Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pardon the Ego

An unexpected side effect of any milestone leap in marketing success is a not-necessarily-justified inflation of the head.

A majority of last week was spent furthering my experiment in establishing Kneejerk as a recognizable brand. Given the awful state of the weather and relative sense of lethargy, it made sense to pursue the business side of things a bit if I wasn't able to pursue the art. If my last post 7 days back didn't allude to it enough already, coming up with a logo to represent Kneejerk infused me with giddy excitement, enough to grant me the balls to take larger and larger steps into the realms of advertising lesser known to me. As a result, Kneejerk Imagery is now running as an RSS feed thanks to Feedburner, listed on a couple blog listings and, the grand mother of all marketing ventures, being advertised heavily on Facebook.

I've had a running page on Facebook since the beginning of the year to cross post blog updates to and point out little snippits of information or opinion that don't necessarily have a place on a blog (because who writes 3 word blog posts, really). The only audience it ever really managed to reach were direct relatives and friends, not a particularly difficult crowd to cater to. However, some time last month, Facebook's advertising staff was kind enough to send me a redeemable coupon with which to run a trial campaign of their advertising features. Originally this didn't strike any real interest, but in my marketing high of last week I couldn't understand why I hadn't utilized it before. Armed with a wealth of images to serve as the visuals for my advertisements, I assembled an add, set the parameters by which Facebook would target my desired audience and of course set the frequency my ad would appear based on cost-per-click and then it was bombs away. Although excited, rationally I didn't expect much. Holy hell, was I wrong. Thus far the ad has managed to resulted in a couple of "Likes", people posting about Kneejerk in their own feeds, oh, and leading to a 40,000+ strong influx of traffic I had no idea would ever wander my way.

It's flattering. It's exciting. It's a bit more than I was ready to deal with.

When your audience is small (or even reasonably sized) there are no real expectations, no deadlines or demand for content. But with 40,000+ people serving as an audience, a SILENT audience, the next course of action is terrifying vague. The initial reaction is to cater to the crowd, to ask "What can I do to hold this audience's attention". And a classic blunder is to let the vocalized demands of that audience to direct one's actions. But thus far, this crowd has been completely silent. I'm not sure if it's here to stay or if they poked in, looked around, then left. That initial impulse to play the crowd is still present, however, and has subtly influenced my shooting. Namely, because this influx of traffic has arrived after the first impression made by stylized self-portraits in questionable locales, I've been shooting more self-portraits in... questionable... locales.

I'm pretty sensitive to accusations of vanity, especially when they come from the self. Though I have a decent opinion of my appearance, my lifestyle and (of course) my work, the fear of overplaying it is ever present, and awareness of having over-hyped myself is borderline unbearable. And with that context of thought in mind, I'm wobbling wildly trying to balance the act of marketing my work without tipping over into the region of self-loathing whereby I start marketing myself. The campaign I started with last week's advertising spree has proven immensely successful but it is largely the result of randomly swinging in the dark. Which actions triggered the enormous positive response are still a mystery to me, and now that the quixotic high has run its course I'm reluctant to run the risk of taking another step in the dark.

Business is complicated.

Inundated by the stress of the monster I accidentally brewed up in my brain, this past weekend became one of relaxation by necessity. Saturday I visited my local Renaissance Faire and photographed some of the fun goings on, and Sunday... well, Sunday deserves its own post, really. Suffice to say it was an incredible day. Originally I intended to write on it today, but business stresses got the better of me.

Creating art is more way fun.