Chapter 64 – Promotion Revisited
by Leesa Dean
Last week, there was an article in The Wrap that said more Game of Thrones fans watch fan-generated videos on YouTube than official GoT content. In fact, less than 11% of GoT videos viewed are from the show’s official channel. And the thing I thought was: Instant free promo! Wow. If you’re lucky enough to have that happen.
One of the hardest parts of releasing a web series is promoting it. When I first launched, I stupidly and literally thought, ok, I’ll release this video, go to sleep and wake up in the morning to millions of views and internet fame.
If you’re releasing an indie web series, it takes an enormous amount of work to promote it, mainly cause it takes a really long time to build up a name/brand. It’s not the same as the vlogging and viral video world. Most web series don’t go viral. And most indie web series creators don’t have the budget to hire pro publicists.
As far as I’m concerned, unless you have a huge budget, are a celeb or have a hugely lucrative deal at an MCN, there’s a fairly proven path to indie promotion.
First, you definitely have to build a fan base, typically on social media (twitter, Instagram and Facebook are still the biggest go to places) and, hopefully, they’ll follow. This should be done before you launch (something I didn’t do). And it doesn’t mean begging people to watch. Or constantly telling people your show is coming. It means genuinely interacting with people. Building relationships. Opening up a little personally. Letting people know you’re a real person. It doesn’t happen overnight.
And the second thing is: Once you launch, constantly constantly constantly generate content. Be prepared to have ancillary content, whether it’s blog posts, pix, filler movs, anything, that you can release along side your show. If people like what you’re doing, it’s a way of keeping them interesting. The internet is vast vast place. If you don’t keep releasing content, believe me, your fans will forget about you in a heartbeat.
I’m a religious reader of Awesomely Luvvie’s blog. She’s a funny blogger and one of the hardest working people in this arena I’ve seen. She’s been at it for 11 years. She may not have a web series, but the way she’s built up her brand is incredibly instructive. She’s at it all the time. Even when she’s on vacation. Posting approximately two posts a day, every day and interacting constantly with people on Facebook and twitter. Recently she wrote that her secret was consistency. She said she didn’t even have to be good (she is). But by sticking with it and religiously putting up new stuff, she’s been able to build.
Look at Pewdiepie. He’s a YouYube vlogger and Forbes just wrote that he’s generating $4Million a year. He started five years ago and every week, through his videos (which comment on games) he’s managed to become one of the biggest superstars there is. He has 27 million subscribers. Is it likely that an indie web series creator will generate $4 million in income? Uh, only if they’re married to billionaire.
Doing web series, and particularly indie web series, is really different from vlogging and blogging. It’s way harder. Narrative is involved. It’s nearly impossible to release new webisodes every week (it’s cost prohibitive–you’d need a full crew of writers, actors, animators, pick your poison to work round the clock). But I think the lessons learned from observing Luvvie and Pewdiepie’s success are valuable. And necessary.