Guest Dan Blank - Extending the Experience of your Creative Work
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Deb Blank as the founder of we grow, media helps authors learn how to market their work. He's written his own book, be the gateway, A Practical Guide to sharing your creative work, and engaging an audience. He's got a blog, and a podcast called the creative shift podcast. Follow Dan on the Twitter's at, we grow media. Dan, welcome. Let's start with a quote from you today. Walking someone through your gait should not feel as though you have now become a marketer instead of a creator. It's about extending the experience of your creative work to at least one person in a meaningful way. I feel like what you're trying to say here is you don't have to be a smarmy sales guy when you're talking about your own stuff.
Dan Blank 1:04
Yeah, that's exactly what I think people put on a creator hat. Then when they're ready to share it, they put on a marketer hat. And the whole concept of the metaphor of the gateway is just this idea that you're creating experience with someone, and it's half where they're coming from and who they are. And it's half your intention as the creator. And when you view it that way. It's not one or the other. It's this idea that this is the beauty of of art, and creative work and entrepreneurship.
Something you talked about in your most recent podcast that I think was really interesting was when you were working on your Xen, or your magazine in college, and you realize that like you needed to find the publicity department and record labels and the daunting task of taking that first step. I personally think a lot of creative people never move forward. Because that first step is so confusing or daunting. I mean, what what got you to finally suck it up and make the first call?
Dan Blank 2:00
It's such a good question. I appreciate that. It's funny at the time, I started the scene with a friend. And I was thinking back on this where I was the one who did all the interviews, I was the one that took all of the social risk. And I don't know what it was, I think I was so excited that for me, it's that idea of, if I'm so excited going to happen, someone's got to make that first cold call, someone's got to call that the switchboard asked for publicity. And someone who could be a vice president, or an intern is going to pick up. And eventually you're going to make your way there. And I think this is why I like working with writers. If you're someone who has a passion behind what you do, and you have a vision, that's the person is going to take that risk that social risk. And to me, that's a terrifying thing. And it's also a really beautiful thing.
I feel like a lot of what you're saying about authors can apply to like everybody as well. You've mentioned when you're working with an author, lots of times they want to mention their bestseller list or an award that they've won. And I think that's true, like of all of us when we're going to a job interview, or we're talking with our friends, but you say that stuff's hollow. How is it just that people can sense hollowness?
Dan Blank 3:09
I think people want a connection. So I mean, if you are a New York Times bestseller, if you've won in a major award, that can certainly frame things for you. It's you walk in the room, and it just sort of drops. Um, I've a big deal. But beyond that, I'm not connecting with an author who says I won this indie, whatever, whatever award, because already, it's like, Okay, why are we talking? You know, tell me about what did it why you create, or what it is about your book that will resonate with me or a reader that I know. And I think they give up that opportunity to connect with them as a real person. Because what we really want is people to be drawn in to have a good experience, then walk away and tell other people about it. That's the whole word of mouth marketing right there.
I think you guys kind of touched on this, but like, you want to have the accolades, I, I'm an actor, and with writing and acting as an entertainment and podcasting, there's no bearer barrier of entry to say I'm a writer, or I'm an actor. And so people want to have these accolades, but something you say is learned by doing and so like, you're not gonna be able to, you're not gonna be good at first, like work for free. I mean, what how do you how do you coach people into getting over that barrier? Because the first thing you write isn't gonna be good. Just start doing Yeah, wait for someone to pay you.
Dan Blank 4:27
Well, whether it's creativity or reaching out, I mean, cuz I'll go through with writers the idea of like, you're going to pitch yourself onto a podcast and some will come back with a, here's the email, what do you think it's trying to prove that they're a credible, and I always try to cut that out or I move that further down. Because for me, it's the idea that if you care to email that podcast, you're interested interest alone should be credibility. So for my podcast, you know, I reach out to people I've never met, and my interest alone should already prove Ability I find them interesting. Here's why. Here's what I'd like to do. If you want to know more about me, you know, here's a one line and a link. And again, I think it really is about, you know, what do people want on a random Tuesday? They want what you did for me, you sent me an email. And you said, Gosh, what you're saying here is interesting. Can we do this show together? I don't have to give that too much thought to think Well, that's a nice thing to hear on a random Tuesday, I'd love to
sort of on this connection path that you're talking about. You know, if you write a book, you want to connect with people in theory. So one of the things you've mentioned, is becoming a student of your audience. Once again, I feel like this applies to anybody who runs a business, what does it mean to become a student of your audience?
Dan Blank 5:45
So an I like a brought in business, it's the idea of getting out in the street. So one interview I did was with an artist who was opening a bakery. And it's like, she's talking about, you know, where am I going to put my bakery. And she's looking at all the data from Chamber of Commerce and all these trends. And then she said, Yeah, but I went initially looking at some pretty prominent towns, and she's like, then I went in the street, I just walked around, I went into every shop on the block, I talked to the person behind the counter. And she's like, you know, what, you experienced that point of being on the street, talking to other landlords, other business owners, seeing what the what the traffic is, like talking to people. That's everything. I remember, whenever we're looking for a house, there's a little town, we always put a bid on a house, there's a woman, you know, school is letting out, I start talking to the other parents there. Now, we had a great conversation. And I'm like, they're going to tell me more about what the experience is like at the town than the realtor is no offense to realtors, it's just like, you gotta get in the trenches, and get that primary research down. And to me, it feels like social media, the internet, podcasting, YouTube, it's given us new channels to have that kind of connection.
I think something when talking on this topic of reaching out and getting in with people, we have to talk about the opposite side of what your success rate is, like, you probably reach out to people people have asked how do we book people and I say about 10% of the people that we reach out to end up being on the show. That's just for us. And what do you what do you say to that for, like how that applies to you? Or how you're talking to people to be prepared to hear no or hear nothing?
Dan Blank 7:18
I always think about it in terms of what will you learn in engagement. So part of my work as I do one on one consulting, and I try to have, you know, first someone reaches out, I send them a pat, you know, kind of we go through a little bit of a funnel, but then we got on the phone and for the people I never end up working with, I get on the phone, because if I talk to a writer for half an hour about their goals and their challenges, where they are, I'm going to learn one thing in that half hour. And now I can't afford to spend all of my time doing that, because I've got to do the real work. But I think about what you learn in that process. So in terms of conversion rate is a difficult thing. Because we we know that some of it is just luck. And I try to view it that way. This idea of you don't know what connections are gonna make you don't know what's gonna work, but you're learning something in that process. Look for those lessons.
All right, then I feel like we can't do an interview in 2021. Without getting to the obvious question, Where does social media fit in and all this business? And I'm hoping you're not going to say I need 10 million Instagram followers?
Dan Blank 8:21
Well, it's 20 million now.
So what are we doing social media.
Dan Blank 8:27
I mean, social media is this amazing tool, because it gives us not just access to people, it gives us this way of building rapport with people. So I've always looked at the idea of a platform as communication and trust. So some of that means that if you have a book or a business, you're thinking about who are my ideal people, my ideal audience, if you go on a Facebook group, if you start looking on Instagram, if you look at podcasts, it's sort of like how we build relationships. In real life. We build relationships at work, by passing that person in the hallway again, and again and again. And eventually you'd start talking in the coffee, you know, when you're getting coffee. And then years later, they're like a friend of yours. And I think that social media gives us a lot of ability to figure out here's the niche, and then you can observe, and then you can start reaching out to people. And you didn't really have that before you'd mentioned the article I did about the Xen. Back in the early 90s. When everything was in person, there was largely no online the way we know it now. You had to get access via the phone, or in person or an event. And it was much rarer to have that chance you could have just sit in your bedroom and find the people who like a certain topic and then maybe email one dm another and comment on another and even see like, What language are they using what resonates with a grip what's getting a lot of likes. So I think that I view it a bit more the opposite, not just getting followers but as this way of reaching out to people.
So you talked about the 90s a little bit and this is slightly off target topic, but I've geeked out you've interviewed Oasis, Weezer blur and my personal favorite, They Might Be Giants to name a few. Are you still in the music scene? Do you have any bands that you're tracking right now that you're like, Hey, keep an eye on them.
Dan Blank 10:14
Because of Spotify, I listened to so much more new music now. And probably the biggest issue I have is that because it comes suggested and I throw them on a playlist and mortgage suggested, I'm not aware of the band names now, whereas I used to be when I was just every weekend going out to record stores. So I don't know what to recommend you. But I will say to me, this is a golden age of new music, not just you know, I love the old stuff. It's incredible what's possible in terms of discovering new media and in this case, music.
Alright, do you want to grow your platform? ease Dan blank, you can find him at we grow. media.com dad, thanks for your time.
Unknown Speaker 10:57