I encounter it a lot when I’m working on a project on the marketing side of things.
How do we get eyeballs on the project?
How do we get reviews?
My answer : for free!
There’s almost an immediate revulsion. Give things away!? But we’re trying to make money here!
Yes, and the problem is, you need an audience. And if you don’t already have one (or even if you do) there’s a lot of competition for any given media project. You can’t expect someone else to get eyeballs on your thing unless they get to enjoy it with as little effort as possible.
Give things away for free, give them away freely with no strings attached. If they like it they will talk about it, and if they don’t there’s no pressure on either of you. They don’t have to avoid you or be uncomfortable. Always give people an out. Give things as GIFTS with no expectation. Host giveaways too, don’t just offer them to famous people in the hopes they will shower you with eyeballs! The people who were there for you and supported you even when your audience was very small are very, very important. They will follow you around the world and back again!
Bookmarks, Free copies of your project, videos, puzzles, stickers, postcards, you name it! They don’t all have to cost money to make and send either. Papercraft, doodles, livestreams,etc. Be creative! There is no one way to get the word out, but the point is to get people talking about your thing!
Remember that you’re not just advertising your current project, you’re advertising YOU. Be in it for the long game, and don’t worry about every individual dollar as that will hurt you in the long run. Your audience is not there to buy things from you all the time, their support can help push you up the hills you need to climb to turn it into a full time job.