Just Who Are You Anyway?

Without even realizing it, maintaining an online presence (especially one as a blogger) can create an entirely unanticipated public persona…
For whatever reason, there were a number of situations over the past few weeks where my online persona here at Adaptistration has intersected my professional life as a consultant.

To begin with, it would be worthwhile to mention that I have no intention of making this sort of introspection a regularly occurring event at Adaptistration; after all, you can always visit the “About Adaptistration” and “About Drew McManus” pages for more info on both subjects.

Nevertheless, it is high time to answer some of the more common questions I receive from readers who are not already familiar with my work outside of blogging:

Question: Is Adaptistration your “job”?
Answer: No. It is entirely work done for the sheer satisfaction of doing it. Since I tend to publish something every weekday it does occupy a regular amount of my time, but being a self employed consultant allows my time to be somewhat flexible. Furthermore, since the topics explored here at Adaptistration overlap much of my work on a professional basis, it is nearly impossible to separate the two as easily if I worked as a mechanic but authored a blog on ballet.

Question: How much do you get paid to write Adaptistration?
Answer: Nothing. I do earn a very modest amount of advertising income via a single banner advertisement (located in the right hand navigation column). How modest is “modest”? You can download a copy of the advertisement brochure and do a pretty good job of figuring out on your own what the maximum income a single banner advertisement could generate (requires Adobe Acrobat).

I also maintain a small revenue stream from related Adaptistration publications available for purchase at CafePress.com, such as the Website Review Report and the Compensation Report. How small is “small”? As my blogging colleague Andrew Taylor once wrote about his CafePress.com store, “the pennies are rolling in.”

Question: If Adaptistration isn’t your job, then what exactly is it that you do?
Answer: My primary source of income is derived from my consulting activity, which offers a variety of services to performing arts organizations. In particular, I’ve successfully worked with a wide variety of groups from orchestras associations to players’ associations to for profit performing arts organizations.

The consulting component of my career is what certain Adaptistration readers are likely unfamiliar with, mostly because I don’t use Adaptistration as a personal platform to constantly promote those services. However, I do maintain a single link to my consulting website via the “About Drew McManus” page, but I refrain from writing about most of the projects I am involved in unless all participants sign off on the idea and there are no inherent conflicts of interest.

Furthermore, I have noticed that too many professionals are using blogs as nothing more than blatant marketing tools masquerading as independent forums for discussion and exchanging ideas. Nevertheless, that is simply not something I am comfortable with and, frankly, I feel is counterproductive to the very nature behind why Arts Journal editor Doug McLennan established the AJ Blogs in the first place.

Lastly, I do maintain another small revenue stream cobbled together from musical activity (arranging/performing) and woodworking.

Question: How do you decide what to write about?
Answer: It depends. At several points throughout the year there are annual topics such as the Website Review in early fall, Take A Friend To Orchestra in April, and the Compensation Reports at the end of spring which dictate published content. Almost everything else is influenced by a combination of recent events, reader suggestions, and business related topics that deserve exploration.

IMPORTANT: There is one circumstance that unfailingly dictates what will not appear at Adaptistration: Under no circumstance will I ever write about an organization, project, and/or individual I am actively working for unless agreed upon in advance by all related parties. Moreover, in order to maintain confidence in a working relationship, my standard work contract includes boilerplate nondisclosure language which prevents either party from publicly writing about said work in a public format.

In general, please keep in mind that further information about this blog can be found at the “About Adaptistration” page and for some brief biographical information about the author, you can visit the “About Drew McManus” page here at Adaptistration and a comprehensive biography is available at orchestraconsulting.com.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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