Over the course of the last three years (almost), I’ve enjoyed the exercise of publishing daily.
I took a bit of a break between May and August 2022, but aside from that, I have been writing and posting fresh, daily content since July 2020.
I’ve learned a great deal in that time, such as the fact that:
- Publishing daily will land you some opportunities. But as with anything else, there are no guarantees.
- Once it becomes a habit, it’s much easier to maintain.
- It’s a great way to write a book.
- Documenting life events makes it easy for you to go into your archives and find those times you burned out, created a new homepage layout, went on a getaway with friends, and much more. Any time you need to recall specific events, dates, and times, you can refer to your archives.
I have not lost interest in publishing daily. But I’ve recognized the importance of producing and publishing strategic content, more than ever. And I admit it is much harder to be strategic about content creation when you’re under the gun to produce daily, even though you squeeze out the occasional search-optimized post.
Ranking in search only becomes harder by the day, though, and while the impact of A.I.-generated content remains to be seen, it does make mediocre writers redundant, and soon, it may make most podcasters redundant as well.
I am busier than ever as a writer, and that’s the opposite of what I thought would happen with the emergence of tools like ChatGPT, but I’m mindful that there are no guarantees that demand will continue to maintain or increase.
To be more strategic, I have:
- Done my keyword research.
- Created a content calendar with at least a month planned.
- Made notes of content opportunities I’ve come across.
- Decided to make video content my priority above all else. This is my primary YouTube channel.
- Decided to dedicate more energy to finishing the seven or eight some-odd books that are nearing completion.
When all is said and done, you may not notice a huge difference in output on my part. I may still post the occasional life update or spontaneous news. But I have decided to put an end to the insanity cycle I have been in. When something doesn’t work for a long enough period, you’ve got to adapt and try something else. And, I have been pivoting faster than ever.
I can’t imagine too many people will be disappointed by this change. But you’re always welcome to let me know.
In creating content, it’s easy to get lost in the weeds without ever finding your path.
Here’s the surprising truth no one tells you about content…
It’s Not About the Type of Content
We are often led to believe that content is, first and foremost, about the type of content you produce.
Blog posts, infographics, podcasts, videos. Pick one.
Picking one and sticking to it is good advice. Choosing one that’s matched to your preferences is even better. Even with a team, it can be very difficult to publish blog posts and make videos, as an example.
But you will not automatically be more successful because you publish a certain type of content…
It’s Not About the Platform
Secondly, we are told, publishing is about finding the right platform to publish to.
Facebook. Instagram. YouTube.
All things being equal, it’s a good idea to go where your audience is. And there is no mistaking that you’ve got to tailor the right kind of content to the platform you’re publishing to.
But publishing in the right place will not guarantee success. If you’re delivering the right kind of content, people will come to you.
It’s Not About When You Publish
Having figured out what type of content we want to publish and where to publish it, we start looking at when to publish it.
It’s funny because it’s mostly replacing one obsession with another.
Emails should go out between 9 AM and 12 PM EST on a Thursday. Facebook posts should be published between 8 AM and 12 PM EST on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Or whatever it is.
Look, you can find this information anywhere, and nowadays Facebook will even help you schedule your posts at a time they are more likely to be seen.
It doesn’t matter anywhere near as much as you think it does, though, because people will still tune into their favorite show at 1:00 AM on Monday if it’s the only opportunity to catch it.
The Surprising Truth – It’s About the Personality
Personality, or what marketer Russell Brunson calls a certain “attractive character” in his book, DotCom Secrets, is what creating content is all about. This is a foundation on which you can build.
People will still occasionally stumble across your content if it’s valuable and optimized, but if there’s no personality in it, it’s unlikely you will be remembered and be able to get people on your list and create long-term engagement with them.
Think about it. Oprah can draw an audience and sell to them any time she wants. You can probably think of plenty of others – Adam Sandler, Jerry Seinfeld, Howard Stern, Craig Ferguson, Jimmy Fallon, or otherwise.
If you were to pay attention to your own consumption habits, you’d notice that large chunks of it are based on people you know, like, and trust too.
So, what personality will you establish?
Let’s just say that, if you’re planning to create content designed to help you grow your artistic career at any level, there are certain tropes to avoid, because they inspire little to no sense of connection in your audience. And these phrases are so prevalent these days that they have been repeatedly reinforced through the content you watch, without you even knowing it.
Here’s what to look out for…
1. “Hey Guys…”
“Hey guys” and all its permutations like “hey everybody,” “hey everyone,” “what’s up y’all,” inspire zero sense of confidence and connection in others who see themselves as individuals, and not as a nondescript, amorphous collective.
Think of it this way. Your name is not “guys.” My name is not “everyone.” Who are you talking to anyway?
I recognize that some men were blessed with the name Guy, good for them. But even they are not “guys.”
Wonderful that you’ve gone to all the trouble to greet your audience, unfortunate that this type of greeting doesn’t leave people touched, moved, or inspired.
Last year, I heard a speaker who repeatedly used the word “guys” as a filler word in her presentation, and however impactful her speech, it was clear the audience wasn’t lit up by it. She would have done well to observe this bit of media training.
“Because the internet is different” is not a valid excuse.
It’s fine to address a group as “guys”, work the term into everyday conversation, even drop the occasional “guys” in your content. No problem! We just don’t want to make a habit of it.
Talk as though you’re talking to an audience of one. No need for “hey guys” when a simple “hello” or “what’s up” would do.
And watch out, because that “guys” wants to keep cropping up, even when you make this seemingly simple correction in diction. It usually shows up like this:
Hello, and welcome to my channel GUYS…
Get it out of your vocabulary if you can, because if you talk to your audience as though they are a group or a collective, they will rarely if ever connect with you personally.
Treat them as though they are valuable, unique individuals, and you will create a deeper sense of connection with them.
2. “Welcome to My Channel…”
This phrase has also so seeped itself into the cultural landscape that people don’t even hear it when it’s being said anymore.
But let’s address the concrete facts here.
When people are watching a video, they are watching a video. They are not watching a channel.
Let’s get this sorted once and for all…
This is a video:
And this is a channel:
And anything short of that doesn’t constitute a channel.
Not to mention, it is all owned by YouTube (or any other platform you happen to be using), and in no way, shape, or form belongs to you.
Big tech has made it abundantly clear in the last couple of years that anything that goes against mainstream narrative is dangerous (terroristic even), and the anti-human Davos catchphrase “You Will Own Nothing And Be Happy” couldn’t be as clear in this situation than in the most blinding of daylights.
You don’t own YouTube (or any other platform). You will never own YouTube. And that is the dark side of living your life as though YouTube will be here forever, using it as your platform, when it’s clearly the furthest thing from. But I’ve already flogged that horse.
“Welcome” is a great thing to say to start off a piece of content. But chop off the end and you’d be hitting a little closer to the bull’s eye, both in terms of the reality of the situation, and better media training overall…
3. “Welcome BACK to My Channel…”
It would seem we’ve made another colossal misstep in the development of humanity, because for some reason we think everyone and their flea-riddled dog is coming back to watch our videos, when it’s far more likely that viewers hearing this phrase are watching your video for the first time. And how confusing do you think this is for them?
“Oh, was I watching another video from this creator a moment ago? I don’t think so. I don’t even recognize them.”
What I learned in my media training is that “welcome back” is never an appropriate thing to say unless you’re returning from a commercial break. Then, it’s fair game to assume whoever just tuned in was watching a commercial or flipping through channels.
But that’s not how we consume video is it? It’s available on demand now. We generally watch from top to bottom (linearly), and barring that, we skip around to the parts we want to watch before clicking on another clickbait thumbnail.
Again, why make things more complicated than they need to be when a simple “hello” would do?
I’m not saying you need to re-establish who you are every single time. People are smart enough to dive into your archives if they want to learn more about you. What I’m saying is “welcome back to my channel” is factually erroneous, AND it doesn’t inspire any sense of connection. Be forewarned.
With most of the world on lockdown, musicians everywhere have been looking to live streaming as a possible alternative to performing live.
Live performance has been a mainstay and a dominant source of income for many musicians, and never have we seen an all-pervasive force shut it all down in a matter of weeks.
But if you’re looking to live stream, and want to make the most of the opportunity, here are some tips that will help.
Determine What Platform to Stream on
There are plenty of platforms to choose from, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Periscope, Twitch, StageIt, Zoom, Concert Window or other.
For many artists, this will be a simple decision revolving around which platform they have the biggest following on, and where they get the most engagement.
To me, the second piece is far more important, as a disengaged viewer base isn’t going to do much for you. Better to go where fans are more likely to like, comment, share and tip.
If, however, you’re in any doubt as to which platform to utilize, there are a few things you can do.
#1: You Can Ask/Survey Your Fans
If you’ve already got an email list, or a sizable social media following, you can ask your fans where they’d like you to stream. Their answers might just surprise you and may even lead you to new platforms you weren’t aware of.
Not to say that your fans are always right, but if it seems like most of them are leaning one way, you may as well cater to their inclinations.
#2: You Can Experiment
This is more of a trial and error approach than anything, but if you’ve got the time, patience and willingness to explore your options, there’s no reason not to experiment.
As you’re experimenting, keep an eye on which platforms helps you get the greatest reach and engagement overall. Then, you can home in on the one that gives you the greatest ROI.
#3: You Can Take a Data-Based Approach
Music Entrepreneur News recently reported on some stats via Bandsintown that give you a good sense of how fans feel about live streaming.
Bandsintown found that the top three most favored streaming platforms are YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, in that order.
So, you could always plan your activity around this data.
Prepare Your Stage (Room)
Choose what room to live stream from and make sure the surroundings are conducive for your performance.
I’m not going to tell you to whether to clean up or organize, as that may be a matter of branding more than anything. If your brand would be enhanced by playing in dark, dank, messy basements, then do that. If a neat, clean environment is going to make the best impression on your fans, then do this instead.
Either way, it’s a good idea to prepare your stage before you go live. Make sure you’ve got the space required to be able to comfortably sing and play your instrument, and don’t forget to find a comfy chair if you’re going to be sitting.
Figure Out the Technology
You can pull out your smartphone and start live streaming right away. Having said that, there are some things you should be mindful of.
First, you may want to use a proper tripod so you can set your camera at the right height and angle. There are good and bad angles when it comes to filming.
Second, it’s not a bad idea to have a separate device for monitoring and answering comments while live streaming. Good interaction is going to ramp up your engagement.
Third, you may want to use a lighting kit, so your videos look more professional. This is not mandatory by any means. But if you’d like to create a better viewing experience, it’s worth thinking about.
Monetize Your Live Streams
Streaming platforms like YouTube and Concert Window make it easy for fans to offer tips. The easier, the better, as we don’t want to assume any level of technical proficiency from fans.
And, if you aren’t using a platform that has built-in tipping, you can still take advantage of services like PayPal and set up your unique PayPal.Me link.
Tips, however, are but the tip of the iceberg (pun intended).
You could ask viewers to become a patron on Patreon, pre-order your next album, contribute to your crowdfunding campaign, buy your new T-shirt or otherwise.
Of course, in these uncertain times, it’s a good idea to be sensitive to others and their willingness to spend. You don’t want to be overly promotional, but you also don’t want to leave money on the table.
Promote Your Performances
You can promote your performances using all the channels you normally would, including:
- Word of mouth
- Posters/graphical assets
- Direct mail
- Your website
- Your email list
- Social media
If no one knows that you’re going to be streaming, or if you just post about it once the moment you go live, you’re unlikely to attract much of an audience.
So, take some time to plan this out.
Consider where your fans are, and live stream at times they are likely to be awake and available. You can easily cater to fans across the world assuming you don’t mind late nights and/or early mornings.
Connect with Your Audience
Being timely and relevant is critical to connecting with your audience.
As I write this, the COVID-19 scare continues, as people isolate and social distance.
By no means is this going to last, so the key point here is to connect with your fans and tailor your messaging to them.
Presently, a lot of people are scared, anxious, frustrated, bored or otherwise. If you can lift their spirts through your music and banter, you’ll connect with them more readily.
Of course, you can also be polarizing and controversial. Ultimately, it will have the same effect of attracting viewers, even if you do alienate some.
Again, this mostly depends on your brand. If it would be off brand for you to be controversial, don’t be.
Generally, be personable and interactive. Answer fan comments. Mention them by name. Send “thank you” notes after the fact. People are starved for connection right now.
Pay it Forward
It’s no secret that one of the keys to success on social media is being social.
When you interact with others, people notice you more. When you add value to them, they begin to see you as a leader or an expert in your field.
So, if you’ve got time on your hands, why not check out other live streamed concerts. Like, comment and share. Tip the musicians you like. Pay it forward.
And, if I were you, I would steal ideas from the best streams I found, too.
Repurpose Your Content
It’s easy to think of a live stream as a one-time event, just as a typical gig would be. But unlike a live performance, your live streams can have a second and even third life.
With most platforms, you should be able to download your live streamed video, edit it (if you wish) and share it out everywhere.
One live stream could easily turn into 12 videos (i.e. 12 songs), for instance.
I used to – and still do – do this very thing. Last year, I did a lot of Facebook Lives with my community project, Your Music Matters.
I took the live streamed videos, edited them, put them up on YouTube and even shared them on Blogger.
I plan to take clips from those videos and upload them to Music Entrepreneur HQ as well.
Whether you do any of this comes down to your brand and strategy, but I thought you might like to know that it’s possible to do more with less.
Final Thoughts on Live Streaming Concerts
If, for whatever reason, you’re uncomfortable with live streaming, but would still like to connect with your fans using the video medium, keep in mind that you can pre-record and edit an entire performance and live stream that!
Plus, you can still interact with fans in the comments. After all, your hands will be free the entire time, so typing up a few responses shouldn’t prove problematic.
Just remember to let your fans know when you’re live streaming pre-recorded content.
I wish you all the best in your live streaming efforts.
Is there anything else I should have addressed here?
Do you have any lingering comments regarding live streaming?
Let me know in the comments below.
Building a music career isn’t exactly a stroll in the park.
As such, staying abreast of the latest trends and finding opportunities to exploit is key to building a following – and, hopefully – making more money from music.
Many musicians, young and old, are now looking to TikTok to fulfill on these requirements.
So, how does one go about making viral TikTok videos to build their music careers?
What is TikTok?
TikTok is essentially the latest trending short-form, video-based, meme-generating social media platform that replaced the once popular Vine.
Many of the videos feature cute pets and attractive people dancing to top 40 music (or some combination thereof). Others feature memes, thrilling rollercoaster rides, amazing human feats (not “feets”) and more.
But there’s no question users are getting creative with it, enticing all manner of responses from viewers – shock, surprise, laughter and more.
Should I Even be on TikTok?
I think this is a valuable question to ask.
Personally, I can think of far more important things to do with my time (making music, marketing my music, merchandising, etc.).
But I still hold to the notion that 20% of your time should be invested in experimentation. After all, you never know what might come of your experiments. This is where some artists find unprecedented success.
Again, I can think of better things to do with that 20% time (e.g. writing music in a style I’ve never written before, starting a side project, finding other creative expressions, etc.). But here’s no reason you couldn’t dedicate it to TikTok.
How do I Make a Viral TikTok Video?
At the outset, I must point out that there is no definitive formula for creating any kind of viral content, let alone on TikTok.
Carl Douglas didn’t think “Kung Fu Fighting” was going to be a hit and the song was put together rather hastily, at the last minute, in the studio. So, success sometimes comes from unexpected places, and that’s an important lesson all its own.
With that in mind, here are some tips that will help you make the most of TikTok.
Use a Good Camera
If you’ve got the latest smartphone in your pocket, there’s a good chance you’ve got everything you need already.
But just in case, since you are going to be creating video content, you should know it’s a good idea to work with a quality camera.
Use Good Lighting
Even the best content can sometimes be ruined by bad lighting, simply because viewers can’t make out what’s supposed to be happening in the video.
Your filming environment should be well-lit (but not overexposed) for best results.
Sync Your Sound
Sound plays an important role in how people experience your content, and to that extent, experienced sound designers are likely to have a bit of an advantage here.
Either way, at minimum, ensure the sound syncs up with your video.
Anyone making video content knows how important editing is.
Although I won’t be offering any specific tips here, in general, it would be best for you to study how professional commercials, TV shows and movies are edited.
Not surprisingly, right now, a lot of creators are incorporating the coronavirus into their content.
Keeping up with the trends might just help you create content that more people will resonate with.
If all else fails, film your cat. We all know how well cats have done for themselves on the internet.
Use Relevant Hashtags
If you’re used to Twitter and Instagram, you should be able to figure this out relatively quickly.
Keep an eye on popular hashtags, and if they are relevant to the content you’re creating, use them to boost views.
Content creation needs to be taken seriously. But that seriousness shouldn’t carry into your content. If you aren’t having fun in your videos, you shouldn’t expect your viewers to have any fun either.
Social media is about connecting and engaging with people. So, make it fun for everyone involved.
Brainstorm & Experiment with a Variety of Ideas
If you’re going to be posting fresh content once or twice per day (recommended), then you’d better start generating plenty of ideas. I’d suggest writing them down somewhere you can easily find them.
Then, experiment plenty. You just never know what idea might end up resonating, even if you think it’s “stupid.”
The 3 Pillars of Success with Social Media
I hold to the notion that there are only three pillars to social media success. They can be applied to any platform. They are simple but not easy. Violate these rules at your own peril.
Let’s look at what these three pillars are and how to apply them to your TikTok efforts.
Pillar #1: Publish Platform-Centric Content
You can always take your TikTok videos and share them elsewhere (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest and so on – I’ll talk more about this in a moment).
But first and foremost, if you want to do well on TikTok, you must create the type of content that works well on TikTok (short videos that make people stand up and take notice).
This is easy to do, easy not to do. In other words, if you get lazy and just take unremarkable clips from your YouTube videos and republish them to TikTok, you’re less likely to do well on the platform.
Pillar #2: Publish Remarkable Content
If your content doesn’t warrant a response from viewers, it’s not going to do much for you.
This doesn’t mean you’re going to hit the content nail on the head every single time. Making good content takes work. So, you can’t just fly by the seat of your pants and expect to succeed.
Try to come up with content that leaves people feeling something. Draw out an emotional response. If you can do that, you will get viewers hooked on your content.
Pillar #3: Publish Consistently
Each piece of content may require quite a bit of brainstorming, planning, filming and even editing. Is that something you can commit to?
A lot of people publish one thing (or a few things) and hope it takes the world by storm. Generally, that’s not a winning formula. You need a larger archive of content along with new content to harvest attention and keep it.
Determine exactly how many times you’re going to be publishing daily or weekly and when.
Once you’ve built a bit of a following, you can post a little more sporadically, but until then, stick to the plan (no matter how tedious it gets).
Bonus Pillar: Distribute, Syndicate & Promote Your Content
You’re a musician. So, hopefully you understand how important it is to promote your works.
With releasing new music, for example, you can’t just distribute the release and hope everyone streams it. Unless you’re well-known, it just doesn’t work that way. You must promote your work.
It’s the same with social media content. You can’t just post it and hope everyone sees it. You must distribute, syndicate and promote the content you’ve worked so hard to create.
What’s the Benefit of Becoming Popular on TikTok?
I don’t know. You tell me.
I have often said that social media numbers are irrelevant unless you’re trying to achieve a specific end. I have always felt that website traffic, email signups and ultimately sales are far more important metrics.
But let’s talk about those “specific ends”.
For musicians, that might mean getting booked for a festival (they might be more inclined to book a band that can bring a crowd).
For bloggers and authors, getting a publishing deal (most publishers want their authors to be able to pre-sell tens of thousands of copies of their book).
By the way, not to be overly indulgent here, but it does help when you follow me on social media. I’m confident I’ve added some value to you today, so please take a moment to follow and engage with me on these platforms:
For speakers, getting podcast interviews and maybe even speaking engagements (some podcasters hold to the notion that the bigger the following you have, the more your message is honed).
There are good reasons to grow a following. But a following should never be confused with success in every area.
A big following doesn’t mean you’re making lots of money.
A big following doesn’t mean you’ve got it where it counts (website traffic, email list, sales).
A big following doesn’t mean you’re popular or famous.
And, a big following certainly doesn’t mean you’ve got something better to say than others.
So, be realistic here. Be clear about what you’re trying to achieve. Otherwise, you’re pointing in the wrong direction and need to course correct as soon as possible.
Final Thoughts on Viral TikTok Videos
Wouldn’t it be great to go viral? We all think about it from time to time and imagine what it would be like.
But I believe social media consultant Lori Taylor said it best when she said:
Going viral is not an outcome; it’s a happening. Sometimes it happens; sometimes it doesn’t. Just remember, fans are vanity and sales are sanity.
I could not have said it any better than that!
Just so we’re clear, I’m not anti-social media. I’m just anti-distraction and anti-unintentionality.
When adopting a new tactic, a high degree of intentionality must be employed. And, when it comes to a low-level opportunity like social media, you’d better have absolute clarity around what you’re doing and how much effort it’s going to take.
But if you’ve chosen TikTok to help you grow your following, great. Apply your best thinking to the platform or you’re unlikely to achieve much.
Is there anything else I should have addressed?
Do you have any unanswered questions regarding TikTok?
Let me know in the comments below.