If I were creating a blog, or a podcast, or a videoblog, and I was still thinking about how to make a living from it, I’d stop what I’m doing, and take stock. These are tough times, and the stakes are going up and up for companies gambling on a new media future. A turbulent landscape and some potential impending failures are only the start. Are you prepared?
Be a Production Company, Not a Show
If you’re doing audio or video, separate your brand from the show you’re creating. Pay attention to folks like Casey and Rudy of Galacticast using 8BitBrownie as their brand, and Steve and Zadi from JETSET using Smashface productions. There’s a reason for this. Should one of your properties do well, you might get the chance to sell it. Should it tank, you might want a platform and brand upon which to launch more shows. Structure any legal paperwork similarly. Don’t BE the show, be the production company.
Watch the Big Guys
Are people buying Internet video or are they hiring talent out of shows? Is it Amanda Congdon or Wallstrip? Pay attention by reading all kinds of blogs and other sources for more industry-facing news. You can’t just create merrily any longer, should you be interested in taking that next step up into the big leagues. (I should disclaimer this all to say that I’m writing as if you want to make a living off your media). Follow the trends, and try to react accordingly, even anticipate.
Improve Your Quality
The “gee whiz” phase of audio and video ends this year. You might have a small audience, but that’s probably all it’ll be. Produce something good, tight, well-made, that tells a story. Want bonus points? Produce something that can SLOT INTO something else. If you create cooking vignettes, consider creating them such that they could be placed inside a larger news show? Why? Because someone might be buying in that capacity, not seeking to fund your show outright.
People will buy if the material is tight, captivating, and serves a purpose. They won’t buy crap, even if you’re cute. They may buy you, but they’re not funding a show just based on your clever wit any longer.
Learn How to Work with Advertisers
If you’re still convinced that you want to run your own show and that everyone will come knock your door down, learn what advertisers want. Understand the demographics they need. Figure out (by asking other producers) what to ask for your audience. Decide what the value is, and decide if the value goes both ways. Does your audience want the products you’re being offered?
People creating media are in the business of offering their audience and their reach up for advertisers. That’s what they do. Is that the business model you want? Then learn how it’s really done. Use your library. Subscribe to Advertising blogs and newspapers. Learn the words, the way they see the world. It’s not how YOU see it.
Become a Businessperson, or Hire One
Loose deals won’t cut it any longer. If someone wants to do business with you, understand where the beginning, middle, and the end of the deal are. Otherwise, when things get really interesting later, you run the risk of getting into legal messes. I know too many creators who’ve found themselves in less-than-deisreable business deals, often because it started as a friendly agreement and then turned into real business. Cyndi Lauper said it, baby: money changes everything. Pay attention.
And if you’re not the businessperson, hire someone. Or become an employee somewhere that makes sense to your business. And read everything. EVERYTHING.
The Future of Internet Media
Blogging is still nascent to the outside world, but all the major print publications, the major TV media outlets, and several other creators of media are turning their brands more blog-focused, meaning that they’re pointing lots of professional talent at the same spaces where some of us have been toiling away happily in our amateur status. If you’re hoping to make money from your blog (at least through ads), this requires you to step up the game, improve your quality, or suffer quickly.
Podcasting in audio form still has some potential value, but with almost all traditional media sources rebroadcasting their radio properties as a podcast, the landscape is far more competitive than ever before. I can’t strongly recommend staying with an audio product, unless you have a very strong niche, and/or a strong strategy to distributing your product to a core audience (I’m writing that as a disclaimer for the Financial Aid Podcast, which doesn’t count because it has such a strong business plan of its own.)
Videoblogging is shifting fast, from a novelty to a strong category in need of strong production quality. If you want to do more than seem interesting, find your production quality, grow your niche products, and improve, improve, improve. Did I mention “improve?” Want to see a great product? Check out Crafty Nation. Produced by Jim Long and Verge New Media, I think this is a sample for what good video will look like. (I have dozens of other samples, if you ask).
If you’re creating any of the above with the goal of quitting your day job and living as a new media producer, have I missed anything? Probably. I didn’t talk much about the tons of ways that B2B (business to business) could be tackled. That will come in another post for Tuesday. But what else?
What’s your take?
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