Building an audience is one of the first steps that everyone talks about, but building any audience is different than building an audience that actually cares about what you’re doing.
And unfortunately, being lazy about it isn’t going to get you where you need to go.
After building a successful blog, Girl Gone London, as well as publishing a book and providing services to hundreds of London visitors including itinerary requests, I’ve learned the ups and downs of building an audience that actually cares about what I have to say.
These tips can be used separately or all together, but the point is that you should be thinking tactically about how to build that loyal audience and how to serve your biggest fans.
1. Ditch Your Family and Friends
One of the worst things that all new bloggers or business owners do is try and grow an audience that’s made of, well, anyone.
Your mom, your best friend, your hairdresser, whoever is willing to sign up.
And in the beginning, it feels good because you’ve got some eyes on your content or your Facebook page or whatever it is.
But do you how long you can sustain a business or blog based on your family and friends reading?
About 10 seconds.
In fact, with many algorithms, like Facebook, if you have an audience filled with people who don’t actually click on your content and aren’t your target audience, you’re going to hurt your content’s reach.
This isn’t to say to not share your new venture with your family and friends, but they are not your audience and you can’t view them as your audience or you’re not going to get very far.
2. Figure Out How You Can Help
No matter what you’re doing, the ultimate goal if you’re interested in growing an audience is to help people somehow.
Even if you’re writing a fiction book, the goal is to entertain your audience to give them a bit of a break from their everyday life and problems.
If you’re not doing what you’re doing to help people, then you’re just doing it for your own sake, which is totally fine, but not a business.
You need to figure out how you are helping your final customer or final reader.
For me, it was helping that person to plan a trip to London or the UK for Girl Gone London.
For my baking site, it’s about helping someone make a delicious batch of cookies to bring them some happiness or be able to impress their friends at a party.
In service industries, like offering website audits, you’ll have a more defined goal of how you’re helping someone, but no matter what you do, you can still figure out how you’re helping even if it’s not immediately obvious.
Building an audience that cares about what you’re doing can only be done if you’re doing it to help THEM.
They will read and engage and buy because they are getting something out of it.
What is that thing?
That’s what you need to decide.
3. Niche Down
Get laser focused on how you’re helping your end customer or reader, and that can help you niche down into what you’re going to provide.
If I wanted to write a book about basic expat life, I could do that, but is it going to appeal to expats everywhere, or is it going to be so vague as to miss the mark for everyone?
I wrote a book on expat life for Americans in the UK.
Yes, it’s a narrow niche, but it sells well and has sustained sales because there will always be new Americans moving to the UK who want an inside look at what life is like here if you’re from the USA.
I didn’t try to write a general “expats in the UK” book, because I wanted to serve particularly Americans.
If you run a general food blog, for instance, you can build an audience over time, slowly, but the best way to build an audience that actually cares quickly is to niche down.
Maybe you do kid-friendly snacks for parents who are desparate for some new lunch box ideas, or maybe you do keto recipes for people on that specific diet, or maybe you just do pastas for people who are obssed with pasta recipes.
4. Go Find Your Audience Where They’re At
You’re not going to build an audience on the internet by staying in your lane and posting a bunch without going to find them.
They won’t just magically reach you, unless of course you use the power of something like search engine optimization for them to find you on Google over time.
Think about and figure out where your audience is at, both on and offline.
Is your audience moms who have little time?
They might be in parenting Facebook groups, parenting forums, or, hey, in your real life in the school pick up line!
Go to your audience.
Run to them.
Join groups they’re in.
Spend time with them, both virtually and in real life.
Do not just wait for them to come to you, because oftentimes, they won’t.
5. Engage and Ask Questions with Your Audience
To build an audience that actually cares about what you’re saying, you need to engage with them.
Don’t just push out content AT them.
Talk WITH them.
Sure, you can share your book or your blog post or your business, but really engage with them by asking questions, being personable, and not just being a constant stream of talking about yourself.
This also helps because you can learn much more about them and what they want by engaging with them, which ultimately helps you build an audience that actually cares because you can figure out where you’re going wrong if you’re finding that people aren’t caring what you’re talking about or offering.
6. You Don’t Need to Be Everywhere
Sometimes, we think that in order to promote ourselves, we need to be on every single platform.
Twitter, Pinterest, Tiktok, Facebook, Youtube, you name it – we want to be there.
But what if that’s spreading ourselves too thin?
And what if, by having 10 tiny accounts, we give away all of our “authority” and miss out on our audience, as opposed to having 1 or 2 major platforms where we connected and continually talk to our audience?
You don’t need to be everywhere – you just need to be where your audience is.
Build up your platforms there, and forget about the rest.
7. Don’t Forget Your E-Mail List
No matter what platforms you like to use in terms of social media and connecting, you should always, always have an e-mail list.
This is where you can go straight to your audience’s inboxes.
Right there, right in their face, just you and your shiny personality and authentic self and everything you want them to see.
By e-mailing your audience on a continual basis, you’re building their trust in you and their familiarity with you.
I’m obsessed with SendFox for e-mail marketing, as it isn’t as expensive as other options and gives me everything I need.
Ultimately, their familiarity is going to help them care about you and what you’re saying and how you can help.
We are constantly bombarded by so many messages, day in and day out, that you need to be, as much as possible, friends with your audience members (or at least the illusion of friendship where they feel like they know you).
E-mail them, collect their e-mails, and give them content and products to help with their life’s pain points.
And suddenly, you won’t need to advertise to Grandma because you’ll have your own audience that actually cares!