I always chuckle when I see people who brag about how awesome they are in a deadpan, serious effort. I thought those days were behind me, but it looks like I’m wrong.
I recently attending a blogging conference and Holy God, it was like high school all over again. Every other person was telling me how amazing they were and spouting off traffic or revenue stats that meant not a thing other than proving they had an ego that needed stroking. On the flip side I see fellow comedians offering up naming rights to their firstborn in exchange for watching their latest YouTube video. What the hell is going on here?
Take this recent NY Times piece on The Awl, a wonderful site.
By August 2009, they had chewed through their savings and had just under 100,000 unique visitors a month, a nice number that was rich with media insiders and hip twentysomethings, but not the kind of traffic that would make a living. When an anonymous donor sent in a few hundred dollars at one particularly stretched-thin moment, Mr. Sicha used it to buy food.
No and no.
100,000 unique visitors a month is not a nice number that’s rich with hip twentysomethings. I’m a twentysomething and none of the hip people I associate with know what 100k monthly uniques mean. None of the people I hang out with know what’s a “rich” number because nobody knows what’s a rich number. It’s all relative from site to site.
Which leads me to my second no. 100k uniques is most definitely enough to make a living off of because if you’re drawing that many people a month (A) you’re doing something right and (B) it’s not hard to turn that number into a much larger number. As Ze Frank says, going from 0 to 1 is the hard part. You think the guys at Twitter are sweating bullets trying to figure out how to start earning some cashola? No, they’re thanking their deity of choice that they made the site popular to begin with.
But I digress. My point is that everybody, even in the 21st century, seems to love playing the numbers game. I have X number of readers, but darn, you have Y number of followers. It doesn’t matter. It all comes down to content.
I don’t love Louis C.K. or Jon Stewart because they have millions of other fans, but because their content is routinely phenomenal. However many other people also appreciate their work is inconsequential to me or my appreciation of them. In fact, I’m more willing to go out of my way to support people who have fewer followers. If there’s an upcoming comedian with 10 Facebook fans and I only have enough money to buy one CD, he’s getting my money over a more well known figure as I’m positive he needs it more.
I’d venture to take that one step further and say there are more fans like me out there than people think. Anyone who has tried to self-publish knows how hard it is to achieve sustaining success and let’s face it, what twentysomething hasn’t tried to launch their own blog or podcast?
Where does that leave us? Hell if I know. All I can say is if you want to be taken seriously and impress someone, show them examples of your work and leave out mentioning your Twitter numbers.