Bob Baker's Artist Empowerment Blog

The Brand Called You - part 3

In the first and second parts of this series, I covered some basic branding concepts. Here I discuss the benefits of Internet branding.

Why should I bother branding myself online?

The Internet allows you to use a wide range of tools to reach people who are specifically interested in what you stand for. Not only web sites and e-mail newsletters (those produced by you and others), but blogs, podcasts, discussion forums, e-mail networking, online media coverage, e-books, free articles, digital file sharing and more.

Let's say you're a fitness trainer who specializes in creating customized workouts for men in their 40s. There are already thousands of web sites, e-zines and discussion lists dedicated to health and fitness. Plus, with a little research, you could easily uncover dozens of sites and online publications geared toward men in your target age range.

By offering free articles, downloadable resources and other valuable online content that focuses on workout routines for fortysomething males, you could slowly start getting exposure through these targeted outlets. Doing so will drive potential customers to your own web site and build a database of subscribers to your free fitness e-zine.

Using exactly this approach, I steadily built an online identity as a marketing resource for do-it-yourself musicians. I now make a nice living as an author as a result of my Internet branding and promotion efforts.

Personal branding online works. I hope you find a way to make it work for you, too!

The Brand Called You - part 2

In the first part of this series of posts, I answered the question "What is the first thing someone should do to brand themselves?" Today, I continue the discussion by asking ...

What's the next step in branding?

One of the most important things a person can do to begin the branding process is to create what I call a Brand Identity Statement (BIS). Similar to a Unique Selling Proposition (USP), your BIS is a short motto that spells out exactly who you are and what you do.

The ideal BIS should be short and specific while indicating a clear benefit -- so that even someone who is not familiar with you will understand what you stand for within seconds. Vague phrases such as "art that defies definition" or "stories that make you think" won't cut it. Don't hide your identity in a mysterious motto.

Be very clear and specific. For instance, the BIS I use to promote my web site for aspiring musicians is "Music marketing tips and self-promotion ideas for indie songwriters, musicians and bands." It leaves little doubt regarding what I do.

How can you describe what you do in a way that people can understand quickly and enthusiastically?

The Brand Called You - part 1

Who do you think you are? More importantly, who do your fans think you are?

Why am I asking? Let me explain ...

A few years ago I had a book published called Branding Yourself Online. It's never been my best-selling title, but I've noticed over the years that there's a consistent interest in this subject. I put a lot of effort into giving the book my personal spin on branding -- a topic that's since been covered to death from every conceivable angle by branding experts.

Last month I did 40-minute phone interview on branding, which you can listen to free. But I want to shed a little more light on this, because it's so crucial to your success as a writer, artist or performer. So over the next couple of posts I'm going to ask and answer some basic branding questions to get you thinking about who you are and how you communicate with your fans.

Sound fair? Let's jump in.

What is the first thing someone should do to brand themselves?

Before you get anywhere near broadcasting a personal brand image to the world, you should first turn inward and examine who you truly are as a creative person. What are your strengths and areas of expertise? What characteristics are you already known for? What are you passionate about?

Like most humans, you have many talents, interests and aspects to your personality. You're a fascinating, multi-layered artist. Right? And that makes you an amusing, well-rounded person. But when it comes to branding, you have to pull in the reins on your wide-ranging characteristics. You must focus on specific aspects of who you are and what you do -- the aspects that will clearly and quickly communicate your public identity to potential fans.

Your brand identity should be a true part of who you are. It isn't a manufactured identity based on a current trend or void in the market. Done right, you'll be promoting your brand for many years, so make sure you choose an identity you'll be able to live with and embrace for a long time to come.

Keep an eye out for part 2.

No Problem: Your #1 Source for Creative Solutions

I'm flattered that Curt Rosengren referenced this Artist Empowerment Blog a couple of times in recent weeks. If you haven't paid a visit to his Occupational Adventure blog, do so right away. Curt's focus is all about turning your passions into a career that lights your fire.

Today Curt touches on the subject of creative problem solving and points to a post by Stephen Pierce on the Innovation Blog. (Are you keeping up with all this cross-referencing?)

Here's an excerpt:

So, you have a problem that you need to solve quick. You have agonized over this issue for hours, days, months, or even years and you still can't resolve it. Well, don't worry, my friend; the answer is already within you. You simply need to call forth your creative energy in order to bring the answer into your focused mind.

When I read that introduction, I immediately liked the philosophy. Too many people have no clue that the answers, ideas, inspiration and grand opportunities they seek reside within them. It's all part of that "empowerment" theme I frequently discuss which you may have picked up on :-)

Stephen recommends seven steps to finding creative solutions. Here are the first three:

1. Visualize ultimate success. Don't dwell on negative thinking, for doing so will block your creative energy. Instead, you should always revel in the fact that the answer is already within you. You simply have to pull it forward from your creative mind. Visualizing failure will block your creative energy while visualizing success will bring it forward.

2. Be still and know that the answer is within you. There is absolutely no need to fear that the problem can't be solved. The answer will come to you if you stop worrying and take a more relaxed approach. Be quiet and still and allow the creative ideas to come forth. In addition, always be willing to just sit still and let your thoughts wonder freely.

3. Be patient. Don't rush the creative problem solving process. It sometimes takes a while for your creativity to solve a problem, so don't become frustrated if the problem isn't resolved right away. Instead, enjoy the creative process for what it really is -- an internal process -- and be open and receptive to allowing those new solutions to come forward.

Read the final four steps to creative problem solving here.

And always remember that your most potent secrets to success lie within.

The Artist's Way to Self-Promotion

Lee Silber knows a thing or two about creative people and how they think. He's the author of Self-Promotion for the Creative Person, as well as a number of other books on time management and getting organized for creative types.

"It's critical that you embrace the idea of self-promotion if you want to have a successful career," Silber writes in an article on "If you look at it as another way to express your creativity, it doesn't seem so intimidating. Many, many others have had fun (yes, fun) promoting themselves."

Here are some of the creative examples of self-promotion he lists in the article:

  • A couple of actors in an off-Broadway play got on the subway and performed part of the play. They left off with a cliff-hanger and then handed out flyers for the play.

  • One author includes recipes in her mysteries and was able to attract the attention of food editors who gave her books more attention than book reviewers.

  • One obscure sculptor started doing wood carvings with a chain saw to garner more attention from the media.

  • A band performed in the parking lots of large companies as workers got off and sold CDs and promoted their club dates.

  • A painter teamed up with a Realtor who buys her paintings for full price and then gives them as a gift to new home buyers.

  • One resourceful artist displayed her art in vacant storefronts along a busy street in a tourist town. She left brochures and directions in a display outside the windows.

  • An aspiring filmmaker showed his documentary about sharks at night in hotel pools. The media loved it.

  • A struggling sculptor working as a street sweeper made elaborate carvings on the handles on his brooms. A gallery owner noticed this and offered him a chance to show his art.

  • When this author visits bookstores he inserts postcards featuring his book into competing titles.

Lesson: Think outside of the you-know-what. Don't limit your creative abilties to your artistic craft only. Take Lee Silber's advice and put it to good use when marketing yourself too.

Rage Against the Publishing Machine: It's Like Complaining About Gravity

Even if you're not a published or aspiring author, you should read this post. Why? Because it contains an important lesson that could alter the way you view your creative place in the world. This is a new article I will be adding soon to my Self-Publishing Tips & Resources page. It puts an added spin on a similar post I recently wrote for my Indie Music Promotion Blog. Please read it, absorb its message, and apply it to your own artistic situation.

Do you complain about gravity? If not, why not? I mean, it is the source of so many frustrations -- scraped knees when you trip and fall, body parts that sag as you age, trees that crash and damage property during thunderstorms. Not to mention more extreme gravity-related tragedies like airplanes that fall from the sky or asteroid collisions that could alter life as we know it on the planet.

With all these obvious negative aspects of gravity, why don't you hear more people griping and moaning about it? "I am so sick and tired of the damned gravity on this planet!"

I suppose you don't hear any complaints because gravity is a basic law of physics. Everyone accepts it as a natural way of life. And what good would it do anyway? No amount of complaining would change anything.

What does this have to do with your book publishing efforts? Hang in there with me and you'll see ...

Turning Lemons Into Lemonade

When it comes to gravity, human beings generally don't complain about it. In fact, we have learned to use the qualities of gravity to our benefit.

If we didn't have gravity, we wouldn't have exciting activities like parachuting, surfing, skateboarding and windsurfing. There would be no home runs or pinpoint quarterback passes or Olympic diving competitions. Instead of accepting that gravity will forever keep us on the ground, daring engineers like the Wright brothers figured out how to use gravity (and other natural factors) to create lift and powered flight.

Instead of fighting with gravity, we have learned to work with it and use it to our advantage.

You know where this leading. How much do you complain about the bewildering publishing industry or the impenetrable bookstore market or uncaring book review editors or the lack of support from ... whomever? And what good does all the moaning do?

The Weird Science of Book Publishing

I'm not suggesting that the state of the book business is somehow related to the laws of physics. But there are certain things that you can always count on: people who won't support you when you feel they should, distributors that won't carry your book, reviewers who won't write about you, and on and on. If you search for things to complain about, I guarantee you'll find plenty.

The trick is to treat these obstacles like gravity. They're always going to be there to some degree. But if you're smart, you'll find a way to use whatever you have to work with to your advantage.

  • If the book review section of the paper won't touch your book, try to find an angle that interests the editor of the lifestyle or travel or business section.

  • If Borders or Barnes & Noble won't carry your book, try your luck at an independent bookstore or don't pursue retail sales at all. Use the Internet and public speaking instead to reach your target audience.

  • If organizations you target won't book you to speak at their meetings, present your own workshop at a community center or specialty retail shop.

  • If a bookstore or a distributor or Amazon is asking for too much of a discount, then raise your cover price, find a way to lower your per-book costs, or just bite the bullet and deal with the discount. Or bypass the middlemen and sell direct to buyers so your profit margin is higher.

What Do You Want?

Don't waste your energy complaining about what you don't like about the business. Instead, pour your energy into what you want: more people who know about you and your book, and more book sales. Don't become a victim of the limitations that so many authors and publishers buy into. Keep your eye on the ultimate prize, so to speak, and figure out a way around whatever naturally formed book industry obstacles you encounter.

Think of publishing realities like gravity. Then make like an aerodynamic engineer or a parachutist or a major league slugger ... and make something exciting out of the perceived weaknesses.

Meet Bob in San Francisco Aug 20 & 22

My upcoming (and first-time) trip to San Francisco is already proving to be fruitful. I'll be speaking at three diverse venues and events. I hope to meet you at one of them. Here they are:

Saturday, August 20, 8:30 pm
Epic Arts
1923 Ashby Ave
Berkeley, CA 94703
(510) 644-2204

This will be a brief and intimate talk/audience Q&A about indie music promotion and artist empowerment. Immediately following, the spoken word/music ensemble COPUS will perform. The band is described as "classical with a beat, rap without violence, hip-hop with a degree, jazz with lyrics." Visit for details.

There will be a $5-10 donation request, all ages, doors open at 8 pm. I'll start talking around 8:30 pm. Special thanks to Royal Kent of Copus for giving up some of his band's performance time to allow me to speak.

Monday, August 22, 7-8 pm
The Canvas Gallery
1200 9th Ave
San Francisco, CA 94122
(415) 504-0060
Inner Sunset Neighborhood, across the street from the Golden Gate Park near the Japanese and Botanical Gardens.

This is a very cool place with a creative environment. My topic will be "Unleash the Artist Within: The Self-Empowered Path to Becoming a Successful Artist, Writer or Performer." My presentation starts at 7 pm, followed by a casual discussion.

Free admission. You can just show up and most likely get in, but if you want to RSVP ahead of time and get on a list at the door, e-mail

A big thanks to Rachel Bates of Colborne Street Creative for setting this one up for me!

Saturday, August 20
San Francisco State University workshop
"Guerrilla Music Marketing: The Independent Path to a Successful Music Career."

UPDATE: Sorry, this event has been cancelled and will probably be rescheduled for spring 2006.

Thinking Bigger About Who You Are

Tired of not giving yourself the credit you deserve? Do you suffer from thinking small? If so, you're not alone. Many creative people are plagued by this self-image. But it doesn't have to be that way.

A quick listen to Michael Port is bound to get you energized and thinking bigger about who you are and how your talents positively enrich the world. In a recent teleconference, Michael covered "8 Essential Strategies for Thinking Bigger About Who You Are and What You Offer the World." I listened to most of this 58-minute MP3 audio last night and must admit it got me fired up -- in a good, empowering way.

Take a listen yourself. You can either Stream It Now or Download It and listen later.

If you're more of a reader, or just want to get a taste of what he talks about, check out Michael's Think Big Manifesto, described as "10 ways to Think BIGGER about who you are and what you do in the world." (Scroll down a bit on the page to read it.)

Here are three samples from the manifesto:

Stop Seeking Validation From Others. Acknowledge your needs and desires, not your mother's, friends', co-workers', society's, etc. -- stop seeking validation from or comparing yourself to others.

Embrace the Power of Intention. Your present intentions create your present reality. If you want to change your reality, change and strengthen your intentions. And make sure you don't have any intentions that are in direct conflict.

Always Act on Your Intuition. I bet my bottom dollar that your intuition has never been wrong. Your intuition is the strongest muscle in your body. Listen to it. Work it out. Stop inappropriately over-relying on your intellect to make decisions.

Read all about it. Listen to Michael Port's audio. And start thinking bigger about who you are and what you offer the world!