Plan Your Ideal Week like a Performer

Plan Your Ideal Week like a Performer

This is me when my maiden name was Vickie Smith, when I was a jazz vocalist. Being performer has taught me a lot about planning my schedule for success…find out why.


Planning my ideal week ahead of time was a necessity when I was a jazz vocalist with regular bookings.  I had to not only get my own bookings, but also rehearse, preparing materials for the entire band, including directions and payroll, and doing all my PR.  And years later after I left the performing world and getting back to my grassroots, marketing, and am now have the greatest gift of all to perform to every day – my two year old son.  Some things haven’t changed, like having a very hectic schedule.  When your schedule is inconsisent like mine is, you have to grab every opportunity to bring your thoughts together. For me, that means planning out my week and each day before it begins.

No two days are the same with a two year old. There are his own daily activities that have to be planned out in addition to my own. If I wait until the last minute, I feel like I never get anything accomplished. There are also days when I feel it is a struggle to walk, but more on that in a bit.

I was listening to one of my favorite Podcasts with Amy Porterfield and Michael Hyatt as her guest, whose podcast also gets my head on straight when I feel out of focus. In episode 174, He talked about planning your ideal week based on categorizing different activities where you are in the performance, namely, front stage, back stage and off stage. There are different activities required at different stages of the process of getting you to a certain goal, whatever that goal may be. For me it is keeping content up on the web that I create so that I can continue to keep my brand alive.

My son is my top priority, but he other priority on my plate is getting my healthy back in order since his birth. It’s no secret that I have MS, diagnosed in 2007. My disease progressed somewhat after he was born, making walking just a little more difficult. Weight training 3 times a week and intense physical therapy twice a week keep me moving, in addition to my son. I don’t complain because I’m grateful that I can drive myself to get there and back and there is always someone in a worse circumstance than you that makes complaining about your own situation pretty silly.

My Previous Career as a Jazz Performer
For me, creating the ideal week was a winning concept because as a former performer, I can totally relate. I was a jazz vocalist with a regular band that I regularly booked, as well as sol gigs if I performed with tracks. The amount of work that went into each performance was ridiculously out of proportion with the amount of time I spent on stage performing in front of a live audience. There was way more time spent on the back end, with things like

– Rehearsing with my piano player to work out arrangements for the group.
– Rehearsing with all my musicians.
– Putting together a show and new set list.
– Booking new gigs
– Getting publicity

And the list goes on.

You can substitute any members on your team These are all the activities (at least the majority) that I had to take care of off stage. It is very much the same for a solopreneur. There are front stage, back stage and off stage things that you must take care of for your own show. Now it’s time to get my own show in order so I can produce content again like I used to. It’s just not that easy when your ear is always waiting for a little one to rouse from a nap, and I am not one to produce content while he is alongside me and I could be devoting my time to him. The first three years are very crucial for brain development, and I never want to look back and regret any time I didn’t spend with him in raising him to be an amazing performer in his own show.

There are new challenges to overcome every day,. Whether it’s with a very active and bright little boy who needs active mental and physical stimulation, or it’s a day where my leg and foot are just not cooperating with me no matter what I do.

So I’m off to plan out my ideal week thinking about life as a performance, and I thank Michael Hyatt and Amy Porterfield for helping me to keep my head on straight.

Question: Do you plan your day or week ahead? Do you have more items or less items on your off stage list? How do you find it best to keep your life organized?

5 Reasons Being a Singer Made me a Better Marketer

In this video, you see me as a former vocalist, but first and foremost, a shrewd marketer. Ever wonder what goes into the making of a performance on stage? It’s much like all that goes into your business’s product offering.

Ok, so we already know there’s a lot of competition for eyeballs out there, right? Let alone, a lot of singers and performing artists (thanks to the advent of America’s Got Talent, American Idol and all these other reality tv shows that show anybody with some sort of godgiven vocal talent, maybe combined luckily with some musical talent and an instrument.) Yeah, anybody with a voice and a dream can be a star, right? <tire screech audio insert right about here>.)
Well, I didn’t exactly plan on being a singer when I was growing up. It wasn’t my dream as a little kid to get in front of an audience and be the star with my godgiven vocal talent. Nope, I had to hone it later in life, with vocal coaching and music theory and piano lessons and let’s just end it there. It was a great 7 year ride for me as a vocalist.
If you’re wondering why I’m not a singer (jazz vocalist, actually) anymore, you’ll just have to stay tuned there
is so much more coming. I will always be a singer, just how I choose to get in front of an audience has changed I have been getting in front of an audience in social media, not for myself, but for clients and for my employers, and getting audience’s attention and encouraging an action to be taken. Now I’m singing for my supper by making the transition to offering my own “show” online. So, stick around for a bit, The “Vickie show” is about to begin.

Here the Top 5 Reasons Singing Made Me a Better Marketer
1. You Have To Package an Irresistible Product

When I started singing, it was in nursing homes at the beginning. I loved my senior audiences. I found a true
connection with music with my grandmother in her final days, when I would sing with her. She loved the music of the swing era. I bought a few karaoke CDs of music from that time (The Andrews Sisters, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald…). I new the music, and just brushed up on some of the lyrics. She would sing with me and knew all the words and I’m convinced it kept her around for her last year and a half with us.
I would learn what it was like to be in front of an audience. In these nursing homes, I got to learn how to cable my own preamp and microphones (you have to be what’s called a “selfcontained
act,” as no sound equipment will be provided for you). Sometimes you were in a small room of about 15, or you could be in an auditorium but in that case, a microphone and larger sound system would already be provided for you but you still had to package something irresistible.
What do I mean by irresistible? Well, you have to be the judge of that. What is it that everyone else is offering? I was always looking at other singers locally in the newspaper.
It should be a package. Sometime people can wrap their head around and know exactly what you offer that they can’t find anywhere else. This means not just your favorite songs, but songs that make sense songs
that go together in a pattern, or with a certain theme something that you can connect with. Sometimes like I’m putting together right now as I’m digging through my past successes, trying to make sense of it all. A package. A very unique package. An irresistible package not available like it anywhere else.
And when you package it, it can be the same meat and potatoes the same songs in your set list but the gravy
will be just a little different, and the side dishes too (ok, a little too deep for a moment there, aaaand we’re back.).
You have the same basic songs that you’ve worked on the same arrangements, but the way that they’re put
together that common thread that makes them all make sense. Maybe you’re doing a tribute to a particular artist and let me tell you, when you’re starting out, it probably will be nothing BUT. I got a lot of gigs and came to build my fan base doing tribute shows to Ella Fitzgerald. I started with one, and then I changed them slightly one of my most popular ones was a Latin Themed show, where I packaged songs that had a common thread they either had latin accompaniment, or I would often sing in Spanish in addition to English. Now I’ve been speaking Spanish since I was 9 years old I learned it in school, and kept it up through the years even Puerto Rican friends that I had in Brooklyn called me “blancita.” So it wasn’t farfetched
for me to sing in Spanish, I understood everything and could even speak it in an authentic accent. You just had to be true to yourself and find a way to package your shows honestly, and with that my marketing materials followed suit. But it has to be irresistible and something you just can’t find anywhere else.

2. You Have to Command Your Own PR
There is nobody who knows what you do more than you. For me, I would always think of everything I did as a PR opportunity especially if I was performing at a new venue. The local media has a calendar section for free that they give to local artists as a service for their readers to know what’s going on in town. It makes them a better reason for people to read the paper (and now check out online, particularly on an iphone if they’re in a new area and want to know what’s going on in town that they might want to check out.) You’ll want to familiarize yourself with your local newspapers, magazines and websites (especially it’s
grown in leaps and bounds as a hyperlocal news engine and value- added service). Look down the road and notify them as soon as you can (for the local community section, 34 weeks was a good lead time). Start getting some free local listings, and the reviewers in the newspaper will start to know who you are. But you can’t do that unless you get in front of them.

Start building that PR.

You should be collecting press appearances, an “about me” piece, and anything else that should go into a media kit more on that in an upcoming video maybe even video series…hmm…

3. You Have to Grow An E-mail List and Make it Easy To Sign Up
At every show, I always invited people at the end of my sets to sign up for my email list. My list’s function was mainly to let people know when I had a gig coming up. It was how I grew a following. But I will tell you that over the years, my email sign up sheet changed it was a valuable lesson. Originally, I just gave a blank line for someone to fill out and write, often in script after a couple of drinks, their email address.

It was a valuable lesson to me to go through changing my sign up form from simple lines to boxes to fill in each letter of their name and address. Improving the way that people signed up greatly increased the amount of signups I got at my gigs. But at the end of the day, these people were just signing up to know when they could catch me at a free gig was I making money off it? Indirectly I was just encouraging them to catch me at a free show, and now to come to a paid performance at a jazz club or performing arts center, which I would have a taste of at the final days of my singing career (yes, you’ll just have to stay tuned for more on that I
promise, it’s coming…)
Now I think of all the ways I would be able to sign people up at my gig. Constant Contact has an awesome app that you can just easily add people who want to opt-in. I BET I would have had an iPad kiosk where people could self-serve and sign up themselves people really like interactivity and ownership, man that would be so cool. So, gone are the days of my very first sign up, sign your name on the dotted line and get my email.
4. Know Your Audience and Connect.
Ok, as a singer, you’re not just going to fall into a gig. There’s a lot of work and time is takes to develop your list of venues, and they will be very different, with different needs of their audiences. So, I recognized that I not only had different audiences, the end users really, they were the people who I had to connect with at the end of the funnel. These are the people who are getting your finished product you on stage singing your heart out and enjoying the musical performance of the band you put together to accompany and support you.

If I had a gig that was more of a general audience, I kept the scatting to a minimum. Unless I was in a jazz club.
Then I knew that audience was expecting more improvisation trading 4s or 8s with your musicians was not
something your jazz audience would be adverse to and if you’re reading this and don’t know exactly what that means, it means that you as a vocalist will improvise on the melody line that you are familiar with in the song, but sing different notes that go along with the chord structure of the song like a guitar solo or
a piano solo any solo you hear that goes with the song, but isn’t the melody line it’s in between. Well, I would do 4 or 8 bars of my own solo (or a solo of a jazz vocalist I had memorized, especially Ella Fitzgerald, queen of scat. If it ain’t broken don’t fix it she was a true master of improvisation vocally).

So all this talk about scat, right? But, not all audiences are into it. Especially my senior audiences they wanted to hear a more familiar melody line so they could sing along with me. That was what was most important to them.

Now, I will say, college audiences for me were very different in and of themselves. Sometimes I would be booked at a lunch time concert, and sometimes it was a smaller area on campus, where I needed my own sound equipment. And sometimes I would be lucky enough to be in an arts center (one of my favorites was Sussex County Community College, where I was lucky enough to even get a video from the gig which I could use as a demo for more gigs, but I did hire a sound engineer to get a good mix of us all on stage for the recording I never even broke even on that gig after paying my musicians, but dollar for dollar I got so much more out of it. I got a video that now lives online that I can still use for marketing, even though I’m not a singer anymore. Just singing in a different way.

5. Keep Refining your Marketing Materials
At the top of the funnel were the venues. These were the places I could perform that would hold an audience for me. Without a venue, unless people were coming over to my house, there was no place they could really come and see me. A venue for me, or any artist that’s starting out, could be a street corner in front of a local store, a library, a performing arts center (West Point Military Academy was my final performing arts center performance that was a far cry from a street fair with people walking right by you, although they would enjoy your music and stop for a second, something was very shiny over “there” and sometimes it would be a brief encounter, not enough for an email signup even, but dems da breaks, and the show must go on for those who did come to see you, always remember that.)

So, the venues were very important for me to get my marketing materials just right. They were the places my
audiences would see me. First, they were the venue’s audience, and it was through that audience that I would
convert them to my own audience.

To do that, I had to keep refining my marketing materials. As my packages developed and I increased my offerings inventory, I would need to add them to my materials. If there was a new quote I would get from a reviewer, I would put it on a flyer, my website, anywhere that people would need to validate me as an authority as a vocalist and worthy of them investing their time to come and see me. And that’s just see me at a physical appearance. There would also be merchandising, two CDS.
Now, you should have an idea that there’s a lot that goes into being a singer. Not just honing your craft as you have a responsibility for your audience’s eyes and ears, but also for the venues, putting together an irresistible package for them to sink their teeth into because they know they’re not going to find it anywhere else, the importance of growing an e-mail list so you can grow your fan base, which a venue will want to make sure you have after all, for you it’s about eyes, but for venues, it’s all about butts in seats.
And with that thought I leave you. There is a lot of work you should do regularly to update your marketing materials as you continue to evolve as a living breathing creature with new and exciting things to offer and market. Never lose sight of how important marketing is to get in front of an audience and to obtain a new customer. I am very thankful for all I have learned as a jazz vocalist and about marketing my services as one to make me the marketer I am today who understands the value of gaining an audiences attention and eyeballs. There’s a lot of competition out there for them.

The moral of the story is that no knowledge or work experience ever goes to waste from tinkering at the piano and figuring out a vocal melody, to learning how to transcribe music, to picking up music theory so I could communicate with my musicians better. In the end, it all helped me to connect with my audiences better, and that’s for me what it was all about. Connecting with my audiences. And there is alot that goes on behind the scenes to market yourself as a singer that made me a better business person a
business person that knows how important it is to use every resource you can to gain an audience and hold their attention. You really come to appreciate eyeballs.

So that just touches upon one more exciting chapter in my life (last time it was about learning photography and how it changed my marketing)and how it helped make me who I am, and wants to make me share it with you online so many tools, so little time! I just wish I had more hours in my day to share everything I can with you but each day holds something new to learn, including more tools and technology. It will be a neverending learning journey, and I hope you stick around with me for the ride. I appreciate you and your sharing your time with me.
Until next time.



Vickie Siculiano is an online marketing coach, helping small businesses and entrepreneurs with social media marketing, e-mail marketing, website content development and much much more.

00:32 Vickie’s Background
2:25 Vickie on Event Promotion
9:02 Vickie on which social media platform is most effective.
12:04 How Vickie came to ExhibitCraft.
13:37 Vickie on video for event marketing
18:43 Vickie on Twitter
23:23 Vickie on e-mail marketing.

That’s all for now! Please post your comments below, I always love to hear from you!

Vickie Siculiano
Online Marketing Coach
Social Media Marketing, E-Mail Marketing, Website Content Development
Based in Wayne, New Jersey

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