This is such a common experience for creators, especially with a platform like YouTube that just feels so divorced from other social media! For whatever reason, it’s VERY hard to bring traffic to YouTube from other platforms. It’s crucial to treat each platform separately, because each one demands different tactics and rewards different choices. While it’s certainly possible to highlight the same content across multiple platforms, I try to highlight them in different ways.
For example, I recently posted a YouTube video where I spend two days making a themed dress. This kind of content (long form, narrative, targeted to my audience, posted on a recurring weekly schedule, featuring an eye-catching costume) performs really well for me on YouTube. However, Instagram only allows for short video clips, and my audience in particular doesn’t respond well to work-in-progress or sewing and crafting posts there. So when I shared this costume to Instagram, I posted mostly still photos of the finished look, and at one point just the “highlight reel” video clip of the finished costume, pulled right from the YouTube video. On Twitter, which responds better to informal posts that feel less scripted, I posted… you know. Memes.
It takes some time and practice to figure out how your audience differs from platform to platform, and I also think it’s important to remember that targeting your work to different platforms doesn’t have to mean changing your work! It mostly just means changing how you present your work, so you can maximize your potential on each platform.
Ginny! I have a mish-mash of questions for you,
- Do you ever get recognized out on the street?
- Assuming the cons you had lined up this year have all been/are cancelled (), do you have any virtual appearances lined up?
- Any cosplay outfits being made right now you can give us a clue or a sneak peak of?
- What do you do with the outfits when you’re done with them?
It’s very rare for me to get “recognized” in regular situations, like the grocery store or something, although it has happened a handful of times! I like to borrow Felicia Day’s phrase for herself: “Situationally recognizable.” In certain situations (for example, comic cons, or in tabletop gaming stores) I am extremely recognizable, but most of the time I am just an awkward girl with blue hair trying not to make eye contact with strangers while I buy bagels.
I managed to make it to ONE con this year before COVID-19 hit! I had… I think five or six other events lined up that were all cancelled. I’ve done a few online appearances, and I have one more coming up the first weekend of November (an anime convention normally held in Oregon, Kumoricon!)
Right now, I’m finishing up my 2021 calendar (every year I make a pin-up calendar, just a cute little vintage-y feeling collection of styled cosplay photos — here’s my Harry Potter calendar from 2018!), so I’ve been whipping out new costumes at a rate of two or three a week! (Nothing too complicated — mostly just a circle skirt, a few pieces from my closet, and one or two new garments or props.) The 2021 theme is tabletop games/D&D, so I’m doing a bunch of looks based on classic tabletop races and classes, like orcs and elves and barbarians and druids. As soon as I’m done answering these questions, I’m going to go finish decorating a big floppy wizard hat and then shoot the September photo!
I’ve created over a hundred costumes since I started cosplaying in 2011, and while I DO have a lot of costumes in my closet… I can’t possibly hang onto them all! I’ve sold a few, given a few away to friends, and honestly… a lot have ended up in the trash, especially my early work that wasn’t really worth of being passed on to someone else. These days, I make a lot fewer costumes and use them a lot more. In the past I would make a costume, shoot it once or twice, and then move on. Now I’m more likely to make a costume that I know can be used repeatedly.
Hi Ginny! Any tips on making connections with your fans/followers? What are things you do to create that bond?
This is such a great question, because I think those relationships are SO key not just to running a Patreon, but to building an audience that will stick with you over time.
On my public social platforms, I think two of the most straightforward ways to build relationships are 1) be vulnerable, and 2) engage. Regardless of the pressure we all put on ourselves to look “perfect” online, I’ve found that followers respond really strongly to vulnerability, because they can relate to it. When I’m having a rough week, I’ll say so in my posts. Even as my posts are pretty polished, I use other areas of social media to be more myself, like Instagram stories and Twitter, where I can post passing thoughts, pictures of my cats, selfies without makeup, etc. I think a lot of people think they need to be perfect and put-together on social media in order to succeed, and while professionalism can be important (depending on your field), I find that when it comes to art, people WANT their creators to be human. When they feel like they understand you more as a person, they become more connected to you personally, instead of just being a consumer of your work. It makes people kinder, more supportive, and they tend to stick around longer.
Which brings me back to that “engage” step. As much as it’s important that they see you as a human, it’s also important that THEY feel seen by you. A relationship is a two-way-street, and a creator/follower relationship is no different on that front. This can be as small as liking/responding to comments, or as big as doing livestreams or hanging out and chatting with your followers on Discord. I try not to overextend myself being infinitely available for followers (and setting boundaries is SO important in all of this), but when I DO go above and beyond to make a follower feel seen, it often ends up creating a die-hard fan.
For example, someone reached out to me nearly two years ago to ask if they could pay me to film a little shoutout video to their friend in costume. I don’t normally offer that kind of thing, but I was already planning on getting into that costume for an upcoming video, so I just filmed a quick little video for them for free. Now both the requester and the friend they requested the video for are long-time Patrons, vocal supporters, and both are moderators on my Discord. A relatively small choice like that one can deeply impact how someone feels about you and your work!