Free Comedy Content Economics

I recently read JL Cauvin’s post about why his album didn’t sell more and Connected Comedy’s thoughts on it too. (Full disclosure: I’ve performed with JL and was in his Tim & Aaron Video.)

I thought I’d share a recent example of internet content I gave away, that might help all of us comedians who aren’t world famous understand how internet free works / how to monetize it better.

Reddit is a popular internet website with lots of subsections. I recently posted the below image on /r/standupshots which is dedicated to short stand up jokes with your photo.

  • In the 22 hours since I posted it, I’ve gotten 34,375 views. It was in the number one spot for 6-10 hours. Which is great. That’s over 34,000 people that would’ve never seen or heard of me otherwise. But let’s dig deeper. (And let’s ignore whether you like the joke or not, objectively, by reddit standards, it did well.)
  • Out of all those views, 1,619 clicked that they like the joke (up vote), and 673 clicked that they didn’t like it (down vote). So that’s 2,292 people that can be bothered to click. Less than 7% click rate. And that’s just a quick button click on a page that already loaded. It doesn’t require typing in a URL, spending money or any extra steps or page loads. There were 29 comments on the post, not counting my responses (.08% of views).
  • As you may have noticed from the photo, I have a link for people to download my album for free, if they want. They just have to fill out a quick form so I get an email address and zip code.
  • 24 people filled out the form for a free comedy album (out of 34,375). Even if you only count the people that clicked that they liked that joke, that’s a 1.5% conversion rate. On something that’s free. And out of the 24 email addresses I got, 6 of them were fake. So out of 34,000 views, I got 18 people to care enough to give me their email address and listen to my album. (Of course, this isn’t my first joke here, so some people have previously downloaded my album. I’m just giving one specific example.)
  • I also have a podcast link in the image. A new episode comes out every Monday night, and I posted this joke Sunday afternoon. So Sunday is the slowest download day as it’s a week old episode at that point. So assuming all Sunday podcast downloads were from the Reddit traffic, I had 15 people download the free podcast. A slightly less than 1% conversion rate of people who click the like button. (Or .04% of overall views.)
  • Even if you assume the people who got the podcast were all different from the people who got the album, the total people willing to just type in a URL was 39. Or .1% of all views (1 out of 1,000). With no money being spent.
  • And my Twitter link in the image got 0 new followers, favorites and retweets. (Although other jokes have done better for this.)

Let me state clearly, I’m not complaining. I’ve had a some cool things happen from posting on Reddit. A few of my jokes have been picked up for “Best Jokes” websites were I’ve been listed alongside very famous comedians. I’ve gotten more followers. A couple of user comments have been incorporated into my jokes. My album got put on a streaming internet station. And I’ve even gotten recognized around NYC a few times from it.

But if we focus on JL’s discussion of economics, it seems most of free internet content will lead to actual money way less than 1% of the time. It seems it’ll be somewhere around .01% and .05%. (JL’s 100 album downloads out of 300k YouTube views is a .03% conversion. Similar to my numbers above.)  So for those whose eyes are already rolling because of all the math in this post, as a rough estimate, for every 10,000 internet views a free piece of content gets, 1 person will pay money for additional content.

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