The 6 Steps of Building an Audience From Nothing
Step 1: Identify where they are hiding
Step 1: Identify where they are hiding
“How do I get more followers?”
I was going to save this post for when I hit a milestone here on Medium, to correctly illustrate how you can begin to gain a following, from scratch, for FREE.
However, I get asked this question a lot, so I don’t think the answer can wait.
Below is a response to one of my previous articles on personal branding.
The advice I’m about to give isn’t a vague cliché. It’s what I’m currently doing myself to grow my brand as a writer, but the steps can apply to any brand, product or service.
Step #1: Identify Where Your Audience Is Hiding
One of the hardest things for content producers to do is to find their audience.
It’s not enough to create. After all, what good is art, if there is no-one to share it with?
So before you share, you need to find out where the audience for your work is hiding.
Your goal isn’t an arbitrary number of followers. Your goal is to find a targeted audience of engaged individuals.
Influencers don’t want more followers, they want more leverage.
Bloggers don’t want more followers, they want more readers.
Companies don’t want more followers, they want more sales.
Start by making a list of all of the blogs, youtube channels, companies, platforms and places your audience is likely to visit.
This could mean competitor’s websites, social media accounts or popular hashtags.
Start by googling your chosen niche. For this example, it’s ‘guitar’ + the word ‘blogs’.
As you can see, the top results are compiled lists of places your audience is likely to visit.
Like a detective, you need to know where to look and what to look for.
It seems too obvious, but by using Google, you can narrow your field of view.
Getting followers for follower's sake isn’t a strategy for success. It only inflates your ego, not your bank account.
You need to be targeted, focused and specific.
Step #2: Reel In Like-Minded People: The LinkedIn Strategy
“Hello… and don’t worry I’m not selling you anything :) haha
I’m Geraint. It seems we have similar interests, so I wanted to connect with you.
I’ve moved my modestly popular business blog over to Medium here > https://medium.com/@geraint_clarke
If you’re curious, check it out.”
That’s the message I’ve sent those labelled as ‘Medium writers’ via LinkedIn. These people weren’t currently connections, so I had a limited and finite space to use.
Between me and you, it’s the single-greatest ROI (return on investment) for my time, whilst trying to grow an audience.
The same tactic can be applied to marketing yourself or any product or service on LinkedIn. Get responses like the one below and land clients.
If someone is already a connection, you’ve got a lot more room to use in your message.
What to say
This was the exact message I used to get Kyle’s (and others) attention. Feel free to steal it for yourself and insert your relevant information.
Hello… and don’t worry I’m not selling you anything :) haha
We’ve been LinkedIn buddies for quite some time and I wanted to reach out to you.
I’ve moved my modestly popular blog over to Medium here > https://medium.com/@geraint_clarke
It’s now a hub for free marketing advice, self-development lessons and case-studies.
The best part? It’s all FREE.
I don’t even need your email address to send you some supplementary pdf. It’s all on the blog. Like the good old days.
— — — — — — — WHAT DO I DO? — — — — — — —
For those that have forgotten who I am, I’m a Marketing Consultant. By day I create bespoke marketing campaigns. By night I create magic tricks for magicians (that’s a whole other story). You can join thousands of readers who read my work for practical marketing & self-development lessons, sprinkled with humour.
CHECK OUT SOME OF MY FAVOURITE POSTS BELOW
I’ll do be doing marketing case studies like this:
Or writing hilarious and true stories from my life — like this time I caught a white collar criminal at work:
And even taking on social commentary pieces like ‘The Fake Wealth Epidemic’. An expose of fake influencers:
p.s. without knowing it, that was one of my first posts on Medium and the one my readers send to their friends ALL THE TIME. (I have analytics.)
Thank you so much for the time you’ve taken to read this message. Either message me back or find me over at the blog. This’ll be fun! :)
p.p.s. Feel free to send these blog links to friends if you think they’ll add value.
Notice that none of that asks, demands or sells anything. The goal of cold outreach is to give without intent.
We’ll cover why this is important in step #5.
Step #3: Getting Featured Is Key
Some of you may know of a Canadian Youtuber called Peter McKinnon.
We used to work together at the same company. One day he asked me, “How do I get more views on my Youtube videos?”
At the time he had barely any subscribers. Now he has 4.25million.
I’m not claiming any slice of his success, he earned it himself, but I told him to submit his videos to photography and videography blogs. Below was his first attempt.
It worked. 3 months after this first feature, he quit his job and went full-time on Youtube.
By getting featured on PetaPixel, he started to accrue a brand new audience made-up of their readers. This snowballed out of control and over three years later, he’s a household name on Youtube.
No matter what you’re creating, there are blogs, publications, forums, podcasts, and vloggers out there, willing to share your work.
Your job is to find them and create good enough content for them to feature.
Step #4: Infiltrate Groups
Okay, I wanted that to sound more salacious than it really is.
The idea of infiltrating groups is to find a targeted way to share your work for free, without spamming links unnecessarily.
Here are a few examples for groups to infiltrate:
Local community Facebook groups for your local Town, County or City.
(I ran a contest as a magician for a free magic gig years ago and collected 64 strong leads from the people that didn’t win, but definitely wanted magic at their next event.)
Facebook groups dedicated to your chosen niche. eg. Juggling, Cooking, Baking, Bass Players — anything.
Sneak into Quora and answer questions with your relevant blog entries.
Comment on popular Podcast’s Instagram posts in your chosen niche.
Visit an in-person networking event in your local area and engage everyone with your story.
Does that all sound too simple?
People want secrets. They assume that because it sounds easy, it’s ineffective.
This is not true.
Most people that read this step will be too lazy to implement it, which leaves less competition for you — the one who’s serious about building an audience.
Try watching 0% TV today and infiltrating a few groups instead.
Step #5: The Power Of Reciprocation
You should never give to receive, but giving does open up the opportunity of reciprocation.
Remember that time you didn’t get a gift for Uncle Robert. Why? You guys never buy for each other. However, this past Christmas, Robert went out and got you that great gift that you truly love.
How guilty did you feel? Raise your hand if it was a lot.
That was the power of reciprocation at work.
Regardless of whether you asked for it or not, when someone gives you a gift, you feel compelled to give something back to them.
Although seemingly manipulative, it works to grow an audience.
You give them your expertise, knowledge or ideas and the fan base will reciprocate with their support, gratitude, and growth.
You have to be Uncle Robert in this scenario. Go out and give people an amazing gift and the followers will come.
“But Geraint I write every single day, but I’m still not gaining followers. WHY?” I hear you shout.
Are you just saying something, or are you giving something?
You can’t expect someone to follow you just for your opinion.
For it to be worth a follow, that opinion needs to evoke change in them. Either a change of thought or a change of actions.
“In life you get what you put in. When you make a positive impact in someone else’s life, you also make a positive impact in your own life.” — Marc And Angel
By making an impact on a stranger's life, you attract their attention and earn their respect.
The same can be said about products. Are you just showing that person a product, or are you making them feel something whilst viewing it?
Build desire, give often and the universe will reward you with more followers, I promise.
That’s not spiritual drivel, it’s the power of reciprocation.
Step #6: Followers Are Like Stocks
“The secret to investing is compound interest” — Warren Buffet
Followers are like stocks. An audience’s value is small to begin with, but the more you invest into it and the longer you leave it to grow, the more those followers snowball out of control.
Compounding over time, you may get an average of one follower each day, then three, then five, then ten.
By documenting where you started and setting short-term goals, you’ll be surprised how fast it compounds.
Make a goal like this — 1,500 followers within your first year of blogging:
100 in the first month
150 in month 2
200 in month 3
250 in month 4
350 in month 5
475 in month 6
575 in month 7
700 in month 8
850 in month 9
1,050 in month 10
1, 275 in month 11
1,500 in month 12
Take note of whether you exceed, or fall short of your monthly audience goals.
It’s a slow process, but the more you grow, the more followers you’ll attract.
Popularity begets further popularity.
Obviously it’s important to remember that it’s not the number that’s important, it’s the value that those followers bring.
Like stocks, I’d rather have 1,000 high-value, attentive followers than 10,000 inattentive, lower-value followers.
By following these six steps, you’ll be cultivating a portfolio of winners and not just blindly playing a numbers game.
Remember, you don’t need more followers, you need more fans.
So what are you waiting for? Your new fans aren’t going to find themselves.