For those of you who don’t like to mix money with passion, this post will probably annoy you. This isn’t for people who are just doing it for love and passion. You’re important, too. If you’re looking for a way to make a living from new media, that’s what’s on my mind today.
Business Tips for New Media Types
Contact Often Goes Before Business
First off, if you’re intending to make a full living shooting video, or making audio podcasts or blogging, one important thing to do is make it easy for people to reach you. Put your name, your email (use the format name at domain dot com to keep spiders at bay.) Put a phone number if you can. Make it *really* easy for people to reach you and communicate.
Learn How to TALK About Your Show
You know what fails more people more often? Having a bad pitch for something you’re promoting. You. Your show. Whatever. Having no ability to clearly, quickly, easily communicate what you’re doing turns people off from wanting further conversation with you. Want to meet a PRO at defining a great pitch? Meet Laura Allen. She’s a true pro, and lovely to boot.
Fly Your Colors
If you’re looking to accept advertising, put up an ad page, or a permalink on the sidebar to an ad post. Make it REALLY easy for people to understand that you’re looking for advertisers and sponsors. Tell them about the show. Give them a summary of what you do, why you do it, who might want to know more about it, your viewers/listeners/readers. You know who does this really well? Rocketboom.
Keep Your Website Tidy
Some of the cleanest, best site designs I’ve seen come from Christopher S. Penn and his Financial Aid Podcast, and Brian Clark from Copyblogger. Both are people using their sites to drive traffic, bring people to their core business, and communicate the value that they offer. If you’re looking to make a business out of your new media efforts, it’s important to make your site a unified look and feel that compliments what you’re doing.
Google Can’t See Your Videoblog
The strongest search engine out there, Google, doesn’t have a clue what you’re showing and talking about in your videoblog. There are some good audio search tools, including Pluggd and Podzinger, and those will help a little bit, but Google, the primary go-to search engine, and Yahoo for that matter, can’t see your video and interpret what you’re talking about. To that end, you get far less juice (links, random people finding you, search relevance) if you don’t add a liberal amount of text to the post that surrounds your videoblog post or podcast. Show notes are very important. Take the time to add them in, and write them up using terms that might be reasonable for someone to search on. If you’re doing a video reviewing gadgets, mention the Edirol R-09, mp3 recorder, mp3, podcasting, and some other terms (not just tags, but in the body of the notes) so that people know where to find what you’re talking about.
Marketing Isn’t a Four Letter Word
Actually, it’s 9 letters. Making every effort to get more people subscribed to your show/blog is just as important as any other step here, if not more. If you don’t have the attention of people, you have no reason for someone to want to spend money on you. Get your thoughts together on how to send emails to all your friends, asking for links to your site. Send out links to your best shows to people, so they can get involved. Put huge fat subscribe buttons somewhere that they can be seen and clicked by your audience. Show them how they can subscribe. Give them lots of ways to consume your product, if you can. Find directories to promote your show FOR you. Believe me, there are tons. If you’re a video show, consider my company, Network2. (I’m just saying.)
Reach out to friends. You’ve got others doing shows? Ask them for links, and give them a link back. If you can mix and match shows, look for cross-promotions, where you can share each other’s audience. And hey, always be open to the idea of partnering on a bigger opportunity to create. This new media space is all about relationships, after all.
People like repeatability, even if they say they want something new and fresh. Do you think food packaging marketers WANT to say, “New Look. Same Great Taste!” on every package change they make? They do this because sometimes something as simple as a packaging change confuses people into thinking the contents of the package aren’t what the people are seeking. Hell, it happened to me the other day at lunch. I was looking for chips, and I couldn’t decipher what Doritos had done. It seemed there were four types of spicy, but no sense of which one was the REAL hottest? So, I avoided the chips.
Put up your show regularly. Put up your post regularly. Do your whatever with a consistency that makes people KNOW they’re going to get what you offer.
Just because you CAN shoot a videoblog, talk into a microphone, type several sentences together, it’s important that you demonstrate the value of what you’re producing. I watch lots of videoblogs just to check in on people, but if you’re looking to make money, the people who are looking to SPEND money want to believe that they’re going to get a “product” that they can rely on. This one matters a lot.
Different Ways to Make a Buck
I’m fully convinced that selling tee shirts won’t be sustainable in the end for too many of us. I know that AdSense and Amazon can’t pay off all the bills. I think, however, that there are some great affiliate programs (Chris Penn taught me about these), and there ar ea few other ways to earn money. Get creative about this.
Think about product placement in your video shows (but then make disclaimers/sponsor notation in the credits). Think about getting pre-roll and post-roll sponsors for your audio or video podcast. Look to join ad networks like Federated Media for your blog. And then really up the ante. Reach out to local businesses, or businesses that would benefit from an association with your new media show, and offer them something creative: maybe they pay for an interview (and you notate like hell that it’s a paid placement). Maybe they give you intangibles, like loan you a cool business location for a shoot. Just keep your eyes open.
I stressed disclosure enough, right? If not, ask me.
Always Communicate Clearly, and Read Contracts
If you’re lucky enough to get a sponsorship, or if some company wants to buy your show, or if a new directory wants to list you, find out the details. My biggest concern for new media deals in 2007 is the potential for exclusivity clauses. What if you sign a neat deal with P——– , but you can’t make videoblogs with friends, can’t collaborate, whatever? What will this mean to your sponsorship opportunities? Does your new boss own your sponsor relationships? Be aware of this. I’m not saying don’t DO IT, I’m saying read everything, be clear about expectations, and be wary of what comes next.
I’m blessed to have several great business types as friends. Please, by all means, throw your thoughts into the comments, and flesh out what I’ve put up here. What else should one consider? How would you advise your colleagues, friends, and people you appreciate from a far? What else can they do to make a living off this thing they’re passionate about?
And if you like this post, please grab the link and share it, reference it, tell people who might benefit from reading it.
–Chris Brogan is Community Developer for Video on the Net and also Network2. He is Co-Founder of PodCamp.