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There’s Work and Then There’s All the Other Work!

| Tom Neel

In today’s overly connected world, not only self-employed artists but anyone offering goods and services, have double duty to deal with all of the time. No, I take that back, triple duty. You are what you are as someone in business, which means, you are an artist, a plumber, a retailer, or a coffee shop owner, etc.

That is what you do, those titles represent the goods or services you provide in exchange for not only money but enough money to end up with a profit. Because without profit, you will not be in business for long.

So if the first duty or job you have is represented by that title and all that this entails, your second duty or job then largely has to do with your interaction with the state and the federal government. As far as the government is concerned, your duty to them is way more important and deserving of your time than your customers! The government could not care less if you open late, close early, or fall short of your customer’s expectations. Unless it’s contractual of course. But, you know you do not want to cross your customers, and you certainly do not want to cross the government either. So both will put you out of business quickly! Double duty!

But the original double duty I was referring to when I began, refers to the work involved in keeping your business in front of your current and potential customers. So now you have triple duty. Three jobs to do. You’re what you are, plus a government puppet, and a marketing manager. I think most good business people will tell you that the marketing manager job has become more and more work, and possibly too much work considering the time and effort needed to do it properly. I’m, of course, referring to social media.

There was a time that the number one thing needed to put your business in front of customers was location, location, location. Today those three words are far, far, far, less important. The second thing was a phone number, along with being in the phone book, and or having an ad in the phone book. The third thing was word of mouth, which has always been a powerful thing, but not nearly as important as your visual presence or location.

In the mid-1990s, as the internet grew, if you didn’t have a website you were falling behind, and websites were expensive as the developer had to write a bunch of code to build any website you had. Fast forward and loads of businesses are giving up on websites in favor of just having a FaceBook page. They are not the same in my opinion, but to be honest, if I added up all of the money I’ve spent on building and rebuilding websites compared to how many paintings have actually found their way into my client’s hands, homes, and offices because of the effort, I would have gone out of business long ago over it. I don’t honestly feel web development for me has paid off, but it had to be done as part of any promotion for that time. Websites became the new location, location, location. Or at the very least location, web presence, location.

Well, here we are today. Location-times-3 is no longer the end all. Phones are out of favor and websites are becoming useless. Which means FaceBook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Messenger, Tumblr, WeChat and more, have become the ever important location, location, location. Confused? Maybe just exhausted? Me too. Listen, in today’s social media world, if you devote a minimum of 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, or a total of 72 hours a week towards your business, I’d be willing to bet to be successful at it, you’ll be lucky to spend half of that time actually doing what it is that you do. At least another quarter of your time will be spent on business management, which leaves 18 hours a week devoted towards trying to be everywhere you can in the social media rat race.

Here’s the sad part. A) 18 hours will not be enough time, and B) as new devices come along and the social media giants keep changing the playing field, you also have to keep up with the SEO (search engine optimization) minefield. (Or is that mind field) That one thing alone will mean all of your efforts may or may not be in front of your target audience. It also means you’ll likely be hiring people to do things that have nothing to do with the widgets you are making and trying to sell. I’m convinced the only ones that can really do well here are the companies that provide SEO services!!

I will share that I built the lion’s share of my business by shaking hands. By being personally and socially connected to my customers. Speaking directly face to face with them. That is what has been the best for both of us. But not all businesses can do this as easily. Even though being social can be a lot of work too, it’s not a social media rat race and I certainly prefer it to the current complexion of things. 

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