What Kind of Content Can You Create?
Hugh’s cartoons are a great example of using free samples to build demand for paid products. Another classic example was the Grateful Dead, who actively encouraged fans to bootleg their concerts, spreading the word and building their tribe of Deadheads, to the point where they were able to sell out shows wherever they went.
Remember the free nibbles at your local deli or farmers market — the stallholders aren’t giving away samples out of the goodness of their heart, they are convinced that once you try their wonderful offerings, many of you will find them so irresistible you’ll want to buy more.
Many artists and musicians are following a similar path to Hugh and the Grateful Dead, by offering free downloads of music, video or images, which act as ‘trailers’ for their live events, original artworks or other premium products.
As Andrew Dubber advises musicians on his New Music Strategies blog: people have to hear your music before they can like it, and they have to like it before they will buy it.
Human beings have a huge thirst for learning — if you can satisfy this by teaching something interesting and/or useful, you will be well on your way to a popular site.
Brian Clark uses this strategy very successfully — for the past 3.5 years he has built a large audience by teaching online sales principles at his website Copyblogger. All the content on Copyblogger is free — but this site has given him an excellent platform to launch paid training programmes such as Teaching Sells and Partnering Profits, and the Thesis blog design theme. See his article Educate to Dominate Your Competition.
A behind-the-scenes look at how you create your work. Particularly effective if you practice a highly-skilled craft producing high-priced products — once people see the skill, labour and high-quality materials that go into your work, they understand the value you are delivering and are happy to pay the price.
Savile Row tailor Thomas Mahon reveals the mysteries of his trade on his blog English Cut. As a result of the blog, he has a long waiting list for people wanting to pay thousands of pounds a time for his bespoke suits.
First-time film-makers Susan Buice and Arin Crumley made a video podcast about the making of their feature film Four-Eyed Monsters, which helped to build an audience for the film, ultimately landing them cinema distribution and a DVD deal. For more details, see my article Creative Rock Stars Attract Fans.
What kind of content will you create?
Things you say to customers
What Media Work Best for You?
If you like writing, then publishing well-written articles and blog posts is an excellent way to attract search traffic and links, and establish yourself as an authority. Copyblogger is essential reading for how to do this effectively. If you read nothing else on the subject, read the series on How to Write Magnetic Headlines – some of these formulas might look a little cliched, but trust me, they work!
Photos and other images
If you’re creating beautiful visual images, use your website to show them off. Don’t worry too much about ‘giving them away’ – if you use low resolution images, then people will have to come to you if they want high-quality printed images or the original artwork. Consider using a Creative Commons licence (see below) to encourage people to republish your work and help do your marketing for you.
If you’re a musician, making audio downloads of your music available online should be a no-brainer. As with the images, if you use MP3 files then people will still have an incentive to buy high-quality CDs or come to see you play live.
Even if you’re not a musician, it’s worth considering publishing podcasts. You may be a more engaging talker than a writer – if that’s the case, experiment with spoken word audio podcasts as a way of getting your message across.
Video is becoming increasingly important online, and people such as Gary Vaynerchuk and Ze Frank have built a huge reputation via short videos posted on their blogs. So if you have a lively engaging personality and love speaking to an audience you should definitely consider using video.
But you don’t have to be an all-singing all-dancing extrovert to create engaging videos. A short ‘video tour’ of your artist’s studio could be a great way to introduce people to your world, and demonstrate the craft and skill that goes into your work. Short educational videos are also highly popular online, and don’t necessarily require you to be a celebrity TV-host type of character – if you’re showing something interesting, relevant and useful to your audience, people won’t necessarily expect flawless presentation.
What You Need to Know Before You Start a Video Blog
What media work best for you?