Tuesday 2¢: Fame costs, and right here is where you start paying

This Tuesday, inspired some podcasts I’ve listened to this week, I’m thinking about community building and the work.

Yes, of course, the title is a line from the 80’s TV series Fame. The teacher aims to motivate their class of performance art students with the words “fame costs and right here is where you start paying.. in sweat”.

Sparked by something I heard on Seth Godin’s akimbo podcast, and reflecting on my experience (of mostly doing this wrong), I got thinking about the work it takes to gain an audience, particularly for your own work. And it seems, I’m going to write a personal branding post.

In his regular response to listeners’ questions, Seth says building an audience doesn’t come for free, and of course, he’s right. It takes work.

Maybe you don’t want or need fame. Should you care about having an audience? Isn’t that for those hawkers of hustle porn that seem to crowd the internet with their pyramid schemes for like-minded purveyors of their “Netflix is for losers” preaching, not you?

Many years ago, I read a post by Jeremiah Owyang about paying yourself first, (note the reference to MySpace) to take daily time to tend to your own personal brand. I scoffed; this seemed unfair to his clients or employers, I commented when he posted it on Twitter.

But, one-day, the employer that is taking 12 hours of your day or that client you are over-servicing won’t be there. Then who do you have? Just you, what you’ve invested, paid yourself and your network.

So, I think his advice was right, especially how the world has moved virtual and digital, accelerated of course by the pandemic.

Jane Scandurra wrote a wonderful post in Rockstar CMO that encouraged us to be more present online during the pandemic as we have lost those face to face opportunities to network and we have to crank our online networking presence up to 11.

Our online presence? There is a lot of talk about how organic growth on the big social media channels is a thing of the past, the algorithms have rinsed out the free juice, and you have to pay to play, and you can’t grow an audience.

But, take a listen to this long, wonderfully informative episode of The Fuel Podcast by my chum Keith Smith. He chats with John Espirian, a LinkedIn expert, who generously shares tips how to grow an audience that however LinkedIn savvy you are, I’m sure you’ll be writing notes. In summary, he doesn’t pay; he does the work.

This week I can’t pretend that I am posting this on Tuesday, but I am newly committed to getting back to doing this every week. But yesterday was crazy, and I couldn’t finish it. So this is going live today, Wednesday. But, I know if I let it slide this week, I will have broken the routine.

This gets me to what “the work” should be, aside from being present on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Back to Seth’s podcast, he talks about this, that you need to figure out who “the work” is for. If your work is for you, a private passion, then embrace this but don’t expect an audience. If it’s for someone else, you need to think about your audience’s needs, maybe compromise on your art — the content marketing adage of being useful. That’s something to explore on another Tuesday (or Wednesday!).

Maybe, this is a note to self, “do what I’ve learned, not what I’ve done” type post. But…

A community does not come free, either your own community or the one you are building as a marketer, and fame costs, and right here is where you start paying.