You Want To Bring Me In Later? Thanks, But No Thanks.

I hear it again and again. "I really love what you do and I think it would be great. Once we get a little further down the line, I'd love to talk to you again about working together." Would you tell an architect that you "want to go ahead and get the foundation and framing done" and then bring her in? Nope. Because all she's going to do is tell you that you built a crappy foundation and you need to start over. Same with building a career. If you're getting strategy and planning help, get it up front.

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You Get More Done When You Know What's Worth Doing

Being an independent musician or photographer is tough. Not only do you have to be a creative genius, you have to be an accountant, salesman, project manager, customer service rep and marketing guru, too. And based on my conversations with people who do it day in and day out, they're willing to do the work, they just don't know what is and isn't worth doing. So I'm launching a new idea to help on the branding and marketing front. It's called the BigHowdy Mini Brand Exam for creative professionals. Find out more after the jump. Since this is the beta testing stage, I'm going to work with the first FIVE people who raise their hands and I'm going to do it on the cheap — $199. It's for musicians, photographers, painters and other folks who need help with their marketing but aren't sure where to start and have a limited budget to consider. The key is priorities. With that in mind, I'll review your materials, sites and content and give you specific feedback on What Is Working, What Isn't Working and What's Next. This is NOT a full-on "dive in deep" brand audit. It's a short list of specific priotities that you can do to get things moving and headed in the right direction. The process is really simple:

  1. Email me at exam(at)bighowdy(dot)com and say "Examine Me, B!"
  2. Fork over $199 via PayPal, credit or debit card. Plus tip (I kid. I kid.).
  3. Fill out a short questionnaire and send links to all your work (music, portfolio, etc.), sites, pages, videos, merch and other stuff.
  4. I review everything and develop a series of insights and specific recommendations for what you should keep, what you should lose and what you should do next.
  5. We meet—either over coffee in Nashville or via Skype or phone—for up to two hours and talk through your materials and I walk you through my insights and recommendations.
  6. I tweak stuff based on our conversation and email you your very own BigHowdy Mini Brand Report in one of those fancy schmancy PDF documents a couple of days later.
  7. You go and do all your stuff and become an international sensation, guaranteed*. (*Not a guarantee in the literal sense, of course. More in the "No doubt, Bud!" or "For realz!" kinda way. You feel me on this, right?)

So what does a BigHowdy Mini Brand Report look like? Well, for starters, yours is developed 100% for you. It's broken down into three sections: What Is Working, What Isn't Working and What's Next. The first two sections include things like "You're a great writer and your blog seems to really connect." Or "Your photos and design don't fit with your music." Or "You are very focused on Twitter, but your audience is more engaged on Facebook." Or "Your website is full of typos and it reflects poorly on your attention to detail as a photographer." Or "You don't have up-to-date music on your pages."

What Next includes things like "Schedule one blog post per week and promote each post in these 3 ways…" Or "Make the photos on your website larger for more emotional impact." Or "Add a RootMusic BandPage to your Facebook." Or "Invest in a good photo shoot." Or "Check out BigCartel or Goodsie to set up an easy online store." It's specific, it's realistic and it's a realtively gentle kick in the pants.

So, if you're stuck and sick of feeling like you're spinning your wheels… If you need direction. Priorities. Honesty and objectivity… the BigHowdy Mini Brand Exam is a good fit and a great place to start. Email me at exam(at)bighowdy(dot)com and we'll get things set up. If you have questions, post them on the BigHowdy Facebook page or email me. Thanks for reading!

Something New… BigHowdy Creative Coaching Groups

Artists are out there, everywhere, struggling to make music and get that music heard. They have more  options than ever – distribution, labels, marketing, social media, etc. – too many options, in fact. And too many people telling them everything they should be doing. Unfortunately, few of those people actually know what they are talking about or understand the limitations of an artist's time, focus and money. So, some of those artists come to me. It's been frustrating because every week I get at least one coffee or lunch invitation from someone amazingly talented who is paralyzed by the scope and complexity of their options and the fear of doing the wrong thing. So they do nothing. They want help, but they can't afford a team. And I really want to help them. So how does that person get access to the expertise and resources to develop a smart, focused strategy and a plan to put the music out there? What I do is pretty involved and expensive and the artists I'm referring to don't usually have a budget to get into all that. So I've decided to try something new. I've developed what I'm tentatively calling BigHowdy™ Creative Coaching Groups. In these groups, I'll be working with multiple artists at the same time, making it affordable for all involved. Each artist gets personal attention on their strategy and plan but is left to execute it on their own. I'm really excited about this new approach and I'm looking for the right group to launch it with.

As an artist, you know how to make music. The question is "How do you make a living doing it?" BigHowdy Creative Coaching Groups are a strategic resource that helps aspiring musicians start building a brand and a business. In these sessions, you'll learn to define yourself as an artist and tell that story in smart, creative ways through content and promotions. The groups are led by a strategist and creative marketer (that'd be me!) with extensive experience both inside and outside the music business as well as a select team of your peers who are trying to climb the same mountains you are. Each session will be one part classroom, one part hands-on workshop and one part support group. So you learn what to do, start doing it and feel like someone has your back if you don't get it perfect right out of the box, which you probably won't.

So, Who Wants To Be A Guinea Pig?

For this first group, I'm looking for four to six artists who are seriously working toward building a professional career in music. Ideally, the artists have done some touring and have a record or two out there. Genre is unimportant, but I will be curating a bit to make sure the group is a good fit. We're going to compress the normal twelve weeks into eight weeks. In order to build momentum, the first four groups will be held weekly before transitioning to biweekly for the last two sessions. So what can you expect in this initial 8-week period? A total of six sessions that each last 1.5 to 2 hours. The time, day and location is TBD, but it will be the same time each week and somewhere near Music Row in Nashville.What can you expect to get for your investment of time and money? At the end of the eight weeks of sessions, you should be able to:

  • Describe yourself and your music in a concise and consistent way
  • Understand your basic goals and timelines
  • Build a rough content and promotion strategy and timeline
  • Put that strategy and plan into action
  • Measure the results & tweak the plan

And now for the big question… What does this cost? Well, since this is my guinea pig group, I certainly don't want to charge you full price. On the other hand, I also believe that if you invest your own money in this, you'll take it more seriously. [EDITORS NOTE: The first "guinea pig" group received a substantial discount off the regular $449 rate for eight weeks] With that in mind, I've decided that a discounted [DELETED] per person for the eight weeks is a good, balanced number – fair for both sides (considering your guinea pig status and all).

So, if you'd like to be considered for one of these initial slots (there are only 4 to 6), please click here to email me before Friday, March 25th at Noon, CDT. [LINK DELETED] Just tell me a little about yourself, your music and where you are in your career. A few sentences, tops. I'm trying to get these started in the next two weeks, so the sooner I can assemble the group, the better. Thanks for your interest and let me know if you have any questions.