How do you build an audience for your work?
How do you keep people engaged?
How do you get people coming back wanting more?
How do you get people to like, follow, subscribe?
How do you increase traffic?
How do you capture and retain that traffic?
So you finished your first book, movie, or album. Congratulations! And you just secured a distribution partner, sales agent, or publisher. WOW! You are one of the few. So now all you have to do is sit back, relax, watch your Facebook likes go up, see your e-mail list grow, and collect the checks, right? :D
Wrong. Sorry. Sure it could happen, I guess.... But I've never heard of it happening. Chances are, if you have already finished your work and released it, it is probably too late to start marketing and influencing sales now. Your marketing and monetization strategy should have happened a year ago or more. Why? Just because you have a distributor, just because your book is on Amazon, just because your movie is on Hulu, just because your album is on iTunes, does not mean that thousands of people will see it. Unless your work is featured by a major platform or reviewer, nobody will even notice outside of your close friends and family who already know. But guess what! Those friends and family are the beginning of your AUDIENCE. And what's great about a good audience is that – if built correctly – they aren't just one-time customers... they will continue to follow you and buy whatever you make for years to come.
The distribution system has changed. The way people digest media has changed. Whatever your medium – whether it be writing, filmmaking, photography, music, painting, design, video games – your "industry" no longer exists. Yes, people still get "discovered," and people still get distribution deals, publishing deals, etc. But because it is now so easy to self-publish your work – post your video on YouTube, start your own blog, self-publish your book, release your own music – the market has become completely flooded. There has not been a major increase in quality, just more noise. The Laws of Supply and Demand therefore dictate that as supply goes up, demand goes down. So how do you think a publisher, studio, or record company reacts in this flooded marketplace? They stick to their guns: more secure "investments" like comic book movies, remakes, sequels, series, the stars, basically anything and everything that already has a built-in audience and therefore a guaranteed ROI (return on investment). The Laws of Supply and Demand work the other way as well... As the supply of talented artists and content creators goes up, the demand for those artists goes down. So entertainment moguls are more selective. As an artist, you now need MORE to appeal to both fans and big players in your industry – more talent, more experience, better work, more value, wider appeal, bigger fanbase, and lower prices.
But that's OK! This is the evolution of the marketplace. Can't change it, so you might as well use it. Give the people what they want!
So how do you overcome all these crazy obstacles in the media world today? How do you stand out from all the noise? And how do you add enough value to influence income in a sea of free? The name of the game is "audience building." Build your platform, build your audience base, build your fanbase, build your e-mail list, build your Facebook reach, build your social media reach, build your community, build your tribe. (But BEFORE your product is released of course.) The bigger your audience, the bigger your potential income. So how do you do this?
Building Your Marketing Channels
First of all, building your audience is all about building your marketing channels to increase your reach, thereby increasing the number of people you are able to market to (potential customers). Marketing channels used to be billboards, networks where you could air a commercial, magazines where you could place a full page ad, even telemarketing, referral marketing, affiliate marketing, canvasing, direct mail marketing, any platform/channel through which you can get in front of potential customers. All these are marketing channels of the past – very expensive and with a low turnover rate(from ad view to interaction/call/purchase/etc.). Nowadays, a marketing channel is simply a media platform through which you reach people – whether it's a Facebook page, Twitter profile, blog, YouTube channel, e-mail list, Instagram, etc. These modern marketing channels are much more effective with a higher turnover rate (from ad touch/view to interaction/click/buy) because you are not just getting a bunch of random views from random people like in traditional advertising. Because it's up to the individual to like/follow you, you are able to target very specific people who are actually interested in what you have to sell or say. And because most modern marketing channels are on social media platforms, you have access to your AND their friends/family, so it is much easier to leverage word of mouth and referrals. (By the way, word of mouth is still the most powerful form of advertising). Believe it or not, all those selfies you post on your Facebook are a way of marketing yourself to your own customers/fans like your friends and family (though it's not the most effective form of marketing, unless you are a hot girl looking for a shallow guy who's only interested in your looks and your amazing selfie skills). What other value do you offer besides your looks? So, by getting more "likes" and "follows," you are single handedly building your list of potential customers.
Keeping Them Engaged
A consistent audience requires consistent content. Your content and platform will determine the frequency at which you broadcast or publish your work. For a blog, a few times a week is recommended, though I post once a week because I am lazy and because I spend a lot more time writing longer blog posts with much more information, detail, history, the whys behind everything. (This blog is not meant to be a quick read with a few paragraphs, it is for serious media creators and artists, meant to be studied, digested slowly, reread, and used as a resource like a research book with many references.) For a YouTube channel: weekly. Facebook/Twitter/Instagram: few times per day. Podcast: bimonthly or monthly, but depends on the content. E-mail: monthly newsletter or whenever you post a new blog/article or podcast.
Keep Comin' Back for More...
Most importantly, MAKE GOOD WORK! The only way you're going to keep people coming back for more is by doing what you're good at, doing what you love, and doing it for a really long time. Follow your heart, pursue work that you're passionate about. Then share your work CONSISTENTLY. They say "Do what you love and the money will follow." Well, there are a lot of struggling artists out there doing what they love. I would take this one step further and add, "Do what you love and you will be fulfilled/happy, but share what you love and the money will follow." Even further: "Help people by doing what you love to influence change and you will bring more wealth and fulfillment into your life than you could possibly imagine." If you want to make millions, impact millions.
Like, Follow, Subscribe, Sign-up
The key to building your marketing channels is to consistently add value IN EXCHANGE FOR a way for you to keep in touch with them. So in every single piece of content, your CTA ("call to action") at the end should be driving traffic to like, subscribe, follow, give their e-mail, etc.
"Wanna learn more? Subscribe to my blog!"
"Wanna learn how to produce quality work, build an audience, monetize your media, and make money doing what you love? Sign-up for this free resource with your e-mail!"
Here are some tips on increasing traffic:
• Digital Street Teams or "Influencers": recruit friends/followers to post, e-mail, comment, etc. for you in other web communities, social media followings, forums, youtube channels, blogs, etc.
• Affiliate Marketing: partner with other leaders with large audiences in order to tap into their e-mail lists and followings by asking them to cross-promote your work across their channels in exchange for a percentage of profits of the sales they influence
• Referral Incentive: incentivizing fans to share by offering discounts, free gifts, or something of value in exchange for them getting their friends to sign-up
• Squeeze Page or "Opt-in Page": building your e-mail list by giving something of value for free in exchange for their e-mail (example: Watch first 30min of my filmSHARP for FREE!)
• Here's a tip for jumpstarting your platform: start with your own address book, all your friends' e-mails, and all your Facebook friends
• Rollover: for each additional project you do, remember to carry over the lists you built from previous projects
• THE HOLY GRAIL – getting your work to go VIRAL: some people claim there is actually now a formula (or more than one) to getting a million views or clicks by motivating people to rush to the share button, but it's difficult to predict. The best way is to be "contagious" by simply appealing to people's emotions. Here's a great research paper on viral marketing written by two marketing professors for the American Marketing Association.
• Direct Sales: there is still nothing that can replace the power of physically getting in front of people and asking for the sale. Speaking at events is a great way to drive traffic to your content, but I wouldn't recommend knocking on doors to try to get people to read your blog.
And remember... capture that traffic with a CTA in all your content to drive people to like, subscribe, follow, etc. And retain that traffic by releasing content with a consistent frequency.
The system is dead! DO NOT let somebody else sell your work for you – nobody will do as good a job as the creator (you). Nobody will have as much enthusiasm, passion, and knowledge about your product and your audience as YOU. The idea that your music or film is going to get “discovered” is bullshit, frankly. I don’t know how else to say it. Yes, it still happens, but very rarely. The days of buyouts are over (buying the rights to your film for 20 years for a very large check). Why depend on some imaginary person who is supposedly going to swoop in, give you a million dollars, and do all the work for you? Doesn’t exist. No distributor or sales agent will build an audience for you. Their job is only to bring your film/media to the various platforms, not to make you a Facebook page.
Be a man(or woman) and get your butt out there!