I learned this lesson the hard way with my first web series, The Sex Trade. We created 6 episodes and then released them. Everything went well, in fact, phenomenally well (we ended up with over a 100,000 views in those first 6 weeks) but then that was all she wrote (literally, the she was me, and that’s all I wrote).
We didn’t have any more episodes and weren’t going to have any more episodes, only now I had strangers out there that were literally mad at me for not finishing what I had started so to speak, which was both hilarious and guilt inducing all at the same time.
I’m not sure what I had thought I was doing. At the time, I was mostly just trying to prove my writing ability. I figured it would be easier to get Execs to click on a link and watch than to read a script, and so I just produced the show and put it out there, but things did not go at all as I had expected. I never even factored in the possibility that there was a legitimate youtube audience that might get attached to it, and frankly it didn’t turn out to be any easier to get Execs to click than read (at least not for me) and so as time went by it became increasingly more obvious that I needed to come up with a different strategy.
What I eventually learned was that regardless of whether you intend to use Youtube as your primary business model (creating content specifically for youtube in exchange for ad dollars/sponsorship etc) or whether you use it as I do, as a development/marketing strategy for projects you’d like to eventually expand to TV, you really have to be in it for the long haul, ready to be consistently releasing new material over a long stretch of time in order to gain any sort of real momentum, traction and brand loyalty, and for me this meant creating content that was more practical in terms of time constraints and budget.
These lessons directly affected my opinions on how to move forward when it came to producing Feathers and Toast. Even though right from the beginning, Mhairi and I always knew there was a bigger story we wanted to tell, we intentionally narrowed it down to the aspect of the story we could reasonably afford to produce, meaning content that didn’t require fundraising, asking anyone for favors or endless amounts of our time but could still be done well, and the answer to that turned out to be Tallulah’s cooking show (which of course is only one piece of Tallulah’s larger life.)
Once we got into it, we realized even the cooking show took up an extensive amount of time, more than we could extend over long periods of time without throwing our lives out of whack and eventually dreading the process (which was unacceptable to us) so we made the decision not to jump into Season 2 right away. Instead we embarked on what I will call, our experimental year.
We started producing short, almost Vlog style videos, except they were entirely in character. Our schedule became getting together once a week and in about 4 hours we would come up with the idea, shoot it, edit it and post it (and pretty much laugh all the way through.) We never knew what we were going to do before we would do it, we went off on mad tangents, dipped into politics, threw in some wacky Monty Python-esque stuff. I was practicing directing, and Mhairi was practicing being a one take wonder. We were just being comedians, trying stuff, as if Youtube was our virtual comedy club, where we could see what people responded to and in the end really learn who Tallulah was.
I’d love to say we intentionally spent an entire year throwing Tallulah into all manner of current affairs and life experiences because we knew that it would be a really cool way to deeply develop her character while simultaneously building a really strong brand (which did happen and we are grateful) but the truth is we just did it out of an organic need to create more content. Hind sight being 20/20 however, I would definitely do it all over again.
The result was a series of videos we called “Tallulah Talks Back” and the “Top 10 Holiday Tidbits” which I will be sharing with you over the next couple months (in no particular order) which leads me to…
Industry Tip #10
If you are planning to use Youtube to build your brand, consistent quality content is key, emphasis on the consistent, so make sure your ideas are ones you can afford to produce (time/money) over the long term without getting yourself burnt out.
So without further ado I leave you with the first Tallulah Talks Back episode that popped into my mind to share where Tallulah teaches you “How to meditate and quiet the Mime.” Lol. We loved this one.