Storytelling As A Business – Let’s Focus On What’s Next

Storytelling As A Business – Let’s Focus On What’s Next

Almost 100% of my family’s income is derived from live performance.

A small percentage comes from my published work, and a small percentage comes in through my husband working PRN as a social worker twice a month. The rest of it? Live Performance.

Within days of the Stay At Home orders, The David, who is my husband and business manager, and I went into planning mode.

The realities of this situation were quite clear –

Live performance was on hold for now and for the foreseeable future.

We looked at our business model and asked some questions:

1. Can DLW Storyteller Inc. change the product we offer in order to sustain this business?

I’m the product because I’m a storyteller.
The answer?

2. Okay. Do we need to change our business model so that we go from marketing a product to markets that already have audiences to creating our own audiences?

Yes, we could.
Do we want to?

3.  Okay. Can we change the nature of the products our company offers to fit the current potential market?

We think so.

4. Excellent! How would we change that product?

We have to go virtual.

5. Excellent! What does that look like? Lots of Zoom shows?

Me – Don’t know.
Not a big fan of distance learning.
Not a huge fan of distance telling.
I’ve done both.
Don’t think I do a very good job at it.
In fact, I always feel like I suck.
You don’t have one audience, you have forty or more and they don’t react to each other because they can neither hear or see each other, and you can’t have eye contact, and, and, and…

The David – Okay, Donna, stop kvetching. Artists. Sheesh!

Me – Don’t roll your eyes at me. If I gotta do it, I will, but the whole killing me softly and destroying my fragile soul and that. Sigh. I’ll adjust as needed, however…100% of our income at all

The David – Really Rolling His Eyes


While we were researching some options, we got an offer from someone who wanted to market our virtual shows. We were pretty amazed at what he was offering, but we turned him down because he was asking what we felt was too much for being a middle man. We regrouped to think about our possible marketing and product offers.

8. We invested in some new technology, spent time trying to figure out how best to package our new presentations, asked advice, and feedback from people in our industry.

I spent hours making a ton of useless content that had to be deleted for one reason or another. It was extremely discouraging. I was also unhappy with the performances, grumpy about lighting, uncertain about content, and any number of things. So many fails!!!

9. We created a different marketing strategy with the idea of delivering our product in a different way that made it easy for organizations to consume.

10. We did some primary marketing.
The response was good, so we were optimistic.

11 – We launched a targeted national marketing push.

12. The response has been more than I could have hoped.

Our company has rebounded. We are on track to book more work this summer than was canceled. We are currently setting marketing goals and looking for audiences in the fall assuming that public schools are not going to be willing to allow random artists to move from school to school or that public and private schools are even going to be open.

Who knows how that is going to go, but we are moving forward.

– Every artist is going to have to make choices about how they go forward and what works for them. Not all virtual platforms are comfortable for all people. We have diverse skill sets and different needs. Find out how you go forward in a way that fits with your comfort level and abilities. Plan for the future in a world that looks like this.

For us, it means we have an entire branch of our company that did not exist before that we can continue to market even after this pandemic is at an end.

Start asking the questions you need to ask.
Examine your business model.
Consider how your marketing strategies must change.
“Be Bold! Be Bold!”
Failure means you tried, you learned, and you get better! If at first, you don’t succeed and all.

Saw a meme the other day…

homemade chocolate recipe

If life gives you lemons throw them back. You deserve chocolate.

I also like:

If life gives you lemons, find yourself some water and sugar or your lemonade is really going to suck.

Storytelling, puppetry, clowning, dance, music, and teaching artists of all types know that our art form is also a business.

Let’s focus on how we go forward.

Here is a link to the NSN Storytelling site where you can find a link to the Storytelling Relief Fund set up by Artists Standing Strong Together. You can apply for funding, or you can donate to the fund.

There are lots of organizations that are providing relief for artists. 

Take care of yourself
Be safe at home
Wash your hands
Stay socially distant if you have to go out

I’ll see you on the other side of this.