comedy business

How To Pitch Your Content To Other Websites

I get asked all the time how best to approach other blogs and websites to get them to feature your newest video, blog post, or podcast episode.

There’s no one size fits all answer to that question, but there are definitely some strategies that can increase the chances other sites will share your stuff with their audiences. Here’s an overview of some things you’ll want to keep in mind and some tactics you can try…

You Have To Make Something Good

This should go without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway because it’s really the most important thing. If you don’t create something good in the first place, it doesn’t matter how many strategies you use because nobody is going to share something that’s not good with their audience.

Making something good is a prerequisite – it’s not optional.

Now, assuming you’ve created something good, let’s move on to how you can approach websites to get them to share your stuff…

Go After The Right Audience

The first thing you need to do is identify the right targets. Think about what your content is about and which audiences are most likely to enjoy it, then find sites that cater to those audiences.

For example, if your video is about being a parent, then find popular parenting blogs. Or if your podcast is about life in Chicago, then reach out to local blogs about Chicago.

If you do a funny show about life in Chicago, don’t bother pitching it to a national comedy blog because the majority of their audience isn’t going to care about what’s happening in Chicago.

The more the audience of the websites you target matches the topic of your content, the more likely they will be to share your stuff.

Understand What’s Actually Best For You

It’s easy to get confused about what your actual goal is when you approach a website to share your newest creation. Most people tend to focus on that single piece of content and getting it featured on other sites – but that’s short term thinking.

You’re always better served thinking about the long term. In this case, that means what you really want is to develop a relationship with other sites that can last beyond just the single posting of that single piece of content.

There’s lots of different ways to build relationships and I’ll go into some of them later in this article, but for now just recognize that what ultimately will benefit you most is a relationship with these sites and not just a one-off favor.

Become A Part Of Their Community

Rather than just Googling some sites and blind-emailing them to ask that they share your stuff, you’ll be better served to become a part of their communities first.

Comment on their posts, share their articles on social media, interact with them on Twitter or Facebook – all BEFORE you ever actually pitch them your own content.

Doing this will get them familiar with you and who you are so that when you eventually reach out to them, they will already recognize you as a fan and active member of their community. They’ll be predisposed to think better of you and more likely to help you out.

The other benefit of this is that you wind up learning more about the sites you hope to pitch, you’ll understand their community, what kind of content they share and how best to position what you’ve created to fit their interests.

Offer To Help THEM Instead Of Asking Them To Help YOU

This may seem counterintuitive, but it works – and it’s also helpful for people who are uncomfortable promoting themselves.

Instead of emailing the people who run a website and asking them to share your new content, offer to create some content for them for free. You can let them know you’re a fan of their site and that you’d be willing to write some guest posts or make some videos for them if they’re interested.

Every website struggles to churn out content on a constant basis and many of them will be open to having somebody else contribute content for them (again, as long as it’s good).

And remember, what you’re really after is exposure to their audience – it shouldn’t matter whether the video you make lives on your YouTube channel or theirs, or whether the post you write lives on your website or theirs. As long as you get credit for it and a link where people can learn more about who you are, it’s valuable.

The other thing this does is start to form a relationship for you with the site which goes back to the initial goal of thinking bigger than just exposure for a single piece of content you created.

Offer To Give THEM Attention Instead Of Asking For Attention

Here’s another trick that almost always works. Instead of asking them to write about you and share your content, ask the people that run the website if you can interview them and tell your audience about them and their site.

No matter how small your own audience may be, just about anybody will be flattered that you want to interview them and will likely say yes.

Remember – they want attention for their creations every bit as much as you want attention for yours.

When they agree to be interviewed, this does a couple things. It starts a relationship for you with them that can potentially make them more likely to feature your content on their site down the road. And when you post the interview with them on your website or YouTube channel, they will most likely share a link to it with their audience.

So basically, you’ve managed to get them to drive their audience into your world without even having to ask them to.

The other great thing about this strategy is that you can easily scale it. For example, if you want a bunch of punk music blogs to tell their audiences about you then you could set up a series of Punk Music Blogger interviews and reach out to all those blogs to interview them.

It gives you an easy excuse to reach out and build relationships with all of them, with each then likely linking to your interview with them.

Ask Like A Real Person

Whether you choose to try any of the above strategies or just want to simply reach out and ask a site to share a single thing you’ve created, make sure that you ask like a regular person and not try to be overly formal.

Just email the person that runs the site, tell them you’re a fan of their site (which you should be since you hopefully have been reading it for a while before you reach out), explain who you are, and send them the content you think they (and, more importantly, their audience) will like.

Don’t try to make yourself sound like some kind of comedy superstar, don’t pretend to be a publicist, don’t act like your video is going viral when it isn’t, just be a regular person.

Or at least as close to a regular person as you’re capable of being.

And if they actually post it? Don’t forget to say thanks and share the link on all your social channels.

Good luck!

READ THIS NEXT: 5 Free Ways To Get More People To See Your Facebook Posts

5 Things You Can Learn From Vine Star King Bach

With more than 10 million followers, King Bach has become one of the most popular comedians on Vine.

In a recent appearance on The Champs podcast, he talked about how he got started on Vine, what he did before Vine that helped prepare him for success, and even broke down how he makes money from 6-second videos.

You can listen to the full episode here, or read up on some of the highlights below.

1. Overnight Success Is A Long Time In The Making

There’s a misconception that when stars emerge on a new platform like Vine that those people became instant sensations. But usually, those people have actually been developing their skills long before those platforms even formed.

At around the 7-minute mark, King Bach reveals that was the case for him. His original plan was “to be the biggest movie star ever created,” so he had gone to film school, experimented with YouTube videos, and put in a lot of time learning how to act and perform comedy.

One specific experience that turned out to be perfect training for his Vine work in retrospect was a college sketch group he was a part of called “30 in 60.” The concept was that they performed 30 sketches in 60 minutes, which basically taught him how to create quick jokes and premises.

2. You Have To Create Your Own Opportunities

At around the 29-minute mark, King Bach explains what led him to start putting content online in the first place – he saw YouTube as a place where he could get seen.

“I did it to show directors, producers, and casting directors that I could act because I couldn’t get any auditions,” he says.

3. Don’t Quit, But Be Willing To Adapt

At around the 49-minute mark, King Bach talks about how he made the transition from YouTube to Vine. He only joined Vine in May of last year, but had been posting videos to YouTube since 2008.

The transition was prompted by a realization – he was getting about 10,000 views max on his YouTube videos and spending as much as $3,000 per video he produced.

But on Vine, he realized he could just shoot the videos with his phone bringing his costs down and increasing the volume he was able to produce.

4. You Can Make A Living From Vine…

At around the 41-minute mark, he breaks down some of the economics of how he’s monetizing his Vine account. He says he’s able to make a good living off Vine primarily by incorporating product placement into his videos.

But he points out that the key is to not make it feel like an ad. “I don’t make it look like an ad – I just put a hashtag on it,” he says.

Since there’s no traditional advertising on Vine, King Bach doesn’t get paid anything for just getting views on his videos, though he is able to collect advertising money from when they get illegally uploaded to YouTube on other people’s channels where ads do run against them.

5. …But It Takes A Big Audience To Do So

At around the 46-minute mark, King Bach shares some of the economics of his Vine videos and reveals that he’s making a lot more than just “a living” from them. He says he’s getting paid between $30,000-$60,000 for each 6-second video that includes a brand or product placement in it.

Those are big numbers, but keep in mind he’s got more than 10 million followers at this point. He says that agencies started contacting him with opportunities once he had 3 million followers, but at this point he mostly deals directly with the brands themselves when it comes to product placement.

READ THIS NEXT: How To Decide Where To Post Your Comedy Videos

The 20 Most Popular Connected Comedy Articles Of 2014

2014 is officially history, but it’s never too late to look back and learn from the articles I posted over the course of the year. Thanks to all of you for reading, sharing, contributing, and being a part of the incredible Connected Comedy community that has developed over the past few years – I appreciate it more than you know.

Below is a breakdown of the 20 most-read posts on the site last year with some brief excerpts of each.

And if that’s not enough to keep you busy, go ahead and check out what were my most popular posts in 2012 and 2011.

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

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.

19. 5 Things You Can Learn From B.J. Novak’s Appearance On The Nerdist Podcast

“That’s what makes the difference,” he said. “One guy after another kills on stage, but with most of them you don’t feel like you need to know who they are.”

18. 5 Things You Can Learn From Canada’s Biggest Comedy Club Owner

“Don’t hang out with other comics,” he says. “Go to the theater, art galleries, music. [An original voice] doesn’t come from watching comics and imitating them.”

17. 5 Things You Can Learn From Jim Norton

“George Carlin had anger, but look how silly a lot of his delivery was. He let his words talk for him and let the audience come with him…or not. He led them with logic instead of doing the emotional work for them.”

16. 7 Simple Ways To Get More Out Of Twitter

It’s a good idea to post important tweets multiple times during the day/week to ensure that more people see it. Stats have proven you’ll get just as many clicks/interactions the second or third time as you do the first and sometimes more.

15. How To Use A “One-Action” Strategy To Activate Your Audience

What you’ve likely lost sight of in the midst of your hustle is that multitasking is a myth. In reality, people don’t take multiple actions at once, they take one single action at a time.

14. 7 Things You Should Know About The Houston Comedy Scene

The crowds range from extremely diverse to extremely homogenous depending on what side of town you’re on. Houston’s strongest comics tailor their material, with minor tweaks, to work in front of whatever audience they’re performing for that night.

13. 7 Things You Can Learn From Dave Foley Of Kids In The Hall

“The audience has to understand the logic of the joke and if you can’t convey that logic in a concise way, it’s not going to work. You must understand that the people hearing the joke are not in your head – they don’t know your back story to your joke. Their entire universe exists from what you write down and if you don’t have the information in the joke, no one is going to get it.”

12. 5 Things You Can Learn About Comedy Promotion From Steve Hofstetter

“If you do something you wouldn’t have done, because of the money, you’re a sellout. If you take money for doing what you love already, you’re just selling. You’re not selling out,” he says.

11. 5 Things You Can Learn From The Colbert Report’s Head Writer

He explains that a comedy career isn’t like becoming a doctor where you study pre-med, go to medical school and follow a clear path. Because there is no clear path to it, he suggests that you have to be willing to work hard and try everything you can to put yourself into a position where you can get opportunities.

10. The Best Audience For An Unknown Comedian To Connect With

It’s one thing to be funny, it’s another to be interesting. Funny is the minimum, but the way to really connect with people on a more long-term level is for them to become interested in you. There’s no one way to do that, but if you think about it, most comedians that build large, passionate, fanbases have done so with more than just their ability to make people laugh.

9. 5 Things You Can Learn From Adam Carolla On The Solopreneur Hour Podcast

Carolla explains that early on in his career he realized he was not going to be the kind of person who was going to just nail an audition and land a gig. He realized nobody trusted him or thought he was anything special. Taking that into account, he decided early on that if he was going to succeed, he was going to have to create his own vehicle.

8. 7 Things You Can Learn From Manager/Producer Barry Katz

“There’s no way you can’t make money in this business if you get up every morning at six and work till two on your craft and do everything in your power to,” he says. “The only way you can’t make it is if you’re self destructive, doing drugs; if you’re lazy, if you have a sense of entitlement, or if you’re mean or disingenuous.”

7. How 5 Successful Comedians Used Their Websites Before They Got Famous

With a little help from the Internet Archive, I thought I’d go back in time and show you some of the things that today’s biggest comics were doing years ago – when both their fanbases and the Internet audience as a whole was a fraction of what it is today. It’s a good reminder that success online doesn’t happen overnight and that most comics who have made it were putting in work years before you may have realized it.

6. 7 Things You Should Know About The New York Comedy Scene

New York is a very safe place to fail. You can do all manner of crazy stuff here. If it works, everyone thinks you’re wonderful. If it doesn’t, no one cares and it’ll be forgotten about next week. So swing for the fences.

5. 10 Lessons From A Comedian’s First 500 Days In Los Angeles

Sure, open mics are great, especially when you’re starting out, but I think it’s important to make sure you’re getting what you want out of these nightly segments. Think about what you can do with that four-hour stretch rather than just conforming to this idea that “more open mics = better comedian.”

4. 5 Things You Can Learn From Gabriel Iglesias

Early on he also made a conscious decision to maintain a consistent look – in his case it involved shorts and a Hawaiian shirt. He explains that it’s tough enough for people to remember specific comics in general, but comics who constantly change their look only make it harder on themselves.

3. 10 Things You Should Know About The San Francisco Comedy Scene

The audition process starts with the Sunday Showcase at the Punch Line. You purchase a punch card, show up for a year, and then get your chance to do five minutes. If that goes well, you get back up in three to six months, eventually graduating to off-night Cobb’s showcases and an audition if all goes according to plan. If you pass your audition, you’re added to the rotation of openers, which currently numbers around 70.

2. 5 Things You Can Learn From Comedy Central’s Head Of Talent

Larsen explains that advertising sales are ultimately what runs a TV network and that “controversy is not a good thing to sell advertising.” This means if you want to get on TV, being unnecessarily blue or racy will hurt your chances. He also discusses the importance of continuing to create new things even after you get a break or some exposure. He hates having an opportunity spring up for a person, only to have them not prepared to go with new material from the last time they got their shot.

1. Louis CK and Doug Stanhope Discuss Being A Healthy Comedian On A 2005 Message Board

I don’t mean looks, I don’t
 mean weight.  I maintain a pretty good belly.   I just mean getting
 yourself ready, steeling yourself, improving your abilities and 
strengths as a person. Given the odds of making it as a comedian, I am amazed at how little 
effort so many comedians make, while complaining bitterly about their 
lack of breaks.  I mean, you should be thinking like an olympic athlete 
but you think like dorito-eating high school brats, doing nothing and
 expecting everything.

Thanks again for making this a great year for Connected Comedy – can’t wait to see what comes in 2015!

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 Things You Can Learn From Canada’s Biggest Comedy Club Owner

Mark Breslin is the CEO and Founder of Yuk Yuk’s, a chain of 15 comedy clubs across Canada, and a comedy entrepreneur who has spent decades building an empire. On a recent episode of the Industry Standard with Barry Katz podcast, Breslin discussed a wide variety of topics ranging from how he got into comedy in the first place, what he’s learned, and what advice he has for up and coming comics today.

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

1. It Helps To Start Outside Of New York Or LA

At around the 19-minute mark, Breslin shares some interesting thoughts on the role of the town in which a comic first starts their comedy career.

“It’s very advantageous to be outside the center of action to develop,” he says, referencing the upside of honing your craft some place other than comedy business hubs like New York or Los Angeles. “Most comedians in New York and LA got great somewhere else first.”

But Breslin also acknowledges that it’s become much more difficult to develop outside the spotlight because of the Internet. “It’s harder now…there’s no such thing as an outsider artist any more,” he says. “Everybody has 7 fans.”

2. A Good Comedy Venue Is About What’s NOT There

Even though it’s unlikely many of you will be buying or building comedy clubs, Breslin’s thoughts about what he tries to do in his clubs are still relevant to anybody trying to produce a good show – or analyze potential venues for shows. At around the 43-minute mark, he says that when you buy a comedy club, “You’re buying what’s NOT there, not what’s there.”

He goes on to explain that you want a venue that has no distractions and as much focus as possible on the stage. He said his early clubs were similar to simple small theaters with all black walls and nothing to distract people from the stage – he even tried to minimize the noise from people making drinks.

3. Most Headliners Sell As Many Tickets As A Dead Person

At around the 60-minute mark, Breslin shares an interesting perspective on the Canadian comedy scene and the inability of most comedy club “headliners” there to actually draw a crowd. He says there is no “star system” in Canada due to the lack of local TV exposure available to comedians and that as a result only 4 or 5 comics can sell out clubs on their own.

He goes on to explain that’s why his clubs rarely give Canadian comedians percentage door deals (they typically receive just a flat fee regardless of ticket sales) and it’s also why most Canadian comedians wind up leaving the country to seek bigger exposure.

While that scenario may be unique to Canada, his thoughts on the struggles of “headliners” to actually draw their own crowd are more universal. “Nobody really draws,” he says. “The club draws. The concept draws.”

He then explains that he previously ran experiments where he would run his comedy club ads with the names of random dead people (non-comedians) as if they were performing at his club to see if it had any impact on the ticket sales for that weekend’s show. He found that it had no impact on ticket sales and that essentially most headliners were selling as many tickets as a dead non-comedian would.

4. You Have To Take People Some Place New

Early on in the podcast Breslin says that he believes a comedian’s role is to tell the truth, but at around the 89-minute mark he elaborates on what he believes young comics should focus on. “Originality, finding and having your own voice,” he says.

He explains that there’s no shortage of funny comics out there, but when he’s analyzing acts he comes back to the same question: “Who has 10 minutes that takes me to a place I’ve never been before? Do you have anything to say?”

5. Don’t Just Hang Out With Other Comics In Comedy Clubs

I’ve written before about why it’s a good idea to hang out in comedy clubs, but Breslin warns that you shouldn’t spend all your time there. At around the 91-minute mark, he stresses the importance of exposing yourself to other forms of art and a set of influences that have nothing to do with comedy.

“Don’t hang out with other comics,” he says. “Go to the theater, art galleries, music. [An original voice] doesn’t come from watching comics and imitating them.”

READ THIS NEXT: 7 Things You Can Learn From Manager/Producer Barry Katz


Embrace That Niche (Connected Comedy Podcast Episode 57)

Please subscribe and rate this podcast on iTunes!

On the “nichiest” episode of the podcast, Jordan Cooper and Josh Spector talk about narrowing the focus of your career towards a target audience, concentrating on that one thing that’s unique and different about you, how consumers have become fragmented and are gravitating to niches over broad media, how advertisers are putting more effort in reaching engaged audiences rather than large ones, and why ‘artisanal’ e-mail newsletters may be the next big wave of building and cultivating a fan base.

In addition, Jordan discusses the strategic plans of his podcast over the past two years, how it shows the power of placing yourself in the position to get opportunities, the importance of putting as much effort into community engagement as you do creating the content, and why setting goals with timeframes can help determine how you’re defining “success” in your comedic endeavors.


Links from this episode:

Blenderhead Podcast #39: Never Go Full Cougar
5by5 Broadcasting
1,000 True Fans – Kevin Kelly
Academy Originals – YouTube
Matt Cutts: Try something new for 30 days
5 Reasons Comedian Newsletters May Become Bigger Than Comedy Podcasts
Media ReDEFined
NextDraft: The Day’s Most Fascinating News
Tab Dump
Just Another Crowd
The Listserve
Tech Douchebags #14: The Overthinker

Participate with the community in our Connected Comedy Facebook group or post your questions, suggestions or topics to cover in the future on our Facebook page. We always welcome your comments!

How To Use The Web To Advance Your Writing Career

I recently came across  this video on the Writer’s Guild of America’s YouTube channel and even though it’s speaking primarily to screenwriters, I think the discussion is equally relevant to all content creators. The video features highlights from an all-day seminar hosted by the WGAW Publicity and Marketing Committee with the goal of providing writers with tools to help them get online, promote their careers, raise their industry profiles, build their brands and distribute and monetize their work.

Panelists included WGAW Board member Aaron Mendelsohn (Virtual Artists), screenwriter John August (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), new media producer Doug Cheney (Big Fantastic), writer Jeff Zedlar, web site producer Michael Berman (, Google’s Sunil Daluvoy, Facebook’s Matt Jacobson, WGAW New Media Project Manager Tamara Krinsky, YouTube’s Danielle Uhlarik, writer Peter Hyoguchi (Strike.TV), The Bannen Way’s Bailey Williams and Mark Gantt,’s Rafi Mamalian and agent David Tochterman (Innovative Artists).

Check it out:

Highlights From NewTeeVee Live

Today’s NewTeeVee Live conference in San Francisco brought together a lot of people on the front lines of the rapidly changing face of television and Internet content and I thought it would be worth sharing a couple highlights from the conference.

How To Turn Viewers Into Fans, And Fans Into Dollars

The CEO of, Mike Hudack, spoke about how his company helps web content creators build businesses for themselves and what he’s learned about what works and what doesn’t. Here’s an excerpt:

“We have people making half a million dollars or more a year with an independent web show,” said Hudack. “It’s much easier now to get out there and make a show yourself,” he noted, but you need distribution, marketing, ad sales and other services to make it profitable. His favorite tool that offers is what’s called “the engagement curve.” An average episode on is 16 minutes long, he said. Over the course of those 16 minutes, “We watch second by second where people drop off,” he said. “You can see what people didn’t like,” and what snippets they wanted to watch again. “Every episode, you have constant continual improvement,” which leads to more engagement and more fans, he said.

A sizable and loyal audience is of course essential for monetizing video shows, said Hudack. “To have a sustainable show these days, you certainly need hundreds of thousands of viewers,” he said, adding that the ones that are “really making a lot of money” typically have millions of viewers. One key for building an audience is branding, and on that front, web show producers should take a cue from Law & Order (dun-dun) — devising instantly recognizable intro that’s 5-6 seconds long saying “this is what you’re watching.”

And here’s video of the full presentation:

Behind The Live Stream Boom

Executives from the leading live streaming platforms including Ustream,, Livestream, and YouTube got together for a panel to discuss the booming growth in the space recently which has seen a 600% increase in the amount of video watched online compared to last year.

Here’s video of the panel discussion:

The Social Innovation of Glee!

Hardie Tankersley, FOX’s VP of Innovation, spoke about the various ways the network has used Twitter to promote its hit show Glee!.

Here’s the video:

Are You Focused On Things You Can Control?

I had a conversation with a stand up comedian recently who was frustrated at his lack of bookings. He bemoaned the lack of paid gigs out there and how difficult it is to get bookers to pay attention and give him a chance.

When I asked what his ultimate career goal was he replied that he’d like to have a career like another comedian (whose name I won’t mention), who headlines clubs around the country and probably makes about $2,000 per weekend booking.

The comic I was speaking with didn’t see how he was ever going to get to that point without bookers giving him a shot first. But I see it differently.

If his goal is to make $2,000 a weekend performing stand up in front of a couple hundred people, then he’s focused on the wrong way to get there. He’s putting all of his time and effort into catching the attention of bookers and hoping they’ll give him permission to have the career he wants to have. But he doesn’t need their permission.

To make $2,000 a weekend performing stand up, all you need to do is figure out how you can convince 200 people to spend $10 to see you perform. That’s not easy, but it’s not impossible. And more importantly, it’s a goal that’s completely in his control as opposed to a goal that somebody else has to allow him to accomplish.

I told this comedian that instead of waiting around for some booker to magically decide he’s worthy of their comedy club, he should put his efforts into something he can control — figuring out how to sell 200 tickets to his own shows.

And the irony is that if he can actually do that, he won’t need the booker or the comedy club. They’ll need him.

Did you like this post? Please check out some of my other advice for stand up comedians.

6 Lessons You Can Learn From The Success Of “Jackass”

The latest Jackass movie crossed the $100 million mark at the box office last weekend as it continues the remarkable success streak for the franchise. But the reasons Jackass has become such a phenomenon goes beyond people’s fascination with guys tasering each other. Here’s a look at 6 Lessons You Can Learn From The Success Of Jackass that will help you create and market your own comedy creations.

You Don’t Need A Big Budget

The most common excuse I hear for why somebody’s content doesn’t work is because they don’t have enough money to make it work. While there’s truth to that excuse some times, it’s usually just a cop out.

The Jackass crew produces its movies on a miniscule budget compared to a typical feature film and it has absolutely no impact on the entertainment value of the final product. This is even more true online, where typically the videos that go “viral,” have little or no budget at all behind them. In fact, I’d even argue that in most cases online, the bigger the budget the less likely the video is to succeed.

There’s Strength In Numbers

One of the keys to the success of Jackass is that it revolves around a crew of guys doing the stunts and not just one individual. The competition between the guys drives them to do bigger and better stuff than they would on their own. Second, it allows the audience to connect with different members of the Jackass crew and accentuates their individual characteristics (i.e., Johnny Knoxville’s the ringleader, Bam Margera’s the one who messes with his parents, Steve-O is now the sober one, etc.). Third, having a group also creates natural marketing advantages because it allows more people to market to more audiences and bring their own niche followings into the fold.

From a comedy standpoint, I rarely ever see comedians take advantage of the strength in numbers – though I have noticed that many of the biggest stars on YouTube informally collaborate and work to grow each other’s followings. Even forming a loose coalition, can pay big dividends for comedians who are trying to break into the business.

What You Stand For Is As Important As What You Produce

The Jackass guys make some really funny movies, but that’s not what really drives the connection between them and their fans. That connection and loyalty comes from the ideology behind their brand. People aren’t just entertained by the Jackass world, they passionately connect with what it stands for – a balls-out, no fear, approach to life. There’s lots of videos of people hurting themselves out there, but there’s only one Jackass and that’s mainly because Jackass stands for more than just entertainment to its fans.

Keep It Simple, Stupid

People like things that are simple to understand and they like to share and  talk about things that are simple to explain. Jackass is both of these things. You don’t need a college degree to “get” a Jackass movie and you also don’t need to have seen anything else the Jackass guys have done to appreciate their latest masterpiece. These are two things that are completely opposite of what I see lots of creators doing when they roll out episode 14 of their obscure Napoleanic political satire series on YouTube.

Get More Bang For Your Buck

It’s always smart to develop multiple ways to monetize your content and Jackass do this on a large scale by essentially shooting enough bonus footage to release a straight-to-DVD sequel to their latest big screen productions. After Jackass 2, they followed it up with Jackass 2.5, a straight-to-DVD release that included enough new footage to stand on its own, even though it was all shot using the same budget they used to shoot the feature film. They’re planning to do the same thing with an upcoming Jackass 3.5 DVD release.

This is smart business and something I’d encourage you to consider on a smaller scale in your own projects. If you’re shooting a sketch video, what else can you get out of that? Maybe you can sell a song that you play in the video? Maybe you can shoot a funny “Making of” video and get two videos out of your one production?

Show People You’re Having Fun

It seems obvious, but if you’re creating comedy it should be fun. And that fun can be contagious because audiences want to connect with people who look like they’re having fun. The Jackass guys always look like they’re having the times of their lives and that’s why just about everybody that watches their work has that moment when they feel like they wish they were a part of the crew because they make it look like so much fun. Even though you know it would be torture, they make it look so fun that you want to be a part of it…by paying to go see the movie from the safety of the theater.

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