A great story about building a fan base is unfolding as I read Steve Martin’s new book. For those old enough to remember his unsurpassed concert tours in the late 70’s/early 80’s this book is a wonderful study for anyone doing a blog, podcast, or video channel on any social network or membership websight. Martin played to stadiums. Tens of thousands at a time. When is the last time you went to a stadium to see one stand-up comic? None since Steve.
He started building this audience when he was a kid working a venue at Disney, then at Knottsberry Farm as a teen, then in magic shows for Kiwanas Clubs and Boyscout events, then at Comedy clubs, then as a writer for T.V. variety hours, then as a guest on the Tonight show. etc.
His family remembers him playing at a Ramada Inn showroom when NOBODY came to see him. And other times just a few people would show up, drunk.
Point is, Steve Martin’s path is familiar and required. Especially if your audience is generated by Google, Yahoo, MSN, and other search engines. You have to show up when nobody is listening and say something funny, or show something out of the ordinary. You have to show up often.
As Seth Godin puts it,
“There’s an enormous amount of superstition about what makes some pages rank high while others languish. When you look at the actual figures, though, much of that fades away. It turns out that the new playing field enforced by the search engines is eliminating many of the shortcuts that used to be effective. In other words, the best way is the long way. The long way is to create content that is updated, unique and useful. Again and again we see that sites that do all three manage to get more than their fair share of traffic.”
When they start listening, you have to make it their while to return again and again. If you dial it in with no thought, your audience can tell. Your authenticity is your magnet.
It may take a while. It took Steve about 18 years. Fortunately the internet compresses time. Give it 18 months and you should have a decent fan base.