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Gaining an Audience

Bailey Kalesti

This week I have some observations on gaining an audience as an artist. These days social websites play a role in this process. However they have a way of confusing and tangling us up over what's actually important, and what we really want as artists.

Around the time I started Forma Pictures, I decided to use Twitter more. Because in addition to it being a great resource to me over the years for learning (I follow great people), I thought it would be good to share and reach out to the community at large. To be clear, all of my tweets are in some way related to art and the profession (since 2009). I reserve personal stuff for direct texts with my friends and family. But check out the last 3 years, you can see the shift in my tweet strategy:

 

Bailey's Lifetime Tweets

Bailey's Lifetime Followers

 

You can see when I made the decision. Sometime in August of last year I decided to tweet everyday. I did my best to post and talk about great content. I aggregated pretty videos and learning resources that inspired or interested me. I also posted more of my work and engaged with people. However I recently decided it wasn't worth the time investment (1-2 hours) each week to do that. So, now I'm less regimented. But the negative effects of that have been non-existent. Case in point: in the last month I've had a 32% decrease in tweets and 10% fewer profile visits. However, in that time I've still managed to have a 20% increase in mentions and an 7% increase in followers.

Conclusion: Consistent activity does not necessarily result in more viewer engagement. More activity will naturally result in an engagement increase (nothing happens if there's nothing to engage with). But the biggest determiner in gaining a following, in my experience, has been to get retweeted by established personalities. That's basically Twitter's version of the trusted referral concept that we already know in business, which makes sense. Whenever I've been retweeted or favorited by known comedians or artists, I get an immediate bump in interest.

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That's all well and good, but the real lesson I've learned this year is that gaining an audience of like-minded people takes a long time. Years even. And the best people I have in my circles are due to direct contact methods. And while I've never been one to obsess over it, I have found myself yearning for a larger audience. It's only natural for artists to want to share with people. For me, that's what art is all about.

The obvious behavior is just to concentrate on the work. Thinking about a social presence is fine, but I think one can spend too much time on it until it turns into a distraction. Still, I understand the frustration of a lackluster viewer base. Hopefully my strange art sensibilities will begin to strike a chord with more and more men and women. Because what I really want is to continue to expand my close-knit community of lovely people to share and collaborate with. And as I release more and more content, I expect things to come together.

It just takes time. And referrals. Call to action for the day: if you like me or my work, talk about me to others. It helps me more than you think. Those who have been lovely enough to refer me have helped me pay real bills. I love those people (you know who you are)!

Bailey

P.S. The blog that you are reading was also part of my strategy. It was a way for me to post more content between my films. However, the metrics on this blog are extremely weak, that is, very few people read it and even fewer people engage with my site past the blog (one of the goals). Nevertheless, I'm keeping the weekly blog because it turned out that it had a very positive impact on me. So, even if 0 people read this, it's still highly beneficial to me and my career.