The other day on the Connected Comedy Facebook Page I posted an update with a new opportunity for my readers.
Next week I’m launching So Crazy So True, a website which will feature crazy true stories from a variety of talented writers. I thought it would be a cool opportunity for some of you to get extra exposure for yourself (click here if you’re interested), and that’s why I posted the update.
What surprised me was the reaction I got from readers, several of whom responded that they didn’t want to “waste” their stage material. I’ve heard similar things from comedians who are afraid to post videos of their jokes on YouTube or to post stories they use in their act on their own websites or blogs.
This leads me to a question for you: Are you getting the maximum value out of your material?
I understand it’s difficult to develop an act and that you don’t have limitless amounts of material – especially when it comes to things like true stories. But it’s interesting that so many comedians automatically assume that saving their “best” stories for the stage will be the most beneficial thing for their career and I’m not sure that’s the case.
For the purposes of this hypothetical, let’s say that you’ve got an incredible bit based on a story of something that happened to you. Your instinct is probably to “protect” that bit and only use it in your live stand up act. So you don’t post it on YouTube, or write it up on your blog, or use it in any other medium.
But now let’s break down what that actually means.
Even if you use that story every single time you perform, how many people will you actually reach with that amazing story? Even if you performed for 1,000 people a week for a year that killer bit would only be seen by 52,000 people in a year.
And none of those 52,000 people could share your bit with their friends beyond just telling them, “Hey, I saw a guy and he had a really funny story,” which doesn’t really do anything to grow your fanbase.
Now imagine you took that same story and posted it as a video on YouTube. If it’s truly a great story, it would likely get seen and shared by people. There’s no guarantee of course, but that same story would have the potential to be seen by a LOT more than 52,000 people over the course of the year.
That single bit of your material could lead to you being exposed to millions of people as opposed to just 50,000. You see, there’s a lot more upside to YouTube than there is by keeping the material limited to your stage performance.
I know many of you are afraid to “burn” the material by putting it out there but that’s not a likely problem either. Even if a million people saw your bit, the chances are that the majority of people who come see you live still won’t have seen the bit so that’s an overstated problem.
Most comedians tend to hold back from posting their best material online because they’re afraid of giving it away, but when you think about it that’s actually the opposite of what you should do. You should post your best material online because it has the best chance of getting seen by the most people and growing your fanbase – don’t keep it a secret by saving it for your act, because that just makes it tougher for you to grow your fanbase.
Now I’m sure some of you are doubting this strategy, but I’ll share with you a quick example of the impact this can have.
Four years ago, Anjelah Johnson was just another up and coming comedian. But then, she posted a video of her nail salon bit on YouTube. That video exposed her bit to the world, generated 23 million views, and launched her career.
It turned her into a headlining comedian, led to TV gigs, and catapulted her career because she put her material where it could be seen by the most people instead of just saving it for her live act.
I’m not saying you have to post everything you do online, and I’m not guaranteeing that just because you post a bit online that you’ll become rich and famous. But you should take a moment to consider if your current strategy is really allowing you to get the maximum value out of your best material – or are you just making it harder on yourself?