We’ve all been hearing since March 2020 that we need to be cautious.
We need to wear masks around people from outside our household, we need to stay six feet apart, we need to wash our hands for the duration of “Happy Birthday," and, heck, we all just need to stay home where it’s safe!
Don't take unnecessary risks!
I’ve been following these directions (for the most part) and, thankfully, I’ve remained healthy.
But my subconscious has begun to rebel. The other day, I found myself far less cautious in one of my dreams.
I was at a local mom and pop specialty shop that sold high-quality Italian meats and cheeses. I saw other people in the store not wearing masks. Why aren't they wearing masks, I thought? Wait, I'm not wearing a mask either. Why am I not wearing a mask? Did COVID "end?" Am I dreaming? Is that gorgeous-looking sample of sliced steak that the deli owner is proffering -- fully exposed to human respiratory droplets -- safe to eat?
I ate it. It was delicious. And I woke up to tell about it.
After my room came into focus and I got my bearings, I quickly reviewed the scene before it evaporated. As I delved into the meaning, a realization surfaced:
Has the abundance of caution I've been taking to protect my health seeped into other areas of my life?
Am I currently not taking risks that I should be taking?
I decided the dream was a wake-up call.
Nothing is certain. That was true before COVID and it will remain true when we emerge from this surreal chapter. We delude ourselves whenever we believe we have control over future outcomes. But, at the same time, we need to take action toward our goals in order to make any progress.
And going for goals, well, that involves a measure of risk-taking. Always has, always will. And, if we don't go for our goals, we don't get to enjoy the small wins along the way.
And that’s what life is ultimately. A path paved with potential risks and potential small, happy wins. That's how I see it anyway.
My dream reminded me that, while I need to be mindful about COVID risks, I need to be conscious about inadvertently allowing "an abundance of caution" to serve as a blanket template for how I live my life.
An abundance of caution does not provide space for abundance.
You, too. Remember the goals you’ve stayed healthy for. Keep on keeping on in your quest to make them a reality.
A thrilling path filled with risks -- and abundance -- is before you.
Check out this book by Danielle LaPorte and this podcast hosted by Ilise Benun for awesome inspiration about taking risks in your creativity and work goals.
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2/2/2021 0 Comments
You probably can't wait to walk into a building to see live shows again.
Yet, it's clear that even when IRL performances do come back - online performances and events will still endure in some form.
But that's a good thing.
Of course, virtual shows will never replace that unique energy that artists and audiences share in a live setting.
But being forced to go online this past year has allowed arts organizations to reach new audiences they wouldn't have otherwise from a geographical standpoint and an accessibility standpoint.
If you work at one of those arts organizations, you're probably starting to take a long-term view of virtual programming and how you can find opportunities for online content in the future.
Because, number one, it's imperative to hold on to these diverse and historically underserved digitally mined audience members -- and to cultivate more of them!
And, number two, research shows that people who stream content are 67% more likely to buy a ticket to similar live events. This means your virtual content will likely increase local demand for live performances.
Exciting stuff, huh?
So, given all this, what's your strategy to retain your digital audience and further expand your reach to connect with potential new fans of your organization?
One suggestion for where to start -- focus on enhancing your SEO.
What exactly is SEO?
I suspect you already have an idea of SEO what it is, but basically defined:
"SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which is the practice of
Whether your arts organization is already programming performances online or planning to, you'll want to find ways to bolster your organization's reach and authority -- especially if you're a small to mid-sized company. After all, you're now among a whole world of arts organizations competing for eyeballs on the digital stage!
Reviewing your SEO strategies can only strengthen your arts organization's brand and reach to grow not only potential new audiences, but also viable new revenue streams.
With that in mind, here are 8 basic SEO tips that could give your arts organization a search engine boost!
#1: Optimize your website for user experience
If you want your website to rise to the top of the pack, you need to make sure that it loads quickly and is easy to navigate.
According to Search Engine Journal, a page should load in three seconds (or less!) to be considered fully optimized.
Three seconds? Yikes!
According to Quick Sprout, five to six seconds is considered the average page loading time for Media and Entertainment. Get in that vicinity, and you’ll likely have less drop-off.
If you're a small company without a webmaster, there are still things you can do to optimize your website's page load speed.
Use tools like Google PageSpeed or SEO Site Checkup to get some (free!) quick and useful data to see where you may need to make improvements.
And if your arts organization is not yet using Google Console, install that ASAP! It's a must. Google Console is a free tool that covers all kinds of analysis for your website.
Also, check out this article from Content Marketing Institute, which includes a bunch of additional suggestions.
#2: Be sure your website is mobile-friendly
58 percent of searches are now done on mobile.
And data shows this is likely going to increase.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, especially with more people now working remotely and on the go.
So make sure your arts organization’s website is optimized for mobile. Run it through Google's Mobile-Friendly Test for a fast check.
#3: Get up to speed on searcher intent
Now that arts organizations are digitally connected to new audiences, it would be a good idea to find out what kind of entertainment these audiences are seeking.
Perhaps your arts organization is looking to become better aligned with your target audience's needs. Is there room in your mission for your organization to expand artistically, if needed, to serve these new digital audiences? Does your digital audience want more access to online arts education programming or special events?
Understanding searcher intent will help you and your organization make more informed, strategic decisions.
As a start, simply type queries into Google to see what your target audiences are searching for in relation to online programming. Also, pay attention to similar queries to yours and the pages that come up in the results.
Look at these areas on the first search engine results page:
Ask yourself these questions when reviewing the results:
Become acquainted with some SEO tools for better analysis
Taking a little time out every day or every week for some basic SEO investigation and analysis will empower you and your organization.
There is an overwhelming number of free and paid tools out there to help you. The free tools I list below are a place to start.
Used in combination, these tools and extensions can help provide some insights:
If you find you need better data than the free tools can provide, then a company like SEMRush or Ahrefs may be the way to go if you have the means in your budget.
#4: Keep your blog active with useful and quality content
When was the last time you posted to your blog? Was it a year ago? Try to establish a practice of keeping your blog more current and consistent.
Or, wait, your organization doesn't have a blog? Well, you really ought to consider starting one!
Having a blog is a way to:
The writing should be engaging and easy to read, show your organization’s unique personality or tone, and include a call to action.
These tactics will keep readers on your blog page longer, which, in turn, could help the search ranking and authority of your arts organization.
#5: Focus on video
YouTube is the second most-used search engine on the planet, so it would be a good idea for your arts organization to create a YouTube channel if you haven’t already.
YouTube is a great platform to publish your arts organization's original content, but also your repurposed content. For instance, if you already have a podcast, you can upload your episodes in full or smaller sections to YouTube via your podcast hosting provider.
If you can publish great content with consistency, YouTube is a smart way to expand your reach to new audiences.
If finding time to manage the platform is too much, be sure you have videos of your best content on your website. Make sure that audiences can find them and engage with them easily. You want viewers to share and link to these videos on social.
#6: Image optimization
Chances are you are already using relevant images for your site. There should be at least one featured image related to your posts or articles. And make sure they are optimized:
#7: Optimize for voice search
“Hey, Alexa!” “Hey, Google!” Hey, Siri!”
It’s estimated that 39 million smart speakers were shipped in 2020.
OK, I think we hear you loud and clear -- voice search is becoming a thing.
Voice search is used primarily for local searches, such as when people are looking for nearby Chinese restaurants or the closest florist. But that doesn’t mean your arts organization shouldn’t optimize for voice search, especially if you’re looking to build younger audiences.
So, learn the kinds of questions people are posing to their devices about your organization or related queries and use that information to optimize your FAQ page, for instance, or other applicable pages on your site.
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