Everyone, this is a story I’ve been waiting to tell you for a while now.
The only reason I’ve been waiting is so the story could reach its end before I shared it (although in a way, the stories of our careers never really have an end, do they?).
This is the story of how blogging landed me a paid performance gig.
Back in the good old days (less than a year ago) when I was blogging at my professional website, I released a post titled Death in Opera: A Visual Representation. To this day, it is one of my favorite posts; It was hilarious and fun to research. Although I know it is far from incomplete, I was pleased enough with its results at the time to share it with the world. So there it is.
Shortly after sharing that post on social media, I received an email from composer Marc LeMay. It reads:
This is Marc– a fellow U-M alum composer who is also living in Philly (I’m working on my PhD now at Penn).
Just wanted to let you know I’m really enjoying your blog!! The latest entry was especially inspired. I was JUST having a conversation with one of my composition teachers at Penn… about the best way to kill someone off in an opera, so your post could not have been timed better…!
Anyhow, I’m undergoing my own in-depth study of the opera rep right now as part of a multifaceted prep for writing my first chamber opera… so I’m reaching out also just to say hello and see if you’d be interested in meeting some time for coffee to talk opera stuff… I have some exciting plans coming up, and it’s always good to bounce ideas off of fellow musicians, especially someone as intelligent as you! I’ll be in Philly for the time-being, save a few side-trips to New York.
Hope you’re doing well!
So if you were thinking that the initial email I got was a job offer then no, it was not.
(Furthermore, it’s worth noting that I had been blogging and sharing my blog on social media for 7 months before I received this email.)
Anyway, it was so great to hear from a fellow U of M music grad out here in Philly, so I told him of course I’d love to meet up for coffee! So we did that and had a great time talking shop.
Amongst other things we talked about, he told me how he was a just accepted into the American Opera Project’s “Composers and the Voice” program. There, he’d be writing several arias for several voice types over the course of a year. Great stuff!
After that initial connection, I invited Marc to a recital I had self-produced called “The Art Song Recital”. It was local and half the program featured new music, so I thought he would enjoy it. And he did!
So then not long after that, he offered me a gig for a local music salon performing one of the arias he had written for the AOP program. While that gig didn’t pay, it did pay off. How? Before I had even done that performance, he invited me to a composer’s forum to perform the same piece – This time for a good sum.
Check out how this singer landed performance work through her blog! #sing #blog Click To Tweet
I know you might be reading this and thinking, “Well, that’s a little bit of a stretch to say blogging landed you a paid performance gig, don’t you think?” Not at all. Why? Because I did through blogging what most people generally do in person.
#1 I Made a Connection
Most people use performances, rehearsals, or other events to “network” or to connect with other professionals in their field. And of course I’ve done that too. However, in this case, I used the internet. While I didn’t reach out to Marc myself, my blog created an open dialogue to the music community, inviting people to start a conversation with me. Is it better to do it this way? Of course not – it’s apples and oranges. But why only meet professional connections in person when you can meet them online too?
#2 I Cultivated That Connection
It would have been all too possible to receive that email from Marc and say, “Sure! Let’s get coffee!” and then never make it happen. It would also have been easy to have coffee and then never connect after that. However, by continually cultivating the connection I had made online, it turned into a professionally rewarding experience in the long run.
#3 I Followed My Instincts
Sometimes you might make a connection with an “important” professional, but it just doesn’t seem right to you. Either they don’t value your time, or your professional ideas are too different, or something else makes you feel off about the relationship. I never had that feeling with Marc. Because of that, I believed that accepting his first unpaid offer would lead to more opportunities down the road and would be a rewarding experience unto itself. I was right on both counts.
Is blogging for everyone? Maybe not. Clearly it can offer you a lot though. Everyone talks about how having a website and being on social media is important for your business, but in the classical music field especially, we don’t always know what that means. It may be that blogging is the missing link.
How have online connections helped your business? What questions do you have about blogging for your business? Share in the comments!