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.
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:
- 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.
- Under promise, over deliver. Go above and beyond. Wow people.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.