Everyone knows that dedicated and motivated fans will do most of the marketing for you. When people share your vision, and you have won them over, they want to get involved and share you and your work with others. It is a beautiful thing. Hell, if they really like you they will not only tell their friends about you, they will even drag them down to see you or purchase your stuff and maybe even buy a bunch to give as gifts over the holidays. Most people are too busy and overwhelmed these days and use recommendations from friends and family to simplify the decision making process about things, like where to go and what to buy. It is a filtering system. If someone tells them, ‘this is a fantastic book, you should read it’ they listen. That is whey the more people you have out there spreading the word, the better.
If you can create some sense of organization, you can mobilize your fans into action. With the help of Facebook, a few travel companions can alert their friends and other fans about upcoming projects, generate publicity and pass on information about where you are appearing and any new projects you are working on. In addition to spreading the word, loyal travel companions may also donate their time, expertise and even maybe money if they believe in what you are doing. It is such a powerful thing. That is why you want to create customers for life. Start small (or local) and build your travel companions base one person at a time. If you find one person who is a believer, it is equivalent to one hundred who are only mildly interested. These people will be with you for the long haul, the ups and downs. They are the ones who will put up flyers, make calls on your behalf, vouch for you, and pitch in when you need a hand.
I have expended a great deal of energy and have given away a ton of stories, all in an effort to find travel companions for my journeys. On paper it does not seem to make financial sense, but the reality is that it has paid off, bigtime! I learned this lesson a long time ago. In the early stages of my career I would always help anyone who asked. If someone called and needed advice information or encouragement I was there. Go out of your way to have travel companions. In theory it should be as simple as doing an amazing job and then waiting for travel companions to arise. To a degree that is how it happens. But I have found that you have to go the extra mile to really win people over. That means you take the time to meet and greet your audience and personally answer your emails as well as setting an exceptional example with your actions and your art. It also means finding ways to make a difference in people’s lives. That sounds like a lot of work, I know, but in the long run you will be rewarded for your efforts a hundred times over. I promise.
So why would not every creative person start building travel companions? For one, we don’t want to be pests, so we let relationships that could have bloomed into something special wither and die. It also a lot of work and takes discipline and organization skills that, frankly, many creative people haven’t developed. All you really want to do is to be left alone. When a potential travel companion reaches out and offers help, we push tem away. The reasons for this may be a fear that we are now obligated to them in some way. It may be a sense that we don’t feel as though we deserve their assistance. Finally, it is a fear of having to interact with people. Some of these excuses sound silly, but they are real. It can be extremely uncomfortable for some to have others heaping praise upon them even though that is what they have always wanted, acceptance. It is still a strange feeling. Regardless of the various reasons for not having built travel companions in the past, the time to start is right now. This chapter will show you how to develop travel companions in a traditional sense (readers, listeners, customers, clients, patrons and so forth) as well as support people (publishers, publicists, bosses, editors, buyers, distributors and so on).
It starts with you. Lead by example. Be the real deal. Do what you say you are gonna do when you say you are gonna do it. How many times have you admired someone from afar only to finally meet them and realize they aren’t what you thought.
Let them take a test drive. That is why people offer free downloadable music files, sample chapters and low resolution samples make sense.
Make it easy for them to join the club. I ask since 2012 creative heroines whose work i admire to tell their story on my website. I promote their stories on the internet. Any creative heroine can share their story. A lot of stories and visitors to the website as a result.
Make them feel special. If you can make your connection more personal, it has a greater impact. This could be a handwritten note with an order. Being an author, you would think that a signed book would not mean much to me. Wrong. I get excited when an author takes the time to personalize a book to me. It is a small thing to them, but a big thing to the recipient. It makes them feel special.