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A 20-Day Content Plan For Comedians

I’ll keep this brief.

If you spend the next 20 days creating content based on the prompts I spell out below, I GUARANTEE you will get you more engagement with your existing fans, attract new ones, and learn a ton of valuable things that will serve you way longer than the 20 days you put into it.

While these ideas will work great as blog posts on your website, the topics can also be adapted and work as videos, a podcast, Facebook posts, or even tweets potentially. Choose whatever format you prefer and just put them out into the world.

Trust me, it will work.

Here are the topics…

Day 1: Introduce Yourself

To kick things off write an intro post that explains who you are and what you’re about to do. Tell people up front that you’re going to be putting out a new piece of content each day for the next 20 days and (this is important) give them an easy way to follow along with the journey.

Offer them the chance to sign up to an email list to get each day’s post or to connect with you on a social channel where you’ll be posting the content each day.

Day 2: Why I Became A Comic

Write a post that tells more of your story – explain why you chose to become a comic in the first place. Be open and honest about your background and how you got to where you are – even if you just started out. You might not think it will be interesting to people, but trust me, if you’re honest about how and why you became a comic it will be more interesting than you think.

Day 3: Share A Controversial Or Strong Opinion

It doesn’t matter what it’s about – just pick something you feel very passionately about and write up an explanation of your opinion on that matter and why you feel that way. It doesn’t have to be controversial, but it will work better and get more noticed if it’s something that not everybody will agree with.

Day 4: Admit Something You’ve Never Admitted Before

Dig into your personal life or background and share a story about something you’ve never publicly shared before. It can be something that happened to you, it can be something you’ve learned, something you believe, or something that people would be surprised to know about you.

When you write it up, don’t forget to tell people that this is something you’ve never shared before – it will instantly make it more compelling in their eyes.

Day 5: Interview Somebody Interesting

Find somebody interesting – it doesn’t have to be somebody famous or somebody you know – to interview and share that interview with your audience. Ideally, you will interview a person who is relevant to your niche or the type of subjects you cover in your comedy and in a perfect world that person would also have some social following of their own who they could promote your finished interview to in order to get you more attention for it.

You also want to really think about the questions you plan to ask and try to make them as unique and interesting as possible – don’t just ask the basic who are you and what do you do stuff.

Day 6: Explain How To Do Something

I’m sure there’s something you’re an expert on – figure out what that is and write something up teaching other people how to do it. This is a way to ensure that you provide value to people in your content and it can be the kind of content that builds value over time.

Day 7: Live Blog Something

Pick a TV show, sports event, or some other thing that lots of people are interested in and live blog it while you watch it. If you don’t want to do that, you can also live blog an experience – maybe it’s a live blog of a Spotify playlist, or a live blog detailing a trip to a museum.

The point is to document in real-time (or close to it) an experience that other people can relate to.

Day 8: Share Your Best/Worst/Craziest Comedy Experience

If you’ve spent any time in comedy, I’m sure you’ve got some interesting stories. Pick one of them and share it with people – but write it as if you’re talking to people who don’t have any idea how the comedy world works. Remember, you want your content to resonate with potential fans, not just other comics so don’t make your post too inside-baseballish.

Day 9: Share Five Amazing Videos On An Obscure/Random Subject

YouTube is your friend. Go on a deep dive about some random subject you find interesting, collect five incredible videos around that theme, and then share them with an amusing writeup of your thoughts about each one.

Day 10: Tell A Story From Your Childhood

Speaking of stories that everybody has to tell, think about your best childhood story and share it with the world.

Day 11: Rank/Review Some Local Establishments

Assuming you perform locally often (or want to), pick some of your local establishments and review them. You can play this straight – The 5 Best Date Night Restaurants In Your Town – or you can have more fun with it and do something like The 5 Worst Places In Town To Be Drunk.

The idea is to come up with something that will resonate with people who live in your area and that they’ll be likely to be interested in and share with others.

Day 12: Do A Late Night Monologue

This is a writing exercise, but also may interest your audience. Pretend you were on the writing staff for a late night TV show and write a series of monologue jokes based on that day’s news. As an added bonus, you can probably repurpose those jokes as individual tweets as well.

Day 13: Create A List Of The Best People To Follow On Twitter

If you don’t use Twitter, you can do this on another social platform, but the basic idea is to write something with recommendations of a lot of people that others should follow and explain why.

Once you’ve posted this, you want to tag the people you featured and make sure they know you did so – most likely, some of them will share the post with their own followers and get you more exposure.

Day 14 – Let Friends/Followers Interview You

Source questions from people you know like your friends or followers and answer those questions in a post. Another way to do this is to choose one person and let them ask you the questions – for example, you could let your Mom interview you. Or, you could do something like let your first ex-girlfriend interview you.

There’s a lot of different ways to do this and make it compelling – plus, it’s easy because all you have to do is answer their questions.

Day 15: Write An Onion-Type Parody Article

This is also kind of like a writing exercise, but it’s worth trying to see how you like it. Create an Onion-inspired parody article about something relating to your niche or interests.

Just be sure to explain in the intro to the post or the title what you’re doing. For example, you could title it something like “If I Wrote For The Onion, This Is What I’d Do.”

Day 16: Share The Weird News Of The Week

This is similar to the post you did where you shared a series of interesting YouTube videos, but instead of that this time base it around weird news stories. There are lots of ways to find this stuff – check out Fark.com for starters – but the point is to pick a few crazy stories and write up your observations about them.

Ideally, these stories would be connected in some way – for example, The 5 Worst Criminals Of The Week – but they don’t have to be. It could also be something like “5 News Stories That Made Me Lose Faith In Humanity This Week.”

Day 17: Share Your Inspiration

Write up a tribute to a person or people who inspire your comedy or yourself. Think about who that person is and what it is about them that you find inspiring and share that with your audience.

And if the person you choose is alive and uses social media, tag them in your post on social media and let them know about what you wrote. You can even frame the post in a way that thanks them. For example, if you’re writing about Steve Martin you could title it, “Thanks, Steve Martin” or “How Steve Martin Inspired Me To Become A Comedian.”

You never know what could come of it.

Day 18: Write An “Open Letter”

Have you ever seen how sometimes publications will feature an “open letter” from somebody written to a particular person or brand? Do that yourself. Pick a public entity that you have a strong feeling about and write them an open letter explaining your position or asking them to take a particular action.

Ideally, this would be something that other people might agree with you about and they could potentially rally behind your expression of the idea or request for the company. For example, Time Warner Cable sucks and lots of people think so – “An Open Letter To Time Warner Cable” might get some interesting support.

Day 19: Talk About Something Nostalgic

The Internet LOVES nostalgia. Figure out something or a series of things that you used to love and write up something interesting about them. It could be a remembrance of them, or even some thoughts about why you miss them.

For example, “I Feel Bad That Today’s Students Won’t Know What It Was Like To Go To High School Without The Internet” or “10 Things Only 80’s Babies Can Truly Understand.”

Day 20: Write A “What I’ve Learned” Post

You can borrow the Esquire magazine What I’ve Learned column format and share a list of things you’ve learned in your life. Or, as an alternate, you can share a list of things you’ve learned from posting content for the past 20 days as part of this plan.

If you stuck with it and made it to this point, you’ve likely learned a lot and I know I’d love to hear about it and share it with others. Good luck!

Case Study: How I Got Facebook Fans And Website Traffic For A Comedian

A few weeks ago I put out an offer to members of the Connected Comedians Facebook group – I offered to run some Facebook ads for a comedian to promote something they were working on for free.

All the comedian would have to do is cover the costs of a Facebook ad – as much or as little as they wanted to spend – and I’d lend my expertise for free as long as they were ok with me sharing how I did it and the results with other Connected Comedy readers.

I was happy to see there was lots of interest in my offer, and ultimately I chose to work with Chicago comedian Kyle Scanlan who wanted to promote his humor site The Whiskey Journal. (For those of you I didn’t choose, I’m likely to do this again so you’ll have another chance.)

Kyle had $50 to spend on the Facebook ads and didn’t have a specific goal beyond getting more attention for the site, so I decided to split the budget amongst two goals.

I’d spend half of it on an ad designed to get more fans for his site’s Facebook page, and the other half of it to drive traffic to a specific article on the site.

Here’s a breakdown of how I approached it and what happened (Spoiler Alert: It was VERY successful).

Please note that below I focus on the strategy behind running Facebook ads and not the nuts and bolts of how to technically set them up and run them – you can learn about that here.

Ad #1: How To Get More Facebook Fans

The first ad I set up was designed to get new fans for the Whiskey Journal Facebook page.

It can be challenging to get fans for a Facebook page – especially when it’s for a broad site like the Whiskey Journal, where the topics covered are really all over the place.

It was additionally challenging in this case because the name of the site doesn’t really convey what it is, and in fact can be misleading. If somebody sees a site called The Whiskey Journal in their feed, they don’t immediately think it’s a comedy site – they’re more likely to think it has something to do with liquor.

Regardless, we weren’t about to change the site’s name so I turned my attention to how best to play the hand I was dealt.

In creating a Facebook ad strategy, there’s really two key components to consider – who you’re going to target and what you’re going to target them with.

Step 1: Choosing Who To Target

I noticed that the page already had a couple thousand fans which was a great start and something that could be leveraged in the Facebook ad targeting. Also, even though the site’s content is pretty broad, there was still an underlying niche in that its tone was similar to some really popular news parody sites like The Onion.

I also assumed based on the content and its writers, that men might be more likely to enjoy the site than women so I figured I could focus the ad that way as well.

One other thing I always do when I run ads is have them run only in people’s news feed – by default Facebook runs ads in the news feed AND on the right sidebar of pages. But I personally believe that nobody pays attention to the sidebar and those ads are a waste of money, so I uncheck that box to ensure that my ads only run in the news feed itself.

So based on these thoughts, here’s the targeting I came up with for the ad:

Screen Shot 2014-12-13 at 2.11.14 PMThis means that the only people who would ever see my ad would be people who I believe are most likely to actually like the page – they would be friends of people who already like the page, they would be men, they would be people who already like or talk about The Onion, and I’d only pay for ads that appeared in their news feed, where’s they’re most likely to notice them.

Step 2: Choosing The Ad Creative

With my targeting in mind, I then thought through what the ad should look like and say.

While you have somewhat limited options, there’s actually a lot you can control including the caption and image that runs with the Page name (which you can’t change when promoting a page).

Keeping my targeting in mind, I wanted to create something with an image that would grab people’s attention (they have to notice your post in order to even have a chance of getting them to like it) and convey something funny, combined with a caption that helped amplify what I thought were the key selling points of my targeting.

Here’s what I came up with:

Screen Shot 2014-12-13 at 2.10.47 PMYou’ll notice that the image I chose (one which I found on a post on the site) is a joke in itself. My hope was that people would notice it, get a laugh, and that would encourage them to at least check the page out. And maybe some people might even hit the “Like Page” button thinking they were just liking the image – an honest mistake that could also get us some extra new fans.

I always try to keep captions as simple as possible – less is more.

In this case, I knew that most people seeing this ad will never have heard of The Whiskey Journal before, but I knew that because of my targeting they will be people whose friends already like the page. So, I tried to use that to my advantage – providing some social proof (your friend likes it, so it must be decent) as well as inspiring curiosity (don’t you want to know why your friend likes this thing you’ve never heard of?).

The resulting caption line I came up with – “Your friend thinks we’re funny. Like our page to find out why.” – accomplishes both of those things in as simple a way as possible.

The Results

So, how did it work? It wasn’t the most amazing performance I’ve ever had with an ad, but overall I was pretty happy with the results considering the inherent challenges in the title of the page and promoting a page for a website few people were familiar with.

Here’s the breakdown of how it performed:

$24.89 spent

2,442 people reached (this is the number of people who saw it in their news feed)

54 clicks (that represents a 1.7% clickthru rate)

42 Page Likes (this means it generated 42 new fans for the page)

59 cents cost per new fan

So basically, for $25, I got Kyle 42 new Facebook fans. Ultimately, it’s up to you/him to determine whether or not that was worth the spend, but personally I think that’s a solid, if not spectacular, performance.

Speaking of spectacular…let’s move on to the second ad I ran for Kyle.

Ad #2: How To Get More Website Traffic

The second ad I ran was designed to get people to visit the Whiskey Journal website who had never seen it before. Since I only had a $25 budget to work with, I decided to focus my efforts on a single ad leading to a single piece of content on the site.

Kyle didn’t have any specific post he wanted me to promote, so it was up to me to choose whatever I thought would work best. I surfed around the site looking for a post that I thought was not only funny, but would also appeal to a very specific (and targetable) audience.

I came across this article about Derrick Rose that I thought would be a great fit because it not only was funny and likely to appeal to a very specific (and easily targetable) audience, but it even was somewhat topical and controversial. I could see how it might be the kind of thing that people who are frustrated with Rose would want to share and people who are Rose defenders would want to comment on in disagreement.

Remember, there’s value to content that causes a reaction – even if that reaction isn’t necessarily agreement.

Step 1: Choosing Who To Target

After choosing the content I wanted to promote with the ad, I started to think through the audience I wanted to target with it. Since I chose a piece of content that led itself to a somewhat obvious audience, this was easier than determining the targeting for the more generic ad I previously ran for Facebook fans.

As a side note, it should almost always be easier for you to come up with specific targeting for a specific piece of content than it is for an entire website because each piece of content is usually about one specific thing as opposed to a website which may be more all over the map.

In determining who to target, you always want to go as specific as possible – the more specific you get, the better the ad will perform. Also, you want to think about what the content is about as opposed to what you (or your website) are about.

For example, even though Whiskey Journal is a comedy site, this article is about a sports figure – so instead of targeting comedy fans, I’d do better to target sports fans.

This may seem obvious when you think about it, but it’s a huge mistake that most comedians make when running Facebook ads – they think because they’re doing funny stuff that the only people interested in it will be people who are into comedy. You’ll have more success if you focus on the topic of the content, as opposed to comedy in general.

Another place where a lot of people would go wrong with targeting is they might just target people who like sports and be done with it. But again, you want to go as niche as possible and in this case Derrick Rose is a big enough star that I was able to target people who are specifically fans of his.

I even took it a step further by limiting it to men, and limiting it to people who live in Chicago – figuring that those would be hardcore Bulls fans with strong opinions on Derrick Rose.

Again, my goal was to drill down as specifically as possible to increase the chances that the people who saw my ad would be interested in it.

Here’s the targeting I settled on:

Screen Shot 2014-12-13 at 2.10.15 PM

Step 2: Choosing The Ad Creative

The next step was to figure out what I wanted the ad to look like – again keeping in mind who I was targeting and trying to make it as compelling as possible to that audience to drive clicks.

Typically, people just paste in the link to their article and run the ad with whatever image, headline, and description happens to get auto-pulled from the site. That’s a huge mistake and a missed opportunity.

Each of those elements can (and should) be edited to match the people you’re targeting and the goals.

For example, here’s how the link to this article would show up on Facebook by default:

Screen Shot 2014-12-14 at 11.21.42 AM

This was ok, but I thought I could do better. Here’s what I created instead:

Screen Shot 2014-12-13 at 2.09.37 PM

I changed the headline to something simpler that teased the article and made people curious to see what Rose had said.

It’s a little clickbait-y, but I’m trying to get clicks so that’s not a bad thing. Also, I wrote a short, simple headline that I thought would appeal to people who are frustrated with Rose (they were more likely to enjoy an article parodying him than people who are his fans).

The original headline also kind of functioned as a joke on its own, where my revised headline played more like the setup, with the joke being delivered on the page itself.

I also swapped out the photo with what I thought was a more compelling image I found on Google images. In general, close-up shots of people’s faces perform better than full body shots and I thought the face Rose is making in this image, when combined with the headline, was more attention grabbing than the more generic image of Rose on the court.

These are minor details, but they can make a difference.

Finally, I changed the description and caption to speak to the reader in a conversational tone as opposed to just auto-pulling the first few words of the article. As you can see, that’s a whole different tone and in my opinion makes it much more compelling.

Also, running it as an ad allowed me to add that “Learn More” button which gives an additional call to action to drive clicks. [FYI, I chose the Learn More button from a few pre-set options Facebook provides, it’s not the best language but it was the closest one that fit in this case.]

The Results

This ad wound up performing as good as any ad I’ve ever created. In fact, I’m not sure it’s even possible to have an ad do any better.

Here’s the breakdown of how it performed:

$26 spent

40,043 people reached

4,379 clicks to the website

13.5% clickthru rate (this is insanely high by the way)

1 cent cost per click

That’s right, this ad drove a targeted audience (Derrick Rose fans) to the Whiskey Journal’s Derrick Rose article at a cost of just a penny per click!

The post also generated 65 Likes and 31 shares from the people who saw the ad.

Now, I should mention that not everybody loved the post and some people found it misleading because they clicked expecting it to be a legitimate news story and not an Onion-style parody.

That led to some negative comments on the post pointing out that it was fake, and some other negative comments from people who didn’t get the joke and were mad at the press for ripping Derrick Rose (which is funny in a whole other way).

You can see all the comments on the post here.

But, there were lots of people who did get the joke and found it hilarious – they commented about that, they shared the post, and in some cases left comments calling other commenters dumb for not getting the joke.

Remember – it’s ok if not everybody likes what you do. In fact, they probably shouldn’t.

The “controversy’ of the post actually helped the post do well – remember, even a negative comment counts as engagement in Facebook’s eyes and therefore increases the chances it will show the post to more people.

The goal was to get noticed and to attract some new readers to The Whiskey Journal and this ad did just that.

If 50% of the people that clicked didn’t like what they saw, that doesn’t matter – what matters is the 50% of the people that did like it.

Any Questions?

Ultimately, every ad campaign is different because every person’s goals are different and so is the content they’re trying to promote. But hopefully, this example has helped you see how I think through what to do when I run Facebook ads and you can apply some of that thinking to your own efforts.

I should also add that this was just a small test with a small budget – in general, I always recommend testing different combinations of ads and the more you test, the more you can learn what works best.

These ads worked really well, but could they have been better with different images? With different headlines? With different targeting? Maybe.

That’s why Facebook ads are an ongoing challenge – no matter how great you do, there’s always that chance you could do better.

If you’ve got any questions about any of this or want some advice about promoting your own stuff with Facebook ads, post a comment below or tweet me.

5 Tips For Stand Up Comedian Arbel Kodesh

In 5 Free Tips, I provide some advice specifically tailored to one person’s content. If you’d like me to give you 5 Free Tips, please send me an email and tell me a little about yourself.

Today’s free tips are for stand up comedian Arbel Kodesh, who sent me the following email:

Hi Josh,

My name is Arbel Kodesh. I’m a 21 year old stand up comedian currently living in Palo Alto California. I read your “5 Free Tips” and was wondering if you could help me out. I’ve been doing stand up for about a year and enjoy it a lot. I try to take advantage of every opportunity I get to perform but I still don’t feel like that’s enough. I really want to get a lot of people to see my material and what I’m about, and I don’t feel that performing once a week (normally in front of a lot of other comedians) is the way to get a following or get my name out.

Here are some links to some youtube videos of me:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4fm0ZyBpyQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUbQgc4rzp4&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CbStFyATZu8&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AssENJ8_OeM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpBC2GPrHWI&feature=related

I also have a facebook fanpage:

http://www.facebook.com/arbelkodesh

If you have any advice please let me know.

I really appreciate it!

-Arbel

I checked out Arbel’s work and came up with the following 5 Free Tips for him:

TIP #1: Pay Attention To Video Titles

If you’re looking to get more views of your videos, one simple thing you can do is title them in a way that will attract some views from people searching YouTube for similar stuff. For example, the videos on your channel are titled things like “Arbel on Celebrities,” and “Arbel on Coca Cola.” But it’s doubtful that anybody’s searching YouTube for “Arbel on…” anything because not many people know you yet.

I’d suggest instead titling the videos to include relevant words that people do search for. For example, your “Arbel on Celebrities” video includes a bit about the singer Pitbull who lots of people search for and those people will be most likely to “get” your joke. So titling your video something like “How Pitbull Records His Songs” might get you some extra views because it will show up as a related video when people are watching other Pitbull videos and the more interesting title might catch their eye and get you some easy clicks.

One more quick note about this. I would still include your name in the title, but you can put it after the headline. So the Pitbull video title would be, “How Pitbull Records His Songs – Arbel Kodesh.” I’d put your name after a hypen at the end of all of your videos because that will help them show up as related.

TIP #2: Start A Blog

You mentioned wanting to get your name out to more people and I’d highly recommend starting a blog of some sort. Whether you’re writing funny stuff on the blog, or even just sharing funny videos or links to interesting things you find, having a blog is a very easy way to give people a reason to start connecting with you. Making videos takes time and effort, but blogging can be much quicker and it starts to give people a reason to check out your site every day. They get in the habit of that, which comes in handy when you do have a new video or show you want to promote.

One more quick note about blogging: In general, I’d recommend posting stuff that will be of value to other people. Having a blog and just promoting your own stuff all the time is rarely compelling to readers so it’s much more effective if you’re sharing stuff that has real entertainment value to them. If you establish yourself as a source for funny or interesting content, people will definitely come back to see more.

TIP #3: Contribute To Other Sites

One of the most common traps I see comics fall into is that the content they create winds up only being seen by the same people that already follow them and as a result they’re never really adding new fans or growing their audience. One of the best ways to break out of this is to contribute to other sites or channels.

Don’t be afraid to do a guest post or video for somebody else and think of it as a way to introduce yourself to a new audience. And of course, the bigger the site, the more new fans you may be able to attract.

TIP #4: Post Things On Facebook That People Will Share

It’s great that you’ve got a Facebook fan page and it’s nice to see you’ve already got some good interaction on it. Just like with blogging, you can grow your Facbeook page by sharing valuable or entertaining content that people are going to want to share with their friends. All too often people think that the only stuff they should post on their Facebook page is their own creations and that’s just not true.

There’s nothing wrong with sharing a hilarious cat video that you’ve found online even if it has nothing specifically to do with you. As long as it’s entertaining, what will happen is your Facebook followers will share it with their friends and when they do those friends will see it as being shared “via Arbel Kodesh” which introduces you to a whole new audience.

Your goal on Facebook should be to post as much “shareable” content as possible, because the more people share what you post, the more people are introduced to your page, and the more people are likely to then follow you themselves.

TIP #5: Subscribe and Comment On Other YouTube Channels

YouTube is definitely a community and if you want to get more people subscribing and commenting on your videos, then you need to make yourself a part of that community. Right now, you’re not subscribed to any YouTube channels and I doubt that you comment on many videos. But think about this: Every time you comment on a video or subscribe to somebody’s channel, a link to your channel gets on their radar. It’s really free promotion for your channel.

In general, you’ll find that the more you become a part of the YouTube community, the more attention that community will pay to your own creations.

I hope this helps Arbel, and if anybody else would like to get 5 Free Tips, please let me know.

“I’m Boy Crazy” Blog Gets A TV Deal From Showtime

Yet another Internet property has snagged a TV deal, as Alexi Wasser’s blog ImBoyCrazy.com is being developed into a TV series by Showtime. Deadline.com breaks the news:

Showtime is developing Boycrazy, a half-hour comedy based on Alexi Wasser’s provocative blog ImBoyCrazy.com, with Wasser attached to star and Lynda Obst to executive produce. Wasser will co-create the potential series with Daisy Gardner (Californication), who will serve as showrunner. Boycrazy centers on a girl (Wasser) looking for love, purpose, and the meaning of her life, one dude at a time. It follows her as she tries to navigate the world of sexuality in the post-modern society of Los Angeles while trying to find real love.

I had never heard of ImBoyCrazy prior to hearing this news, but after checking out the site it’s easy to see why Showtime might be interested in the property. Wasser, an actress whose biggest credit appears to be a role in Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever, has created a nice little “world” to showcase her concept.

The blog not only has advice posts that showcase her voice, but also feature videos and podcasts. She’s also had the blog up and running since 2008, and built a decent following for it including more than 3,000 Facebook fans, 6,000 Twitter followers, and 1,000 YouTube subscribers. Obviously, those aren’t overwhelming numbers, but they’re enough to lend some credibility to go along with a solid concept.

This is a perfect example of the way blogs, videos, and podcasts are increasingly enabling Hollywood outsiders to catch the attention of TV development execs .

Here’s a look at some of the videos Wasser made for the site: