“Fans, Friends and Followers” Quotes Part 2/2

This is the second part of what I found to be the most important quotes from the book Fans, Friends and Followers. (Part 1 can be found here.)

“My idea of success is the ability to make your films your way, and share them with people all over the world. That’s success.” -M dot Strange (56) 

“In neither case did we think, “A-ha, this will get people to buy our records.” It has always been our position that the reason you wind up in a rock band is you want to make stuff. You want do creative things for a living.” -Damian Kulash (62)

“Every show I do, people sign up for the mailing list. Bill Clinton considered his presidency a permanent campaign, and that’s the way you have to look at your career.” -DJ Spooky (65)

“I spend more time interacting with the audience than I spend recording and producing the show.” -Brian Ibbott (76)

“I figured that the way to do it is to give out your complete archives for free, which increases the viral nature of the site, and it turns casual fans into die-hard fans, and even evangelists for your art online. It can take years of relationship-building before someone considers themselves a fan, and is willing to plunk down money.” -Dave Kellett (83-84)

“I understand why people don’t want to put in the time it takes to develop an audience and a business, or who don’t think they can make it work. It’s definitely an investment of time – maybe close to a decade – but most careers take a decade or so of investment before something really happens. Think about a doctor. The careers worth having are worth working for over years and years.” -Dave Kellett (85)

“As an artist, you have to do it because you love it. If you’re doing it for that reason first, you’ll find you’re producing better work, which attracts an audience. They can tell when you’re enjoying it. That carriers you through what are going to be lean years.” -Dave Kellett (85)

“I do several different things. I write, I act, I do stand-up, and I make films. You can now do a hundred different things, and they all come together to form your career.” -Eugene Mirman (100) 

“The only advice I have is, you should go do things and try things, and in ten years, you’ll most likely succeed.” -Eugene Mirman (100)

“The whole thing is, you’re freelancing. If you expect that some big company will swoop in and give you a bunch of money and make you a star – that’s a flawed business model.” -Eugene Mirman (101)

“Fans, Friends and Followers” Quotes Part 1/2

I recently reviewed Fans, Friends and Followers by Scott Kirsner. I finally got around to typing up the quotes I found interesting enough to underline in the book.

“The more opportunities you create for fans to participate in your process, the more engaged and loyal you’ll find they become.” (6)

“When someone is getting their first taste of your work, you need to give them a reason – quickly – to dive in deeper. What you’re up to needs to be crystal clear, or so mysterious and bizarre that people can’t help but have their curiosity piqued.” (11)

“I’ve found that educational stuff can attract an audience. Share your techniques, and tell people about the software you’re using.” (13)

“One piece of advice for people is about consistency. A lot of people put out one thing and it’s really popular. They’re surprised, and they don’t have anything else to do. People really want consistent content. You can’t go three or four months without something new.“ -Michael Burns (40)

“The idea that we’re going to hit some sort of steady model is false hope. You’ve just got to keep moving. We’ve had forty business models in nine years. I don’t see it slowing down at all.” -Gregg and Evan Spiridellis (46)

“The Internet is a collection of communities. You need to create a community around your film. That will not happen if you keep things to yourself. You need to open yourself up, show your face, show your production, let people get inside. People do a lot of things when they get enthusiastic about something. They help the production, give money, or run into the streets and scream about your production. You need to allow people to do that. It’s an enormous viral force.” -Timo Vuorensola (47)

“You need to offer different monetization options for different customers. Some people watch it on the Web for twenty minutes and then want to buy the DVD. Some people watch the whole film on BitTorrent, but then want to support us by buying merchandise. We want to let you give us money in any way possible.” -Timo Vuorensola (48)

“The way I meet people and get most of my jobs is offering to help people.” -Steve Garfield (49)

“I email everybody back. I respond to everything. Think about regular TV shows. In that world, you’d never expect to get any sort of response.” -Steve Garfield (50)

“The audience votes with their ‘forward’ button. If they see a video that they think has something to say, they forward it. All the money in the world and all the kings horses can’t get them to do that.” -Robert Greenwald (52)

“We want to have 5,000 people who are video distributors – who understand that they are Paramount Studios, they are CBS. If they take our video and get it to 100 people, that’s hugely important.” -Robert Greenwald (53)

“As fast as someone becomes your fan, they can become someone posting everywhere and saying you suck. But if you respond to them, they become powerful. They’re like bees, spreading your message.” -M dot Strange (55)

Book Review: Fans, Friends and Followers

Fans, Friends and Followers by Scott Kirsner is a three part book about building and monetizing an online fan base.

fansIn the first part, Scott lays out the “new rules” of building an audience such as “Be remarkable and make remarkable stuff”, “Understand the power of the link” and “Help people learn to do what you do”. While artists new to social media may find this section insightful, this section is just a reminder of what the rest of us should already know. After reading Seth Godin and other online thought leaders for the past few years I found myself alternating between a state of “oh yeah, I forgot about that” and nodding along impatiently waiting to get to some new secret formula. 

But a secret formula to get a large following quickly isn’t the point of the book, and thankfully so. The real value of this book is in part two, where Scott interviews 30 creators from diverse fields such as singing, film production and comedy who have succeeded in building an online following (and in most cases, a monetary living) for their work. I found myself getting more ideas from creators that had nothing to do with comedy than I did from the comedians, and I feel this sort of “cross-pollination of ideas” will hold true no matter your medium. 

While the interviews were very insightful, I would have liked to read interviews from the following creators who have built a huge online following: Tucker Max, Hugh McLeod, Aaron Karo and Dane Cook. (Whether you love or hate Dane, he has always been way ahead of every other comic on technology and interacting with his fans.) 

In the third and final part, Scott provides a quick reference guide for getting started on using social media and the internet to one’s advantage. While you won’t really read this section, it will be a handy reference five months down the line when you decide you’re not going to post your new joke until you raise $50 and you want to find out which site can help you implement that technology. 

Overall, I highly recommend this book to any creator or blogger who is looking to establish or increase their online presence. Whether new to the internet or an experienced veteran, the people and ideas in this book will get you thinking about your audience from a new perspective. Be warned, there is no trick or quick way to build a following, it takes time, but Scott’s book will help you develop a more coherent strategy for the road ahead.

(Full Disclosure: As a comedy blogger, I was received a free preview copy of this book. I don’t think that influenced my opinion as it’s always easier to write a negative review than a positive review, but I thought you should know.)

Posting all my material

“Only post a small preview of your material online” seems to be the accepted truth about stand-up comedians website’s and how they should do their marketing and promotion. The thinking is, if all of your material is online, nobody is going to want to see your show. I disagree with this for a few reasons:

  • Videotaped performance is not a substitute to the live thing, it’s a compliment. Taped performances can also be turned into a souveneir for fans to take the performance home
  • For every person who might not see you live because they see your video (and I’m sure there’s a few, but they probably wouldn’t have come out anyway), you may get two new people to see you who wouldn’t have otherwise
  • It forces you to keep writing new material
  • If the purpose of your site is to get a person to come to one of your shows, then you don’t want to post the whole show online. If your purpose is to develop a relationship with fans, and maybe even lead a tribe, then you want to show your fans how you’re growing and improving, and leave room for their suggestions. (Just one example, the broadway musical Cats was so successful because there were people who’d seen the show ten, twenty and even sixty times. This in turn generates an additional buzz and awareness among people.)
  • Some of your fans may live far away or be unable to make shows live, the more they can see of you, the more likely they’ll want to come by when you’re live and in their area
  • Information (even humorous information) wants to be free

My philosophy, until proven otherwise, is to upload as much of my material and sets as possible.

Before anyone calls me a hypocrite, let me do it myself: I don’t post all my sets onto my homepage, I have 2-3 good videos there and post the rest of the videos to this blog, where I think the true fans will go. If someone is taking a 2 minute look at me before deciding to come out and see me, they don’t need to see the videos of me trying out new material and bombing.

Comments, especially those calling me crazy, are welcome 🙂