3 Social Media Mistakes I Made as a Beginner Fire Performer
When I first started out as a professional fire performer, I made several social media blunders. Let me tell you about them so you can avoid the same pitfalls!
Photo credit for this one goes to my rad friend Chanel who took this photo of me on my iPhone at a flow fest we went to together the year I embarked on my journey toward becoming a professional performer. This was one of the first costumes I purchased, and the first time I tried it out in public. Flowstorm was also my first flow festival.
I recently posted a video to my Instagram about these 3 social media mistakes I made when I first started out. You can check it out here. And here's the elaboration on each item...
1) I wasted time on strategies to get followers fast.
After starting my social media accounts, I wanted to get followers fast. I solicited my friends and other performers, but that only got me my first couple hundred followers. So, I looked online for strategies to help.
Enter the world of beauty bloggers and Instagram gurus... they seem to produce the majority of algorithm advice out there! I tried a lot of their strategies with varying degrees of success, from follow groups to follow DM chains to hashtag strategies to taking 3-5 minutes every day to write genuine comments on other accounts in the same niche.
Ultimately, I discovered that a lot of these strategies take precious time out of my day and they don't result in a whole lot of new followers. They definitely didn't result in many paying clients. The most important thing I did to grow my account was the in-person networking that I did at events and flow festivals.
The hashtag strategies and other account optimizing strategies were important, but the rest seemed to end up costing me hours every week. I decided it wasn't the best way to use my time. And a lot of the follow threads or groups or gimmicks were filled with people who eventually unfollowed my account. They didn't play by the rules, and I decided I didn't want to play those games.
Creating quality content has been the surest way to increase my followers, and it's also the only way to make sure the people following your account actually care about the content you're producing.
2) I said "no thanks" to a lot of free opportunities that could have benefitted me.
When I first started performing, a lot of people warned me about working for free. There were lots of event planners and festival organizers who would try to get free labor out of me, "they" said. I think there's a certain stereotype of this: the poi performer who is willing to work for a free ticket or $50 and doesn't show up in a costume but instead wears rave wear or festival clothes. (Please note that I don't buy into this stereotype but it's the one that was told to me over and over again.)
I think that there will always be performers who are willing to work for free/cheap, and clients will get what they pay for. If an event planner only has a tiny budget and there are performers willing to work for them, then why grump about it? Is that other performer undercutting? Sure, maybe. I'm still not sure why so many people warned me not to do this, and I'm not sure why they cared. My guess is that it came from a scarcity mindset, and whatever the case, it stopped me from taking any of these free labor gigs.
I wish I had taken up some folks on their free opportunities! The message about not undercutting existing performers had been beaten into my head so hard that I just said "hell no" automatically to a lot of those opportunities when I first started out because I didn't want to be known as an undercutting newbie. In hindsight, some of those free labor gigs could have helped my career and my social media content creation.
My advice to performers just starting out is to consider these things when someone approaches you and asks you to work for free:
Will you get guaranteed professional media from the gig (photos/videos)?
Will you be able to network and pass out your business card to potential paying clients in the future?
Will the event planner or venue owner compensate you in alternative ways?
Professional media (photos/videos)
Reviews (that you can post to your website, Gig Salad, Google, etc.)
Free tickets to the event for you to sell
Allowing you to use the venue for professional photos during the event or at a later date (it can be hard to find locations for shooting some things, especially fire, so this is great if the venue is an awesome location)
Okay, so how does this relate to social media? Well, I needed more quality content for my social media accounts, and these free (but beneficial) opportunities would have been perfect for that. If I had taken up more people on some of their gig requests, I could have generated much more content of me performing in front of an audience. That was the hardest content to acquire when I first started out, and it's something I learned later really helps show clients that you are a professional performer.
Photo credit: Easy Street Images
3) I didn't pay enough professional photographers.
The last mistake that I made was not hiring enough professional photographers. If your social media account looks professional and contains a variety of professional content, then clients are more likely to book you at premium rates.
Sometimes that's what makes the difference between hiring you or another performer.
In the beginning, I relied on photos taken by photographers at events where I was jamming with friends. This tends to be fire circles at monthly events. And while those photos were awesome (and free), it meant that I was at the mercy of chance. Was I out in the circle while the photographer was taking pictures? Did my performance catch their eye? Did they choose my photos to edit and post later?
I eventually wised up and hired those photographers to take curated photos of me any chance I could afford to. You can even ask them how much it would cost for you to get a couple custom shots at the events with a fire circle that you'll both be attending. If you're super broke, maybe you can offer a trade of some kind if you have other skills to offer. The point is, hire photographers. Pay them cash dollars if you can. Their work is worth it for one. And for another, you'll get exactly what you want and need for your social media accounts, website, and other places where you need to post professional performer photos.
If you take nothing else from this blog post, please consider hiring a photographer for events you're working. It's really great if you can take photos/videos on your cell phone to document those events. It's even better to have professional photos of you performing in front of people. Those are primo shots. You want potential clients to imagine you performing for their audiences, and you want to make it as easy as possible for them to imagine that.
I hope this helps you. Let me know what you think or if you have any questions. The fastest way to reach me is through my Instagram DMs.