I get asked a lot of questions.
Unfortunately, most of them aren’t the ones whose answers will ultimately further your career. People tend to focus on questions that are more about end results as opposed to the underlying factors that actually drive success and culminate in the results they want.
To help you think about things a little differently than the average comic, here’s a breakdown of four common questions comedians ask and some questions I think you’d be better served to think about instead.
1. Instead Of Asking How To Book More Gigs, Ask How To Build A Fanbase
Every comic always wants to know how to get bookers and venues to give them more opportunities to perform on their stage and how they can get those same people to pay them more money for their efforts.
That’s a complicated question that has a lot of different possible answers, but there’s one simple answer to it that most comics seem to ignore.
To get booked more, all you have to do is be able to sell tickets. And to sell tickets, you have to have a fanbase.
Every booker is ultimately looking for the same thing – they want to draw a paying crowd to see the show they’re putting on. If you can help them accomplish that by drawing a crowd, they will book you. And even if they didn’t, if you can draw your own crowd than you don’t actually need other people to book you anyway.
So rather than trying to figure out how to get booked more, you’re better served to think about how you can grow your fanbase.
If you spent as much time figuring out how to convert the people that already see you into fans, creating content or finding a niche to attract new potential fans, as you do trying to track down bookers you will wind up being more successful in the long run.
2. Instead Of Asking How To Sell Stuff, Ask How To Get People To Trust You
I get it, the comedy business tends to be heavy on the comedy and light on the business when you’re just getting started.
So as a result, you may be more eager to get people to buy your albums, merch, or whatever else you’ve come up with make a few extra bucks than you are thinking about the bigger picture.
There’s nothing wrong with that, but what is often forgotten is that the key to selling anything is trust. If you can’t figure out how to get people to trust you, they’re never going to buy anything from you.
This isn’t just about people being afraid of being ripped off – it’s about your potential customers trusting that whatever you’ve created will provide them with actual value.
They need to trust that your album will be funny before they purchase it. They need to trust that if they order something from your website that you’ll actually send it to them. And they need to trust that if they buy tickets to see your show, it will be worth their money.
In the rush to monetize your work, don’t forget that every purchase is rooted in trust and it’s important to develop that before you start asking for money. And it’s just as important that when you deliver a product to a customer, it lives up to the promise you’ve made with it.
If it does, you’ll have built even more trust with that person and that will be valuable again further down the road. But if you don’t, then you’ve likely lost their trust and it’s unlikely you’ll ever be able to sell them something again.
3. Instead Of Asking How You Can Get An Agent, Ask How You Can Make Money For An Agent
This one’s a different spin on the question about bookers and it’s equally important. Every comic without a manager or agent desperately wants one and believes it’s the only thing standing between them and fame and fortune.
Unfortunately, that’s usually not true.
But that’s not say that agents can’t be helpful because they certainly can be and there’s nothing wrong with trying to figure out how to get one. But the best way to get one is by asking a different question – the question you should be concerned with is how you can generate money for your representative.
Ultimately, your agent or manager will only make money when you make money – they get a percentage of whatever they help you generate. If they’re charging you a fee as opposed to a percentage, they’re shady and you should run the other direction immediately.
Because of the economics of representation, agents and managers look for comics they believe can actually generate revenue immediately – or at least relatively quickly. Yes, you have to be talented and they have to like your work, but they ALSO have to see a clear path to monetize what you do.
Otherwise, they’re just putting in time, effort, and in some cases their own money, with no realistic return on their investment.
With this in mind, the best way to figure out how to get representation is to figure out how you can present an agent/manager with an opportunity to make money.
Do you have a script they can sell? Do you have acting skills so they can send you on auditions and you can land a role quickly? Do you have a blog that could be turned into a book deal?
The answer to how you to get an agent is really to figure out the answer to how you can make money for one.
4. Instead Of Asking How To Get People To Listen To Your Podcast, Ask How You Find Podcasts To Listen To
Whether you have your own podcast, video series, or blog, the chances are you’re relatively obsessed with getting more people to see your work. That makes sense and it’s a good goal to have.
But rather than thinking about how you can get people to find your creations, think about it from the opposite perspective. Ask yourself how you find new podcasts to listen to and why you watch the web series that you watch?
By inverting the question and thinking about your own behavior as a consumer of content as opposed to a creator of it, you’ll likely stumble across some helpful clues about how and where people discover content like yours.
And if you put those tactics to work on your own projects, you’ll likely be able to find people to consume your creations the same way you have consumed what others have created.