In celebration of the impending Independence Day, this week Professor Petit turns his attention to the writings of one of America’s founding fathers, and the man known to far too many of you as “The President on the 100 dollar bill,” Benjamin Franklin!
We live in a day and age where a lot of content creators put their work — some, if not all — online, often for free. We do this to build an audience. We do this to create a community. We do this because we have ideas that we want to share, and social media has given us a chance to reach to a larger potential audience than ever before. And it often works. There are several people who are fans of this page who I’ve never met or interacted with in person, so they almost certainly found me online in one way or another. And that’s great.
People don’t always get how to support a creator whose work they enjoy. Not just writers, but filmmakers, musicians, artists, etc. They see them and they see their material, but for a lot of people, they don’t conceive of what the next step would be to help this person make more of what they enjoy. And let’s face it, creators – especially those who aren’t tied to a major studio, publisher, or media empire – need that support to survive. So I’m here today to tell you the three things you need to do to thank the people whose work you enjoy.
First, and you’d think the most obvious, is to pay for their work. Buy that book you want to read, buy the Blu-Ray or digital download, buy their album, buy their poster, buy their toys. You’d think this would be a no-brainer, but it’s astonishing to me how many people don’t get it. And I’m not just talking about piracy here. (I’m talking a LITTLE about piracy, but not a lot. One quick anecdote then I’ll drop that subject: a while back someone on my Facebook page casually mentioned that she torrents all the books she reads, in such a way as to indicate she thought she was clever. I bit my tongue at the time, but it was all I could do not to ask her which writers weren’t going to receive any payments for their books that she’d read, and how many of them had to work a day job because their books hadn’t made enough money.)
I’m talking about seeking out the work of people you appreciate in order to support them. Scott Sigler gives away all of his books as audio podcasts for free, but I still buy them when they come out. I became a fan of directors Adam Green and Joe Lynch not through their films, but when I discovered their podcast The Movie Crypt. So when their movies Digging Up the Marrow and Everly were released, I made it a point to seek them out.
And if a creator’s main work is free, such as a podcast, what ancillary merchandise do they offer? T-shirts? Special edition downloads? Just a Patreon account? Look for it. Not only does spending money on these works help the people involved, but by purchasing these things, you also help improve their sales ranks on sites like Amazon and iTunes, which helps other people find them. Which brings me to point two…
Spread the word. If you like something, tell people about it. Got a blog? Got a podcast of your own? Got a Twitter account? Use it to talk about the stuff you like and tell people where to find it. Word of mouth is still a terribly powerful thing, and it’s directly related to the third and, perhaps, most important thing you can do…
Rate and review. I don’t think most people understand just how important this is. When you buy something on Amazon, that influences its ranking in their wacky algorithm. But when you post a review or give it a five-star ranking, that influences it as well. Those things help items rise in internet searches and make it more likely that somebody who’s just browsing will run across these items. This goes right back to spreading the word. A creator may love their audience, but if that audience never grows, then it feels like you’re just treading water.
I apologize if this sounds self-indulgent in any way, but this is something that I’ve been rolling over in my mind for a while now, and I don’t know if most people understand it, so I think it’s worth talking about. I’m talking about my own work, of course, but not just my work. If you like a movie, a book, a comic book, a song, a podcast – whatever – then take these steps. Even if you can’t afford to buy anything else, the other two steps cost nothing but a little bit of time, but can make an enormous difference to the people you want to support.
Professor Petit returns in the second lecture intended to teach you everything you need to know to survive English Class. This time, he walks you through the many levels of the afterlife in the classic piece of Italian literature, “The Divine Comedy.” Heaven. Hell. Texting in a movie theater. It’s all covered here!