comedy business

Case Study: How To Optimize A Corporate Comedian’s Website

The following is part of my Case Study series of articles in which I offer specific advice to a Connected Comedy VIP member based on their personal goals. If you’re interested in being the subject of a Case Study article, email me.

Connected Comedy VIP member Rick March is a corporate comedian who recently reached out and asked what advice I’d have for him to improve his website. Following are my suggestions to Rick, which in most cases are applicable to any comic interested in getting corporate bookings and also is relevant to non-corporate comedians hoping to improve their websites as well.

Clarify Your Branding

The first thing that jumps out at me on your site is that it’s confusing what exactly the site represents. Is it a company site or your personal site?

There’s a lot of mixed messaging going on and that’s a big issue – especially when you’re trying to get companies to trust you enough to book you.

Clarity and transparency builds trust, confusion creates doubt.

The domain and header say Best Corporate Comedy which makes it sound like a company site, but surfing around the site makes it feel like the “company” is really just you – and that occasionally you bring in other comics as needed for particular gigs.

I could be wrong, but I assume your core business is not a booking agency, but rather this site is about getting yourself booked and occasionally including other comics as needed.

I think it’s important to think through whether you want your site to convey that you’re a booking company or revolve around getting yourself booked. Whichever you choose, focus the messaging consistently around that concept.

Assuming this is more about getting bookings for yourself than others, then the site should represent that. You want people to know Rick March, you want them to book you, and then secondary would be references to your ability to do group shows, etc.

Keep in mind that people like to know who they’re getting into business with – they want to know the person, not the company. The more they feel like they know who you are, the more likely they are to trust you, and as a result the more likely they are to book you – or hire you to book others for them.

The other thing that happens when a person tries to make their “company” seem like it’s bigger than just them is it can come off as a little sketchy. People pick up on when an individual is trying to make it seem like their company is more than it is and it leads them to question the transaction.

On the flipside, complete transparency will increase their trust in who they’re dealing with and that you’ll deliver on what you promise.

I’m going to make one other assumption here. I’m guessing some of this (the domain name for example) is being driven by an SEO (search engine optimization) strategy – you assume that certain keywords will help you get found in Google search by potential clients.

That’s ok, though in general SEO is a little overrated and likely won’t help you as much as you think it might in this case, but it’s still important to understand that even if you get somebody to the site via search, you are then going to have to build enough trust for them to convert to a potential customer.

So even if you keep the generic domain name as opposed to something like, I’d still recommend having the site emphasize who you are as opposed to it feeling like a company site.

Every Word Counts

Little things make big differences when it comes to websites. In your case, there are several words used for different sections of the site that are a little misleading, confusing, or could be improved.

For example, your navigation menu has a page titled “Custom Comedy,” but it’s not clear what that actually is. In looking at the page, I think what you mean is that you have different kinds of shows you can do and/or that you can customize material to match the type of company that hires you. But I’m not sure people will get that from the Custom Comedy name.

Instead, you might want to call that page something like “Show Options,” “Choose Your Show,” or even “How It Works.” Try to think about it from the perspective of somebody who knows nothing about how the comedy business works and use the kinds of phrases they would have in their head.

I’d also recommend you have a paragraph at the top of that page that introduces the broader idea that clients can choose from several types of shows and get a custom performance to fit their needs. Then, you could lay out the various options.

You also might want to add a breakdown of the different benefits of each type of show and what makes each a good fit for different clients needs.

It’s also a little strange that you have a separate Roasts page in the navigation menu, but also on the Custom Comedy page. I’d recommend either putting all of the various shows you offer in your navigation and having a separate page for each, or moving all the Roast stuff to the page with the other shows.

Another example of word choice is on your Media page where you have a “Highlights” section. That section basically consists of just photos, which aren’t really highlights. If somebody wants to see highlights, they expect to see videos – photos don’t really tell them anything of value about your service other than maybe you’ve performed in front of crowds.

Anticipate (And Answer) People’s Questions

One page that isn’t on your site but would probably be a good addition is a Frequently Asked Questions page.

Again, keep in mind that the visitors to your website are (hopefully) there because they’re considering booking a comic for their corporate event. You want to use your site to provide as much relevant information to them as possible, and a great way to do that is create a simple page that answers all the common questions you anticipate they might have.

Everything from how much does it cost to book a comic, to what kind of material can they expect, to how long a typical show lasts, to a bunch of other common questions you get could easily be answered by you and put on the site. All of that information will build trust and move visitors closer to actually contacting you about a potential booking.

As far as cost goes, you don’t have to list the price you charge specifically, but you can list the factors that go into your rate – length of performance, location, number of comics booked, etc. – and encourage people to contact you for a specific price quote.

Make It Easier For People To Contact You

The number one goal of your site is to get somebody to contact you about a booking, so you want to make it as easy as possible for them to do so.

But if you look at your current site, there’s no email address, no phone number, and the only way people can contact you is by filling out a form on your Contact page.

I’d recommend posting your email and phone number on the site on the home page, About page, and contact page at a minimum. You might want to put it at the bottom of every page for good measure. Again, remember the goal of what you want people to do and make it as easy as possible for them to do so.

You Need To Tell People Where You Work

Here’s a basic thing that’s super important and missing from your site. It doesn’t mention anywhere where you are based or (more importantly) where you are available to work.

If people come to your site, one of the first things they’re going to want to know is if you even work in their city/state, so it’s very important to make that information clear.

It’s fine to say you’ll take on gigs anywhere, but it’s worth pointing out where the core of your business is based. Somebody looking to book a show in Pennsylvania is going to be a lot more likely to contact somebody whose site says they regularly perform in Pennsylvania than somebody whose site doesn’t say where they perform.

On a separate note, I noticed your Twitter account also doesn’t say where you’re based so you should update that as well. You might want to improve your Twitter bio at the same time.

A More Targted Content Strategy

It’s great that you’ve got a blog section of your site and that you occasionally write posts for it, but there’s a simple way you can turn it into a much stronger asset for you.

Again, every decision you make on the site should be geared toward the audience you hope to attract. In this case your audience is people who are potentially interested in booking corporate comedy shows so you want to create content designed to appeal to them or catch their attention.

For example, here’s some ideas of posts that would speak directly to your desired audience and possibly even draw more of them to your site.

• Why Every HR Executive Should Book A Comedy Show To Help Employee Morale

• How A Comedy Show Can Help Drive More Sales

• 5 Ways A Comedy Show Can Change A Company’s Culture

• 10 Things I’ve Learned About Non-Profit Organization From Performing Benefits For Them

• How To Triple Your Fundraising This Year By Booking A Comedian

There’s a million different directions to go, but the idea is to focus the content directly at the audience you want to reach. You can also extend this same content strategy to your email newsletter and give people a reason to subscribe to it because you’re providing valuable insights to them beyond just promotional material.

READ THIS NEXT: The Best Audience For An Unknown Comedian To Connect With

5 Questions To Ask Yourself When You Start Something New

You better get used to starting things.

If you’re going to have a long and (hopefully) successful comedy career, you will start all kinds of projects over the years. From the first time you step on an open mic stage, to the development of new material, to launching a website/podcast/web series, to writing a script, to any of another million things you may be inspired to create.

But no matter what your specific project is, there are a few questions to consider when you get started that can help you succeed.

I recently started a new project of my own – a website called A Person You Should Know where I profile one creative and inspiring person each day who I think you should know (thus the name). So, I thought I’d share with you not only five questions to ask yourself about your next project, but also how I answered these questions for my own.

1. How Much Time And Effort Will You Commit To The Project?

I assume if you start a new project you at least have some idea of your goal for the project (if not, you’ve got a bigger problem), so I’ll jump right to this question.

When you start something new, it’s important to consider how much time you are able to commit to developing the project and, equally important, how much you can realistically get done with the time you have available.

There’s no right or wrong answer to this question and you can (and likely will) spend more time than the minimum commitment you make to your project up front, but it’s important to think through what it will take to get the project going and to shape it in a way that fits your available time frame.

For example, it takes a lot of time to write a screenplay so if you only have an hour a week to commit to working on it,  your goal of completing a script in a month is probably not going to happen. It doesn’t mean you have to abandon your screenplay project, it just means you should reassess your time frame. If you can commit to work on it an hour a week, then maybe your goal should be to complete the screenplay in a year for example.

Being honest with yourself about your realistic time commitment is also important when you create a project that makes a promise to your audience. If you can’t commit the time to do a weekly web series, then don’t launch one – make it monthly instead.

Nothing will sink your project quicker than making promises you can’t fulfill – and it’s also a recipe for driving you to quit the project before it has a real chance to succeed.

How I Answered This Question:

In launching my site, I decided I was able to find time to feature a new person once a day, Monday through Friday. This would give me enough time to work ahead and schedule posts and give me the weekends to get most of the following week’s posts done.

It seemed feasible, while at the same time ensuring a steady stream of content and making a promise that the site’s audience could connect with. It’s simple, and people know exactly what they’re going to get – one new person every day.

2. What Is Your Key Success Metric?

No matter what kind of project you launch, you’ll have a lot of different metrics that seem important to you – everything from laughs, to likes, to shares, to subscriptions.

But it’s worth choosing a single most important metric to use as a gauge of the project’s progress. Which metric you choose depends on what you’re doing and what your goals are, but figuring out which metric is most important to you will help you succeed because it allows you to let that metric guide the various decisions you make as you develop your project.

For example, if you decide the key success metric for your blog is to get readers to share your posts, then you’ll want to structure your blog and your blog’s content in a way that leads to more sharing.

If your podcast’s key success metric is your number of subscribers, then you might want to focus on strategies to get more people to subscribe once they listen as opposed to just driving downloads of individual episodes.

How I Answered This Question:

My key success metric for A Person You Should Know is the number of email subscribers I get to the site’s email list, which sends a daily email with each day’s post.

I chose this because it reflects my goal – a direct connection to people who are interested in the content I post on the site.

If somebody signs up to get a daily email from me with that day’s post (and they stick around and don’t unsubscribe), then that speaks volumes about the “success” of the content I post. It also establishes a connection I have to them which can be useful down the road if I ever decide to monetize the site in some way.

While I care about the amount of raw traffic I get to the site, that’s not as important to me as the number of people that subscribe to the email list. That traffic will fluctuate as some posts get passed around, but those email subscribers will be constant – they are the “true fans” of the site and the core audience I’m building and care most about.

Using email subscribers as a key metric is also helpful because it allows me to judge the progress of the site. If lots of people visit the site but don’t subscribe, then I’ve got a problem with the site content.

If they subscribe but then unsubscribe, it tells me I’m not delivering enough to meet their expectations.

A good success metric not only helps you judge progress, but it also helps you identify what’s NOT working. And that can be even more valuable.

3. What Do You Want People To Do When They Discover Your Project?

This question directly relates to your answer to the previous question. You want to optimize your project to give you the best possible chance to achieve your key success metric.

For example, if the key success metric for your podcast is to gain subscribers, then why are you promoting your Twitter account in the podcast more than you ask people to subscribe?

If your key metric is merchandise sales at your show, then what are you doing to make it as likely as possible that people will buy your merch?

Every time a new person discoverers your project, an opportunity is created. You want to do everything possible to capitalize on that opportunity – specifically as relates to your key success metric.

Again, you may have multiple metrics of success, but you will do much better if you focus your promotional efforts around the ONE THING you most want people to do. For more on how best to do that, check out my one-action strategy.

How I Answered This Question:

Because the one thing I want people to do when they discover A Person You Should Know is to subscribe to my email list, you’ll notice the list is prominently featured throughout the site.

A plug to join the list is at the bottom of every post, there’s a subscribe button in the navigation menu, and I recently added a full page welcome screen to first-time visitors that encourages them to join the list to get inspired. [Side Note: I’m using the SumoMe Welcome Mat app to power that feature and it’s been amazing in the first couple days I’ve used it.]

I monitor all of these things and track what percentage of people who visit the site join the email list, how many subscribers are opening the emails, and how many people unsubscribe from the list because they don’t like what they’re getting (I’m happy to say that number is very low at this point).

To give you a sense of how the numbers break down, here’s where I’m at with that email list two weeks after launching the site: 2,288 people have visited the site, 153 people have subscribed to the email list, and only two people have unsubscribed.

I’m happy with the numbers at the moment, but could they better? Maybe. I’ll find out because I have a clear key success metric that I’m tracking and can measure what happens as the site evolves and I test out new techniques to improve the results.

4. What Value Will Your Project Provide And To Who?

No matter what your project is, it won’t succeed unless it provides value to people.

So, it’s important to think about what value your project intends to provide and to whom.

Unlike focusing in on a single key success metric, it’s good to think a little broader for this question. For example, if your project is a standup show, there are a lot of different people it could potentially provide value to including the audience, the booker, the venue, and even the other comedians if you create an opportunity for them to perform as well.

If you launch a web series, that could provide value to viewers, advertisers, actors, filmmakers, your representatives, and even TV development executives at some point. A podcast could provide value to all of those as well as the guests you interview.

Understanding all the potential value your project can provide and to who helps you sort through how to present it to those various constituencies and helps you find and build an audience.

The “value” of your show will be different to the audience than it is to the venue for example, so you’ll want to present your show to those entities in different ways that speak to the value it provides to each of them.

Too often, people start projects and are so focused on the value it will provide to themselves that they miss opportunities to attract others to support the project.

An audience doesn’t care what value something provides to you – they care what value it provides to them. That should be the focus of your pitch to get them to check out what you’ve created.

How I Answered This Question:

I see a lot of audiences that can get value from A Person You Should Know including people who want to be inspired, who want to learn, and who want to become part of a creative community.

The site also provides a service in finding these interesting people and boiling their key ideas down to a very quick, skimmable read each day. If you want to learn from these people, but don’t know how to find them or have time to track them down, this site gives you an easy snapshot to learn from them without a huge commitment.

But, by also providing the links to deeper articles and speeches from each person, the site also provides value to people who want to be able to take a deeper dive with any of these people that catch their eye.

And the site provides value to the people I feature on it by exposing them to new people who may be interested in supporting their efforts.

Essentially, I’ve crafted my project in a way to appeal to multiple audiences with different value propositions. Knowing this influences everything from how I construct the site, to how I promote it, to who I target with that promotion.

5. What Can You Learn From The Initial Feedback

Your project is not going to be perfect when you launch it – far from it. But don’t worry, that’s actually a good thing.

Rather than waiting to figure out every little detail of your project before you unleash it on the world, get the bare minimum you need to launch and put it out into the world.

But the key here is to pay attention to the feedback you get on the project because you will be able to learn a lot from those first few people who experience your new creation.

Don’t overreact to a single compliment or criticism, but actively seek out and pay attention to whatever feedback you get about what you’re doing. Just like a comic will pay attention to what gets laughs on stage, you should examine things like at what point in a video your audience abandons it, or which blog posts are being shared more than others.

Also, look for opportunities to engage with your audience.

Don’t be afraid to message somebody who likes your Facebook page, thank them, and ask them why they joined and what they’re hoping to see. Don’t be afraid to tweet at people and ask them what they’d like to see incorporated into your project, or to thank them for sharing it.

You’ll be surprised what you can learn from the feedback of even just a handful of people and it can have a huge impact on your new project which is ALWAYS a work in progress.

How I Answered The Question:

I’ve been amazed at how much I’ve learned in just the first two weeks of A Person You Should Know. Things that seem obvious now, were not really part of my initial plans.

For example, I was surprised early on when a couple people who discovered the site sent me suggestions of people to feature.

I was initially so focused on my own curation of the people featured, that I didn’t realize how compelling it would be for other people to offer to suggestions. I also realized the suggestions could help form a real sense of community around the site as well as introduce me to other talented people who I might not have otherwise known.

I also hadn’t initially considered the advantages of featuring people who in addition to being talented, often had followings of their own.

Several of the people I have featured already wound up discovering my site as a result and sharing it with their audiences. There’s essentially a built-in promotional loop to the structure of the site, which I hadn’t considered in the initial concept, but seems like an obvious strength of the concept now.

Again, I learned from that and started emailing people I feature to make sure they at least are aware that they were featured – I don’t just rely on them seeing themselves tagged in a tweet.

I don’t actually ask them to share the site with their followers, but I do ask them for suggestions of other people to feature and I’ve gotten some great tips as a result. And, several of the people I’ve featured have become subscribers and helped spread the word as well.

The point is that if you keep your eyes and ears open when you launch a project, you’ll be surprised what you can learn and how that can help the project ultimately succeed.

READ THIS NEXT: Case Study: How To Launch A Short Video Series


Case Study: How To Build A Writing Career

The following is part of my Case Study series of articles in which I offer specific advice to a Connected Comedy VIP member based on their personal goals. If you’re interested in being the subject of a Case Study article, email me.

Connected Comedy VIP member Conn Williams is an Australian who recently moved to Boston, started doing standup about a year ago, and told me he’s ultimately interested in “writing for cinema and TV.” He’s been writing (or as he put it, “trying to”) for nearly 10 years and faces a very common problem.

Here’s how he described it:

“I have started a million projects, but rarely do I get anything finished, certainly never to a marketable point. Project ideas I have vary from novels, movies, sitcoms and documentaries.”

As with most things, there’s no one single way to build a comedy writing career, but I do think there are some mindsets and specific things you can do that will help you get to where you want to go. Following are a few suggestions for how I’d recommend approaching a writing career – and while these are directed toward screenwriting, most of them are just as applicable for your budding standup career as well.

1. It Only Matters If You Finish

In describing your writing background, one sentence stood out to me that rings true to most people who initially pursue a comedy career – “I have started a million projects, but rarely do I get anything finished.”

This is something everybody faces in the beginning, but it’s the most important thing you need to change in order to succeed at whatever you want to do.

What you start is meaningless. The only thing that matters is what you finish.

A finished screenplay that’s terrible is more valuable to you than an unfinished screenplay that’s good. Writing is a tough discipline and no matter how talented you are, the chances are you’re never going to be happy with early drafts of your work.

But you can’t let that prevent you from actually finishing that work.

Abandoning projects creates a cycle that prevents you from making progress – you don’t learn as much as you will learn by finishing things and you wind up jumping from project to project without having anything finished to show for all of your time and efforts.

Don’t worry about perfection, make finishing the project you set out to write your first goal. And take satisfaction from accomplishing that goal – even if your work isn’t great, it’s a huge accomplishment just to complete a screenplay or novel.

Again, most people DON’T finish things. So just by getting to the finish line, you already start to separate yourself from the pack of wannabe writers and are closer to becoming a professional writer.

The other amazing thing that happens when you finish something is that it creates momentum to fuel your next work. As you become a writer who finishes what you start, your skills will improve, you’ll become less critical of yourself, and you’ll learn what it takes to actually write for a living.

You never get paid to start things, you get paid to finish them. So the sooner you learn to finish, the better.

2. Read Scripts. Watch Movies. Repeat.

If you’re serious about a writing career, then you need to read as much as you write. Read the kinds of screenplays that you want to write – it’s not enough to just watch movies.

Screenwriting is its own unique form and you’ll learn a lot by seeing how other writers do it. And analyze what you read – break down the way writers handle scenes, characters, and plot structure. You’ll be amazed how much you can learn when you look deeper than just watching a movie.

Speaking of which, it’s especially helpful to read scripts and watch the movies simultaneously – you’ll get a feel for how the writing translates to the screen and vice versa. If you’re writing a movie (or TV show for that matter), remember that you’re ultimately writing “actions” – even if it’s dialogue heavy.

Studying scripts in concert with the final filmed product will help you learn how to do that.

Also, while the above advice is mainly for film or TV narrative writing, the same applies for novels, sketch, or any other kind of writing you’re interested in. Study how others do it and then put your own spin on it.

3. Tap Into The Online Writing Community

The biggest advantage to trying to build a writing career now compared to a decade ago is the incredible volume of resources available to up and coming writers now online to learn more about the craft.

There’s a HUGE community of professional (and hopeful) writers online and an almost infinite number of blogs, message boards, podcasts and more that feature discussions and advice about how to become a better writer.

This is an invaluable resource (if you access it) and I recommend you deeply immerse yourself in that world. You’ll be able to learn tons of valuable lessons (for free) and you also may find yourself developing relationships with other writers in the community who can help you in a variety of ways down the road.

If you want to be a writer, then one of the first things you should do is become a part of the writing community.

Here’s a few specific recommendations of things you might want to check out, though there’s certainly a lot more out there.

The Scriptnotes Podcast

Reddit’s Writing and Screenwriting subreddits

The Writer’s Bloc Podcast

The Creative Spark video series

10 Influential Screenwriting Blogs

4. Produce Something

While it ultimately may take a lot of money and somebody else to fund your movie or TV screenplay, write something small and figure out a way to actually get it made.

Whether it’s a short film, a web series, play, or even a scripted podcast, figure out a way to write something you can turn into a finished, created, “real” product that exists in the world.

You can team up with other producers, filmmakers, and actors – you don’t have to do it all yourself, but it’s important to go through the process of seeing your words come off the page and be brought to life.

Doing this will provide multiple benefits for you. You’ll learn a ton from seeing the difference between writing words on a page and how they’re actually performed and shot – that will ultimately help the quality of your writing in the future.

You’ll also benefit from having the opportunity to see how an audience (even a small one) reacts to one of your creations – that too will help your writing.

Maybe most importantly, you’ll get to have some fun seeing the things that came from your head become real and that will give you some much-needed momentum boost to encourage you to keep writing. There’s something about seeing creations become real that motivates writers to create more.

And finally, if you actually put something out into the world, you never know what new opportunities it may create. Maybe your video will go viral, maybe your web series will develop a following, maybe somebody influential will see it and want to work with you on something else.

5. Take Whatever Work You Can Get In The Industry

In addition to spending a lot of time writing, you’re going to want to find ways to make connections with other people working in the industry because ultimately you’re going to need to get to those people in order to sell your script or get yourself hired to work as a writer.

One of the best ways to do that is to take any jobs you can find that are remotely related to the industry you want to work in. Don’t worry if it’s not necessarily a writing job, if it puts you anywhere near anything that you’d want to be involved in, then go for it.

Working on the crew of a production or getting coffee as an assistant for somebody may seem like a waste of your time, but it’s not. It’s an opportunity to get to know people who are in positions that can ultimately help you and you’ll find yourself surrounded by other people who have similar goals and connections. Do whatever you can to just get in the door at an entertainment company and then figure out the rest from there.

For an industry that’s so huge, the entertainment business is a surprisingly small world – everybody kind of knows everybody – and today’s assistant is tomorrow’s studio head. Take whatever job you can find – even a part time gig where you work for free if you have to – to put yourself into that universe. It will ultimately pay off in a big way down the road.

READ THIS NEXT: Manager Rachel Miller Explains How You Can Build A Writing Career

How A Comic Got Booked On CONAN

This is a guest post from Connected Comedian Andy Sandford, who recently made his first appearance on CONAN. If you’d like to write a guest post for Connected Comedy, please email me.

I recently got to live out a longtime dream of telling my dumb jokes on CONAN.

Any comedian who has achieved some sort of goal or milestone in comedy (big or small) has had another comedian ask them, “How’d you get that?”

The question itself can have a rude connotation. It can be taken as, “How’d YOU get that and not me?” It could also imply that you “got” it, as opposed to having earned it. That being said, I prefer to assume the best intentions behind “How’d you get that?” because I am very aware that comedy is a pursuit which can leave you aimlessly flummoxed, and there is no real guide book (sorry, Judy Carter).

So when Connected Comedy asked if I’d be interested in writing a guest article about the experience, I figured I’d write what I’d want to read about if I was reading this instead of writing it. So I’ll do my best to appease the me that would be reading this.

I have to state, right off the bat, that I am a firm believer in setting realistic career goals that are momentarily just out of reach, then working as hard as possible to get within reach.

I started planning my album months before a label ever talked to me about doing one. In much the same way, I was dead set on doing a late night spot (specifically CONAN) before I knew the circumstances which would lead to that actually happening.

I’m not talking about “The Secret” here, or a magic ability to will dreams into fruition. I’m just talking about stating and then focusing on the thing you want, knowing why you want it, then being prepared for the opportunity when it comes.

Some folks don’t like to hear this, but the one sure-fire way to help yourself reach your comedy goals is to get funnier and hone your craft.

I know that sounds like a no-brainer, but I include it here to point out that it is far and away THE MOST IMPORTANT THING ALWAYS.

I haven’t met a successful/respected comedian yet who wasn’t mostly consumed by the quality of their material. I think that when you first start getting better at comedy, it is easy to get hung up on this notion of a payout timeline. Success in comedy, however you define it, is almost never linear. You can’t expect a consistent return on the time and effort you’ve invested.

All you can do is focus on your act and put yourself in the best position for the things you want.

With that ranting caveat out of the way, I’ll go into specifics…

Not that this is a how-to, but if you’re aspiring to do a late night set you’re going to need to get a good tape at a good show with good audience reaction. The best material can sound like dog shit if there’s no one laughing at it. Even if the booker is great at their job and can tell if someone’s funny regardless, you are making a first impression here.

Different late night bookers prefer different length sets for the initial tape. If you don’t know exactly who’s going to be watching it, six minutes is a pretty safe bet.

As far as the material goes, regardless of your comedic style, the set should reflect who you are and the kind of comedy you do. Also, make sure your opener is bulletproof.

Once you have a tape, the next logical step would be getting it seen by a late night booker. This is obviously where it can get real tricky.

A lot of comedians let the vagueness of all this create a ceiling where they think, “This is the stuff I have to have a manager for.”

Speaking as a comedian who has never signed with any management, you’ll be happy (or depressed) to know that you don’t need a manager to do a late night spot (or a lot of other things). There’s that old showbiz idiom: “Managers get 10% because they do 10% of the work.”

Percentages may change, but that concept is still very true. You are the only one you can count on to care the most about you. So if you don’t have a manager, you’re just going to have to work that much harder and put yourself in the best position you can.

My way of doing that was moving to New York a few years ago. I didn’t even move here because this is one of two industry hubs, but more so because it is the center of the standup universe, with a ton of shows and really good comedians. I found it to be the best option for my personal progression.There’s a million possible paths, and New York was just what felt right for me.

From being in New York, I ended up doing shows with, and eventually opening for, several great comics who I respect very much. In my pursuit of a late night spot, I asked a multiple late night veteran (who is also an insightful person) for advice on getting late night.

Much to my surprise, mid-conversation, they offered to send a tape to the CONAN booker along with a vouch for me.

This is not something you should ask from anyone directly, and if you are in this situation, realize the weight of a respected comic’s word. Don’t be a fucking idiot and phone it in with someone else’s name on the line. It is a very serious thing and it should be taken very seriously. I had to send two tapes to the comic vouching for me before he would send the tape on to the CONAN booker.

After a few weeks, I got a response from the CONAN booker and the notes process began.

The notes process is just what it sounds like. The booker gives you notes on your set and tells you what they like and don’t like. Mostly what they don’t like, but don’t worry, that means they like you (confusing, I know).

This is why I said earlier that having a six-minute tape was a safe bet, even though just about every late night set is five minutes. The bookers are going to do their job, and your set will be vetted pretty thoroughly.

Luckily, the CONAN booker liked most of my jokes from the initial tape, but I still had to make several changes, replace/cut jokes, and send four more tapes over the course of about four months (which meant filming at least a dozen sets, since making a tape in New York is a nightmare).

I’ve never heard of someone sending one tape and then getting handed their late night debut. My point is: Put as much thought into the set as you can, but then be ready to change it.

It may sound tedious (and will lead to ridiculous emails like, “I agree with your note that the shitting thing after the fart story is a bit much”), but the notes process will most likely force you to produce a much tighter and better five minutes than what you initially had in mind.

After the back-and-forth of getting notes and making new tapes, the final set was agreed upon, and I had to make one more tape to show that it was under five minutes. That’s right: UNDER five.

The last tape of my set that I sent clocked in at about 4:50ish. All of this time and material micromanagement is so that there are no doubts about you going waaay over or under when you tape the set for television. The people at CONAN are not as strict on time when it comes to the actual taping because they know they don’t need to be.

As far as the taping itself: yes, it was a little nerve racking – especially the two-minute wait behind a curtain in anticipation for something you’ve dreamt about a million times. At the same time, I knew I was ready and that I was the good kind of nervous.

Comedy is something where you learn not to get too excited about opportunities, because the bottom can drop out at any time (I’ve almost gotten a ton of stuff).

I’ve gotten used to not getting too hyped about things. However, I have to say, when it comes to doing a late night set: it is impossible to build it up too much in your head. It was way more fun than I could have imagined and only reaffirmed the love for what I do, as well as validate my decision to drop out of high school (jk’ing about that. Stay in school kids).

Finally, what has doing late night done for me?

Well, I don’t really know yet fully since I just recently did it. However, I already know not to expect the moon because I was on TV for five minutes. We should all know that’s not how it works.

Comedy is a lot like chess in that you don’t know where your next steps will leave you, but you have to be ready for multiple outcomes, and then outcomes to those outcomes. At the very least, you have to know how the thing you want can be parlayed into furthering your career.

In my case, I book all of my own roadwork, whether in clubs or independent venues. I knew if I could have a good set on a reputable show, it would help immensely with establishing credibility when booking gigs, and especially with independent venues (the very concept of comedy is a hard sell for them sometimes).

Bitter people will say that doing a late night set doesn’t do a fraction of what it used to. That may be true, but I’m not interested in how things used to be, and am already aware that this is a tough business. The returns, or lack of returns, can’t diminish the experience for me.

I always try to create my own returns anyway.

You can watch Andy’s CONAN set below and connect with him on Twitter.

4 Questions Comics Should Ask Instead Of The Ones They Usually Ask

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.

READ THIS NEXT: 5 Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Try To Make Money Online From Comedy

5 Things You Can Learn From Kyle Kinane

Comedian Kyle Kinane is one of the smartest and most respected comedians working today – he also happens to be one of my personal favorites and a guy I’ve worked with in the past who deserves every bit of success he’s had in the past few years.

On a recent episode of The Comedian’s Comedian podcast, he was interviewed by Stuart Goldsmith in what was one of the best discussions about the art of comedy that I’ve heard on any podcast anywhere. I recommend listening to the full episode here, but you can also read some of the highlights of what Kinane had to say below.

1. Comedy Isn’t Easy And Your Comedy Shouldn’t Be For Everybody

At around the 5-minute mark, Kinane shares his take on the current comedy boom and points out that open mics are filled with people trying all kinds of bizarre stuff, wrongly assuming that somehow standup is easy to do.

“There’s more people now than ever in comedy,” he says. “I think people falsely think it’s an easy outlet.”

He goes on to explain why even from when he initially started at open mics, he’s always liked the idea of hearing some groans from people watching his act.

“It shouldn’t be for everybody,” he says. “If it’s for everybody, it can’t really be that great. If everybody likes it, I don’t think they love it.”

2. You Can Wait Until The World Asks You For Something

At around the 14-minute mark, Kinane explains how he’s approached advancing his career and it’s a strategy that flies in the face of what most comedians practice (and what most of the content on this site is, to be perfectly honest).

Basically, he’s chosen not to do anything until people come to him and ask him to do so.

“I never had the self-confidence to be like, ‘Yeah, I got this,'” he says. “I feel like if the world wants you to put it out there, they’ll ask you for it. I never released an album until a label asked me to do it. It’s a much longer way, but at least if I get down that path this way – I know I was asked to be here. I did it the way I wanted to and was asked to go to the next level.”

Kinane admits that his approach is certainly not the only way to succeed and breaks down what he sees as the different ways that comics get ahead in the business.

“There’s people with talent, there’s people with hustle, and there’s people with a mix of both,” he says. “The shorter way [to succeed] is with hustle…but if you don’t have the material to back it up when you get there, you fucked yourself.”

He adds that when he was getting started he didn’t worry about hassling bookers to put him on “good” shows and was content to perform on other shows until the people with the good shows saw him and invited him to do theirs.

“If you’re asking me to do your show, you’re approving of what I’m doing already,” he says.

3. Your Comedy Should Evolve With Your Life

At around the 31-minute mark, Kinane talks about how his comedy has changed as he’s become increasingly successful. He says his biggest goal at the moment is to write “positive comedy,” because it’s more a reflection of his satisfaction with how his career and life have evolved in recent years – and it also helps him stand out from the crowd.

“I realize I’ve got  to separate myself from this pack of sad, bearded white dude comedy,” he says. “I’m trying to make it something that’s more. Something that’s not just jokes. I’m a happy person and it’s disingenuous to go up there [and pretend I’m not].”

Whether positive or not, he stresses the importance of comedians evolving in their act. “I get upset when comedians don’t grow from one thing to the next,” he says.

4. Do More Than Just Make Audiences Laugh

At around the 40-minute mark, Kinane explains how he ultimately found his voice (read more on how to find your voice here) after a string of bad shows at a festival several years ago. Feeling he had blown his big opportunity, he returned to Los Angeles and wound up discovering a new approach to his material.

“I realized…I could do some real weird shit that I think is funny to me, but sounds sad to other people,” he says. “I realized how much more powerful it was for people to understand something as opposed to just laughing at the wording. Laughing at it because you relate is so much different.”

5. Love It Enough To Do It For Free – Forever

At around the 49-minute mark, Kinane talks about how he’s proud of everything he does as a comedian and adds that setting that standard is also a way of “guarding my own happiness.”

He admits to reading comments about himself from critics and other Internet commenters, but manages to not let them affect him too much.

“I read the criticism, but if I don’t think they’re right than I don’t worry about it,” he says.

And finally, he shares some words of wisdom for other comics that are just starting out and hoping to build a successful comedy career.

“Love it enough that you’ll do it for free forever,” he says. “You’re not going to make a living.”

READ THIS NEXT: 5 Things You Can Learn From Jim Norton

A Business Plan For Comedians

In a recent episode of the Connected Comedy podcast, I said I felt comics could be helped by approaching their career as you would a startup company.

Chicago comedian Odinaka Ezeokoli asked in our Facebook group if I could elaborate on what I meant and what a startup business plan for a comedian would look like, so that’s what I’m going to do in this article.

Obviously, every comic has their own unique goals and a comedy career is different than launching a business, so the point isn’t to follow this word for word. But rather, it’s designed to give you a mindset that can help you sort through how grow your career.

Here’s a few basic elements of a startup business plan that I think can point you in the right direction with your career…

1. Figure Out Your Initial Investment

No business starts without some form of initial investment. That investment may not be financial (though some of it usually is), but in order to start anything you need to commit time, effort, resources, or money to the endeavor.

That seems obvious, but many comedians seem to think they should be able to build a comedy career without investing anything other than their time into it – and often times, not even much of that.

Almost every career or business requires a financial investment of some sort – whether it’s college, or hours as an unpaid intern, or attending a trade school, or even simply buying a computer or some type of equipment.

These are all “startup costs” you have to be willing to cover in order to succeed.

When you are building a comedy career you should think through what kind of initial investment you can commit to it – how much time and what kind of resources are you willing to invest in your success?

If the answer is “not much,” can you really expect to succeed?

2. Who’s On Your Board Of Directors?

A typical startup company will have a Board of Directors who help oversee the company. Even small companies that are founder-driven often have at least a couple people on the company’s “Board” – even if those people are just friends of the founder.

But in a startup environment, the members of the Board tend to be people that have something they can bring to the table to help the company succeed. That may include a financial investment in the company, but often times it’s just experience, advice, connections, or other resources that they can contribute to help the company.

I’m not suggesting you have a formal Board of Directors for your personal comedy career, but it is helpful to think about who you can get to be vested in your success. It might be a friend who produces a comedy show, another comedian who happens to own a camera and knows how to produce videos, a relative who understands social media marketing, or a more veteran comic who can mentor you.

Having a virtual “Board” for yourself can be a great asset in helping you move your career forward.

3. Do Market Research

If you opened a pizza restaurant, the first thing you would do (hopefully) is research all the other local pizza places around you. You’d want to know the ins and outs of what they do, why they succeed (or not), and who their customers are.

It’s cheesy (no pun intended), but that kind of knowledge really is power.

But most comedians do very little market research. You don’t have to do formal market research of course, but you should get out there and learn as much as you can about what other comics in your area (and nationally) are doing to build their career. What’s working, what’s not, and where are the opportunities.

You should also extend that to research the industry – if you don’t know every single show that exists in your local area and who the people are that run those shows, then you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage.

Do your homework – it will help.

4. Identify Your Customers

Another part of doing your research is to figure out who the audience is you’re hoping to reach. I’ve written a lot about finding your niche (and talked about it as well), but suffice it to say for now that it’s a huge help to have some idea who you are targeting with your comedy.

In addition to figuring out your niche and where those people can be found, you’ll also want to think about your overall goals and what you need in order to achieve them.

For example, if you’re interested in an acting or writing career, then your “customers” are more likely to be industry executives than general fans. But if you’re focused on a standup career, than growing a fanbase is more important than appealing to industry.

There’s no one way to build a career, but honing in on the customers you want will certainly help you get where you want to go faster.

5. Identify Your Competitive Advantage

If you launching a startup in a competitive field, you need to figure out what kind of advantage you have that will help you succeed. And comedy certainly is a business with plenty of competition.

As relates to your career, you want to think about what your competitive advantage could be – which typically means figuring out what is unique about you.

What makes you different, how do you stand out from the crowd, and what is it about your comedy voice that will grab and keep people’s attention. How will you get people to care?

In addition to that, consider what other competitive advantages you might have – what do you have access to that others may not? That could be resources, people, a location, expertise on a particular subject, or anything you have that most other comics may not.

Recognizing the advantages you have (as opposed to dwelling on your disadvantages) will help you figure out how to move things forward.

6. Reinvest In Your Business

You’ll notice most successful startup companies are quick to reinvest whatever profits they earn in order to grow their business. When they have initial success, they don’t celebrate and blow that revenue, they tend to reinvest it in things that help take their venture to the next level.

Essentially, they double down on their business and you’d be wise to do the same for your career.

As you start to have financial (or other) success, look for ways to reinvest in yourself.

Instead of blowing the money you earn from a big gig on something pointless, maybe use it to fund production of a web series, to build a better website, to pay for Facebook ads that will introduce you to new potential fans, or to cover costs of a tour that might lose money, but will get you in front of new audiences.

Think about how you can use success as a foundation for more success as opposed to trying to “cash out” as quickly as possible.

7. Know Your Exit Strategy

From the moment they launch, most startup companies have a plan of what type of business they’re trying to build and have an “exit strategy.”

For example, they might try to grow quickly and capture the attention of bigger investors who will acquire the company or they might dream of taking the company public. They might envision turning their business into a franchise and allowing other people to open versions of the business they’ve created, or they might set their sights on the business being a secondary revenue stream in addition to whatever else they’re doing with their life.

Put some thought into what your exit strategy will be. Are you hoping to build a “sustainable” business where you can support yourself through a direct relationship with a fanbase or are you more interested in getting “acquired” and hired as a writer or actor?

Knowing where you hope to end up from the beginning will help you get there. And so will a business plan…even if it’s just in your head.

READ THIS NEXT: What Does It Really Mean To Be In The Comedy Business?

How Do I Know If I’m Good?

I recently met with somebody who was interested in pursuing a writing career. In our conversation, he asked me how “risky” it was to pursue a future in screenwriting and he worried that maybe he was headed down a dangerous path, even though he was passionate about writing.

I explained to him that writing was something he could pursue while also maintaining another job to pay the bills, that it didn’t have to be risky, and that I believe you should always follow your passions.

Then he asked a question that revealed what he was really worried about.

“But…how do I know if I’m good?”

It’s a question lots of comedians also struggle with, so I thought I’d share my answer with you.

First, that’s an impossible question to answer because I don’t believer you’re ever “good” or “not good.” Creative careers don’t ever have a single moment where you magically become good – instead you will go through a gradual process of improving and getting better.

Also, comedy is a subjective art – lots of people may think that Dane Cook is good, but lots of others may disagree. Comedy isn’t math – there is no definitive answer.

Since you’ll never really know if you’re good or not, it’s an unproductive question to ask yourself.

That said, if you really want an answer to the question I’ll give you one.

Unless you’ve been working at something for a long time (10,000 hours maybe?), you’re not “good” at it yet. That’s just the way things work.

In my conversation with the would-be writer, I asked him how many scripts he had finished writing and said that if that answer was less than 10, I could pretty much guarantee he wasn’t good yet.

It reminded me of something a literary agent told me years ago. When writers approached him looking for representation, the first thing he would ask them was how many screenplays they had written and if that answer was less than 10, he wouldn’t even read their script.

That’s because he knew if they hadn’t written a lot of scripts yet, they wouldn’t possibly be as good as they would be after they had put in the work to complete 10 scripts. He would tell them to go finish more scripts and then contact him.

While writing (and comedy) require some natural ability, they are also art forms where you will definitely get better as you put more time into your craft. No matter where you start, you’ll be better after writing 10 scripts or performing 100 times than you are after your first script or performance.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint – remember?

With that in mind, I told the would-be writer that rather than trying to figure out whether or not he was “good,” he would be better served to figure out if he was getting better.

He should focus his efforts on writing more screenplays and not worry about judging the quality of his initial work. Instead of trying to figure out if his third screenplay was good, he should concentrate on whether his sixth screenplay was better than his third.

That’s something that creators actually find relatively easy to judge – you might not be able to figure out if your work is good, but you probably have pretty accurate instincts when you compare it to your previous work.

And the more work you do, the better your work will get.

With the “Am I getting better?” mindset in place, I then suggested he think through the time and effort he was prepared to commit to chasing his dream. Again, no matter how talented you are, it takes a lot of time and hard work to build a creative career and I think it’s important to go into it with some idea of what you’re prepared to commit to making it happen.

I suggested he think about how many years he was willing to work on his writing or how many screenplays he was willing to write before seeing any real success. That number could fluctuate and he could always extend it, but setting an initial time frame would alleviate some of the inevitable pressure and frustration that can come with trying to “make it.”

And the question to ask himself during that time frame would be whether he was improving, not whether he was good. (Here’s some other ways to measure your career progress.)

For example, if he decides he’s willing to put in three years of work on his writing, then all he would have to worry about during that time was whether he was getting better. He would know he had decided to put in three years with no promise of anything coming out of it, and he could just focus on doing the work during that time.

It’s almost like going to college – you do it with the hope and assumption that something good will come of it, but you have no guarantee and you don’t expect to suddenly be qualified a year into the experience. You understand the benefits won’t come until you graduate…or later. Or, unfortunately, they might not come at all.

That’s just how it works.

At the end of the time frame you’ve set for yourself to get better, you can assess where you’re at and figure out if you’re still passionate about what you’re doing or if you feel like you’re making enough progress to continue. That will still be a tough decision for you at that time, but at least it will be one that hasn’t been hanging over your head on a daily basis until that point.

It also gives you a point where you can walk away knowing that you gave it a good shot and that you left on your own terms – or that you’re continuing to pursue your dream because you’ve seen enough progress in your career or your talent to warrant that you push on.

READ THIS NEXT: 4 Things Comedians Should Know About Agents

4 Things You Can Learn From Social Media “Stars”

I recently had the chance to work with some of the most talented (and popular) social media creators in the world and I want to share with you what I learned.

But first, a little backstory.

In my “day job” as the head of digital media for The Academy, I had the opportunity to put together a pretty unique stunt called the Oscars Creators as part of this year’s social campaign for the show. It was an initiative through which we invited seven talented social media artists from different platforms including Vine, Instagram, and Tumblr to come to Hollywood and share their perspective on all the Oscars activity.

It turned out to be a great program, and you can see some of the highlights here:

But it also gave me an opportunity to learn from these talented creators, see how they work, how they’ve built massive followings on social media, and learn how they created opportunities for themselves. While the Creators weren’t comedians (though some of their work is comedic) and each had different skill sets – filmmakers, photographers, artists, etc. – I noticed they all had some things in common that a lot of comics could learn from.

Here’s a breakdown of what I learned and how you can apply it to your own career…

 1. Be Professional

Every one of the Creators acted like a true professional. They showed up on time, ready to do their work, and they were reliable. In order for the Creators program to work, we had to give them access to very exclusive stuff like rehearsals and show talent and they had to work within parameters that included tight time windows and restrictions on what could or could not be revealed to the public before the show.

But I quickly learned that each of these Creators was trustworthy and dependable – they took their opportunities seriously and were always very professional. Even though they were doing fun (and sometimes silly) stuff like photographing a turtle or waking up on the red carpet, they treated their work like it was important (and it was).

I have no doubt that their professionalism is one of the reasons they have all been so successful – I know it made me want to work with them again and recommend them to others. Too often, comics don’t act as professionals and it definitely holds a lot of them back from succeeding.

2. Value Your Community

Another thing I noticed among all of the Creators was the degree to which they valued their community of fellow social media creators. To my surprise, several of them already knew each other from crossing paths prior to this Oscars project and they were all interested in getting to know each other and finding ways to work together.

They inherently understood the value of being part of a creative community – from both an inspirational and promotional standpoint. They wanted to connect, collaborate, and to find ways to work with each other. They clearly understood the value of connecting with each other and the ways that a community can help all of its members.

This reminded me of what I see as one of the biggest missed opportunities in the comedy world – not enough comics take advantage of their comedy community. Whether it be the community in your city, your local club, or other comedians you connect with online, there are opportunities to help each other, learn from each other, and get closer to accomplishing your goals together.

Too often, comics approach their career as a lone wolf and that only makes things harder. These Creators clearly have the opposite approach and I have no doubt it’s helped them grow their followings.

3. Have A Vision

While each of the Creators we worked with had their own unique talent, I was impressed with how clearly each of them had a vision for what they wanted to do. They knew their own art and were able to articulate their talent and how they approach their work.

For example, if a photographer was interested mainly in shooting portraits, he would decline opportunities to shoot landscapes or other stuff. It wasn’t that he couldn’t shoot landscapes or even that he didn’t ever shoot landscapes, it was that he chose to focus on what he was really passionate about doing.

And not only did they have preferences and a vision, but they had a commitment to what they were doing – in some cases even down to little things that the average follower might not ever even notice. For example, one Creator had a set pattern for the images he would post on Instagram – insisting that the colors in one image lead to the colors of the next image.

They were not artists making random decisions, they were talented creatives who each had a specific process for how they liked to work and their own vision for what they wanted to accomplish with their creations.

In the comedy world, too often comedians don’t really have any vision for what they’re trying to do or what they want to say. They just want to make people laugh. That’s fine, but ultimately I think you will be helped by honing in on having a message you’re trying to convey and a process through which you hope to do that.

And it’s a reminder that just because you have the opportunity to do something, it doesn’t mean that it’s the best use of your skills for your ultimate goals. Choose wisely with how you spend your time.

4. Set A High Standard For Yourself

Each one of the Creators I dealt with set a high standard of quality for their work. They didn’t just post every little thing they made, they cared a lot about putting out work they were proud of.

Every photo or video they released had to live up to a quality standard that they had set for themselves. And if they made some stuff that didn’t turn out quite as good as they had hoped, they wouldn’t post it.

When it comes to comedians, I often see them setting low standards for what they post online and reserving their quality control only for things they deem to be more important like the stage. But every thing you put out into the world is representative of you and the level of your work so it’s worth taking that into account before you click publish.

I’m all for experimenting, and I don’t think you should be afraid to try new things, but at the same time you want to use social media to share work that you’re proud of and avoid falling into the trap of posting things just for the sake of posting them.

Just because you have the ability to publish whatever you want, doesn’t mean that you should.

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5 Things You Can Learn From The President Of MTV

Currently the president of MTV, Susanne Daniels has had a long and successful career in television after getting her start years ago as Lorne Michaels’ assistant on Saturday Night Live. On a recent episode of the Industry Standard with Barry Katz podcast, she discussed a wide range of topics including what she learned from Lorne Michaels, what she looks for when searching for talent and developing shows, and her advice to people hoping to break into the entertainment industry.

It’s a great conversation and you can listen to the full episode here or read up on some of the highlights below.

1. Aggressively Pursue Opportunities Because You Never Know Where They Might Come From

At around the 29-minute mark, Daniels talks about how she landed her first job out of college – an amazing opportunity to become Lorne Michaels’ assistant on Saturday Night Live. She did it by being extremely aggressive in tracking down any opportunities she could find, which led to a surprising bit of luck.

“There was nobody I didn’t ask to try to get an introduction to somebody in the television business, because I didn’t really have any connections,” Daniels says. “There was no stone unturned, nobody I wouldn’t harass.”

She goes on to explain that she was in a restaurant in New York and overheard two people having a conversation about a television production. She approached them, apologized for interrupting, explained that she was looking to break into the business and asked if there was any chance they needed a production assistant.

They didn’t have any open positions, but eventually she got connected to somebody who worked in TV news for a “general meeting.” She bombed that meeting because she wasn’t really thinking of it as an interview – it was clear to the person meeting with her that she was interested in entertainment TV and not news. That taught her another lesson:

“You have to treat every meeting like it could be a potential interview,” she says.

But Daniels got a little lucky – the guy she was meeting with picked up on her enthusiasm for entertainment and happened to know that Lorne Michaels was looking for an assistant. He offered to pass along her resume, which led to an interview with Lorne and ultimately she got the job and an incredible launching pad for her career.

2. Attention To Detail Pays Off

At around the 35-minute mark, Daniels talks about what she learned from her time working with Lorne Michaels on Saturday Night Live, and later on movies like Wayne’s World.

“My biggest takeaway from Lorne was that attention to detail is important,” she says.

She goes on to explain how Lorne would make a million changes to sketches on Saturday Night Live and often times they seemed to be extremely minor – he’d suggest a character wear a different kind of hat, he’d slightly reposition a camera angle, he’d make tons of tweaks that might seem too small to impact anything. But in the end, they made a huge difference.

“All of his changes would enhance the sketch,” she says. “The sketch was ALWAYS better.”

3. Be Loyal

At around the 40-minute mark, Daniels shares another major lesson she learned from Lorne Michaels – the importance of being loyal to the people you work with and who work for you. She describes him as being “extremely loyal” to the people that work for him and “very respectful” of them and their work.

She credits that for a lot of the success and stability of his projects. “He’s created a work family,” she says.

4. Look To Create Things That Aren’t Already Being Done

At around the 68-minute mark, Daniels talks about how she decides what kinds of shows she wants to develop for a network. While most people obviously won’t have the opportunity to determine a network’s programming, it’s helpful advice that can be applied to anything you create – and also might come in handy if at some point you do try to pitch a network a television show.

“Something I think about a lot is, what is a point of view that is not reflected on television already?” says Daniels.

She goes on to explain that she will rarely ever consider something like a cop show because that’s been done already and is done all the time. She looks for unique, new ideas, and concepts that aren’t already being done by others.

5. Follow Your Passion And Work Hard

At around the 95-minute mark, Daniels sums up her advice for anybody hoping to have a career in entertainment or break into the industry.

“Follow your passion. Go for it. Go for what you want,” she says. “It’s hard work, it’s work to break in. Have a work ethic. Bring ideas to the table that are your ideas in whatever environment you’re in. If you want to act, start acting – make videos, become a Vine star, get yourself out there on YouTube. If you want to write, start writing – write a lot of spec scripts, write different kinds of spec scripts, don’t be precious about it. Do what you want to do and know that hard work comes with it.”

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