how to get fans

A 20-Day Content Plan For Comedians

I’ll keep this brief.

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

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

Trust me, it will work.

Here are the topics…

Day 1: Introduce Yourself

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

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

Day 2: Why I Became A Comic

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

Day 3: Share A Controversial Or Strong Opinion

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

Day 4: Admit Something You’ve Never Admitted Before

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

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

Day 5: Interview Somebody Interesting

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

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

Day 6: Explain How To Do Something

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

Day 7: Live Blog Something

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 10: Tell A Story From Your Childhood

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

Day 11: Rank/Review Some Local Establishments

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

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

Day 12: Do A Late Night Monologue

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

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

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

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

Day 14 – Let Friends/Followers Interview You

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

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

Day 15: Write An Onion-Type Parody Article

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

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

Day 16: Share The Weird News Of The Week

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

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

Day 17: Share Your Inspiration

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

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

You never know what could come of it.

Day 18: Write An “Open Letter”

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

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

Day 19: Talk About Something Nostalgic

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

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

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

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

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

8 Misconceptions You Might Have About Social Media

It’s one thing to use social media, it’s another to understand it.

Comics spend a LOT of time using social platforms, but I’ve found most have some basic misconceptions about how social platforms actually work.

Here’s a few things you might incorrectly assume and what to do about it to get more out of your social media efforts.

1. You think your followers see your posts.

I’ve got some good news and some bad news for you.

The good news is that just because you don’t see a lot of interaction on your Facebook and Twitter posts, it doesn’t necessarily mean that’s because they’re not good. The bad news is that not nearly as many people are seeing your posts as you think.

Most Facebook and Twitter posts only get seen by 10% or less of the people that are theoretically following you due to Facebook’s news feed algorithms and Twitter’s lack of an algorithm. As a result, you don’t have nearly the exposure you think you do.

This means your follower count is an overrated metric and you shouldn’t be so concerned about it – more on that in a minute.

2. You think your followers are the only ones who can see your posts.

There are a lot of ways to get people who don’t follow you to see your posts including using hashtags and tagging other pages on Facebook. This is another reason why your obsession with your follower count is unnecessary – you’re not limited to only being seen by those who follow you.

It’s also why it’s important to use hashtags and tag other accounts in order to expose your posts to the most possible people.

3. You think social platforms have made websites and email lists pointless.

Despite all the hype you hear about Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, the best way to ensure your audience actually sees what you want them to see is to get them to subscribe to your email list. Only a small percentage of your social followers will actually see your updates, while a decent email list will have an open rate of closer to 50% or higher.

And having a website is crucial as well because it gives you a platform where you can control how you present yourself and gives you a way to be found in Google searches. Also, depending solely on social platforms is risky because you never know when they’re going to change the way they work or collapse completely (see: MySpace). Having a website ensures your content won’t disappear some day.

4. You think people share content because it’s good.

There are a lot of reasons why people share things on social media and the content being “good” tends to be pretty low on that list. Just take a look at the things your friends are sharing, and I’m sure you’ll find that to be true.

While it’s important to put good stuff out into the world, it’s also worth recognizing that’s not the only reason things get shared. People share things that surprise them, things that make a statement about something they believe in (or disagree with), things that provide value, and things that emotionally connect with them.

Most importantly, they share things that say something about them – what somebody shares is an expression of themselves as much as it’s a reflection of the content itself.

5. You think you shouldn’t repeat posts.

This ties back into the first item on this list – most people don’t see your posts. So, as a result, it’s fine to repeat those posts at different times and it’s actually a good strategy to do so.

Repeating posts will get your work seen by more people and it’s unlikely to annoy your followers since most of them won’t see the repeats in their feed anyway. Repurposing quality social posts is a key strategy that can impact the success you have on social platforms without requiring much more effort on your part.

This can also be done with old social media posts and you can read exactly how to do that here.

6. You think Facebook ads are a waste of money.

They’re not. Trust me. They actually might be the single most valuable feature Facebook offers and one of the least used by comics.

Here’s an example of what’s possible with even a small Facebook ads budget.

7. You think the goal is to go “viral.”

Forget about going viral – it’s probably not going to happen. And even if it did, it’s not going to get you anywhere near the benefits you think it will.

You should focus your social efforts on the long term as opposed to worrying about short term success. Use social platforms to find the specific audience you want to connect with (your target should never be “everybody”) and focus your efforts on them.

If your work happens to go viral, that just means that you’re reaching a lot of people that likely aren’t going to fit what you’re trying to do anyway, so all those views/listens/visits are ultimately meaningless. Building a relationship with the right 1,000 people will serve you better than getting something seen by the wrong 100,000 people.

8. You think social platforms are broadcast platforms.

Most people use social platforms to distribute their content to other people. But social media’s real strength is the ability it gives you to connect with other people.

The “social” part is more important than the “media” part.

It’s easy to get caught up in your follower count and desire to promote your creations, but don’t forget that social media also enables you to follow and interact with just about anybody in the world. That’s an incredible opportunity and one you should take advantage of.

Use social media to interact with people, to engage with potential fans, to develop relationships with people you admire, to network, and to connect. You’ll get way more value out of that approach than you do by using social media as a megaphone to scream about your own stuff.

READ THIS NEXT: Ranking The 9 Most Valuable Social Platforms For Comedians

5 New Facebook Tricks I Discovered Work Really Well

Facebook constantly changes.

As a result, the best ways to get the most out of the platform are also constantly in flux. But the good news is that means there’s always new opportunities being created for you to benefit from Facebook’s evolution.

Here’s a few tricks I’ve recently discovered that will help your Facebook posts reach more people and help you get more out of the time you spend on the platform.

1. Get Involved In Groups

As you’ve hopefully realized by now, most people that follow you on Facebook or like your fan page don’t actually see the stuff you post.

Because of Facebook’s news feed algorithm, only about 10% of the people who are connected to you will actually see your posts in their news feed.

That leads to a lot of frustration, but there’s another way to increase the percentage of people you can reach on the platform.

Facebook Groups are becoming an increasingly powerful resource you can use to connect with your own fans as well as to discover and engage with new potential fans.

Unlike Facebook profiles and fan pages, Groups essentially treat everybody equal – they allow anybody to post (though there are typically group moderators) and they function much more like communities than the broadcast mechanism of fan pages and profiles.

However, Facebook still pushes relevant posts from within a group into group members’ news feeds and gives them notifications when a new post has been made (depending on a user’s settings). As a result, I’ve found that often times I can get a lot more interaction and engagement with posts made within groups (such as those I make in our Connected Comedians group) than posts made from pages.

But the real benefit of groups isn’t starting your own (unless you already have a huge fanbase), but rather finding existing groups relevant to your niche and becoming an active community member in them. There are existing groups on just about every subject you can imagine within Facebook, and while the quality of them may vary, many are excellent.

You can learn how to search for groups here, but I’d highly recommend finding some that are relevant to what you do and getting involved in them – not just to promote your own stuff, but rather to build relationships with people who have shared interests.

2. Post More Often

The conventional wisdom used to be you shouldn’t post on Facebook more than a couple times a day at most because the platform’s news feed algorithm would penalize you for doing so. Well, things have changed.

Now, it seems like you’re rewarded for posting more often and using the platform much more like Twitter in terms of volume of posts. Of course, you still need to maintain a high quality of posts and get engagement on them – don’t just post crap for the sake of posting – but the more good stuff you post, the more success you’ll see.

If you look at the volume of posts being made by some of the biggest pages on Facebook, you’ll be surprised to see how frequently they post. For example, sites like Buzzfeed and Funny or Die post almost 200 times each week!

Of course, they’ve got a lot more content to share than you probably do, but the point is if you double your current amount of posts, you’ll probably see an increase in the number of people your content reaches – again, as long as what you post is good.

3. Write Longer Descriptions On Your Posts

Facebook recently tweaked its algorithms to take into account how much time people spend reading/engaging with your individual posts. The longer somebody looks at your post before scrolling down their feed, the more Facebook theoretically believes that people enjoyed your post.

It’s worth keeping this in mind as you construct your posts. For example, rather than just post an image with no description, add a clever caption that’s a couple sentences long so people will read it and increase their time spent with the post.

The other hidden advantage of using lengthier descriptions is that Facebook only includes an initial excerpt of the longer description in people’s news feed. If the person is intrigued by what you wrote, they will click the “Read More” button to expand the post.

This counts as a click on the post and shows Facebook engagement on your post, which in turn suggests it’s a good post, which in turn leads to Facebook to show it to more people.

Essentially, getting people to click that Read More button in your description is similar to getting them to Like, Share or Comment on your post – it helps it get seen by more people.

There are lots of easy ways to include long descriptions. For example, if you share a link to an article you can just cut and paste a sample paragraph or two from the article into your description. This is also effective because if it’s an interesting excerpt, it increases the chances somebody will click the link as well.

4. Set Up Pages To Watch

If you have a Fan Page on Facebook (and you should), then go to your Insights tab and scroll down to the bottom of the page to select other Pages To Watch. This is a cool feature that allows you to track the activity of other Facebook fan pages – it lets you see how often they post each week, how many new fans they’re getting, and even lets you see their most successful posts of the week.

This can be a valuable learning tool as you can see what other people are doing and what’s working (or not) for them. You can use it to track other comics whose Facebook success you admire, or the activity of comedy club pages or sites like Funny or Die who you may want to emulate.

Here’s a look at how to set up pages to watch.

5. Use A Call To Action On Your Page

Here’s a simple thing that will take you two seconds to set up and help you out. If you haven’t noticed yet, Facebook has a feature on your fan page called a Call to Action button that lives on your fan page cover photo.

Essentially, it’s a button that allows you to plug a link to some action you’d like people to take when they visit your page. You can set it up to drive to anything you want people to do – sign up for your email list, watch one of your videos, visit your website, etc.

Here’s a breakdown of how to set it up – it’s not going to get you a million new fans overnight, but it will help drive more people to take whatever action you want them to take on your page.

READ THIS NEXT: How I Got More Facebook Fans And Website Traffic For A Comedian

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 Launch A Short Video Series

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 Justin Matson is a Los Angeles-based comedian who recently started a video web series with his sketch group Casual Mondays and reached out for some advice about how to make it successful.

Here’s how he described it:

“I just launched a daily Vine and Instagram series called Easier Movies and I’m trying to develop a marketing strategy/define my niche.

Every day we post a six-second video on both Vine and Instagram to our @EasierMovies account. We chose those platforms because we felt they worked well with our short, punchy comedic videos that work well as a loop.

We share the videos to our dedicated Facebook and Twitter pages, as well as our affiliated accounts (our sketch group’s Facebook page and all of our individual pages). We also embed the videos on our website.”

After checking out Justin’s series, I think he’s got a shot at something that could be very successful on his hands. There’s a lot about it that he’s doing right – they’re creating content that fits the platforms they’re using to distribute it, they have a clear audience who is likely to enjoy it (movie fans, and more specifically fans of the movie featured in each individual episode), and they seem committed to producing a large volume of content (daily new episodes) with a level of production (short videos) that make that kind of schedule feasible and not overly expensive.

But there are still a few things that are worth considering to help take the series – or any video series for that matter – to the next level. So, here’s my advice for Justin…

Set Your Goals

As with any project, the first thing to do is have a clear sense of what you hope to accomplish with it. Think about what you want to happen if you’re successful – what do you hope it leads to?

In your email to me, you referenced several goals including building a “huge Vine/Instagram following,” strengthening the acting of group members and giving them a large follower count that might help attract the attention of casting directors on other projects, and using it as a launching pad for your own personal standup and TV projects down the road.

Those are valid goals, but here’s how I would define the goals of this project if I were you. I’d have three main goals – these incorporate your stated goals and expand on them a bit.

Goal #1: Create a video series that functions as a calling card to the industry.

Note that this isn’t just tied to a large follower count – it includes the idea that this series can be a showcase for your writing/acting/producing abilities. Just because you don’t have a million followers doesn’t mean the work isn’t good, and it doesn’t mean there’s not value in doing something.

It only takes one follower who happens to have the power to give you a TV series or cast you in a project to make something a success. And a million followers doesn’t guarantee that any new opportunities will come from it.

In some ways you can think of this series like writing a spec script – the time you put into it gives you something to show to a wide variety of people in the industry that demonstrates your abilities.

It’s great to get a big following for something, but you shouldn’t deem something a success or failure solely on your follower/view count. Setting your goal in this way helps you avoid getting discouraged and giving up too soon.

Goal #2: Build something that has intellectual property value.

What you create may have value in a variety of ways that extend way beyond the initial videos themselves. You should keep that in mind as you develop it – just because something starts as a web series, doesn’t mean that’s all it can be.

Your goal should be to create something that becomes an asset – it’s almost as if you’re investing in real estate. Having more followers increases the value of that real estate, but it doesn’t define the only value of that real estate.

For example, as you do more of these episodes you might find other opportunities to expand the series in other ways – maybe they become a TV series pitch (or part of a bigger TV series pitch), or greeting cards, or t-shirts, or a book. Your goal should be to develop Easier Movies as a piece of intellectual property that can provide value in a number of ways.

Even if it’s just a video series to begin with (which it should be), just keep in mind that ultimately you’re building something that could become much more.

Goal #3: Build something that can be monetized.

This is a distant third goal, but it’s worth having as a goal nonetheless. While I don’t recommend trying to monetize anything when you’re first getting started, you want to keep in mind you can find success with a project like this without necessarily having somebody come pay you to do something with it.

You’re building an audience you can one day monetize directly in a variety of ways – advertising, sponsored content, merchandise, etc. You don’t need to figure out how now, but you should keep in mind that potentially monetizing what you’re creating is a goal for the future because that may influence some of your strategy as you grow your audience.

Choose One Brand To Build

Once you’ve got your goals in place, I’d take a moment  to think through exactly what brand you’re trying to build with this series. It sounds like you’ve thought about it some, but it may be a little convoluted because you have several different brands you’re trying to help with this project.

The way I see it, there are a few different potential brands in play here – Easier Movies, your Casual Mondays sketch group, and each of the personal brands of people in the group.

It doesn’t matter which you choose, but I’d strongly recommend choosing ONE brand to primarily associate with this series. The others will benefit regardless, but whatever brand you choose to emphasize should be the one your social accounts are titled and should be the hub for all your activities.

Personally, I’d strongly recommend focusing on the Easier Movies brand – it’s the name of the project and the name that most obviously conveys what this series is about. Because of that, it will be the easiest one to build up (no pun intended).

Obviously, you’d still have the Casual Mondays account and your personal accounts sharing and discussing the series and new videos (you don’t need to hide from it), but all promotion should be to reinforce the Easier Movies brand and social accounts.

It’s tough enough to get people to remember one thing (like “Easier Movies”) without confusing them by referencing other stuff in the posts about the videos. For example, “Check out the new Easier Movies video” is simpler than “Check out the new Easier Movies video by Casual Mondays.”

You want to make it as simple as possible for people to understand what they’re looking at, connect with it, and remember it.

It’s tough to build brands and you only make it tougher on yourself when you try to build multiple brands simultaneously. Pick one and emphasize it consistently.

Choose The Right Platforms

You’re off to a good start in terms of platforms – I think it makes sense to post these videos on Vine, Instagram and Facebook because those platforms should be a great fit for the kind of short videos you’re doing.

But I would recommend adding a couple additional platforms.

First, you should set up an Easier Movies YouTube channel (assuming that’s the brand you go with). Even if you don’t post every video to YouTube individually, it will be helpful for you to have a YouTube presence and you can also upload compilation videos featuring several of your episodes.

Even though you’re making very short videos, YouTube is still the place where most people go to watch video and you should be on there. I’d probably upload each episode there because you also can benefit from YouTube’s search results – especially when you’re making videos about movies that lots of other people are searching for on YouTube.

It’s a little extra effort, but it’s worth the time.

The other platform I’d recommend is buying a web domain specifically for Easier Movies and setting up a website for the series. Again, you don’t have to regularly post a ton of content to it (maybe just embed your YouTube playlist?), but it will help you to have a hub with basic information and an overview of what you’re doing.

You need someplace to send people you meet – especially industry and new fans – that makes it easy for them to get an overview of what Easier Movies is all about.

Plus, it gives you another thing that can be found in search engines and makes you look more professional. It also gives you a place to host an Easier Movies email list signup and you can drive people from all your social platforms there to sign up.

Optimize Your Content

Your content is good and you’ve got a clever concept that’s going to appeal to a specific audience. But there’s a couple things you might want to consider to optimize that content a bit.

I’d recommend focusing on specific movies as opposed to the episodes you’ve posted that have more generic themes. The generic themes confuse the concept a bit – they may be entertaining, but when you’re starting out it’s important to convey a consistent message in what your series is about and I think the generic ones skew that a bit.

Also, the movie-specific ones will be much easier to promote (more on that later) because it’s easy to target those specific audiences as opposed to targeting broader movie fans with the generic episodes.

My other recommendation is to consider doing episodes tied to some new movie releases because you know those movies are going to get a lot of attention each week when they’re released. For example, maybe every Friday or every Monday you do an episode based on a movie that just opened. This would be a way for you to tap into all the conversation online about those movies and get some extra attention for your work.

Promote Your Content

While each episode will be different, here’s four specific strategies I’d recommend for promoting your videos.

Hashtags

I see you’re using hashtags in your posts, but you probably could use them a little better. You want to make sure you use the right relevant hashtags to get your stuff seen.

For example, your Jurassic Park episode should have included Jurassic Park-related hashtags, but also more general film hashtags such as #Movies or #Film and comedy-related hashtags like #Funny #Sketch #Comedy or something like that. You can experiment with them, but you want to use hashtags that people are search for when they’re looking for a specific type of content. Even something like #Dinosaurs or #Trailers might have been worth trying.

Meanwhile, on Facebook you want to use @ tags when referencing movies as opposed to hashtags. When you do that, it will show your post to fans of that movie’s page and dramatically increase your targeted reach as opposed to the hashtag which doesn’t do that.

So rather than using #CitizenKane in your post, you should have tagged the @CitizenKane page to reach those fans.

Facebook Ads

I’m a huge fan of Facebook ads and they will work REALLY WELL for a project like this one. Because what you’re doing has such a specific niche for each episode (fans of the movie referenced in the episode), you’ll be able to target just those people and you’ll get a great reaction.

For example, most Jurassic Park fans will enjoy your episode about Jurassic Park so it will be cheap for you to reach them (because Facebook rewards well-targeted content in ads) and you know the people you reach will likely enjoy your videos.

Plus, video is huge on Facebook right now and pops out in people’s feeds. I’d strongly recommend experimenting with some ads and think you’ll be amazed at how successful they are for you. You never know, but I bet you could get targeted views at around 5 cents per view or less.

But the key is to run the ads only targeting fans of the movie in the episode – go specific and narrow, not broad.

Reach Out To Movie Blogs

Another benefit of the specific niche of your content is it should be easy to find blogs who might share your stuff. There’s a ton of movie blogs out there and you should reach out to them and tell them about what you’re doing.

Besides pitching them your content, you could offer to create some episodes specifically for them – maybe they would agree to post a series of episodes as a list where they could get a big content hit and you would get attention and views for the videos.

For example, you could pitch them the idea of creating a series of episodes about Steven Spielberg films that they could compile into a post titled “5 Spielberg Films In 5 Seconds Each” or something like that.

You can also reach out to popular movie podcasts and see if you can get booked as a guest or start interacting with them online. There are lots of possibilities, but you definitely want to start building relationships with the online movie fan community because they can help you reach a bigger audience.

Build Your Community

As you’re introducing more people to your content and growing your audience, you’ll also want to explore ways to turn that audience into a more active community. Again, you’ve got a great opportunity here since your concept lends itself to lots of interesting ways people could participate and it’s based around something that people naturally love to discuss.

For example, here’s a few things you might want to try:

Ask fans to suggest movies for you to feature in episodes.

Let fans create their own versions of Easier Movies which you feature on your site/channel.

Ask fans to send you Easier Movies scripts that you can then bring to life.

Create a contest where some of your Easier Movies crew create two different episodes based on the same movie and let the viewers vote to determine which one is their favorite – you could then build ongoing rivalry storylines around some of these amongst the people making them.

Offer local fans the chance to appear in one of your episodes.

On Twitter or Facebook, create text-based prompts that allow people to play along, similar to what happens with Hashtag Wars. Maybe something like #EasierMovieTitles?

There are tons of ways you can create opportunities for fans to interact with your series and feel a part of it so you should keep that in mind as you move forward and experiment with some of them.

One other note about this kind of community involvement – the added benefit of doing this is that any time you do an episode that a fan has some involvement with, it’s a safe bet that they’ll share it with their friends and spread the word.

More fan involvement equals more exposure for your series.

One More Important (But Slightly Less Fun) Thing To Consider

Whenever you start a project with a group of people, it’s worth having a quick conversation up front about who exactly owns what it is that you’re building.

You don’t need to formally get lawyers involved, but it’s worth talking it through and putting something in writing amongst yourselves, before things start to (hopefully) take off.

No matter how good your relationship is with the people you work with, issues may come up down the road and you never know what’s going to happen as your project gets more successful and more complicated.

Also, if you’re lucky enough to get industry attention and somebody wants to do something with what you’ve created, the first thing they’re going to want to know is who owns Easier Movies and who makes the decisions on its future.

For example, what happens if somebody wants to turn it into a TV series but only wants to use two of the group members on air? Or, what happens if somebody wants to buy the concept but not use any of the group members on air?

I have no idea if you guys have had a conversation about this or not at this point, but my strong recommendation would be that you get on the same page with everybody involved so it’s clear who “owns” Easier Movies and whatever everybody’s participation entitles them to in it.

It may seem like an unnecessary conversation to have at this point, but making sure you’re on the same page when you start something will make it infinitely easier to succeed later on down the road.

And I know this because I’ve seen first hand what can happen when a bunch of talented people start working on a project and then suddenly the whole world gets interested in them – it can get real complicated, real fast.

Good luck with the series – I’ll be watching and can’t wait to see where it goes!

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5 Ways To Improve Your Twitter Bio

If you’re a comedian, you’ve probably got a Twitter account.

But you’ve also probably got a Twitter bio that could use some work.

That’s why I’ve put together the following simple tips to help you make some quick changes to your bio that will help you get more followers and value from your Twitter activity.

1. Understand The Purpose Of Your Twitter Bio

Most people misunderstand the true purpose of your Twitter bio.

It doesn’t exist to tell people a little bit about who you are, it exists to tell people WHY they should follow you.

That’s a subtle, but important difference.

When somebody checks out your Twitter bio they’re doing so because they’ve come across something interesting in one of your tweets or saw your name mentioned in somebody else’s tweet.

They’re looking at your bio specifically because they’re considering whether or not to follow you!

That’s great and it creates a real opportunity to add a follower, so you want to put things in your bio that are designed to convince them to follow you – not just a random joke.

Write your bio in a way that tells people exactly what to expect if they follow you – explain to them who you are, what you do, what the value is to them, the kinds of things you tweet about, and whatever else you think will convince them to hit that Follow button.

Usually, that’s not a joke.

Your Twitter bio to sell yourself – it’s fine to be clever/funny with it, but don’t treat it like just another content tweet. Make sure you give people the key info that will encourage them to follow you.

For example, here’s what my Connected Comedy Twitter bio looks like:

Screen Shot 2015-06-13 at 1.24.40 PM

2. Reference What You Want People To Know About

I talk to comics all the time who ask me how to promote their podcast, web series, or other projects and then I go to their Twitter bio and see they haven’t even referenced that project there! Big mistake.

If you have something you want people to know about, make sure you reference it in your bio.

Again, people are checking your Twitter bio because they’re already interested in you on some level so that’s a prime opportunity to let them know about something else you do that you want them to check out.

Also, references to your most important projects helps you stand out because it reveals some specific details about the value you provide and separates you from people with more generic backgrounds (more on that in a bit).

3. Use @ Account Names When Possible

When you reference your projects or other entities in your Twitter bio, use the @ account names whenever possible.

This not only saves you some valuable characters (allowing you to get more across in your limited 140 characters), but also the @ account handles are clickable, so you make it easy for people to click and learn more about that particular project.

Plus, it encourages people to follow your other relevant accounts.

This could work in a lot of different ways. Here’s some examples of how you might use account names in your bio:

“Host of the @MYPODCAST podcast.”

“I’ve performed on @Conan & @JimmyKimmelLive.”

“I host the weekly @MYCOMEDYSHOW.”

“On tour with @THISCOMEDIAN and @THATCOMEDIAN.”

4. Be Specific, Not Generic

In writing your Twitter bio, you want to say things that are as specific as possible to you – look for ways to separate yourself from every other comedian’s bio out there.

It’s good to include basic important details about yourself like mentioning that you’re a comedian, but try to qualify it with some specifics that tell people more about what separates you from every other comedian on Twitter.

For example, rather than just saying “Comedian,” maybe you say “Standup Comedian for 10 years,” or “Political comedian,” or “Comedian obsessed with sports, movies & music.”

Instead of just saying you “tell jokes,” maybe say “I tell jokes that Republicans hate and Liberals love.”

Instead of just saying you’re a “Writer,” maybe say “Writer of things that Dads can relate to.”

It doesn’t really matter what the specifics are, but the more you drill down past the generic terms that anybody can use, the more you’re explaining to potential followers who you are and why they should care.

That will help you find and connect to your niche.

5. Use Your Actual Location

If you only do one thing after reading this article, make it this one – put your actual location in the location section of your bio!

Again, the purpose of your Twitter bio is to give people information about yourself so they can make a decision on whether or not to follow you and the more specific, the better.

Listing your location as things like “Everywhere,” “Your Mom’s House,” or the less-jokey-but-equally-meaningless “The World,” “America,” or “Everywhere” is a complete waste of space.

It doesn’t make you seem clever, it makes you seem like you don’t care (which, if you think about it, doesn’t really encourage anybody to follow you).

Your location should be the city you live in.

Not only does that provide helpful context about who you are, but don’t you want somebody who comes across your bio and is interested in you to know where you’re located in case they want to come see you perform live?

Or, wouldn’t you want somebody to know you’re local in case they are looking to hire a comedian in that town?

Not listing your city as your location does you no good and only prevents some potential opportunities from happening.

More Advice About Twitter…

I’ve got a lot more Twitter tips available to my VIP MEMBERS (join here for instant access) including a look at How To Get More Influential Twitter Followers and 5 Ways To Get More Out Of The Jokes You Post On Twitter among others.

5 Ways To Mess With The Media And Attract New Fans

Why bother begging the media to pay attention to you, when you can trick them into doing so?

Recently, there’s been a boom in stunts by comedians that are designed specifically to manipulate the media to their own advantage and it’s becoming almost an art form in its own right.

Here’s a breakdown of some recent high profile examples and an explanation of how you can learn from what these comedians have done and create your own media stunt to gain attention for yourself, even if it’s just within your own local community.

1. Work With A “Celebrity”

The most recent example of media manipulation is the stunt Funny or Die pulled off with Dennis Quaid. In case you haven’t seen it, Funny or Die shot a video with Quaid throwing a temper tantrum on the set, but “leaked” a snippet of the video online at first without any apparent connection to Funny or Die.

Predictably, the media jumped on it, creating a wave of stories about Quaid’s tirade. Then, a few days later when Funny or Die released their actual video, they incorporated all the media coverage and revealed that it was all an elaborate prank. Those same media outlets then had to follow up with another wave of stories explaining that the now-infamous Quaid video was actually an FOD stunt.

You can see what happened here:

Essentially, Funny or Die figured out a way to get a wave of media coverage (two waves, actually) around a comedy video that otherwise would have probably just been like any other celebrity video they released.

But you don’t need access to a celebrity like Dennis Quaid to apply this strategy to your own creation. The underlying principle can work for you as well.

For example, on a local level you can reach out to a person or organization who is known within your own community and do something similar with them. For example, maybe a local politician, restaurant owner, or college athlete would be willing to participate in a clever video concept you develop.

You could then bake into your concept the idea of anonymously “leaking” a portion of the video online before releasing the full version and a reveal of the stunt later.

Obviously, you have to be smart about how you do it and it requires good concept and execution, but that’s always true of anything that works. The point is, this is a model that can be adapted and scaled down to incorporate any person or place that is known within the community of people you’re trying to reach.

2. Do Your Research

It’s amazing how quickly John Oliver’s HBO series has become must-see viewing. His extended takes on particular subjects each week wind up featured all across the Internet, despite rarely incorporating any celebrities and consisting mostly of him just sitting behind a desk and dissecting a particular topic.

But some of his best segments have been his takedowns of organizations like this one about the Miss America pageant:

 

While the bit is fueled by smart writing, it’s also built on a foundation of research that anybody could have done – including things as simple as noticing typos on the organization’s website.

This is something that’s easy for comedians at all levels to replicate if they’re willing to put in the time to research a particular topic. Nothing’s stopping you from choosing a target – either on a national or local level – and digging in to find some interesting tidbits about it that you can exploit in your comedy.

If you think about it, there’s no shortage of potential targets you could research and likely find out some interesting facts about – and most importantly, all of these would likely be of interest to people in your area that you want to know you exist.

For example, you could explore what actually goes on at your local DMV, or you could research the social media activities of a local school’s faculty, or you could look into the backgrounds of your local TV news anchors.

The possibilities are endless and so are the opportunities because if you dig up some interesting stuff, that’s going to be compelling to not only a local audience but likely your local media as well. If you do the work most of them aren’t willing to do, you can also reap the benefits.

3. Do The Unexpected

In addition to messing with the media as an outsider, there’s a whole other batch of opportunities at your disposal if you’re invited to appear on a media outlet.

If you get interviewed by a publication or get to appear on a radio or TV show, you’ll get more out of the experience by doing something unexpected. Something that will get you noticed and remembered. You don’t want to appear as just another comedian on these shows, you want to stand out.

A perfect example of somebody that does this is TJ Miller. His outrageous morning TV show appearances have become semi-legendary, and each one not only gets him noticed in whatever town he’s visiting, but also spreads throughout the Internet getting him even more attention.

They’ve become so notable that even Conan O’Brien talked to him about them here:

While you don’t necessarily have to do what Miller does, you should look for ways that you can do media-worthy things the next time you appear in a media outlet.

4. Pull A Prank

There’s no shortage of prank videos on YouTube and we’re increasingly seeing them work their way into TV comedy as well. Certainly, the Jackass guys built an empire on the back of pranks (at least in part), but Jimmy Kimmel has recently cornered the market on prank videos.

But in addition to the prank videos he’s done that he’s involved with or appears in on camera, he’s also pulled some stunts where it wasn’t obvious that he was involved at first.

Here’s an article detailing some of those anonymous stunts that Kimmel has pulled over the past few years. Each time, he wound up getting more attention from the media after revealing he was behind the prank than he would have if he had just been open about it in the first place.

While Kimmel has a nightly national audience that he can use to make those reveals, that doesn’t mean you can’t do something similar. If you can manage to pull off the illusion of a video that catches on, you then have the opportunity to follow up and reveal that you were the mastermind behind the stunt.

Again, any media that picks up on the initial viral video thinking it’s real is likely to share it with their audience again when it’s revealed it was a stunt – and in the process you’ll get credit and attention for it. Another potential benefit of masterminding pranks like this is that it might also create new opportunities for you – like writing for a show like Kimmel’s perhaps.

It shows that you’re capable of creating compelling content even if you’re not necessarily the one performing it.

5. Team Up

Did you see the recent story about how Will Ferrell and Kristin Wiig were secretly developing a parody of a Lifetime movie with a plan to just air the movie on Lifetime at some point without ever promoting it?

The idea was to create a surreal (and kind of brilliant) stunt that certainly would have surprised people and attracted a lot of attention in the media, but unfortunately news about the project leaked and they decided to scrap it.

While it’s unlikely you’re going to be able to partner with a TV network to pull something off on that scale, you can look for companies or media outlets you can team up with to do something similar on a smaller level. Remember, just about every company has marketing needs and is looking for creative ways to get people’s attention. Use that to your advantage and see if you can find an interesting partner to team up with to create something that will give both of you attention.

Another example of this is what happened with Nathan Fielder’s Dumb Starbucks stunt on his show Nathan For You. You can see him talk about it here:

But there’s lots of ways you can scale this down and try similar media-attracting stunts in simple ways.

For example, if you write roast jokes you could approach a bar and offer to work as a bartender who roasts patrons while serving them drinks on a particular night. It could become a gimmick that gets them (and you) some attention and could make for an interesting story for local media to cover.

Or you could approach an Uber driver and offer to go along with him on all of his rides and perform free comedy for the passengers. Again, it’s a silly stunt, but the kind of thing that you could easily see local (or national) journalists writing about and getting attention for you and the driver.

The point isn’t that you necessarily try any of the specific examples in this article, but rather to make you aware that there’s a lot of interesting stunts you can probably create that will get you a lot more media attention than just sending a reporter your press kit.

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11 Concepts That Will Help You Gain Fans

There’s a lot of different ways to build a following online and use social platforms to attract new fans, but there are certain concepts that are universal and will help you succeed no matter what kind of content you’re producing and which platforms you’re focused on.

Here’s a breakdown of 10 general philosophies and guidelines that will help you get the results you want from the time you spend creating content and promoting yourself online.

1. Content Is Marketing

I talk a lot about the value of creating “content” and when I do I’m referring to content in the broadest form – that includes blog posts, videos, pictures, tweets, status updates, podcasts, standup material, etc.

But that value is not just limited to your own original content – I’m a big believer in the value or curating content as well. Here’s a post about curating that’s worth checking out.

The reason I’m such a believer in the importance of content creation is because it’s free marketing for you and your career.

Every single piece of content you create brings with it an opportunity for you to get found.

Each piece of content can be found through Google searches, can be shared and passed around by people on social media, and can introduce you to new fans at literally no cost. It’s an extremely powerful tool.

Plus, you can use content to target the exact audience you want to reach. For example, if you think parents, or sports fans, or fans of a certain comedian are likely to enjoy your work, then you can create content that is going to attract and appeal to those people and introduce them to your world.

But the thing to remember is that the more content you create, the more opportunities you have to attract fans.

2. Engagement Matters

As important as content is, engaging with your fans (and potential fans) may be even more important. Your content is the hook that draws people into your world, and your engagement with those people is the way you turn them into actual fans and get them to stick around.

One of the biggest misconceptions about social media (especially Twitter and Facebook) is that they’re mediums you primarily use to promote yourself and your stuff. That’s not true, but that’s what most comics do and why most comics don’t get any real results from social media.

Think about your own experience as a follower of somebody else on social media – I’m guessing you hate people who only promote themselves and you feel a genuine connection to people who interact with you and care about you, even if you’ve never met them face-to-face before.

Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms work best when you use them to engage with people. They’re connection tools, not promotional tools.

You want to use social tools to talk with people as opposed to talking at people. That’s a subtle, but important difference.

3. Be Personal. Be Informal. Be Available. Be Real.

Most comedians’ instinct is to position themselves as bigger and more successful than they are when they’re showcasing themselves on their website and social media channels. That’s a mistake.

Just be real.

People want to connect to other people and they want to relate to them – the more you’re willing to put yourself out there and be honest, the more people will connect to you. Real is always better than fake – in videos, in blog posts, on stage, in everything.

I also think it’s worth noting that this represents something of a generational shift. Back in the day, before technology like YouTube allowed literally everybody in the world to reach everybody else in the world, the average audience member assumed that the people who had broadcast power were better than them. They gave you the benefit of the doubt because they assumed if you were able to get to the point where you were given the chance to reach an audience, that you had some talent.

But now, when anybody can reach everybody, that has shifted and audiences are much more skeptical. Now, if they see you pretending to be bigger than you are, they resent it. You no longer have the benefit of the doubt.

But the flipside of that is that if you are real and allow fans to see you for where you’re really at in your career, those same people will rally behind you, support you, and want to help be a part of your journey to success. They will become invested in you.

A great example of this is the success of the YouTube musical group Karmin which I’ve written about here. You can learn a lot from how they broke on YouTube by being honest about where they were at in their career.

This idea also extends to your writing and your content. For example, your bio may be written in third person but is there anybody that actually believes you didn’t write it yourself? And, more importantly, does it really invite a would-be fan to connect with who you are or does it put them off because it makes it seem like you want them to know the “professional” you as opposed to the person that you are?

You want to make it easy for people to feel like they know you and can interact with you. Because the closer they feel to you, the more vested they become in your success.

On a side note, it’s fine to have a third-person “professional” bio that you may send to people who need it for their corporate gig brochures, etc. But, if you’re hoping to use your website to connect with fans then you want it to be as informal and friendly as possible.

4. The Quickest Path To Success Runs Through A Niche

It’s going to take time to build your fanbase even if you do everything right – that’s just something you need to understand going into it.

However, one way that you can give yourself a huge head start is to figure out a niche that you can appeal to.

Based on your material, life, interests, experience, and goals, you should try to figure out what kind of niche audience you might appeal to because it’s extremely hard to build a fanbase by just being another comic who is generally funny.

If you can focus on a niche – similar to the way Chris Hardwick has done with his Nerdist empire – you will find that all your marketing and content-related decisions become a whole lot easier.

When you have a niche that you’re targeting, you know exactly where to find potential fans because you can identify where else they gather – online or offline. It also allows people to rally around their shared interest in what you’re interested in, as opposed to solely trying to win them over with your jokes.

And of course, if they have a shared worldview to yours, they are more likely to enjoy your comedy in the first place.

There’s a couple other relevant articles about the importance of niche that you may want to check out including these lessons you can learn from Chris Hardwick and this guide to help you find your own niche.

5. Pay Attention To What You Engage With

One of the best ways to learn what works with people is to pay attention to what works when you’re the consumer. Start to think about what ads you click on, what websites catch your eye, what headlines get you to click, and what content you actually share with people.

When you start to think about what gets you to click something, or to take an action, you’ll be able to apply those same things to your own creations. It’s a great way to learn.

6. What People Share Is Not The Same As What They Click

You’ll create content for different purposes, but one broad thing to remember is that people share different kinds of content than they view. For example, porn sites get the most traffic on the web, but when was the last time somebody posted a link to a porn site on their Facebook wall?

People share things that are cute, funny, relatable, etc. But here’s another secret – people usually share things because it allows them to say something they want to say without actually saying it themselves.

People share things to show their support for a specific opinion or rallying cause. Sometimes, they will even share things they disagree with, just because sharing it gives them a chance to express their opinion about it. This is why strong viewpoints are always helpful in content.

This is something to keep in mind as you develop content – you want to use your expertise (in comedy and whatever else you may be knowledgable about) to express things that other people may believe but are not necessarily capable of saying as clearly (or in as entertaining a way) as you are.

7. Figure Out How To Provide Value

One of the most important overall questions for you to think about is how you can provide value to your fans. This goes beyond just being funny. Think about ways you can provide as much value as possible to your desired audience, whether it’s with your own content or not.

For example, on Connected Comedy I provide value to my audience by posting free articles with advice that can help them with their careers. On JoshSpector.com, I provide value to my readers by scouring the web to give them interesting videos to see and links to other cool stuff on the web. The “value” I provide is that I save them the time of having to look for cool stuff.

There’s no one way to provide value to your fans, and you’ll likely come up with multiple ways to do it.

A great way to get started is to combine your ability to be funny with a certain expertise you may have. The way you do this will be different for everybody, but in general the more value you provide, the more you get in return and the easier it is to grow an audience.

8. What’s In It For Your Audience?

With everything you do, try to think about what’s in it for your audience first. It’s too easy to fall into the trap of thinking about what you want them to do for you, but you’ll have more success if you think in terms of what you can do for them.

I had a conversation with a big-name headlining comic once and he was frustrated with having to post on social media all the time.

“It feels like I have to work for my fans,” he said. “Like I’m working for them!”

He was disgusted by that concept, but that’s exactly correct (and why he does a bad job at social media).

Your fans are your employer. Not the bookers, not the clubs, not the Hollywood execs, the fans. Because if you have enough fans…none of those other people matter.

9. Experiment Often

Because all of this is so personal, it will take you some time to experiment and find what works best for you. It’s important to understand that before you go into it, because too many people get frustrated quickly and give up.

Comics understand it could take 10+ years to get good on stage, but too often assume they’ll be social media experts after 10 minutes. They’re wrong.

By experimenting with different types of content and different ways to use social media, you’ll start to hone in on what works for you and see results.

Another thing about experimentation is to understand the best thing about failing online – when you fail, nobody really sees what you did anyway. Here’s a post that touches on that which is worth checking out.

10. Have A Goal

It’s very important to have a clear goal for what you’re hoping to get out of your activity online because that will ultimately influence everything you do.

For example, is the goal to attract new fans? Is the goal to attract new corporate gigs? Is the goal to create new properties/brands that can lead to new opportunities for books, TV, etc.?

Most likely you’ll want to do multiple of these things which is what will ultimately happen in success, but it’s worth thinking about what one goal is most important to you and letting that dictate your strategy.

11. Recognize The Opportunities You Have

If somebody would have approached comedians 20 years ago and offered them the opportunity to have their own TV show, radio show, or magazine with no cost, comics would have freaked out at what an amazing opportunity that is.

But that’s exactly the opportunity you have now and most comics are too lazy to actually take advantage of it.

Don’t get distracted by the “digital” aspects of all this. Just think about what you’d ultimately want to create and use these digital tools to reach the masses.

READ THIS NEXT: A Business Plan For Comedians

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.

READ THIS NEXT: 7 Reasons The Stuff You Post On Social Media Should Also Be On Your Website

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!