Wednesday, June 15, 2011

More Thoughts On Being an Indie Playwright and Promotion (Act II)

As I was saying in my last post, for the first several years I maintained a low profile insofar as promoting myself as a full fledged independent playwright of murder mystery comedies on line. It was around this time my old good friend Bob Baker of The Buzz Factor began his Indie Music Marketing and Self Promotion empire. Needless to say, (but I will) Bob is tremendously well versed on "branding and promoting" and all around Guerrilla Marketing for creative types from musicians to authors. He was always amazed that I wasn't actively marketing my site or myself on line.

But you see, the thing is - I didn't wake up one morning and decide I was going to become a Murder Mystery Playwright. I didn't spend all my energy everyday pursuing the dream of being a playwright and overusing the word PASSION. No, I had other things in mind and this playwright thing was just.. a goofy little hobby thing I did on the side.

This goofy little hobby kept getting bigger and bigger. And Bob would shake his head at me, "I can't believe you aren't marketing yourself!"

OK. So what IF I did market myself? What would happen? After all, I had essentially found a niche in writing Murder Mystery comedies and many theatre groups seemed to enjoy breaking up their production seasons of "The Odd Couple" and "Bye Bye Birdie" with something a bit different.

Clean the Dancing Kittens from your Home

An important piece of wisdom Bob instilled in me was: Keep Your Website Clean.
After all your website is your home base, your featured presence. This is the place all your marketing is going to point to. It should be clean and simple. No dancing kittens or flashing fonts dripping with blood. No embedded music players cranking out Death Metal. Your talent should entertain customers not your website. People want to find out your information and they want it quickly.
What do you have?
How much is it?
How do I get it?

If they have to click on the Skull that explodes into flying monkeys to see a list of your plays, then forget it. Look at the high commerce Websites out there such as Amazon or E-bay. A plain white background and plain font.

It's also helpful to provide as much information as you can in the most concise manner. Since I have play scripts, I provide a brief plot summary, the number of characters, how much it is and how it will be delivered.

Once my website was clean I began the process of promotion.

The Market

So I began reading various SEO, Marketing Tips and Promotion articles on line and taking the advice of my friend Bob. Now, granted, there is a lot of information to learn out there, but not everything applied to my particular field.

No Newsletters, Thank You Very Much

Many Marketing magnets will insist you get people to sign up for a Newsletter. Yes, sign up is the key. Create an email sign up form. This is called "Permission" marketing. You must ask very nicely if you can send out a newsletter with updates and all kinds of cool stuff. You must get permission otherwise it's called SPAM. I personally do not subscribe to the Newsletter philosophy. Sure, it keeps your name out there and reminds customers of your presence but for someone like me... Why? I could not imagine what kind of updates and cool stuff a playwright can send in a newsletter.

Update: I was at the store today and had an idea for a play!
Cool Stuff: I wrote 3 more pages of that one thing I've been working on!

But again that's just me.

I have found a Blog accomplishes the same thing. I can post updates, performance information and news. Establish a presence on-line that's here if you want to read it and saves everyone from hitting the delete button or filling up the Spam folder.

Hello World

So the main point in promotion is letting to world know you exist. The first method is letting people find you. How do they find you? One way is advertising.

One of the first forays I explored in advertising was Google Adwords. You know, those little ads that occupy the right side of Google's search page. If you are searching for Left handed Octagon Widgets, you will see ads related to 'Widgets'. It is easy enough to set up and there are plenty of tutorials and pages devoted to Adwords. Every time someone types a few keywords, such as "Plays", "Scripts" etc.. your Ad will appear. If your ad is clicked, you pay a small fee. You do not have to spend a fortune. I have my budget set for the absolute minimum and you can "pause" or "stop" your ad at anytime. The bottom line is that anyone searching for "Murder Mystery Plays" will see my ad on the right side. An association begins to develop: "Murder Mystery Plays" = "Play-Dead.com".

Another Link in the Chain

I found quite a few theatre websites that would link to my site for free. Doollee.com allows playwrights to list themselves and their work for free.
Stageplays.com offers a Banner Exchange program where you create a free banner for your site in exchange for allowing other theatre sites to display their banners on your site.

These are just a few of the avenues I pursued, there are many others out there that will link back to you if you link to them. The more links you can get, the higher your rankings will appear in search engines. Again the bottom line is letting the world know you exist.

If your work is published by a major or minor publishing company, they may do some of the promotion/advertising for you. But again, they may not. I personally chose not to let an unknown entity handle the work I created. Sure they may have inside roads to promote your work with a full color ad in Playbill, but then again, they may not. Who better to let the World know about you than you?

Next: The Social Scene

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