Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Fans, Friends & Followers. Building an audience and a creative career in the Digital Age by Scott Kirsner

Scott Kirsner's new book: Fans, Friends & Followers. Building an audience and a creative career in the Digital Age

Scott Kirsner's new book is out, Fans, Friends & Followers. Building an audience and a creative career in the Digital Age.

Scott writes about his book on his blog:
It deals with one of the central challenges that creative folks face in these digital times: how do you cultivate an audience and a business model that will support your work? I interviewed several dozen filmmakers, musicians, visual artists, writers, and comedians who've been pioneers in this area, including documentary filmmakers Robert Greenwald and Sandi DuBowski, the animators behind "Red vs. Blue" and "Homestar Runner," comedian Eugene Mirman, and singer-songwriters Jonathan Coulton and Jill Sobule. The book collects some of their most successful strategies for building a fan base and a creative career online.
He interviewed me for the book and is allowing me to publish my chapter here.

Steve Garfield

Steve Garfield helped meld the mediums of blogging and cinema verité video reportage, which yielded vlogging. He has been a correspondent and contributor to the satirical news series “Rocket-boom,” political analysis site techPresident, and TheUptake, a site for citizen journalism. He created “Vlog Soup,” a show that surveys the best of videoblogs, and teaches a course called “New Media Tools for Journalism” at Boston University. Garfield is often sought out by tech companies to test new cameras, phones, and Web services, and he earns a living as a consultant helping clients understand the world of Internet video.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

I gravitate towards doing things that are fun.

On January 1st, 2004, I integrated video into my blog for the first time. I did it as a New Year’s resolution.

The power of the link.
All of the early vloggers [video bloggers] linked to one another, and helped each other build an audience. The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and Time magazine would cover vlogging, but they didn’t include links. It did nothing for my site’s traffic.

There was a videoblogging group on Yahoo, and as people wanted to learn how to do it, they joined. We all discussed how to do things, and watched each others’ videos. In 2004, the group was maybe 40 or 50 people. In 2005, I helped organize the first Vloggercon, in New York City. It was an “unconference” that brought together a lot of the people who’d gotten into videoblogging to share advice and talk about tools.

Free advice.
The way I meet people and get most of my jobs is offering to help people. That’s my method of operation. When “Rocketboom” [a satirical video series] first came out, I critiqued their first video, minute by minute. Amanda [Congdon, the host,] threw some papers, and it was funny. I said, “Do more of that.” We started e-mailing, and then we met. I became one of their first correspondents. At the opening of my reports, I’d always say, “Hi, I’m Steve Garfield from SteveGarfield.com.” And Amanda would mimic that. It really worked for me.

Now, the thing I’m doing is live video broadcasts, from this Nokia N82 phone directly to the Internet. [The company sent Garfield the phone for free as part of its “blogger relations” program.] Right now, I use a service called Qik for sending video from the phone to the Web. My Twitter followers get a message whenever I’m broadcasting live, and people can text me on the phone and do things like ask me to ask a particular question of someone that I’m with.

How do I make a living?
I go around the country and speak, and I produce video for clients. I get paid to create online video for companies like a food site called SpicesofLife.com sponsored by Legal Sea Foods, a non-profit called Third Sector New England, and Boston City Councillor John Tobin. He was the first elected official in the US to vlog, and he has me on retainer. I often get paid to speak, and to teach. “Rocketboom” pays a little stipend.

When Akimbo [one of the first Internet-connected set-top boxes] came out, they contacted me, and wanted me to be on there. They sent me an Akimbo box. With Seesmic [a video messaging service], I met [founder] Loic [Le Meur] at a conference, and I became an investor in the company. I met the guys from [video distribution site] Blip.tv at VloggerCue, on a rooftop in New York, and then they highlighted my vlog on their site.

I e-mail everybody back. I respond to everything. Think about regular TV shows. In that world, you’d never expect to get any sort of response.

The lure of the new.
I Twitter three or four times a day. On my “About Me” page, it says, “Follow me on Twitter.” I think people follow me because I sometimes go to interesting places, talk to cool people, link to lots of sites and videos.

I’m always attracted to what’s new. I like to jump on it, test it out, and then share what I find.
You can get the book on his website.

Thanks Scott.

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