Yes, it’s hard to believe that about nine weeks have already gone by since the end of the Wave 1 Blog Challenge. I am so grateful for the challenge and the amount of progress I made during that time. I thought it would be good to reflect on how things are going now and share that with y’all. So what have I been up to since then?
Well, first of all, I won the grand prize for the Wave 1 blog challenge! This means I get a free 3-month PR campaign from Ariel Publicity whenever I want it. When I started the blog challenge, I decided to give it 110%, fully expecting to win. Of course, I knew there were 82 other contestants that were “all in”, so as much as I wanted it to be me, and visualize it so, I was still very surprised to win. I am so grateful for Ariel and company! Even if I hadn’t won, the amount of progress I made would have been reward enough. But it’s great to win! Here are some highlights of my progress since then.
Making a New Recording
After nine years of no output, I went into the studio in Vancouver with some friends and started work on my new album. The post-production is taking longer than I expected, so I won’t have it ready for release until after the new year, at which time I will take advantage of the PR campaign. If you’d like to keep track of my progress, I have been making a video blog series that you can see on my website, KellyCarpenterMusic.com
My 15-Second Pitch
My official pitch is “Instrumental piano infused with splashes of Chill, Jazz, Americana, and Post-Rock. Perfect for daydreaming, relaxing with friends, and beach sunsets”. When I share this, people appear a bit perplexed, asking questions like “what’s ‘chill'” or “what’s ‘post-rock'”. Of course, I can use this as an opportunity to hand then my card with my website address. But I have also added a bit more meat to my pitch once people land on the site. Speaking of…
I have been keeping tabs on the wave 2 and 3 blog challenge contestants and have found their website development ideas to be very helpful. So, I decided to do a mini-overhaul of my own website which I launched last July. One major change was to make the front page dynamic where before it was pretty static except for changing the free song I give away. I have moved my “news” section to the main page and am updating it at least twice a week. I am also employing BandZoogle’s available page elements more fully. I now consider myself an advocate for BandZoogle; I suggest you check them out if you are a music artist and still not sure who to use for your site.
My main page also features an expanded pitch: I am a music artist, songwriter, and producer in the Seattle area who is currently focusing on “Instrumental piano infused with splashes of Chill, Jazz, Americana, and Post-Rock.” What does that mean? Well, imagine the “new age” stylings of Kevin Kerns, David Lanz, and Michael Gettel, mixed in with the jazz and Americana influences of Dave Grusin, Lyle Mays and Bruce Hornsby, against a backdrop of Chill and Post-Rock beats and textures. The result? Perfect music for daydreaming, relaxing with friends, and beach sunsets.
There is so much to continue to develop regarding social media. For Twitter, I try to do at least five tweets a day. I find that Echofon is a great Twitter client for the Mac. It makes it easy to find new people to follow and also to increase your presence by retweets and follows. I get an average of about half a dozen new followers each week. As far as Facebook goes, I find it challenging to get people to visit my fan page, and more importantly, interact with it. I started video blogging my album project and have tried creating FB events around each video blog episode release. When it comes to personal and professional blog posts, as well as events, I am spreading out the timing of sharing them on FB profile and fan page. For example, when I do a new video blog, I will share it to my FB fan page one day, my FB profile, the next day, my BandZoogle page the day after. That way, my announcements don’t get all clumped together in the FB news feed.
I am also keeping track in a spreadsheet every professional thing I post or share and then checking out the analytics of my blog, BZ, and FB fan pages at the end of the week to see what the effects of those posts are. Of course, I want to drive up my site visits and search engine rankings so it helps to know what’s working vs. what’s not.
This, by far, is my greatest opportunity for growth. By blogging, I am referring to finding music blogs that feature music similar to what I do, commenting on songs, and building enough cred with the blog hosts to be listened to when I send them songs to consider. I believe that a nine week course could be developed just for this piece of the puzzle alone. How about “Blogging Success in Nine Weeks”? Short of that, there is an excellent free e-book by Chris Bracco called “How To Really Get Your Music On Blogs”. You can find this on TightMixBlog.com. I highly recommend it.
Mailing List and Newsletter
I roll my own HTML for my monthly newsletter and then send it out via FanBridge. They have a great preview feature so you can see exactly what your newsletter will look like before you send out the full campaign. You can save multiple drafts and also manage multiple mailing lists. Good stuff.
One thing to know. If you like giving away a free song in your newsletter, don’t bother trying to imbed a music player in your newsletter. Most mail web services will throw a fit over security issues and possibly divert your email to the junk folder. So now, I simply include a link. And I just discovered FanBridge makes it real easy to download a song; I’m going to check it out.
I am still tweaking the free song giveaway. I get very few email signups via the freebie. So I am trying a “mystery gift” approach where they won’t hear the song until after they sign up and download the song. Currently, I am using BZ’s signup widget, although it is a bit confusing what the difference is between a email member and a full-fledged member, the latter of which requires a separate signup process.
By far, the best way to build the email list is at events. I am doing a couple of keyboard workshops this weekend at a conference and hope to add at least 200 people to my list. We’ll see.
A well-timed opportunity during the blog challenge got the ball rolling with live networking. I am pretty shy and introverted, but when I went to a local “wine walk”, it wasn’t difficult to figure out what to ask people to get them to talk about themselves. “What made you decide to get into the wine business?” “How would you describe this wine?” And in the case of the local “boutique” winemakers, “What do you do for your day job?”.
How Do I Do All This?
I am in this full-time. I don’t have a day job. This is a good thing, but it is also challenging because I have a lot to learn about effective time management. I realized that I needed to work out a weekly rhythm in order to be consistent with all my business activity. This is what I came up with:
- Mondays – Work on the newsletter email list, catch up on email, read and comment on music blogs, post and promote the video from last week on FB profile page
- Tuesdays – Catch up on social media, write a personal blog and post to FB profile page, post video to BZ news blog
- Wednesdays – Work on newsletter or finish up whatever free songs I’m working on this month. If it’s the week before the newsletter, it’s time to change the free song for the email list incentive. Share the previous day’s personal blog post on the FB fan page if it’s professionally oriented, such as this blog post.
- Thursdays – Create new music day!! It’s important to set aside time to just create new stuff, whether it’s some instrumental music or songwriting (music with lyrics, which I haven’t done much in a while). The fruit of this work is both mentally beneficial as well as material that I can use for freebies. Since I’m getting into video blogging, I can do a lot of this with the digicam in record so that I have fresh video content.
- Fridays – Produce a video for the video blog, then post it to YouTube and share a link to it on FB fan page. Also, create a news post on BZ about whatever I’m up to. And finally, review web traffic analytics on my main music site (kellycarpenter.com) my songwriting site (kelsongs.com), by BZ site, FB fan page, BandCamp, etc.
- Mondays – And that brings us back to “doe”, also known as “rinse and repeat”
All the above is necessary business stuff and, of course, on top of that all, I have projects I need to work on, such as my new album, keyboard workshops I’m preparing for, practicing music, etc. So much to do, and it seems like I never have enough time to do it. The sheer weight of stuff to do and the fact that I have ADD, means that I need some type of time management framework in order to not get too overwhelmed. Enter the “Pomodoro Technique”. Major thanks to fellow blog challenge alumnus Neil Milton for telling us about this. This blog post is already way too long, so I won’t go into detail here, but if you struggle with time management and feel shamed by the clock that seems to be moving faster than you’d like, check out PomodoroTechnique.com.
If you found this post useful at all, please express your gratitude by “liking” my FB fan page which can be found at http://facebook.com/KellyCarpenterMusic and/or share this post on your FB profile. We all benefit when we share the love.