There is nothing like having to handle all of your own marketing (as most independent content creators must do) to make you appreciate what it is that the studios and networks do. Effective marketing is such a massive undertaking that I’ve had to divide what needs to be done into two parts and even that will just be breezing across the surface, which is why I will say with all sincerity to our future network and/or studio, thank you! We appreciate you! And we are so thrilled that you will be taking over.
Part 1 – Creating your marketing collateral and online presence.
So as you know, Mhairi and I produced our first season of the show, edited it and then decided to self distribute on the web, but that was only a 1/3 of the work that still needed to be done. You can’t just slap your show up on youtube and call it a day “no darling” you’ve got to create a proper online presence that shows you mean business. You have to treat your show like what it really is, a small business, a start up, that needs cohesive branding across all platforms.
Thanks to the fact that I have been through this several times before with my other web shows (The Sex Trade, GG’s Java Joint,) and that Mhairi and I’s creative tastes are so cohesive, we breezed through it all rather quickly, but it can be a real stumbling block and test of creative partnerships, given how much there is to know and how many decisions there are to make, so I thought I’d try to help make it a little easier by sharing what I’ve learned with any of you who may be going through this process right now.
First things first, you have to have a logo (and this is probably one of the few things you shouldn’t try to do yourself, unless you are a graphic designer). The logo is going to be with you for a long time and needs to work on everything from the web, to print, to merchandise, and nobody understands the unique challenges of this better than the ones who were trained to know it. Luckily for us, Mhairi was friends with the lovely and talented Ted Meyer and he kindly created the perfect logo for us. Thank you Ted!!
The next bit of advice I will give you is to create a specific gmail address for the show and use that email address for every account you are going to create from this point forward. (There are many headache reducing reasons for this that I will be happy to get into if you ask, but the main reason is that Google owns everything, including Youtube and therefore they are going to make you create one anyway when you open up your youtube account so you might as well make it easy on yourself and use it across all your accounts.)
Next you have to have a website. Imdb requires it in order for them to consider you a legit show, but also its important to have a home base for your fans. Your website is the place where you can have your blog, share your episodes, and even set up an online store if you’re ambitious (which we are).
The good news is creating websites has gotten ridiculously easy thanks to WordPress and the like. The real trick of it is taking the time to think about how you want your website to look first and what content you want to include, and then taking the time to search through the cajillions of templates out there, without settling, until you find the perfect one that matches your vision.
I’d be lying if I said the tech aspects of the set up weren’t a little challenging at first, depending on the template you choose, particularly if you’ve never attempted to create a website before, but it is not even sort of impossible, if I can do it, you can do it. I used the help of my good friend WordPress For Dummies. I followed it page for page and it was all I needed. Well, that and google. (for those that prefer video, you can use tutorials like this one here or search for one you prefer better.)
(***Also important point here – do not use WordPress.com for the purpose of promoting an original show. You are going to need to pay for your own domain name and hosting service, with a company like Hostgator or GoDaddy for e.g., and then use WordPress.org to purchase your templates. If you use WordPress.com, which is free, then they are paying for your hosting service which makes them essentially your partner. This is totally fine for a personal blog where you are not looking to make money, but not okay for an original IP)
Then of course you have to set up your Youtube Channel (for a basic tutorial click here) and customize your homepage, keeping in mind it should feature your best trailer and playlists leading your fans to what you most want them to see. (for a great tutorial on how to accomplish that click here)
Once your website and youtube channels are set up, then you’ve got to create what I like to call the social media package. There is no getting around the fact that you will need the big 3, a Facebook page, Twitter account & Instagram, and then, depending on the audience you want to reach, you may also want to consider creating an account on Pinterest, Tumblr, Vine, Snapchat and the list goes on and on. It gets me tired just thinking about it. 🙂
But the one thing that every single one of these sites you are creating have in common is that they are going to need consistent collateral material in the form of copy (loglines, synopisis, bios) and artwork/promotional photos in the form of banners/profile pics etc or in order to look good, so this brings me to my tip for the day…
Industry Tip #5
Always take Still Photographs while you are in Production, of both your characters in action and your crew Behind The Scenes, as you will need these across all your various promotional platforms.
You will need square photos for Instagram, profile photos for potential postcards and/or movie posters (Imdb, Festivals), and you will need landscape photos for Facebook, Youtube and Twitter banners. Also, when you take your photos, make sure you leave some empty space on either the right or the left hand side in order to add show titles and laurels to what will eventually become your banners. Trust me you will kick yourself later if you don’t have these.
I spent hours creating banners to fit all the various platforms (because they all have different size requirements) but of course now there are free apps that can help you do it in half the time. To check out one of them click here (And if you need a referral, our Stills Photographer is the amazing Katie Nolan. Much more to come on her in future blogs. We love you Katie!)
So that’s it for today. I leave you with Episode 3 of Season 1 of Feathers & Toast, the sensual tomato salad, where Tallulah utters what might be one of my favorite lines I’ve ever heard her say to Diego. He accuses her of saying something that might be a bit racist, to which she replies “Alright darling, I don’t know who made you the UN Police or whatever.” What is your favorite line from this episode? Would love to hear.
Disclaimer: I guess I should mention that all the companies & tutorials I mentioned above were based on my own personal experience and use. We are not affiliated with them in any way, nor have we received any sponsorship.