One Weird Way to Get a Larger Audience

When I rebooted with blogging, I learned an unexpected lesson. I wanted to narrow my topic and gain a larger audience but never expected to learn something so crucial and necessary, something that made all the difference.

Larger Audience
Photo credit: Justin Scott Campbell (Creative Commons)

What was this realization? Simple. I wasn't nearly as good as I thought. Let me break it down for you:

  • I've been writing my whole life.
  • My high school English teacher told me to go into journalism.
  • In college, I was a writing tutor.
  • I've written magazine articles, edited books, and more.

But when I finally faced the facts, I had to realize something: I just wasn't that good.

Can you relate?

You may be struggling. You may be frustrated. You may be thinking: Does anyone care what I have to say? Why aren't people listening? When will I get the platform I deserve?

Of course, we don't always say these things out loud, but we think them. Boy, do we ever think them.

The answer to your problem may not be to persevere, to simply try harder. In fact, I have an alternative option — one that goes beyond seven-step articles and marketing hype.

If you want to build a larger audience, do this one simple thing.

Get better.

When no one's looking

The other day, my friend Edward Paz wrote a brilliant article about this topic and asked the question,

What do you do when when no one's paying attention to you?

The answer?


This is what we do when the world is enamored with mediocrity, when everyone around us seems to be in a race to the bottom. We step back, take our time, and improve. We practice.

We turn down the self-promotion and tune out the distractions, and we work. We work very, very hard. We focus and build our craft. And guess what? We actually get better.

What we'd rather do

It's tempting to get louder. To talk more. To try and out-shout the competition or coerce our way into influence. But rarely do these tactics work.

Instead, try a more subversive means of building your tribe: Be quiet. Hide yourself away; spend time becoming absolutely indispensable. Don't build your own stage; let people find you.

It's better to be remarkable in the dark than to prematurely toot your own horn. (Tweet that, if you like.)

The problem is we're all so paranoid about never getting discovered. Which is ridiculous. This is not the Middle Ages. We have the Internet, for crying out loud. You don't need to wait to be discovered; you've already been discovered!

People are watching you, whether you realize it or not. The question is: What are you showing them?

What do you think? Do we build a larger audience by getting louder — or better? Share in the comments.