1) Make people come to you with bait.
What surplus of value do you have that you can leverage? Maybe it’s your looks, money, or knowledge. Maybe it’s your extensive rolodex of important or cool people.
Whatever it is, you need to provide clear value for people through your art. What can they gain or enjoy by coming to you?
💡 Tip: Start at the base and work your way up, or do the opposite. A great example is Hasanabi who got his start interviewing porn stars, then moved into political commentary.
Meanwhile Joe Rogan got his start interviewing obscure celebrities and oddballs until he landed guests like Elon Musk and Bernie Sanders.
2) Build a gated community —then have kids.
As you rise to prominence you will attract enemies, leeches, and criticism. You will need allies to validate you in the eyes of the masses. If you have a vast network of people who all vouch for you, the cries of the critics will fall on mostly deaf ears.
Then start knighting new people who will be eternally loyal and thankful to you for their rise and success.
💡 Tip: The best way to deal with your enemies is to cast them as nonpersons. Do not even utter their names as this will just bring attention their way.
The exception to this rule is when dealing with people or organizations larger than you. Cast them as a bully or a dying entity that has lost it.
3. Feed the beast.
You may think you’re an artist, but you’re really a babysitter. Art today exists mainly to lull people into submission, or as a substitute for primal inclinations people can’t fulfill. You need to mass-produce content that strikes a healthy balance between satisfying people’s urges and keeping them hungry for more.
Fill them up nicely, but also keep them wondering what the next meal will be.
💡 Tip: Podcasting feeds the beast perfectly by offering people 3 hour blocks of time to fill while keeping the guest wondering what big guest the interviewer will land next.
4. Get high on your own supply.
If you’re not into it, don’t expect your fans to be. You need to consume as much of what you create (or at least appear to) as possible so that your fans can see and feel your passion for what it is you’re doing and promoting.
Make sure you’re in the loop and well-versed on all of the latest developments in whatever your domain is —even if it’s just within your circle.
💡 Tip: Use an employee (or multiple ones) to keep you in the loop and brief you on all the latest drama and news in your field. Howard Stern had a designated ‘TV watcher’ who clipped and updated him on things daily.
5) Cultivate godlike status.
Whether it’s your lifestyle of fancy cars and luxury yachts, or your dedication to waking up at 4am everyday and lifting 400 pounds, you need to establish yourself as more than human. Otherwise why the hell should people admire you?
People want heroes with cool superpowers, not regular folks who take shits and file taxes.
💡 Tip: People often have simple and ordinary explanations behind what seems like superpowers to others, don’t give into the temptation to reveal these things.
But if you must reveail them, do it slowly or only after you’ve solidified your image and brand.
6) Dazzle with colors, sound, numbers, and currency.
If you need some inspiration, study slot machines. They are perhaps the best and most effective tools of addiction engineered by man.
They incorporate beautiful art, colors, sounds, and currency to suck people’s time and wealth out. Do what you can to take advantage of these base appeals to hook your audience and keep them there.
💡 Tip: Certain colors are tied to certain emotions. Sounds used at different intervals have amazing power when it comes to capturing people’s attention and manipulating emotion.
Studies have shown that people are much more likely to participate in a task for free for points even if those points are meaningless.
7) Use ceremonies and holidays to create a religious cult.
This advice does not need too much explaining, we are bombarded with holiday-themed sales and promotions designed to keep us hooked on consuming. As an artist you should also be taking advantage of known holidays to attract and stimulate fans. In fact, try inventing your own too.
People are hardwired to observe and respect ceremonies and rituals. Use this to your advantage and apply social pressure where you can.
💡 Tip: Twitch has an interesting promotion in September called Subtember. They lure people in with half-priced subscriptions that the company counts on people forgetting to cancel when they go back to full-price the next month.
While some of these tactics may seem manipulative or wrong, you can be sure that others are using them on you every single day. So at the very least I hope you walk away from this article more aware of how you might be manipulated by others if you’re unwilling to use these tactics yourself.
But if you use them they should be implemented gradually, subtly, and tastefully. Otherwise your empire will fall quicker than a house of cards.