You have got to quit talking about it, and just fucking do the thing — and keep doing it.
For the longest time, we kept asking ourselves – “we make fun things, why isn’t anyone watching?”, and for an almost equally long time we observed our own practices and wanted to see what we could do differently to try and get eyeballs on our work.
Now, it’s one thing to be some sort of ego-maniacal snob and think “they just don’t see the genius in my vision”, but it’s another thing altogether to think “we make some interesting stuff, and promote well in our social circles, but we just can’t get the traction we need, what gives?”, and that latter quote read in a funny voice stings a little. It’s a tougher case to solve, something a little… elusive about the whole thing, like you’re just. right. there, but can’t quite figure it out. But: the solution is a no-brainer.
This isn’t one of the blog posts that’s all about “with these 10 easy steps you can be a YouTube mogul too”, or even, in a less toxic framing, “grow your audience in 30 days or less”, but it is one about adding a new word to your media producing vocabulary, or rather… adding two words: consistency and flexibility.
In her contributing article for Forbes Online’s Entrepreneurs section, Is Consistency Really That Important In Content Creation?, Andrea Wien discusses experimenting with different platforms, different content, and different releases, and what that means for her and her audience — and that’s the real key. In order to get in front of a consistent number of people, keep them consistently engaged, and thus consistently growing that audience through word-of-mouth or other means, you have to make sure that your content is also consistent. This may sound like a no-brainer, but it’s harder to do in practice: BE. CONSISTENT.
A fine example of this in practice is The GeekTime Network — a now defunct podcast network that I used to write for, podcast for, and manage with Sam Wright. Yes, the formatting for each show and the network as a whole shifted over time and should’ve remained high quality and constant from the get-go (something we can carry forward now with Forever an Astronaut’s podcast content) but the fact that we had listeners at all stemmed from our stubbornness to not stop releasing episodes regularly for years on end. The quality wasn’t there, but the quantity was — and now the quality is getting better in our new iteration.
But, Alessio: does consistent mean predictable?
Steve Rotter, in an article for Acrolinx entitled Marketing Research: Why Having Consistent Content Is So Important, addresses this question of quality. “It’s also important to point out that when the quality of your content isn’t consistent, it can confuse your customers” he writes. And that’s where flexibility comes into play to some extent. You must be flexible in your scope, your expectations, and in your delivery. And being flexible, creative, consistent, and smart is just the fence that you’re building around your media yard. You can be weird as all hell with the content, if that’s what you want to do with it, but you MUST remain flexible and consistent with your release schedule, aspects of your projects, the faces in those projects, and how you’re getting that project out into the world.
If you’re just starting out, are an indie like us, or don’t know where to start, you have to make sure that you’re not promising your audience weekly flagship content (i.e. Red vs Blue, JonTron videos, dope mixtapes, etc.) if you can’t produce weekly flagship content. The goal is to have some sort of big, audacious, project that you enjoy working on tentpole some smaller stuff, or vice-versa. As you progress, get larger, expand, or grow the scope of your project, you can hopefully then have resources at your disposal to work on consistently delivering high high quality content all the time — but this isn’t viable out the gate. And you have to constantly be thinking “this is what’ll do when I get XX subs”, “I’ll offer XX as a show when I hit XX Patreon goal”, or “I’ll do a big ‘Alessio does XX stupid thing’ when we hit XX milestone.”
Shit, we’ve been at it for 3 years in St. Louis, and we’re just now hitting a stride with balancing big set-pieces and smaller side-projects in a digestable way for our audience, which is still growing.
All of this to say, you should have a flexibility, passion, and desire in your own medium on a more micro level — as illustrated by this fantastic academic paper entitled: Creative industries, spatiality and flexibility: The example of film production. That’s a whole other discussion for a whole other week, but something worth noting nonetheless.
As content creators in a post-modern, post-2007, post-YouTube, post-post-rock, post-vaporwave, and post-baby-boomer landscape – shit gets weird. So, why not find some of the rules of the road and sit and read the tea-leaves a little before diving into this ocean of limitless possibilities (god that sounds tacky)? At the end of the day, things may shift, but this is what we’ve noticed as we’ve been working. This is what we’ve been observing in our own day-to-day.
Keeping in mind that we’re not necessarily experts at this, but that we’ve been creating content for ourselves, our studio, and clients / employers for nearly a decade, it’s good to remember one thing — we’re just letting you know what we’ve encountered on our end of the spectrum time and time again. You may have a vastly different experience, and if that’s the case, please let us know.
Thanks, you guys.