As you grow your comedy career, one of the things that will inevitably be tricky (and potentially frustrating) for you is trying to figure out if you’re actually making any progress or if you’re making as much progress as you feel like you should.
There’s a lot of reasons for this of course, but one of the biggest is that there’s not really a set of concrete metrics you can use to determine if you’re progressing.
Most people judge their career progress based on whether they’re getting more gigs, whether those gigs are in front of bigger crowds, how much they’re getting paid for those gigs, and whether or not Hollywood has come calling. Those are all valid ways to measure your progress to a certain extent, but they don’t necessarily give you an accurate reading of where you’re at with your career.
Most of those conventional metrics can be very misleading – just because a booker decides to book you in a club where 200 people show up who don’t even know who you are, that doesn’t mean your career is necessarily growing. It means one booker likes you.
And just because you get a TV deal, it doesn’t mean that you’ve made it. Just ask any of the hundreds of comics in LA who have been on multiple TV series but still find their careers stuck in the mud.
I’m not knocking any of these things – they’re good goals to have and are legitimate signs that you’re headed in the right direction. However, I’d recommend considering a different measure of success – one which will be just as applicable when you’re starting out as it is when you’re headlining clubs.
I call it The 10% Goal.
I believe your goal and measure of career growth should be to convert 10% of the people who see anything you do into fans that are connected to you in some way. I’d recommend trying to get them to join your mailing list as I’ve discussed before, but even if it’s following you on Twitter or Facebook, the key is to get them to connect with you beyond the initial moment they first found you.
This applies to everything you do – live shows, website visitors, Youtube viewers, people who read a blog post you contribute to another website, whatever. You may not always hit it, but the goal should be to get 10% of the people that see your work to become fans – not just to enjoy your work, but to actually connect with you and join your fanbase.
There’s several reasons why I believe having this goal can help you. Here’s a few:
It’s A More Concrete Way To Measure The Success Of Everything You Do
Because this 10% conversion rate will present you with a numeric “scorecard” for everything you do, it allows you to really judge your progress over time. For example, when you perform standup you can get a sense of whether or not people liked you. But whether they liked you and whether they become a fan of yours is two different things completely.
Entertaining people for 15 minutes and having a good set is fine, but it does nothing to grow your career unless some of those people stick around and connect to you. It’s easy to fool yourself into thinking you’re growing your career because you’re consistently getting laughs, but if you’re not getting fans then you’re not actually building anything.
The same is true for videos or content you post on the web. It’s great to get 1,000 views for something, but that has no actual value unless you get some of those people to stick around and follow the rest of your career. I recently spoke with a comedian who had received more than 15 million views for his videos over the years, but was frustrated that he didn’t have a bigger fanbase for his shows and merchandise. But he had never made an effort to convert those views into ongoing fans with a connection to him. If he had converted 10% of his 15 million viewers into ongoing fans of his work, he’d have 1.5 million fans and an entirely different career at this point.
It Gives You A Worthy Goal
If you went into a show knowing that your goal was to get 10% of the people in the room to follow you on Twitter or join your email list after your set, would you do things differently? I bet that you would. Setting a goal and committing to a new way of judging your own performance will impact the way you approach the business side of your career. For that matter, it will force you to consider the business side of your career in everything you do, and that alone will help you in the long term.
You Can Track Your Progress And It Will Energize You
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a big believer in the power of momentum. Having a metric like the 10% Goal to chase after will not only motivate you, but will energize you as you see yourself making progress. It’s very difficult to judge your progress as a comedian when the only metric you have is something as abstract as how many laughs you get. Are you getting more now than you did three months ago? Maybe, maybe not. Who knows? And maybe crowds like you more, but bookers haven’t caught on yet so you assume you’re not making progress even though you actually are.
Being able to numerically track your growing fanbase can help you figure out what’s working and what’s not working in your career. And it can give you proof that you’re advancing, whether or not the “industry” has caught on to you yet or not.
It Works At All Levels
Are you just starting out and performing at open mics for 10 people? That’s fine – see if you can get one of them to join your email list. Are you headlining clubs and performing in front of 10,000 people a month? Well, then see if you can get 1,000 new subscribers each month. This is a goal that will scale along with your career and that’s important.
Now, I hope that at least 10% of you that enjoyed this post will please take a moment to subscribe to my Free Tips Newsletter. 😉