Excerpt from Chapter 1: Choose Your Own Adventure
Secret #1: Fame and Glory: For the Company or For Yourself?
"For England, James?" asks Bond's enemy in the film GoldenEye, moments before 007 finishes him off. "No, for me," Bond replies without an ounce of regret, allowing the villain to fall to his death.
First and foremost, you need to figure out if you are in search of buzz for yourself or for your company. While the techniques used will be strikingly similar, the outcome is often quite different. In the case of a small business owner, the ultimate goal is sales and massive new revenue streams-buzz accomplishes this by lowering your advertising costs. In fact, buzz is often free. In the case of an individual (such as an artist, actor, musician or author), buzz is designed to create greater opportunities and a larger market for your work. A successful buzz campaign will create a built-in audience of thousands, eager and ready to spread the word about you. Life-changing opportunity comes when people know about you. For the first time in history, the leap from "unknown" to "household name" can be accomplished virtually overnight. The mechanism for doing this, of course, is the Internet.
So if you are an individual in search of lasting fame, read the first scenario, "Comfortably Well Known ('Microfame')." If you are a business owner or marketing executive, read the second scenario, "Business Firing on All Buzz Cylinders."
- Scenario #1: Comfortably Well Known ("Microfame")
You wake up in the morning and before showering, log in to MySpace, where you briefly survey your online empire (58,000 friends and growing). You respond to a few messages and then check your email: among the random, eccentric messages from fans are an interview request and a query from a TV production company interested in developing an online series with you.
The vast majority of your MySpace friends, along with your contacts on rival networking site Facebook (more on these two bastions of buzz in Chapter Four), check your blog regularly for updates. Oh, and of course you have a blog, and it's a combination of simple-text entries and enthusiastic, pithy YouTube video posts. The site's traffic isn't unbelievable, but it's growing at around 20 percent a month, and your following is a fiercely loyal one. The blog makes $500 a weekday and slightly more on weekends, thanks to text ads from Google AdSense that you have strategically placed toward the top of the blog ("above the fold" in advertising lingo). This revenue lets you know you're on the right track, and if it keeps up, you plan on hiring a full-time assistant next month to help with some of the blog posts and video editing.
You've just finished reading a hilarious new book- maybe something by Augusten Burroughs or David Sedaris-and you want to share it with your fans. You post a quick review to your blog (this takes around fifteen minutes) and provide an Amazon Associates link to the book. This way, you'll earn a commission from Amazon on every copy sold through your site's recommendation link. You check back the next day, and while it isn't a windfall, 152 fans have decided to take you up on your recommendation. That's around $170 in commission for fifteen minutes of work. And you know your readers will love the book. When you recommend something of serious value, your blog's readers trust you even more.
While you aren't "famous" in the same way that, say, Oprah Winfrey or Jude Law or Lindsay Lohan are famous, you are aware that what you're doing is not entirely normal. You are getting paid essentially for having opinions and sharing those opinions. And, beyond the great pay and conspicuous lack of a boss, you are vaguely aware that you have an impact on the world. While millions of others simply consume mass media and occasionally grumble about how the latest installment in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise didn't quite live up to the hype, you are interacting with media. Without trying, you've become a powerful gatekeeper who helps thousands of readers determine what's worth checking out.
Despite the sophistication of search engines, people still want a real person they can trust and agree with on most issues. Over the next six months, people who have discovered your site and like you will tell their friends to check you out. Your site's growth is now astounding (but entirely predictable), and by early next year you'll have one million readers per month. Welcome to microfame! At this point, it becomes relatively easy to branch out into whatever creative outlet suits you best-writing, pursuing that music career you've had on the back burner, even taking a stab at television work.
A year ago, indie music labels and mid-size publishers would have laughed in your face if you sent them an unsolicited proposal or demo album. Now things are a little different: No one is laughing at your million readers per month. Publishers realize that if only 5 percent of your fans end up buying a book written by you, that's fifty thousand copies sold-extremely strong sales for a first-time author. Independent music labels realize that your following is large enough to get a debut album off the ground or at least give it a good shot of selling well. It's worth the risk to them, which means you're already in the door.