Social, newsletters, free e-books. How to spread the word everywhere
Dave Basulto has done well with sales of his iOgrapher iPhone case for filmmakers, selling to thousands of schools across the country, based on in-person demonstrations and meetings with teachers.
Then the pandemic hit and he was unable to travel, eliminating much of his income.
So he was forced to get creative, scrambling from home to create a new gig – webinars – and he turned to all the usual tools to sell them. Not just one – like on Facebook or Twitter – but everything: Instagram, YouTube, the “free e-book”, lead generator, blogging, vlogging, LinkedIn. You name it.
“I was very stressed when it started,” he says. “Our bread and butter are schools. I had to spread the word about something different.”
And with working from home eliminating in-person calls or attending trade shows like he has in the past, Basulto figured he just had to use whatever was available to him.
“I do them all because you never know where your customers reside,” says Basulto. “Some hate Facebook, some hate email, some like texting, etc. So since the cost is so low to get in, you really have to be everywhere.”
The key is to spread the word.
“You can have the best content in the world, but that’s only half the battle,” notes Austin filmmaker Javier Mercedes, who hosts a YouTube series called “Passion in Progress.” “The rest is just marketing, and to do it effectively, you have to be on all channels.”
Zach Servideo, who hosts the “Boston Speaks Up” podcast, goes one step further. Taping the show for the local tech scene is the easy part, he says. Most of his time gets the word out anywhere and everywhere, a grueling process he admits “isn’t for everyone”.
The market, he notes, is completely fragmented. He gets some following on Instagram, some from his RSS feed, some from the Medium blog posts he publishes weekly, and more from what has proven to be his most successful outlet: LinkedIn.
Servideo spends a lot of time creating graphic cards about his guests and posting them on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn to plug the episode. Example below:
Take a look at the platforms.
The largest social network, with over 1.66 billion daily users, but with a tricky algorithm that focuses on friends first. It can be working to promote yourself, but hard to hook a brand. That is, unless you pay to advertise.
It may be President Donald Trump’s favorite social network to use (and bash), but it doesn’t have the reach of Facebook. It averages 166 million daily active users, but is connected to thought leaders and journalists and, if shared with a retweet, can live and resonate. Twitter is best for “engaging in ongoing conversation” and interaction, says Tara Hunt, CEO of Phlywheel, a marketing agency. The experts we interviewed recommend tweeting often — up to 10 times a day, or even 10 times an hour, because Twitter is like tape and you need to grab people’s attention when they’re there. In other words: Trump’s all-time tweeting record is 200 times in one day, June 5. So if you tweet 10 times in a day, there’s nothing to be ashamed of.
The downside of the Facebook-owned visual network is that you can’t put a link in a regular post, which makes it difficult to use to drive traffic to your podcast, website, or latest YouTube video. There are several workarounds: you can say “Link in bio” and send people there to pick it up, or use Story format to add a link, which is why so many people ask you to “Swipe to the top”. Even without the links, Mercedes says Instagram is useful, simply because there are so many people there and you keep your name in front of them.
The business network has always been seen as a place to find jobs and update your CV, but it has taken on more of a form of a business social network, where users can create daily posts with photos, videos and links and instantly create messages to communicate with other members. “For professional conversations, LinkedIn is the place to be,” says Hunt. And also to sell products. Basulto uses the platform for live streaming (more on that in a minute) and has been able to sell subscriptions to its online courses. “The coaches, entrepreneurs and others are there. It’s a powerful place.”
The holy grail for many, as it pays for content, with a share of ad revenue, if you can amass at least 1,000 subscribers. Moreover, you can generate links to your content and embed the YouTube video in many places.
Build a list and you can turn a newsletter into profits.
“I make money from my newsletter,” says Basulto, who averages a 1.5-3% return on sending content to his list of 50,000. Hunt loves newsletters because “people subscribers let you into their inbox in a more intimate way” than on social media, and you’re not a slave to the algorithm and don’t know whether or not people will see your message.
For those who don’t have products to sell, a newsletter is a great way to compile some of those social media posts and thoughts, because not everyone has seen your Facebook or Twitter. To create a newsletter, you will need a provider. Substack is a popular free tool that encourages writers to charge for monthly newsletter subscriptions, or just offer it to subscribers for free. An advantage over other platforms is that the newsletter lives there like an online blog post. CEO Chris Best says one of the things about Substack is that it reduces the need to have multiple homes for your work by giving you a central location, eliminating the need to jostle everywhere. But Best suggests using the Substack post as content, since it can be linked, and plugging it in everywhere online. “Tell people about it.”
Basulto’s newsletter and Twitter feed often tout a “free e-book” offer, which is actually a “lead magnet,” he says. He creates a little book on moviemaking tips in Google Docs, adds some quick graphics, saves it as a PDF, and makes it available via Dropbox. In the book are links to buy other products on his website. To get the book, you subscribe, he gets the email address, “and now I have a new client.”
Audio recording is just another way to get your message across, to keep your brand in front of people. The easiest (i.e. free) way to launch your podcast is through the Anchor app, which lets you record and edit directly from the app and distribute your show to Spotify, iTunes , Google Podcasts and other providers.
Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are the main live streaming platforms and all are free, while LinkedIn is limited in that you have to sign up and wait for an invite. Basulto says it took six months to arrive. Twitch is the live gaming platform. The beauty of life is interaction, says Basulto. “People like to hang around and ask questions,” which means he can sell more products.
Do you have questions about the online hustle? Let me hear you on Twitter, where I am @jeffersongraham