Just about every comedian I talk to always asks me the same question – “How do I get more followers?”
Whether they’re referncing Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, or their own website or mailing list, everybody wants more people to follow them and their activities. There’s no simple answer to this question, though obviously lots of the content on this site touches on different strategies that can help (including this post about why people should follow you).
But yesterday I read this recent post from music industry guru Bob Lefsetz and came across the following line: “Be happy, be equitable, be a leader. And then you’ll have followers.”
That sentence sparked a realization for me that the vast majority of the comedians who are asking me how to get more followers are not doing anything to be a leader.
By definition, a follower has to have a leader and that leader has to take them somewhere – literally or figuratively. But most comedians don’t think of themselves as leaders – instead, they spend most of their time being followers.
They follow bookers, comedy clubs, and other industry gatekeepers, hoping those people will lead them to a career, as opposed to figuring out how they can lead fans someplace they want to go.
If you do more following than leading, why should you expect people to follow you? People don’t follow other followers – they follow leaders.
Think about who you follow in your life. I don’t mean who you follow on Twitter or Facebook, but who do you actually care enough to really follow and why? I bet the people you truly follow are not just entertaining you, but they’re leading you somewhere…even if they’re entertainers.
Do you just follow other comedians who are funny or do you follow comedians who inspire you because of their style, career, or work?
Do you feel closer to people that are blazing a trail or those that are just doing what everybody else does?
Don’t you prefer to follow people that are taking you somewhere? That are leading you to a better future?
If you follow Connected Comedy I’m guessing it’s because I’m trying to lead you somewhere – to a more successful career, to a different way of thinking about the opportunities you have, to a place that you want to go.
Not every comedian will want to go where I’m trying to lead them, but that’s ok. The ones who do will be true followers and will wind up helping to define the journey as we take it. Just because I’m the leader, doesn’t mean I’m the sole owner of the journey.
So where are you trying to lead people with your comedy? Do you know? Have you ever thought about it?
The more clearly you define for yourself where you want to lead people, the more likely you will be to get followed.
You may not think of entertainers as leading people anywhere, but there’s examples all around you of comedians who have succeeded in doing just that.
People didn’t just follow George Carlin because he was funny. They followed him because he led them down a path of criticizing societal and cultural norms.
People didn’t just follow Chris Rock because he was funny. They followed him because he led them to a place where they could speak truths that most people weren’t willing to say.
People didn’t just follow Kathy Griffin because she was funny. They followed her because she led them behind the scenes of life on the Hollywood D-list.
Like Seth Godin once said about the Beatles rise to fame, “The Beatles didn’t invent teenagers. They just decided to lead them.”
I can’t tell you where you should lead people – you’re going to have to figure that out for yourself based on where you want to go. But I can tell you that there’s thousands of people out there that would also like to go where you want to take them.
It’s up to you to decide to be a leader. And once you do…then you’ll get those followers you’re looking for.
15 thoughts on “You Have To Be A Leader If You Want To Get More Followers”
You are so full of inspiration and knowledge! Thank you again for another enlightening post! I know where I want to lead my fans. I now just need to do some inventory and then prioritize and then finally act. Its not a matter of ‘if’ it will happen but ‘when’, now. Do you suggest one site over another? Such as Tumblr over WordPress? I already have a lot of content on wordpress, do I just repost on new sites exactly or start anew?
In general, WordPress is more powerful and flexible but Tumblr is easier to use and a little more viral. Both are fine, but it kind of depends on what you plan on posting and which you prefer.
If you’re going to post a lot of quick stuff, than Tumblr might be a better fit. If you’re going to post longer blog posts then maybe WordPress.
Personally, I use WordPress for this site, but then also set up a Tumblr page (http://connectedcomedy.tumblr.com) to share other quick things I find interesting and to be a part of that community. I’ve found that’s worked well for me, but isn’t necessarily needed for everybody.
Also, you should be able to import all your existing content into your new blog automatically if you decide to move to a new blog software.
Be who you are. I’m an atheist, and I do the funny.
It’s like watching Ultimate Fighting. The best fighters are the guys who give 100% in the octogon. that’s what I do when I write.
This has been one of the BEST articles that you’ve ever written, just because it speaks a truth in life.
Not only do I do comedy, but I’m also a youth pastor. This concept of leader/follower is something that I try to instill in my kids in our youth group. I encourage all of them to be leaders instead of followers, to give there best in all that they do, and not to do something just because everyone else is.
Trend setters are NEVER followers. They’re leaders. They’re unafraid to stand out. They do not fear being unpopular, and more often than not their willingness to be unpopular makes them popular just because they do things in ways that no one else is doing.
This article is not just another article on tips to make your comedy career better, but this article is a life lessons that communicates a truth: You’re either a leader or you’re a follower.
Hey Eric, thanks so much for the VERY kind words. Glad you liked it.
Great post from the heart Josh! Very inspiring 🙂
My band and I have talked a lot about leading our fans to the shared comedic universe we’ve created together. It’s cool to read that this is such a powerful concept.
I’m with Eric. Great life stuff as well as our biz. You’re turning me into a Spector Fan!
Thanks Josh. Certainly good stuff to ponder. You drive home the point that we need to give people a reason to want to follow us. Keep the good input flowing.
I love reading your comments. They are very informative and interesting! I am relatively new and doing things on my own, but have taken much of your advise thus far. Thanks for leading until I have more of a leg to stand on!
Great article, It confirm my thoughts totally!!
Great post brought up some things that was sitting inside me, getting ready to lead big time thanks!
After encountering a number of people in the position of leading people – who don’t really lead….(are you following me? Ha!) – I have been investigating the concept of ‘leadership’ more and more. I am a big believer in having a misson or goal greater than yourself…. I am so appreciative of how you covered this topic and thank you for your perspective.
I am just getting started I mean just getting started as in just starting to write jokes. I feel like a checkerboard I have about myself, and jokes on TV shows I have watched. This post really hit home you have made it very clear the kind of comedic artist I want to be. I am still in the writing phase, and rewriting phase.
Hey Josh , Derek here from the wonderfully misunderstood and misjudged IIregland . I`v always been a firm believer in the concept of why be a sheep when you can be a shepherd . I more often than not try to get that into the spongy heads of the group of kids in the Youth Club we facilitate each week which is a mental fantastic lovable challenging but totally rewarding couple of hours that can also provide a writer with so much material , not meaning writing about the kids but by spending time with them and remembering what you used to get up to when you were that age and thinking , I cant promote the kind of things I used to do to children but it`s totally fine for me to remind adults about how mental they were as children growing up . With me and also others my age I know I was once at that spongy head preteen phase but until you chat to a preteen you forget the mind set you had at the time . I think a good quality for a good shepherd to have is to be able to lead and also equally read his flock , and maybe that’s where the feed back from social medias kick in . Anyhoo Josh I may get my head back into the office mind set before I lose interest in my job hua hua hua
I just read my last post and on line 7 I made myself sound like a predator , thanks typo , I cant promote my kind of behavior as a child to other children is what it should have read so tell the feds to call off operation clean sweep 😉