Rand Fishkin is a modern digital marketing guru. If you don’t know who Rand is, it’s time to wake up from your professional hibernation.
He’s a big voice in the marketing industry, having built MOZ (one of the world’s largest SEO companies) from the ground up using content. He left his company to pursue a new adventure, Sparktoro, which is an audience intelligence software. But before launching his new business, he did what he knew best: create content to attract a new audience.
He wrote blog articles, connected with his audience, and created content that interested them. He launched Sparktoro when people already understood that Rand was no longer in the SEO industry but in the audience research industry.
However, the struggle was real. Building a product, understanding the objective of the business, and dealing with the weird aspect of putting an LC company on the market while creating content on Twitter, blog, and LinkedIn just to build an audience was a lot to manage.
But Rand made it possible, and he is a true example of how to build a company while attracting a specific audience and selling the product without selling the product. Building an audience is what everybody wants to do, but there is a struggle that almost nobody talks about.
Just like there are other creators who understand that building first an audience and then launching the product is the modern way to build a sustainable brand. I call this strategy the Audience First. Product Next framework.
But building an audience is a big struggle. It is not just creating content and distributing it on every possible platform. It’s also connecting with other creators, engaging with your followers, and just showing up day by day.
So, I’m writing this article for myself and also for those who need a reminder to overcome that ugly day when you just don’t feel like creating content to build an audience.
1. You WILL create content in the long run.
You need to answer all the emails, replies, and comments you receive. It’s how you engage with your audience because you can’t build an audience with hundreds of people overnight. They will come one by one. But remember, consistency is not frequency. If you want to build a large audience, make sure you are buckled up to run this marathon.
2. Not every piece of content will grow your audience.
In the beginning, you will get some traction and some dopamine, but then the days will come when nobody will like your content. That’s when you have to decide the real purpose of why you are creating content. In the beginning, it’s a quantity game, and then you will find out how to play the quality game too. Yes, it’s a quantity and a quality game.
3. Trends will come and go, don’t jump on every one of them.
Vertical short videos, podcasts, communities, newsletters, infographics, and the list can go on and on. You are good at one type of content, stick to it, and make the best of it. Iterate on the type of content you can create. If you write, then write blog posts, newsletters, and Twitter threads. Design graphics, thumbnails, infographics, or visuals if you design. If you record videos, make long videos, short videos, stories, and documentaries. Start with one type of content, build upon that, and then move on to the next one.
4. “If you build it, they will come” is nonsense when it comes to building an audience.
Just like you, millions of other creators want to build an audience. You are not that special; every piece of content you create will bring you hundreds of followers. That’s why you need to get out on the field, engage with other creators, comment and reply to their content, and get the value and POV you need to get noticed.
5. Building an audience is not just about creating and distributing content.
Are you willing to answer daily emails, DMs, and comments, even when you don’t feel like it? Because that day will come when you don’t feel it, but you have to because you are running the content creation marathon that is not that easy.
6. Is it a job, or is it for fun?
That’s the question Jay Clouse asked me when I discussed with him why I should create content. “Simplify it for yourself so that you can simplify it for others,” Jay said. So why do you create content? Do you want to make it a business or do you do it for fun? It’s not an objective or purposeful answer. It’s a mindset answer.
7. Getting attention is not a one-hit shot.
You create content to attract your audience’s attention. Then you engage with your audience to maintain their attention. Then you give them something more valuable – insights, exclusivity, and connection. That’s how you convert them. For example, if you’re a food blogger, you might attract your audience’s attention with a recipe video that showcases a unique cooking technique. Then, you might engage with your audience by responding to comments and asking what other recipes they would like to see. Finally, you might provide your audience exclusive access to a private Facebook group where they can connect with other foodies and share their recipes. By consistently providing value to your audience, you can build a loyal following that will continue to support your content and ultimately convert into customers or clients.
8. Find the right balance between serving your audience vs. bringing a new audience into the room.
Like Masooma Memon said, “It takes a lot of work finding the balance in posting content that will resonate with a lot of people (therefore bringing new people to you) and niche content (that reflects your expertise and lets you strike conversations with your exact target buyer).” And sometimes, I struggle with this idea too. It’s the inner battle between creating the content I want vs. creating the content my small audience wants vs. creating the content the prospects want.
9. The number next to your name does not signify your worth.
That’s what Matt Craike commented on my post, and I love it. It’s so easy to fall into the trap that with thousands of followers, we will feel that small celebrity check on our shoulders, and we need to remember the people around us that we are not a big deal. We still have to do our work, we still have to be kind, and we still have to show up whenever it’s the time. Guy Raz said in Jay Clouse’s podcast that he is still struggling to be a great father and a present husband, even if we interviewed thousands of hours from top celebrities to big entrepreneurs. And yes, that’s the real struggle of big virtual numbers vs. who we really are.
10. The final struggle of building an audience is facing negative feedback and criticism.
No matter how great your content is, there will always be someone who disagrees or doesn’t like it. It’s important to take this feedback constructively and use it to improve your content and engagement with your audience. Remember that building an audience is a continuous process; with persistence and dedication, you can overcome these struggles and succeed.
These are my simple ideas on struggling to build an audience these days.
I also posted a short preview of this article on my LinkedIn, and the community had some amazing answers to this topic.