Advent of the Insurgent Creative, Day Three – The Free Content Model

In yesterday’s entry, I referenced Howard Tayler’s bit about “Grizzly Bear Soup.” I first heard this reference while watching a video of his keynote address to the 2008 Utah Open Source Conference (which I’ve embedded below).

Howard Tayler is a webcomic creator — his strip, Schlock Mercenary has been running daily since 2000. All of his content is available for free on the website… and yet he makes a comfortable enough living as a Creative that he was able to quite the proverbial “Day Job” and create full-time. In the keynote address, he explains a bit about how this business plan, the Free Content model, works.

When I first saw this video, it literally changed how I thought about my career. I was lucky enough to meet Mr. Tayler at GenCon a couple of years ago, and told him so. Whether you are an artist, or a writer, or a musician, there is advice here which is applicable to reaching the point where you can create for a living.

During the keynote, he talks about the fact that the goal for any creative is to build a fan-base. Once you have a fan-base, they can (WARNING: Horrible, marketing douche buzzword ahead) be monetized. Not only do they become loyal customers for any merchandise you offer, but you can (if you wish) charge others to sell to your fans, by offering advertising on your site, etc.

He mentions that the hard part is getting and keeping the fans. The monetization part is relatively easy. Hence the idea that this business model is as easy as Grizzly Bear soup — first, you have to track, find, hunt and kill a Grizzly Bear. The rest is just a soup recipe.

Take a half hour and watch the keynote, below. Not all of it may be applicable to what you do, but it will definitely give you some things to think about in your journey to becoming an Insurgent Creative.

Storm the gates!


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