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What To Do When Your eBook Isn’t Selling

June 14th, 2012 . by Peggy

Here are some tips not just from me, but from other Authors or creators of information products.

1. Write a second eBook.

Yeah, I know, this sounds completely counter-intuitive, but this one really does work. Why? Think “inbound links”. In terms of discoverability, the effect can be magnified many times. (Think SEO benefits.) This is a great place to expand in greater detail or to focus on one particular topic area. Every sales book I’ve ever read talks about this in some way, and yes, it has personally worked for me. It’s given me credibility as a topical expert, and has gotten me speaking gigs, where I ultimately sold more books.

2. Check that you’re being really, truly visible.

If you’re not always on the move, producing more content, the market will know. It’s a wheel that takes a lot to get rolling, and if you stop pushing it, the momentum you’ve built can only take it so much farther without you. Are you blogging? It creates more traffic to your sales page. Using social media? Twitter is free and works on any smartphone. Talking about your eBook somehow, to someone, every single day? Are you doing speaking? All of this is what’s known as “working it”, and that’s the real job of an Author – not writing. Never underestimate the power of a t-shirt with your domain name on it. I’ve gotten at least a half-dozen clients a year from that alone.

3. Revise it.

I’ve had one book that’s had three titles and four covers. Admittedly, they were not all great, but when sales have not been as expected, I take it down, revise it, put on a new cover, or change the platform. (Ie., if it’s not selling well as a PDF, try moving it to the Kindle format. Fresh market, new links, etc.) This is exploiting the most advantageous aspect of an eBook: it’s not carved in stone. It’s a living document that you can re-upload at any time. (Watch your version tracking, in a hidden spot in each book’s copyright page that tags it v.1.0, v.1.1, etc.)

4. Create parallel content.

By parallel content, I mean creating content that is not exactly what is in your eBook, but that is very clearly and closely aligned to it. If your eBook is about weight loss, create a low-cal recipe blog. Make a few cooking videos for YouTube with links to buy the eBook. (Video is so simple now that it really is inexcusable to not do this for such a visually-oriented subject.) If you’re talking about how to be a great consultant, write a few articles about how to manage your billing and accounting. Thinking with empathy about the needs of your audience will clue you into topics of interest very quickly.

5. Solicit some reviews.

There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of review exchanges out there – just Google “book review exchange”. (The concept is, “I’ll review your eBook positively if you review mine.”) They are typically no cost, and can mean anything from an Amazon Kindle review to an actual interview or blog post. I’ve heard one very successful Author suggest that you should aim for a few more each month. Again, this is actually about creating more inbound links to your content, ie., SEO benefits.

6. Examine your metadata.

Metadata is all the stuff you don’t see, but your computer does. For example, when you upload your eBook to Kindle, you are asked for keywords related to your eBook, and to choose a category, name all the contributors, write a description, and more. Did you actually do all of that? Does it need refreshing? Did you add keywords and check the page title and so on when you built your blog or website? Did you max it out? Hidden stuff mixed with quality visible stuff is what attracts traffic.

7. Setup an affiliate marketing program.

This takes a little more effort, but once setup, can be a virtual money machine. (Again, I have an upcoming Cheat Sheet about this. Watch my announcement list or the Facebook Page for details.) Essentially, offering to pay other website owners or list owners for marketing your eBook can be extremely cost-effective, and can be done almost indefinitely. You can listen to an audio about this topic that I recorded here: http://funnygirlmarketing.com/ (Once you sign up, check out week 3′s recording. It’s free.)

8. Examine your consistency.

By this I mean not just consistency in how often you do certain actions, like a certain number of tweets per week or writing a blog post each Tuesday, but also consistency in your messaging. Have you been sending mixed messages to your audience? Are you known for certain catch phrases? Do you use them often enough? Do you clearly align your objectives for each chapter with the messaging for the entire eBook? Does your blog also reflect that same mission and attitude? Do you practice what you preach? Do you slip? (We all do – don’t knock yourself up over that. Just get back on track.)

9. Check the usability of your shopping cart.

This is one of those stupid things that we might assume is working, but perhaps isn’t working all that smoothly from the viewpoint of the buyer. It’s amazing what can cause a consumer to abandon a shopping cart. I’m not talking about system failure, but instead, how easy and obvious things are. I have a “filter” person that I ask to test all things like this for me – my Mother. If it passes the Mom Usability Test, it’s good enough for the general public. It has often surprised me what things can trip people up. Sometimes it’s the location of a button, or the words actually on the button, or the colour of the button. It’s crazy.

10. Check your Klout.

Klout.com is an impartial way to know and gauge how you’re doing in the world of social media. Examine your rating, the details and explanation, and compare yourself to others in your business. For those lower on the scale than yourself, watch for the up-and-comers. For those higher on the scale than yourself, what can you learn from them? What can you emulate?

In my experience, for my own books and those of my clients, it’s often the little things that make the biggest difference. This list is a starting point that may lead you down side roads that you had not considered. Testing things scientifically is important: make one change at a time, and watch the results. And of course, everything is worth testing.

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18 Book Promotion Tips

April 24th, 2012 . by Peggy

Check out this list of 18 ways to promote your self-published (or traditionally-published) book or ebook.

1. Create a blog.

If you still don’t believe in the power of blogs for book marketing, check out this article by Nancy Hendrickson: http://ezinearticles.com/?Why-Authors-Need-to-Blog,-Even-If-No-One-Is-Reading&id=797505. Remember that the blog is not in addition to your website, it IS your website.

2. Write on the blog.

It sounds like 3+ times per week is the magic number to build traffic. Although, some Authors disagree, such as John Locke, who says that blogging more than once per month is a bad idea. Read his book How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months! to find out why.

3. Build your list.

I use 1shoppingcart.com and MailChimp.com to do this, but you can also use aWeber.com and any number of other services. Build a list of people interested in your product up to a year before it’s released, and you’ve got pre-sales, my friend. Hint: all the social media stuff you hear about is really about building your list. Twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.

4. Use podcasts.

I have a face made for radio, and I work it: check out the OLD podcasts I’ve created at BlogTalkRadio.com. Download ‘em, trade ‘em with your friends. I also do mobile interviews with two headsets on my laptop, and record them as .mp3′s for regular release on this blog. Use Audacity (it’s free!) to record, edit, and output high-quality .mp3′s. As easy as a VCR.

5. Offer a free downloadable sample chapter of your book.

When people sign up for your email list, give them something nice in return, such as a free chapter in .PDF form. Ask the Artist who typeset your print book to deliver this as part of their package of services to you, so that you can be sure to deliver the download in the same attractive layout. Or, be sure that you offer a sample chapter of your eBooks on Kindle. One way or another, let them try out your stuff.

6. Create a simple and clear landing page.

The idea here is to create a special page on your blog that is designed only to sell the book – that’s it. Make sure that people can easily and quickly “get” who you are, even if this is their first taste of what you have to offer. Place attractive “buy it now” buttons that leap directly to your shopping cart in highly visible locations. If they want to know more, give them links back to your regular blog, which also has easy “buy it now” buttons in highly-visible locations.

7. Use affiliate marketing.

It was Dan Poynter, self-publishing guru and author of over 100 books who said rightly, “A bookstore is a lousy place to sell a book.” Make online selling your primary sales venue, and the way to do that is with an affiliate program organized through 1shoppingcart.com. (For additional info on how to actually implement this, see my other blog posts or forthcoming Cheat Sheet on the subject.)

8. Read John Kremer’s book, 1001 Ways to Market Your Books, Sixth Edition.

I just love this guy.

9. Setup an email signature.

Mine is linked to my RSS feed, so that whenever I send out an email, people can click on a cute little headline bar and read my latest blog posts. At the very least, setup one that links back to your landing page.

10. Tell your Mother about the book.

My Mom is great about bragging about her kids – yours could be your greatest marketing asset. But don’t stop there – the idea is to work your personal connections. It’s amazing who knows who in this world.

11. Expect to give away about 10% of your printed copies, or about 200 copies of your security-protected ebook as promotional copies.

Send these to reviewers in magazines, radio hosts you admire, other authors you admire, industry leaders, teachers, trainers, favourite Bloggers, etc. Just be sure that all promo copies are being given to someone appropriate in your niche – don’t give a cookbook to a political talk show host. Biggest thing to remember here is to empower your promo recipients: give them tools to help you sell, such as a link to leave a review on Amazon, your website, the link to purchase the eBook, and a link where they can signup as your affiliate.

12. Create 3 short talks of 20 minutes or less that concern your book’s topic, and present at local service club meetings.

Find these groups in your local directory, Chamber of Commerce, etc., and ask to speak to the person who organizes speakers for the group. When you present, don’t be too “salesey”, and be sure to give away a free somethingorother, which may not necessarily be your book. (I always give away chocolate, and tactfully leave the book on a nearby table offered for sale.)

13. Partner with another Author.

Don’t think of them as competition. (There is no such thing anymore, anyway.) Instead, if they offer a compatible product or service, you can target new markets together. Perhaps even form a small group of Authors – the more, the merrier!

14. Approach your local independent bookstore.

Small bookshops, rather than large corporate sellers, always appreciate an opener something like, “I’d love to create an event at your store that would draw in more foot traffic…”)

15. Get vinyl letters cut for your car.

Put your domain name (which is exactly the same as your book’s title, right?) on the back or side (or both) of your car. This is so cheap now that everybody should do it for almost any business.

16. Keep the car (above) clean!

17. Don’t hand out business cards – hand out postcards.

This was a great tip given to me years ago by a beloved business mentor. People toss business cards, but they keep attractive postcards that have content of real benefit to them. In addition, you have more space to tell your message, make a special offer, etc.

18. Write articles for eZineArticles.com.

These don’t have to be deep or complicated, but they do have to be good quality. Cap them at about 500 words for greatest readbility, and keep it tight. Read their submission guidelines here: http://ezinearticles.com/editorial-guidelines.html

Want more of these tips? Subscribe to my newsletter and you’ll get this stuff all the time. Click here to subscribe: http://eepurl.com/jQ-lf

 

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eBook Authors Must Read This Post

January 25th, 2011 . by Peggy

If you are trying to sell ebooks to mobile readers (and who isn’t?) you must read this post by blogger Piotr Kowalczyc. The entire post is written in bullet points, with exact instructions on how to sell more ebooks to mobile phone readers.

(And by the way, this is precisely what I do every day. Trust me. It definitely does sell more ebooks.) I might add, that you can use your own affiliate link (Amazon calls these “Associates” when referring traffic to your own books. He also gives great points on using hashtags on Twitter.

Here are the first few lines of the post, just to whet your appetite:

“If you are a self-publisher actively using social media to find readers and draw their attention to your books (probably published in an electronic form), this post is for you.

I’d like to share a simple way to make your e-book available for instant purchase by mobile phone users. As you’ll see – it’s very easy.”

Good luck!

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Video Marketing Tips For Small Biz

April 10th, 2010 . by Peggy

I’ve been saying for some time now that if you don’t start to take video seriously as a major marketing/educational medium, you and your book or other business are toast.

In this article on Biznik.com, Contributor Michael Shuett (who works with a video production company in Washington State) clearly states it yet again. “Being without a professional video will soon be equivalent to not having a website; it will be as necessary as it used to be to have a listing in the Yellow Pages.”

Shuett offers statistics from the Unica State of Marketing 2010 study, which clearly demonstrates that most organizations intend to use video (especially in mobile social media content) this year as part of their marketing strategies. We have known for some time that search results always favour video content over any other content, including text, blog updates, and even audio.

The big obstacle for most of us? We freak out when someone suggests that we should be on camera. I also have a face made for radio, but I still get up there and do video regularly. Consider these options for freaked-out video creators;

  • Narrate A Slide Show: This is the least threatening and easiest way to start with video. If you do any sort of speaking or teaching, a good first video exercise might be to take one of your training sessions and simply narrate it while you flip through your slides. This way, only your voice is present, and people will see your presentation, not your face. You can use a variety of tools to create this, including Jing (free) and/or Camtasia (not so free).
  • Prioritize Audio Quality: Use a good quality microphone – sound quality is essential. You can get away with crappy lighting and bad photography if people can still hear your message, but if they can’t hear you, they stop watching. A headset is my preference, and seems to get the best results, partly because it’s maintained at a steady distance from my mouth at all times and doesn’t move around. However, I recognize that this can make you look like you’re trying to launch a space shuttle. If you’d prefer a handheld (and there are cases where I prefer a handheld – see a future post about that) you can get away with a surprisingly affordable one. I paid about $160 US for my headset a couple of years ago (here’s a link to something similar – very comfortable, as I wear these a lot) and about $35 for my handheld (including shipping) on eBay. Test everything before you start shooting. (Best tip: be sure the microphone switch is turned to the ‘on’ position. No joke – I’ve done it.)
  • Do It Yourself: Although Shuett suggests that video should be professionally-produced or nothing, I must say that I disagree. Video created on-the-fly with a gritty home-grown quality can provoke a better response than professional quality. I mean really, who trusts a script? (You can always tell when it’s a script and someone’s reading from a cue card.) It’s so easy to just sit in front of your webcam and make a fast recording. I’ve even created video while driving. (Safely and legally, I swear.) Homegrown is better than nothing.
  • Use YouTube’s Natural SEO Benefits: The overwhelming majority of video viewed on the web these days is still ultimately hosted on YouTube.com. When uploading a video there, you’ll be prompted with a variety of fields, including one specifically for keywords. (Be sure to do your keyword research up front.) Don’t neglect all these other fields – fill them out completely! People don’t necessarily have to find your very own website to discover you. Simply searching YouTube will help them find your video, and this will lead them back to your site, because of course, your URL is clearly present there for them to click on.
  • Don’t Edit: After the first few years dealing with editing video, I’m now really a one-take sort of girl. If I mess up seriously, I’ll re-take it, but I hate chopping in second cameras, voiceovers, etc. What a drag, and a delay to posting. I just shoot and post. I will vaguely outline what I want to say verbally before turning on the camera, but I rarely even write it down anymore. If you know your stuff, it comes easily anyway.
  • Be Funny: This is synonymous with being real, keeping it loose, etc. Boring = viewers who leave. Funny = believability. If you’re not naturally funny, don’t try to fake it, but keep it friendly at least.

Recently, for the first time, I was recognized in a crowd at a business event, because people had seen me on video. They already trusted me and my company, because they had seen me talk about their subject, and they knew my style. I’ve always said, if a fat chick in her late 30′s isn’t credible these days, who is? It’s the one thing I have going for me. (Along with good teeth.) Find out what you’ve got going for you, and use it on video.

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Next-Gen Storyteller: Felicia Day

February 12th, 2010 . by Peggy

If you haven’t heard of @FeliciaDay, you’re missing out on the next Carol Burnett. She’s what I call a next-generation storyteller – and here’s why.

Of course she’s beautiful, hysterically funny, and wickedly clever, but more importantly: she understands what technology will do for her. It’s not what you’ve got, but how you use it.

Day’s Wikipedia entry reads like someone much older than her youthful 30 years. (Like, turned down acceptance to Julliard? Whoa.) A master of a number of art forms, she is an accomplished violinist, opera singer, dancer, screenwriter, actor and scholar. Her real new media fame came in 2007 when she embraced web video for her project “The Guild”, which is a web comedy available for viewing and download on a variety of web video sites, including iTunes.

But, what makes her a “next-gen storyteller”?

Two things: extension and technology. It’s not just that she has a trendy web show based on computer gaming – it’s waaaaay beyond that.

Day makes high quality and often personal connections with her audience, both real and virtual. She regularly mingles with fans at various conferences (such as ComicCon in San Deigo each year) and many live screenings and non-profit events. She understands that the story extends off the screen, however small it may be. Then, she uses all technology mediums available to her to extend this story, including a wide variety of social media outlets, and even a music video (“Do You Wanna Date My Avatar”) in which she sings and dances to a song of her own composition. (To-die-for-funny: $1.99 on iTunes.)

Check out this timeline:
- 2007: releases first season of “The Guild” loosely based on her own experiences as an avid player of online games. The primary outlet is YouTube, and it’s free. Halfway through this year, she grabs a Twitter ID and starts posting.

- 2008: At least partly thanks to exposure from The Guild, Day is cast in a variety of other parts, including the genre-defining “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” (another web comedy).* She even has a guest spot on the TV series House. She also releases Season II of The Guild, and works on another web project with her Guild co-star Sandeep Parikh, Legend of Neil. MSN makes a deal with The Guild to expand releases to XBox Live, MSN video, and Zune, and suddenly, Day is earning money from this venture.

- 2009: The third season of The Guild is released to its’ now rabid fans, and Day herself achieves one of the most coveted social media trophies: the #3 most-followed person on Twitter. (As of now, she’s somewhere around #50.) She also continues to guest star on a variety of mainstream TV shows like Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse.

Just three crappy years, and it appears that she’s so busy doing web video that she no longer has time to pursue work in film, which is much more risky and far less fun.

Day uses all that the web has to offer: iTunes is just the tip of the iceberg, even though for most this would be considered killer bread-and-butter distribution. The deal with MSN is freakin’ brilliant, allowing her to penetrate even deeper into the community that has supported her from the beginning: online gaming. She’s every Gamer’s dream girl.

Like Madeline Kahn and Mae West before her, she plays down her obvious beauty, and writes, directs, acts, and allows her comedic nature to help her story. She is one of those multi-talented women that has been allowed to explore her creativity – and we love her for it. She is still warmly received by her community, and often pokes fun at the roles she’s played, and any possible criticisms of ‘selling out’ (Parikh: “Where’d you get all this money? We make a web series..??!!??”) by making even more content with that community.

I have to admit, my favourite part of this story is the music video. Again, quality rules: the crossover only works because it’s actually a good song. It offers the other cast Members a chance to really strut their stuff along with Day. (Wow – check out Parikh’s backflip, and it turns out Okuda is a fantastic dancer.) Her people love her, and she loves them right back.

Can anyone replicate this recipe? Of course. If you can’t cook, ally yourself with people who can: Felicia allies herself with technology experts (even though, importantly, she has a strong grasp of the technology herself) and with other actors and creatives.

The NG Storyteller never goes it alone, but they boldly blaze the trail for those that support them.

*DHSAB is a creation of the brilliant Joss Whedon, inventor of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (where she has previously guest-starred), Firefly, and a string of other mainstream and web hits.

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7 Essential Viral Video Marketing Tips

February 3rd, 2010 . by Peggy

Don’t spend valuable time creating your viral marketing video until you examine these simple-but-important tips. All of them are FREE, but essential.

If you’ve heard about video marketing, but are unsure how to really hit the streets with it, all that we’re talking about is creating a small video that helps to generate awareness and enthusiasm around your book, ebook, or other product. You can easily create videos yourself, or hire the pros to do it for you. The video is then distributed through social media channels like YouTube (and other video outlets), FaceBook, Twitter, on blogs, etc. The idea is to use the video as an automated sales device, driving buyers back directly to you or your retailers. You can read an earlier article I wrote about this subject by clicking here.

1. Display the URL on every single frame. Any simple video editing software (yes, including Windows Movie Maker) will allow you to do this in one way or another such as a simple band across the bottom of every frame that displays the URL where people can go to purchase the book.

2.Be sure you have a landing page in place before you release the video. It’s no use inviting traffic unless you have a place to drive that traffic. Simply driving traffic to your standard website is not enough – be sure that you create a page or mini-site especially designed to sell your book.

3. Keep it short and sweet. Videos with long, useless intros or dragging scenes that frustrate the viewer are wasted screen time. Chop them out. The entire video should be less than 90 seconds, and 30 seconds is ideal.

4. Include the techy stuff. In the book universe, people need to know stuff like page count, ISBN, distributors, etc. A teeny splash page at the end is enough to convey this clearly. All products have some sort of techy details, like pricing, style and size choices, etc. Be sure to give the basics for interested potential buyers.

5. Take into account multiple audiences. Authors need to direct the video at not just readers, but also booksellers, reviewers, librarians, etc. These may have many of the same needs, but including a few different details to address each of these viewers is important. This can be done carefully without diversifying too much.

6. Use humour. Who wants to watch a boring, dry, video? Unless your video is about the stress of bankruptcy or the death of a loved one, there’s always a way to use a gentle hand with a bit of a smile. Your goal is to keep them watching until the end. (And in the case of death or bankruptcy, the smile comes from the relief you provide.)

7. Don’t neglect the metadata fields. In YouTube (98% of all viral web videos are distributed by YouTube*) there are fields that you can add a description, keywords, and other behind-the-scenes stuff that gets picked up by the search engines. This is what makes the video viral – it gets found when people search. Do your keyword research and get that stuff nailed down before you even start creating the video.

See a future article very soon about keyword research, which should be the first thing you do before you even think about creating your video.

* See this additional article for similar stats and info.

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Blog World Expo Video Wrap-Up

November 3rd, 2009 . by Peggy

Here’s my short video spilling some of the great items I found on the show floor (figuratively, not literally…) at Blog World Expo 2009.

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Should I Auction Off Guy Kawasaki’s Badge?

October 17th, 2009 . by Peggy

During this evening’s closing keynote speech, there was a running gag about Kevin Pollock selling his badge to people in the crowd. I think in the end he got a nickel for it. So, after the session, I went up to Mr. Kawasaki and offered him $1 for his speaker badge, which he turned around and handed to me with his trademark big smile.

Guy was a fantastic host this evening to an incredible panel. He’s a brilliant business strategist and Author. I think this badge is worth a few bucks to contribute to the #beatcancer Twitter campaign that’s been going on this week at Blog World Expo here in Las Vegas.

What do you think? What should I do with it? Comment or tweet me.

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Journalists Vs. Bloggers: The Smackdown

October 16th, 2009 . by Peggy

Here’s a clip I took today during this morning’s keynote at BlogWorld, “The Death and Rebirth of Journalism”, with a panel consisting of (from left to right) Joanna Drake Earl (Current TV COO), Don Lemon (CNN News Host), Jay Rosen (Journalism Prof at NYU and Blogger), and Hugh Hewitt (Radio host and lawyer). The panel was moderated by  Brian Solis (Principal of FutureWorks).

In this video, Don Lemon is describing his feelings about social media vs. big media.

I should note that Mr. Lemon took a few major checks against the boards this morning at this panel discussion, and in my personal opinion, while some of them were rather tough, some of them were deserved. There were some heated moments when I turned my head to see if there were any security guards in the room. Being that I was sitting in the very front row, not 10 feet away from these panelists, I admit at times I felt rather uncomfortable, uncertain how far people might exercise their obviously strong feelings.

The essential points from the Blogger community amount to that they find traditional media to be slow, cumbersome, incomplete, and not without a certain amount of unjustified self-assurance that comes across as arrogance. The traditional media claims not to feel threatened by social media, and furthermore, they want to work with social media to form a more “horizontal” system of news gathering and distribution, rather than a “vertical” one. “Let us in the loop,..” they ask. (This particular comment inflamed the Bloggers in the audience, who felt that they were being asked to do the “dirty work” of data-gathering for journalists, rather than being treated like equals.)

Another heated point related to the issue of fact-checking. While it’s true that the gatekeepers of traditional media make judgements about what to report based on what they feel will be of greater interest to their viewers (read=have greated ad-selling potential), they also perform an essential task when reporting on events: fact-checking.

Lemon openly stated that of course the system could not be perfect, and it was simply not possible to fact-check every single bit of information before it makes the airwaves. Bloggers however, want it understood that while there are some “bad apples” who perpetuate misinformation, perhaps maliciously or more often simply out of ignorance, most bloggers consider themselves ethical enough to want only to report that which can be substantiated and which they know to be true and accurate.

The debate will doubtless rage on for decades more, but this was a very interesting event for me to witness. As I said, heated moments, which made for stimulating and thought-provoking conversation for the rest of the day.

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What I Learned from Chad Vader

October 16th, 2009 . by Peggy

Peggy with Aaron Yonda and Matt SloanHere I am posing in a very fuzzy picture with Aaron Yonda (left) and Matt Sloan, the creators of Chad Vader, the viral YouTube sensation. Sloan and Yonda’s creation is housed through their company and website, BlameSociety.net.

I was eager to hear these two speak for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that I was extremely curious about what sort of brain could imagine a world where Darth Vader’s doppelganger is the night manager at a small grocery store in the middle of suburban America. But more importantly, I wanted to know how they did it – the real nuts and bolts.

The answer is surprisingly simple: they had an idea, found some friends to help them create it, put it up on YouTube, and then did plenty of unsophisticated marketing to get traffic to the video. It has now grown to the point where both of them can make a living at this, and although they are very frank about the fact that they’re not yet millionaires, they are also clearly excited by the attention from the film and television industries. Their next project will be one of many they currently have on the go, all of which will be bigger, but still retain the wacky edginess that is their trademark grass-roots approach loved by millions. (Yes, millions.)

Just like many internet video geeks, I have a bottom drawer full of screenplays, idea files, magazine and newspaper clippings, sketches and outlines. Coming up with the ideas is not hard for most of us, but figuring out a way to make money from the ideas is often difficult, and what Sloan and Yonda clearly demonstrated for me today is that it does not need to be difficult. We only imagine it must be.

Like most internet content, the way to make money by giving stuff away is through affiliate marketing, which is driven by traffic. Most of BlameSociety’s revenue still comes from the ads that overlay their YouTube videos. They increased their traffic by approaching other video creators and offering to partner, trade services, trade traffic, and so on. They identified key players and then wrote them personal emails asking to do things like add trailers for their videos to the backend of the other producer’s videos. They used every trick on YouTube’s cheat sheet. They created parodies of current YouTube “hits”, and then capitalized on sideways traffic. They maxed out all the basic avenues – they didn’t invent crazy systems, use cutting-edge new video distribution services, or even host their videos on any other service except YouTube. They committed to a single path, and worked it baby, worked it.

I reflect that much of what I’ve witnessed on this trip relates to taking a single brilliant idea to the max. What happens when a great idea is really given the full chance it deserves? Is given resources? Is given freedom?

I mean seriously, if someone pitched an idea to you about dressing up as Darth Vader in a rented costume and making videos at night in the local grocery store, would you really be ready to leap at that at first soundbite?

And yet, break it down: it was almost risk-free, in the sense that they made the videos themselves on a shoestring budget. There was no corporate boss or overhead to please, so by doing what they themselves thought was funny, they at least had fun making it. They learned lessons as they went. I see that as a no-possible-loss situation.

P.S. Sloan and Yonda treated us to the world premiere of episode 9 of Season 2 this afternoon. It’s the second-to-last episode planned, and trust me, you’re going to love it!

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