The Business of Art: Three-Way Interview with Melita Noël Cantú and Starla Halfmann

The Business of Art: Three-Way Interview with Melita Noël Cantú and Starla Halfmann

Ready to talk about the business of being an independent artist?

In the first 20 minutes of this 50-minute interview, Melita Noël Cantú and I discuss the multi-city project that she and her husband have developed called Art on the Roof, a unique, one-night gallery event to highlight and show the work of high-tier artists. We talk about the strategies they’re using to promote the event, as well as some of the business and creative collaborations she has built with galleries, artists, and even government officials in different cities to help promote the event.

Then, I conference in my good friend Starla Halfmann. Starla is an emerging artist who has already built a strong foundation for success, but hasn’t cracked the code to quit her full-time job and live out her artist career full-time.

The three of us discuss:

  • How to create gallery and print sales opportunities for yourself by developing a network of other artists and fans, even if you’re a shoe-gazing introvert who hates leaving your studio
  • Why having a professional-looking website is absolutely essential and can mean the difference between success and failure
  • How leveraging online resources like Pinterest can boost your print sales and introduce you to thousands of new followers and fans
  • Some little-known secrets to putting on your own shows and getting tons of people through the door


Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 52:43 min — 50.7MB)

Resources and Follow-Up

Melita (and Javier) Noël Cantú:

Starla Michelle Halfmann

Additional Resources Mentioned:


Where to Find Content for Websites

Where to Find Content for Websites

Always struggling with content for websites?

A lot of us small business owners have the same quandary; we want and need (more need than want) more content for websites.  The marketing mega-minds out there keep telling us we need to keep things fresh and updated on our sites, but we don’t always know how to find content for websites that actually relates to what we’re doing and that people want to read.

There’s a concept that I seem to keep running into called Content Marketing.  It is just what it sounds — the notion of putting content on websites.  But it’s also the study of where to put it, how often to rotate it around, how to place it on social media without overloading your audience, and all sorts of nonsense that probably induces voluntary narcolepsy in most small business owners.

Hopefully, this will simplify the whole “Content for Websites” thing.

Just found a great free resource through TopRank Online Marketing.  It’s a free ebook called 29 Secrets About Content Marketing and the Undercover Agents Who Shared ThemI just paged through it, and it’s got some fantastic tips on how to do content marketing without driving a spike through your eyeball.

Wow.  That was violent.

At any rate, check it out and see what tips you can pick up to get the whole content monster thing under control.


P.S. We’ve been really impressed with the Presentation Skills Training we’ve been seeing over at Learn To Present.


Etsy Gift Cards Part of New Direct Checkout Program

Etsy Gift Cards Part of New Direct Checkout Program

Gift cards part of Etsy’s fancy new Direct Checkout platform

Etsy, a major marketplace for audience-produced crafts and art pieces, just announced they’ll soon be selling gift cards.

Part of the new “Direct Checkout” platform, the cards will show up in the form of a code.  Buyers can then use that code toward purchases at any shop that accepts Direct Checkout.

The cards will only be available online (no plastic or other real tangible versions) and will have a maximum limit of $250.

“You can email the gift card directly to a friend or print one out to give in person,” writes Etsy’s Product Marketing Manager Natalie Schwartz in a blog post. “The gift card credit will be in the form of a code, which buyers will use towards purchases at any shop accepting direct checkout.”

Etsy rolled out the Direct Checkout platform a little over six months ago, and they’ve already rolled $50 million through it via 100,000 shops that have signed up.

The company said they have no plans to remove PayPal as a payment method.

As a way to celebrate the new gift cards and Direct Checkout platform, Etsy is waiving all credit card processing fees for all new (and existing) customers using Direct Checkout all through September.  It’s their way to let consumers test out the platform before the holiday season hits in December.

I personally have never used Etsy, but have talked to several crafty crafterson friends who have.  Seems like a great place if you’re an independent artist, crafter, or all-around creative type who makes stuff and doesn’t want to build the infrastructure to sell it on your own.

Are you an Etsy-ian?  Used it before and made a buck or two (or bought from it)?  What are your thoughts about the new Direct Checkout platform?  Talk to me in the comments below.


*Some info borrowed from Mashable, who likely knows way more about Etsy than I do.

Entrepreneurial Networking: How To Learn To Love It

Entrepreneurial Networking: How To Learn To Love It

Entrepreneurial Networking can be fun.  No really.

You love what you do.  You’re good at it.  But that doesn’t mean you love talking to people about it.  I know artists, writers, even public speakers who can’t stand entrepreneurial networking.  They find it unnecessary, forced, and frankly, they know they kinda crappy at it.

Okay, wait…back up.

Earlier in that sentence was the word “forced.”  Why does it have to be forced?

After all, entrepreneurial networking, at its heart, is just having a conversation with people who are interested in the same thing as you, and then finding a way to help each other.

When you look at it that, way…that you don’t have to prove anything, sell your widgets, or self promote, things get a little easier.

Here are three quick tips to grease the wheels and make the process more fun, so you actually go do it…and like it.

Networking Tip #1: We’re All in This Together

Entrepreneurial networking is a big scary term until you break it down and say, “This isn’t about me finding people to do business with — this is about me finding friends who do the same thing.”  Find people who are in at least a similar or complementary industry to you.

When I go to a networking group or conference with small business owners, I often have a nagging fear camped out on my shoulder that’s jabbing me, saying stuff like:

“I’m not on the same level as these people.”

“I won’t know what to talk about.”

“I bet my teeth won’t be as white as theirs…”

…blah de blah blah.

Those are all ill-placed self-defense mechanisms that are kicking in.  But they aren’t really going to protect you.  They are based on fears…usually unrealistic fears, that come from some part of your history or some other area of your life.

If you’re interested in what you’re doing, neither your experience nor the whiteness of your teeth should matter.  Why?  Because these people you’re talking to are interested in the same thing.

When you approach a conversation with those people, realize that they’re probably in the same boat as you; they have some of the same fears, challenges, interests, and even passions as you.  That means you have plenty to talk about, and frankly, they’re probably just as worried about how they’re coming off as you are.

Networking Tip #2: Never Lead With “What Do You Do”

I picked a great tip from my friend Patty Farmer, the Networking CEO about this particular phrase.

When you ask somebody what they do, a particular sequence gets triggered in their brains.  They are no longer in “I’m talking to a person” networking mode; they switch over to “I’m talking to a potential customer” selling mode.

Instead, ask somebody about them.  Find out about their kids, their hobbies, what inspires them, how they got involved in this particular group/function/etc.

Obviously, you’ll eventually want to lead into the “what do you do” piece, but starting out, get to know the person and NOT the business person.

Networking Tip #3: Be An Active Listener

Business networking is a funny animal.  Especially entrepreneurial networking.  Most business owners are pretty alpha and like to talk about themselves. Not all of us, and certainly not all the time.  But 9 out of 10* of us admit that we are often waiting for the break in conversation so we can talk about how flippin’ cool it is to be us.

But if you take a real, active interest in your conversation partners, the better the conversation and relationships are going to be.  Be anactive listener — one who listens and asks good follow-up questions that are open-ended (meaning those questions don’t just get a one-word answer).

And one key piece to the whole puzzle is having empathy for other independent professionals and small business owners — trying to truly understand who the other person is and what they’re going through…good or bad.

Building your entrepreneurial network isn’t the unslayable dragon that we make it up to be in our minds.  It’s a great way to not only grow your business, but make friends who are often on the same path as you.

So, try hitting up a entrepreneurial networking group or event, and, y’know…try to have some fun while you’re at it.

*A completely unfounded, made-up, and can’t-back-that-upable statistic.

Interview with Teri Hill

Interview with Teri Hill

Teri Hill is the former President of the Austin chapters of the American Society of Training and Development and the National Speakers Association.  She has been coaching and training leaders across the globe for over 20 years.

Her clients include numerous Fortune 500 companies, small to mid size businesses, state and federal agencies and non-profit organizations.  She’s a highly in-demand speaker and educator, presenting to thousands of people.

We cover a ton of ground in this interview on everything from:

  • Some of the most common limiting beliefs (even ones held by Fortune 500 exec’s) and how to start burning them down
  • Using powerful techniques for better conversation between you and your clients and partners
  • Exactly what to do when your 1,000-person audience stops paying attention, and how to get things on track so they’re hanging on your every word
  • The one trick you NEED to have up your sleeve before speaking to any audience
  • Some not-so-known confidence secrets that Teri teaches her clients



Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 53:53 — 51.8MB)

Resources and Follow-Up

T.H. Enterprise