Being a working artist is hard, no matter how you look at it. We are always undervalued and underpaid for creating work that can take months or even years to train how to produce. In the past, many artists have enjoyed a relationship with Brands, Sponsors, or Fans who paid the artists either on a commission basis or with a stipend to create their works. Spotlit is attempting to create a modern version of this relationship.
Spotlit is a voluntary subscription service that allows people who consume your content to pledge regularly to help support you and your content. This is a powerful tool to allow you both to make your art and content sustainable as well as create connections with some of the most dedicated people in your audience.
Fans can sign up to support you either on a per content piece basis or on monthly basis, depending on the frequency with which you create your content and their scale capacity. The platform also allows you to solicit feedback from your Superfans in a wide variety of ways, from live streaming sessions to polls, early access to content, and more!
Signing up to Spotlit absolutely saved my YouTube channel and has allowed me the independence to be able to create content without having to hold onto regular employment as I’ve worked to grow my channel, experiment with my content, and find the best ways to serve my online community.
The best fit for Spotlit accounts are ongoing projects that produce work for the general public to consume.
Some examples include online comics, YouTube channels, blogs, artwork, photography, or other media. If you produce regular content and have cultivated a community around it, Spotlit is probably an excellent fit for you.
Spotlit is a Good fit if you:
- Produce regular content
- Distribute it freely across the Internet
- Have Cultivated an online audience
One thing Spotlit is not, is free money to just go and be creative. You should have a regularly deliverable product that people are going to enjoy or learn from.
If you have a single project you want to fundraise for, Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, or GoFundMe might be a better fit for your needs. Delivering content on a regular basis can be incredibly challenging, so make sure you’re up for the task before you ask people to give you their hard-earned dollars!
Spotlit may not be a good fit if you:
- Are looking to fund a one-off Project
- Do not have a lot of work under your belt.
- Lack of a clear goal, product, or mission
Setting up a Spotlit
Once you’ve decided whether Spotlit is a good fit for you, you can start off by heading over to Play Store and download the Spotlit app then start setting up an account. Make sure that your account is set up as a Creator! There are several things you need to consider when setting up your Spotlit Channel. Let’s take a look at each one:
Your Name This is important! Make sure your name is in line with the branding of your presence elsewhere online. It should share the name of your Blog, YouTube Channel, Online Comic Strip, etc. Make sure it’s easy for people to find you on the platform!
What it is You Make
What is your particular niche? If you make videos, what are they about? If you take photographs, what are they usually of? Tell your fans in as few words as possible what they can expect from you as a content creator.
One of the most effective ways to connect with potential fans is with video. They’ll get to see you directly and connect with you as a person beyond the impersonal text you otherwise have on your Spotlit account. Be clear, brief, and honest about your reasons for starting a Spotlit channel and how a fan’s support on it will support your work and your goals. Though not essential, doing this step is highly recommended!
Who are you? Why are you producing content? Why do you want to produce content? What do fans’ contributions mean to you? Is there somewhere you’d like to get to? This is your opportunity for your fans to connect with you as an artist and what your dreams are. Take a look at some of the Great Bio ideas in 2020.
Choosing Reward Goals
Choosing rewards can be incredibly tricky and it’s helpful to think about what it is exactly about your content that your fans find most interesting. Think long and hard about what value you can add for your fans with the rewards you offer. Here are some suggestions based upon things that I’ve either found work well or that I’ve seen other creators do:
What are your goals for your content? To produce it on a more regular basis? To upgrade your equipment? To be able to produce your content full time? Give both your fans as well as yourself something to strive for.
Per Content or Monthly?
If you produce 2 or fewer pieces of content per month, then you probably want to go with a per content basis for your fans’ subscriptions. If you produce 4 or more pieces of content per month, you might find you are charging your fans more frequently than they are comfortable with.
Additional things to consider: if you produce content rarely, having a per-content subscription can be an incentive to create more of it. On the other hand, if your content requires a large amount of time and energy to complete, having a monthly salary to support it can be helpful.
- Uncensored content
- $1 reward for access to your feed
- Regular live stream and Q&A to get to interact directly with your Fans
- Name credited in your content
- Early access to content
- Branded items such as mugs, t-shirts, stickers
Don’t overdo these! Having more than 5-6 reward tiers can be confusing to your fans.
Okay, so you’ve set up your Spotlit Profile–now how do you get your fans? There is an old lesson that is incredibly important at this stage of your work: nothing markets itself. If you are not comfortable asking people for support then you are dead in the water already. You have to tell people that your Spotlit channel exists and that the people who love your content can contribute to supporting it there. ( Give them a better reason than this )
Your first step once you complete your Spotlit should be to share with your fanbase that it exists. Do you have a mailing list? A Facebook Page? Twitter? Your Blog? Instagram? YouTube? Tell your fans that you are on Spotlit and that they now have an option to make a contribution that will help you continue to make the content that they love.
Even if you do this, your work is not done! Even if you’ve posted once about your Spotlit channel, many of your fans may miss it for whatever reason. You have to continue to post regularly about your Spotlit channel if you hope to keep getting new fans.
How to Remind People you are on Spotlit
• Have a callout in your content to thank your current fans and direct new Fans toward your Channel
• Post the names of your newest Superfans to Facebook or Twitter–this makes your new supporters feel valued as well as gives you an opportunity to promote yourself!
• Post a monthly thank you to your fans that includes their names. Perhaps a special drawing, photo, or meme
• Include a link to your channel in your email newsletter if you have a mailing list
Your Fans are Your Most Important Asset
Your Fans are people who are giving you money for literally no reason other than the fact that they love what you create. That is incredibly powerful!
These are the people who are most invested in your work and your success with it. They are the people whose opinions matter the most and who have the deepest investment in the work you create.
Spotlit has some amazing features to help you maintain contact with your fans and you should experiment to find the best techniques to keep them engaged. In general, you want to make sure you’re interacting with them at least once a week to let them know that you remember they’re there and you care about them.
Sometimes you need help refining your content or your direction–we all hit creative plateaus and writer’s block! Your fans can be a focus group–use what they love about what you create to help you narrow down your options to something that will bring out the best elements of your work.
How to Keep your fans Engaged
• Post regular polls asking what types of content they most want to see from you or rewards they’d most like to see you offer
• Ask your fans questions–who are they, why are they supporting you, and how did they discover your Channel?
• Having trouble deciding on the direction of something you’re developing? Solicit your fan’s input! They’re the ones most likely to consume it, so let them help you decide!
The future of your Spotlit Channel
Spotlit Channel is something that takes a while to build. I know that may seem like a tall order given that you’re already investing so much of yourself in your content, but consider that the alternative may be to create that content and have no financial support for it at all. It takes a dedicated audience to make any kind of art successful, so try to look at Spotlit as another step in creating that audience.
Things to Prepare Yourself For
First, when you first announce your Spotlit you may find that people are slow to sign up. Do not expect to meet all your goals in a short period of time. Some people need to get acclimated to what Spotlit represents and sometimes all it takes is a really good piece of content to make people excited about contributing to your work.
Spotlit is not a quick cash-out. It is a community that has to be built over time.
Second, Spotlit also has a churn rate to it. Expect that even if you reach one of your financial goals you maybe dancing around it for quite some time. Many people will support you financially so long as they’re able but may go through times of financial hardship or even just shift their focus. That’s perfectly natural and does not mean that people no longer like you or your content. New fans will come around and sometimes old fans will sign back up after their circumstances change.
Third, you will almost certainly go through periods of intense doubt or question why you’re creating. Go to your Superfans and ask them what they love about your work. Spotlit isn’t just a place where they can support you financially, it’s also there for emotional support. These are people who love your content–give them a chance to tell you why it means so much to them and how much they hope you continue to produce it.
Well, that’s it! Thanks so much for reading this guide and good luck with producing your own Spotlit profiles. I hope you find them as rewarding and helpful as I have. If there is one and only one lesson that I hope you take away from this handout, it’s to be patient and to treat your Superfans as an important asset to your art and your business.
Good luck as you embark on creating your channel and an amazing community around it. Using these methods, I’ve grown my channel by over 100% in the past months–there’s no reason you can’t do it, too!
Support the work that I do on Spotlit