This is gonna be a wall of text that I assume many won’t actually read. But I have to get it off my chest.
Earlier today I went on a bit of a twitter tirade you might say. In that thread I pointed out that, frequently, people wonder why the creators they love are not as well known, are not as popular, are not bigger then they are. How could they not be well known? They create amazing quality content all the time and work super hard!
Here is the secret: If no one ever tells others about how great something is, how is anyone going to find out?
Now, admittedly, my own issues with getting noticed are really my own fault. I have trained much of my twitter fanbase to not discuss my work, and I really need to get my head around the idea that its ok to promote myself and let others promote me. Its a long road and that’s my own issue and I am working on correcting it. This post is technically the first part of that. By the way, do me a favor and SHARE THIS TO THE WORLD.
Now in regards to general practice / marketing, here is something you learn early on in any form of Customer Service training. I forget the technical name for it, but it boils down to this: A person who enjoys a product / content / thing, who has a good experience with it, will NEVER TALK ABOUT IT. It was fine, it was what they wanted, they liked it. Hell maybe they LOVED it. But talk about it? No they wont do that. However, if a person has a bad experience, they will tell EVERYONE THEY POSSIBLY CAN.
Think about yourself for a moment. I bet you can pinpoint yourself doing this exact thing. Very rarely do you see people talk about the good experiences, unless they are trying to prove someone wrong. However, you can go just about anywhere and see bad review after negative review after bad experience almost about anything. Think about when you go to amazon. Do you trust a product with only 3 ratings of middling style. Or do you check for a product with massive amounts of ratings and decent scores (4+). Or when you are looking at DMs Guild Products, do you go to the low scored or low reviewed items or do you go for the stuff that people are talking about? And then, when you are done, how often do you leave a good review? How often do you leave a bad one.
You, as a consumer or fan, cannot assume that others will talk about your favorite thing for you. Because, if they enjoyed it, they wont, because its easy to be passive and assume someone will come along behind you and talk about it. Of course, once a thing gets large enough it gains the momentum and you end up with things like Critical Role where you can’t NOT talk about it, and can’t really escape it either. At that point the fan base is so large you will see both good and bad. More bad then good a lot of the time, but you will see both, because the fan base talks to each other, gushing over what they love, and are so large everyone sees it, thus creating is own sort of gravity sucking people in who go “I wonder why they are all excited about this?”
But people who are smaller? Even under say 10k “social media reach” as it were, will not see that. Their fan bases are small, self contained, and none of them go out of their way to let others know about their favorite thing.
This leaves the creator to try to promote themselves, and now we hit the second issue: PEOPLE HATE SELF PROMOTION! Most sites have specific rules for self promotion and those rules are good, no doubt. Promoting yourself blindly is a wrong move in every sense of the word. But even when you find a community or site that allows you to promote your things every so often, its almost always ignored. Again, as people we have been trained, thanks to TV Ads and website ads and such to ignore such blatant self promotion from people, because how can we trust them? In this age of click bait titles and meme nonsense, how can we believe a person who claims THEIR art / blog / youtube / stream is good? We can’t. So we look to the fans, the reviews, to the people talking about it.
And guess what the small timers run into get? Nothing. Because, yet again, no one is talking about them.
This is why you see so many Youtuber’s best for you to “SMASH THAT LIKE BUTTON!” or to Comment. It means a whole lot more then a blind subscribe. This is why podcasters beg you to leave a like on Itunes and a review if you liked it. These are things non fans look for when trying to consume content. Nevermind the built in promotion algorithms that exist.
This whole mess spawned when a large DND Youtuber known as WebDM (like 79k sub s massive) said to me this – “Duuude, we’re lucky to have help (and Travis). But YOU are quality.”
How am I to take this? I mean I know they mean well but… This is a group who makes tons of money on Patreon to fund their show, has thousands of fans, who makes high quality high production value content on youtube every week….tells me I am quality. Yet they have never promoted me. They have never shared things I have done. They follow me on twitter which is nice. Sorry Jim and Pruitt but I gotta call it out cause its really what made this whole mess happen.
And truly this hurt me. It honestly hurt me. It makes me start to think “Are they telling me the truth? If I was so great, if I was quality, wouldn’t they want others to see it?” Granted, that’s the emotional side of my brain. I understand, logically, that the WebDM twitter account is a business account as it were and can’t really promote every Tom Dick and Harry who comes along, but seriously. Having people tell you over and over and over again how great you are, but never seeing them actually tell OTHER PEOPLE how great you are is demoralizing in the extreme. This is why creators burnout. This is part of why creators die out. That Youtuber you loved who quit because they never got to 1000 subs after a year of trying? The one you NEVER told anyone about? You failed them. Just as much as you are sad that they are gone, you too are to blame.
This of course does not apply to those of you who do share what you love with the world. But generally, its just other creators, and generally, only those who are not competing with you. Go really look, one day, at the different groups on twitter and their small level creators. Very rarely will bloggers share each others work on their accounts. Very rarely will Youtubers talk about each others vids and share em. Why would they? They need to keep their fans with them because each fan is precious. A resource.
Yes its messed up for me to call fans a resource, but to be honest, in a sense, they are. Fans are what keep creators going. Fans CONSUME your content. Why do I write, if no one reads it? Why should I make a 30 minute Youtube review that takes me 8 hours to put together if no one watches it? Where is my motivation? To just create? To shout into the soundless empty void and hope things catch on? This again is why people eventually stop.
And again I want to stress this is NOT about just me. This effects EVERY SINGLE CREATOR OUT THERE! And its not just about numbers. If someone takes the time to share something of mine, to talk about what they learned or how it helped them or how they felt, thats a huge deal to me. I dont CARE if nothing comes of it. The fact that I made someone care enough to want to share it is enough for me. Theoretically, yes, if enough people did that then I would grow, larger and larger, until I could self sustain this.
But every time someone tells me how awesome I am? How helpful I am? How much they love the work I do? but never actually shares anything I do? It hurts me inside. It makes me question my worth. And after talking to other creative types I know I am not alone in this.
If you want a creator to succeed. If you WANT that Streamer, that Youtuber, that Podcast to grow and sustain itself and keep producing content, then you need to get the word out. You need to tell people who you think would like it about it. Leave comments, leave reviews (positive or negative, seriously, we true creatives like both), share our content on your own, dont just retweet but actually create posts on Reddit, on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, talking about the things we have created. Share your favorite artists commission requests, your favorite podcast episodes.
We can only grow WITH YOUR HELP. We need Word of Mouth to get to the point where we can self sustain like the big guys (such as Crit Role or Matt Colville).
Its either that, make friends with a powerful “influencer”, or die out. And I personally keep fighting off the urge to just close up shop and give up after a year+ of doing this, just fyi.
Here is an example of how word of mouth helps. The first and only massive burst of growth I had back when I was starting out was when I made a video criticizing Critical Role / Actual Play stuff, and Matt Mercer himself retweeted it. It took a moderately famous person to get me even a small burst of growth, thanks to how twitter functions. If more creative types had this sort of luck maybe they would get growth too. But most of us don’t and honestly its never ever been replicated for me. Not a single time.
For most of us all we have is you guys, our fans. Help us please. Tell the world why you like us. Share what brought you to us to the world. Its the only way to keep us going.
Thanks for reading, and Stay Nerdy guys.
Additionally: I wrote a Follow Up post addressing some things which you can find RIGHT HERE