So, The other day, I go to lunch with a friend of mine who isn’t into Social Media. I start showing him my personal fansite, my business site, Facebook, Twitter / TweetDeck, blip.tv, YouTube, Tumblr, Ustream, IRC, Skype, iChat, so then he goes:
“So how do you make money with all this stuff?”
So I laughed a little, because I knew I had a long, LONG explanation ahead of me. 😀
Before I get started with this, I need to mention that I’m a special case. PART of what I’m about to say will be useful to someone else. Most of it’s only useful to me.
My entire life is a special case. I’m very used to being the only… whatever. 😀 I’m usually the only non-white around in business situations. I’m normally the only MIT graduate in ANY situaton. I’m normally the only guy that’s messed with and quit more girls than most guys ever get to even TALK TO THEM ABOUT SEX in their entire lives.
I’m normally the only person that’s been videoblogging STEADILY since 2006 and put over 600 episodes on the net in that time. I’m normally the only Emmy Award-Winning video editor in a situation.
I’m normally the only person in the room that you can find on page 01 of Google if you search just my first name. On and on and on, so if you’re looking for some sort of “This will work for everyone” advice, this isn’t the article for you. 🙂
Why I’m Involved With Social Media
I’m involved with Social Media because that’s what I do. Period. Social Media is how I live my life. It’s how I interact with my friends. It’s how I do business. It’s how I learn about the world and meet new people. It’s how I express myself in a one-to-many fashion instead of a one-on-one fashion. It’s the reason I have friends in England, Hawaii, New Zealand, Japan, France, Mexico, Canada and all the way across the board in the United States of America. It’s the reason I’m in a YouTube video that’s been viewed one and a quarter million times…
Social Media enables us to be way more than we could be if we had to depend on physical interaction with people. It’s my own personal video game and I rock it to the best of my ability.
How Social Media Works For Me
Social Media’s about conversation and communication. The by-products include familiarity, endearment or infamy, and, in general, *ATTENTION*. Once you get that attention, you want to direct it somewhere so it can be useful for a purpose. In my case, I direct the attention I’ve generated to my blog.
Why my blog? Because I own it. My name is on it. Bill Cammack Dot Com. My name is not on Facebook (meaning not in the base address). My name is not on Twitter. My name is not on Tumblr or blip or YouTube. It’s on BillCammack.com.
Why does it matter that my name is on my blog? Because that’s what I want to show up in Google. Why do I want it to show up in Google? Because that’s what everyone on the planet uses to find people and topics they’re interested in. 67% (2/3) of my traffic comes from Google. So, to recap… I interact with my friends via Social Media. I use a bunch of 3rd party sites to communicate with people, but they all point back to MY website. Because of that, my site gets (relatively) a lot of hits and becomes more “popular” or perhaps relevant on Google. Good standing in Google makes more people show up at my site, because I rank higher in Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). Ranking higher makes my site get more hits and the snowball keeps rolling down the hill, getting larger with each revolution.
How Do You Monetize Website Hits?
This is where the “Special Case” kicks in. 🙂
It just so happens that what I do for fun and self-expression is the same thing I do for business. The media that I put on the net stands as a consistently-updating resume of what I can do for you or your company. I’m constantly demonstrating to people that I can film, edit, compress, upload, tag and blog videos in a quality fashion. When someone sees this and wants that same quality for their business or personal site, I receive an email from a new potential client.
This is why it wasn’t going to be easy to explain to my friend how I make money from Social Media. I use my sites as loss leaders:
Loss Lead describes the concept that an item offered for sale at a reduced price and is intended to lead to the subsequent sale of other items, the sales of which will be made in greater numbers, or greater profits, or both.
So, What my sites do is a) demonstrate personality and b) demonstrate proficiency.
What my sites do *not* do is attempt to hook people into buying something in return for whatever entertainment or education they received from watching my videos or reading my blog posts. This is why my friend was confused. He couldn’t figure out how I convert people coming to my site or how I convert any of my other Social Media interactions into $,$$$.
My game is *awareness*. If you google Emmy Award Editor, you get *me*. If you google Video Editor Resume, you get *me*. If you google He Doesn’t Care, you get *me*. If you google Avoid Pregnancy, you get *me*. on and on and on and on and on. So what happens if you come to my site? My video editing demo reel is in my sidebar in an embedded flash player as well as a clickable link directly to an .mp4 file you can watch on your iPhone or gPhone right now. 😀 There’s also a direct link to my resume, if anyone felt interested in checking it out.
Is there a high rate of conversion to this situation? No. 🙂 The thing is, there doesn’t have to be. It’s passively-generated attention. I go to sleep and people visit my website. I go out partying and people visit my website. I’m working, making money, and people are visiting my website. I put out ZERO EFFORT other than site maintenance, which I have to do anyway, and I’m advertising myself all day and all night, which my quantcast badge in my sidebar will attest to, which currently reads “7,687 Monthly People”. ==>
So, if only one person out of a thousand plays my demo reel or checks out my resume or watches videos I’ve filmed, edited or participated in, that’s seven people per month or 84 people a year that become aware of Bill Cammack without my ever having to go knock on their door and attempt to sell them an encyclopedia.. Capisce? 😉
oh….. And that’s assuming that that one person out of a thousand doesn’t tell AAAAAAAAAANYBODY they know about me or my site. Once you consider that someone might post a link to your content on their favorite Social Media site and start an entire conversation about it, where everyone they talk to can come back to the same site and see the same content they mentioned, you start to see how the viral nature of the internet works in the favor of he or she who makes his or her own site and populates it with quality content…. Who comes up FIRST when you google Dating Women NYC ?… Facebook? Twitter? FriendFeed?… Nope. *I* do. 😀
So, if sidebar content is low-percentage for conversion, where does the real action take place?….. On the back-channel…
In Social Media, there are interactions that go on in front of everyone’s eyes and then there are interactions that only occur privately, which I refer to as “The Back-Channel”. As much time as I devote to public media output, I devote way more to back-channel conversation. On any given day, I’m doing 16-20 hours of private online interactions with people, which really translates more to ~35 hours a day, because, since I don’t use the telephone, I get to hold several conversations simultaneously.
This is why I don’t have to do my wheeling & dealing in public. The public side is for me to explain to people what I can do for them. The private side is for people to contact me about their projects, and for us to decide whether we want to work together.
This also occurs IRL. You might see me standing in a bar, having a brew with someone, but what you don’t know is that we’re talking business. When you walk over, the conversation suddenly changes, because *YOU* aren’t involved in our business dealings. This gives you the impression that I’m always frivolously socializing, when, meanwhile, I currently have 431 Linkedin connections and almost four times as many Facebook connections (1589).
So the blogging, which I do for my own entertainment, satisfaction & socialization, serves to populate the back-channel and also to give people an idea of who I am, what I’m about and the level of quality I can bring to their productions. I don’t have to make money directly from my sites. In fact.. Other than clients I already had before I got involved with Social Media in 2006,*EVERYONE* I currently do work for found out about me on the internet or was introduced to me by someone I was connected to online.
Could I make a few dollars with Google Ads? Probably… A Few…. I found that it wasn’t worth it (to me) to have random ads incessantly littering my pages. I’d rather endorse companies that I believe in or that I’m affiliated with or that are clients of mine. I’ve run ads in the past and I’m not saying I’ll never do it again. I’m saying I’d rather offer my audience a quality reading experience, which IME causes them to read more and feel like finding out more about who Bill Cammack is, which adds more people to my back-channel and eventually more $,$$$ to my bottom line.
What If I Don’t Have A Marketable Skill?
A lot of people that have websites don’t actually *DO* anything… They just REPORT about stuff that other people did. If that’s your game, and you can’t put the attention you garner from the internet to work for yourself, you need to put it to work for someone else. The best way to do that, IMO, is sponsorships. Look for people that believe in what you’re doing, believe in your content and believe in you as a person and find out from them what they would like to receive in return for funding you to do your site.
Let’s say for instance that your game is aggregating information you read on Twitter & Facebook and regurgitating that to your viewers/listeners/readers. You may very well be able to get someone (or several “someone”s) to sponsor you, because they would rather read what you selected than search for it themselves. It might be worth a couple of dollars to them to enable you to do what you already do, except better and more often. I you didn’t have to go to work so much, you could spend more time aggregating content and repackaging it for your fans & followers.
Other options are affiliate ads or Google ads.
Another route you can go is to align yourself with blogs that will pay you to blog for them. Dunno how lucrative that is, but it might be better than flippin’ burgers @ McDonalds…. Maybe.
The opposite of what I do is what I refer to as shilling. This would be when every time someone contacts you, there’s something they’re hoping to get out of it. To the uninitiated and uninformed, this seems to be the way to go, which is why everyone’s trying to figure out how to get more Twitter followers. They think that having more people supposedly reading their twitter posts gives them more influence, when, in reality, it’s as low-percentage as my sidebar-game.
I have 2,595 Twitter followers. I’ve seen people with TEN TIMES AS MANY followers host live streams and have exactly the same amount of people in it that I can pull, if not WAY FEWER. Twitter is not some kind of walkie-talkie. People aren’t waiting for your post so they can jump into action. Unfortunately, a lot of people act like that’s the best utilization of their “voice”, and turn their “channel” into 100% infomercials and advertisements.
What do *I* do with these people? Ignore them. If I see an email from them, it gets skipped. If I see a twitter post from them, I don’t bother to read it so I can have something advertised to me again. They’re like television commercials in the age of DVRs (digital video recorders), easily fast-forwarded.
This is what people expect to see when they come to your site. They expect you to try to SQUEEEEZE some money out of them for what you’re offering. Don’t play yourself. If what you’re offering has value which you can demonstrate to them, that’s all you need.
Why Bill Cammack Gets Pizaid
Ultimately.. I get paid because I can do things other people can’t do. Period. I do it better. I do it faster. I’ve spent time learning things that people don’t know, so if they don’t want to pay me to do it for them, they can pay someone else or take the time (if they have enough time) to learn it for themselves, buy the proper equipment and DO IT FOR FREE (minus equipment purchase costs) on their own.
Most people don’t have time to waste, learning skills that they’re never going to be able to use again. If they teach themselves how to edit, they’re never going to get a steady job editing. Also, the time they’re spending learning what I already know is time they’re *not* spending making money for themselves. This is why I don’t need to convince or persuade people that they should hire me. The reasons are obvious and there are more reasons every single day.
This is why I don’t need to directly advertise myself to people. I don’t get PAID from my websites. I get ATTENTION from my websites, and then I do whatever I want with my Social Capital. I’ve also built a foundation for any business endeavors I choose to become involved in. Whatever I want someone to pay me to do, I have at least two years’ worth of examples of my being involved in internet website and content creation. I have over TEN YEARS of experience editing videos, including several years of being an Emmy judge and an International Emmy judge.
I don’t have to convince anyone of anything. I don’t have to sell anybody anything. I don’t need to monetize my websites. I don’t need to get money for the hours that I spend writing articles like this. I build my community through Social Media so that when I come up with an idea for business, I have THOUSANDS of people that I can inform about my idea RIGHT. NOW… TODAY!, and if someone’s interested, we can definitely make this happen.
Interestingly enough… NOT SELLING THINGS TO PEOPLE works so well for me that I often have to AVOID business conversations with people, because I really, HONESTLY didn’t approach them to try to get some money from them. 🙂 I have to actively steer the conversation away from what I do so I’m not associated with the people that only walk up to you, shake your hand and give you a hug because they’re trying to get paid. Let’s have fun when it’s time to have fun and do business when it’s time to do business. 😉