Patreon is an excellent service that lets creators earn from their work, and—with any luck—I hope to one day be earning a living from it, alongside other income streams (because having only one is never a good plan).
Still, while Patreon is indeed excellent… boy oh boy is it also hard to figure out good marketing strategies. I’ve been there a while and, admittedly, I’ve not done a brilliant job so far. I hate marketing. Hell, I think most creatives hate it, it’s a hard thing to figure out and it takes time from doing what we actually love; creating.
There’s a reason the likes of Hollywood spend millions of dollars on marketing, because they know it’s key to getting butts in seats at the cinemas. But small-time creators like me don’t have the luxury of massive budgets for marketing our works.
But market we must, if we want to get anyone to read our books, listen to our music, or play our games, so that’s why I’m writing this brief post. To talk a bit about this most vexatious of topics, to try and give you some idea of the horrors creatives go through attempting to figure this stuff out.
First, there’s the sheer time investment. If you think creatives spend most of their time creating, think again. Most of it is spent on Twitter or other social media, attempting to develop interest in our works, crafting relationships with people who might become super fans and help spread the word, or otherwise engaging in ways hopefully designed to get people interested in us, and from there to be interested in our works.
Then there’s paid marketing, a strategy that doesn’t actually work all that well. The reason for the aforementioned Hollywood budgets is because they saturate the market with their adverts in every way they possibly can. This ensures the word gets out. But for an individual like me? I’ll never have enough money to use tactics like that, and paying someone for exposure is basically like pissing into a waterfall.
Take a look at book publishers and marketers on Twitter. Notice how it’s effectively nothing but a constant stream of books for sale promoted blog posts? Now think about your own timeline. Do you even pay the remotest amount of attention to these kinds of tweets? No, you skim over them and get to the stuff you’re actually interested in.
And that is why paying for marketing isn’t actually a viable strategy for most creators. People ignore it, they tune out marketing tweets as white noise to be scrolled past without notice.
So if I can’t pay to advertise my work because paying doesn’t actually yield especially positive results, what can I do? Well, for starters, regular blog content shared on Twitter and other social sites. Catchy headlines designed to hook people who are looking for that type of content can bring in new readers, who’ll then potentially be hooked into reading your creative works as a result.
And as mentioned above, simply spending time engaging with people seems to work well for a lot of creatives. If they see you’re a nice person and you say fun or silly or interesting things, they’re more likely to be converted to readers (viewers, players, whatever you’re creating).
Getting yourself featured on someone else’s blog is a good way to gain exposure, but requires a level of success up front to be considered. Sure, some small bloggers might feature you when you’re just starting out, but you can probably already see where the problem lies there: small bloggers. They have the same issues you do.
Still, if you can get featured like that, it’s a degree of reach you didn’t have before, so don’t dismiss it as not worth the time. As a certain supermarket chain likes to say, every little helps.
And finally, at least for this post, there are the mythical Super Fans I briefly mentioned above. Actually they’re not mythical at all, but they are rare. These are your core fans, the people who love everything you create and will share it far and wide. If you find one, treasure them, for they will do a lot of the heavy lifting for you.
Currently, I have no super fans. Hell, I barely have any fans. As I said at the start, I suck at marketing. I produce consistently excellent quality work and take huge pride in my skill as a writer… but at the end of the day, that matters very little if no one is reading my work.
It’s clear that I need to figure this out if I ever want to be successful. But right now? I’m still pretty clueless on how best to proceed, because nothing I’ve so far tried has worked. So maybe, next time you read some author’s work or watch some small Youtuber’s video or play an indie dev’s game, spare a thought for the horrific crap they go through trying to get you to merely pay attention to them.
Then maybe get on Twitter and send them a thank-you for creating something you enjoyed. Seriously, just a brief ‘I liked this’ goes a long way towards keeping us creatives motivated to keep creating, even if we’re not making a fortune for doing so.
Incidentally, if you’re interested in yuri/lesbian fiction with a fun tone and cute characters, you could always check out my works 😉