I’m 3 months into building a brand new audience (secret project).
This is helping me relate better to those of you in the same situation.
If you missed my previous posts in this series:
Month 1 -- A Few Lessons In Growing A New Audience
Month 2 -- Overcoming Procrastination in My New Venture
In month 3, here is what I’m learning now:
1. Don’t worry about the offerings yet. Focus on audience building first.
I’m starting to dream about what I could offer my budding audience. It might be a membership program. Or a group coaching. Or a mastermind. Or 1-1 coaching. Or online courses. Or maybe create revenue with relevant sponsorships, thoughtful affiliate products and other authentic ads.
There are so many possibilities. This creates the problem of wanting to decide on the offering before I continue building my audience.
From experience, I know that it is a mistake.
It’s almost always right to build a real and engaged audience first, before deciding what to offer.
Of course I’m not talking about spending years before deciding, but at least get to a reasonable initial fanbase before needing to decide on what products/services to offer.
I define a "reasonable initial fanbase" as 1,000 warm Facebook fans, e.g. a threshold number of people to whom I can imagine selling something, that would make it financially worth the effort of trying to create an offering.
With a warm social media audience, I would conservatively expect 1-3% to say Yes to an offering that is a good fit for them.
As I get closer to that threshold audience number, I will start to do audience research (conversations, surveys) to inform my choices of what to offer as a product or service, that they would likely love.
2. Find what you've written in the past.
If you are building an authentic business, it means you’ve already been thinking about the topic for years. It’s a passion of yours.
Maybe you've read many books, or at least a lot of articles and videos about it. Hopefully you’ve also helped others with that skill, as a friend or volunteer.
Whatever the topic is, chances are you already have notes, journal entries, documents, somewhere in your computer or closet, that can provide inspiration for your content now.
Those old notes were written at various stages of your development, and that fact can provide a lot of helpful guidance for your audience now, as they too are at various stages.
Take out those notes and see what still feels relevant or could be framed for today’s context, and create content from it.
3. Just write! Perfection is not allowed.
This has been a “muscle” I’ve been practicing in the past few years: the ability to look at a blank document, and just start to write whatever ideas are coming through.
Those ideas might or might not help you, dear reader, but I have practiced not judging my own work. I consistently practice ignoring the inner critic when he shows up, and I drown out his voice with my louder sounds of typing.
It also helps me to verbalize the ideas as I write. (If you were in the room right now, you’d wonder why I am whispering as I am typing!)
If you can't help but be perfectionistic, then realize this: whatever you write now is actually perfect as part of your stage of development now. And it will be perfectly helpful to the ideal reader that is perfectly matched to your stage of development now.
4. Should you start a Medium.com profile?
I did for my new business, and posted 4 articles in the course of a month.
Zero traffic. Zero reads.
There is a fantasy that somehow, posting on Medium will automatically get readers. I have not seen this to be true, not in my business, and not in anyone else’s either.
It takes a lot of hard work to build up an audience on Medium. For this (my main) business, I’ve been sending my email newsletter subscribers to my Medium.com profile for years.
But unless you want to do the work of bringing your network over to Medium, and growing your Medium network by commenting on a lot of other Medium writers’ articles, then don’t have the fantasy that you’ll get any views on your own Medium articles…
Since I have so little time in my new business, I’ve stopped posting on Medium.com there, and am just sticking with a Facebook business page and running ads there.
5. Build a true audience with long-form content.
Instead of posting easy-to-like memes and inspirational quotes and short pieces of content, I prefer to build an audience of people who are patient (and interested) enough to read my long articles.
And it’s working.
Just 3 months in, with less than 2 hours per week, I now have a warm audience (those who have engaged with my content in the past 3 months) of about 500 individuals.
However, it also took me between $200-$300 per month of Facebook ads. That’s because I had so little time to hustle with content distribution.
If you have less money and more time, then you’ve got to manually distribute your posts to FB groups (those that allow it), or share it with your network and specifically with influencers that you think might love and share it.
But again, the lesson here is: build an audience with your real content, not with things that the mainstream culture would easily like. Then, you’ll have an audience that truly likes you for who you are.
6. If you might sell services, focus on your time zone.
For the new audience, I will eventually be providing services such as coaching, and live virtual group events.
Therefore, instead of advertising to a global audience, I’m sticking with my own time zone and culture (North America).
There’s more than enough people in any time zone (plus or minus a few hours) that can make an authentic business financially viable.
7. It takes awhile to figure out your rhythm.
3 months in, I’m finally feeling like I have a rhythm of content creation that is stable.
I no longer have to always think “What am I supposed to be doing now?”
Instead, when the 2 hours come around for me to work on my new business, I just do my content process, that has taken me some trial and error to figure out. (I outlined my process in this post: Overcoming Procrastination in My New Venture)
It will take time and experimentation to figure out your rhythm, so don’t delay. Try different things until you find a rhythm that helps your creativity, and then use it consistently!
UPDATE: Read lessons from Month 4: Having a No Excuses Attitude
To start from the beginning of the series: Month 1
George Kao is a Marketing Coach for small business owners, especially solopreneurs such as Coaches and Mentors. He focuses on ethical & effective ways to grow one's platform and build true livelihood.
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