5 things that suck about Circus Artist’s websites

Here are 5 (of many) things that suck about the average circus artist website…

  • Flash. It’s amazing that in 2012 there are still people posting links to new websites that have Flash embedded. Flash doesn’t work on any iOS devices (iPhone, iPad), is buggy and is unnecessary. If you really want spinning animations or even some tasteful crossfading photos then HTML-5 is where you need to head. Leave the Flash in the 90s!
  • Splash pages. No one wants to land on a page that is just a photo of you with ‘click here to enter’ (BOOM,BOOM!) written underneath. It’s pointless and ups the chances of someone giving up on you before they get to see what you’re really about.
  • Homepages. Circus is a visual, live medium. Obvious I know but clearly some of you need reminding of this because you don’t have a video on your homepage. Why not?! Having great images on your site is important but not as important as showing what you actually do! Embeding a YouTube or Vimeo video is super simple, if you don’t want their logos involved they pay for a Vimeo Pro or VideoPress account (personally I think it’s fine, people trust YouTube and therefore more likely to click play). Don’t make a potential booker have to search for your video, it should be one of the first things they come across.
  • Use of lingo. Your site is probably not aimed at people who understand circus lingo so avoid specialised words and phrases.
  • Ego (I’m learning this one the hard way). You don’t want ego on a site that is about you. Sounds odd but it’s true. Your design, layout, copy, video, blog and social media should be aimed at a particular type of customer. You need to address their worries and wants rather than use your site as a chance to show just how really great you are. That’s not to say you won’t show your strengths, it’s just you want to do it in a manner that connects and engages rather than shows off. It’s possibly the most important thing to learn in marketing and particularly important for artists who have to promote themselves. If your sites going to be effective at driving you business then you need to study this stuff and more!

Technology Tips for Circus Artists – 9

In this series of posts I’m going to give tips on using technology to make your hours behind your desk that bit easier.

Tip Number Nine: Open Office

Save yourself a large chunk of cash by legally downloading and installing a pice of software that could replace an App that would easily costs £100+

Open Office is an open-source application suite whose main components are for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, and databases.Wikipedia

In other words it’s Word/Office/Excell/Powerpoint/Pages/Numbers etc. for free!

Gone are the days when Open Office would crash on you for no reason, reformat a project and make you want to break down into tears of frustration. It’s now a stable App that can compete with the big boys on features, help you with a great online support community & trouble shooting site and can’t be beaten on price.

This tip a real money saver, take advantage of it. Download it now, get used to it so when you next buy a computer you won’t feel compelled to spend on a piece of software that you can basically get for free!

http://www.openoffice.org/

Technology Tips for Circus Artists – 8

In this series of posts I’m going to give tips on using technology to make your hours behind your desk that bit easier.

Tip Number Eight: WordPress
Wordpress.orgEven though we are in the age of social media I think it’s still a good idea to have a website.

There’s a lot to be said about outsourcing web-design to a professional but if you’re not ready to spend large sums of cash on a site or you’re willing to invest some time and energy sat at a computer then look no further than WordPress.

WordPress is “A semantic personal publishing platform with a focus on aesthetics, web standards, and usability.” In other words it’s a simple and elegant way to easily create a highly customisable website that you can edit on any computer, smart phone or digital tablet with an internet connection.

Something to be aware of is that there is wordpress.com and wordpress.org. The .com is 100% free but your are limited with the design and other details. The software for wordpress.org is free however you will need to pay for hosting and a url, there are 100s of companies that provide this, you’re probably looking at about £50-100 a year, not exactly mega bucks. For the record I use Fasthoasts. You may also want to pay for a template (this gives the look of the site) which can cost from £10-£50 as a one off fee although there are some free usable templates out there.

Read here, here and here if you’re thinking about making your own site using WordPress.

Otherwise you can find someone to implement a wordpress.org site for you at a much cheaper price than you would pay for a design from scratch (I offer this, send me an e-mail).

If you make you’re own site using WordPress be sure to leave a link in the comments!

Technology Tips for Circus Artists – 7

In this series of posts I’m going to give tips on using technology to make your hours behind your desk that bit easier.

Tip Number seven: Use YouTube

When YouTube started to attract attention less than six years ago I was skeptical, even a little fearful. I made a video in early 2006 which was uploaded to YouTube and attracted 70,000 views and was featured on the home page, all within 4 days and without my knowledge (and most importantly) my permission.

But 5 years later and I’m a total YouTube convert. It’s quickly become the industry standard for sharing work with agents and clients, replacing DVD as arguably the best way to share your work.

There is a great feature you might not be aware of, setting your video as unlisted. This means the video can’t be found by anyone who does not know the url which you can distribute as wish.

You can rename the title of the video once it’s uploaded os get rid of that ugly ‘whateveryourtitleis’.mp4 extension!

For promo videos it’s best to have your url link in the first line of the description with the full http:// included so it becomes an active hyperlink to your site.

Read more YouTube tips here.

Also worth remembering is jTV, a site setup for juggling videos but also contains some great historical circus videos.

 

 

Technology Tips for Circus Artists – 6

In this series of posts I’m going to give tips on using technology to make your hours behind your desk that bit easier.

Tip Number six: Send large files

Although e-mail storage has increased massively over the past 10 years sending large files with a standard e-mail provider (GMail, Hotmail, Yahoo)  can still be an issue. This is where Dropbox or YouSendIt come in handy. Both allow you to upload large files and send an e-mail to your recipient which will give a private link to the file. Both are free but charge for premium services (which I have never needed).

Do you know of any better methods or services to send large attachments? Then please leave a comment!

Technology Tips for Circus Artists – 5

The fifth instalment to the series which aims to make your hours behind your desk that bit easier.

Tip Number Five: Use an electronic calendar

There is something brilliant about a Moleskine pocket calendar but times are a changing and using the calendar on your smart phone and desktop is the way to go.

It’s fine to keep a handwritten diary, there are some advantages but my suggestion would be to fill the information into a digital back up. If you lose a pocket calendar then you could be in real trouble.

If you lose a phone with your digital calendar then at least you have your backup on your home computer and online (if you have set it ip to sync!). If you don’t know how to do this then have a look here. I’d recommend Google calendar as it’s free and works across most platforms, Mac or PC, iPhone or Android etc.

The great thing about a digital calendar is you can setup reminders. Set alarms and text messages to go off at any point of your choosing before an event. Say you want a 1 week, 3 day, 1 day and half an hours notice before a meeting, you can easily set up a message to appear on you phone or computer to do this.

If you use this system correctly you should never forget about an appointment again! Learn how to do this with your Google calendar here.

If you found this tip helpful or have any suggestions please leave a comment below.

Technology Tips for Circus Artists – 4

The fourth instalment to the series which aims to make your hours behind your desk that bit easier. This tip should keep you inspired.

Tip Number Four: Watch TED talks.

TEDI became aware of TED talks in 2007 and ever since I’ve been hooked.

TED is a non profit organisation set up to spread interesting ideas. Originally focusing on Technology Education Design (TED), but now encompassing a vast range of subjects, everything from horse puppetry to the future of wireless medicine.

You can read more about TED here.

I think it’s worth stopping for a second and taking note of the amazing value of the internet. We are now lucky enough to able to watch and listen to some of the most knowledgeable experts from around the globe talk about their most cutting edge and exciting work and ideas, all from and comfort of our own home, for free. It’s an example of the internet at it’s greatest.

Some of the TED talks have entertained me, informed me, challenged my opinion, inspired me and even moved me to tears. The best have all at once.

My challenge to you is to watch a TED video a week. It will make you a better artist and more importantly, a better human.

Here are a couple to start you on your way…

If you you find any inspiring TED talks be sure to share them with us, particularly if they are circus related! As ever, if you have any suggestions please leave a comment below.

Technology Tips for Circus Artists – 3

The third instalment to the series which aims to make your hours behind your desk that bit easier.

Tip Number Three: Keep Your Inbox Empty

Having a job where you have to travel all the time can make staying on top of the inbox a bit of a hassle. I use a technique taught in the book ‘Upgrade Your Life’ by Gina Trapani. The method is simple.

Create an ‘Archive’ folder and remove the 1000s of old e-mails from your inbox and move them into the ‘Archive’ folder.

Next create two new folders called ‘Hold’ and ‘Follow Up’.

Now as soon as an e-mail comes into your inbox read it. Judge how long it will take to respond to the message.

  • If it will take less than 1 minuet or is really urgent deal with it then and there. Then move it into either your ‘Archive’ or ‘Hold’ folder.
  • If it’s going to take longer than 1 minuet move it into your ‘ Follow Up’ folder.
  • If it’s an important message that you are going to use in the next few days move it to the ‘Hold’ folder.

Do not leave e-mails in your inbox.

Put any follow up e-mails on your todo list, do not let them linger in your ‘Follow Up’ folder unanswered for more than a few hours. Empty your ‘Follow Up’ folder a three or four times a day.

Empty your ‘Hold’ folder once a week.

If you stick to this method you should become quicker at responding, more organised and feel less intimidated by your e-mail.

If you use a smart phone (iPhone, Android, BlackBerry etc.) then you can probably use push notification with your e-mail account. This basically means e-mails arrive on your phone as soon as they have be sent so you can keep up message by message. The only thing to bear in mind about push e-mail is that it can eat up your battery.

If you want to learn how to set up push e-mail on your phone then I suggest googling ‘push email <the brand of your phone> <the name of your email provider>’. For instance ‘push email iphone hotmail’.

If you found this tip helpful or have any suggestions please leave a comment below.

Technology Tips for Circus Artists – 2

This is the second in a series of posts aiming to make your hours behind your desk that bit easier.

Tip Number Two: Signup to Twitter.

There are still so few circus artists using Twitter, this is changing but I hope I can convince you to sign up today.

People often ask, “What is it? What’s the point? How can it help? Isn’t it a total waste of time?”. Watch the video below and read the Twitter FAQ.

Basically the more circus people that are on Twitter the more useful it becomes, the more connected we all our, the more experience we can share and the better informed we all get, creating better work. This will increase the interest and eventually demand in circus which in turn means there are more jobs for us all. Sounds a bit hippyish but it actually makes perfect sense.

If you don’t know who to follow (receive updates from) @CircusGeeks has a lists of circus artists, venues, employers and our very own bloggers on Twitter. You can just chose to follow our lists and you don’t have to go searing around for hours on end. If you want to be included on our lists just send us a tweet (message via twitter).

Still not convinced? Get an account and follow our lists, you don’t have to tweet but I bet something will pop up that sparks off your interest and before you know it you will be addicted!

Just don’t get too carried away with it all and avoid making embarrassing mistakes.

If you found this tip helpful or have any suggestions please leave a comment below or better still tweet at us!

Technology Tips for Circus Artists – 1

In this series of posts I’m going to give tips on using technology to make your hours behind your desk that bit easier.

Tip Number one: Use RSS Feeds.

RSS stands for ‘Really Simple Syndication’, you will probably recognize the logo as it’s on most websites. Basically it’s a neat way of reading all of your favorite websites news from one convenient place. Meaning you don’t have to waste time checking each site individually. I’d recommend using the Google Reader as it’s simple and will work with 3rd party Apps on iPhone, iPad, Android phones etc.

You can learn more about RSS in general here and watch this video about Google Reader…

Once you’ve set up an account be sure to add our RSS feed to your list!

If you found this tip helpful or have any suggestions please leave a comment below.

You know how it is.

American theatrical unions are strange things.

I just arrived at a venue for a tech rehearsal: as arranged I was there 30 mins before the official start time.

The theatre is really beautiful, but a very awkward space for me. Imagine a huge old wonderful theatre auditorium and proscenium arch. Now, dig 10 feet down into the auditorium, and drop in tiered seating all around a central stage area. Have 3 entrance/exit runways going onto the stage, and no clear front or back. As I said, beautiful, but not my perfect habitat.

No problem, I am here early. I will warm up and plan how I will use the space. I ask if I may go on the (empty) stage to do so.

“You may walk around, but you may not juggle until the technicians arrive. Union rules. You know how it is”.

No. No, I do not know how it is…

Here is a video of John Cage performing Water Walk. Sans working radios, because the electricians and sound union couldn’t decide who was allowed to plug them in: