Sometimes starting is the hardest part.
My goal with this article is to make it much easier for you to get started building your audience.
There are few things more powerful than some momentum. So, here’s to getting some momentum for you.
First, why should you listen to me? I understand that you may be skeptical. After all, there’s a lot of free advice on the internet from people who don’t know what they’re doing.
I’ve been in the audience-building business for fifteen years. I’ve built highly successful audiences for websites such as Freedom With Writing, Authors Publish, and Mystery Shop Forum. Check out the Freedom With Writing Facebook page – it has over 340,000 fans.
But what about people who actually visit my websites? Here’s a video of “live visitors” on the Freedom With Writing website – people who were on the site at the same time:
That’s more than a few people – and more than enough to allow Freedom With Writing to thrive as a business.
Two Steps to Your First Ten Audience Members
When you start to learn about marketing, it is easy to get extremely overwhelmed. There are so many sub-topics. It is extremely easy to keep learning, and learning, and learning.
The problem is that you don’t need to know a lot in order to succeed. You simply need to know the right things. You’ve got to stay focused. I credit staying focused on the absolute basics with the success of my career.
So, here are the two things that you need to do to get started.
First – you have to find people to ask to join your audience.
Pretty basic, right? I said we would be focusing on the basics, and this is about as basic as it gets. If you want people to join your audience, you’ve got to find people who just might do that.
Don’t be distracted by all of the marketers out there promoting “advanced” tricks and tips. Instead, focus on the basics.
So, where do you find those people?
This is where basic gets a little more complicated. There are so many options. (Uh-oh!)
- Paid ads from companies such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc
- In-person networking events, such as book readings, business-networking events, parties with friends, etc
- Organic “social media.” One option that has become popular lately is to join and participate in Facebook Groups, which have been proliferating like crazy.
The best option probably depends on your individual situation.
However, for the sake of this article, I’m going to focus on a few simple strategies that can be very effective for finding your first few potential audience members.
Here’s Why Groups Are Everything.
What’s better: To find one person at a time who you can invite into your audience, or to find large groups of people who are strong candidates for your audience?
The answer, of course, is that you want to find large groups of people.
If you want to build an audience of any decent size, it is simply going to be too hard to find and recruit people one at a time.
That’s why you need to find the “gathering places” of people who are a good fit for your audience.
For your first steps in audience building, I’m encouraging you to look for gathering places where you can interact directly with people.
Your First Source of New Audience Members
One of the best ways to do that online is to use Facebook Groups. These groups are wonderful, because they allow for lots of interaction.
There are also an incredible number of such Groups on Facebook, covering a huge variety of interests.
So, I encourage you to find a few such groups, and join them.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to use Facebook Groups. You can also look for other gathering places where you can interact with more than a couple of people, while adapting the same basic strategy to the new context.
Once you get started, keep in mind that you can’t go into these groups, guns blazing, and start promoting yourself.
Instead, the first step is to learn about the people in the group. Get to know them. Then, start giving back to the community. Provide value. Learn the rules, culture, and ways-of-thinking in the group. This is important, not just out of respect to people, but also because you’re gaining important knowledge you can use when you do start promoting yourself more directly.
Finally, once you’ve gotten to know some of the people in the group, and learned about their needs and interests, it’s time to start testing your audience-invitation messaging.
But Wait – Do Not Do This!
Once you’ve started interacting with people, it can be tempting to immediately invite them to sign up for your email list, buy your product, or promote yourself in some obvious and blatant way.
The problem with that, especially when you are first starting to build your audience, is that you still need to refine your messaging.
So, instead of inviting people into your audience immediately, the next step is to validate your ideas about what they might actually respond to and be interested in.
The Right Way to Invite Your First Few Audience Members
First, create a “hypothesis” that defines something your potential audience members may want. This could be a solution to a specific problem people tend to have. Or, if you’re an author, a concept for short-story they may be particularly entertained by
Second, test this hypothesis by asking people about this directly.
Here’s what to say:
“I’m working on an [article/blog post/story/etc] that will help you with [problem]. I know it will help you a lot, but I have a question about [specific aspect]. Let me know what you think!
Don’t use that template exactly! Please write it in your own words. (Please!)
The thing you’re looking for here is a fair amount of response to your question. If your hypothesis is correct, people in the group will be excited to answer your question. They’ll respond to your post. And if they do that, then they’ll be primed to join your audience.
If your post doesn’t get a lot of response, rejoice! Because you’ve not actually written the proposed article yet, you’ve saved a lot of effort. Instead of working on the article, you can create a new hypothesis to test. Do this until you find one that resonates with the group.
Once you get a successful hypothesis, the next step is simple.
Let people know their answers were incredibly helpful. Create what your post originally proposed. Then, ask people if you can send them a pre-release version, for feedback. This is another test: If people say yes, then you know you’re really onto something.
Once you do that, ask for their email address via the “direct messaging” feature on Facebook.
Once you have their email address, send them the article. Along with the article, ask a specific question that gets them to reply.
If they reply, then you are well on your way to building a real relationship with them, which is exactly what you want with your first ten audience members.
And once you’ve established a relationship, then you can continue to ask for their feedback, provide valuable solutions to their problems, and deepen your relationship with them – which is exactly what you’ll eventually be doing with a large audience.
Follow this process until you have ten people who are in your list of those you can ask for feedback, and voila, you have ten audience members. And not just any audience members – people who are engaged, loyal, and important to your larger efforts.
The next step is to take what you’ve learned, and scale it, so that you can grow your audience from ten people to thousands.
The process for scaling your audience building efforts involves approaching people in a less personal way, but while still using what you’ve learned with your initial efforts.
However, that’s a topic for another article!
For now, if you’re working on building your audience, this article provides a good framework for getting started – and building a solid foundation for your further efforts.