3 Types of Audiences That Drive Indie Film Revenue

3 Types of Audiences That Drive Indie Film Revenue

Today on Filmmaker Freedom, the three types of audiences that will enable you to make a living selling directly to your fans.

We’ll also dig into one of the biggest mistakes I see again and again from indie filmmakers who want to create content, reach people online, and sell their films. Problem is, they do it in the most ineffective way possible.

By the end of this episode, you’ll have newfound clarity on how to use your energy for maximum impact when reaching online. audiences and selling your films.


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A (spruced up) transcript of today’s episode

A few episodes back, we covered the fundamentals of audience building.

If you missed that, it's really important to go back and listen to (or read) it—because it's just such a strong foundation for what we're talking about today.

But just to get you up to speed, here are the main takeaways.

First, to be successful with DIY direct distribution, you must target a specific niche audience, and make films just for those people.

We cannot compete with Hollywood when it comes to winning the war for mass-market attention. Without their resources, we’ll lose that battle every time.

But when we niche down and produce niche media, our work will be far more resonant with that specific group of people than anything Hollywood could ever make.

And it's that resonance that allows us to win the attention and dollars of that group, even though they have a gazillion other choices for what to consume.

So that's takeaway number one. Focus on a niche audience.

Now in terms of audience building, remember that you've got a potential audience, which is basically the niche as a whole. It's everyone who identifies as a member of that particular group. 

And then you've got a built audience which is the people on your email list or in your community. It's the people that you've got a direct line of communication with.

The Three Types of Audiences

Ok, now that we've got that refresher out of the way, let's get into the meat of today's episode.

And we're going to expand on that model by digging into the three types of audiences that are worth your attention and energy. And as you'll find out, some of those are worth more than others.

So for a quick overview of the three types of audiences, we've got a core audience, an expanded audience, and then secondary audiences.

Type 1: The “Expanded” Audience

We're going to start with expanded audiences. 

In a nutshell, this comprises the majority of people in your chosen niche, but it's also a bit different and more nuanced than the idea of a potential audience that I just talked about.

Because again, your potential audience is fixed. It's just all of the people in the niche added all together. And the only way that number changes is when the niche itself grows or shrinks.

But an expanded audience, on the other hand, is directly tied to the influencers that you connect with in your chosen niche. Basically, your expanded audience consists of all of the people your influencer friends can reach directly. It's the sum of their respective audiences. 

So when you're just starting out, your expanded audience is going to be zero, because you don't have any of those relationships yet.

But every time you connect with and build a relationship with someone influential in the niche, your expanded audience just kind of... expands.

And then eventually, as you connect more and more with influential people, your expanded audience will become quite substantial-likely reaching into the hundreds of thousands or even millions of people.

When you do it right, and connect with as many influencers as possible, your expanded audience should effectively be the same size as the niche as a whole. And that's when the expanded audience and potential audience basically become the same thing. 

But the difference is that with the expanded audience, you have a simple and free mechanism for reaching those people that isn't paid advertising. You can just tap into those relationships to reach the entire niche.

Why it’s essential to connect with influencers and grow your expanded audience

Now. I just mentioned a big reason why having an expanded audience is important, but there are a couple more reasons.

The first one is that you're always aiming to pull people from the expanded audience into your core audience. By that, I mean pulling them onto your email list or whatever you use to store and communicate with your audience.

But the bigger reason behind having an expanded audience is that it allows you to execute a strategy that I mentioned in a previous episode. I think it was I think it was episode 5 on making indie film a viable business. 

Anyhow, that strategy is called the Omnipresent Launch, and it's essentially when you launch a new film, and through tapping on all of these influencer relationships at once, you can essentially reach everybody in the niche with your message.

During the launch, everyone in your expanded audience is seeing and hearing about your film constantly. It's like you're everywhere all at once. 

Not only can this drive significant revenue, and do it actually pretty quickly. But it's also the key to dramatically growing your core audience and your email list in a very short period of time.

So that's why having an expanded audience and connecting with influencers is so, so, so key. I can't possibly express how important it is.

Type 2: The “Core” Audience

Your core audience is probably exactly what you think it is. 

Basically, it’s all of the people from the broader niche who have opted in to your email list, or your community, or whatever you're using to store your audience. It's all of the people you have a direct, reliable line of communication with. 

So again, while you can only reach your expanded audience through influencers, advertising, or through other types of self-promotion, you can reach your core audience whenever you damn well please, because you've got that direct line of communication with them.

Now there are a lot of benefits that come from having a core audience

The main benefit is that when you have that line of communication, you're able to build a real relationship with this group of people. 

And it's that relationship that makes it so much easier to sell your films directly, sell ancillary products and services, as well as getting people to sign up for things like patronage or monthly donations or whatever you want to set up to drive revenue.

And the subtext here is that your core audience and building relationships with those people over time, that's what creates true fans

A true fan is somebody who will essentially buy anything and everything that you ever make. They're kind of like your internet stalkers, but in a way that's profitable and fulfilling and not at all creepy.

Anyhow, your true fans are going to account for a small percentage of your core audience. But over time, you'll likely find that they drive the lion's share of your revenue.

It's one of those things that follows the 80/20 principle. I’m sure you've heard of it, but essentially it's where 20% of the inputs in a system drive 80% of the outputs or the results.

So for instance, your core audience is likely to account for about 80 % of your revenue compared to the expanded audience or secondary audiences, which I'll talk about later.

And then within your core audience, your true fans will likely account for 80% of that revenue. So basically this small group of people, these true fans, will have a huge disproportionate effect on your bottom line.

And frankly, it would be foolish to focus too much of your energy elsewhere, because we all have limited time and energy and we have to focus on what matters and on what moves the needle.

Which brings me to the final type of audience that I want to talk about today, and that's secondary audiences.

Type 3: “Secondary” Audiences

Basically, these are just groups that lie outside of your primary niche.

So these are people that might still buy your work, and they might support you in some way.

This might include your friends and family. Your co-workers. Your local community, especially if you're in a smaller town.

And of course the most obvious example is other filmmakers. And that brings me to one of the biggest mistakes that I see time and time again.

The biggest mistake I see from filmmakers who are trying to market themselves.

So the mistake is this... When someone creates content around their films in hopes of attracting an audience for it, they create content FOR filmmakers. 

Now, as somebody who runs the site for filmmakers, I see this all the time. Someone will make a film, then they'll go write a lot of guest posts for filmmaking blogs and then link out to the film on like Amazon or iTunes or whatever.

Personally, I love this kind of thing because it's often really good content.

But for those filmmakers, it is an awful, ineffective, no good, very bad marketing strategy. Unless your film is about filmmakers... filmmakers are not your primary audience. They're not the group that is most going to resonate with the film that you've made.

Filmmakers are a secondary audience, and by not focusing on your niche, and by not focusing on your core and expanded audiences, you're basically shooting yourself in the foot, revenue-wise.

Your film isn't going to reach the people who might actually want to see it and pay for it. And you as a business owner are essentially leaving a vast majority of your potential revenue from this project on the table by not focusing on the right people.

And yes, it is easier to create content about filmmaking because it's what you know, and it's what you do, and it's what you think about constantly.

But take it from somebody who's seen this again and again. There is not a whole lot of gold at the end of that proverbial rainbow. 

So please repeat after me...

“Unless I'm making a film about about filmmakers. I won't spend the majority of my time and energy making content about filmmaking, because that won't get me the results that I want.”

Now, I don't want to completely dissuade you from pursuing secondary audiences, because there is some revenue to be made there. Just know that it's generally going to be smaller and less frequent revenue than you'd get by focusing specifically on your niche. 

Again, just think back to the 80/20 principle we were talking about before. 

If 80% of your revenue comes from your core audience and true fans, and you also get some big spikes in revenue from your expanded audience, why on earth would you focus your energy elsewhere, knowing full well that it wouldn’t produce those same types of results?

We've all got limited time. We've all got limited energy. And by staying true to our niche, and by focusing on our core audience and our expanded audience, you will make the most of that time and energy. 

A Quick Recap

So that's all I've got for you today. 

To recap, we've got to focus on a specific niche. That's paramount to this whole strategy.

And then within that niche, our core audience is everyone who's on our email list. Our expanded audience is everyone in the audiences of our network of niche influencers. And then secondary audiences are everyone else outside of the niche who may or may not support our work.

The most important thing I want you to take away from this is that we can drive a significant amount more revenue by focusing on those first  two groups-on the core and expanded audiences.

Again, secondary audiences can provide some nice little bumps, but the good stuff comes from focusing on your niche and building relationships with them.

That's where the real money is.

If you’re truly invested in putting these ideas to use, I’d recommend joining Freedom Fighters, my private community for entrepreneurial indie filmmakers.

It’s not another spammy facebook group or noisy forum. It’s an online oasis just for people like us. A place of sanity and respect, where we try our best to support one another in our respective journeys.

So if you’re interested in becoming a member, here’s where you can get the full scoop and apply (don’t worry, it’s totally free).

Hoping to see you inside.

-Rob Hardy

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