When we consider the arts in comparison to the world of business, there's an automatic, often unintentionally assumed disparity. This stems from a lifetime of hearing things like "he's more business-minded," or "she's a creative type," which tends to cause a rift of assumed mutual exclusivity. Sure, there's a "show business," but often the numbers aspect of a production is handled by people with a completely different skill array than those on set. Without realizing it, we create a divide, assuming that the artistic aren't always so good at business, and those who run business don't always "get" the more aesthetic sides of their industry.
While perhaps there is some credence to this argument, the rise of new media and digital content consumption has shown us that these separate identities have a lot they can learn from one another. In the era of cyber delivery, the artist becomes their own studio and production company. They must be savvy to the ways of the market and their audience to continue creating. Thus, the artist becomes the entrepreneur. Adversely, today's entrepreneurs could take cues from these individuals and become creators, blurring the lines of the market and improving visibility of brand and product.
YouTube and Vine's top creative talents, individuals whose successes have driven their brand to be consumed by millions (and in some cases, billions) of viewers, often are asked in interviews to share insight into why they feel their digital reach has been prosperous. These are creative types who, without the aid of a production team, developed their own strategy that led to success. The following is a list from creators themselves, culled from a variety of interviews and transcripts, of the five most oft-cited ways one can increase their visibility and audience in the digital space. It is advice that applies to the creative, but most definitely is also a lesson in entrepreneurial savvy for a new medium of audience consumption.
1. Set a schedule. Without a doubt, the single most unanimous bit of advice creators gave when asked what makes a channel/online brand successful is "setting a schedule." The internet landscape is one of instant gratification and a constant appetite for more. Sporadic uploads or interactions may engage some members of your audience, but if your users know that you upload new content every Tuesday and Thursday, they will be more like to devote their time to continue coming back . It also means that they can point to those times and let other people who may be new to your product know when to expect the latest. The more content you have, the more regularly you can update, but have a baseline for when your minimum amount should and will be posted. This, above all, develops a following, because it's routine.
2. Know your brand. More than any other medium, internet users are extremely savvy to the content they consume. If you condition your audience to expect something specific, you cannot suddenly introduce something from left field. Digital audiences like the comfort of the content to which they choose to subscribe. By merely plopping something contrary into the mix, the audience may read it as a disingenuous move and rebel. Internet audiences don't mind if you're trying to sell them something, in fact, they expect it as part of the landscape. But, they also expect you to do it with grace and an understanding that they came to you for a reason, not vice versa.
3. Community. More than TV, more than movies, the digital audience is the one that talks back. When you release content to the internet, you can hear almost immediate results in the dialogue that follows. This can absolutely be utilized to a brand's advantage. There are no focus groups, there's no test screening, there's a direct line to the people who are going to be consuming your product. Talk to them. More importantly? Listen.
4. Take risks. Although the notion of taking risks seems to be in direct odds to staying within the comfort of one's brand, the ideas aren't exactly as disparate as one would think. Once you fully understand what your audience expects from your content and are comfortable with their expectations, you are now afforded the opportunity to push boundaries. The audience will welcome this, because you're trying something new, but also aware of what brought them there in the first place. It allows you to grow together as creator and consumer, rather than just forcing something on them from out of nowhere. To that end, what you're creating is ultimately limitless, as you have now gained the support of those who trust what you do.
5. Have fun. It may seem like a no brainer, but this is one the most important factors in any aspect of content/product delivery. If you're out there connecting with your consumer base, but don't enjoy the experience or treat it solely as work, that's going to kill your product. As noted, the digital audience is savvy and they don't like having their time wasted, so if you're acting like yours is, don't expect them to stick around. Love what you do, because if you don't, you can't expect anyone else to do the same. Enjoy your work, and you're likely to get repeat business.