When I work with comedians, I always ask them the same question to start things off: “Why do you want to be online?”
The surprising thing is, most of them don’t really have an answer.
Too many comedians go online because they think they have to for their career. Here’s a newsflash – you don’t have to be online. In fact, if you’re not really committed to putting in the effort it takes to succeed online, then I would say you’re better off not being online at all.
Being online with a static website or MySpace page is meaningless. These tools don’t matter unless you use them, and in my opinion, using them means updating them regularly, frequently, and with content that people are actually going to care about. Email blasts and Facebook invites to your next show are fine, but they don’t count as content.
In order to succeed online, I strongly believe you have to figure out why you want to be online in the first place and – equally important – be honest with yourself about the commitment you’re willing to make to being online.
Toward that end, here’s six questions I recommend you consider as you map out your online strategy:
1. What kind of content are you capable of producing? Written? Video? Audio? Pictures? Something else?
This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people never consider it . For example, if you don’t have access to a camera more than once a year, do you really need a YouTube channel?
2. How often will you be able to produce content?
If your schedule only allows you to produce content once a month, then do you really need a Twitter account that you never update? If you don’t have time to update a Facebook page and a website, then why do you have both?
3. What are you really trying to accomplish?
If you’re looking to build your fan base, you may go about that very differently than if you’re looking to showcase your talent for the industry. Are you trying to maintain and build strong relationships with your existing fans, or are you trying to grow a new fanbase? Obviously, you can do all of these things, but it’s important to guide your actions by understanding what your top priority is.
4. Are you willing to work to promote your content?
When it comes to the Internet, producing content is only half the battle. In order to truly succeed, you have to be willing to promote that content as well. But if that makes you uncomfortable, then maybe you’re better off contributing your content to an existing website or blog so that they can promote it for you and you can piggyback on their audience, as opposed to having to develop your own.
5. What can you do that’s unique?
In the comedy world, people are always looking to find the next unique voice and it’s the exact same thing online. Give some thought to what your voice is and how you can bring that voice online. Don’t be just another comic ranting about the same old stuff in the same old way. Just like you’d avoid doing hack material in a comedy club, you should avoid hack material online as well.
6. What service can you provide to your audience?
Give people a reason to engage with your content by providing them with a service. The obvious way to do this is by being entertaining, but think about if there’s more you can provide on top of that. Maybe it’s giving them advice? Maybe it’s teaching them something? Maybe it’s finding funny or interesting stuff for them and sharing it with them? It’s fine to just entertain people online, but thinking in terms of providing your readers with a service is a great way to attract an extremely loyal audience.
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