Work hard. Be passionate. Learn everything you can about your craft. Network.
All great pieces of advice for anyone trying to create something, whether it be content, art, music, or any other kind of product for The Culture. But the single biggest lesson or piece of advice I can give you is as follows; Do NOT expect support from your “friends” and followers. It’s harsh but it’s true and it’s better to be equipped with this knowledge ahead of time and set your expectations accordingly. Let me provide two anecdotes, one personal and one on a larger scale.
In 2016 I released my first children’s book Playin’ Catch With Dad. During the writing process I worked hard to build up a decent social media following and networked to cultivate as many of those relationships as possible. And once release day rolled around I thought I was good to go but after I saw my first month’s book sales…I realized I thought wrong. I sold about half of what I was expecting which was a bit of a shock and the realization that many of my “friends” and well-wishers were not fiscally supporting the project I spent 18 months working on and had been telling them all about that entire time was quite disappointing.
And then there’s the case of Universal FanCon. What was meant to be a convention for nerds of color put on by nerds of color turned into a fiasco and major L for The Culture. The organizers admitted themselves that at the beginning they put no money or effort into marketing presuming their respective Twitter follower counts would equal ticket sales. They were hoping for 10,000 attendees but four months till the Con and they had only sold 169 tickets. They had to scramble to hire a marketing and PR firm but it was too little too late and the event ended up being scrapped only a week before it was scheduled to take place causing mass confusion and perhaps permanently harming the reputations of the organizers.
The point is to not fall for your own social media hype. You’ll have friends and followers who think a like is good enough, you’ll have others that think since you’re putting something out you’re automatically making money so you don’t need theirs, and then you have people that are just secret haters/non-supporters who don’t care about what you are doing (why they follow you in the first place no one knows).
Don’t get me wrong, likes and retweets aren’t without merit, moral support is nice but doesn’t always translate into dollars unfortunately. So don’t get mad, get smart. Don’t get disappointed, get motivated. It wasn’t until I started implementing my real marketing plan and putting some actual money behind it that my sales started getting where I wanted them to be. The main thing is to make sure you have a marketing budget, even a modest one, when you launch. Google AdWords and Facebook campaigns are your real friends here and you can use them to help reach the right people, in volume, and help turn your passion into a viable, sustainable career.
Written by @TalentedMrFord
Follow him on IG and Twitter.