Getting Yourself Out There – The Challenge: Finish Line & Beyond

Who will make it to the finish line?

9 weeks ago, over 60 songwriters across Canada signed up for the Canadian Songwriters Social Media Challenge.  The purpose of the challenge was to help songwriters put on their business hats to develop and implement a strategy towards marketing themselves online, as laid out in Ariel Hyatt’s book “Music Success in 9 Weeks.”  There was a significant amount of excitement generated as can be seen by the posts and commenting from Week 1.  However, as with most artists on their path to pursuing their dreams, life happened along the way, and we lost a few participants.

How many will officially complete this challenge?  Scroll down to the comments of this article at midnight on March 12, 2012, and you will see the answer.   Even though there will only be one winner selected from the challenge, the entire process has been worthwhile on so many levels (you have only to read a few of the blogs to see what has been accomplished).

As someone who has witnessed the birth of new blogs, new videos, new websites, and new friendships, while also trying to stay in the race, myself, I have been amazed at what people (including myself) can do when there is community for encouragement and accountability to give the necessary external pressure.   All of this paired with a guide book that has been both easy to use and informative helped many neophytes to take the plunge into unchartered online territory.

Throughout the duration of this challenge, there has been a closed Facebook group for participants where people have celebrated, debated, and shared immensely while rooting for each other.   Many people have remarked that the most incredible gift of taking on this challenge has been the resulting community of people who are all passionate, not only to share their music, but to help each other along the way.  If you have been tracking with us and felt like you wished you had taken part, I am happy to say that this challenge has received such positive feedback, that the Songwriters Association of Canada will likely launch it again in the future, so stay tuned…

In the mean time, here is a virtual toast to all of you who have taken part, and to all of you who have been sharing the journey with us.  It is my hope that experiencing or seeing what the power of community can do, would persuade you to get out and find your own tribe, that we can all celebrate when we cross our respective finish lines.

How can you connect into community through the Songwriters Association of Canada?

1.  S.A.C. members can join the closed S.A.C. Community Facebook Group – S.A.C. Connect  (Once you have requested to join, you will be approved upon verification of your membership).
2.  Meet in person with songwriters in your neighbourhood through an S.A.C. Regional Writers Group.  If you don’t have one nearby, we would happy to discuss how we could help you start one.  Click for details.
3.  Take part in the next edition of the Canadian Songwriters Social Media Challenge!

NOTE TO CHALLENGE TAKERS:

Okay, dear challengers,  it’s a bit of work, but here is what we ask you to post in this FINAL WEEK!:

1.   What action steps did you take or will you be taking based on Ariel’s suggestions in Week 9.
2.  What is the biggest breakthrough you have experienced through participating in this challenge? (we want to celebrate with you)
3.   What was the most significant week for you, and why?
4.  Lastly, please post ALL 9 WEEKs, labelled:  Week 1 – link, Week 2 – link, etc.,
5.  Break out some bubbly!

The winner will be announced in one month’s time.  The winner will receive a free one year membership to the S.A.C. (to be added onto existing membership), VIP 2 month Cyber PR® Campaign from Ariel Publicity that will place their music in the hands of bloggers, podcasters and online radio DJs around the world, 2 years of sponsor Bandzoogle’s Pro-plan plus a custom website design from a Bandzoogle designer, and ReverbNation is offering a $200 credit to run a PROMOTE IT ad Campaign to expand their Facebook Fanpage likes.

Congratulations to all for making it to the finish line!

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Social Media For Songwriters: Diligence Required!

Building a social media foundation can seem daunting for many songwriters.  Most creative people don’t want to spend hours building their email lists, when we could be songwriting or performing.   The accountability and community built into the Canadian Songwriters Social Media Challenge, hosted by the Songwriters Association of Canada, have been key for many songwriters in pushing through with the “not so fun” stuff.  Aynsley Saxe is one of the songwriters who has benefitted from taking on the challenge.

Here are Aynsley’s reflections on pushing through week 7.  May her diligence inspire us all!

In Aynsley’s words…

Week 7 is upon us, or maybe slightly behind some of the more active songwriters who are on top of the blogging game (Tom Shea & Siouxberry, congrats!) during the Songwriters Association of Canada’s Social Media Challenge based on Ariel Hyatt‘s book Music Success in Nine Weeks.

I’m pleased to say I’m still here. I’m pushing the social media snowball up the hill, gathering tons of advice, pondering brave ideas and even soaking up a few friendships as I go. It’s been an incredible journey and A LOT to digest so far. I feel a little saturated. But I guess that’s the point?

Week 7 is all about the (dreaded) newsletter. Okay, kidding about dreaded, at least in the “knotty hair” sense of the word. But I must admit I feel a little intimidated about the newsletter chapter.

The questions I’ve been pondering this week are:

What do I have to say that is entertaining, meaningful, creative, interesting and worth sharing?

How do I market myself without seeming to market myself (at least most of the time!)?

How often should I contact fans on my newsletter list?

How can I develop a community around myself and my music?

What questions should I ask fans when I send them a short survey about what they would like from me?

And this, the ultimate question….

How can I reach people in a way that is not, I hesitate to even say the word….(a hush fell over the crowd): S P A M.

I know how much I like getting emails that are all promotional – NOT. That’s the last thing I want to do to the people who like my music and who are giving me their precious time by opening my emails. I want my newsletters to be based on respect, love and genuine connection. And I want to also throw in a little bit of amusing fun in there too! Nobody wants to read a boring email right? No brussel sprouts emails please! Yuck! ;)

Reaching out to my mailing list about once a month sounds about right to me. I want to be around often, but not too often.

To date, I’ve personally contacted approximately 475 people with personal, individual emails asking them if it would be okay to keep them posted on my music. I’m not kidding. FOUR HUNDRED AND SEVENTY FIVE (give or take a few). I’ve got 150 people to go on my personal email list, that doesn’t count Facebook friends and all those business cards I’ve accumulated through the years. Phew, what a snowball!!

The really great thing about this whole process of reaching out is that I’ve been in touch with people I haven’t spoken to in years. It’s been awesome reconnecting and thinking about them and hearing what they’re up to. I received two warm & fuzzy responses this morning that are soooo nice I had to share:

Congratulations. Let me know how I can support you.

…and to answer your quick question, I appreciate learning about your musical journey. Please keep me posted and it would be a pleasure if I could be of any help.

The personal touch isn’t overrated. The golden rule never grows old. If someone took the time to actually sit down and think about me and write me a quick email, and not treat me like one of the masses, I would likely be eating their emails out of the palm of their hand.

The challenging part has been it’s been incredibly time consuming. I average about 2 hours of email writing for every 50 contacts. Even though I’m using a form email for part of the email as suggested, I’m also making the email personal to each person. This means going back through my emails and seeing where/when we connected last and writing a little about that. And that doesn’t count the time spent when I respond (because I always try to email them back right away to thank them for letting me keep them on my list if that’s what they’ve chosen to do). The actual act of writing and responding isn’t so bad – it’s actually been pretty fun. It’s just thinking about the snowball that I resist. Kind of like going to the gym. Once you’re actually lifting weights it usually feels pretty good.

I have 3 pages left (6 hours) and 150 people to contact personally (if you’re curious, it’s people with names starting with ‘P’ to ‘T’). I did the last page this morning just to change things up (Letters ‘V’ to ‘Z’). What category are you in? Did I miss you??

6 hours doesn’t seem like a long time really. But it feels like it’s really snowing on my snowball. And this last part of the hill feels daunting. Especially since I know winter never ends and it will always be snowing. Which is a very good thing because that will mean that I will be able to continually connect with people who might enjoy my music and want to be kept updated.

One of my goals during Week 1 was to keep up an ever-growing fantastic email list… And yes, to provide great newsletters too. So cheers to cold days and big snowballs!!!

One more thing, I think co-promoting with other artists (whom my fan base might like) is a fantastic idea. Once I get my album released I will definitely be reaching out to other songwriters about this idea. If you are an artist, do let me know if you’re interested in this idea too and you think our music might be enjoyed by a similar audience. I would love to announce you to my list in a beautiful way!

And finally, dear Blog Reader (that’s you!!!), I’d love to keep you up to speed on what I’m up to musically. If you sign up for my music updates I will also give you a free MP3 when my album is released. All Love – No Spam. Promise.

Honk and Sign up here because you Rock!

www.AynsleySaxe.com

This blog was originally posted under the title, “Saturated Snowballs” here:  http://aynsleysaxe.wordpress.com/2012/02/28/saturated-snowballs/

Click Here to visit Aynsley’s Songwriters Profile.

Getting Your Hands Dirty With Social Media – The Challenge Week 4

Are these hands raised in victory or surrender? Photographer: Saint Huck (under Creative Commons via Flickr)

Last week participants in The Canadian Songwriters Social Media Challenge, hosted by The Songwriters Association of Canada, and sponsored by Bandzoogle, Reverbnation & CyberPR, took a giant leap in their online branding by looking at their websites – the home base of their online presence.  Based on the book, “Music Success in 9 Weeks,” by Ariel Hyatt, songwriters across Canada have been carving out time from their creative pursuits, to tackle the business aspect of their craft.  As a result, domain names were purchased, new websites were launched and existing websites were tweaked.  To visit our websites or view our blog entries CLICK HERE.

With websites established as a foundation, participants are now ready to tackle Week 4 – setting up social media.  For those who are not social media savvy, the book proves to be a great primer.  And for those who are already engaged online, the challenge is to develop an overarching strategy while choosing to use the right tools in an integrated way that a) won’t take up your entire life and b) will support the goals set out in Week 1.  Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Flickr, Reverbnation, Hootsuite, TweetDeck, Instagram…well, the list goes on!  Good luck to all our participants as we get our hands dirty in the trenches of all things social media.

If you’ve been tracking with the challenge, you will notice that the number of comments from Week 1 to Week 3 have already decreased significantly.  Some have been distracted by life, while others have continued to mull over their pitches as instructed in Week 2.  But we’re not counting anyone out until Week 9!  How many of 61 registrants will make it to the finish line?

Okay participants, please post the following:

1.  Link to this week’s blog entry.
2.  A list of any social media assets you started this week! (i.e. anything that didn’t exist before this week)