As most of you know, I run a workshop through the agency that reps me that is usually pointed at up-and-coming, younger filmmakers (usually in their 20’s). But this last one was different. This one was for filmmakers and creators that had been in the business for a while. It was for people who already have careers but were looking for more control and predictably in both the kind of work they create as well as the money end of their careers. What we came away with was truly surprising. The following lays out those findings: Where they are now, where they want to go and finally the roadmap for them to reinvent how they make money and create their own, original content.
There’s a reason you don’t see 62-year-old digital directors. They’ve either gone on to own successful projects and have built content businesses that generate enough wealth for them to live comfortably… or they washed out long ago and are now selling laminate flooring in Etobicoke, Ontario because they realized the older they got, the less chance they had of “making it” in the digital space.
The reason goes something like this. You’ve been in the film/content business for 7, 10 even 12 years. You’ve paid a lot of dues. You’ve made some money and maybe even earned a bit of respect in your corner of this big industry. But you haven’t achieved what you thought you would have by now. You look back at when you started, and you say, “Is this it”? “I would have thought I’d have made something significant by now. Something tons of people would have seen”. Yet, you look at your filmmaking career and you realize you are making things that don’t inspire you and making them for other people besides yourself. You tolerated it for a time, “it’s not so bad”. But then you realize you make the things you make simply to pay the bills. Maybe it’s so you can continue to pay down that college loan that you can’t believe you’re still paying, or to pay down that credit card you max’d out when you “self-funded” that spec piece you were sure was going to bust down the door. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. So, you made another something that you brought to life, that you dug out of the dirt. Again, It opened to little recognition. It was amazing, but still, no one saw it. Then you got a job at that cool agency or production company that makes that one thing people have been talking about and maybe this meant you had arrived. But now it’s years later and you realize either you’re not making anything you own or care about or the amount of inter-office politics you need to wade through just to get something done feels like pushing water up hill. It wasn’t supposed to be like this.
When you started, the dream was to create the work you felt something for, or at the very least got paid what you were worth when you took a job. The dream was to surround yourself with people who were passionate and had your back. It was to work in an environment that was focused and held an atmosphere of inspiration, passion and accomplishment. You saw your projects having the resources and time to develop into things that could become truly special. So, what happened? Why isn’t it like this? Yes, you make some money, but that stopped being enough for you awhile back. Now you want to make work that people know you for. So how? What’s the solution to finally get where you want to go?
So, what’s the solution, the bridge for getting you from the quagmire of selling your time for money to the significantly more profitable business of selling your ideas for money.
You can probably guess where I’m going to go with this if you’ve read any of my posts. The best way to build profit is simple. Yup! BUILD YOUR OWN AUDIENCE. Why? Because audience builds market leverage and few studios are buying content without one. The below infographic is a roadmap on how to redirect your career to gain predictability in the work you take on and control of how much money you make… and it all starts with audience building.
Build your content business around your expertise. Being an expert identifies your niche. A niche allows the industry and audience to have context about how to buy you and your work
Validate your audience by identifying where people already interested in you niche hang out online.
Create micro-content: digestible pieces of content that talk about the broader themes of your over-all work, not just a single project that you might be working on at the time.
BE everywhere: post across all social media platforms where your validated audience is already engaged in conversations around your niche.
Rule of thumb: Engage, listen, adjust to what you are hearing, respond. Audiences consistently tell you what they want, either directly or indirectly.
Once audiences begin to grow around to your engagements/micro-content. Then and only then build your series or film.
Once you’re audience begins to grow, use results as social proof and market leverage with distributors and buyers. Audience traction is what they respond to over simply a great concept.
The below infographic is a quick-glance roadmap on how to redirect your career around selling your ideas for money, rather than your time.… and it all starts with audience building. (***Expand graphic to see in it’s entirety and download)