Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

9 Audience-building Tips You Can Count On

These days, it’s hard to get noticed. The Internet is a noisy place, and the world isn’t getting any smaller. But there’s a lot of bad advice out there about how to go about this the right way.​

9 Audience-building Tips You Can Count On

In the past five years, I’ve built an audience of literally millions of fans of my blog, books, and podcast. I’m certainly no expert, but I’ve learned a few things from the past several years of doing this and coaching and teaching thousands of others in doing the same.

​Here’s my best advice on how to build, maintain, and grow an audience:

  1. Start with one. Serve one person, reach one fan, get one reader. And cherish them. Don’t despise small beginnings. They’re the only kind most of us will have.
  2. Under promise, over deliver. Go above and beyond. Wow people.
  3. Don’t forget to build your craft. Lots of people want attention these days for skills that aren’t really worth noticing. The countercultural thing to do is to take your time and make sure you get good before you get noticed.
  4. Keep your sense of humor. Sometimes, people take this idea of reaching a tribe a little too seriously, or a little too personally. Have fun with your work. Be open to feedback. Thank people often, and let yourself play once in a while.
  5. Enjoy the journey. I had a student recently message me with an exuberant update: “I just reached 50 email subscribers!” He was elated, but then got embarrassed, because he admitted that wasn’t “many” people. I chided him, saying, “No, this is exactly the way to do it. Count every reader as a blessing.”
  6. What you win them on, you will raise them on. If you give away a bunch of free stuff at the beginning, people will expect you to continue that generosity. If you send a certain number of emails per week to your subscribers, you’ll need to keep doing that.
  7. Not all audiences are created equal. Be careful what kind of audience you build, because you will have a responsibility to maintain that audience. So don’t just see people as a means to an end. The relationship is the end.
  8. Permission rules. You cannot, and should not, get away with doing anything the audience has not give you permission to do. When in doubt, ask. And when they say no, listen.
  9. Small and relevant is better than big and noisy. The truth is you do not need as many fans as you think you do. You need a small tribe of dedicated listeners, viewers, or readers who will rave about everything you do. That is more than enough.

If you feel like you don’t yet have an audience, allow me to bust that myth: someone is always watching. Someone is always listening. Don’t take that for granted. Serve the people who are paying attention to you now, and you will have the opportunity to reach more people.

What have you learned, good or bad, about building an audience? Share in the comments.

About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

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  • Dan J. Marder

    The idea that finally stuck with me this time around is “Start With One.” I believe I’ve heard you say this many times before, but I’d always focus too far ahead, where the idea of building something with thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of followers is intimidating, terrifying, and confusing. “How do I do that? Is it even possible? Maybe it isn’t…” and those are the limiting thoughts that cause many of us to give up too early in the process. “Starting With One” is much more manageable; a laser-focused approach to building something important. Maybe, when I launch my site, I’ll celebrate when I get Subscriber Number One. 🙂

  • Nicole M

    Building an audience takes time and consistency. I doubled my tribe in the past month, but before that it took me a good 9 months to get to that point. And it still looks “small”, but it’s MY tribe!

  • Funmi Sodunke

    I think it is so important to count our blessings. Be grateful for the one.
    I also like what you said that someone is always watching. So true!

    http://www.funmiwrites.com

  • Thank you for these reminders. Each subscriber is a gift- an affirmation that my message is important to someone- especially in the beginning. I want to honor them by producing better quality content each time I visit their inbox. Sometimes, that becomes a little paralyzing in itself, since I don’t know exactly what they are expecting from me, apart from that one post that hooked them. I tend to over-think what to write next when a post has been well-received and can sometimes get off-schedule in the process. Any advice for this?

  • Emily Tjaden

    Awesome tips! I’ll be sharing this with some bloggers in my network.

  • “Start with One” is such a simple yet powerful piece of advice. I struggle with getting frustrated that I only have a small amount of subscribers, and often forget that they’re still as valuable as having a large list! Thank you for the reminder to appreciate my (small) audience.

    • Jeff – Sarah – I’m with you on this one – Start with One is indeed the key. Then rinse & repeat whatever you did with that one…

  • Tom Eggebrecht

    Thank you for this, Jeff. I really needed this today. I too just passed 50 email subscribers. I’m doing my best to enjoy the journey.

  • Heritage James

    Thank you Jeff, the day I came across your blog was destiny!!!

  • This is such great wisdom, Jeff. Thanks for sharing. I love what you say at the end about someone always watching, someone always listening.

  • I like your advice about small and relevant is better than big and noisy. I found that when I narrowed my focus to artists and creatives, I started attracting more attention. Thanks, Jeff.

  • Danie Botha

    Under promise and over deliver. Will keep that in mind, Jeff.
    Thanks!
    One fan at a time x word of mouth.

  • What a great list, Jeff. Many on there I need to remember, work on, or sharpen.

    Many times throughout the years of building my audiences I lost sight of the purpose: to serve. Teaser subject lines, email copy with open loops to boost click throughs, SEO-happy content… I was so focused on maximizing my marketing that I forgot to think about what’s best for the people I want to help.

    When I think about them, it takes care of me.

  • Hey Jeff. I think this is my favorite audience-building list I’ve ever read. Straight up, it was refreshing and I loved it. Thank you

  • N K

    Your audience building tips are always amazing, thanks a lot Jeff. I count it as my blessing to have chanced upon your blog at exactly the right time 🙂

  • Hi Jeff,
    Another very valuable article. I appreciate your emphasis on creating quality for our audience as opposed to quality and that having a HUGE audience is not what’s most important.

  • I’m horribly guilty on #4 Jeff. And seems like having fun makes me more popular 😉 Enjoy the ride. Let your personality bleed thru your brand. Laugh. Smile. Joke. Don’t be serious. Detach a bit more. People seek out folks who help ’em to feel good. So….feel good, and let your goodness shine through!

  • Steph Caswell

    Sometimes I feel as though you read my mind Jeff! Every article is spot on and helps me no end. I think you’re right about keeping that relationship with your audience – building one is no mean feat, but keeping it is even more important! Thanks, as always.

  • Melinda Taylor

    Thanks Jeff, Does reading what I have written to small groups count? There are a lot of people that are collecting my writings do they count? I have a few things out to different books and magazines I hope they get published.

  • Great tips. What I appreciate is your emphasis on the person and on how we should not consider building an audience and exercise in getting what I want (“Don’t just see people as a means to an end”), but rather in giving to others what they need (“Under promise, over deliver.”) Thanks for helping us keep our priorities straight.

  • Sylvie

    Dear Jeff, I “discovered” your blog only last week and enjoy reading your posts and articles. Many many thanks for the tips!

  • love it. I just my first 6 email subscribers and was so ecstatic. It funny how the first few subscribers can change you view. cannot wait to serve them even better than i promised. Thank you Jeff for sharing, love your work and the encouragement it provides.

  • Alina Zavatsky

    Thank you for the article, Jeff! I’ve recently learned another thing about my relationship with my audience, and you may have covered this before: when people unsubscribe from my list, it’s not the end of the world! In fact, it’s the opposite because this way, my list shapes up to have a higher number of those readers who are truly devoted and will definitely come back for more of my content. And I’ll always prioritize those people over a few come-and-goers.

  • tomi rues

    That was just what I needed to hear. Thank you!!

  • Perfectly timed for this writer/blogger. Thank you, Jeff, for your generosity and your example of candor, skill, and heart. So so grateful.

  • Thank you, Jeff. I am up to 10 on my list and thrilled about it! Thanks for the reminder in this post that by adding value to these folks lives every week is what matters most right now. I need to enjoy this part of my journey and not take it for granted.

  • Laura Bennet

    Thank you, Jeff! Very encouraging. It’s easy to feel like our small steps of progress aren’t amounting to anything when, in fact, they are the building blocks to exponential growth. Patience and perseverance pay off and each ONE reader matters so much!

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  • Matt Karamazov

    Thanks Jeff! Main takeaway for me is “get good before you get noticed”. Thankfully, if you’re ACTUALLY good, then people will notice.

    My site is non-profit, but giving money away is only preceded by MAKING money. I’m going to be building an audience one person-who-cares at a time.

  • Taiia Smart Young

    I have to remember to celebrate the folks who are added to my list daily, even though I don’t have a huge list.

  • As always, great advice Jeff. Your #3 is how I look at the big picture. Although my list growth is slow, it’s gratifying to know that I’m helping at least one person with my message as I improve my skills.

  • Saranit Vongkiatkajorn

    #1 “Start with One” that really got to me. Funny that with all this focus on growing ‘successful’ I lose sight of what was important in the first place: finding my tribe and writing the best thing I can write. Thank you. 🙂

    By the way, small thing but in #8 Permission I think it should be ‘audience has not given you’ not give.

  • Your writing sets me free, Mr. Jeff. Thanks.