I’ve done 5 months in my side business, working on it for only 2 hours per week, focused on audience building.
There’s now been 2,400 people who have engaged with my content on my secret Facebook page. I don’t even have a website or mailing list yet, but I can always reach those same 2,400 people again using Facebook ads’ “custom audience” feature ("Everyone who has engaged with your page.")
I’ve now spent about $1,000 in Facebook Ads for this new business, or approx $200 per month. All of it has gone towards promoting my content, nothing for sale yet.
If you’re just starting out and can’t spend that much, even $20 per month will help you reach your new ideal audience. The more you’re able to spend, however, the faster your audience will grow.
Here are the lessons I’ve (re)-learned this past month:
Authentic videos (non-edited) are good for warm, but not cold audiences.
When I started months ago, my brand new audience couldn’t care less about watching my videos. They didn’t know who I was, and didn’t have the patience to even watch me talk for 30 seconds.
However, now that I’ve nurtured them for a few months with written content, I’ve begun making a video per week again, and promoting them to my warm audience (those who have engage with my content in the last 90 days.)
I am now seeing regular engagers with my videos, which means I am starting to build a real audience!
Lesson: unless you are going to spend a lot of effort editing your videos, it’s better to start building an audience with written content such as blog posts… or on Facebook: long status updates. I recommend at least 300 words.
After you have regular engagers, start making videos to show up more deeply for them.
“Why not? Try it out.”
When building a business, there’s a lot of uncertainty. We might yearn for a definite path to success, but in my experience there is none.
I have not seen any formula that works for everyone.
(If anyone is selling you a definite path to success that “will definitely” work for you, ignore them, because they are using hype to try to get to you.)
Instead, when I’ve wondered whether something might work, I’ve had to remind myself: “Why not? Try it out!”
Will videos work for my audience? Why not? Try it out.
Videos didn’t work in the beginning, will they work now? Why not? Try it out.
I’ve been posting only 1 piece of content per week. Now I want to try posting 2 things each week. Is it a good idea? Why not? Try it out.
When to Work More
Now that I’ve gotten into a rhythm with the 2 hours I spend each week -- the 2 hours is spent in productive, content-creation and distribution -- I feel good about adding a 3rd hour per week on the business.
Something I’ve noticed is that many solopreneurs actually work too many hours in their business… and because there’s so much time, much of it is spent inefficiently.
There’s always forever more research to do… more learning… more tweaking.
Because of fear and uncertainty (which we forget is a natural part of anything new!), very little of one’s worktime goes toward truly productive business activities.
This is why it’s important to drastically limit how much time you work on your business.
Only after you've shown that you are making those hours productive, then it makes sense to add more work hours, gradually.
Keep the Tools Simple
One thing that really helps to keep work time limited is to avoid using complicated tools.
I’m just beginning to build the website for this new side business. I decided to give Squarespace another try. (By the way, I’m not even considering Wordpress -- way too complicated for the limited time I have... and plus, I never needed Wordpress to build my main, 6-figure business.)
After giving it yet another try, I find that Squarespace is still too complicated for me, compared to Weebly, which is the simple website builder I use for my main business.
Just Keep Publishing
After making a live video where I stumbled more than I would’ve liked... I wanted to take it down... maybe re-try later.
Instead, I decided to keep the video published for at least a week, to see how my audience would react... Why not? Try it out.
It turned out to have as good of engagement as my other recent videos.
However, the external metrics won’t always turn out well. But it’s the internal practice that’s more important:
We can either continually confirm and reinforce our self-doubt, or we can practice and reinforce our muscle of creating and publishing, no matter what.
Your audience is only going to react to things that they like -- anything that is “meh” or bad, they will simply ignore.
Your true fans will not leave you. (Or they might temporarily, but they’ll always return.)
As long as you keep publishing and sharing authentically, the energy of your presence is what your audience resonates with, not how polished something is.
Just keep publishing!
If you'd like 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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