exciting!

Crap Art Club by ShowUp Productions

A prerecord online readthrough which, with a little adjustment, could easily be a lockdown story. Broaching themes of religion and mental health the overall message I took from the piece is: It’s ok to be happy when you’re happy and it’s ok to be sad when you’re sad. We all have a huge amount of pressure put on us to achieve our dreams but what it we’re just happy with a normal life?

This performance had been rehearsed and recorded on Zoom then edited for YouTube. ShowUp Productions have created a full-length online play, showing that new work can still be put on during lock-down, just maybe not in the way it was originally intended. Are there new writings in the works for your company? Have a think about how these could be filmed responsibly under Covid-19 guidelines to enable an online performance.

Is this the future of the creative industries? Who knows. But if it is, it ain’t looking so bad!

Have you been inspired to create online performances or exhibits? Let us know in the comments below.

Make an SEO Plan for your Arts Business in 3 simple steps: Part Four

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Administration, Start Ups, Websites

STEP 3: REACH OUT

The final step in your SEO Plan is all about links!

The first thing you need to understand here is the difference between a Backlink and an Inbound Link:

  • Backlinks or External Links are any link from an external website (any website that isn’t your own) to a page on your site. Backlinks are vital to improving your Off-Page SEO. Basically the more links Google finds ANYWHERE on the internet which link to you the higher you will be ranked
  • Inbound Links or Internal Links are hyperlinks you make on one page of your website to another, like linking an exhibition to the box office. Inbound Links are essential when working on your On-Page SEO.

Basically, what you need to know is that links are to SEO as downloads are to music charts! The more that are out there to higher you will rank in the top 40!

INBOUND LINKS

Inbound links are crazy simple both to make and maintain within your website.

If you run a blog, you can create links within the post to other similar posts or products and services pages or simply to a Contact Us page. When adding links to your blog posts 3-5 is generally a good goal to aim for whether these are inbound or outbound.

Obviously, the absolute ideal is to link within your site to keep traffic flowing through your website. If you are linking away from your site, in a perfect world somewhere on that page there is a link back to you.

When citing references and articles linking within your site is not always possible, so make sure you set the links to open in tabs as opposed to in the same window. That way your site remains open in the browser. After all, you don’t want to drive people away from your site, when they are checking out your sources.

What if you don’t run a blog?

There are loads of places you can link to:

  • Most websites have some kind of access to Contact or FAQ to make it easier to ask questions and get in touch.
  • Product pages can link to other product pages (check out our online store section in the previous SEO Post)
  • Pictures or videos could lead to galleries
  • Show or exhibition information can lead to box office/ticket purchasing or opening times

The possibilities are as endless as your imagination!

Be sure to think about your call to action button here too! This will be a link to the place you want to draw your audience to the most. Learn more about your call to action button here.

BACKLINKS

You may think you have little control over the number of backlinks that drive traffic to your site. You would be wrong! There’s loads of stuff you can do online to help.

First and foremost, make sure you add your business details to Google!  They have a 90% monopoly of the search engine market so you’ll want to focus on driving up your ranking primarily through them when developing your SEO Plan. Of course you can add your information to other Search Engine platforms to but if you’re limited for time Google should be your priority.

FUN FACT: It used to be that you would rank higher if your business had a Google+ account until Google realised they were flogging a dead horse with that particular social media avenue and shut it down. It took over YouTube which is now Google’s main social media platform.

It is still very much the case that if you use their products and services you will rank higher in their search. It may not be fair, but that’s corporative business for you.

Links from your social media accounts to your website are an excellent contribution to your backlinks. Generally the more reputable and sizeable the company, the more weight your backlinks will hold coming from that source. The Big Five Social Media Apps are generally considered to be:

  1. Facebook
  2. Instagram
  3. Twitter
  4. Pinterest
  5. LinkedIn

Other popular Social Media Platforms that shouldn’t be forgotten are:

  • TikTok
  • YouTube
  • SnapChat

Whatever platforms you use to promote your website (and be sure to use the ones which compliment your business best) all will help with your Off-Site SEO.

It’s worth tracking your social media analytics to work out what posts perform best. If you can encourage reposts, retweets, regrams… of links to your site which become additional backlinks.

You will also want to consider uploading your details to prevalent listing sites. Does your business rely heavily on footfall from the tourism industry? Upload your company details to TripAdvisor. Perhaps you’re a children’s theatre company? Get it on MumsNet & NetMums. Want to make people in the local area aware of an exhibition? Upload it to Facebook Events.

It is also worth noting that majority of Local Councils in the UK have their own website for tourism and promotion in their local area.  Uploading to sites like this can be a great way of using your time to specifically target the right market and audience for your business.

If you want to sell merchandise for your store you could always sell through an external site like Etsy or Amazon to increase those backlinks. It’s the same if you’re selling tickets, maybe run some through Eventbrite or TicketMaster.

We mentioned earlier when coming up with Inspiration for Content you may consider employing a Guest Blogger or Vlogger. When doing this ensure that your guest shares your information on their website and social media platforms too!

It also works when people link to you so if you do any collabs with other companies or simply mention them in a blog post. Ask them to share your details on their social media and websites. Remember the Arts Industry is all about collaboration and if you don’t ask you don’t get.

If you find a backlink on a website you weren’t expecting, then it is common courtesy to return the favour and give them a shout out on your social and website as well! Especially if they’re singing your praises with a great review.

And there you have it!

Be sure to stay on top of the curve with new techniques for SEO that are coming out – the internet is constantly changing and this means that Google (and other search engines) will have to keep up to date with these trends and alter the algorithms and methods they use to rank you.

SEO is a long game!  You won’t see results straight away.  You will be lucky if you see the impact your efforts in 12 months but stick at it all the time and it will work!!!

Any questions or want use to create an SEO plan for you? Contact us or leave a message in the comments.

Make an SEO Plan for your Arts Business in 3 simple steps: Part Three

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Administration, Start Ups, Websites

Welcome back for Step 2 continued!

STEP 2: REFINE

 

8. CONTACT US

Interestingly your Contact Us page is one of the most important across your site. This is where your customers can get in touch with you and ask their questions.

You want the ability to communicate with and find you to be as flawless as possible. There is nothing worse than stumbling across a business you’re really interested in, only to find that there is nowhere you can get in touch with them!

You want to make sure that your contact us page is easy to get to from anywhere on your site and that visitors can get in touch with the right people in your company. Like my social media links I like to have access to our contact us available wherever you are on any page

There are a few things you can add to you contact page to make it really easy for someone to get in touch and lower that bounce rate:

  • Having an email account that matches your web address. What I mean here is instead of a yourbusinessname@hotmail.com or yourbusinessname@gmail.com consider getting an official email account: info@yourbusinessname.com or hello@yourbusinessname.com. It adds an element of professionality to your business.
  • Make sure your email address is a link. I know it sounds crazy but if a user has to copy and paste your email address into their composer they are less likely to get in touch. If you make it into an email link this means when you click it, a new email will automatically open in their default mail app with your email address already in the ‘To:’ line. It skips a step for the user making them more likely to get in touch.
  • Instead of or as well as you can have a Contact Us Box with whatever fields you like in it for enquiries. That enables users to write their questions then and there. This will turn into an email and be magically pinged to your inbox so it cuts out the middle man entirely making communication more direct and instantaneous directly from your visitors browser.
  • These days there are also apps or plugins you can get to link directly to your Facebook Messenger account. Contact methods are building more and more everyday and (even though from a business management perspective it can be a complete nightmare having to check a million digital mailboxes) different avenues of communication is exactly what your customers are looking for, from the traditional phone number to Instagram messenger.
  • If applicable, so if you’re a shop, a performance or rehearsal space, a café, basically any business with a fixed location, add a map to your website. Again, it’s pretty simple to embed Google Maps into your page so it’s completely interactive. You can also have maps in a myriad of different colours and designs nowadays so you can find the right map to perfectly compliment your company’s branding.

The easier it is for people to get in touch with you, the more time they will spend on your site, and the higher your search engine ranking.

As your company size increases, you’ll noticed the same questions and queries cropping up. At this point, to save time and, as an added bonus, improve your SEO you may want to add an FAQ pageto your site.

9. FAQ

A Frequently Asked Questions section (FAQ) will both save you time answering emails and increase your SEO.

You want this to be easily accessible so create a link wherever you have a contact us form or page and anywhere your customers are likely to want to get in touch and ask questions.

An FAQ page will inevitably grow as your business grows so you want to make it as efficient for users to find the answers to their questions as possible. I like to add page anchors to FAQs. Then dependent on how many questions your FAQ contains I will either begin with a list of questions which link to the answers further down the page, or a contents of categories which link to questions which link to answers.

Not only will this make your FAQ help your clients but it also means the questions can appear multiple times on a page, without being spam, so it will play in your favour when boosting SEO.

So be sure to remember you Keywords and Keyphrases when composing your questions and answers.

As an FAQ is frequently updated it also shows Google that you are still active. Remember, the more you update your site the higher your ranking.

10. FORMATTING

The way that you format content on your site is integral to your SEO.

Remember: SEO Bots scan your website’s code. They don’t see all the pretty features or pictures you’ve carefully displayed, they only read the HTML and CSS coding which translates into what your page looks like. So to Google it looks a little something like this:

SEMrush post code

Luckily these days you don’t need to be code fluent to create your website, but you should have a basic understanding of what certain things mean and how they are seen by Google in order to appropriately rank you.

For example, the size of your header has an impact on how Google ranks the importance of the statement within the header code. Header styles in html coding rank from 1-6, one being the largest and most important, so be sure to really consider your keyphrases and keywords when creating headers.

Specifically, in your code you’re looking for: h1 h2 h3 h4 h5 h6…

Font Size also affects the way your content is read by Google bots.

This doesn’t mean you should put everything written on your site in size 100! You still need to consider page readability. If it is easy to read people will spend more time on your site digesting your content.

Think about your Target Audience here too. What age range is your main focus? It may sound silly but if you’re targeting aged 60+ you may want to think about enlarging all your font sizes so when a user visits your site they can immediately read your content, on any device, without having to fumble around their house looking for their reading glasses. This will decrease your bounce rate and hence improve your google ranking.

Font formatting can also have an impact so if you put some of your content in bold or underlined Google can see that this particular bit of text is more important than the bits around it.

Whilst researching for this article I can across the Pasadena Playhouse Website and discovered they’ve had their own font designed. Not on is it gorgeous, but it means Pasadena Playhouse will be all over their coding whenever the font style is used. This is absolute genius for their SEO!

Make sure you always check your format on multiple devices! What looks brilliant on a desktop may look awful on a mobile device and vice versa. Most website builders and templates have systems in place to adapt your website for mobile devices so usually navigation is the same, if not better, on a mobile or tablet. But it is always worth a check none the less.

Keep your copyright up to date! There is little that I find more annoying than when a website has included copyright in the footer only for the year to be out of date! Say it reads 2018, visitors and Google Bots could be led to believe your website hasn’t been updated in two years. Google will lower your ranking and your visitors will leave thinking you’re no longer up and running! Nightmare! It takes a few minutes and is a once a year job, so get on it!

Finally, you want to be sure to keep your page visually stimulating. Add Images, GIFs, Videos, clickable maps, anything that will increase engagement levels on your site

It is important to remember this though: (as of yet, at least) Search Engine Bots have no way to interpret how videos and images might link to your keyphrases and keywords. All they see is a page of code!

This means how you name and detail your visual content is integral to boosting your SEO.

11. NAMING YOUR FILES

Like I said Google will not interpret your picture of a plush auditorium and rank you higher for the keyword ‘Theatre’. This is why it is so incredibly important to RENAME YOUR FILES. Name it ‘auditorium theatre.jpg’ and then Google will know what the picture is of!

If you start doing this from the beginning of your website production it is easy to get in the swing of it but if you haven’t it can be a proper faff and take bloody ages but it is so worth it.

(And I will be the first to admit it is something I know I am lazy with on my own site, but when you’re a one woman business machine it can eat into your entire life!)

I can almost guarantee (mainly because it is such a faffarooney) very few of your competitors will have done this! If you want to check if they have you can go into their code or often just hover your mouse over the top of the image to learn what it is called.

You can also add alt tags (or alternative tags) to your images. These add an additional detailed description to your image (and look a little bit better in the box that appears when you hover over an image on a webpage). This will also benefit your SEO. With the added detail you can really put your keywords and keyphrases to good use.

Ideally you wanna do this on your social media too! Especially if you’re going to embed images and videos into your website.

It’s exactly for this reason that Video descriptions are so important. Even if you embed a video from YouTube or Facebook the description for that video will be embedded into your code too.

Same goes for any documentation on your site. Google will glaze over a file called 847238962397846.pdf but if it’s called Birmingham-art-gallery-and-museum-events-risk-assessment.pdf they’re gonna take notice.

 

12. URL STRUCTURE

It’s important to remember your chosen URL is unique to your site and can be incredibly important when boost your SEO.

It used to be the case that the more common URL you had (.com or .co.uk) the higher your page would rank. This is starting to change.

I have a client who has recently bought the URL www.onlytogether.cymru. This is the name of their up and coming art project and the location it will take place (Wales in Welsh). As a project exploring Welsh heritage this is the perfect URL for both their website and the site’s SEO.

Think about this when designing each individual page to your website. For example, if the URL to your About Us page is www.yourbusinessname.com/about-us Google will know exactly where to direct people if they want to learn about you! If it reads www.yourbusinessname.come/Fhsdjfdsos8676etg9frwrESFHUE& Google won’t have a clue.

There are different ways you can set up your URL structure but in general practice it will auto name to whatever the title of the page is, so keep in mind your keywords and keyphrases when developing page titles.

13. ONLINE STORE

Do you have an online shop or sell merchandise through your website? This is another great way to boost SEO.

Each individual product can have its own individual page and, as I have mentioned, the more pages you have the higher your SEO.

Believe it or not there is a reason that Amazon is so successful and it has a lot to do with its website design. So, if you want ideas for your own product pages, pull them from the masters:

  1. Product Title with Image and Options: Here we see ‘Shakespeare in Love’ on DVD, the formats it can be purchased through (VHS, Prime Video, Blu-Ray and DVD) and the price difference along with a very brief product description.
  2. Add to Basket or Buy now: These immediate options make purchasing quick and easy meaning users are more likely to carry out the transaction.
  3. Share on Social: Like I’ve said before (and probably will again) include links to your Social Media everywhere! They also have an option to email it to a friend which covers all possible demographics looking at Amazon.
  4. Add to Lists: Specifically think Wish List, if your client can’t afford it at present build in an option for them to save it somewhere on your website so should they stumble across it again they get the option the buy it straight away!
  5. Special Offers: Give people even more of a reason to buy additional products.
  6. Other Sellers: Is it sold cheaper elsewhere on Amazon? They’ll let you know and even help you to check out other buyers.
  7. Items Frequently Bought Together: The first of Amazon’s upsale campaigns! They pick the top item which is bought with the item you’re viewing and give you the option to add both to your basket at the same time.
  8. Customers Who Viewed Also Viewed: The second upsale strategy. They’ll show you other products viewed around the same time by other customers.
  9. In Depth Product Details: This goes into detail of the technical specifications of the product similarly to an FAQ, answering all and any questions you could possibly have about a product in one place.
  10. Customers Who Bought Also Bought: The third upsale approach found further down the page. This shows you what users who actually bought this also bought.
  11. What People Viewed After Looking At his: I’m sure you’ve notice by now but all of Amazon’s upsale tactics are very similar! It is all their way of encouraging browsing and site interaction.
  12. Prime Video link: An advert for a slightly different service Amazon provide but is still relevant to what the user is viewing.
  13. Customer Reviews: Visitors put a surprising amount of faith in the opinions of others. Customer reviews are a great way both to boost your content and inspire purchases.
  14. Sponsored Advert: Whether you’re promoting something else available on your site or it is linked to another business who have requested advertising space on your page, it can be a great way to improve income and SEO.

How exactly will all of this improve your SEO? There are a multitude of ways:

  • All of this adds detail and content to your page and can be frequently updated.
  • The content itself includes a lot of repetition which is great if you have some of your keywords and keyphrase in there. Google is more likely to notice you but it won’t register the activity as spam!
  • The longer a user spends on your site the higher SEO, so the detail all on one page means the user will stay on it for longer and the mass throng of links to elsewhere in your site means even if they leave the page, chances are they will remain on your site.
  • Everything is linked! Again, we will discuss the importance of links in part 4!
  • If you are completely registered with the ins and outs of Google Analytics you can work out how much your website is actually making with regards to transactions and income, the higher your income the higher your ranking.
  • Again, think about your formatting and naming images! All of which will boost SEO.

  

14. GOOGLE ANALYTICS

Install Google Analytics! It is crazy simple to do whatever platform you’ve used to build your website. What better way to get Google looking at your website than embedding html coding which means Google has to look through your website!

Seriously! It’s a no brainer!

15. FAVICON

Finally, add a Favicon (or a Site Icon)! What’s that? It’s the little logo that comes up next to the website title in the tab of your browser. Although it won’t necessarily boost your SEO directly, (unless you name the image for one of your keywords of course) it does legitimise your sight. By looking all official visitors are more likely to stay on your site for longer, consuming more of your content and improving your Google Analytics which in turn improves your SEO so it’s a win.

Sites without favicons are a serious pet hate of mine so if I come on your site to see you haven’t put one on there be I shall be electronically wagging my finger at you!

Come back soon for the final instalment!

Any questions or want use to create an SEO plan for you? Contact us or leave a message in the comments.

APP OF THE MONTH: SEMrush

Posted Leave a commentPosted in App of the Month, Marketing, Start Ups
Name SEMrush
Product Description For all your SEO needs! Any stats you could possibly need to know for your SEO Report and the quickest way to research if your SEO efforts are working and how you can improve your strategy.
Availability The best way to access SEMrush with all of its functionalities is directly through your browser. There is also an app available through Google Play Store and Apple App Store which can be used to track your existing projects.
Key Features ·       Analytics and Advertising: Unlike Google Analytics SEMrush can also tell you all about your competitors SEO and online advertising strategies and how well they’re working out.

·       Backlink Analytics: Assess your backlinks (incoming links on other peoples’ websites to your own) to see who is linking you from where and how successful it has been. In addition you can learn where your competitors have backlinks too.

·       Keyword and Keyphrase Research: Find the right words to improve your business’ ranking on search engines and how these change, dependent on countries you are active in.

·       Product Listing Ads: Understand Competitors best performing products and how this can be utilised in your business.

·       Traffic Analytics: The who, what, where, when, why, how, of the users visiting your page.

·       A/B Testing: Loads of ideas and practical guidelines for setting up A/B Testing on your website.

·       Projects: Set up a specific campaign for your website(s) with the exact information you want to track, from keeping an eye on your google position to scheduling your social media, available live to you whenever you want it.

·       And so much more information that can help you to monetise your business online.

Prices and Plans Price plans can be pretty expensive (ranging from $99 – $399 a month) so to access all its power you would ideally need to be a large scale business looking to expand further, but it has loads of free features so long as you set up an account.
Biggest Pro It is perfectly to the point and beautifully laid out to make the information quick and easy to read and understand.
Biggest Con You only get 10 searches a day with your free plan so make sure you’re strategic and leave yourself some time to write your plan.

 

Want to learn more about SEMrush and how to build your own SEO Report, click here.

How Theatre can Inspire Revolution: ‘First Time’

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Promotion, Start Ups, Theatre

Theatre has a unique ability to inspire audiences.  It can work particularly well when raising awareness about charitable causes.

 

Well, recent winner of a Best Show of the Fringe award from The Stage Nathaniel Hall does just that with his new one man show ‘First Time’ in collaboration with Dibby Theatre.

This autobiographical play explains how Nathaniel contracted HIV from his first sexual partner.  He cleverly uses a variety of storytelling techniques to portray the emotional rollercoaster he had been on from when he first received the news through his journey of coming to terms with his diagnosis.

 

A self-proclaimed activist Manchester based Nathanial aims to speak out for and with those who have previously been unheard or ignored.

 

It is a combination of his immense bravery in telling his own unique story, his natural ability to inspire others to come out and speak openly about their own experiences with HIV and his incredible fundraising drive to work alongside locally based HIV charities offering workshops and talks that have led to some unbelievable (and well deserved) National Press Coverage.

 

This has included editorials in AttitudeBuzzfeed, and BBC News.

 

In fact, flicking down his press page is basically like the perfect lesson in who to contact when developing a press release list for a show like this: the national news platforms, the local reviewers and papers, the LGBT community and theatre-based media companies across the UK.

 

What is particularly special about Nathaniel’s show is how in talking about his diagnosis he has begun the healing process of his mental health and finally he is looking forward to the future. He has used his story to encourage a revolution.

 

You can take inspiration from Nathaniel when developing your own work.

  • Could you get involved with charities that are relevant to the work you’re producing?  This could open up funding opportunities for your own show and help boost donations to the charities you are supporting.

o   ‘First Time’ has run after show parties to raise money for local HIV charities

  • Could you offer specialist workshops or talks to help others learn from the themes in your work?  Could you contribute to the community alongside your performance to help spread your message and could increase your ticket sales.

o   ‘First Time’ has run post show discussions about Rapid HIV Testing.

  • Could you use your work to raise awareness of and openly campaign for an important cause? If you found communities that would be helped with your work this could not only mean sponsorship for your performance but also opens new marketing outlets so that your show is reaching the right audiences.

o   ‘First Time’ aims to erase the stigma around HIV and campaigning for the UN Goal of zero new HIV transmissions by 2030.

 

We would love to hear about any work you’ve done like this.  Let us know in the comments!

 

Nathaniel J. Hall and Dibby Theatre will be touring ‘First Time’ soon so keep your eyes peeled on their website here to check out when where you can see this remarkable show.