I quit blogging cold turkey ages ago. I'm only writing this post because I've had so many people ask me about this subject and it deserves an in-depth response. From what I understand blogging is great for SEO (Search Engine Optimization, which ranks your website higher on Google searches) and I'm sure it has a million other benefits . . .
If you want to spend your days writing blog posts. If you'd rather spend your time animating, drawing, and working on your pitch for your animated series, skip blogging all together and spend your time jamming in the studio instead. :)
Podcasting is also incredibly time-consuming to record and edit unless you are using a service which lets you stream live and instantly upload the episode to the web. I will highly recommend podcasting if you are using it as a chance to interview artists you admire.
It's a great way to forge one-on-one relationships with other professionals in your field, learn from them, and give them a chance to promote their work (even if you only get a few listeners or views). Podcasting by itself, however, is not the best way to build a following because once again you are competing with an endless ocean of digital content online.
So what would I recommend? What have I done to spark massive growth in my following this year?
Learn everything you can about email marketing and apply it.
I've been able to build an email newsletter with a modest readership in about four months. Way more people than I could ever get to follow me on social media in a two year period. -_- Thankfully I have a friend who's a digital marketing expert who put me onto this, and I would not be recommending it unless I had seen tangible results for myself.
So while my audience isn't big, it's growing at about an average rate of 100 new newsletter subscribers/month, and this number is increasing all the time. Not bad considering I started from scratch as a no-name freelance animator. This. Works. Trust me.
1. Create an email newsletter & set up an autoresponder
An email newsletter delivered via an autoresponder (a service which automatically sends emails written by you to the people on your list) is the fastest and easiest way to build and maintain a following. I use Mailchimp for this but there are plenty of other services to choose from.
Social media platforms come and go, but experts say people will be using email well into the future and it's the most direct way of interacting with your audience (and a lot less work than blogging, podcasting, and maintaining multiple social media accounts).
You can automatically send emails to people who sign up for your list to keep them updated on your projects and inform them of important upcoming events.
2. Identify your target audience
Figure out who would benefit most from the art and content you are creating. For instance:
- If you're making animated shorts, a large bulk of the people who will enjoy watching your films will likely be other people in the animation community, so you'll want your email list to be comprised of those types of people.
- If you're making experimental animation, people who are into modern art and avant-garde films will likely be the sort of people you'll want to go after.
- If you're making a feature film, you could target not just animators but also people in the indie film community. I got a lot of support from the indie filmmaking scene in Pittsburgh when I was animating my feature Grey Island.
3. Create an irresistible "opt-in offer"
The idea is to give people something valuable (for free) in exchange for them joining your email newsletter so they know you aren't going to waste their time.
The opt-in offer just has to be something positive and helpful for other people that they HAVE to have! You could offer people the chance to watch one of your short films for free, a free tutorial, free Photoshop brushes, you name it.