How to Spotlight an Indie Creator

A large crowd is shown in black and white.

I’ve had the generous fortune of having my tabletop roleplaying games featured by a number of high-profile review sites and content creators. Critical Role played Monsterhearts. The Adventure Zone played The Quiet Year, and so did Friends at the Table. When ButterflyAstrophysics talked about Variations on Your Body on TikTok, sales blew up.

Those experiences of being spotlighted by outlets with large audiences—some in the millions—have had a huge impact. I want to talk a little bit about that impact, and some of the best practices if you’ve got a large audience and you want to use it to shine a spotlight on an independent creator.

As an independent creator, I want my work to be financially viable even if it doesn’t reach a huge audience. That means that I do everything that I can to have low upfront and operating costs. Strategies include using smaller print runs, maintaining less stock on hand, and doing all my own customer service. I outsource shipping to a fulfilment company, but I’m still involved in processing each of those orders. The whole operation is optimized for the amount of sales that I typically generate. What this means is that a sudden spike in sales—while definitely exciting—can disrupt those operations quite a bit. If demand for a product is suddenly thirty times higher than normal, I might immediately run through my available stock, and then miss out on what would have been a sustained opportunity. If I suddenly have sixty additional customer service emails in my inbox, I might experience a stressful slog that I didn’t schedule time to manage.

If you’ve got a large audience, there are a few things you can do to make your spotlighting of an independent creator as positive and impactful for them as possible:

  • Give them a heads up as early as possible. Reach out to the creator and let them know that you’ll be featuring their work in an upcoming video/article/series/etc, with as much lead-in time as possible. The bigger your audience, the more crucial that lead-in time is. It allows the creator to order in more stock, set aside more time for order fulfilment, and do whatever they need to do to gracefully handle the sudden spike in traffic.
  • Ask them how to attribute and where to link. Independent creators often have less powerful SEO support for their work. Proper spelling of their name and work, as well as a link to their preferred website, can mean the difference between a tiny fraction of your audience being able to track them down versus a large percentage. Double-check that you’re spelling their name and citing their work correctly. If possible, reach out to the creator and ask them what website or other portal they want shared for their work.
  • Encourage your audience to check out their other work. When you feature an independent creator, encourage your audience to check out their work! Often these creators will have a catalogue of work, but your audience only knows to check out whatever you tell them about. If you spotlighted just one product or aspect of their work, encourage your audience to explore what else they’ve produced. You’ve got an opportunity to make a huge impact on this person’s life and livelihood!

Having a “large” audience is contextual. If you’ve got twice as many followers as the creator you’re spotlighting, then treat it like it’s a large audience, even if it doesn’t feel large to you.

Being spotlighted by a big name can be a huge boon for an independent creator. It often means a windfall year, or an opportunity to grow their business/practice/craft. But that sudden spike in sales and attention can be difficult to manage, without the ability to properly anticipate it. That exciting opportunity could turn out to be a difficult juggling act if presented at the wrong moment. If you’re going to spotlight an independent creator and share their work with your audience, reach out to them first and build that bridge!