Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Facebook - A very powerful networking group

I've been playing around on Facebook for a few days now and I'd have to say that I've been very impressed with the networking potential of this web site.

The most important thing I'd have to say so far is make sure that you are well organized when you start building your profile with them.

You have the ability to connect with former classmates of College and High School, many of these people you haven't spoken to in many years. When you first request a friendship, you are given an opportunity to tell them a bit about what you are working on and inspire interest.

Once you've made the friend connection, you may have missed that golden opportunity to talk about your project.

So far I've noticed that it is a time consuming way to contact people and it is best to make sure that you have personal messages to the people that you are reaching out to. I've been making a real point to be genuine with my messages because people can see through you if you really are being transparent and just trying to sell them something.

My plan is to give away my film to all my friends and then encourage them to spread the word about the film by giving them an affiliate partnership.

Since I'm still honing the experience of our main film viewing site, I've held off networking more on this site. I think timing is key and when people "friends" take the time to write you, you should respond quickly.

I've been discovering all sorts of great niche areas within Facebook and I'm really excited to dive deeper within this site.

In a future post, I'll talk about some of the other opportunities within Facebook and talk about some of my successes that I've had with this slick site, currently the 5th most popular site on the web.

Until then
Happy promotion
Blind Lyle Films

See the film I'm promoting now for only $3.99 and support my journey. The more success I have, the more I can share!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Don't let perfection stand in the way of success.

I'm writing this post to talk about a potential problem for good ideas. There is nothing wrong with trying to be the best at what you do. This is an honorable quality in people.

I would love to have a doctor who strives for perfection. I would love to see a film when everything in it is absolutely perfect. To have a chef who knows how to make the perfect meal would be divine.

The logic behind these statements are absurd however because it is impossible to be perfect. As humans, we always have flaws, that is what makes us human.

The problem with the goal of perfection in any project is that it can prevent you from moving forward and actually learning more about what you may have done wrong or right so that you can continue to improve.

Let me give you my latest example.

I was just about ready to give away my film to all my friends so they could see it and then pass it on to their friends. I then came up with the idea of using affiliate marketing to help promote the film. (A future post is in the works highlighting affiliate marketing).

Suddenly, I've created a whole new project that can potentially delay my project for weeks, if not months. There is finding the right affiliate, have the right plan, having all the tools in place, making it easy, making sure the incentives are appropriate, and the list goes on.

The thing is that I came up with a simple solution in one day that will allow me to offer affiliate partnership to my friends. Then I can get feedback and learn more. I can decide what type of affiliate plan might be best, which program is more attractive, which incentives are more effective, etc.

I've decided to compromise between perfection and reality. I'm going to spend one more day making a simple affiliate program available to the friends of my friends without postponing the release of the film.

There is something called the 80/20 rule, otherwise know as the Pareto Principle.

The basic idea at it applies to my situation is that the first 20% of my work that I do towards creating an affiliate program will result in 80% of my income from it. When I try to make it perfect, all that extra work will only result in the remaining 20% of my income.

I've got a lot of other work that needs to be done with this project and at the moment, I'm not making any income. I've got to get the word out about my film and one of the easiest ways is by telling my friends and giving them an incentive to tell their friends. I want to spend time outside of work as well so it only makes sense to budget my time well, make some income and then move on to the next task. If I feel that I need to improve on a particular part of the process, I can always return to it.

So with that said, I'm giving myself a reasonable deadline and goal.

Until then
Happy promotion
Blind Lyle Films

See the film I'm promoting now for only $3.99 and support my journey. The more success I have, the more I can share!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A new dimension to my promotion - affiliates

Just as I was getting ready to tell all my friends about the film and ask them to watch it and then send it off to their friends, I started thinking more about what happens when I get asked to do the same thing.

Most of the time, if I know the person, I'll read, watch, or vote on some action once, but like most people, I'm busy and if it isn't really easy, I'm not going to do it.

Why should I expect this to be any different for my friends who lead hectic lives juggling kids, careers, hobbies, relationships, etc?

We live in a society where money talks because money is a tool for us. We are motivated to do all sorts of crazy things for money. We get up before sunrise, battle traffic, hide behind a desk all day, deal with a boss that we don't understand, all for some money.

Why not offer to help the friends that I'm asking to help me?

Affiliates are not a new concept on the internet. We've all seen people promoting Amazon books on various websites. This is an example of how affiliates work. When someone orders one of these books on Amazon.com from an outside website or link, the person who made the referral gets a percentage of the sale.

There are many different affiliate programs and the complexity can be quite overwhelming as to how to implement some of these. Talking about all the affiliate sites in this posting is beyond the scope of this blog. I will link to some of the ones that I've looked into.

Staying true to the philosophy of my journey, I've decided to host my own affiliate program. Basically the way it will work is that when one of my friends refers one of their friends and that friend buys my movie, I'll give them a some cash back.

My goal with this project is to keep my start up expenses as low as possible. In another post I'll talk about each one of these expenses and how little I've spent.

I've managed to create a free script that will make the appropriate link for the affiliate. This is an e-mail to a friend link that will automatically create the appropriate affiliate link so that when the someone clicks on that link and orders a password to see our film, I'll know where the referral came from and then I can give them some money back.

You'll need to have a certain number of referrals before you get paid and I'm going to use paypal to pay my friends back.

I figure as this task becomes more challenging to complete, I'll utilize one of the established affiliate programs however I believe that I can handle quite a bit of the work initially.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The tools of Social Bookmarking

I've been surfing the web with digg and stumbleupon for the last few days and have decided that what is probably the most important is to make my profiles real.

What I mean by that is to actually have legitimate bookmarks and diggs of related content. The reason for this is so that when I find "friends" on the various sites, they can see what I'm up to and choose to follow what I'm doing.

All of this takes time which of course in the internet world of instant gratification just takes patiences.

The key here is to define your market which currently I see as filmmakers as well as people into self discovery. I'll cover more about knowing your market in a later post however I wanted to touch on it since I think building these profiles are important.

Until then
Happy promotion
Blind Lyle Films

See the film I'm promoting now for only $3.99 and support my journey. The more success I have, the more I can share!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Tools for measuring success

One of the most important aspects to any work on the web is to be able to measure your success. In order to do so, you need to track visitors, compare it with actions and see if one particular campaign or message or action works better then the other.

There are many different tools out there but one of the easiest to use is Google Analytics. This is a free tool available to all google account users and is very easy to add to your web site.

Here is a very basic video explaining how to add google analytics to a blogger account. Although a bit boring, it is short and easy. Sorry if this is too basic but I'm not exactly sure what the level of expertise of my audience is yet. Leaving comments can help!

After you follow the example, you can check the code by looking at the source code and make sure it is where it is suppose to be (somewhere between the body tags).

Now you can at see what kind of traffic you are getting.

Happy promotion
Blind Lyle Films

See the film I'm promoting now for only $3.99 and support my journey. The more success I have, the more I can share!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Overwhelming list of options

As I delve further into the concept of self promotion of our film Slow Down and Fast, I start to run into a list of potential ways to promote our film and the countless things to learn.

For starters, as I write this blog, I realize that if no one reads this, then why do I continue to write? By promoting this blog, I ultimately will get more people interested in what I'm doing however people have to find me.

Finding ways to promote my blog seems to be the next logical step. I've looked up some other blogs on the subject. Such as this one here.

This brings up more things to learn like blogging etiquette and the best ways to self promote without coming across as spam.

In addition, I've been exploring ways to network through digg and stumbleupon. Each one of these requires more research and more time.

It seems easier to talk about all the things to learn then to actually learn any of them. Getting started is always the hardest part.

Today, I'm just brainstorming on the list, Then I'll work more on each one and let you know what I've discovered.

1. Learn about social bookmarking and ways to find like minded people that will be interested in your work.

2. Promote your blog.

3. Find friends on places like myspace, and facebook.

4. Figure out the best way to utilize your existing network of friends and family to help promote your film. Make sure that you have specific goals in mind. Make it simple so they can do it. Supply them with the tools if necessary.

5. Submit a trailer to video sharing sites like Youtube, Metacafe and many others. Find as many as possible. Test different links, tags, etc and monitor which ones work better then others.

6. Find a way to collect e-mail addresses of visitors to your site and create a newsletter that you can send out to them.

7. Create a podcast of the journey.

I'm sure more ideas will come. For now, I'm off to "work".

Blind Lyle Films

Monday, August 11, 2008

Blind Lyle Films blog created today!

Obviously I have created our blog today. I went with blogger because it seemed the easiest to incorporate with our existing goals and infrastructure. Yes, I opted to put ads on the blog because this is how we make our living. When people click on our ads, we get a little bit of money and then we get to make more films.

After messing around with templates and customization I decided to go with a default template and have blogspot host the blog. Even though I was able to get our blog posted on our own web site, I lost control of where I could put inline ads and suddenly my day disappeared. There is only so much one person can do in a day and it is important to stick to your goals.

I'm hoping to format our main entry page for Slow Down and Fast with the links for social bookmarking today so that I can work on getting some feedback from some key friends that I trust to give feedback on the process.

The next step in the journey of getting a million views is to compose the e-mail that I'm going to send out to our friends and get the feedback of a select few to see if I'm on the right track.

Until then, I'm back into computer world.

Blind Lyle Films

The Art of Self Promotion

August 9, 2008 was the official launch of our short documentary Slow Down and Fast.

Slow Down and Fast is a film about a man who goes into the woods for 30 days without food or shelter on a water only fast. What he discovers is much more then you would expect. See the trailer below.

The idea of this blog is to document my journey as an independent filmmaker searching to find my audience, support our art and allow the internet to become the new market for independent film. I will outline my journey as it unfolds.

Here are the basics.

My wife Jaime Byrd started out with a consumer camera and a friend who wanted to fast on our property. Three years later we have a completed film, much more equipment and a dream to have 1,000,000 people see our film. My job has been to promote and distribute the film.

After what felt like almost a year, I've finally got all the tools in place to sell our film on our website. The list of assets include a shopping cart, ssl script, automatic credit card processor, paypal account, the ability to sell passwords, compressed video in flash format that looks good, a discussion board and a dream.

Now I've got to learn all the new social networking tools and viral marketing to bring our film to the goal. It's an ambitious goal however reasonable. My plan is to give it away to all my friends because they've wanted to see it anyway. All I ask from them is that if they like it, please tell their friends about it and let them spend $4.00 to see it.

I signed up on Digg, delicious, and stumbleupon. All very new concepts for me. I created a basic myspace page and now I'm off to spend some time outside my computer.

So for today, I wait, let the idea sit for a spell and let the world of the internet open up to us.

Oh, I guess I need to create a blog somewhere, right now it is just on my computer screen. Perhaps on Monday I'll look into blogger or some equivalent. So much to learn!

Thanks for reading.

Blind Lyle Films