The goal of this post is twofold: To thank everyone who reached out during this campaign, and to summarize and pass on techniques I learned in the process.
A thank you from me
It was really inspiring to have so many people respond to the campaign. There was great feedback from artists, lots of tweeting and re-tweeting, blogging and even financial contributions to a bounty to the person the generated the lead that would land Joseph his dream job. So a big thank you to everyone who stepped up, you are all very awesome. There's a lot of need out there, and it's hard to not feel so overwhelmed by it that doing anything feels too small, too insignificant. Whenever I see people overcome this and do small things for others, it moves me and helps me to get over the inertia of doing something myself.
I wanted to specifically thank a number of people:
Suzy Tennison - For being so generous and enthusiastic about the project
Glen Hilton - For lending enthusiasm, tweeting to his massive following, and passing on some good Twitter tips
Chris Dunmire - For posting the best writeup we got on his blog, and mentioning the project in his Creativity Portal e-zine
Patrick Lee - For supplying a great lead, giving us the best quote of the campaign, and being an all around enthusiastic guy
Steve Goad - An awesome artist who gave some excellent advice on navigating the freelance art world, and wrote up a nice post
Scott Morton - For giving some tips on navigating the video game industry
TheFinalHikari- For contributing a nice, Save Joseph-inspired poem
Josh Brauer - For offering some really good thoughts on the campaign as a whole
Laura Boergadine Sapp - For some great artist-to-artist advice
If I'm missing anyone, please let me know and I'll add them in.
A thank you from the Joseph
Joseph wanted to post a thank you to everyone that lent their resources to the campaign. I believe he's putting it in his blog, but I wanted to re-post here for folks following via my blog:
About a week and a half ago I was talking with a friend about my current job situation, and how it was about to to effect my life dramatically, a classic struggle between passion and stability in my professional life. Chris wanted to help in any way possible, andn asked me if I would be interested in doing a "little experiment" with him, to try to create a buzz, around my artistic and creative abilities, let my current plight be known , and in doing so, see if he could generate some job opportunities for me. I agreed, and without another word Chris went to work on the project with an explosion of energy and enthusiasm, exploring every conceivable avenue to get me exposure, including reaching out to anyone who heard my story to come back with suggestions of there own. The feedback was amazing, everyone took time out of there busy lives to review my work, and point me in directions of possible job opportunities! Every ones effort was overwhelming, especially on Chris' part, who devoted many tireless hours to the project! I don't have a job in the art field as of yet, but the project has generated some exciting prospects, and it has opened many doors of opportunity. I just want to give a heart felt thank you to everyone involved, for reaching out to help.
A wrapup of techniques
I spent 4-6 hours a day for a week or so working on the campaign and leveraged it as a great excuse to really assess what I know about marketing, about social networking, and use it as a catalyst for generating some new ideas and techniques. My hope was that taking the machine-gun approach would help me land on something viral that would really take off. Nothing quite did that, but the efforts generated about 600 unique visitors over the course of a week. This is by no means viral, but it's respectable. For a newer artist, getting your work in front of 600 people can take some doing using traditional means. Also, there will be a long tail of visitors from here on out from the links and coverage out there on the web that will probably double that number in the next couple of months.
For those are are contemplating embarking on a similar venture, here's a pretty much exhaustive list of everything I tried over the course of the 10-day campaign:
- Registered a unique domain name (savejoseph.org) and pointed it to a blog page on my personal blog. The idea was that the campaign could have some branding, but some time could be saved in leveraging an existing site with a good commenting system instead of spinning up a new site. The plan was that if there was time, a single-page site would be built in its stead. I'm curious if this had any negative effect on the campaign, seeing the savejoseph.org page branded as my personal blog. I only got one bit of feedback from someone who noticed, but if people were turned off, they might not have said anything.
- Created a countdown image that could be added to a web site in support of the campaign - I have no idea if anyone used this besides me, but it was a fun project
- Added a ChipIn to allow people to donate small amounts to a bounty that would go out to the person who generated the lead leading to a job. Only to people donated (and I was one), but it seems like if I had tweeted more about this, I would have gotten a better idea of how many people would have used this.
- I wrote a press release and had a virtual assistant in India put together a list of publications that might want to feature the story. One of the ones they found was Creativity Portal, the author of which did post an article which has been driving a little bit of traffic to the campaign.
- I submitted the press release to the Idaho Statesman and the Boise Weekly, but did not receive a response.
- I had my virtual assistant put together a list of sites where you could do a press release for free, but I didn't get that done before the campaign ended.
- I submitted the story to Mashable, but I don't think they covered it.
- I submitted a request to Malcom Gladwell asking for advice (hey, you have to try!). I got a funny little response that could possibly have been automated in some way (probably his virtual assistant).
- I posted a request for advice on http://www.deviantart.com/, which didn't get many responses. I kind of got sucked into the site and commissioned a couple pieces of art based on the campaign (to seed the idea of getting other artists to donate small, derivative works in support of the campaign), and ended up having a great conversation with an artist that had some great advice and an inspiring attitude. I would have liked to have connected with more people this way.
- I posted questions on Mahalo and Yahoo Answers requesting suggestions for the campaign. The idea here was to garner advice, but with the thought that the people who answer questions on those sites may have seen questions about people looking for artists. Also, I was thinking that the people who read the question might become curious about the campaign. I didn't get any responses, and it's hard to track if people came to the campaign from those sources, so I'm not sure what the sum result was.
- I spent several hours doing a video interview with Joseph, with the idea that if people could get a better feel for his personality and the neat things he's done, it would make him more real. I would have made several short videos and posted them to a blog, YouTube and Blip. However, at the end of the interview my computer ran out of batteries and shut down, corrupting the video file, so it got lost forever. It was such a time-consuming process that we weren't able to find the time to do it again.
- Created a dedicated twitter account and tweeted throughout the campaign - This didn't seem nearly as effective as leveraging existing accounts, but seemed like an important thing to do
- Tweeted regularly from my account, and had these tweets sent to Facebook - Being able to tweet to Twitter and have it update my Facebook status was a nice little time saver. Actually, what I would do was create a message in Evernote, give it a twitter tag, and it would post to my blog, which would then post to Twitter and Facebook, so I was able to tweet very rapidly across multiple social networks.
- I asked several influential friends to give me advice on the campaign, which allowed them to assess weather the campaign was newsworthy enough to cover themselves without having to say 'um, I don't write about this kind of thing'. Plus, I got a lot of great feedback from going that route.
- On a suggestion from a friend, I started adding Plz RT at the end of a post to encourage people to spread the word, and that seemed to work well.
Summary and brief contemplation on measuring success
In order for this story to have become viral, I think we would have needed to do something a little more outrageous. I stuck to more conventional channels because I wanted to make sure we had a good framework for launching other efforts. Also, outrageous requires a lot more creative thinking and potentially time. If I had to do this again, I would start with a brainstorming session on creative, silly, wild things we could potentially do to create buzz and see what direction that took. Setting the foundation will generate a nice long-tail of visits, and help to consolidate any sort of marketing Joseph does in the future, so I think ultimately it was a good place to start.
Now, I did realize from the outset that there was no way I could know if this venture would be ultimately successful if judged by that end goal. I'm confident that there's work out there, but not certain about how much I could accomplish as an outsider. However, I did know that if judged by the measure of learning and pushing the bounds of what I know I had a lot of control over the success of the project. On those grounds, my hopes were high and I was not disappointed.