Introverts...you gotta step up your con game! Here are some tips to help you talk to people

I go to a lot of cons. A lot. In fact, if there is a con in Socal, I'm usually there. If there's a con in Norcal, I'm probably there. 

I love cons. We try to do 30+ a year in all sorts of genres. I walk the aisles at every one trying to find new stuff, and am constantly met with artists and vendors that shy away from talking to me, or engage me with their eyes low and voice squeaky. People's con game is weak, son. 

Engaging at shows is so important to get fans and make more money. Fans want to meet you. They want to buy things that excites them. They want to find a cool indie person and say "look at this! They are gonna blow up!"

You are the product as much as what you are selling. They want to go back to their friends with a story. They want to hang your art on their wall and remember that cool person they met at that awesome con. 

With that being said, I know not everybody is as outgoing as me, so here are a couple of tips that can help you get you talking to more people. 

1. Smile and say Hello - I know it's hard, but the simple act of smiling makes your more approachable and sends endorphins to your brain to help you get over the con mopies. If you are ever down at a con, just smile like an idiot for 10 seconds and you can force your mood to improve. Once you are smiling, just wait until somebody looks your way and say "Hello". The advanced move is saying "Want to see something cool?" If you can get to that point, you'll get tons more foot traffic, and with more foot traffic, more people will buy your stuff. 

2. Eat - Everybody gets hangry when they don't eat, and most of us eat terribly at cons. Spending a few minutes at a supermarket getting grapes, water, and some pre-made sandwiches will do you a world of good. Candy and sugar is going to make you drop like a rock and make you harder to be around. 

3. Focus on your best selling product(s) - Most people get overwhelm at booths, including the vendors. If you know which product sells the best, then just ask if they like that product, and then you can talk about it. If they say NO, then you can ask what they DO like and it's easier to engage with them. 

4. Be a fan - We are probably the biggest fans around. I mean we love comics, or art, or books, or photography so much that we created something. We are the Super Duper Fans. So you can geek out with people about what you love. Talk to them about other books and why you made your project. Talk to them about what it means to you, and why you exhibit. Be you. 

5. Let people feel your product - If you can, put a product in somebody's hand. People are many times more likely to buy if they are holding a product, feel it, and can imagine owning it, than if they are just looking at it. If you do art than frame it and show somebody what it would look like. If you write books then let them hold it and flip through it. 

6. Finally, remember that people want to buy - People are there with money to spend. Remember that. At a big con they have probably been saving for months. They want to buy stuff. They've thought about what kinds of stuff they want. It's up to you to show them your stuff is their kind of cool. 

You aren't going to sell everybody. In fact you aren't going to sell almost anybody, especially at first. However, if you can get comfortable selling then you'll have a better time at a cons and you'll even leave with some money in your pocket. 

Just don't forget this. If somebody BUYS from you, make sure to get their email and give them ways for them to follow you! 

Constantly Taking on New Projects Makes You a Crazy Person Who Gets Sent to Hospital

This is a continuation of my article last week about going to the ER after my body gave out on me. If you haven’t read it, check it out here. 

I’m a pretty neurotic person. I’m also a workaholic. I don’t mean that I work constantly, though I really do. I mean more that I always feel guilty about not working. 

While this doesn’t always manifest in me working 20 hours a day, it does manifest in me taking on 1,000 projects at a time. 

I think that I can write three books back to back to back and they will have the same quality as the one I spent a year writing. 

I think that I can do seven podcast episodes a week with the same vigor that I do two. I expand myself to an insane degree with every new businessthat I undertake. 

When I started Kickstarter University, I decided not to do one new video a month, but to do a new one every day, and to start with 50 episodes at launch. It’s no wonder that company failed in six months. I did 10 years of work on it in three weeks until it collapsed under the pressure.

That’s not good. 

It’s really not good. And I find myself continuing with projects I only sort of like because one day I might love them. Heck, it happened with my latest book, and that book is AMAZING

More often though, it leads to more projects than I can handle and certainly more than I can launch effectively. 

So today, I want to beg you to focus on a couple of projects and do them really, really well. You will have a much better time working on them, and you will have time for a life. 

Here are a couple of things I learned from hard experience about why it’s so important to focus on a couple things and take time to live. 

You don’t have time to launch all these projects

You have to slate projects in over the course of a year, and build to them. It takes as much effort and energy to launch a little project as a big one, so you are better off focusing all your energy on a couple of big projects. 

The rest of the year is just building scarsity and interest in you as a brand and your product as a whole. 

Your fans need time to grow and recover from your launches

Your audience is not going to buy projects from you every three days or even three months. 

Your audience needs to recover from your launch, catch their breath, and miss you. If you are always launching they don’t have time to realize how awesome your projects are and that they want more of your work. 

If you are always there, you are never important. Think of that friend who moved away. How much more moving is that visit than when they lived down the street from you? 

You need time to build a head of steam

Creating a podcast, building an audience, writing a book, or launching a product takes time, energy, and effort. Once you launch something it takes time to build it up. If you are constantly shifting focus to something else, nothing gets the energy it deserves.

More does not (necessarily) mean better

Apple puts out one phone model a year (well this year they did the SE and they had the plus too, but historically it’s one phone launch a year). They are the most recognizable brand in the world. 

Android phones come out every other day, and aside from Samsung most don’t matter. 

Sometimes more is better, but most of the time having one strong brand is better than having hundreds of small ones. 

You’ll burn out, and be sent to hospital because your body can’t take it

That level of output is unsustainable. Trust me. I know. I have such a back catalog of books and projects that I created over the last few years I feel like I break down every other month. This time sent me to hospital, but mostly they just make me collapse in exhaustion. 

I never really took into consideration my body or my health. I mean it’s always been there, but I never forewent money in exchange for health. That has to change. In the end, health is all we have.

Businesses are more than creating products

Look, I know we are all good at creating products. That’s why we are still doing it. Whether it’s art, or books, or software, the thing we do well is create the product. Unfortunately, product is a very small part of business. Business is about distribution, and expansion, and audience building, and all the other stuff that content creation allows us to do. 

If we are always creating new content, there isn’t time to build that audience.

So there are some things I learned. I shout into the ether more for me than anybody. I hope I can look back at these posts in the future and take comfort in them. I hope you take comfort in them too. 

As I sit in the ER for panic attacks, let’s talk about what I learned about my business in Q1

I didn’t want to write a Q1 review, mostly because they are incredibly boring and self congratulatory.

Yet, here I am in the emergency room, trying to figure out if I just had a panic attack or a heart attack, and all I can think about is how I got here. 

I’m a relentlessly negative human being, but for the first time ever in my life I feel like I understand my company and how to make it work. 

I actually thought I was in a pretty good mood, for me at least. Clearly not. 

I was repressing something bad. Yet there was some good…a lot of good in Q1. 

So let’s look at some things that can actually help you, and I will have a pity party in my own time.

  1. You can’t sell a customer something they don’t want. I see it over and over at my own shows. I get excited about a book and guess what…nobody buys it. They get super excited about something else on the table. No matter how much I try to convince somebody they should like a new thing, if it doesn’t excite them then they will never buy. 
  2. Revenue is good, but profit is what matters. I used to get excited when we had a great revenue month even if we ended up more in the red than when we started…but I learned a sustainable business isn’t about revenue. Business is about profit. If you aren’t making a profit, you won’t have a business for long. 
  3. Get excitement for your product from the audience first… Then make it. To go back to point one, if you can’t convince somebody to buy something they don’t want, you need to know what the customer wants before you make it. In order to know what your audience wants…you have to ask then. You need to talk about your products, see if people will buy them, and only if they will should you go full hog on it. 
  4. You need to get in front of your audience live and in person. Sales is a one on one conversation with millions of people. I order to scale online, you have to know what resonates with people in person. If you don’t go to shows you will never see what makes people’s eyes light up. That twinkle in your customer’s eye is how you know they are hooked.
  5. Passion is everything. If you aren’t passionate about your books to a crazy degree, nobody else will be either. So when you talk to people, you have to bring the positive energy.
  6. Take care of yourself. It’s probably not a fluke that i wound up I the emergency room the day after i ended an eight week stretch of conning every weekend. I don’t take care of myself at all, because of that my body broke down. Don’t be like me. 

I hope you learn from my mistakes. Until next time. 

Russell Nohelty is a writer, publisher, and consultant. He runs Wannabe Press which creates weird books for weird people, and The Business of Art podcast, where he helps creatives build better businesses. 

It never gets easier to launch a product

Let’s say you’ve done a few product launches before as I have through my publishing company, Wannabe Press.

You would think that each launch after the first couple would be less horrifying, right?

You would think that with each new launch there would be calm and peace because we knew what we were doing right?

I mean after all, we pretest all our products. We validate the ideas. We give them to beta readers. We talk about them for months beforehand. We know they are good products that people want.

However…

It never gets easier. That feeling in the pit of my stomach never goes away. I actually talk about it on this episode of my podcast. I talk about how every launch is filled with fear.

For me it’s because we try to push the boundaries of what we’re comfortable with in every product launch. We always try to expand, to grow, to be better.

With Ichabod Jones: Monster Hunter it was seeing if people even wanted what we had to offer at all.

With Katrina Hates the Dead it was determining if people would come back to again if I didn’t guilt them into buying.

With My Father Didn’t Kill Himself it was seeing if people would buy into us becoming a novel publisher and accept me as an author instead of a creator.

In each case we were successfully! But prior success doesn’t necessarily determine future success. It just makes that success more likely.

Now with our new Kickstarter for I Can’t Stop Tooting: A Love Story, it’s seeing if people will accept us as a publisher of other people’s books.

See Wannabe Press has been almost all my books since it’s inception in 2014, but that’s not sustainable for growth. I can’t write everything we do, nor do I want that for the company.

We need other people’s products to help push us to the next level.

So this is the next stop for us. We need it to go well. It’s something we’ve never done before. It’s something that we can train for over and over again. It’s something that we can drill.

But no matter how much you know about your audience and your product…there is still the unknown. There is still the possibility that it will all come crashing down.

They say in publishing you are only one bad book away from it all coming unraveled. It’s the same with most products.

It’s already happened once this year with Kickstarter University, something that was supposed to be the main driver of income shat the bed…hard, and we had to pivot.

With entrepreneurship you are like a basketball player…because you have to pivot all the time…but I really don’t want to pivot on this one. It’s time to be a big boy publisher and start putting out other people’s books.

And that is where my fear comes from…because I want it so bad. Because I need it so bad. Because it’s so important. I don’t think that will ever go away, because every product launch is filled with fear.

So check out our new Kickstarter here. It’s a really cool kid’s book about farting and acceptance.

Russell Nohelty is a writer, publisher, and consultant. He runs Wannabe Press which creates content for rebellious weirdos. He also has a podcast called The Business of Art which helps creatives build businesses the right way.

Why Taking Time Off Can Vastly Improve your Career

It’s weird. I just worked for what seemed like 72 hours straight at a con. I made tons of great connections, a decent little stack of change, and added a huge amount of people to our mailing list.

I earned a day off. 

And yet here I am writing this blog post, updating my website, unpacking from the convention, and feeling guilty about not doing more. I feel pangs when I’m not working on my business. This is something I see in every entrepreneur and in every facet of business. 

It’s something I read about at least once a month.

And yet here I am adding my name to the din. I don’t have any new insights you haven’t read before, so I won’t bore you with the medical reasons rest is good. 

I will tell you a story though, because that’s what I do. I’m a storyteller. This is a story about a struggling business that had no idea what it was doing. 

In 2015, when we seriously launched Wannabe Press and I left my previous job…things were not so great. 

I spent every day struggling to keep my head above water. Even when our Kickstarter blew past its goal and people enthusiastically bought our books…I still couldn’t figure out what I was doing or why I was having success. 

Then I decided to take the entire month of December off last year to figure out how to make my business grow and why we were having success in the first place. 

That sounds scary right? 

I mean a month off dedicated to thinking is insanity. I’m sure most people reading this are shaking their heads at this frivolous luxury. And yet, it was that month that turned my entire business around. 

That month away gave me the clarity to find all the levers in my business and build a rock solid plan to exploit them. 

I found that I did best at conventions and that online was a money pit, so I decided to increase my shows exponentially. 

In fact, I decided to make shows the cornerstone of my entire business. I never thought live events would be where I would be expending almost all my marketing effort, but the numbers don’t lie.

I found that the people I spoke to at shows were creators trying to build a career. I needed to provide information for them specifically and they needed a voice to give trusted advice. 

I found that the other creators exhibiting with me needed a resource to help them sell better at shows and an outlet to get them more exposure. I could provide that for them.

That led to the creation of my podcast The Business of Art, dedicated to helping creators build better businesses. It’s one of the best decisions I ever made in my career and it only happened because I took time off to reflect. 

I found that the people I wanted to serve really didn’t care about one of the products I was building. That product was going to be the bedrock on which the rest of my company was based in 2016, and it was a dud.

By taking that month off to focus on the big picture of my business, I was able to figure out how my business worked, the levers I needed to pull in order to increase revenue, what was eating all my money, and who I was serving. 

I found the best way for me to get new customers, meet new fans, and help more people. It was not doing Facebook ads or hiring marketing companies, it was getting out to live shows and providing information in order to serve my audience. 

It led me to scrap my big project. It led me to find new books and expand our line-up. It led me to book dozens more shows than I would have otherwise. It led me to launching a podcast, and this blog you are reading right now. 

It helped us design of ideal customer avatar, our mascot, and figure out what the people who cared about our message wanted to hear. 

It led to the most successful and profitable weekend we have ever had at Wannabe Press. 

It led me to cut the fat on my bloated marketing budget and focus on core brand. 

It led to the realization I could do this, all because I took time off to think for a minute. Now, we are generating more revenue and buzz than ever before and are on pace to hit our revenue goals for this year. 

I can’t recommend taking time off to think about your business highly enough. So right now that’s what I’m going to do: rest, figure out what worked, and make sure we are ready for what lies ahead. 

 

If you aren’t creating value for your audience, what are you doing with your life?

I have a question for you. It’s going to take a minute of thinking, so make sure you are in a quiet space…or don’t. I mean you can do whatever you want. You’re an adult. 

You ready? 

How did you find your favorite online resource, your most trusted author, and your favorite artist? 

It’s really important you answer this question first, because the rest of this entire article is predicated on the fact that your audience works like you. 

Most people don’t think about how they act online while planning their content strategy, but you and your friends are the best indicator about how your ideal client works. 

You MUST provide incredible value to those people who will want to buy your content.

I’m not a genie, but I’ve been doing this long enough to guess the process of how you found your favorite creator. 

  1. Somebody you know posted something on social media that you thought was cool. Maybe it was an image, an article, or a book excerpt. 
  2. You clicked on that link. It took you to a website where you consumed the content and loved it. But one piece of content isn’t enough to make them your favorite. It might’ve been a fluke. 
  3. You searched them online and found tons of other content they produced. All of it was riveting. So riveting that you wanted to own something created by them. 
  4. You decided to buy something from them. You started with something small and reasonable. You weren’t going to blow the bank on something you might not go nuts over. 
  5. You found that piece of content you bought amazing, and bought all of their work. Maybe you even commissioned they to do a piece of content specifically for you. 
  6. You followed them online, signed up for their mailing list, and eagerly anticipated their next piece of content. Whenever they had something new, you bought it immediately, because every piece of content they posted was pure gold. 

I know for a fact that some of you reading this are calling shenanigans. So let’s get it over with so we can move on. 

I know you found Chaucer at 13 in your local library, and he’s been dead centuries before social media became a thing.  

Congratulations. You beat me. Feel better now? 

Good, because I’m sure you still found that book through word of mouth, looked up free content, went and absorbed everything you could for free, then decided to buy the book at some point, right? 

I’ll bet you have a copy of Canterbury Tales somewhere in your house. So while the starting point isn’t the same, you still went through this process: 

1 — Hearing about something being good from a trusted friend of advisor. 

2 — Seeking out free content on the creator. 

3 — Falling in love with that content and seeking out more. 

4 — Deciding to buy a copy of that work, and loving it. 

5 — Buying their entire collection, and maybe even two copies, or six copies of it. 

This it the buyer psychology almost every human being on the planet is going to employ before buying from YOU, because how the human brain is wired. 

We are going to find things our friends like, try it out, and then only buy from somebody we trust, because sometimes our friends are idiots who lead us down the wrong path, like when Johnny made you bleach your hair to be one of the “cool kids” and you ended up with pink hair. Stupid Johnny. 

This piece of buyer psychology is the key to finding an audience. 

You MUST provide incredible value to those people who you want to buy your content. When I say incredible value, what I mean is content that will allow your intended audience to know, like, and trust you. Most importantly, to fall in love with what you do and eagerly anticipate the next thing. 

Most people think throwing content on their site is enough, but it takes significant planning to make sure you are targeting the right people, with the right message, to entice them to fall madly in love with what you do and voraciously consume your content. 

So get out there and start providing value. The onus is on you. 

Russell Nohelty is a writer, publisher, and consultant who helps creative professional develop content plans to target their ideal customer and build their perfect audience (fancy that). You can find him and his podcast @ www.thebusinessofart.us, or at his publishing company www.wannabepress.com, where he creates dope content for rebels who question everything. 

If I Hear One More Person Say Night Owls are More Creative I’m Going to Punch Them in the Mouth…

 

One of the trending stories recently on Elite Daily is that Night Owls are more creative than early birds, even though early birds are more productive. This is the kind of story that’s like herpes. It keeps going away, and coming back no matter how much you pray it away.

I’m usually pretty okay with these sensational stories whenever they get bandied about. After all, we’re in the age of sensational headlines.

Why do you think I wrote I was going to punch somebody in the mouth in the open? I mean, it’s all marketing.

But I’ve been hearing this story for years and it needs to die. I heard it while I was getting up before school and wrote blog posts. I heard it while I was awake in the dead of night writing movie scripts before work. I hear it now after finishing my fifth novel while getting up at 4am most mornings.

And it drives me up a wall. I know they are not talking about the outliers and that could be where I fall, but I am highly creative AND highly productive.

What’s worse? This sort of story is not only sensational, but it puts those two things at odds with each other.

“If you are creative you don’t have to be productive, right? I mean the internet told me so. I can just stay up late waiting for my muse to strike, and so what if I don’t get anything done tomorrow.”

Wrong.

Creativity doesn’t just strike, and being a night owl isn’t an excuse to not get anything done all day, just like being an early bird doesn’t give you an excuse to be a rigid task master.

On the other side, it gives people an excuse for why they don’t follow their creativity. “Well, I get up early so there’s no way I can write my novel.”

It’s just the right kind of study that gives everybody the perfect excuse not to do a thing.

And the thing is, the study might be right…but it doesn’t matter. Because in order to be successful you need to be both highly creative and highly productive.

You need to sit down at 9am and write. You can’t wait for the muse to strike. At the same time, you have to be able to creatively fit round pegs into square holes all day in order to be productive.

It’s just like when people say I’m creative because I’m left handed. Well maybe that’s true, but I still choke that creativity out of me like it’s a bottle of toothpaste, get it down on a page, force myself to rewrite it, and get it published.

Even though night owls have have a proclivity to creativity, that means nothing. I’ve met plenty of people with a proclivity for greatness that end up washing floors because they have no plan.

Creativity doesn’t just strike, and being a night owl isn’t an excuse to not get anything done all day, just like being an early bird doesn’t give you an excuse to be a rigid task master.

Now please can I stop hearing about this stupid study before I punch somebody in the mouth?

Russell Nohelty is a publisher, writer, and consultant. He owns the indie publisher Wannabe Press (www.wannabepress.com), where he puts out rebellious content for sharp minds. He also has a podcast called The Business of Art (www.thebusinessofart.us) where he shows creatives how to run businesses better.

You don't need talent to hustle

I like to think that over the years I’ve developed my talent to the point that it’s extremely marketable. I hear that not just from my clients, but also when we do a book launch and I see just how many people are excited to consume our content. On top of that we have a podcast that is gathering steam, a mailing list that is exploding right now, and I’ve been asked to speak at more events this year than I have in my entire life combined, and it’s only March.

Somebody even recently called me the “King of Kickstarter”, even though I’ve never had a Kickstarter raise more than $10,000, because they know that I’m living, and living comfortably from my audience built through crowdfunding. At the end of the day, what matters isn’t the gross revenue, it’s the profit after remaining once all the rewards ship.

That was one of the best feelings of my career, because people know me as the guy…and it’s in the exact niche I want to be known. I spent months upon months imparting knowledge about crowdfunding, and how to make your project a success. Now, from sheer grit and determination, people know me as an expert, all because I hustled more than anybody else to carve out a name for myself.

That being said, it wasn’t always this way.

For years, decades even, I was just some guy who had a dream of being a writer and speaker. I was banging on doors. I was showing my stuff to people. I was talking about what I wanted to do, but I had nothing to show for it as far as “talent”.

I don’t even think I have a lot of raw talent. I’m not the best project manager. I’m not the best writer. I’m not the best editor. I’m really not the best entrepreneur overall.

What I always had though, was hustle. And since I hustled more than anybody else, I learned the rest. I learned to write by writing all the time. I learned to edit and manage projects because I took on tons of projects. I was always asking people to if I could help and they let me just because I hung around.

I never stopped. If there was a convention, I was there. If there was a meetup, I was there. If somebody was speaking, I was there. And just by being there, in the presence of my friends who were greater than me, it started to make me great. Something rubbed off, over the course of a decade.

But that never would have happened without hustle, without the dogged determination to be in the right place even if it wasn’t my time, and to never give up.

Here’s the thing.

Most people are going to quit. People more talented than you. People with better connections than you. People with more money than you. They are all going to give up for one reason or another. And if you can just outlast them because you want it more, doors are going to open to you. Doors you never would have expected.

And people will know you as they guy (or girl) who wants it more than anybody. They’ll respect that, because you got where you are on sheer force of will. I’ve never worked for DC, or Marvel. I’ve never written for Disney. I didn’t have a big audience from some movie I wrote for Lionsgate to help boost my credibility.

Every shred of that I have is from sheer determination to do it better, cheaper, faster, and with more heart than anybody else.

It does pay off.

Trust me it pays off. It might take a decade, but it pays off. I always took the path of most resistance. Instead of staying in popular novels, and working from popular public domain characters, I chose to make my own characters. Instead of finding a bunch of other writers to publish, I built an audience from my own stuff.

Whenever an easier path presented itself, I almost always stayed away from it and went for the harder way. Now doors have opened up I didn’t even know existed.

And I get more people coming up and complimenting me on the hustle of just still being here, and respecting the fact that I built a cash flow positive business in one of the absolute hardest places to build one, spec fiction comics and novels, than I do about the books…though plenty of people tell me how much they like those too.

And do you know how much that hustle cost me?

Zero.

It costs no money to hustle. It costs your time, which is valuable, but it costs you nothing to hustle. And when you get some respect, you still have that hustle. It doesn’t go away. You can use it forever.

They say that you need two of three things to get by: Extreme talent, the ability to hit deadlines, or being likeable. Only two of those three and you can be successful. You can’t help talent, but you can be likeable and hit deadlines. Then, if you work on the talent you can have all three.

If you throw in hustling more than the next guy, you can supercharge your career into the stratosphere.

If you are just starting out, remember that. Remember there are things you cannot control, but there are things you can. Affability, punctuality, and hustle are just a couple of things you can develop now this minute that will pay off in the long run.

Hustle isn’t a short term time horizon payoff. It’s something that will pay off years from now, but if you have it you’ll be successful because people can’t stop you. Because talent can’t stop you. Because you will succeed on force of will.

And eventually the talent will follow. Eventually it will all come into place, but if you have hustle it’s a great start. If you just show up for long enough you’ll earn respect…and earned respect from your peers is a wonderful feeling.

Russell Nohelty is a writer, publisher, and consultant. He trains people how to build an audience that you can monetize, and leads by example with his company Wannabe Press. He also has a membership site called Kickstarter University, which is the premiere crowdfunding membership site on the internet.

 

Live Episode 3: San Fernando Valley Comic Con with Daniel De Sosa, Lenny Romero, Steve Waldinger, Erika Lipkes, and Allen Carter

This past weekend we were at San Fernando Valley Comic Con, and I wanted to do another live edition specifically about small cons. When people think of going to cons, they always think of big cons like San Diego or New York, but we build a lot of our business through smaller cons. These are cons that happen at local rec centers, community centers, or comic shops even.

The reason I love them personally is because they cost is so much less and thus the pressure is off. I don’t have to worry about outlaying $500+ for a table. The table fees are usually well under $100 for a table. Many of them are under $20, and if you do store signing you will probably find tables for free.

And that means you can do what you are there to do, which is build an audience, and talk to fans. Because there are not thousands of people walking through the hall you can have real conversations with your audience, and they build that know, like, trust with you much quicker. Do you get as many people, no. But it’s not always about quantity. It can be about quality too.

Additionally, you don’t have to fight with hundreds of other vendors doing the exact same things as you. At these smaller cons you are usually one of a couple, if not the only person there doing what you do. So people what want your kind of work are more likely to buy from you.

There are also less celebrities and other big name people at these cons, so you don’t have to fight with them for your customer’s precious money. Speaking of money, it’s also much cheaper (if not free) to attend these cons meaning the people there have more money to spend on the vendors.

Small cons are a great way to build your chops and your brand. If you fail at these small cons, there is much less worry than failing at a big one. And you need to fail a lot before you can get good. So the more cons your do on a small level, the better.

First we talked to Daniel De Sosa, who I actually met at San Fernando Valley Comic Con in November. He’s a great guy who’s been conning forever. Super talented too. You can find him at backwardsburd.com and by searching for desosaink on facebook and Instagram.

Then we talked to Lenny Romero, and awesome artist at only his fifth con, so it was great to see how these small cons were helping him. You can find him on instagram @lenzations.

Third, we talked to Steve Waldinger. Steve didn’t have much of his own merch at the table, but he was sharing with the Lady Beaver. They were just getting started too at cons, and this was only their second show. They did Long Beach Comic Expo in February, so it was great to see them compare. There is so much less pressure at these small shows when you don’t have much product too. You can find him on twitter and Instagram @stevewaldinger.

Fourth, we talked to Erika Lipkes, the Lady Beaver herself. She does zines and paintings, stickers and other awesome art. I love seeing zine people at cons because you don’t see them often at bigger cons. Again, the costs are just so high there’s very little chance of making money, especially with the amount of time it takes to make these things by hand from scratch. However, she did Long Beach Comic Expo too, so it was nice to see her compare the two. I loved that one of her students came to see the show too! That’s what you can do when the show costs very little to attend. You can find her online at ladybeaver.com.

Finally we talked to Allen Carter. I see Allen at tons of shows all over the place. Almost every time there is a con he’s be there. He even tells me about lots of cons. So it was great to hear him talk about his books, trades, zines, and other work. You can find him online at the carter comics or the figure of speech mongoose where he does a Mongoose Monday challenge every single week. Check it out.

And that’s it. I really appreciate everybody taking a couple minutes to talk to me. Small cons are so important. The people are nice and gracious, and it’s nice to have sometimes 10 minute conversations with a single fan.

 

If I Hear One More Person Say Night Owls are More Creative I’m Going to Punch Them in the Mouth…

One of the trending stories recently on Elite Daily is that Night Owls are more creative than early birds, even though early birds are more productive. This is the kind of story that’s like herpes. It keeps going away, and coming back no matter how much you pray it away.

I’m usually pretty okay with these sensational stories whenever they get bandied about. After all, we’re in the age of sensational headlines.

Why do you think I wrote I was going to punch somebody in the mouth in the open? I mean, it’s all marketing.

But I’ve been hearing this story for years and it needs to die. I heard it while I was getting up before school and wrote blog posts. I heard it while I was awake in the dead of night writing movie scripts before work. I hear it now after finishing my fifth novel while getting up at 4am most mornings.

And it drives me up a wall. I know they are not talking about the outliers and that could be where I fall, but I am highly creative AND highly productive.

What’s worse? This sort of story is not only sensational, but it puts those two things at odds with each other.

“If you are creative you don’t have to be productive, right? I mean the internet told me so. I can just stay up late waiting for my muse to strike, and so what if I don’t get anything done tomorrow.”

Wrong.

Creativity doesn’t just strike, and being a night owl isn’t an excuse to not get anything done all day, just like being an early bird doesn’t give you an excuse to be a rigid task master.

On the other side, it gives people an excuse for why they don’t follow their creativity. “Well, I get up early so there’s no way I can write my novel.”

It’s just the right kind of study that gives everybody the perfect excuse not to do a thing.

And the thing is, the study might be right…but it doesn’t matter. Because in order to be successful you need to be both highly creative and highly productive.

You need to sit down at 9am and write. You can’t wait for the muse to strike. At the same time, you have to be able to creatively fit round pegs into square holes all day in order to be productive.

It’s just like when people say I’m creative because I’m left handed. Well maybe that’s true, but I still choke that creativity out of me like it’s a bottle of toothpaste, get it down on a page, force myself to rewrite it, and get it published.

Even though night owls have have a proclivity to creativity, that means nothing. I’ve met plenty of people with a proclivity for greatness that end up washing floors because the have no plan.

Creativity doesn’t just strike, and being a night owl isn’t an excuse to not get anything done all day, just like being an early bird doesn’t give you an excuse to be a rigid task master.

Now please can I stop hearing about this stupid study before I punch somebody in the mouth?

Russell Nohelty is a publisher, writer, and consultant. He owns the indie publisher Wannabe Press (www.wannabepress.com), where he puts out rebellious content for sharp minds. He also has a podcast called The Business of Art (www.thebusinessofart.us) where he shows creatives how to run businesses better. 

Hard Lesson 1: Should You Abandon Your Project: Five Reasons Why I Didn't

So I’ve been working on a project for a long time now, over a year. It’s been a year of developing characters, story, plot, and actually writing an 80,000 word novel. It hasn’t been my only project, but there have been several hundred brain hours devoted to this project.

And the thing is…I’ve never really loved it. I mean I loved it in inception and concept, but it hasn’t been something that I fell in love with like some of my other projects. I’ve always thought about abandoning the project in full and moving on, but the further I got along the more I didn’t want to abandon the project. The more investment I had and the more I need it to work.

The problem, though, has been that the further I got on with the project, the more I disliked it. So my desire to monetarily finish the book was diametrically opposed to my desire to finish the book.

I should mention that nearly everything that I do comes with certain amount of hatred in the actually writing phase. I have always hated almost everything I’ve written until it got a lot further along. However, the hatred for this project has been stronger than most.

And I thought it would be interesting in this episode to talk about the reasons I didn’t abandon the project, which might inform whether you should abandon yours.

1.       This is a very different format than I’m used to, and I’m trying to train myself to write some more commercial books.

So the first reason I didn’t abandon the project is because I knew it was my most commercial project in the novel space. Katrina is very commercial in many ways, but this is even more commercial. Since it was commercial, and not an intimate character study, it was a very different thing for me to right, and I really wanted to get through it to see whether I hated it because it was a bad book, or because I just don’t normally write things like this.

So this one is really a business reason. I want to get more readers to read my more intimate books, and I have to pull them in with a more commercial book. Actors and other creatives do this all the time. They will do a studio movie, then go and make a random art house movie nobody watches.

I’m all about modeling what works, and if this is a functional model I need to make sure I’m writing a commercial work in order to fuel my other work.

2.       I saw a viable place for it in the marketplace, where I could put my own spin on some common tropes, and I thought that could be fun.

Another business reason. I found there were some common tropes being used in popular genre sci-fi, specifically YA, that I wanted to play with and enjoy. I generally like reading things like The Hunger Games and Harry Potter and Ender’s Game, and I thought it might be fun to play in that space and put my own take on it.

This goes back to point one, as well, where I was looking at trends in the marketplace and seeing what I could do that would also be successful. I’m not saying this book will be successful, but I wanted to try this new thing. If I didn’t like it, there was no need to write more…but I had to finish one.

3.       I want to test out a new delivery format for my books.

On Amazon I’ve been seeing a lot of books that are a series, but really they are just one book broken down into four 20,000 word sections, and then bound as a full book for print. Since that’s EXACTLY how comics work, and pretty much my exact business model for Wannabe Press, I wanted to see if I could write something that was really good, was broken up into 20,000 word segments for Amazon, and then bound in a print edition for the whole book.

Again, this is a business call. This wasn’t anything to do with content. And that’s really why I went about finishing this book. If it had just been creative, I would have probably abandoned it 20,000 words in. However, this book is doing several things for me on the business side, and because of that at every step I wanted to see if it was going to succeed as a proof of concept.

4.       After a time I passed the point of no return

When you are on a flight, there is a thing called the point of no return. That is the moment where fuel-wise you must continue to your final destination. This is the same thing that happens in creation. I had sunk so many hundreds of hours into this book over the course of a year that my sunk operational costs were more to abandon the book then they would be to continue. I value my time at a specific hourly rate, and I knew that if I didn’t finish I would be out a specific amount of dollars, and if I kept going I would be out a smaller amount. So I kept going. This is the same reason many projects come into being, because the cost to finish them outweighs the cost of abandoning them.

5.       If I finish the book, it can make money for me forever.

If I abandon the book, it would sit on my computer making no return on my investment. However, if I finish the book it can make money for me in perpetuity. This book is supposed to be the intro to the rest of my library. A tiny cost to get people buying my work and enjoying it, so they buy more. And the thing about books is, you make money off the back catalog. The more robust it is, the more ability for me to monetize it. So not only does this book (or 5 books really) generate income for me itself, it also helps get people to buy more of my work over time.

 

So those are some strictly business reasons why I didn’t abandon this project. I could have. I probably should have, early on, but now that I’m in it there is no business reason why I should abandon it…especially now that I’m 2-3k words from finishing the first draft. If you are interested in the artistic reasons why to abandon your project, it’s simple:

                It doesn’t feel right.

I’ve abandoned dozens of projects because they don’t feel right, I got bored, or I lost the passion. Those are all super valid reasons as well, but I wanted to bring business reasons into the light today.

I hope it helps. If it does please subscribe on itunes, rate and review us, and keep listening! Thanks so much.

Russell 

Why Metric Are Rock Stars, and How it Applies to Your Business

This past weekend I went to four events: a wedding, a speaking engagement at a writer’s conference, a comic-con where I was selling books, and a Metric concert.

I have a very unpopular opinion on live music. I hate it. If I never went to a live show again it would be too soon. The floors are sticking, you stand for hours, and the artists never sound very good.

I never understood why anybody would want to go to a live show. Until last night. When I saw Metric take the stage in the House of Blues and the people flip out, I got it.

It’s about connection. It’s about meeting somebody in person who you’ve only heard on the radio, and inhabiting the same space as them for even a little bit.

When they went into their encore, which I also hate, the lead singer spoke to the audience about how they have been touring since 2002.

2002!

That’s 14 years of touring to promote albums, build an audience, get booked into bigger venues, and get their music into the pop zeitgeist (they had my favorite song in Scott Pilgrim).

It hit me like a ton of bricks. They did exactly what I tell everybody to do: get out to live events because it’s the best way to build their brand.

Look, do radio edits sound better? For sure. They sound perfect. In the same way your podcast, blog, and emails sound perfect.

But that’s not what live events are about. I’ve messed up at live event more times that I can remember.

And yet, people forgive.

Because being at the live events and making that connection eye to eye is 100x more important than perfection.

Knowing you and not just your work is going to account for more sales than anything.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sold a book just on sheer personality alone, and then that person liked the book and bought more.

So be like Metric. Get out there and tour, meet your customer, and build a connection with them. It will make all the difference in your business.

Miniseason 1 - Ep 11 - Launching a Kickstarter: Wrap-up

It's over! The My Father Didn't Kill Himself campaign is over and I'm back to do a wrap-up of the things I learned throughout the campaign. If you listen to all 11 episodes you'll already know most of this, but some people just like the wrap up, so I'm going to try to oblige them, while giving new information. 

First, we ended up raising $3431 from 155 backer with an average back of just over $22.00. This is way down from our previous campaigns, where we raised $30+ per backer on average. That is mostly attributable to the fact that 88 people (56%) chose the digial only rewards, which dragged down the total backing of each backer. However, this was to be expected because novels are not a visual medium. While there are many people that like the touch and feel of books, it's not a necessity like it is with comics. I believe that comics must be felt in your hands. Even though there is research to support print books over ebooks, the ebook market is enormous. So I'm not surprised at the lower amount raised. With Ichabod, we raised almost $2000 more from almost the same amount of backers. 
The most important thing is that this is the most fun I've had running a Kickstarter campaign...ever. There was no pressure. It was all fun. I was doing humiliating videos, and posting things to vine and youtube. It was a blast, unlike all my other campaigns which were more ulcers than anything. 

-          People still donated even though we hit our goal. I’m not sure if that’s because we wanted 1,000,000% funded or because people just wanted to see this project succeed. Perhaps we’ve gotten to the place where people are preordering my work because they want it and not because of the goal, though I think the goal is still important.

-          Facebook and Twitter ads didn’t work this time. Nothing really worked this time except for social and mailing list. 

-          With this third campaign, we finally felt like a publishing company, utilizing our mailing list, auto responder sequences, retargeting ads, and more. It felt finally like we had a community.

-          We did no stretch goals this time, and didn’t see any adverse reaction. I think stretch goals are only good if you are adding content to the book.

-          I can’t stress enough how important it is to get a distribution chain in place and stress test it before a campaign.

-          I don’t recommend doing a $1 campaign as your first campaign, because you actually do need lots of money to start up, whereas with MFDKH we already sunk all the cost in before the Kickstarter launched. I would never do a $1 campaign until you have a few under your belt.

-          Because we knew the book was coming out anyway, we didn’t have to push people. We could get them on the mailing list and knew that eventually they could buy the book on our website and on Kindle.

I will say that Kickstarter is a visual medium, so the novels didn't seem to stand out as much, even though we did a lot of visuals inside the campaign. People seem to use Kickstarter for comics, children's books, and other visual mediums more effectively than for straight novels. 
Also, book sites didn't care or even know about Kickstarter. While comic book sites are very welcoming to the idea, in the publishing space it's not common. 
Additionally, while almost all creators in the comic space are gearing up for a Kickstarter, nobody in publishing is doing the same. They are all gearing up for an amazon launch. 
I mention the comixlaunch episode a couple of times in this podcast. Here is the link to the episode I reference about $1 campaigns. 

-          We’re going to go more into doing extra episodes on Fridays about business. Email us with what you want to see @ russell@wannabepress.com.

A

Episode 9: Every Day is a Fist Fight with Erik Lervold

Today we talked to Erik Lervold, who is one of my favorite creators and happens to also create the Red Calaveras, which can be found on Wannabe Press. This dude is the real deal though. Honestly. He has the business stuff down. He has the art stuff down. He is the whole package and I loved talking to him about the business of his art and how he makes stuff while getting paid.


You can find his book on Wannabe Press, at www.theredcalaveras.com, and at www.monkeymanlabs.com

Why Live Events are Great for Your Career

Look, I love online.

I’m an online presence nut.

I know that the best way to keep in touch with your audience on the regular is through blogging, podcasting, Instagram, and Twitter. You don’t have to convince me of that.

But there is nothing like being at a show and talking to people in person. Statistically, it takes eight touches with a person online or over the phone before they buy from you.

In person you can cut that down to one sometime, and their desire to get more information from you is exponentially higher when you meet them. I can get 10x more email subscribers in a two day event than I do in a month.

So why live shows? 

It’s the easiest and quickest way to get immediate validation that you are a legit company.

Why?

Because you paid for a booth. You sat down, had wares to show, and just by doing that you are immediately a professional in the eyes of most attendees and, equally important, vendors.

Your biggest ally in this world are the other people doing what you do. They are going to be your biggest fans, and the only people who trying understand what you do. They will shout you out. They will buy your stuff. They will be there for you.

The fans are fantastic and I love them to death, but being legit in the eyes of other vendors is so crucial, and you can only truly do that if you’re behind that booth.

Why don’t people like live shows? 

Where I generally hear this come from are people that go to one show a year and think that is enough.

Newsflash: it’s never enough to go to just one.

Why?

Because people’s minds are fleeting. They need to see you over and over again. They need to keep passing your booth, and if they like your stuff one time, they will eventually buy it.

Additionally, I hear it a lot from people who have no follow-up sequence. So they go to a show, get no emails, build no audience, and go home with nothing, having just blown a few hundred bucks on a booth.

So audience building at shows is important? 

It’s mission critical. It’s more important than selling at shows. If you are not collecting emails, en masse, at a show, then you are wasting a huge opportunity.

Even at a small show we want to collect 50–100 sign-ups…because most of our audience growth is at live shows.

We collect dozens of signatures at shows, then we set up an auto responder sequence to build trust, and a weekly newsletter. We provide value and personality throughout the year through social media, and then at the next show, we have a deeper connection.

You can say what you want about online, there is nothing like shaking somebody’s hand. I can’t tell you how much we’ve sold to people that found us online, liked what we had to say, and bought our products at a show.

Or…

Found us at a show, signed up for our mailing list, listen to our podcast, and come back at the next show and buy products then.

There is no single way to do this. You can’t be a live show guy with no online presence. But you also can’t be all online with no in person. People need to see you. They need to hear you. They need to know you are flesh and blood.

But shows are expensive! 

I don’t care. Business is expensive. Audience growth is expensive. The ROI is massive though, especially when you hit certain benchmarks.

 You don’t have to go to a big show first. You can find a trade show, or a fair, or a local show at your favorite shop. Start there, and grow to the big shows.

But you are only hurting yourself by not getting out there.

It’s also great to test branding. 

Live shows are the best way to test branding, pitches, and marketing strategies in a compact setting.

In a two day show you speak to hundreds of people, and they will tell you exactly what works, what doesn’t work, what they respond to, and where you should focus your attention.

Every time I release a product I spend months going to shows with it, testing pitches, and trying different marketing materials before I settle on something that works.

When I find something that works, I know it’s because it’s been through thousands of tests with customers to hone the messaging.

Long story short: Get out to shows. Don’t wait. Do it now.

Ranterlude 4: I'm Having Success, Why Am I So Depressed?

Today I talk about something that's taboo even for me, and I don't think anything is taboo. I talk about the massive depression I've been feeling recently, even in the face of overwhelming success. 

It's something that entrepreneurs face all the time, and nobody talks about because we're just supposed to talk about the good time. I don't roll like that. I love talking about the bad times, and the weird times, and exactly what I'm feeling right now. That's what these little episodes are all about. 
Because I think that's what helps people. I think that's where real value is, in being straight forward. So yeah, I've been feeling massively depressed recently. A couple of rungs above I can't get out of bed. It only in talking about it that I get out of my own head. I've never been depressed before, not really. I've been thoroughly bummed out a lot in my life, but this is different somehow. 
I trey to understand in on this episode. Why it's happening. Why now that I'm finally having success am I in such a bad head space. 
So I hope this help, even if it's just one of you. 

Mini Season 1 -Ep 10 - Launching a Kickstarter: Five Days Left

Five days left until the Kickstarter is over, and we're working toward wrapping up the season. That means after this there's only a wrap-up show left next Friday! Oh no! 

Also Yay, because this Kickstarter has taken a lot out of me, especially in the last few days. There's one thing I know for sure, and it's that the audience we built over the last year has been instrumental in making this book a reality. 
And if you want to make your project a success you need to start building an audience now! 

If you’re not building your community, you’re wasting your time.

If you’re not building your community, you’re wasting your time.

I’m not here to discount content creation.

Heck, I am a content creator.

That’s the thing I do.

Strip is all down. Take away Wannabe Press, Kickstarter University, Free Kickstarter Course, and everything else, then ask me what I do, and I will say that I create content.

I’ve been creating content for over a decade. And for most of that time I was creating that content for an audience of about 5 people.

Creating content is ESSENTIAL.

The only reason I’m anywhere now is because I have an incredible amount of content. Stellar content. The kind of content most people would kill for, and I can churn it out at incredible volumes.

However, it was only in the last couple of years, when I developed the confidence to talk about by work, and believe it had value, that my career took off.

It was only after I found a community of like minded people that pushed me to be better, and liked my work, and wanted to see more of it, that I became successful.

Which is why I’m telling you this: Build your community now. Build it from day 1. Let it shape what kind of stories you tell and have your stories shape your community.

Don’t wait until you have 10 years of content and hope that your audience will like it all. That’s a recipe for disaster.

I’m very lucky. Even though I write across all genres I somehow have a voice that speaks to the rebellious spirit in us all, and that crosses everything I do.

But most people aren’t that lucky. Most people need a genre. All people need to find people that share their vision.

If you wait until you’ve created tons of content to find those people, you might be creating content that they don’t want, or content that multiple audiences want, and that fractures you. You don’t want to be fractured. You want to focus all your energy on one huge community.

Look, part of building a community is coming up with incredible content constantly. That’s part and parcel. But the community is the thing that’s going to your career.

The good news is that your community want you to find it. Trust me. The right community wants you. They don’t care if you suck now, as long as you’re willing to grow. Heck, the right community can boost your career forward, and when they see you succeeding they’ll root you on.

But you have to find them. Strip it all down. The only thing that matters, really, is serving your community. If you can do that, you’ll be successful. If you don’t have a community…then you’ll struggle.

And who wants to struggle.

Live Episode 2: Long Beach Comic Expo with Don Walker, Rob Worley, Kyle Roberts, Joenell Luma, William O'Neill, DJ Kirkbride, and Joelle Sellner

We did another live event! This time at Long Beach Comic Expo! We had a great time at the show, and I came back with the froggiest of throats. However, I muscled through to show you exactly why live events are so important, and I talked to a bunch of amazing creators.

Don Walker is the creator of Agent Wild and Reaper Corps, and he is the man when it comes to Kickstarter. You can find him on twitter @dork_empire_ink and at dorkempireink.com.
Kyle Roberts is a great artist. Art teacher by day, creator by night. This dude knows art! He is an artist on Kill Trent Science Sleuth with is a public domain character reimagined with new creators. It had two successful Kickstarter projects. He's also the creator of The Dark Hours, a horror western limited series. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram @kyleroberts_art.
Joenell Luma is an artist and had one of my favorite marketing gimmicks at the con. He wore an apron and welding mask the whole day. I loved it. Also, his art was fantastic which always helped. He created a cute little animal called the Unicoon, which loves to cosplay. You can find him on instagram @the_zen_lu and on twitter @unicoonsarereal.
William O'Neill is an official Star Wars artist, who came up with a brilliant idea to sell his art. He took pages from old Star Wars books and drew Characters in those pages, and then framed them. I've never seen anything like it. You can find him online at gentlemannerd.com and on twitter @gentlemannerd42. He also loves cosplaying as Riker from Star Trek: TNG.
DJ Kirkbride writesThe Bigger Bang for IDW and Amelia Cole for MonkeyBrain, along with co-edited Popgun, You can find him on twitter @djkirkbride or djkirkbride.com
Joelle Sellner has written tons of everything from animation to live action to comics. She's written on sorority Eva through LionsForge, Ben 10, Sonic Boom, The Avengers and more. You can find her on twitter @whereisjoelle and online @writtenbyjoelle.com