Yes, its a clickbaity title Alright. Time for a bit of a feather ruffling discussion about the concept of Community, and fandom, and all that jazz. About 8 months ago I talked about Word of Mouth (and I still stand by that) and sure as shit it caused a bit of a ruckus, but its time to talk about something else.
The idea of Fandom and Community, and what they are and what they mean to a creator. And why you might notice that after a certain point, creators stop talking about each other unless they are working together on something.
First, to understand this notion we need to talk about Time. Time, for many of us, is a precious commodity, especially in today’s world. More and more we all have less and less time to spend on things we enjoy. Work, commuting, chores, appointments, travel, and everything else eat up what little time we have in a given day. And how we spend the free time we have left is something each of us must manage and curate to be as effective, and enjoyable, as we can.
Lets break down my personal free time, to give you a prime example shall we? I talk about this a fair amount so you might already know, but I am gonna schedule it out, from when I get up, to when I go to bed.
Monday thru Friday:
500am EST – Wake up
630am EST – Leave to take wife to work / Leave for work
800am EST – Get to work
430pm EST – Leave Work
600pm EST – Get Home / Pick up wife and get home
830pm EST – Go to sleep
Saturday and Sunday:
500am EST – Wake up
630am EST – Leave to take wife to work
700am EST – Get home (Saturdays Do Laundry
1000am EST – Setup Livestream / Work on Terminally Nerdy Stuff
330pm EST – Leave to pick Wife up from work
415pm EST – Get home from getting Wife
830pm EST – Go to Sleep
You might notice that during the week I have 1.5 hours in the morning, and 2.5 hours in the evening with which to get “free time stuff” done. I eat, shower, do chores, shop, and everything else in that 4 hour total window, most of it at night to be quite honest. On the weekends, I have 4 hours and 15 minutes at night to do this, and 3 hours in the morning, which again I use to take care of chores, relax, spend time with my wife, and all that.
That is not a lot of time to spend doing things outside of my adult responsibilities, or my Terminally Nerdy stuff is it?
So how I choose to spend that time is SUPER VALUABLE TO ME! I have only the briefest of windows to use to consume content created by others. And so I have become very picky about who I am a fan of, whose content I choose to spend my time with.
This means that if two streamers decide to stream at the same time? I have to make a hard choice on who to watch, for instance.
Now how does this factor into the concept of Fandom and Community Building? Well, this is gonna get a bit cynical, and a bit honest, and might be a hard thing to swallow but again I have to say, for a creative: A Fan is a Resource. Even more, to a creator making a living or trying to make a living doing what they love (Streams, Podcast, Youtube, Writing, ect) a Fan is literally potential Revenue.
Yes, a fan is equal to revenue. Its a hard thing to consider, but its true. A person who spends time watching your streams, watching your youtube, consuming your blog posts (like this one) and further is a potential customer. A Consumer, if you will. By consuming your content, they are supporting you. Either by time giving you views, watch time, follows, and interactions (which factor into those wonderful Algorithms that run everything now) OR by directly providing you financial support by purchasing your merch, supporting you on Patreon or Ko Fi, or subscribing to you on Twitch or giving you Bits.
As time goes on a Fandom / Community can slowly begin to build up around a creator. The bigger they get, the larger their reach, the more potential revenue (both in time / interactions and in money) they gain access to. If a person is reading my blog, then they are not spending that time on someone else. If a person is pledging a dollar to my Patreon, they are not spending that elsewhere.
Everything is a trade off, and as a creator you have to consider this if you want to make a living off of your work. Yes, its a dirty thing and an unpleasant thing to consider this sort of stuff when you think about your fans, but its true.
Now understanding that, you might realize the problem: If you are a Creator, and you Promote someone else who is also a creator, suddenly you have the potential loss of revenue. If your fans (any of them) decide that the new Creator you talked about is more interesting, more engaging, or more worthy (whatever their reason) they might decided to spend their time and money on that other creator. Suddenly, you have lost while the other has gained. Now admittedly this is not a Zero Sum game at all. If you are a Streamer and promote a Podcast, then you might be fine, especially when you and the podcast can take up different brackets of time essentially.
There are other reasons as well of course. Obviously a creator is not going to promote someone they dont like, or dont agree with, a product that doesnt fit or a channel/creator that doesnt mesh ect ect. But a primary reason (and a big one) is this concept.
In fact, this is part of the reason why sponsorships exists. Its a symbiotic relationship at smaller points like where I am where I promote folks (like Tabletop Loot for all your dice needs) and they give me and my fans a reward in exchange. But if you wanted to say have your product featured on Critical Role, you gotta pay them to make that happen. Because if they promote your product / channel / creation and their fans go out and spend money on that? Then thats money that is not going to Critical Role.
And for a lot of creators, they WANT to make a living off their creations. And the business side of things, the marketing side of things (which is what all this applies to) is something they will have to learn and deal with. I know, its unpleasant, but its true.
I have nothing against this by the way. I completely understand the mindset. For many, this is their life, their livelyhood, how they put food on the table and keep the bill collectors at bay. Some of the largest creators out there even have employees! You gotta pay your workers, provide them healthcare and benefits and all that. So it makes sense to worry about that stuff.
So when you wonder why a larger creator is not helping the smaller ones? Why they are only talking about other creators they are working directly with? This is one of the reasons, and possibly one of the largest.
It always comes down to money. Dirty, filthy lucre. Money makes the world go round. And if you want to change this? Go out and find a smaller creator that you like, and offer them a spot on say your end card, or a shoutout on your streams. Point people out to them on your twitter, things like that. If you are a larger creator, lift up the smaller ones if you can. Or don’t! I am not your boss.
Anyway thanks for reading, and hey while your here maybe check out my Ko Fi? I am raising money to help get to Gen Con in 2019.
See what I did there? You spent your time reading this monster of a post and now I am marketing to ya. Hell did ya notice when I did it earlier? Gotta do that hustle! Stay nerdy folks!