This past Monday marked the one year anniversary since I rebranded my blog as The Frugal Filmmaker and embarked on a more aggressive campaign to build an audience and increase traffic. The goal was (and is) to give something back to the internet filmmaking community while creating interest for the projects I hope to create in the near future. The numbers say I've been kinda successful, so I'd like to share what I've learned in case you are trying to do the same thing.
The basic overall strategy was to create a simple network of free outlets that would all refer to each other and share similar content in a different way. Hopefully if a consumer subscribes to all of the outlets, they are getting a different enough experience to keep following them all. The following is a description of these various pipes, what I am doing with them, and the results of the past year.
YouTube Channel. Every filmmaker needs at least one of these. It is a free distribution point for your work that can be accessed on any computer, set top box or smart phone. I started The Frugal Filmmaker web show about nanobudget tips and gear. 15 episodes were produced. My goal was to get 1,000 subscribers and partner with YouTube so they would lift the 10 (now 15) minute cap put on new members. At the end of every episode I mention the blog address as well as Facebook, Twitter, Instructables and the email address.
On Monday I hit 1,000 subs and YouTube has since lifted the time cap on obedient users--no partnership required. The top 3 videos are the PVC stabilizer rig, the PVC table dolly and the PVC light stand. It's clear to me that my audience wants inexpensive gear that's functional and easy to make. The most important thing I've learned about YouTube (the #2 search engine) is to create evergreen content that people will always look for. Your views will accrue like compound interest.
Twitter. This is a great outlet for daily microblogging, provided you have something interesting to say. I post some tips, but mostly links that I find useful. These same links are on the Facebook Group and the Weekly Recap Link List on my blog. I had a goal for 1,000 followers in one year, but currently only have 423.
Facebook Group. Another source for aggregating links (including my blog posts) that you can read on Facebook. The best feature about the group is that you can send a message to all members at once (unlike a Facebook fan page). I send the Weekly Recap Link List this way and have had lots of good feedback from people who like getting a list of interesting stuff in their mail box every week. Another cool thing is that members can post on the wall, which invites participation and provides even more content for the Link List. Set a goal for 1,000 group members, currently have 413.
Instructables. This is a great site that lets you upload step-by-step photos of things you've built and add notes to those pictures. I take my videos and break them down into stills, adding notations when done. I also embed the YouTube source video, which helps with views. I've been neglectful of this resource lately and need to get back on the ball. No goals were set here, just to create a slightly different way to attract viewers.
Gmail Address. By creating thefrugalfilmmaker(at)gmail.com, readers and viewers know how to contact me with a unique address that fits well into the rest of things. It's also where I get notified (via my cell phone) of YouTube subscriptions and updates of filmmakers I am following.
The Blogger Blog. The hub for all of my content. All Twitter and Facebook posts are published here as a Weekly Link List, in case a reader doesn't follow Facebook or Twitter. The YouTube show is embedded here, as is a couple of other shows that I network with (all current episodes live in the sidebar). Links to all the other outlets can be found here. Readers can subscribe via email or RSS. I wanted 1,000 RSS subscribers, but that number doesn't seem to move much (currently at 385). The more telling numbers (I use sitemeter) for the blog are visits and page views. They have shot up from a modest 1,733/2,766 one year ago to 8,382/15,376 this past month. That tells me I'm doing something right.
I'd also like to say something about the brand: The Frugal Filmmaker. When I accidentally let my previous domain Film Flap lapse, I thought a long time about what new name would totally embody what my new focus was. It's the name on the blog, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and the email address. It's not on the Instructables account as that one already existed, but I should have started a new one. The beauty of that name is that it completely explains itself. I own thefrugalfilmmaker.com which points directly to the blog, letting me out of all that ".blogspot" malarkey.
Things seem to be moving in the right direction. I thank you all for your support, comments and suggestions. Please keep it coming! You are the biggest reason I'm having any success at all.