My good friend, M. Howalt, recently wrote on what she thinks people can do to help independent content creators get the word out on their works.
Recently, I got into a conversation, asking me how sharing content works on social media helps content creators. Creators of art like writing, comics, and drawings. Especially since there is no direct financial benefit. Let’s see if I can help shed some light on the situation in simple terms.
Firstly, let’s talk about how the concept of digital ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’ work. It’s a form of rating system that gives a certain level of quality to the content involved. Perhaps, for example, if someone saw a post with 100 likes, as compared to one with 10, people would naturally assume the 100 likes means better quality of media.
Secondly, on sharing content. There’s this misconception going about that if a piece of content is good, it will naturally gather viewers. That’s true for simple entertainment pieces that does not require commitment. Things like memes, jokes, and, of course, BuzzFeed, are easy things to share and forget about.
However, for contents such as YouTube channels as a whole, or serial novels and comics, a share can be hard to get. Not everyone is willing to share every single video or post about these contents week in and week out.
Chapter 29 of The Number 139 was shared just once on my Facebook. That one share helped me reached nearly 10x more audience member than I otherwise would have on my own. For constant content creators like myself, a single, continuous avenue of sharing is powerful marketing. Every surge in shares garners hundreds of views.
The thing is though, despite having hundreds of viewers on any particular shares, we are really only expecting 2% of them to click on and read. From those that click on, I can only count on at most 10% to stay.
My recent blog post on Adam Lambert was retweeted 33 times and the tweet itself was viewed over 16,000 times. So, from the tweet to the blog post, I’ve garnered about 400 views, and I’ve gained a boost of about 40 views on the average week. Of course, that number is expected to go up and down, but that’s what I’m expecting to hold.
The same thing happened when Zen Pencils was kind enough to have me as their author of the month back in June. I’ve retained about 200 of the 2000 view boost I’ve gained that time.
So, let’s do the quick math. 10% of 2% of share viewers will go on to push into recurring readers. Simply put, for every 5 shares that reach a total of 100 people each, we can expect at least 1 person to stay on. And that number is exponential. The more shares and likes a given post is given, the more credible the content, and the more views we’ll get.
You might be thinking, “Views are all well and good, but how do you make money? How does sharing help my favourite content creators (hint*hint*) make a living?”
Well, I’m getting to that. So here comes the money.
Out of every 100 permanent readers I have, I expect 1 to become someone to contribute to me financially on a recurring scale. For privacy, I can’t tell you my exact numbers, but needless to say, it’s not very high.
Right now, most of my income comes from freelance work, and what small portion from writing comes from short stories I’ve submitted for publication. I’d say the amount of money I make a month from independent writing is just shy of 5% of my total income.
But of course, it’s not all doom and gloom. Because, as I’ve said, these numbers are exponential. The more likes and the more shares there are, the better the content is immediately perceived. And as these numbers grow, so does my professional credibility.
My writing will have more impact on submission, making them easier to be published. I get more commission works. My books gain boosts in sales. If my blog gets more views, I can apply for advertising.
And of course, there’s the very rare but extremely helpful premise of monthly, recurring support from my beloved readers. I’m talking of course, about Patreon.
The finance comes from the long haul. A constant effort to push out new media for viewers and readers. It comes from retaining fan-base. It comes from large numbers. While the numbers for contents differ from medium to medium, the premise is the same. The more viewers we have, the more we get paid. And the more we get paid, the more content we can create for your enjoyment.
We sometimes forget that content creation can be a job. It may not be a full-time job, but it is still a job for people serious of bringing about recurring content. And like all marketable content, we need to do marketing. And the one thing that never changes about marketing is that grassroot marketing is still cost efficient and effective.
Friends and families are the first line to spreading the word. At the end of the day though, the retention of customers (in this case, viewers), depends on the quality of the content. But we must never forget that the quality of the content can also depend on the number of viewers.