I'm sure I don't need to tell you that Mad Men is back — the news is pretty much everywhere these days. I, for one, am beyond excited; the last two Draper-less years have amounted to what I like to call "The Dark Ages" (saved from total ruin by one of my new favs — Homeland — and reruns of one of my olds favs — The West Wing). But even if you're not a fan of the show, there are a lot of wonderful career lessons that you can take from it and apply to your career in the arts. Don't believe me? Then stick around as we look at 5 Career Lessons From Mad Men.
Show of hands: how many people out there are struggling with marketing? Let's see... one... two... twelve... eighty... three-hundred-fifty-three... okay, okay. We'll just say that there's a lot of you. I’d like to share my overall philosophy when it comes to marketing for artists. Just like there is no one path to a successful career as an artist, there’s no one right way to market yourself as an artist either. And while that idea can be somewhat liberating, it can also be scary to a lot of people. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve spent entire coaching sessions sitting across from nervous-looking artists as they fire off one question after another about marketing. “How should I put my mailing together? What should go in it? What shouldn’t I do? What kind of envelopes should I use? What should go in my cover letter? Who should I send it to?” And the questions go on and on and on.
Let’s talk cover letter. Now, hold on just a second — I know it's not the sexiest topic in the world, but I think you should really stick around for this. Why? Because I don’t care what level you’re at in your career; this is a skill that is necessary for any artist who wants to do business effectively. The biggest issues that I’ve seen artists have with writing cover letters are that they don’t know WHO they are writing to and they don’t know exactly WHY they are writing the letter. If you can get clear on both of these, then the actual writing of the letter will be a piece of cake. The first step in creating a successful cover letter is not the actual writing of the letter, but the preparation for writing it. In other words, this first step is about gaining clarity.