My Work

My 3 Words 2018

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My mentor, Chris Brogan - who I first heard speaking while I was backstage waiting to perform at a tech conference - abandoned resolutions a few years back and has opted instead to choose three words that will guide him throughout the year. (You can read more about his three words in his own words here)

Embracing this concept I’ve seen it work better some years (2017) than others (2016). Entirely due to user error.

I’m going to identify mine now, and hope it will get your own juices flowing to create your three words for the year.

As an owner of a fledgling company, each one is in the pursuit of nurturing Downstage Media to grow - while not forgetting myself in the process. Here is each word:

Lead - (rhymes with “seed” not “said.”) Downstage is devoted to taking the lead in social media for the performing arts. It’s also a command to be a leader to those that I work with.

Clarity - In what I do each quarter, month, week, day, and task; Clarity in aesthetic and voice for each brand I represent.

Automate - In running a lean operation like Downstage, it’s imperative to use automation wherever I can to free me up for more personal interactions with clients. Simple tasks that don’t require my skill or expertise will be delegated or automated. Is it weird that I’m super excited for this one especially?

So what words will guide you in 2018? Leave a comment below!  

How to Use Your Content to Create More Content

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Photo by Alison Marras

Creating content for social media is a lot like cooking. You can whip up a recipe on the fly, but for the long term, it's much easier to have a schedule.  A content calendar is not much different than a meal plan. 

To continue the cooking analogy, creating content is a lot like using your leftovers. Think of it like this: on Sunday night you roast a chicken. Odds are, you may have some meat leftover. Some of it you can freeze so you can use it in a few weeks. Some of it you're going to use right away. And the truly frugal chef uses the bones of the roasted chicken for stock which then you can use for soup and a myriad of other recipes for the next month or so.

Your content is the same way. Take one piece of content and think of it like a roasted chicken. Then get creative in how you can turn it into lots of different kinds of leftovers.

I'll use one of Downstage's clients, Broadway's Next Hit Musical, as an example.

The Event

Broadway's Next is a musical improv show that tours all over the country. They do upwards of 60 performances a year. Their completely-made-up show spoofs awards shows - especially the Tony Awards. One aspect of the show is to have the emcee interview the audience as they enter the lobby to give a Red Carpet feel.

The Raw Content

As the audience members are being interviewed by the emcee, the stage manager records it all on video and sends the raw footage to Rob Schiffmann - one of the producers and artistic directors (and also my husband, full disclosure) - to edit down to a 2-4 minute video.

The Leftovers

Here's how that content turns into more content.

  • 1 min video: A funny exchange in the longer Red Carpet video, gets edited down to 1 minute using an app like Inshot or Wave.Video
 
  • Meme: Find a funny one liner in the longer Red Carpet video and create a meme of it using Mematic or Fumatic
  • Gif: Look for a funny moment that works totally out of context to use on Facebook and Twitter. I made this on Giphy.
  • A Still Image: A funny quote and a screen grab from the video and makes an Instagram-worthy still shot. (Okay, this technically isn't from the same video, but you get the point...) I used PicMonkey for this. 
 
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As you can see, there are many ways to use the leftovers - and you figure that this was only one moment in the lobby before the show even began!

Warning: Like with leftovers, you can get tired of eating roast chicken a lot. So that's why it's good to stagger these pieces with other leftovers and main meals so that your audience doesn't get tired of  consuming the same stuff.

When you start to look for ways to repurpose your content, you'll see you have to do much less inventing and filling up your content calendar gets much easier!

Do you like leftovers? 

Like Downstage Media on Facebook and see it in action!

Why I Do What I Do

 Photo by  Felix Mooneeram

For over seven years I was involved in a comedy show that performed Off Broadway and there are very few photos, videos, or reviews to show for it. The leadership in the organization didn't see the value in spending the money on it. And it was right before we all had computers, and audio recorders, and cameras in our pockets.

Some of the funniest improv scenes, some of craziest choreography, some of the best singing I've ever done are only vague memories. Relocated to moments that my husband and I laugh about when we get together with old friends from that time.

Basically, the best creative moments of my career completely evaporated.

It was some of my best stuff.

Witness and Capture

I do not want that to happen to you.

 Photo by Caleb Jones

Photo by Caleb Jones

You are doing your work every day - whatever that is. It deserves to be witnessed and it deserves to be captured. For many reasons - maybe it will entertain someone. Maybe it will inform. Maybe it will answer someone's question or solve their problem.

No matter what it is, your work can benefit more than just the person who is in the room with you at that moment. Social media now gives you the capability to share that with other people all over the place in a lot of different ways.

I love taking a bit of a speech and finding a great quote from it to turn into an Instagram post.

Or taking a whole performance and putting that up on YouTube. But then breaking it into bite-sized pieces for Twitter. Or turning it into a meme.

Your Best Stuff

So be bold enough to take out your camera and ask for the selfie with the client you just had a meeting with. 

Take the extra five minutes to set up your phone to record when you're speaking at that event.

Or the work that you are doing could just evaporate.

And this is some of your best stuff!

Working For Myself Works For Me

 Photo Credit: Dustin Lee

Photo Credit: Dustin Lee

I'm listening to the waves outside the shore house my mom has had since I was the same age as my little girl. I'm working here tonight. A spur of the moment decision led me "down the shore" (as my extended family from Philadelphia says) so my husband and I could have a kid-free long weekend at home, and my daughters could have Camp Seashore. Tomorrow I'll go back home.

I mention this because my lifestyle - and, most importantly my mindset - just doesn't seem to work with other companies. I kind of have to be able to pick up at any moment and carve out time to do my work whether I'm in Nashville, LA, down the shore, or at home. 

And I finally realized that is okay. 

Control Freak

I have also realized that I've found most of the directors I've worked with, and most of the bosses to be  either poor leaders or poor businesspeople. Were they really? Nah. Probably not more so than any other combination. But at my age, I've discovered that I no longer want to feel that discord. Rubbing up against thinking "if she only did this" or "why doens't he do that" we would be so successful.

And, it should be noted that each one of those directors and bosses were perfectly fine and capable. The common factor in all of them was me. So, clearly there is a control freak in me that wants to do things her way.

Clarity

Having this kind of clarity makes life simpler. The tension of being undecided about whether I "should  apply for a full time job or start my own business" finally goes away. (An internal debate I'd been having for nearly a year.) The safety and security that I wanted from a career at an already established company will just clearly be what I have to work for as I work for myself. The things I wanted to do that the company would have given me, are just things I'll have to strive towards on my own.

Yes. Clarity. 

Challenge

So now the challenge is - how to do it at scale. How does my business grow at a pace where I can give myself the stability I crave while still living life on my own terms - able to ditch my desk for the day and put in a late session somewhere else after the kids go down. 

I suppose that's what this blog will chronicle. 

And You?

When was the moment that you realized that working for yourself worked for you? Send me a DM on Instagram @annieschiffmann. Would love to hear about it - and how it's treated you afterwards. 

Facebook Live for Music Improv

Facebook Live for Music Improv

Musical Improv presents its own challenges when using Live social media platforms. After a year being afraid of making a mistake, I produced and event with Broadway's Next Hit Musical. Here's what worked and what didn't.