Success and Failure

IMG_4080I got a box of DVDs in the mail today. It’s one year after they were first released for sale.

I remember that day. My whole family piled into the car and drove down to the local store that was selling them. We rolled into the store and started looking for the shelf. I don’t remember who saw them first, but what great feeling to see something you worked so hard on available for people.

I didn’t know what to expect from the retail release of the DVD. IMG_2597 I knew that we were a show filled with unknown actors, created by an unknown director. But I was hopeful. We had TV exposure and a few hundred fans on social media.

The weekend after the release we had the discs available at the church which helped so much with the production. Most of the cast and crew were from that congregation. And we sold a couple dozen that day. Through my distributor’s contract with Word, I knew we had several dozen in stores across the country. And I knew that friends and family were buying copies. I personally bought one just so I could say I did.

Fast forward 3 months. It’s the end of the first quarter. I get a small check. I had spent more on social media advertising. In the 2nd quarter my distributor loses a partnership, and has multiple copies returned. For the rest of the year the DVD is only available online, from a dozen or so different outlets.

I can’t tell you exactly how many were produced, or how many were sold. But it wasn’t very many. Despite my best efforts, we never landed a major retail placement. There are a lot of new video products coming out every month, and we were buried in the pile. After a year in relationship with our distributor, we decided to part company.

Thank God retail sales are not the only measurement of success or failure!

I actually wrote an ebook about this. I almost titled it “How to create a successful Christian TV series and still not make a living.”

So what makes me say the show was a success when it certainly didn’t do well in retail?

We made the show so people would be impacted by the content. Entertained by a biblically based comedy. The more people who see it the better. Yes, people who buy the DVD would be people who see it, but luckily that wasn’t the only way it could be watched.

All 10 episodes of Peculiar broadcast on multiple religious networks around the world. JCTV (now JUCE), NRB Network, CTN-Lifestyle, and The Walk TV broadcast the show in the US. Plus several individual stations. Internationally it’s on a satellite channel in Africa, and being translated for broadcast in Romania and India.

An episode was shown at the 2013 Gideon Film Festival, and the series won the 2014 NRB Media Award for best Creative TV Programming. And did I mention that we did the whole thing for under $9000, and no one went into debt to make it happen.

Retail has been a failure. But the show has been a success! I’m proud of what we accomplished, and I can’t wait until I can do more projects like it.


Why I’m Not a Successful Blogger

I break all the rules in blogging.

I don’t focus on one thing. I write about anything and everything. If I want to be a successful blogger I should pick a subject: tech, ministry, or something. And write about that. I could say that I am focused on writing for other media minister types which would encompass many of the things I write about, but then I would just go write about something off the wall and blow that theory apart.

I don’t write in a consistent voice. I change up my style of writing too much. One post I’m sarcastic, another serious, another dry and technical. People never know what to expect.

I don’t post enough content. Let’s face it, a year ago I was posting four times a week, but now I’m lucky to post more than once a week. I’m not driving a lot of repeat traffic.

I don’t promote myself well. I let WordPress auto post my title to twitter, but that’s about it. I changed blog themes so that the RSS feed was more visible. I put relevant tags in the post, so search engines can find it, but I don’t always post the links to every post to Facebook, and I almost never re post them anywhere, even though I know that most people are following or are friends with a lot of people so there is a good chance my blog post got missed in their news feed. These are a few simple things, but they can really work.

If you want to be a successful blogger, do the opposite of me. Pick a topic area, write about it often, in a consistent way and then promote the fire out of what you have written. I know that as long as I break these rules, I won’t get above an average of 100 hits a day (Mostly on the tech posts). But you don’t have to follow my example.