In this article, The Business of Stand-Up Comedy: Create a Web Presence – Part 2, I’ll present some ways of publicizing your shows and availability as a comedian. In my previous article, The Business of Stand-Up Comedy: Create a Web Presence – Part 1, I discussed how to get videos to promote your comedy career.
Now that you’ve signed up for the social media platforms and you have some videos, let’s go into some ways to promote yourself.
Use Social Networking to Publicize Your Shows
As a beginner, you cannot continue to get an audience for your shows by just relying on your family and friends. You must build a fan base by collecting friends on the Internet. You must keep them posted about your upcoming shows on a regular basis.
Posters and Memes – make with dates, times, and venues and put them on your Facebook page and on the relevant Facebook groups about stand-up comedy. Also post them on Twitter, Instagram, etc. Tip: first post it and then look at it to make sure the writing is large enough to easily read. I see posts all the time on social media where I can’t find the dates, times, locations, and cities or states of the shows. If you want people to show up, make it easy for them.
Short Videos – as mentioned before, post short videos from your shows. One good laugh is all you need. It reminds others in the comedy community who you are while getting a big laugh. If they’re looking for comics for show, you might get a call. Remember, make it easy to contact you.
Put a Calendar on Your Website
Once every few weeks, update the calendar with the dates of your shows and your avails. (Avails means the dates you’re available to be books for show.) A calendar can be check 24/7 by anyone who has your website URL. This is one of the main reasons to have business cards to hand out at every show. Work begets work.
Sending promotional emails is free. At first you’ll send announcements to your family and friends. Do it once a week or once a month until it becomes a habit. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just a list of the places where you want people to come and see you perform. You can also include a link to your calendar for future references. Begin now. This is not something you do once and you’re a working pro. It’ll be a continuous process to build a fan base. Also, include all social media links and encourage people to join and subscribe.
Here are some things to know:
Collect Names and Emails – make small slips of paper with a line for a name and one for the email. Keep it simple. Ask the club manager if you can put the slips on the tables, then at the end of your show mention to the patrons that if they’d like to be on your mailing list, fill out the slip. Don’t bother with addresses and phone numbers … you don’t want them to think you’re a stalker. I know it seems like a lot of work to continually collect contacts and type them into the computer, but after a year or two you’ll have a large database of fans.
When anyone says they’d like to see you perform, get their name and email. I mean anyone. My wife Gayla Johnson was at a garage sale and mentioned she did stand-up. The people running the sale said they’d like to see her perform. She took their business card and entered them into her fan mailing list. Two weeks later two of the people running the sale and four of their friends came to see her perform at the Comedy Store in Hollywood. It does work.
Use a Newsletter Form – it seems more professional if the announcement is a newsletter. At first, just send out the emails. As you get better at it, shift over to a Newsletter. Check Google. There are newsletter forms available for free. For a fee you can use ConstantContact.com or the like. It has forms and other services that make it easy to send announcements and it looks nicer and gives a more professional appearance, especially when you begin adding the names of bookers, agents, producers, and casting directors.
Include Contact Info and Links – always have clearly available contact information with your name, email, and phone. Also place links to your website, networking pages, video sites and profiles. Make it easy to find a lot of great promotional material about you.
Warning: people will come to your shows, so make sure they are shows in which you wish to be seen. If the other comics are terrible, the drinks too expensive, the performing space nasty or the area unsafe, then do not include these venues in the emails or calendar. You want your fans to have a great time, so be selective.
Place Your Promotional Materials on Your Website
Once you have a personal website, then upload your entire Promo Kit (covered in the next article) and make it easy to find. This can be a good deal of work or expensive to hire someone, but if you want to look like a pro, you need to have a personal website.
Index Your Website with the Search Engines
Even if you have a website, networking pages, video channel or profiles you still need to let people know they exist. To do this you must submit them to the search engines so it will come up on Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. These search engines are the way people look for whatever they are searching for.
Contact Search Engines with New Information
There are sites that list all of the search engines and you can submit your site to the important ones. Google: Submit Search Engines Free. Whenever I have new show dates or blog, I submit to search engines to get it indexed faster than the bots will do it on their own schedule.
Start immediately creating an internet presence to promote yourself. If you wait until you have a bit of notoriety, then you’ll be behind. Get these promotional tools in place to help you on your climb to success. Don’t think some future agent or manager will do it for you. PR is not what it used to be. There are sites where anyone can check to see how strong your social networking is with one click. Promote yourself . . . now.
In my next article, The Business of Stand-Up Comedy: Promotional Kit – Part 1, I’ll discuss the importance of having the proper promotional materials online and in the physical corporate form.