Bob Baker's Artist Empowerment Blog

14 Things I've Learned About Creative Success

  1. Turn your mistakes into a reference library, not a room to live in.

  2. Do not take advice from people who are broke and struggling -- unless you want to end up like them.

  3. Great marketing is falling in love with something, then selling your love for it -- not the product itself.

  4. Realize the lifetime value of a fan: It's far more than a single sale.

  5. Pick one aspect of your art or personality and make that the cornerstone of your public identity.

  6. Conduct yourself as if you deliver great value to everyone you encounter -- even if you don't believe you actually do at the moment.

  7. Be willing to take smart risks and overcome the fear of failure. Ask: "What's the worst thing that can happen?" Usually, not much.

  8. Beware of the quick fix. The sure and steady marathon beats the sprint every time.

  9. Ask: "How did you hear about me/us/the event?" It's one of the best, low-cost research tools you can use.

  10. Ask: "What will it take to get from 'Here's what I dream about' to 'Here's what I did'?"

  11. No one will manage you until you can manage yourself.

  12. Be proactive instead of reactive. In other words, create the circumstances you want, don't merely respond to what's handed to you.

  13. Stagnation occurs when your fear of the unknown is greater than your desire for a better life.

  14. What you do today sets the stage for the success you will enjoy tomorrow. Don't squander today.

Giving Away Your Art: The Surprising Truth

Cory Doctorow is a successful science fiction author and co-editor of the popular Boing Boing blog. In his online bio, he may be writing about books, but his perspective provides food for thought for artists, musicians, and other creative types:

I write science fiction novels -- three published to date ... These novels sell well, win awards, and are published by Tor Books (novels) and Avalon Books (collection). They're also given away for free on the Internet as Creative Commons-licensed downloads. They can be freely shared, and in some cases, remixed or translated and sold in developing countries.

I believe that we live in an era where anything that can be expressed as bits will be. I believe that bits exist to be copied. Therefore, I believe that any business-model that depends on your bits not being copied is just dumb, and that lawmakers who try to prop these up are like governments that sink fortunes into protecting people who insist on living on the sides of active volcanoes.

Me, I'm looking to find ways to use copying to make more money and it's working: enlisting my readers as evangelists for my work and giving them free ebooks to distribute sells more books. As Tim O'Reilly says, my problem isn't piracy, it's obscurity. Best of all, giving away ebooks gives me lots of key insights into how to make money without restricting the copying of bits. It's a win-win situation.

The quote I especially like is: "My problem isn't piracy, it's obscurity." In fact, that whole third paragraph holds a lot of wisdom. In so many ways, you have to give to get.

What do you think?


Manhatten Marketing Ideas

On this recent video short, I highlight some of the great marketing ideas I found on the streets of Manhattan during my holiday trip to NYC. Warning: You won't believe what I found in Times Square.

Watch Manhattan Marketing Ideas on YouTube here.

More NYC videos coming soon. See all my videos on my YouTube profile page.


How to Rank Higher on Google

In part 1 of this post, I detailed where my web pages rank on Google for keyword phrases related to my books and online identity: "music marketing" and "music promotion." Now I'll share a few simple tips you can use to rank better on search engines for your own keywords.

As an example, let's use a band that plays easy listening music. Here are the steps you would take:

1) Get Genre Specific

So you play "easy listening" music. Fine. But ask yourself, "Is there an even more specific way to describe what I play?" Easy listening music can be further defined as lounge, cabaret, love songs, mood music, soft rock, and more. What words best clarify your type of easy listening? And more importantly, what words might fans of your music search for online?

2) Title Tag, You're It

Be sure to include your chosen keywords in the Title tags of your pages' HTML code -- especially your home page -- with the most potent words first. Example: "Soft rock love songs from The Smooth Tones." For my purposes, I called my blog "Bob Baker's Indie Music Promotion Blog," which appears in the Title tags of every page. Google loves it when pages specifically reference what they're about.

3) Use a Keyword-Rich Domain Name or Subdirectory

The easy listening band might register or I grabbed to reinforce what my blog was about. Again, search engines like to send people to sites that clearly communicate a specific topic, and a well-chosen domain name will help.

If you already have a domain name (such as, add a subdirectory and send people to While I own, my blog is actually hosted on my main site at Therefore, my blog name, subdirectory name, and Title tags all reinforce the keywords I want to emphasize.

4) Link to Yourself

To show up on Google, you must have incoming links from web sites that are already indexed by Google. The more the merrier, and the higher profile the site, the more weight its link to you will carry.

In the old days of the Internet, you got incoming links by trying to get other sites to link to yours. You can still do that, but these days there are tons of options to create dozens of your own incoming links.

Examples: Include active links to your site (or your specific subdirectory) from your profile pages on MySpace, Flickr, YouTube, Blogger, Amazon, and tagging sites like and Technorati. Links from these popular sites carry weight with Google.

5) Link Using Targeted Keyword Text

Whenever possible, use your exact keywords as the active link text. Don't just write, visit our "home page" for more info. Better: Check out samples of our "soft rock love songs here."

Use these five simple tips to improve your Google search engine rankings, whether you play "music for the glass armonica" or "Irish drinking songs for cat lovers."


Improve Your Google Keyword Search Ranking

Would you like to rank higher on Google and other search engines for your particular keywords? Let me show you the success I've had and share a few simple Google ranking tips.

First, let's take a look at how I'm doing when it comes to words related to my books. For years, I've been pounding away at the two-word phrase I want to be known for the most: "music marketing."

Actually, I'm probably most associated with the three-word term "indie music marketing." But I figured if I could fare well in the slightly more generic "music marketing," I'd be doing just fine.

The good news is, for some years now I've ranked very well for these word combos. Take a look right now at the Google results for music marketing.

As of this writing, I appear three times on the first page of results -- at the 4th and 5th spots for two pages on my own web site, and again in the 9th spot where my Guerrilla Music Marketing book's Amazon page appears.

That's pretty damn good. But a few years ago, I discovered that the term "music promotion" was searched for about five times more often than "music marketing." At the time, I was buried about three pages deep in the results for "music promotion."

This wasn't a good thing for reaching more people with my message. So what did I do?

One thing I did more than two years ago was start my Indie Music Promotion Blog. I purposely chose the word Promotion instead of Marketing in the name of the blog. For nearly 27 months now, I've been posting to the blog and getting the word out about its existence.

Today, if you search Google for music promotion, my blog pops up in the third spot on the first page of results. That's a big improvement! And it has a great impact on my ability to empower artists -- and on my bottom line.

I also discovered an unintended Google perk. If you simply search for "promotion blog" -- with no reference to music at all -- my blog is in the very top spot! Nice.

In my next post, I'll cover a few simple things I did -- and you can do -- to improve Google search engine rankings. Stay tuned.


P.S. I touch on this topic and dozens of others in the special report 50 Ways to Promote & Sell Your Music on the Internet.

Creative Wondering 101

Liz Strauss wonders about wondering on her blog. She writes:

Creative wondering is opening your brain to the kind of questions you used to have when you were much shorter than you are now. It's like brainstorming with questions. If you're looking to solve a problem, wondering is a painless way to get where you want to be. Point your brain in the right direction, and your wondering takes you to a variety of possible solutions.

The key to creative wondering is asking questions. Liz suggests these idea jolts as a warm-up:
  • What if?
  • How come?
  • What’s wrong with this picture?
  • Who died and made you king?
  • What would Brad and Angelina have to say about this?
  • Why him?
  • Why her?
  • Why it?
  • Why now?
  • Why bother?
  • WHY NOT?
  • What will I do when I win the lottery?
So ... what are you waiting for? Start wondering and begin generating some breakthrough creative ideas!


What's Wrong With This Picture?

Last year I blogged about some cool indie film projects I was involved in. Well, the most ambitious of them is slowly starting to take shape. Check out this page to watch a trailer for Heidi Meets Death. Yes, that's me in the blue shirt, and yes, I play "Death" -- but a kinder, quirkier version than you might think.

It's interesting how Erin, who plays Heidi and whose production company produced the film, created a MySpace page for her character.

MySpace now has separate sections for film, video and music videos. Have a look around and think about how you might tap into the buzz surrounding these visual forms of entertainment.


Where in the World Is Bob Baker?

I finally put up a live event schedule web page. It includes all of my public events: music marketing workshops, book publishing-related talks, even my live music performances (yes, I still actively play part-time).

Most of the events are in St. Louis, MO. But some are in Halifax, Nova Scotia and New York City, and I hope to add dates in Chicago and Nashville soon.

So check out the new Where in the World Is Bob Baker? page. Hope to see you at an event soon.


Self Publishing Book Tips at

Ask any author. There's no feeling quite like the first time you tear open the carton that contains your first published book. The sight of the cover, the sound and feeling as you flip through the pages, even the smell of the paper ... it's a thrilling moment!

Whether it's your first or your fiftieth book, that thrill never subsides. It's the closest thing you can get to the birth of a child.

So, do you have a desire to experience that thrill yourself? And, to enjoy that moment with the knowledge that you have a plan in place to reach a lot of people with your book's message -- and make a profit while doing it?

If so, please visit my new site and sign up to download four free self-publishing success tips reports. On top of that, I also just started a Full Time Author blog, where I will post regular tips on book marketing and making money as an author.

Here's hoping you get to rip open a carton of your new book soon!