All posts by Michelle Matlock

Taking Your Goods To The Market: A Chat With Shameless Performer AmyG

Photo By Jeff Cate
Photo By Jeff Cate
Photo By Jeff Cate
Photo By Jeff Cate



Finally, I was able to publish my first Thriving IPA Podcast of 2015! Yeah, Happy New Year!! I’m so excited to share the conversation I had with Independent Performing Artist Amy G.

In this episode you will hear Amy Gordon:

  • Reveal the key to booking her one woman show.
  • Expose one of Matlock’s childhood secrets.
  • Share the perfect investment advice that her Mother gave her when she was just starting her career.
  • Explain exactly how she launched her succesful crowd funding campaign.
  • Confess to what she would rather be doing.

Amy drops some serious knowledge about how to thrive as a performing artist. My advice is to listen and learn. Take what you need and throw the rest out the window. That is exactly what I did.  Enjoy!

Click here for more info about Amy Gordon

Click here for more info about Michelle Matlock

Listen, if you like what you hear SHARE this post with your friends right now.

Take action. Write down three ways you can take YOUR goods to the market. Make it happen.

Not sure what to do next? Let’s figure it out. Let’s talk about it.

Email me

Keep Thriving


Diabolo Empire: A Conversation With Tony Frebourg About How He Turns His Ideas Into Serious Cash Flow.

My Conversation with juggler acrobat Tony Frebourg was at the very least inspiring. This very talented Independent Performing Artist has mastered the art of diabolo and generating income while he is sleeping.  What I love about Tony is that he is passionate about what he does and he is dedicated to improving his discipline for himself and others, all  while generating  hefty returns. He is a perfect example of how one can stretch beyond a specific talent and create a thriving creative career and lifestyle.20131007_150422DSC01549

My advice is to not judge and to just listen. Then ask yourself, “What can I do to improve my discipline for myself and others?”, “How can I use my ideas to generate income while I’m sleeping?” and “Do I have what it takes to go from just surviving to thriving?”. Of course you do!!  Write down three ideas that pertain to your talent, that could potentially become another stream of income. I wrote down:

(Listen to my conversation with Tony Frebourg by clicking below. The sound improves after the intro. Please don’t be stingy, share with others)

1. Self publish my play.

2. Create a DVD of my show.

3. Provide a space where artist can rehearse, perform and learn.

Which one of your ideas could allow you to earn income while you are sleeping? Make it happen. Can you imagine the amount of time freedom you would have if you earned most or some of your money while sleeping? Make that dream a reality.

If you are struggling with this idea of making money while you are sleeping and or you are interested in brainstorming this concept with other Thriving Artist in the world, join my Thriving IPA Mastermind by emailing me a request at

The Thriving IPA Mastermind is a private Facebook or Linkedin group made up of a group of performing artists who discuss, support and experiment with ways to make mutiple streams of income. We are in pursuit of  generating more income for more time freedom. Join in the fun.

Thank you for reading and listening. If you have made it all the way to this final sentence, please share this post by clicking your favorite social media share button above.

Check out Tony Frebourg by clicking here.

Look at some of Tony’s innovative products for Diaboloists.

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Negotiating, Unique Investing and Multiple Streams Of Income: A Conversation With A Thriving Contortion Artist

Welcome to my first Thriving IPA Conversation. My goal is to uncover some unique and inspiring ways that Independent Performing Artists maintain and manage their careers & lifestyles. I hope to identify some common tools that we should all be using to thrive, but more importantly I hope to uncover new ways to generate income that will allow IPAs the time freedom that most of us desperately need, to do what we do best, which is create.

I will also take this moment to launch The Independent Performing Artist Podcast. This first episode is a few of the best moments during my conversation with Gana. Take a listen. Click here for the podcast.

I have had conversations with some of the hardest working IPAs in the biz. This is just a start. I can’t wait to share more with you. It can only get better from here, so stay tuned.


Ganayun Ganchimeg Oyunchimeg (A.K.A. Gana)


Independent Performing Artist


22 Years Experience

Percentage Of Income from contortion is 100%

Born In Mongolia

Currently Living In LA, California

Q: Did you always know you would perform contortion for a living?

 Gana: Yes

Q: How did you know that?

Gana: I started training contortion at age 7. Then at age 10 I started performing. Around 17 years old I knew this was it. I just love contortion

Q: What was your first circus that you performed in?


Gana: Mongolian State Circus.


Q: Did you come from a circus family?


Gana: No one


Q: How did you get into contortion?

Gana: My mom saw me doing contortion. Her sister was a comedian. So my mother called her and said my daughter is doing this weird thing. So her sister said bring her to the capital city of Mongolia, so she took me there. That’s how I started and my aunt was really happy because she wanted someone in the family to do the similar job as her

Q: How long did you do the Mongolian State Circus

Gana: 6 or 7 years

Q: how did you make your way to the states?

Gana: A lady made a trio contortion act and took us out of Mongolia State Circus. We performed another 6 years around the world. After that we went our separate ways.

Q: Did you start in LA?

Gana: No I found small circus travelling around the US.

Q: After small circus contracts travelling the US did you finally land somewhere?

Gana: In 2008 I began just doing corporate shows in Vegas.

Q: How did you know to do that?

Gana: Because other Mongolian Contortionist girls were doing that. And they were working. I was living in Vegas and these girls were kind of like my agent. The more you perform the more people see you.

Q: Did people see you and then invite you to do gigs or was it just you sending your video out?

Gana: Contortion is very unique. Not many people can do it or do it at a good level. In Mongolia we have very good teachers and we learn everything very hard way. That’s why it was pretty easy for me to get corporate shows

Q: In 2008 you are in Vegas and you are dong corporate gigs. Has your experience in getting work stayed the same or has it change and evolved over the years?

Gana: I have many agents. And when they have jobs they call me or sometime I get called directly from a company

Q: Do you have to make new videos often?

Gana: No, I’ve had the same video since 2008. Most people know me so they don’t ask for new video.

Q: has your pay increase over the years

Gana: Yes

Q: Is that from you just asking for more money?

Gana: In the beginning I didn’t know what I was getting into. I was use to working for a small circus. So I wasn’t asking for much. Over time I started to know my level and so I started asking for more and more.

Q: Did you feel fear around asking for more?

Gana: Yes but it can’t go wrong. Either they say no and I can lower it a little bit or just say ok that s it .


Q: Have you ever turned anyone down?


Gana: Yes, it happens all the time


Q: Was there ever a time that you had scarcity of jobs?


Gana: No, I never felt like I couldn’t get gigs. Work is always there


Q: Wow, that’s so interesting. I guess that’s because there is not that much competition?


Gana: That’s the great thing. If I was in Mongolia then it’s a challenge, you know. Lots of contortion schools and many contortion girls. But in America there is almost no competition


Q: What about when you leave and go away for long gigs outside of L.A.. How does that effect your business?


Gana: No I’m not happy with being away, I could lose contacts. It’s risky because people like to hire same people that they trust. Suddenly when they disappear they have to call other people.


Q: Do you feel like there is more you can do with contortion?


Gana: Yes, I started teaching last two years. Teaching is way less money, but it’s full time work


Q:Why don’t you have a website?


Gana: Because there is Youtube. My clips are accessible on there.


Q: Is there any big lessons that you have learned about getting work?


Gana: It’s difficult, but it could be worse.


Q: Is there anything you wish was easier?Are you ok with how you get work? Do you wish you had an agent?


Gana: No I like to book myself?


Q: Why?


Gana: I like to know everything that’s going on. I just like it that way. Agents usually just take 10% but I don’t have a problem with that. I just like to know everything that is going on.


Q: Have you ever signed a bad contract?


Gana: Yes, I learned by mistakes


Q: Have you ever had to write up a contract or do employers always have them?


Gana: No I never had to write up a contract


Q: Do you feel comfortable where you are? I mean do you feel that you are living the life style that you want?


Gana: Of course I wish there were more corporate shows happening. But I’m happy with what I have. it’s nice to have more jobs but I enjoy my free time



Q: Do you have any investments or own any real estate property?


Gana: No


Q: Do you want to?


Gana: I do have my thing in Mongolia


Q: I just wonder sometimes if most artist think about investing their money or growing there income in other ways. I’m very curious about our mentally in that way.


Gana: I have goats in Mongolia


Q: Gold?


Gana: No goats!


Both: Ha ha ha haa!


Q: You invested in goats in Mongolia!? How many goats do you have?


Gana: I bought 20 goats 2 years ago. I think I now have 50 or 60.

Q: Goats!?


Gana: Yes.


Q: What do you do with the goats?


Gana: Its cashmere!


Q: For the wool?

Gana: yes and meats.


Q: Do you generate income from that?


Gana: It’s just for fun, nothing serious. I’ve already tripled my money on this. Not much, but I do it just for fun. Don’t put this part in the blog!


Q: This is interesting to me because it is investment! You’ve tripled your money in this and I think that’s awesome.


Gana: It’s kind of fun for the brain.


Q: Who takes care of them?


Gana: My Aunt


Q: You invested in goats! That is amazing! Where did you get this idea?


Gana: I was in Mongolia and I told my Mom I would love to have my own goats and sheep and she said yes you can do that. And I just did it.


Q: But it’s something that generates cash?


Gana: Yes it does. Actually my family ate a couple of my goats


Q: Your family is eating your investment!!


Both: (Laughing)


Q: How long will you be able to do contortion?


Gana: I think I have 10 more years. But I think no one wants to see old woman bending. After that I will have my contortion studio somewhere.


Q: Where?


Gana: For now it’s LA


Q: Is there a demand for contortion teachers in LA?


Gana: Yes because yoga is taking over and the next step is bending so it will get bigger.


Q: Are you gonna get a website?


Gana: Yes


Q: Cool, so between your teaching and your goats your future is secure you should be living well.


Gana: Yes


Q: Do you love the contract negotiation part of your work?


Gana: Yes, I love negotiating.


Q: Some artist are afraid of it.


Gana: I want to tell those people don’t sell your self short always ask for more.


Q: Good advice.


Gana: Even if they give you an amazing price still ask for more!


Q: You told me that you were interested in writing a book?


Gana: Yes.


Q: Great idea. This could be another stream of income. What will your book be about?


Gana: Yes, I’ve been thinking about this idea for awhile because I get so many questions from people on Facebook about how to do contortion and how to start. I would also like to write about the Mongolian contortion history because Mongolia is really famous now with contortion. Most of Cirque’s contortion acts are Mongolian


Q: Do you know many of the other Contortion Acts in the US?


Gana: Yes.


Q: Do you talk about how to negotiate with them and do you learn from each other.


Gana: Not really. We hide our price.


Q: Do you think that that’s a good idea?


Gana: Both ways. It’s good to know someone’s price so that you know where you are, but it’s also bad because I’d rather not know the price.


Q: I always thought that if we knew what we all made we could all get more. It sucks when you are getting 100 bucks and some one else doing the same job is getting 200


Gana: Yes, this is true.


Tip: As long as you negotiate a price that makes you happy, it doesn’t matter what anyone else makes.


Gana: I also love to make contortion tables from wood.


Q: So the contortion table is what you perform on top of?


Gana: Yes different shapes. I’ve done one already. I like doing different shapes and ones with a hole in the middle, so that you can show more skills. But it’s just a little side thing.


Q: Yes but it’s like your goats ,it’s another stream of income. I think if we have enough of these little things that we love to do, that pertain to our art ,we can generate income and we can have thriving lifestyles.


Q: Do you love LA or do you want to be somewhere else?


Gana: I love LA. We will see how the world turns out. Most of my work is outside of LA


Q: How long is your average gig?


Gana: 1 day.


Q: So they fly you out for the gig and in one day they fly you home?


Gana: Yep.


Q: How many gigs do you want per month?


Gana: Well I’d love to have 5-7 gigs. Sometimes I make one gig and sometimes I work the whole week and I get the same price. Just depends. It’s a fun life.


Q: Do you see yourself as a business


Gana: Yes. there is a business side of what I do. But I see myself as a performer


Q: But you are managing your own career.


Gana: I just think there are things that I have to go through to get good gigs. Doing my own contracts it comes together.


Q: What are the things you have to do to get the good contracts


Gana: I don’t see all the things I have to do as a job I think of it as part of my performance. It’s what I have to do


Q: Excellent! Hi five. Not everybody sees it that way. It’s exactly how we have to think as Independent Performing Artists.


Gana: I think it’s good to do your own thing. When you negotiate a contract you are selling yourself high. Once a company sees you and sees your level that’s it. When I book myself I ask for the high price and then when I train it motivates me to be the best. Freelancing is a hard job, but just enjoy it.

Please share if you enjoyed this post. Email me at for anything. 


How Resistance Almost Destroyed Me

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“Resistance is the enemy within.”-The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

The creation of this blog was a part of my resistance and it almost destroyed me. Resistance is that thing inside of us that prevents us from doing our work. Resistance deceives us  and will often make us think it’s coming from outside of ourselves, but it’s not.

“Resistance is always lying and always full of shit.” -Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

In January of 2014 I was invited to create and write a solo show that would play at the New York Clown Theatre Festival in July of 2014. I had six months to get it all together. Plenty of time. At the time, I was in Tokyo, Japan working for Cirque Du Soleil. I had 2 shows per day and a hour and ten minute commute to work each way. I didn’t have much time to write and be creative before or after work. The first time I actually got time to sit and start writing my new show, I became overwhelmed with the desire to create this blog. Resistance is a bitch that won’t quit! 

The most ridiculous thing about creating this blog is that I had no idea how to create this blog. I had never done anything like this before. I became obsessed with learning how to create it. I had to start by learning what to do and where to do it. Square Space? Tumbler?, Eblogger or WordPress? I knew nothing about any of it. My resistance told me that I must find out. Instead of sitting down to write my show, I started the long process of researching which platform I should use to create this blog.  I fell into a deep hole and it took weeks to climb out. My resistance was like a powerful mud slide that picked me up and swept me away.

“The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.”-Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

Once I figured out which platform to use, I had to build it. I couldn’t figure it out so I went to Odesk and hired a guy from India to help me set it all up. That took three weeks to accomplish. Once it was set up and ready to go I just HAD to write my first three blog posts before I could start writing my show. Resistance never sleeps and it deprived me of sleep too.

This blog was not the only part of my resistance to writing my new show. Resistance also convinced me that I needed to take an 8 week online business course and revamp my personal website I was doing all of this from the hours 1:00 AM -4:00AM each night after I returned home from work. The crazy thing is that I had to be back at work at 9:30 AM, so I was getting about 4 hours of sleep each night. Resistance slapped the shit out of me and then shoved my head up my ass!

“Resistance aimes to kill.” -Steven Pressfield, The War Of Art

I listen to the audio version of  “The War Of Art” by Steven Pressfield while commuting for a hour to work everyday in Tokyo. It’s actually a quick listen. It was this book that inspired me to finally start a revolution that would eventually over throw  my own resistance to writing my new show.  In May of 2014, with two months left to write and rehearse my new creation, I kicked resistance to the curb and in a desperate panic, I managed to mount  a new solo show that was presented by The New York Clown Theatre Festival.

 In his book, The War of Art, Steven Pressfield brilliantly defines resistance so that we can recognize it and he provides the tools that we can use to fight it. Basically he teaches artists how to turn pro. Only professionals can beat resistance. I highly recommend reading it if you are an artist of any type. Click here to get your copy now.


“Resistance is fueled by fear.” -Steven Pressfield, The War Of Art

Click here to see a clip of my new solo workBig Shoes Short Tales.










“Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all is a form of planning.” ― Gloria Steinem–

To be a thriving independent performing artist (IPA) we must dream big and take action.  It is not enough to keep our  dreams in our head. We must find a way to put them on paper in a creative way, so that we can actually see what we want and take actions toward making it happen. Every building has a blueprint. This post will focus on how to create your blue print as an IPA. I call it a DREAM SCHEME, which is a business plan for the IPA to thrive.

Before I dive into DREAM SCHEMING, I want to clarify that this is not traditional business planning at all. I am not a financial or business expert. I have carved my own path in this business of show and I am sharing some of the  tools  and practices that I believe took me from struggling to thriving as an artists. What works for me might not work for you, but at the very least, I hope it inspires and motivates you to open your mind, take action and keep exploring until you find what works for you.

Your DREAM SCHEME  is one-third of what I’m calling THE FOUNDATION. THE FOUNDATION is a set of 3 business skills that every thriving IPA should practice. My last two posts focused on the first 2, which were BUILDING YOUR AUDIENCE and PERSONAL BRANDING.  I believe that if we embrace and begin to practice these  business skills we can create thriving careers and lifestyles as IPAs. Let’s get to work!

Your DREAM SCHEME  can be a vision board, a journal, a note book, a poster, a bunch of sticky notes or any combination you prefer. It should be something that you can focus on and see everyday.  Your DREAM SCHEME  is how you will turn your desires as an artist into reality. This is a way to clearly state what you want and then identify the actions you need to take to get there.

DREAM SCHEMING should be done as if you have no fears, no financial limits and no rules! This is between you and the universe, so do not hold back. Also, keep in mind that it will change and grow over time so don’t wait, just start.

A DREAM SCHEME can include all sorts of creative inspirations, pictures and quotes, but I have identified 4 details that your DREAM SCHEME must include to really thrive as an IPA.


If you have been following this blog and taking action, you already have your personal brand in place (Yippeee!). If not, then read my previous blog post on how and why  you should develop a (click) PERSONAL BRAND.  In short, your PERSONAL BRAND is your mission and/or purpose (your why) as an artists. Once you clarify this for yourself, place it at the top of your DREAM SCHEME in big bold writing. Everything in your DREAM SCHEME should reflect your personal brand.


Your desires are a list of all the possible ways to generate income as an artist. Make a list. Here is an example:

A. Performing

B. Creating an online business (be specific)

C. Selling homemade cookies

To be a thriving IPA we should think about mutiple streams of income and passive income. I’m not talking about your survival jobs (there is nothing wrong with slinging drinks and passing plates, I’ve been there, but let’s dream bigger). I’m talking about dreaming up ways to make money while you are sleeping and creating a life that allows you to have more time to create and perform. I’m talking about generating income from doing the stuff that you really love to do. Only list things that you really love to do. Even if you believe you can’t generate income from it. We have entered the age where anything can be monetized, so don’t block your potential.

This is where your creativity and your business collide and make magic.  If you feel bad about the idea of monetizing your passions, I have to chanllenge you and ask why you feel that way? Who in the world told you that it is wrong to get paid to do what you love?  If you love what you do, you should get paid a huge amount of money for it. To be a thriving IPA you must shift from doing it just for the love, to doing it because it also pays you very well (never lose the love, though).

Once you have your list of income generating possibilities, go through the list and ask yourself the following five questions about each possibility. If you answer NO to any of the following questions scratch that possibility off the list and move on. This exercise will allow you to narrow down your list and get really focused on taking some action and moving forward. Here are the five question to ask yourself about each of your income generating possibilities.

  • Do I have the knowledge, skills or abilities to provide this product or service or am I willing to train to get them?
  • Is this idea aligned with my mission and or purpose (YOUR PERSONAL BRAND)?
  • Am I willing to dedicate the majority of my time and energy on this for the next 13 months?
  • Is there a clear market of people in the world already spending money on this type of  product or service
  •  In ten years will I regret not having pursued this?

Once you have narrowed down your list, the next step is to focus in on each idea and to create action steps toward your goals for generating income. A goal without a plan is just a wish, so let’s make these goals  a reality.

**I have placed a section of my personal DREAM SCHEME and additional material that is essential to this process on a BONUS page that is reserved for subscribers. SUBSCRIBE HERE to get access.

I have a strength in helping people get started. Click here if you want a little motivation.


Your DREAM SCHEME should include all of  your marketing strategies.

First, let’s clarify what marketing is.

Marketing is everything you do to teach consumers about the value of  your product or services.

Think of marketing as a whole pie. The peices of that marketing pie are everything from your website to social media to advertising to headshots to what people say about your product or services. Marketing is the big picture.

As IPAs there are three major marketing strategies that we should be dreaming and scheming about. Here they are:


 I suggest you check out my previous blog “THE #1 WAY TO THRIVE AS AN INDEPENDENT ARTIST”, which is about this very important skill and then add your stategies and ideas on the subject to your DREAM SCHEME.

I’ve also created 10 AUDIENCE BUILDING STATEGIES that you can get on the BONUS page, but you must be a SUBSCRIBER to this blog to get access to this material. Click it to get started.


If  your desire is to generate income from selling a specific product or service, it is in your best interest to create an Ideal Customer Avatar for each product or service. The idea is that you will create your Ideal Customer Avatar by identifying all the characteristics of your ideal customers. Think about  all the common aspects of your ideal customers, from demographics to age, income, gender, marital status, industry, beliefs, lifestyle, hobbies and interests.

Now use these characteristics to create a single Ideal Customer Avatar. Be specific and very detailed about this person. You want to create their name, age, hair color, where they hang out,  what they read, their fears, concerns and issues.

Once you have created your Ideal Customer Avatar you will have plenty of material that will inspire your web copy, sales and promotional materials and the design of your product and services. You will be able to really connect with your customers by speaking and thinking as they would.  This exercise is genius and is something you can start using right now.

For more specific questions to answer for creating your Ideal Customer Avatar SUBSCRIBE to this blog and get access to the BONUS page, where you will find a complete list of  questions that will help you create your Ideal Customer Avatar.


Identifying a niche market for your solo show or performaces can be key to thriving as an IPA. First,

a niche market is a small market segement on which a specific product or service is focused.

For example, when I was marketing my one woman show, I focused on colleges and universities. This is actually a huge market, but because of the subject of my show I was able to identify a small subset of the college market that could be interested in booking my show, which was African American and Women’s Studies Departments. I found my niche market and it became very lucrative. Identifying your niche market can lead to a very thriving career. In this case, thinking small can result in big returns.


Your DREAM SCHEME must include everything you desire when in comes to generating income. Please read the previous sentence over and over again until it sinks in. Again. Include your financial dreams in your DREAM SCHEME.

Look, as I stated before I am not a financial expert and I am still learning about money and how to attract it, manage it and make it flow. But what I do know is that if you are struggling financially as an artist, you have to change your mind in order to change your money situation. This is what I have experienced and what I believe.

What I have experienced, is when I think I don’t have enough money in my life, I don’t get enough money in my life. As soon as I feel grateful  and made myself believe that I had more than enough, my financial situation changed almost immediately. One day  I decided to act as if I had more than enough money, so much that I had to give it away. Suddenly opportunities for me to generate money just started to come outta no where. I know it sounds like bs but it’s true. Try it. Let me know what happens.

The most powerful financial transformation happened to me the day that I decided to write myself a check for an amount of money that I thought would change my life forever. The amount was not crazy, but it was significant. I placed that check on my VISION BOARD where I could see it everyday. Six months later I was offered a contract for that exact amount of money that I had written on that check in January. It  changed my life forever.

Use your DREAM SCHEME to get specific about the amount of money you want to generate, how you want to generate income and the kind of  lifestyle that you want to live as a thriving artists. Dream big, be specific and take action. It can be as simple as writing it down and placing it somewhere that you can see it eveyday. 

Guess where there is more amazing info about financial stategies? Yep. The BONUS page. Get access by SUBSCRIBING. Click it.

Please help me out by SHARING this on the social media site of your choice. LIKE it if you like.

Hey, I hope you start DREAM SCHEMING today.

Is there anything you find difficult about DREAM SCHEMING? Leave a comment. Or contact me directly by clicking the link below.

I’m right here if you have questions or you want to connect.  Procrastination is the number #1 cause of failure. Now is the time to start thriving.