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How To Grow Your Fanbase By Not Promoting Yourself

September 8, 2013

Most comics fall into one of two categories when it comes to promotion – either they’re so uncomfortable promoting themselves that they never want to tell anybody about anything they do, or they’re so in love with themselves that they turn their social media feeds into promotional spam machines.

But I’ve got a strategy that can actually help both of these groups  – a way to grow your fanbase without promoting yourself at all.

It turns out one of the best ways to grow your fanbase is to promote others instead of  yourself [tweet this].

Here’s why…

Imagine what would happen if you decided that for a year you were not going to promote anything you did – not your shows, not your album, not videos of your act, not your podcast, nothing. Sure, you’d keep producing those things and performing, but you just wouldn’t actively promote them through your social media channels.

Instead, you would use your feeds solely to share the absolute best creations you could find from other people – the funniest videos, most interesting podcasts, or best stand ups you could find. You would set out to build a reputation for yourself as an incredible resource for great, cool, interesting, and hilarious stuff. To become somebody that other people had to follow because they would view you as a conduit to great things.

This might seem counterintuitive when what you really want is people to become fans of your comedy, but if you tried this and did it successfully, a few things would likely happen…

You Would Inspire Yourself And Learn What’s Truly Great

As you searched for great things to share to establish yourself as a must-follow curator of content, you would also learn a ton in the process. You’d likely expose yourself to inspiring stuff you otherwise might not have found, and you’d start to get a sense of what kinds of things people are drawn to, without being biased by gauging people’s reactions to your own creations. It would give you a sort of meta view on what works and what doesn’t.

Your Social Media Feed Would Become Infinitely Better

I don’t care how great you are at tweeting, making videos, or performing standup – there’s no way your own creations can be as consistently good as a curated list of the best stuff the world has to offer. As a result, your social media feeds will become much stronger (and less cluttered with your own self promotion), which in turn will give people more reason to follow you and tell others about you. Additionally, the sheer volume of content at your disposal will allow your feeds to be much more active than they might be if you were only posting your own stuff.

You Would Build Up Trust And Goodwill From Your Followers

Imagine giving people a year’s worth of great stuff without ever asking them for anything. Think about how that would shape people’s opinions of you as a person and their willingness to support you down the road in whatever you do. Think about how it would separate you from the thousands of other comics out there asking people to come see their shows every weekend.

You Would Build Valuable Connections

Any time you mention somebody on Twitter or share links to somebody’s video or blog post, there’s a good chance that person will notice and be appreciative. Again, imagine doing this for a year and think about how many people you could build relationships with after they noticed you consistently promoting their stuff without ever asking for anything in return. Now think about how those relationships could naturally lead to everything from stage time, to writing opportunities, to countless other things.

You Would Avoid Exposing Yourself Before You’re Ready

The earlier you are in your comedy career, the better a strategy this probably is for you [tweet this!]. That’s because no matter who you are it will take years to “get good,” and while there’s nothing wrong with posting clips of yourself online as you’re finding your way, spending all your time promoting those clips probably isn’t the best use of your social media feeds. By concentrating on using social media in a non-self-promotional way, you’ll likely prevent yourself from making some mistakes early on.

You Would Attract The Audience You Ultimately Want For Yourself

Ideally, the stuff you share with your followers over the course of the year would be targeted toward an audience whose interests match your own comedic voice or niche. So, the following that you build by promoting other people’s stuff and establishing yourself as a great curator of content would also be an audience likely to enjoy your own creations down the road.

You Would Feel Great About Yourself

I understand that promoting yourself can be tough sometimes – you’re making yourself vulnerable to rejection and it’s easy to feel like you’re constantly asking people for favors. But…if you eliminated self promotion from your social media strategy, then suddenly that pressure disappears. You go from feeling conflicted about what you’re posting to genuinely posting things for altruistic reasons. You should feel great about sharing other people’s great stuff and confident you’re truly providing a service to your followers – inspiring them, giving them a laugh, helping save them time.

Now For The One Giant Asterisk…

If you’re still reading this by now you probably think it’s either a great idea or you think I’ve lost my mind. But I want to say there is one big catch when it comes to this strategy – it only works if you curate GREAT stuff. If the stuff you’re sharing isn’t consistently entertaining or if you start just sharing mediocre stuff as favors to friends, this won’t work because people will never associate you with great stuff and want to follow you in the first place.

The whole advantage of not flooding your feeds with your own stuff (regardless of whether or not it’s awesome) is that it frees you up to ensure you only post stuff that’s amazing. Because when promotion isn’t a goal, your only goal becomes giving people things they’ll love.

I’m certainly not saying that’s easy to do and it will take some work on your part, but it’s absolutely do-able. And if you do it, it will work and you’ll attract a much bigger following that you will ultimately be able to convert into fans down the road.

So…are you ready to take a hiatus from promoting yourself and start promoting others instead?

More Stuff To Read About Being A Curator

Here’s a few other posts I’ve written about this topic:

5 Reasons You Should Curate As Much As You Create

How I Got 2 Million People To Visit My Website In 6 Months

5 Things You Can Learn From The Success Of Chris Hardwick and Nerdist

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Brian T Shirley September 8, 2013 at 7:27 am

Great article and I’ve started doing this with having a radio show. Sometimes when you help spread the word about others, they also share your content, which really looks good. Thanks.

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Manny Erias September 9, 2013 at 11:35 am

I read all ur info all the time thank you it’s very helpful

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Andrew Hall September 11, 2013 at 10:20 am

I totally agree that curating is important. I think that many comics are like me and get caught up with making content. Maybe setting some time aside each day to curate is a good idea.

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Jovon Torres November 18, 2013 at 9:33 pm

I love this idea! I’m going to give it a try and really provide great content for my fans. They deserve it!

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