REALLY Stuck For Blogging Ideas? Here’s Some Sanity Savers

43f1d1d37fcc90f645caa56682d2a40axxl.jpg

As you may know, we’ve made blogging for filmmakers a focus of our blog content this month, and SURPRISE! here’s a bonus entry to round out the month.

When it comes to growing your audience for your filmmaking, blogging is one of those things that is nice to have but isn’t essential. That being said, if you’re keen to add regular blogging to your film publicity arsenal, there can be times when you might be stuck for ideas. Eeek! I’ve been there! If you’re keen to do a blog post (or have a few up your sleeve for later), but find that suddenly the creative synapses are firing, here’s a few ideas to help get things revved up again. They’re based on my very own experiences of having a complete and utter ‘brain fart’ (for want of a better term):

Do a content digest: ever come across content on the web that you think everyone should see? No, not just cats in suits. Or maybe that’s just me….! Perhaps you find an inspiring TED talk about creativity, a SXSW chat with a filmmaker, or a book on screenwriting that rocked your socks off. These can be repurposed into a content digest blog post. I have done this several times on here, mostly because I had found books, videos apps and filmmaking tools that were too good not to share. In fact, one of the most visited and shared posts on this blog was The Indie Filmmaker’s PR and Digital Marketing Toolkit

Make a list: it sounds like a no-brainer, but how many times do we have ideas swirling in our brains like some delicious creative soup but we don’t write them down? Take some time, make a list, a mind map, a diagram…whatever your chosen recording method is. Get those potential blog post ideas down on paper and keep them somewhere you can refer to them for later. Another option if you’re not going to be doing a blog post updating people on your film’s progress, etc, is to have a jar on your desk where you’ve written blog post ideas on slips of paper and pick one.

Elaborate on past posts: perhaps you’ve touched briefly on a topic in a previous post and think it would make a really excellent separate post. Or perhaps you want to revisit an earlier post and elaborate further (or do an update). Either way, there can be some hidden gems in previous posts that can be teased out, repurposed or elaborated on in a fresh and exciting way in a new post.

Don’t sweat it: if you’re really, truly stuck…don’t sweat it! Walk away, do something completely different, or leave it for another day. Blogging shouldn’t be a chore or something you feel tied to. If you’re not feeling it, just leave it. And don’t feel obliged to write about the things you think people want to hear about, either. If it’s not something you’re passionate about sharing, don’t force it. I look at it like redecorating your living room. You redecorate your living room in the way you want to redecorate it, in a way that reflects you, your lifestyle and your family. You don’t look at the redecorating process and go: “gosh, I should have a red feature wall with my awards on it, because that’s what Cindy likes. If I don’t have that red feature wall, Cindy won’t want to come to our housewarming.” That redecorating analogy was brought to you due to the fact I’ve been binge watching Queer Eye on Netflix, but it’s true! There are way too many other things in life that cause pressure and stress, and blogging shouldn’t be one of them.

Happy filmmaking, and happy blogging! If you’ve enjoyed this month’s spotlight on blogging for filmmakers, we’ve got a treat in store for March. March is going to be a spotlight on crowdfunding, with loads of hints, tips and real world advice on how to make the most of crowdfunding your film.

Answering Questions About Blogging For Filmmakers

419

This month we’ve been looking at how blogging can be another tool to assist you in growing your audience for your filmmaking, and gave you some ideas to help get you started. We end our focus on blogging this month by answering common questions about blogging for filmmakers. Hopefully our spotlight on blogging this month has, at the very least, given you another tool to consider when building your audience and promoting your films. Time to answer some common questions about blogging so you can be inspired to give it a try if you haven’t already!

Q: How often should I post? It depends on whether or not blogging is a big part of your marketing strategy for your filmmaking or a particular film you’re working on. You also need to take into account how busy you are at any given time- for instance, if you’re currently in principal photography chances are unless you have a team member dedicated to blogging on your behalf you’re not going to have a lot of time or energy to devote to such a rigorous posting schedule. Experts say you should post once or twice per week, but you don’t have to adhere to that particular rule, especially if you are posting regularly via social media.

You also don’t want to feel constrained by an obligation to post once or twice a week- you’re a creative person, and blogging shouldn’t feel like a chore. Post as often or as little as you like, but make sure you don’t have your blog going completely dead. Want to blog infrequently but still have a desire to create blog content about filmmaking or your film? See if there are indie film blogs and websites that would be interested in having you as a guest blogger.

Q: Where should I host my blog? The beauty of blogging is that there are hosting options a plenty! Depending on your website platform you may have the option to integrate a blog into that website (as we have). You may choose to operate a stand-alone blog in conjunction with your website. Alternatively, you may choose to have an account on a stand-alone publishing platform like Medium. It’s a good idea to weigh up your options before committing to something you may not end up using in the long-term.

The benefit of having your blog on your website is that it will help to drive more people to your website- they’ll come for the blog post and hopefully stay to look at your website.

Q: Should I share my blog posts on my social media channels? Absolutely! Blogging provides even more rich, shareable content to promote via social media. Some blogging platforms will have an integrated setting which allows you to share immediately to your social media channels when you publish, which takes the stress out of remembering to share your blog link.

Q: Help! I’m really stuck for content ideas! Have you tried turning it off and on again? Kidding!!! Check out our blog post about content ideas HERE. Currently filming or in post-production? You might want to see if one of your cast or crew would like to contribute a blog post, talking about the process. Perhaps your DoP wants to share some hints and tips, or one of your makeup SFX artists wants to share their career insights and give a sneak peek into their process. Blogging doesn’t have to be a solo effort.

Hopefully our spotlight on blogging in February has been food for thought. If you have a filmmaking blog (or you start one after reading our features on blogging), we’d love to know! Happy blogging and happy filmmaking!

 

Blogging For Filmmakers: Swipe These Ideas For Blog Content!

155

This month, we’re focusing on blogging for filmmakers and how you can grow your audience and awareness for your filmmaking with a blog. The first post in the series covered some of the advantages of blogging, and now we’re diving deeper and looking at the type of content you can generate.

When it comes to blog content as a filmmaker, the sky is the limit! Here’s a few broad ideas to get you started if you’re completely new to blogging but want to start:

Updates on your film: one of the easiest ways to generate blog content is by providing filmmaking updates. Got a mailing list? You can cross-purpose your updates on both. Talk about your successes, let people in on great on-set anecdotes and happenings, and think about embedding some behind the scenes video or images.

Your filmmaking process: some filmmakers truly enjoy talking about the filmmaking process (both technical and creative), and some don’t. If you’re in the former category you might want to approach this with great gusto. Who and what inspires you and informs your creative process? If you chose to film on film instead of digitally, what was the reason? What challenges have you faced in your career? There are endless variations on this theme and so many more subjects that are great for blog posts.

Hot topics in filmmaking: there’s so many things happening in the film industry at any given day, whether it’s a studio merger, changes in the streaming and VOD landscape or other industry buzz there’s always something to write about. This is a great option if you’re particularly passionate about a hot topic. A word of caution from a publicity point-of-view: it’s best not to go off on a rant!

Guest blogging: want to write occasionally, but don’t have the time to commit to regular blogging? Guest blogging might be the idea for you. Providing blog content on another blog is also a great way to bring further awareness to your film and filmmaking. For instance, I recently guest blogged on We Make Movies on Weekends, talking about how movie PR works.

Sharing your filmmaking knowledge: this is another popular topic. Share filmmaking hints and tips, things you’ve learned in your filmmaking career, and offer advice. Share the wealth of knowledge you’ve gained through your filmmaking. This is something I do often on the Sprites blog, partly as another way of showing that I don’t just talk the talk when it comes to publicity of indie films, I also walk the walk and can show you ways of growing your audience and securing media (just like with this post).

In the next post on blogging for filmmakers, we’ll look at what to do when you want to blog…but you’re really stuck! I’ve got a few techniques to help the ideas flow.

How Blogging Can Assist With Promoting Your Indie Film or Webseries

047

In the 21st century we tend to take things like blogging and social media for granted. It’s part of our everyday landscape. It’s easy enough to check your social media feeds and read a blog you love about a topic you’re passionate about. Back in the late 1990s when the Internet was starting to become mainstream blogging and social media were twinkles in the eye of their creators.

Blogging as we know it today didn’t exist, but there were websites which served as proto-blogging/ social media platforms, like Open Diary (which is now a subscription-only service) and Live Journal. You could share your thoughts and feelings with people around the globe, build up an audience…well, you get the picture. We now do this with social media and via blogs. These days, for every interest or topic there is a blog to match, including film.

Now, as you may already know, we’ve talked at length about how social media can assist with promotion of your film, but what about blogs? What benefits are to be gained by blogging regularly, and how can they translate into growing your audience for your films and filmmaking? This month we’ll be answering these questions and giving you some suggestions to help you create great content that people will not only enjoy but will share with their networks.

So, how can blogging be beneficial for promoting your indie film or webseries?

1. You can provide your fans with filmmaking updates: the beauty of blogging is that there are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to the content you create, and updating your fans and audience is one way of producing great content. It can often be used instead of, or in tandem with, an email mailing list (but we’ll talk more about that in later posts).

2. It provides another way to reach and connect with your target audience: blogging can provide another piece of the audience building and publicity puzzle in conjunction with social media and earned and/or paid traditional media coverage. Not everyone likes or uses social media, so this is another way to reach hearts and minds online.

3. It can be beneficial when it comes to SEO of your website: if you choose to have a blog on your website as opposed to solely having a stand-alone blog, your posts can assist with site views and engagement through the tags, categories, blog titles and excerpts you choose to use for each post. Prior to having a blog on the Film Sprites PR website it was just a website, and once I began blogging regularly the site saw a huge upswing in visits which also culminated in more queries about PR and digital marketing services and more clients!

4. You can let people in on your filmmaking process: one thing I’ve seen filmmakers do very successfully with blogging is they let their audience in on their process. Just as behind-the-scenes photos and videos give audiences a tangible taste of your filmmaking, blogging can be a longer form of this. There are endless subjects to write about, and if you’re a keen writer and love sharing your process, inspiration and ideas then blogging is a very valuable tool for you to consider.

Stay tuned for our next post as we focus on blogging for filmmakers in February!

The One Thing We Need to STOP Doing on Social Media

027

Earlier this week I logged into my e-mail to see a message from an acquaintance. We’d been connected via Facebook. Upon opening the message, all I see is a banner for his film. There’s no salutation, no explanation…just the banner. Curious, I emailed him back to ask why he had sent it to me.

“Well, I know you’re interested in social media so I e-mailed it to  you for your awareness”.

Awareness achieved…albeit negatively. Perhaps if he had told me more about the film and what he wanted to achieve by sending the picture, I might have been more receptive.

The one thing we need to STOP doing on social media is treating people like receptacles for links.

 

Regardless of whether it’s messaging your IMDb link to someone without context, or using a third-party provider to send an auto DM to your followers when they follow you, we need to get back to having the ‘social’ in ‘social media’. Recently on the blog I mentioned that we need to work smarter, not harder when it comes to social media- especially when you’re trying to gain awareness for your film. No matter what industry you are in, forging strong connections with people in your network is key. Think I’m wrong? Watch Joe Wilson’s video on Film Courage about actors spamming people on Twitter (note: contains swearing).

Imagine you’re at a conference and there’s a networking cocktail hour. People are milling about, catching up and talking about the day’s events. And then there’s you- you have a billion sheets of paper that only have the link to your film’s crowdfunding campaign on them. Instead of organically networking and getting to know people, you throw the paper up in the air and hope that as it falls, people take notice. That’s what social media can feel like at times, instead of being a conversation. One of the advantages that independent and micro-budget filmmakers have is that they have the ability to make the most of social media. Big blockbusters have PR departments, directors may have their own social media accounts but their engagement can be few and far between, depending on scheduling and whether or not they have someone else managing their personal social media feeds or not. With indies and micro-budgets, most of the time it’s you on the other end of the conversation. So instead of thrusting links upon people…engage with your followers. After all, one of the most important parameters of digital marketing is engagement. You can have all the followers you could possibly want, but if engagement levels are low, it’s not good. That’s how you can tell if someone has bought social media followers: the engagement levels don’t correlate with follower numbers.

Additionally, if you are approaching someone to assist you in any way, be it via e-mail or a social media message, approach them as if you were to approach anyone you’d like assistance from outside of social media. Sending a picture with the hopes it gets shared (and sans message) doesn’t cut it. It just doesn’t. Does that mean I’m not guilty of these social media sins? Not at all! I put my hand on my heart and say that as I was learning and growing, I committed some pretty gnarly social media and publicity sins. Everything is a learning process.

Another way of gaining awareness around your project is to help other people out. Take competition out of the equation, especially if you are an indie filmmaker. You’re not scrambling for those box office dollars (not yet, anyway!). If someone is looking for equipment to hire for a weekend shoot, share their info or point them in the right direction. If you know two people who could benefit from meeting one another and networking, introduce them. Being a connector is a great way of not only assisting others with their goals, it’s great karma. Plus, there will come a time when someone thinks of you when it comes to an opportunity, and will gladly connect you to the right person.

And yes, I’m counting myself as a recipient of this blog post, and as needing this message too. At times, I have been guilty of treating people like link receptacles as well. It’s all part of the human experience. So, from now on, let’s make even more of a concerted effort to really connect with the people who have chosen to follow/like us online. Deal? Deal.

 

Publicity Prep From Post-Production to Release

PUBLICITY PREP Twitter-min

Recently, we took you through a handy timeline for publicity and social media of your film at the various stages of production. We then broke it down even further to talk about the pivotal preparation needed from pre-production through to filming in order to put your best foot forward further down the track. Now, it’s time to give you some ideas about how to make the most of publicity and social media from post-production through to release.

In the post-production period, many films opt to crowdfund for post-production funds to finish the film, and this in itself can prove to be another opportunity to grow your social media audience and media exposure whilst securing your funds. If you’ve prepped thoroughly during pre-production through filming, chances are you have a wealth of materials available that you can use to let people know about the film, both on your crowdfunding page and via social media and regular media. People don’t like being bombarded with constant links to crowdfunding campaigns on social media, so if you can keep the consistent tone you have developed on your social media platforms from day one, you don’t run the risk of having people ‘switch off’ or unfollow. Yes, you can direct people to your crowdfunding campaign, but it doesn’t have to be done in a ‘salesy’ way.

When it comes to blogs, thankfully there are independent film blogs out there that often have sections dedicated to crowdfunding projects, and it’s a good idea to seek them out during the campaign. We’ve mentioned before that IndieWire has a special section called Project of the Day which is great exposure for your film.

Film Projector

If you’re not crowdfunding for post-production funds in post-production, it’s a good time to keep your social media audience updated, especially if you have chosen to submit to festivals prior to releasing your film to a general audience. Make sure you schedule in any film festivals your film has been accepted to, and keep people up to date on social media and via your website. You can have a page on your website which links to your festival appearances to make it even easier for people to know when and where they can see your film and book tickets. If you have the budget and ability to travel to festivals, it’s worth asking the festival co-ordinators if you can distribute a one-sheet of the film to people who are seeing your film. That way they have something tangible they can take with them and hopefully talk about on social media.

During the pre-release phase, it’s a good time to reach out to reviewers. That way if they love your film it can provide you with quotes that can be put on future marketing materials and your website. I suggest asking permission to use quotes from the review prior to doing so- this is usually not a problem, but it’s better to be safe than sorry and shows that you value their writing. Let’s face it- there are some absolutely incredible reviewers out there and they do an incredible job so you want to make sure they’re happy.

Pre-release is also a good time to start pitching to media outlets for interviews and/or features. Why pre-release as opposed to release with an indie film? Editorial calendars are very tightly packed and booked far in advance, with things like blockbuster films taking prominence. Be aware of when large film festivals are taking place during the year as well, as this will also dictate the media calendar. I suggest approaching large media outlets three months from your film’s release, that way if a journalist’s interest is piqued by your film there is plenty of wiggle room to organise an interview/feature. When it comes to TV and newspaper newsrooms, it’s worth noting times when staffing is affected by holidays, as they may be working on a skeleton staffing schedule (especially over the Christmas period, more so if it’s in the Southern Hemisphere where it’s summer in December) . It’s definitely worth getting involved with regional news outlets and community newspapers, especially if you’ve filmed in a particular region. Quite often here in NZ it hits the news when foreign film crews are in the country (for instance, the latest instalment in the Mission: Impossible franchise were on location in NZ recently), but even if you’re from the same country/state/region, having a film crew filming in the area can be of great interest.

When it comes to your film’s release, it’s all systems go! By this stage you hopefully have reviews that you can share with your social media followers, interviews or features, and hopefully some festival laurels as well. You can still continue pitching for reviews and features at this stage, but this is best reserved for film blogs and podcasts as they can be more flexible than large media outlets when it comes to being able to fit a review or feature into their editorial schedule.

Don’t forget local groups and organisations, especially if you have a film that is suitable for a particular group, interest or demographic. Got a film with an astronomy theme? See if you can have information about the film posted in the newsletters of local and national astronomical societies. If you haven’t secured a distributor and you are self-distributing, think about having small exclusive screenings in places that are relevant to your film. Let’s go with the astronomy theme again for a moment: you arrange with the local astronomical society to have an exclusive screening and Q&A with the director at the local planetarium or society headquarters (make sure you have someone on standby to post on social media, e.g. live tweet the Q&A, post pictures on Instagram etc!). Have one-sheets on hand for the viewers to take with them, and if you have physical DVD/Blu-ray copies of the film you could get your director and/or cast to sign the covers and then have a giveaway during the event. Or perhaps your film is a documentary about an aspect of the fair trade coffee industry. Contact a local fair trade coffee company and ask if they will sponsor a screening and Q&A with free samples of their coffee, or a coffee tasting event. With these sorts of events it’s definitely worthwhile sending out a number of invitations to local media, reviewers and social media influencers so they can not only talk about the film but talk about the event as well.

And don’t forget- people love freebies! It’s worth making up special PR packages for social media influencers or to be given away as prizes via film websites and blogs. A copy of the film, a unique postcard, a t-shirt with a catchy phrase that displays the release date of your film- the options are as endless as your imagination.

Publicity and social media for your film doesn’t have to be a chore. It can be creative, energizing and a lot of fun, but you do need to put in the groundwork to maximise your success. Good luck!

How Bloggers and Podcasters Can Assist With Your Film

how-bloggers-and-podcasters-can-assist-with-your-film-min

Here at Film Sprites PR we are huge advocates of bloggers and podcasters. In the digital age one thing is certain: if you have an interest, there’s a blog or podcast for you. No matter whether you’re an avid hockey fan, a Whovian or love Himalayan cats, there’s content on the Internet that’s sure to be of interest.

If you’re a filmmaker you can probably tell me straight away which mainstream publications you’d want to see coverage about your film to appear in. But it’s worth remembering that film blogs and podcasts are just as valuable in terms of gaining exposure and reaching your audience. Here’s a few reasons why bloggers and podcasters can assist with your film’s exposure:

You’re connecting directly to your audience: not only are there many film blogs/podcasts out there, there are genre-specific ones. What better way to reach your target audience? Whether you’ve got a spine-tingling horror, a heartfelt indie drama or an epic sci-fi feature you can find an audience and cut through the static.

Blogs and podcasts can have more flexible editorial time frames: whereas mainstream outlets can have their editorial calendars booked well in advance, bloggers and podcasters can be more flexible when it comes to posting content. It’s always best to have an interview or feature lined up in advance of a release or crowdfunding campaign regardless of which media outlet you are approaching but blogs and podcasts do have a tendency to accommodate inquiries about features/interviews/reviews at shorter notice.

post-production-podcast-audio-min

There are indie film-loving bloggers and podcasters: there are some incredible blogs/podcasts dedicated solely to the world of independent film and they always welcome new content. Whether you’re promoting your first independent film or your fifty-first, the world of blogs and podcasts has an entire community that will help to champion your film. If they’re passionate enough about your work it can also mean receiving ongoing support from them as well, both on the podcast/blog and via social media. It also means you’re likely to receive cross-promotion on their social media channels when they post about your interview/feature/review.

…because most importantly….

It’s all about relationship building: no matter what, teaming up with podcasts/blogs to promote your film via features/interviews/reviews is helping to build a relationship with your audience. You should never underestimate the power of blogs and podcasts to reach your audience and help it to grow.

Want to know how we can assist you with publicity and digital marketing of your film? Download our services pamphlet HERE.