Louis C.K. Shows How to Profit from Platform

You actually can make money by giving something away.

That’s what the popular comic Louis C.K. did. Well, not exactly giving it away, but selling a DVD of a performance of his himself, without any digital rights management restrictions.

He wanted to control his own content, and offer something directly to his fans. And, according to an article he wrote on his website, he made something like $200,000 from selling his own performance DVDs. And the cost? A mere $5.00.

A couple of days after offering the DVD, which was professionally produced and which Louis C.K. himself directed, he’s sold 110,000 copies. He went on to say that his experiment in self-promotion worked, and that he will continue to do it – now that he knows his audience is there for him in this way. As he wrote, “If the trend continues with sales on this video, my goal is that I can reach the point where when I sell anything, be it videos, CDs or tickets to my tours, I’ll do it here and I’ll continue to follow the model of keeping my price as far down as possible, not overmarketing to you, keeping as few people between you and me as possible in the transaction.”

Now, we’ve worked with authors, new and established, who sometimes balk about giving their work away through blogging, or free chapter downloads. They don’t seem to realize the power of starting, and continuing a conversation with their audience by offering them at first free, then for a nominal price then for a larger price, something of value.

If you’ve developed a platform for your message, for your work, for your brand as an author or entrepreneur, you can leverage that to sell books, CDs, tickets to seminars. You can become a stronger force in business by trusting in the receptivity and eagerness of your audience.

The tools are there for you to use, whether it’s through high-quality self-publishing (in traditional paper or electronic form), and the possibilities are only limited by your imagination. Certainly Louis C.K. has a platform – a television show and a touring life, not to mention his website – but he built it the old-fashioned way, by talking to his fans.

You can do the same. You don’t have to be a cutting-edge comic to make a mark. You just have to be a little bit bold.

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One Response to “Louis C.K. Shows How to Profit from Platform”

  1. Kirsten Nelson December 15, 2011 at 10:46 am #

    I remember the first time I was told to give my products away for free. It seemed completely counterintuitive.  But I trusted the advice of my mentor and did it. Bold move for me. And I haven’t regretted it for a second. Grocery stores give away free samples to increase sales. It’s logical that “free samples” transitions well to online marketplaces as well.

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