In my statistical look at the differences between comedians who make money and those that don’t last week, one of the things that I found was that comedians who make money tend to spend more time working on the “business side” of their career than comedians who don’t. This prompted Connected Comedy reader Eli Petersen to ask me how exactly I would suggest that comedians work on the business side of their career, which I thought was a great idea for a post.
Since I previously wrote about how to grow your fanbase by spending three hours a week creating content, today I thought I’d share a breakdown of how I think you can grow your career by spending three hours a week working on the business side of comedy. Of course, everybody’s career and goals are in a different place, but here’s a general outline of how I’d recommend spending your time if possible.
Educate Yourself About What’s Happening In The Comedy Business – 60 Minutes
We live in an amazing time when all the information in the world is at our fingertips, and yet most people don’t bother to take advantage of it. The most important thing you can do as a comedian to improve the business side of your career is to gain a better understanding of how the business works, who the players are, where the opportunities are, and where things are heading. All of this can be done by spending a few minutes each day (or each week) to read up on the latest industry news.
If you regularly read things like the Hollywood “trades” (Variety, Hollywood Reporter, Deadline), comedy industry publications (The Comics Comic, Punchline), or my new personal favorite (because I write it) The Comedy Business Digest, you will wind up getting a better understanding of how the comedy business works that will help you further your career.
Additionally, social media now allows you to “follow” many key figures in the business and connect to them – comedy clubs, bookers, agents, managers, producers, casting agents and countless other industry players have Twitter accounts, blogs and other venues through which you can get to know them and interact with them. You’ve just got to take a little time to do so.
Engage With Fans Or Potential Fans – 30 Minutes
If you’ve already got a fanbase, then you want to make sure you take some time to engage with them. Respond to every comment you get on your videos or blog posts, answer all your emails, and interact with the people who are following you on Twitter or Facebook. The more you engage your fans, the more connected they will feel to you.
And if you don’t have much of a fanbase yet, use this time to seek out people that may want to become fans. For example, if you performed at a comedy club on a Saturday night, then on Sunday go search Twitter to see if anybody references being at the show and don’t be afraid to reach out to them. You know they saw you, so why not reach out and thank them for coming? Or you can also seek out people who are talking about things related to your most recent video or blog post and try to engage with them – chances are they’d like what you’ve created if they knew it existed.
And if you’d rather concentrate on reaching out to blogs or websites as opposed to individuals, then spend some time emailing bloggers to tip them off to your latest creations. My 100 Places To Promote Your Comedy Content report can give you a big jumpstart down that road.
Update Your Web Presence – 15 Minutes
It’s one thing to have created a website, Twitter account, YouTube channel or other web presence for yourself. It’s quite another to keep that updated. It’s amazing how many comedians don’t bother to update their schedules, bios, and other basic things that reflect what they’re up to. It’s worth taking 15 minutes a week just to make sure that everything you’ve got out there is up to date so that you can actually get some value out of these things.
Get Out And Network (Or At Least Observe) – 60 Minutes
There’s a very good chance that the next opportunity in your comedy career is going to come as a result of somebody that you know. So, how many people in the comedy business are you meeting each week?
Even if you hate the idea of “networking,” you should force yourself to spend some time each week meeting as many people as you can in the comedy business. You never know where your next opportunity is going to come from, and the more people you know, the more likely those opportunities are to come. Go to local shows, events, writing groups, classes, and whatever else you can find where you can meet comedians, bookers, venue owners, agents, managers, and anybody else that’s remotely involved in this business. It will be worth your time.
And if you really can’t bring yourself to actually go meet some new people, then at least go spend some time watching local shows. See what’s out there and observe what works and what doesn’t. The more you submerge yourself in the comedy scene, the more you’re going to learn. And don’t just study the creative sides of comedy – observe how different venues run their shows, what audience members like or don’t like about a particular show, and how the business is playing out in front of you. It will probably inspire a lot of ideas in you for what you can do with your own career.
Manage Your Reps – 15 Minutes
If you’re lucky enough to already have representation of some sort – a booking agent, manager, talent agent, etc. – then don’t be afraid to spend some time on a weekly (or semi-weekly) basis speaking with them. It’s very easy to forget that your representation is supposed to work for you – not you working for them. Having a regularly scheduled conversation with your rep will give you an opportunity to discuss what they’re doing (or not doing) for you and for you to get feedback from them on what you should be doing to further your career.
Most comedians who get representation wind up sitting around and waiting for their reps to magically get them work. Instead, I’d suggest you be more proactive and work with them to create opportunities. And one of the first steps to doing this is to have an ongoing dialogue about where you’re at, where you’re going, and how best to get there. Don’t worry – your rep isn’t going to think you’re annoying, they’re going to think you’re serious about your career.
While I hope you find these tips helpful, they are by no means the only things you can be doing to work on the business side of your career. What have you found to be helpful in your own experience? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts…