Should You Rebrand?

08-should-you-rebrandLast week we talked about building a team and began to explore branding. In this edition of the Lights Camera Read newsletter we are going to look at the question “Should you rebrand?”

Rebranding is a subject currently being examined by our Art Gush Online Education site that teaches a daily step by step approach to promote yourself as a creative person and to thrive artistically.

First off, let’s answer the question “What is branding?” Some say it is a combination of marketing, strategy, design, identity and logo. But whatever it is, it’s a way you can take some control of how you are perceived.

Rebranding then is metamorphosing the way folks see your brand based on changes you or your organization may have undergone – a kind of update if you will.

How do you know you need to rebrand? One reason is because customers and fans are not engaging with you as much as they used to. Maybe your brand is dated and in need of modernization?

Once you’ve made the decision to rebrand you might want to take a look at your mission. Are you still fulfilling your mission? Do you need to engage your audience more in regards to your mission? What are the changes you need to make to you brand to achieve more engagement?

As mentioned in past installments, we at Lights Camera Read are considering doing a rebranding starting in January as a graduate school project. Our organization started in 2009 as a way for youth to learn to make videos and do writing inspired by favorite books. Hence Lights Camera Read. It was a program that was done in several branches of the New York Public Library.

But now we are focusing on online education and our audience has expanded and changed. Our diverse audience is now interested in becoming empowered with learning that provides them with benefits including promotional strategies and ways to evolve artistically.

As our audience has changed so has our mission. So if we do a rebranding starting in January we may change our name or possibly develop an additional entity.

As always we love to hear from our readers. Please contact us with any questions or feedback.

John Yianni Stamas Tells You How to Put Together Your Own Team of Ghouls

06-your-own-support-teamIt’s a spooky time of year so in our current Art Gush online education installment we are currently working on video/PDF course 6 of 9 in the “How to Create a Web Publication” series that will haunt you (in a good way). This episode is perfect for any goblins who want to have their very own support team of ghouls.

Hi. I’m John Yianni Stamas and I have a question for you. Is the idea of putting together your own support team a spine tingling concept full of fear? The good news for solopreneurs is that these days you can overcome being scared by now having access to special online services. These services make it very much like having one’s own group of other worldly helpers.

Putting together a group of freelancers means you don’t need to deal with with the frightening aspects of having actual employees. Sites like Fiverr make it possible to do things with your witch or warlock kettle of media such as creating a website at a very low cost.

Many solopreneurs try to do everything all by themselves – a “Ghost of All Trades” so to speak. But this is difficult, even impractical. For those who like working primarily alone but realize they can’t do it all themselves, hiring online freelancers can be a good fit for getting out from beneath the cobwebs.

When you hire freelancers online your communication with them is primarily by email which allows you to think through your business and art choices without the pressure of having to perform well in front of others. You can even wear your Dracula cape at the computer if you want.

So for more information on forming your every own support team check out webisode #6 of 9 in the “How to Create a Web Publication” series and make staying alone in your tomb a thing of the past!

John Yianni Stamas Talks About How to Finalize Your Content

05-finalize-your-contentLAST WEEK’S ENTRY

If you’ve been following along with our Art Gush online education courses and/or our Lights Camera Read blog plus newsletter, then you know that last week we looked at “Create Your Content.” This week’s video entry for “Art Gush” is the finalizing of that content.

WEBSITE CATEGORIES

The areas we developed website content for this past week included the “About” page (mission/vision), the nonprofit “Donate” page (or products/services for for-profit companies), the “Blog” section and finally the “Newsletter” category (which consists of excerpts from your blog).

BEST TIP FOR FINALIZING YOUR CONTENT

The best tip I can give you about finalizing the content of your website is that you need to ask yourself the question “What is it that I want my website to do for me that is simultaneously a useful solution for my readers?” In other words what is the call-to-action that you ultimately desire the web browser to take?

WHERE THE ROADS LEAD

If you are able to answer the call-to-action question it subsequently makes finalizing the content easier because then all roads lead to the same place: the thing that you wish your reader to do.

GETTING MY MASTERS

As many of you know I am currently working on getting my masters degree in “Arts Administration” so the work that I do for Lights Camera Read is relevant to the work I am doing in school and vice versa. I have a meeting soon with the new “Arts Administration” department head to propose an idea I have for my final project thesis and consultancy.

A POSSIBLE NEW ORGANIZATION

And although I am only about halfway through the degree, as well as am only going to school part time, I figure there’s no time like the present to get a jump on the final phase of the program. The idea I have for my thesis is the formation of a new organization that is quite different from what I have done before.

MAKING A CONTRIBUTION

The thesis organization is based on an issue that I think is very important to solve in contemporary times. It’s a big issue with lots of social ramifications so I don’t think my proposed organization will necessarily solve the problem – but I do believe it can make a contribution to the effort.

WAITING FOR GREEN LIGHT

What is the issue that my possible organization will solve? I am not at liberty to reveal that just yet. I need to get the green light from my department head so that I can work on the business plan in conjunction with getting my masters.

POINTING IN ONE DIRECTION

But I will say this – if I do get the go-ahead from the department head, there will be big changes to the courses, blog entries and newsletters that we do. All resources will be pointed in one direction.

How to Create Your Content

create-your-contentNEWSLETTER MISSION

The mission of our newsletter is to bring you updates on Lights Camera Read creative projects (Platinum Pias Awards Show, Art Gush Online Courses, Magic Neighbors Theater Company and so forth) as well as help you build your visibility on the web.

HOW TO CREATE YOUR CONTENT

Last week we covered how to plan your website and this week we are going to lightly touch on how to create your content.

CONTENT IS KING

You may have heard the saying “Content is King” and it’s true. The text you put up on your website can make or break it, so it’s a good idea to put some thought into what your content is going to convey.

HOW TO CREATE YOUR WEB PUBLICATION

In this week’s Art Gush course entry (Number 4 of 9 of the “How to Create Your Web Publication” series) we are discussing the menu items “About,” “Donate (or Products/Services),” “Blog” and “Newsletter.” In this communication we will explore these areas also, with more information available in the Art Gush course.

YOUR “ABOUT” PAGE

Studies have shown that the “About” page is one of the first read, so it is important to work hard on this one. It is a good idea to have your organization’s mission and vision on this page. As we’ve discussed in the past, your vision is what you are trying to achieve and your mission is how you are going to get there.

YOUR “DONATE” OR “PRODUCTS/SERVICES” PAGE

If you are a nonprofit you should have a “Donate” page and if you are a for-profit you should have a products/services page. The intent behind both pages is the same: you are trying to get the reader to take action. In the case of the “Donate” page you want your viewers to donate, and in the case of the “Products/Services” page you desire your readers to purchase your products and services.

YOUR “BLOG”

Your blog is an important part of your website. Why? Because your blog is a consistent way of creating new content, usually on at least a weekly basis. New content means more listings on search engines as well as can be used as the basis of the content for your newsletter.

YOUR “NEWSLETTER”

It is a good idea to stay in touch, and your newsletter is a way to do this. And the great news is that if you are doing a blog on a weekly basis you can re-purpose this content for use in your newsletter. It is recommended that you include approximately half of an individual blog entry in your newsletter and link from it to that blog entry. This means that people reading your newsletter will potentially click through to your blog.

Yianni Stamas Shows You How to Plan Your Website

plan-your-websiteAs we’ve mentioned in the past, we are working on a series of courses on the “Art Gush” site concerning the topic of “How to Start a Web Publication.” These courses are intended for those who have an interest in journalism as well as folks who want to promote their company, organization or themselves. In other words, the sequence of courses will be ready-made for those desiring to make a difference in their community.

Therefore this entry is going to be looking at the current online course in the publication sequence we are working on which is “How to Plan Your Website.” This topic is useful both if you are just starting out with a website or already have a website and are looking for ways to improve it.

One of the first things you should do when planning a website is to decide the format you are going to use. The two basic ones for those who don’t want to hassle with difficult-to-learn programs are “control panel” and “WordPress.” There are tons of control panel sites out there offered by many different companies. When choosng one you want to think in terms of ease of updating and if the aesthetic works for you. The other option is WordPress which is the best choice for those who are going to want to do a lot of updating of functions. You see, there are literally thousands of different kinds of plugins you can get that do different things.

Once you’ve decided on the format, the next thing you’re going to want to do is look at what menu items you are going to present. If you already have a site then you’ve done this, but might be interested in adding some new ones or delete those that are no longer relevant. Here are five that are classics: “About,” “Contact,” “Donate,” “Staff” and “Blog.” We’re not going to go into detail in this article about these menu items (we do more of that in the Art Gush course) but we will say that these are just a few that are possible.

For example, if you are a nonprofit you might use “Donate” since this is how you survive as an organization, whereas if you are a for-profit you might substite “Products” or “Services.”

In the end what you want to do is to put yourself into the position of your user and audience member and think in terms of what kind of information is useful to them and how you can you make it as easy as possible for them to access what they need.

Publish Your Own Amazon Kindle eBook

ebook-print-booksPublishing your own Amazon Kindle eBook is a lot easier than you might think.

Why publish an Amazon Kindle eBook? It can be helpful for your career. If you are an artist – especially an introvert artist – here’s a way you can establish yourself as an expert and help people at the same time.

Do you have a particular solution to a problem that those in your art form experience? This is the perfect forum to painlessly get your name out there as an artist.

How do you do it? Much of the information you need can be found via the link below. The “K.D.P.” stands for “Kindle Direct Publishing.”

kdp.amazon.com

We are considering writing a book about “Amazon Kindle Publishing for Introvert Artists” after we finish and publish the eBook we’re working on now – “Web Marketing Strategies for Introvert Artists.” The new book would be about the process we went through to publish the first eBook.

What do you think about Kindle Direct Publishing and does it seem useful to you? Let us know (if you’d like).

Introvert Artists and Steps

introvert-and-extrovertSteps and artists – especially introvert artists – why are steps important?

The transition from “Starving Artist” to “Artist Entrepreneur” can be especially challenging for introverts. People have asked me, how is it possible for an introvert artist such as myself to do traditionally “extrovert activities” like make a web series (“Thrillumentary”), produce an annual community artists awards show such as the Platinum Pias, successfully run a communications company in NYC for 12 years, or even produce this newsletter (“NYC Make a Difference” by Lights Camera Read)? The answer is that it is all in the steps.

Our plan is to not just to give self-help empowerment to introvert artists, but to provide them with action steps that they are comfortable with. Some say that introverts can never be fully at ease with action steps, especially steps that put introvert artists “out there” doing things such as web marketing. This may well be true – certainly when it comes to the pursuit of creative career success – but I’d like to at least make it less painful.

I believe that there are ways that are not normally explored that could act as a blueprint for introvert artist success. And I’m not talking about the introvert artist posers who are really “shy” extroverts (which isn’t really an introvert in the first place).

There’s a lot written about help for introverts but much of it concerns survival in an extrovert world by trying to adjust to extrovert standards. What I’m most interested in are alternative approaches that make a difference in the steps themselves, steps that only an introvert artist can effectively take. This means that for the first time introvert artists can beat extrovert artists at their own game.

This is why we created the Artist Introvert Revolution (A.I.R.). At first I thought about doing an introvert artist festival, but the irony is that introverts don’t necessarily like to congregate because they’re not particularly social, making a networking event such as a festival challenging to pull off.

So again, it all comes down to choosing action steps that are minimally painful. That’s what the guide in the works (“Web Marketing Strategies for Introvert Artists”) is all about – a road map for introvert artist results.

Do you have any introvert artist success stories to tell? Please share them with us, if you feel up to it.

Michael Kaiser on the Future of the Arts

michael-m-kaiserAs many of you know, I am getting my master’s degree in Art Administration. I’m doing it to augment the work I do in film. Anyway, Professor J. (Leonard Jacobs) in my Arts Management class has been assigning us excerpts from the book “The Art of the Turnaround: Creating and Maintaining Healthy Arts Organizations” by Michael M. Kaiser. Which begs the question: “Who is Michael M. Kaiser?”  Anyone studying Arts Administration knows the answer as well as much of the arts community.

Here’s what Wikipedia says:

“Michael M. Kaiser was the president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (2001–2014) in Washington, D.C. Dubbed “the turnaround king” for his work at such arts institutions as the Kansas City Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, American Ballet Theatre and the Royal Opera House, Kaiser has earned international renown for his expertise in arts management.”

the-art-of-the-turnaround“The Art of the Turnaround” is quite interesting and documents how Michael M. Kaiser has been able over the years to turn organizations around. I learned a lot from reading his case studies and had some questions for Michael M. Kaiser. The good news is – he was nice enough to answer them!

Here are my three questions and Michael M. Kaiser’s answers:

  1. How do you think the NEA cuts are going to affect the Arts in America?

We do not yet know the fate of the NEA but if it is eliminated, or even if its budget is cut substantially, it will harm many arts organizations, especially rural and avant garde organizations and organizations of color.  These organizations have a harder time building the large individual donor bases that larger mainstream organizations enjoy.  But an end to the NEA would also signal that our government does not understand the role of the arts in a free society.  This would be a national embarrassment.

  1. What are your feelings about crowdfunding as a form of fundraising for the arts?

Crowdfunding is an interesting and effective new funding technique in the arts. Those artists or arts organizations that can drive traffic to their crowdfunding pages, and have a compelling project, can find support from new donors.  But crowdfunding should complement other development efforts but not replace them.  The best fundraising efforts build strong relationships between donor and organization (or artist) that can last for years and years.  These relationships are difficult to form in a crowdfunding model.

  1. What advice would you give to emerging arts administrators in the current arts climate in the U.S.?

I believe the arts environment is getting more difficult to navigate.  The current political climate is challenging, but changes in technology, how people purchase entertainment, and demographics make it especially difficult.  For this reason, we need smart, creative, insightful arts managers more than ever.  I would hope aspiring arts managers would be willing and able to think ahead, develop new models and work to ensure that the arts ecology of the United States remains strong.  Simply copying the way arts organizations were managed in the past will not be enough going forward.

the Platinum Pias Awards are Just Around the Corner

Yes, the Platinum Pias Awards are just around the corner and many in New York City are buzzing about who will be the artist winners this year.

We at Lights Camera Read would like to thank the wonderful group of people who are making the awards possible this time around. The list is too long to mention but this year, more than any other year, the enthusiasm and passion of those involved has been contagious.

In fact, even new websites like MovieProcess.org are mentioning the Pias on their site.