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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!

How To Share And Tag Your Way To More Influential Twitter Followers

Everybody always wants more Twitter followers, but few people actually implement one of the simplest strategies to attract them.

I’ve gained a few new particularly influential followers of my personal Twitter account in the past couple weeks and thought I’d share how that happened. It’s a simple tactic that can be done by anybody and while it doesn’t work 100% of the time, it works often enough to make an impact on your Twitter success.

It’s a ridiculously simple two step process:

Step 1: Every time you come across something interesting, tweet a link to it or reference it in a tweet and recommend it to your followers.

Step 2: Look to see if the person who created it has a Twitter account, and reference their account name in the tweet you post, giving them credit for what they created.

That’s it. I know it seems obvious, but it’s amazing how few people actually do this and it really works.

What winds up happening when you do this is that the person you tagged in the tweet inevitably gets a notification when you’ve mentioned their name and it leads them to check out your tweet and your account.

Because you’ve sent some attention their way, they will likely be appreciative and usually will either favorite your tweet (good for you), reply to your tweet (better for you), retweet it (even better for you), or follow you (the best for you in the long term).

This can be a powerful tool not only because it can attract attention from more people to your tweets, but also because it allows you to target specific influential people who you might want to know that you exist.

For example, if there’s a booker, or journalist, or YouTube star that you want to be aware of you then look for opportunities to share things they’ve created and tag them in the tweets.

Here’s a few examples of tweets I’ve recently posted where I did this and what came of them.

Example 1: Drew Curtis and Fark

After listening to a recent episode of the James Altucher podcast in which he interviewed Fark founder Drew Curtis, I posted the following tweet.

Sure enough, Drew Curtis saw the tweet and retweeted it to his 12,000 followers. On top of that, the Fark account (with 25,000 followers!) also retweeted and favorited the tweet. Fark also followed me, which was great considering they only follow about 700 people at this point and hypothetically have the opportunity to share future things I post with a lot of people.

This reminds me of one more suggestion related to this. As a general rule, you’re better off tagging the individual author of an article as opposed to the publication because that person is more likely to see it than the overall publication.

For example, if you share a Buzzfeed article you’ll want to find the Twitter account of the author of that article instead of (or in addition to) just tagging @Buzzfeed.

Example 2: Gary Vaynerchuk

After reading an interesting blog post from Gary Vaynerchuk, I decided to share a link to it and reference Gary in the tweet. Here’s what I posted:

Sure enough, Gary wound up seeing that I had mentioned him, replied to my tweet and followed me. He’s following about 7,000 people, but I’m still honored to be in the mix and be followed by a guy with over a million followers and one of the leading voices in the world when it comes to digital marketing.

Example 3: Four Bands

I wrote a simple post on my blog highlighting a few songs from newer bands that I had recently discovered and decided to tag the bands when I shared a link to the post on Twitter. Here’s the tweet:

Sure enough, three of the bands favorited the tweet, one retweeted it, and one of them followed me.

The Point Is…

While these three examples are certainly random and they’re not the kind of thing that is suddenly going to catapult your career, the point is that there are really easy opportunities to get people’s attention and start building connections that can directly add value to whatever you’re trying to do.

The next time you come across something interesting in your travels, take a moment to share it on Twitter and take another moment to tag the person who created it in your tweet. Do that consistently and you’ll be surprised at what can happen.

And if you want to try it out, why not go ahead and tweet this article and tag me?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ad #1: How To Get More Facebook Fans

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

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

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

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

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

Step 1: Choosing Who To Target

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

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

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

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

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

Step 2: Choosing The Ad Creative

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

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

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

Here’s what I came up with:

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

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

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

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

The Results

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

Here’s the breakdown of how it performed:

$24.89 spent

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

54 clicks (that represents a 1.7% clickthru rate)

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

59 cents cost per new fan

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

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

Ad #2: How To Get More Website Traffic

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

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

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

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

Step 1: Choosing Who To Target

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s the targeting I settled on:

Screen Shot 2014-12-13 at 2.10.15 PM

Step 2: Choosing The Ad Creative

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

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

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

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

Screen Shot 2014-12-14 at 11.21.42 AM

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

Screen Shot 2014-12-13 at 2.09.37 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Results

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

Here’s the breakdown of how it performed:

$26 spent

40,043 people reached

4,379 clicks to the website

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

1 cent cost per click

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

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

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

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

You can see all the comments on the post here.

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

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

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

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

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

Any Questions?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you asking fans and potential fans to multitask? Probably.

Is that hampering your ability to grow and leverage a fanbase? Definitely.

If you’re trying to build an audience for something these days the chances are that you’re making a lot of requests (or “offers” to use a gentler term) to your existing or potential fans. You ask them to watch your videos, share your social media posts, join your email list, buy tickets to your show, listen to your podcast, and god knows how many other things that will help further your career.

But 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.

And that’s why I think you’ll find a lot more success – short term and long term – if you focus on a single action that you want people to take in every situation where they encounter you and your work.

What Is A “One Action” Strategy?

My definition of a One Action Strategy is that in any scenario in which people encounter your content, there is a single, specific action that you want them to take.

You may make multiple actions available for them to take (though it’s possible you’ll see better results if you limit their options), but you hone in on the single action you most want them to take and devise a strategy to increase the likelihood that they’ll do so.

You can can have different actions for different scenarios – for example, the “one action” you might want people to take after watching your videos is to subscribe to your YouTube channel, but the action you might want people to take when they see you perform live might be to join your email lists – but focusing on a single “ask” for each situation and developing a strategy designed specifically to match the single action you want people to take will drastically increase your success rate.

That’s because it simplifies the process for people, focuses your own promotional efforts, and matches the way people act – they can only do one thing at a time so why ask them to do more?

Why It Works

The biggest reason why the One Action Strategy works is because it simplifies things for both the audience and yourself.

Your audience won’t get lost in a multitude of asks and you’ll essentially make it easier for them to support you. Also, they won’t feel assaulted with asks (Share my video! Retweet it! Subscribe! Watch another!), which will make them more likely to actually do the one thing you ask them to do.

Also, the mere process of forcing yourself to choose only a single action to ask people to take will lead you to really think through what actions will be most valuable to you. This essentially forces you to act more strategically and protects you from yourself – you’re no longer just throwing stuff at the wall and hoping something sticks. It’s a way to force yourself into setting a clear goal and messaging that goal.

That leads to the other reason why this strategy works – it gives you a clear and simple way to measure success. Once you focus on a single action that you want people to take it becomes very easy to measure the success of both your content and your calls to action.

And as I’ve said before, you can’t improve anything you can’t measure.

How To Choose The Right Action For The Right Situation

Ready to give this One Action Strategy a chance? There’s three things you’ll need to think through in order to figure out what actions you want to ask people to take.

First, you have to know your goals. There’s lots of different actions people can take after seeing your content and all of them provide different kinds of value. So the first thing you want to take is think through your personal goals and then let those guide the actions you want people to take.

For example, if you posted a video of yourself performing standup on YouTube there’s a few different ways you might want to go. If your goal was to get more people to come to your shows, then the action you might want people who watch the video to take could be to email you and get on your guest list. But if your goal is to build a bigger following for your YouTube channel because you plan to post a lot more videos, then the action you might want to encourage could be subscribing to your channel or sharing the video.

There’s no right or wrong action to focus on, it all depends on your goals. You just want to make sure that the action you choose to emphasize will actually benefit the goals you’re pursuing.

The second step to figure out what One Action to emphasize is to understand the value of the action you want people to take.

Not all actions provide the same level of value. For example, somebody buying tickets to your show might be more valuable than them following you on Twitter. But them following you on Twitter might be more valuable than them watching a single video.

The specific values depend on your goals, but you need to recognize that not all actions have equal value and (generally speaking) the more valuable the action is, the tougher it is to get people to take it. So part of what you’ll want to think through when determining what actions you’re going to try to drive is to weigh the relative value of each.

Would you rather sell 10 albums or get 100 people to sign up to your email list? Would you rather somebody subscribe to your podcast or your YouTube channel? Would you rather they tell their friends they saw you perform on Twitter or would you rather they come to your next show?

These relative values will be different based on your individual situation, but it’s worth thinking about them as you decide what actions to emphasize.

The third thing to consider when planning your One Action Strategy is to keep in mind how the medium works where your content lives and to recognize what assets are available to you.

Different mediums (both online and offline) have their own unique strengths and weaknesses that you’ll want to take into account when figuring out what actions you’re going to ask for from your audience.

For example, it might be easier to get people to join your email list after reading something on your blog than it is after they read something on your Facebook page because you can put the signup form right at the bottom of the post. On the flip side, it might be easier for people engaging with your posts on Facebook to tag their friends in the comments than it is for them to share a blog post on your website with them.

YouTube’s annotations make it very easy to get people to subscribe to your channel or drive them to another video you’ve created so that might make you decide to focus your action around those things as opposed to trying to drive Twitter followers from your YouTube videos.

This is not to say that you can only do things that occur naturally in the medium you’re using, but rather that you should be aware of what is “easier” to do on various platforms when plotting your strategy.

And Now, The One Action I Want You To Take…

Since this is a post all about asking your audience to take a single action I figured I should follow my own advice and ask you to do a single thing if you found it helpful. So here’s the action I want you to take – give the One Action Strategy a try with at least one thing that you do regularly (social media posts, videos, live performances, whatever) over the course of the next month and email me to let me know how it works for you.

If you don’t see improved results, I’ll be happy to give you some more tips geared toward your specific goals.

How 5 Successful Comedians Used Their Websites Before They Were Famous

It’s easy to admire the comedy empires that people like Chris Hardwick and Aziz Ansari have built with the help of the Internet, but what often gets overlooked is the years worth of work they put into it before hitting it big.

That work doesn’t just involve what happens on stage, but their commitment to building an online presence and using it to put creative content out into the world has also contributed to their success.

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.

Now let’s hop in a comedy time machine and see who was doing what when…

In 2008, Chris Hardwick was posting home theater reviews and joining Twitter.

Shortly after launching his Nerdist blog – and years before he would launch the Nerdist podcast – Chris Hardwick was blogging regularly on his site about all sorts of stuff that had nothing specifically to do with his standup act. He was regularly posting reviews of technology gadgets such as this home theater system review.

He also joined Twitter (as explained in this blog post) because he thought it was “just too damned adorable to ignore any more” and promised to give people “blog updates and who knows what kind of other tweets.” Little did he know the TV series and hashtag wars that it would lead to.

In 2005, Aziz Ansari was making short videos and uploading them in Quicktime to his site.

Aziz didn’t bother waiting around for YouTube to be invented to start posting videos online. As you can see here, he was making short comedy videos about how Wal-Mart put his Dad out of business and uploading them to his site as Quicktime files way back in 2005.

Another fun bit of back-in-the-day Aziz is a look at the bio that was on his website back then. As you’ll see, it’s honest and he didn’t try to make himself seem more successful than he was at the time – something that way too many comics today try to do. He even mocks the fact that he’s writing about himself in the third person, as opposed to pretending somebody else wrote it for him.

In 2002, Gabriel Iglesias was remixing articles for the 5,000 people that visited his website.

A look back at Gabriel’s site from 12 years ago reveals a fun little bit – a public stat counter that shows 5,018 people had visited his site up to that point in total. But that small audience didn’t stop him from still taking the time to occasionally post some content on the site.

For example, he posted this article from the El Paso Times with his own commentary about it incorporated into it.

In 2001, Doug Stanhope was trolling newsgroups and posting road stories.

Stanhope has done an incredible job building a fanbase outside of the traditional comedy club system, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that even 11 years ago he was already using his website to share content with fans and give them a chance to interact with him. For example, you can look back and see a collection of his road stories, or a bunch of examples of him trolling early Internet newsgroups.

In 2001, Louis CK was posting “bad jokes” on his site and trying to figure out his own name.

Louis CK may be the king of standup comedy at the moment, but 11 years ago he was quick to point out on his website that he was a “fellow who does a number of things.” In addition to details about his standup career, his site also featured uploaded videos of the short films he had made, cartoons he had made, and even a Bad Jokes page featuring bad jokes he had written.

Back then Louis wasn’t even quite sure what name he was using for his comedy. As he explained, “You may have noticed that I am refered to on this site sometimes as Louis, and other times as Louie. That is because I am stupid and have not figured out which one I am called yet.”

Why You Should Care About Any Of This…

Besides the fact that looking back at some old websites is a fun bit of nostalgia, I think it’s worth recognizing a couple things that all of these successful comics had in common. First, they had a website – in some cases years before other comics bothered to create one. But on top of that, each of these guys were putting some content on their sites – they were using them as a way to attract and engage fans.

These guys were also pretty open and honest about where they were in their career and who they were – they weren’t trying to pretend they were more successful than they were. They were transparent.

A lot has changed in the years since these guys launched their sites, but the underlying things that they embraced can benefit you just as much today as they did them years ago.

READ THIS NEXT: Why The Most Important Things You Can Learn From Louis CK Have Nothing To Do With His Act

Why Should I Follow You?

Everywhere you look these days somebody’s asking you to follow them on social media. But very few of those people bother to explain why you should follow them and what you will get out of giving them your attention. That’s a mistake and one you shouldn’t make.

If you’re going to ask people  to follow you, then you should be able to explain to those people what’s in it for them.

I know what’s in it for you if they follow you – more views, more traffic, more attention – but I think it’s worth you taking a moment to think about what’s in it for them.

If I follow you, what do I get out of it?  Will I get valuable information?  Will I get a laugh a day?  Will I get something that I can’t get anywhere else?

Have you even given any thought to why somebody should follow you?

Once you’ve figured it out, you should probably share that with the people you ask to follow you because the clearer the value somebody gets from taking an action, the more likely they are to take that action.

(NOTE: I’d love to hear why you think people should follow you on Twitter or Facebook. Feel free to leave a comment with your reason.)

4 Ways To Get A Functional Personal Website Without Spending A Fortune

It seems like every comedian I speak to is unhappy with their website. Either, they don’t have an “official” site at all because they can’t afford to get one built, or their “web guy” has been working on building their site for a year, or their site is impossible for them to update on their own so it still features that big coffee house gig they had scheduled back in 2007.

But the reality is that even with little to no budget, you are able to have a decent looking and functional personal website. Here’s five easy ways you can do it:

Use An About.Me Page describes itself as a “custom splash page and personal analytics dashboard,” which is really just a fancy and intimidating way of saying it’s a free template that lets you create a one page site about yourself. It’s super easy to use – just upload a picture and fill in your relevant information – and you’ll have a professional looking site up in no time.

But what’s really great about is that it incorporates icons for your Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blog, and whatever other accounts you may have where you’re creating content. So with a click of a button, people can see in a pop-up window whatever you’re posting on those sites. Plus, also provides you with statistics about how many people are visiting your site for those of you that care.

Here’s a few examples of what some pages look like: Sam Adams, Lindsay Campbell, Howard Lindzon, Julia Allison.

(NOTE: is so new that it’s in private beta right now so you have to apply for an account, but you’ll likely get one within a couple weeks.)

Redirect Your Personal Website Domain To Facebook

Here’s a simple way to give yourself a better website – let Facebook build it for you. Assuming you’ve bought your own domain name, just redirect that domain to point to your Facebook page. For no cost, it allows you to use all of Facebook’s tools and lets people connect with you easily while still getting the benefits of being able to just tell people to go to to find you. You could also do the same thing with your YouTube channel, Tumblr, WordPress, or Blogger blog depending on your needs.

Find A Designer On 99 Designs

If you’ve got a little bit of cash to spend, I highly recommend going to 99 Designs to find somebody to build you a custom website. 99 Designs describes itself as “crowdsourced creative design,” which basically means that they have a community of designers who regularly compete to get your business. On their web design page, they explain that for $499 you can get lots of different professional designers offering their services based on your specific requests. You simply view all the samples you get and then choose the person that you best suits your taste.

Don’t Have A Website, Have A Newsletter

Depending on what your goals are, you may not necessarily need a full website. You might be better served with a newsletter that allows you to capture people’s email addresses and update them whenever you have something you want to promote. There’s several ways to run a newsletter, but one extremely simple one I’ve come across recently is called Tiny Letter.

For zero cost, you can set up your own newsletter through Tiny Letter to get you started.

Would You Rather Be The Comedy Store or The Improv?

NOTE: This article was written in 2011. A lot has changed since then, but the underlying principles remain true.

When people ask me how they should “do” social media, I usually tell them to think about the people they follow on social media and why they follow them. It can be especially helpful to look at two people or companies with similar goals and see how each of them try to accomplish those goals using social media. Inevitably, you can learn as much from somebody who’s doing a great job with social media as you can learn from somebody that’s not.

To illustrate my point, I thought I’d share with you a look at how two Los Angeles comedy clubs – The Comedy Store and The Hollywood Improv – are using Twitter at the moment. They both have the same basic goal of getting people to come to their clubs and see shows, but as you’ll see their approach to Twitter is completely different.

Here’s a look at the last 10 tweets from The Improv:

And here’s a look at the last 10 tweets from The Comedy Store:

Which one would you rather follow?

I’m guessing the choice is pretty clearly The Comedy Store (sorry, Improv – I still love you too). Here’s a few reasons why:

The Comedy Store tweets about more than just itself. Five out of the 10 Comedy Store tweets are actually retweets of other people and comics’ tweets. Even if they’re about the Comedy Store, there’s a feeling of a community and that they’re not just talking at you, they’re talking with you. By comparison, none of the Improv’s tweets were from anybody but themselves.

The Comedy Store gives me something, the Improv just asks me for something. Two of the Comedy Store’s tweets are links to things I may find interesting that have nothing to do with their shows. They’re giving me “content” that I might like and I’m getting something out of following them besides just show updates and requests for me to buy tickets. On the flipside, every single Improv tweet is about one of their shows and asking me to go to them.

The Comedy Store keeps it fresh, The Improv says the same thing over and over again. If you look at the Improv’s tweets, you’ll notice that in their last 10 tweets four of them are the exact same. And three more of them are also the same. That means that basically 50% of their last 10 tweets are just repeats of things they’ve already told me. Not only is that boring, it’s probably pretty annoying.

So why should you care?

Even if you don’t run a comedy club, you can probably look at the differences between how these two clubs are using Twitter and think about what you’re doing with your own tweets. Do you tweet more like The Comedy Store or The Improv? And which would you rather be? Just something to think about next time you’re crafting your 140 character bits of hilarity…

READ THIS NEXT: 5 Things Twitter’s Trending Topics Can Teach You About How To Create Viral Content.

5 Things Twitter’s Trending Topics Can Teach You About How To Create Viral Content

Twitter’s trending topics are always a great snapshot of what people are obsessing over online at the moment, but if you look at them in a slightly different way you can see that they’re actually about much more than that. In fact, you’ll notice that there are some very specific things that trending topics on Twitter tend to have in common and those things are actually the very same things that can help any kind of content (even outside of the Twitter universe) go viral.

For the past couple weeks, I’ve been paying attention to what’s been trending on Twitter and noticed five specific traits that a lot of the trending topics during this time had in common. These traits are worth keeping in mind as you create any kind of content that you hope will have the potential to go viral. Here they are:

Holidays Are Viral

Around Halloween, there were multiple trending topics on Twitter related to the holiday including #HappyHalloween and #GhettoHalloweenTreats. It shouldn’t really come as a surprise that any holiday-related content around that specific holiday has a good chance of going viral and this is nothing new – back in the days when MySpace ruled the world I used to regularly get videos featured on the front page that were holiday-related. Editors of websites and blogs will inevitably be looking for holiday themed content on those days, so you might as well give them what they’re looking for and reap the rewards.

One other note: in general I think that the more you can put a clever/obscure twist on the holiday, the more success you’re likely to have. #GhettoHalloweenTreats seems a lot more fun than just the simple #HappyHalloween.

“I” Am Viral

This might be the most important thing to remember about viral content – people love the opportunity to express what they believe about something. The more something is about “me,” and the less it’s about “you,” the more likely it is to go viral. I would guess that more than 50% of the trending topics on Twitter start with “I” and this past couple weeks was no exception.

In the past couple weeks, trending topics included: #IShouldHaveKnown, #IFeelLike, #ImOneOfThosePeople, #ILive4, and #ICantLiveWithout among others. All of these went viral in part because they gave people the opportunity to talk about themselves and that’s something people LOVE to do.

Opinions Are Viral

The only thing people like sharing more than stuff about themselves is probably their opinions. Opinionated content is always more viral than non-opinionated content and sure enough the same is true when you look at Twitter trending topics. Some of the hottest topics on Twitter the past couple weeks were #ThingsThatPissMeOff, #ThingsThatGrindMyGears, and #WeCantBeFriends – all of which are about people expressing their opinions about things.

If your own content includes a strong opinion about something it’s way more likely to be shared by people who agree with your opinion and want to express that agreement by sharing your content with other people. Ironically, they’re also likely to share it if they strongly disagree with your opinion because sharing it gives them a chance to express their disagreement. Even if they share it and say “This guy’s an idiot and here’s why…,” they’re still sharing it and you’re still getting more exposure for your content.

Pop Culture Is Viral

It should come as no surprise that people love pop culture and celebrities so it also shouldn’t be surprising that content related to those things tends to be viral as well. For example, #MoviesInMyPants, #BandNamesInMovieTitles, and #CelebsWhoMightBeDead all were trending on Twitter recently because they gave pop culture lovers a chance to show off some of their knowledge about movies, bands, and celebs in a fun way.

Nostalgia Is Viral

One of the other lessons I’ve learned over the years that’s reflected in Twitter’s trending topics as well is that people love to share things that are nostalgic. Recent trending topics such as #TweetYour16YearOldSelf and #ThingsWomenDontDoAnyMore probably went viral in part because they allowed people to reminisce about the good old days.

People love nostalgia and they like to share videos and content that reminds them (and their friends) of things they used to do or love. For example, look at how many people are sharing stuff on Twitter right now and saying “Remember this?” about it.

Highlights From NewTeeVee Live

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

How To Turn Viewers Into Fans, And Fans Into Dollars

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

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

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

And here’s video of the full presentation:

Behind The Live Stream Boom

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

Here’s video of the panel discussion:

The Social Innovation of Glee!

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

Here’s the video: