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How to Build an Audience, With Lee Schneider

Today, we bring you a veteran creative producer -- learning from his father who was a television executive back when the few networks reigned supreme, Lee Schneider has intense insights from his career in journalism, writing, documentary production, and entrepreneurship. You can find him at his Digital Fundraising School, and he's doing a GiveGetWin deal focused on key insights for creative producers on making high-quality content, building an audience, and earning a living from your art and passion.

How To Build An Audience, insights from Lee Schneider as told to Sebastian Marshall

I started in words even though I was writing for picture. I was a newspaper reporter and writer for TV shows… on TV, I wrote the introductions, intros, and outros.

I wrote for a newspaper in Texas and for A&E. This started teaching me the relationship between words and pictures. I went to writing for local television and Good Morning America. I learned how to write fast and how to write in a big noisy room, and how to write for picture. This is a key thing, the relationship between pictures and words. They get stronger as they relate, words and pictures, and sounds.

That led me to working for news magazines like Dateline NBC and a magazine for Fox, Frontpage. I was producing stories in the 8-10 minute range, and telling a story in that range of time is a very different animal than telling a story in 20 seconds like you would for a news broadcast. That led to longer form stuff; after Dateline NBC, I did Biography for A&E and started my own company doing hour-long documentaries for the Learning Channel, History Channel, and others.

What I've Been Consuming

On Imported Blog

This is a monthly series that documents what I've consumed and, from music to movies and video games to books. It doesn't include everything I've consumed this month, but things that have made an impact or left an impression on me. This is for my own personal tracking, so if this doesn't interest you, feel free to move right along.

After my Kindle broke, I didn't read for months. Ryan Holiday's writings changed that dramatically. Once I had to buy books for school, I snatched up the opportunity to pick up some books that had been on my to-read list, which recently jumped from 10 or 20 books to 556 items as of today. (Buy me books?)

So here's what I've read over the course of August and September, a dramatic increase over the amount I'd read when I had to rely on a library:

I bought books waiting to be read, including Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, and The Trial by Franz Kafka. I'm very excited to get to them, but I hope to finish Ben Franklin's Autobiography first. We're also reading The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald in class, and I'll comment on that next month.

Quick Note About Book Series: I absolutely despise book series. I understand it's a way to get kids to read more, but it's a cheap way to extract more money out of an audience that can't afford it (I got $4-5 a week in allowance). The books are repetitive and waste precious space reminding the audience of certain constants, and if you don't have the creativity to put your series into one book--no matter the size, please stop publishing. I have stopped many series halfway because I simply outgrew them. And now I'll never know the endings...

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