A quick post to get this down while it's still buzzing in my brain... I've been called a savvy storyteller and marketer. I'm neither the best storyteller or marketer out there, but I know I've done some spiffy things with words and community. I take credit when I think I deserve it (which is less often than you might think), and funnel credit to those who deserve it (namely you, and others like you, who've championed my work).
I don't have an English or Creative Writing degree, or a marketing degree. Hell, I'm degree-less all around; I dropped out of college because I was hungry to get on with my life. I make due with what I have, take lots of notes on what others are doing, and do my best to deliver new and genuine experiences.
I believe that you if have a good product, you are ethically bound to evangelize it.
So what's the secret sauce in marketing that product online? It's not the predictable Social Media buzzmemes you hear these days: "conversation," "community," "influence," "thought leadership," etc. It's something that's far primal than that -- something that creates conversations, communities and what-not long after the fact.
I call it spontaneous human promotion.
When you've got a day job, bills to pay and mouths to feed, you're probably not a full-time player in the online space. How can you be? You gotta eat, right? You must be very talented and blessed indeed to make a living wage from your online creative endeavors.
(And if you are one of those people, take a moment right now to thank the stars above for your livelihood. Never take for granted the honor and influence you've earned.)
For the rest of us, it's a passion project. And passion is the word to remember, friends. Passion makes us do unconventional, inspired things. We get untamed when we're passionate. Being untamed is what spontaneous human promotion is all about.
When you've got nothing to lose, you have everything to gain. When you don't have the cash to blitz radio, TV and big blogs with advertising, you get creative with your resources. When you're jonesing to make your voice heard, you look for new places to shout -- and you use a different kind of megaphone to cut through the noise.
Desperation fuels innovation, fearlessness breeds chutzpah. The words "the worst they can say is no" becomes a mantra. You look at your surroundings, take the best of what works, and quest for an even better, and more resonant, way to present your work.
Spontaneous human promotion means you embrace the creative, wily side of yourself -- the side that's either too ignorant of the way things are done, or is informed about the status quo and doesn't give a damn and wants to do something different anyway. It means your best friend is your intuition: you think not in terms of ROI, but in the delightfully adolescent world-view of "wouldn't it be cool if...?" and "holy shit, I can't sleep until I make X happen...".
You do the math, real quick-like, and if the idea won't let you go emotionally -- and it feels authentic, grass-roots True -- you run with it. You have to. It's like a copper wire in your veins, buzzing with electricity. Screw ROI, screw metrics, screw SEO, screw the zillionth droning "10 Great Ways To Drive Traffic To Your Blog" advice post, screw common sense. You're on the fucking Internet, man. Ideas are cheap, execution is cheaper, the rules aren't written. You're boss, boss. Write the rulebook yourself.
I've tried a dozen-dozen marketing ideas for my online fiction. I've promoted my work -- and the works of others -- in so many ways, I've lost track. Nearly all of them were successes: they fired up my awesome audience, they got people talking, they snagged some blog/mainstream media coverage, they helped spread the word about what I do.
I credit the successes, as always, to my peeps. You, and folks like you.
But none of those promotions (the first, and still most significant, is releasing my fiction in podcast form) would have ever happened if I hadn't had a flash of something -- I won't even call it inspiration, because the ideas are never that well-formed in my noggin' when they blitz me -- and said, "wouldn't it be cool if...". It's that spontaneity, that willingness to embrace the fearless side of yourself, the side that's got nothing to lose and that's sooo fucking hungry to win, that makes you willing to play, to do the math real quick-like, and see if it's worth pursuing.
Spontaneous human promotion hails from the heart (not the brain), focuses on authentic, resonant experiences ... and shares your story with others.
If your idea has enough heart, and is truly resonant, and effectively shares your story, then those "others" will share it with their others. And so on.
Spontaneous human promotion demands you to embrace your bliss, and share it with the world. Can you do that?
Sure you can.
Don't be predictable. Don't be a copycat. Keenly observe what's happening in the space in which you're aiming to play (be it blogging, podcasting, music, filmmaking, publishing ... whatever) and noodle on what resonates. Make that your foundation, not your road map.
Innovate from there. Be as wily and genuine as you can. Be spontaneous.