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!

APP OF THE MONTH: LinkTree

Posted Leave a commentPosted in App of the Month, Digital Marketing, Websites
Name LinkTree
Product Description All your important links available in one place to connect your audience to all your key content!
Availability Available online through the LinkTree Website
Key Features If you have ever been annoyed that you can only put one link in your Instagram profile, then Linktree is definitely the answer:

·       Set up your companies very own specialised URL to connect people to your LinkTree.

·       Get an Unlimited Number of Links so you can send your audience wherever you like! Are you a Gallery? Add links to your exhibitions and every artist you’re showcasing. Launching a Fringe Theatre Show? Link to all your social platforms, the box office, a trailer. The possibilities are endless!

·       Customise your LinkTree with a series of built-in themes so you can get as close as possible to matching your company branding.

·       Collect emails, phone numbers and payments safely via your LinkTree

·       Track how many lifetime views and clicks your LinkTree has had so you can tell how effective it is!

·       Embed Video into your LinkTree.

Prices and Plans It is completely free to set up an account and to be honest you’ll probably only need the free version! But for just $6 per month, you get more design features, scheduling options and advanced analytics to help your business grow. They also have enterprise packages available on request for mega businesses that need multiple lists of links.
Biggest Pro As I may have already mentioned… It is perfect for your Instagram profile where you can only put one link in your description! Finally! Celebrations all around!
Biggest Con I wanna say nothing! I love it! I mean, it would be great if it was all free I guess, but you can’t have it all and they have to make their money somehow!

It is an ingenious way to fill a gap in the market. Something like this has been needed for ages and the fact that it is all done with such elegant simplicity just makes this app an all-around winner!So go and get it already!

COME ON!

What are you waiting for!?

Bad Day Good Story: The Bristol Shubunkin

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Bad Day Good Story, Entertainment

“Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man can invent” – Arthur Conan Doyle

My sister’s first love was a Bristol Shubunkin called Squiggle, named for the black wiggly line on his nose (which he grew up he grew out of but renaming him Squiggless, my very witty 7-year-old suggestion, was deemed out of the question!)  It was the first pet that was just hers, no one elses.

A Bristol Shubunkin is basically a fancy goldfish.  Very low maintenance and therefore perfect for a kid at primary school.  It was fed morning and night with that horrible, dried, multi-coloured fish food. Side Note: I was very rarely allowed to feed Squiggle as I was guilty of overfeeding. It was therefore assumed by everyone that I would be me that would be responsible for his death.

We had been on holiday for a week.  I don’t remember where, most likely Cornwall, but I do recall there was a massive heatwave!  The kind where shorts and a vest are too many layers and cars become uncomfortably sticky saunas.  The kind of hot cars dogs die in.  We had been in such a car for hours.  In short, we were boiling, angry and miserable, and in my parents’ case, forgetful.

When we finally made it back home we all peeled ourselves off our seats keen to get out of the car as quickly as possible.  My sister of course was very eager to be reunited with her beloved Squiggle.  She ran into the kitchen where she let out an almighty high-pitched scream before sprinting upstairs, floods of tears streaming down her face, where she promptly entered her bedroom and slammed the door.

Well, my curiosity got the better of me and I bolted straight for Squiggles’ tank.  Immediately I observed the same awful sight that had terrified my sister.  A pitch-black, uber fish with pug eyes bulging out the top of its head was floating upside-down just below the surface of the water.  Not only was Squiggle clearly dead… he had gone to the dark side!

I stared, fascinated!  So many questions!  I wanted to Sherlock Holmes the hell out of this mysterious case:

  • How did he die?
  • How long ago?
  • How quickly did it take for him to change colour?
  • Why did he go off?
  • Why are his eyes popping out his head?
  • Was this a murder?

Super Sleuth Ruth would get to the truth.

Step One: Question the parents.

“MUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM?!”

“RUTH! SHUT UP!  Just go and see if your sister is ok!”

Step Two:  Question the parents… later.

After what felt like hours of comforting my hysterical sibling who kept asking me why I wasn’t sad (Er, a previously gold fish had turned Black in death, this wasn’t upsetting, it was bloody brilliant).  Mum and Dad entered, faces sufficiently forlorn and explained everything.

* * *

Squiggle had been left in the allegedly capable hands of our long-time family friend Jane.  Unfortunately, the first evening Jane had come to feed Squiggle he was found dead floating on the surface of the water like his sinister doppelgänger!  Jane spent the next week desperately seeking a replacement but alas Bristol Shubunkins were hard to come by.

Now, this is where, even to this day, I struggle to connect the dots.  Unable to find a Bristol Shubunkin (a fish that so closely resembles a goldfish that you may as well spend a lot less money and just buy a goldfish) she apparently found the next best thing:  A Black Moor Goldfish.  The best way to describe this fish is as a cross between a piranha and Sloth from the Goonies.  Unfortunately, this fish didn’t even last out the week, hence this bizarre reality we were confronted with upon our return.

Mystery solved, with very little effort…

And it’s safe to say we never got another fish.

Illustration by Kirstie Notman – Illustrator & Artist

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!!

Life is Better Shared: Focused Creative Community

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Business Skills, Education, Networking

Artists often have amazing ideas and ambition, full to the brim with plans for success, but they don’t always know how to channel that into achieving real results.

During the pandemic a lot of artists feel like they have come to a dead end, ideas dried up and no concept of what and when things might happen again, it’s easy for every day to feel like Groundhog Day.

Enter Tom Elliott with the Focused Creative.

As a freelancer himself with many years of experience in the Arts Industry, Tom quickly came to the conclusion that he needed to become business savvy.

After trying every different method under the sun, and spending a small fortune, he eventually designed his own method which is the driving force behind his online arts community.

The Focused Creative is a membership-based community encouraging creatives to come together and share their skills. It aims to enhance individual productivity by bringing people together in a supportive environment.

The main aim is to help artists find clarity and focus in planning, goal setting and understanding which tasks will drive future ambitions. It also assists members in gaining confidence alongside other people who are in the same boat, aiding you to battle any doubts or imposter syndrome you might feel when launching your career.

He believes in teaching creatives to take ownership of their career and have or create something of their own. It leads participants to define themselves as their own brand, setting themselves apart from others to create a unique, individual selling point.

There are weekly check-ins where the team work together to share what they have been up to and make a plan for the week ahead. This ensures a level of accountability for you to get work done. Not only are you responsible to yourself but now there are others backing you, who have helped you formulate a strategy.

The membership also includes quarterly Masterclasses with industry professionals to improve skills in all elements of business and creative practice. Also, coming soon will be your very own 90-day planner so you can plan for your future.

If you don’t think you have the time, then think again. It only requires 90 minutes of your week! By prioritising the right tasks you’re more likely to get the right results and introduce a sense of rhythm to your work.

And Tom is offering all of this for the bargain price of £19 per month! That’s less than a gym membership which, if you’re anything like me, you’re realistically never gonna use. Plus if you dedicate time to the community and yourself you should find an excellent return on your investment!

Tom has an amazing life philosophy:

Live Well, Dream Big, Laugh Often and encourage others to do the same.

Pretty inspirational right?

He spreads this philosophy through his own work as a comedy magician, the Focused Creative Community, and running a Variety Night in his hometown of Doncaster, all of which share the objectives to boost well-being and create a sense of belonging in anyone who may come across him and his work.

He has some great branding and marketing techniques we could all learn from too. Particular highlights include:

  • The tongue in cheek comedy elements strung throughout his entire website
  • The great injection of his personality found in all his online content
  • The ingenious method of getting visitors to sign up to his mailing list by offering instructions to a magic trick you can do yourself
  • His expansive coverage of all things social media

There are loads of ways you can get in touch with Tom too. Just click the links below to learn more:

 

 

Are there ways you could introduce community groups or shared learning into your company to help fellows in the creative industries? Or have you done so already? I’d love to hear about it so hit me up in the comments below.

APP OF THE MONTH: Mention

Posted Leave a commentPosted in App of the Month, Marketing, Social Media
Name Mention
Product Description Make sure you hear every conversation happening about you and your brand online in real-time!
Availability Available from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
Key Features The easy way to manage your presence online with loads of handy settings and features including:

·       Creating alerts for your company and brand or your competitors so you can see who’s been talking about you, when and what they’ve been saying.

·       Filtering the most relevant internet mentions so you don’t have to.

·       Pulling your mentions from millions of different sources.

·       Anti-noise management. I LOVE this! Don’t get a bazillion unnecessary notifications, just get the essential info you ask for!

·       Connecting your social media accounts to quickly react to your mentions

·       Sharing your mentions with other members of your team

·       Viewing your stats and analytics to rate your online performance and see areas you can improve

Prices and Plans You will probably manage with the free plan! But they offer paid options for bigger companies from £25.49 per month.
Biggest Pro All your mentions in one place rather than some through Google, some through email and some through Hootsuite.
Biggest Con The reports section can be a little glitchy, but they constantly update it and listen to customer feedback.

Altogether Mention is a convenient and time-saving little app!

Bad Day Good Story: The Job Interview, Part 2

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Bad Day Good Story, Comedy, Entertainment

“I picked up an issue of Cosmopolitan the other day that had tips for job interviews, because I was like, ‘I need to get better at interviews.’ The article was basically about how to get someone not to hate you in 20 minutes. Every single thing they told you not to do, I was like, ‘I do that every day.’” – Jennifer Lawrence

 

Not read The Job Interview, Part 1? Click here.

The panel was made up of three women all of whom limply shook my hands before inviting me to sit down.

For the sake of this article, I will be referring to them as Angela, Bella and Caren to protect their identities (but is mainly because I don’t remember, nor do I care).

Angela was fixated on her mobile.  “Just to let you know I take notes on my phone, so don’t worry!  I’m sending texts throughout your interview” she explained.

I thought ‘Great Angela, why can’t you just make notes on pen and paper like everyone else in the world!’  I said, “You can’t fool me, I know you’re catching Pokémon”

Dead silence.

Shit.  Off to a fine start Ruth!  Well, if they don’t appreciate your incredibly witty and current joke (it was 2016 after all) you’ll just have to win them over with your adorable banter.

I had been asked to plan a 10-minute presentation about a specific spoken word artist and what digital media platforms I would use to promote them.  This took me around 5 hours of my life.  I worked hard on it, and I was psyched!  It would be bloody brilliant.  It had to be.  I had cue cards!

“Apologies” Bella piped up.  “We’re running a bit late.”  Again, no shit!  “So, that 10-minute presentation we asked you to prepare, we’ll be cutting you off at 5 minutes.”

What. The. Fuck.

I came all the way from Birmingham to give you this sodding presentation and now you tell me you don’t even care what I have to say.  Being my stubborn and competitive self, I decided to interpret this as a challenge.  I rummaged for my cue cards and took a deep breath: On your marks, get set, GO!

I was off.  Galloping through the gates at a million miles per hour.  1 cue card down… 2… 3, 4, 5… smashing both my presentation and the world record for the fastest speed anyone has ever spoken!  I slam the cards on the table and consulted the wall clock.  30 seconds to spare.  Game, set and match!  “Was that fast enough?” I asked, rhetorically of course.  I knew it was.  In your face bitches!  I am the winner! VICTORIOUS!

Dead Silence again.

OK, there was a chance I had lost track of why I was doing this.

“Right, well,” said Caren, smiling with her mouth but pure disdain in her eyes. “Let’s move onto some questions about you.”

Yep, clearly CRUSHED it!

But she didn’t ask me any questions you’d expect to hear at a job interview, the generic but suspected ‘Why did you apply for this position?’ or ‘What’s your biggest weakness?’ No, there was none of that fluff!  Instead, it was a round of quick-fire yes or no questions.

I felt like I was in the big black chair in the Mastermind, the moving lights had circled round the studio and landed upon me. A bead of sweat pooled on my forehead and the camera began to zoom in.

“Can you use a computer?”

“Yes.”

“Can you use Word?”

“Yes.”

“Can you work Excel?”

“Yes.”

“Powerpoint? Outlook? Publisher?”

“Yes, yes and yes.” Although I feel like if you could use computers, Caren, you maybe would have put that all under the banner of Microsoft Office.

“Windows? Macs?”

“Yep and yep.”

“The Internet?”

“Er, yes?”

“Facebook?”

“Yep.”

“Twitter?”

“Yarp.”

“Instagram?”

“Yeash.”

I thought ‘I wouldn’t have actually been able to apply for this job without many of these skills Caren… and to be fair, all social media platforms are pretty fucking similar…’ but instead, I just creatively reimagined ways to say yes.

“Yeppers…Yepster…Yeperoonie…Yah…aye…yes I surely canly do!” BLAH BLAH BLAH.

At the end of her checklist she glanced up at me, a worrying glint in her eye, saying “And, finally Ruth, Can you explain to me why you’ve been out of work for the last 5 years?”

Dead Silence… from me this time.

But after a far too long pause I managed to muster up the following extremely eloquent and intelligent response:

“Er, I haven’t?”

“Well,” Caren continued, “there’s no evidence of any work here on your CV.”

“How strange.”

I’m not gonna lie, this had thrown me through a loop. I mean, why had they even offered me an interview if they thought I had never worked in my life?!

“Could I take a look at that copy?”

Unimpressed, Caren palms it over.

I analyse my CV carefully before looking back to Angela, Bella and Caren in turn.

“Um…”

Beat.

“Have any of you thought to turn it over?”

I couldn’t believe it! I had travelled for hours, spent the best part of a day devising a presentation and waited for even longer and they hadn’t even bothered to turn over a sodding piece of paper?!

They all burst into laughter. I joined in, though I was crying on the inside.

And so, the interview was drawing to a conclusion.

“Now, are there any questions you have for us before we end?”

I had a list; I always have a list.

“Do you have any tablets or company phones to test the mobile capabilities of your site because at the moment it isn’t auto responsive?”

Having quickly scanned the equipment when I was trapped in the office and accessed that most of the hardware seemed to predate the Commodore 64 I can’t say I was hugely surprised by the answer.

“No.”

Great.

“We are however in the process of launching a 5-year plan to make our website mobile-friendly.”

5 years?

5 YEARS?

What are you doing every day Caren!? Step One, turn on the computer, Step Two, wipe brow, well that seems like plenty of work for today.

And actually, more to the point, in 5 years your mobile-friendly website will be out of date. In 5 years, we’ll probably be viewing websites through high tech contact lenses! (Or they’ll be a pandemic which will stunt the economic growth of the world and put you, Caren, out of a job.)

“Well, thanks for your time,” I said standing up and rolling my eyes as loudly as possible. “Looking forward to hearing from you.”

And with that, I spun on my heel and walked out the door.

* * *

Now I know what you must be thinking. ‘You bought The Girl on a Train, where does this come into play?’

Well folks, if ever a book has a more depressing opening of hundred pages of soul-destroying sadness I am yet to read it.

If you haven’t read it, in a nutshell, two women have given up on life and are sleeping or drinking the pain away.

Now I’m assured it picks up. Its twists and turns are (allegedly) enough to keep any reader hooked. I wouldn’t know, I have never finished it.

Because those hundred pages…

Whilst sitting on a train wanting to give up on life and sleep or drink my pain away, it wasn’t exactly the escapist thriller I was hoping for.

Oh well, at least it wasn’t raining.

Illustration by Kirstie Notman – Illustrator & Artist

40 Social Media Networks You’ve Probably Never Heard of: An A-Z Part Two

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Marketing, Social Media

And now for M-Z!

Not seen L-M? Click here to 40 Social Media Networks You’ve Probably Never Heard Of: An A-Z Part One

22. Meetup

A social network comprising of online groups that host in-person and online events. Whatever your interest from book groups to bodybuilding and everything in between you’re bound to find your tribe on here. There are creative industry lovers all across Meetup so it can be a great way to network, make new friends and spread the word of your company!

23. Moodle

The world’s leading learning management platform led by its community. With learning at its heart and supported by over 80 service companies it’s a free open source software that is always kept up to date, multilingual and used by some of the leading educational establishments worldwide including the London School of Economics and the University of New York.

24. Neopets

Ok, so this may have made it to the list for purely sentimental reasons, but I spent a lot of time on this site in my youth and I was delighted to find that it still existed! Plus Neopets are so frigging cute and if you don’t have any pets of your own then this is the perfect pet platform for you! Play games, raise pets and explore new worlds, whatever your age!

25. NewsGrounds

An online entertainment site packed to the brim with user-generated content and including games, artwork, films and audio. In its heyday, Time Magazine rated it in the Top 50 Best Ever Websites. All submissions undergo a Judgement where they are rated by other users to decide whether they are “saved” (added to the database) or “blammed” (deleted forever!) A great network for game designers, animators, artists and musicians alike.

26. NextDoor

This platform has got massive over the last few years, presumably because the only thing we’ve been able to do is spy on the neighbours and dob them into the wider community, but if you have a local, location-based target market, you can find them on here! NextDoor is a hyper-local social network for neighbourhoods to discuss things that may be of importance to those who live nearby.

27. Ning

Can’t find a social media network that is exactly to your liking or that perfectly caters to your audience. Well then, why not simply make your own? Create online communities with people who have dedicated their lives to all things Social Media! You can even introduce ways to monetise your social network and you get to decide exactly how it functions.

28. PostCrossing 

This is such a beautiful community project. It reminds me of Postsecret back in the early days of the internet. In a nutshell, it’s a service that allows you to send and receive real postcards from all over the world. All you have to do is simply request an address, send a postcard, then sit back and wait to receive yours. Perfect when travel is restricted for a way to see a bit more of the world and feel a little less lonely.

29. PuttyLike

Are you a multipotentialite? What’s that? It’s a person with multiple passions who don’t want to be just one thing. I suspect this defines most people who work in the creative industries so why not join a network of like-minded individuals who are trying to map out their own adventure and create their own rules for how life should be led. Take the quiz now to see if you’re a multipotentialite and join this community of remarkable people. Want to learn more?! Then watch the awesome TED Talk from Emilie Wapnick.

30. Ravelry

A social media network for the craft community and one of our previous App of the Months here at The Arts Business. However you use your yarn, be it knitting, crocheting, spinning, weaving or dyeing, you’re bound to find kindred, crafty spirits on this site. Keep track of all your projects and find new ones in the same place with thousands of forums filled with other Ravelers with any interest you could possibly think of.

31. ReverbNation

This social media network has been specifically designed for the Independent Music Industry. Whether you’re a musician, producer or venue this is the place to come for conversation and collaboration. They have exclusive opportunities available only to members and a dedicated team that listens to and curates all content on the site. It is designed to get you more fans, more gigs and more money! So what are you waiting for?!

32. Splice

Another music-based social media site but with a few unique features. It’s a sharing platform filled with a sample library and audio plugins available on a subscription basis. It also includes specialist software, available online and offline, which perfectly visualises your compositions, with automated cloud backup to enable collaboration on projects. It’s on a mission to change the way people make music, so if you want to keep up, get involved.

33. Stage32

An educational website from the US designed specifically for those who work in theatre, TV and film. With 500,000 users, Stage32 is a great source for networking. It has a Facebook-style wall system and news feed as well as lounges for salon discussions, online courses, a daily blog, film screenings and has even recently introduced script services for budding playwrights and screenwriters alike.

34. TakingITGlobal

Taking IT Global (TIG) has been specifically established for young people to teach them about, help them engage with and eventually take care of global challenges. Whether they want to make a positive change in their local community or worldwide TIG aims to create opportunities for like-minded youth groups to participate in programmes using technology and thousands of educators to take these causes to classrooms internationally.

35. TalentHouse

TalentHouse was predominantly founded to link artists with brands and agencies. They work with some of the biggest brands on the planet including companies like Adidas, Spotify, Microsoft, Intel, Warner Bros and Amazon Studios, setting up creative briefs for individual freelancers to contribute content to bringing career opportunities and setting them up with potential clients across over 150 industries worldwide.

36. The Student Room

“Used by 70% of students” … gotta love an ambiguous statement like this… 70% of all students ever? Specifically, those in the UK? The year 7 class of Arden School and Language College? Regardless, this is definitely the UK’s leading social media network just for students. Whether you’re looking for lesson plans, peer support, tips for your uni application, careers advice, help with your student finance or even relationship and healthcare information as a student this is where you wanna be. (and allegedly where you’ll find 70% of all other students, everywhere!)

37. Twitch

Twitch is a live streaming social media network predominantly used by video gamers, as well as being the online broadcasting platform of Esports competitions. But its content is varying as it grows with categories comprising of Games, Music, Talk Shows, Sports, Travel & Outdoor, Just Chatting, Food & Drink, Art and Special Events. Everything on Twitch is live, all the time! Which is what sets it apart from other platforms with live video options.

38. Vero

Vero is one of the newest social media networks on our list and I reckon will be one to watch in the coming months. What sets it apart is that it is one of the only ad-free social media network out there, and it doesn’t allow data mining or algorithms. Designed especially for connection, not addiction, it has a chronological news feed, an audience selector so your profile privacy is in your own hands and vetted and trusted recommendations to follow. It’s still in its infancy so it’s got a few things to figure out but it is certainly worth a look in.

39. Vingle

An Interest Network where you can find people with the same hobbies and curiosities as you. Think back to a time where you wanted to share a joke about Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away but looked around the room and quickly deduced no one would get it. Well, you’ll find someone to share it with on Vingle. Head here to geek out and be yourself in a community of others that are bound to get you!

40. WattPad

Are you a budding storyteller or in love with reading? Then Wattpad is the social media platform you need to be on! It can be used to create your own work, with plenty of writing resources available, then build a global fanbase by publishing your work online. If your book gets star status it may even be selected to be made into a film by Wattpad Studios or published with Wattpad Books. They even have writing contests, award ceremonies and hand-picked reading lists to boost your work even further amongst their online community of more than 90 million.

And there you have it.

Do you visit any niche, creative social networks we haven’t listed? Let us know in the comments and we’ll add them.

As if by Magic, the Shopkeeper appeared: Goldmark Gallery

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Art, Education, Marketing

There’s not success or failure…there’s just doing – Mike Goldmark

 

Deep in the idyllic countryside of the East Midlands in the small village of Uppingham lies an unassuming art merchant: Goldmark Gallery.

But this is not just your average gallery, it’s an art trading, ceramic selling, exhibition hosting, magazine publishing, television producing, gallery shop.

It’s a family run business, founded by Mike Goldmark, which had been going for over 40 years and now holds more than 50,000 items in stock ranging from the affordable to the pricey, but always of the highest quality.

Mike Goldmark started his working life as an employee for Sainsbury’s and Marks and Spencer learning the art of selling and the principles of business.

The key philosophy? Buy a product that people want and sell it for a profit, pretty simple right?

He moved onto working briefly in fast fashion but felt trends moved on too quickly. Although artistic merit can be found in fashion, he believes it is too fleeting to be widely appreciated as a true artform.

This led Mike to open his own shop. In the 70s, now knowledgeable in all things business, Mike began to trade in second-hand books. His store ran successfully until the rise of the internet when books could be sort out online for cheaper than he could afford to sell them.

In the meantime, however, his book sales’ success meant Mike was able to open a gallery in 1985 and, due to his extensive knowledge of books, in 1986 launched a publishing house. Knowing what type of books work and sell would have lent itself perfectly to this natural business expansion.

Since then, he has expanded his business to include prints and framing, a reference library, an artist programme, a music performance venue, film production and has introduced functional ceramics, all of which is curated with love, care and expertise.

He has spent years unteaching himself the traditional rules laid out to him by corporations, challenging himself into finding products that people don’t want and figuring out how to sell them anyway.

Take his unique method of ‘try before you buy’ ceramics, for example. Ceramics are made to be held so Mike tells his customers to pick ‘em up n’ chuck em’ round, rather than the traditional look but don’t touch method.

He takes artists under his wing like other galleries, however where others may have hundreds on their books, Goldmark Gallery has a small selection of potters, currently sitting at twelve. This ensures a higher quality of artists who have a higher level of attention paid to them by the gallery staff. The more time and effort put into each potter is beneficial for both parties as it creates a wider awareness and understanding of their work, leading to more sales.

Since the start of the pandemic, Goldmark Gallery has also been creating films about potters, artists and the gallery itself. It allows customers to see the gallery action from their homes and improve their understanding of the artwork but allows artists to remain focused on their creative flow and developmental work without distraction.

These films have a huge reach and are all free online. ‘Why no charge?’ I hear you ask. Simply, it’s great PR, and Mike has found the return on investment (ROI) makes it completely worth it.

Mike believes as a society we do our best to put education and selling into different categories. Of course, he isn’t arguing with every child’s right to free education, but he’s saying these shouldn’t be mutually exclusive. You should learn and be sold, kinda like a museum ending in a gift shop.

Additionally, Goldmark Gallery shares the work of artists, using art to maintain a sense of community, which is being lost through the rise of online media and, of course, the pandemic. He is proud of his town of Uppingham which maintains a mainly independent high street. This is thanks to Mike buying up property in the 80s and then renting it to independent shopkeepers.

Customer service remains at the heart of his work. He aims to make people feel welcome and settled in his space. From making customers a cup of coffee to enjoy as they looked for purchases to inviting them from lunch whilst they learn about the artwork around them and the team that’s made it all possible.

 

But despite all of these great business skills and money-making methods, for Mike it’s not about being rich and famous, it’s about working hard, and utilising any profit to provide gainful employment to as many people as possible which in turn supports all the other goals of the gallery: welcoming customers, building community and educating people.

 

If you want to learn more about Mike Goldmark and the team then head over to the Goldmark Gallery website or check out his interview on The Practical Creative Podcast

Has your business branched out in unique and creative ways? Tell us about them in the comments!

 

APP OF THE MONTH: Hashtag Expert

Posted Leave a commentPosted in App of the Month, Digital Marketing, Social Media
Name Hashtag Expert
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Availability Available from the Apple App Store.
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