The Win -Win of Contests
Today I would like you to enter your art in a contest.
Don't freak out.
The reason that I want you to enter a contest is not for the prizes and recognition.
The reason is, (surprise, surprise) marketing.
I recently entered a screenplay in a couple of contests just to get it out in the world and off of my desk, and surprisingly; I was selected by one as a finalist almost immediately.
I did not end up winning, but I did succeed.
Most film contests work like this: 1500 entries, 150 to 10 finalists, 1 grand prize winner.
Now, entering a contest hoping to take home the grand jury prize and become an instant celebrity is probably going to lead to some disappointment.
Not because of your "lack of talent", but because (particularly in the big contests) there are a lot more factors than the art itself.
But winning the grand prize isn't actually your goal.
Entering your art in a mid tier contest gives you an opportunity to talk about it. The smaller contests want more people to know about them so they will do their damnedest to promote you in the hope that you will reciprocate.It will get you interviews in online magazines and YouTube shows. Someone else in the contest will share it with their friends who are now in a position to discover your work. It will give you something to post about on social media, all for the cost of entry to a contest. And of course, this recognition may motivate you to do it again.
There is, of course, the danger of putting your work out to be "judged", but an up and coming contest is not likely to be mean to someone who they hope to work with and spread their name. The only true danger is getting caught up in the idea of Winning. Art is subjective,
so you cannot base your self worth on someone else's opinion. But if you can handle it emotionally, I can't think of a better bang for your buck than entering a contest.
So, find a midsize to small contest in your field, and submit your work. Take the cost out of your marketing budget. And when you are accepted, promote the fuck out of it.
Go out there and make something.