Every audience grows in its own unique way.
But the more you know about how others grew their audience, the better you’re able to apply those tactics to build your own.
To help you do that, following is a breakdown of how I’ve attracted an audience of 72,000 followers across a variety of platforms.
Just about every one of those people found and connected with me as a direct result of four specific actions I’ve taken over the past four years.
Here’s what I’ve done, why it’s worked, and how you can apply it to grow your own following…
A Quick Note About My Audience
Let’s start with a bit of context in case you’re not familiar with my work.
My audience is spread out across a few different platforms:
- 34,000 people follow me on Medium.
- 25,000 people subscribe to my newsletter.
- 10,700 people follow me on Twitter.
- 2,300 people are in my Newsletter Creators Facebook group.
I also have followers on Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook, but I don’t actively use those platforms at the moment — I’ll explain why in a minute — so I’m not counting them here.
The true size of my following is less than 72,000 people because there’s overlap among these audiences — for example, many people who follow me on Medium also subscribe to my newsletter or follow me on Twitter.
But the exact number of followers I have doesn’t matter.
The point of this post is to show you exactly what I’ve done to attract a meaningful audience.
So let’s get into it…
1. I published a blog post every week for four years.
Consistent content is the engine of audience growth.
Each week I publish at least two pieces of original content: A blog post which gets posted on my website and on Medium, and a newsletter I send via email and publish on my website.
In addition to publishing these items, I also break them apart and repurpose excerpts of them as social media posts (primarily tweets) as well.
My original content — which is always designed to provide value to my target audience — is the main way in which people discover me and the leading driver of my audience growth.
The vast majority of the content I create is also relatively timeless which gives me a huge advantage because it allows me to re-share it over and over again and for it to be relevant for a long time.
A post I wrote four years ago can still be discovered today by new people and attract new fans without me needing to put any additional work into it.
That timelessness, combined with four years of weekly blog posts, has now given me a massive library of content — hundreds of posts — that are “working” to grow my audience at all times.
2. I published a newsletter every week for four years.
In addition to a weekly blog post, I also publish a new issue of my For The Interested newsletter every Sunday morning.
While the blog posts are a way to use my own ideas as bait to grow an audience, my newsletter allows me to leverage other people’s creations to do so.
Each issue of my newsletter features short summaries and links to five ideas designed to help creators better produce, promote, and profit from their creations.
These include a summary/link to the blog post I wrote that week as well as four other curated ideas I find elsewhere on the Internet.
(I also throw in related links that drive people back to my older blog posts — an easy way to recycle them and take advantage of the timelessness of my content library.)
The curated content in my newsletter offers a powerful audience growth opportunity because it gives me an easy opportunity to do three things:
- Provide more value to my existing audience.
- Get on the radar and develop relationships with the people whose content I feature.
- Get my newsletter exposed to new audiences because the people whose work I feature often share it with their followers.
Curation is a powerful audience growth tool, but it’s not the only way in which my newsletter has fueled the growth of my audience.
My newsletter is also my key connection device — it’s the chosen mechanism through which I give people a reason to give me their email address which allows me to reach them with future content.
This is crucial because if you don’t have a direct connection to your audience, you don’t have an audience.
You can’t just count on people who see something you put into the world to remember to come back and find your future work — you need to be able to get it in front of them.
You need a connection.
My newsletter enables that connection which is why I plug it in every blog post I write and on every social media channel I use.
⭐️ Key Takeaway ⭐️
You don’t need to write blog posts or publish a newsletter to grow your audience.
But you do need to release consistent content.
Put at least one piece of original content into the world every week — a blog post, video, podcast episode, etc. — and within that content have a clear call to action to get the people who consume it to connect to you.
A newsletter subscription is my recommended connection, but you also could ask them to subscribe to your YouTube channel or podcast, or follow you on Twitter or Instagram.
Just don’t ask them to do too much — use a one action strategy.
3. I created a relevant community.
While content has been a main driver of my audience growth, community can be equally powerful.
You have to go where your people already hang out and build genuine relationships with them.
As I’ve said before, don’t build an audience — connect to one.
I chose to do this through a Facebook group.
A couple years ago in an effort to find my target audience (or at least a portion of it), I looked for a Facebook group where people who write newsletters hang out.
I joined one with a few hundred members, but discovered its members mostly wrote newsletters for media publications as opposed to individual creators, which was more aligned with my creations.
Since it seemed like there was a hole in the market, I launched the Newsletter Creators Facebook group, invited my existing audience to join, and a handful of people did.
Then I started to post in the group and share whatever knowledge or value I could with the group to help them grow their newsletters, to spark conversations, and answer questions.
Other group members followed suit did the same and the group began to grow — post by post, day by day, and bit by bit.
The group now has more than 2,3000 members from all over the globe and includes a wide variety of creators.
But what they all have in common is a shared interest that directly aligns with much of the work I do and content I create.
As a result, the group has become another audience growth engine for me.
With virtually no promotion on my end, new members discover and join the group every day (246 have applied to join in this past month alone) and when they join they become aware of myself and my work which leads many to then follow me or subscribe to my newsletter.
⭐️ Key Takeaway ⭐️
Don’t take the wrong lesson here: You don’t have to start your own community the way I did and in most cases it’s better to join an existing community than build one from scratch.
I only built my community because there wasn’t one that fit the exact audience I was hoping to reach.
It’s also worth noting the community you join or create doesn’t have to be a Facebook group.
There are all sorts of places where you can find your people — Slack groups, message boards, Subreddits, and even the comments section of popular websites or social accounts can work.
But the key is to find a relevant community and use it as a way to connect with your potential audience.
And when you start to participate in that community, don’t just promote your own stuff — that’s spammy and won’t work.
Instead, sincerely engage with that community and provide value to it.
The goal is to form genuine relationships with people over time and as you do, they’ll take an interest in you and what you create.
Once you establish you care about the community, it wil start to care about you.
4. I Picked One Social Platform To Focus On
As a social media strategist, I’ve used just about every social network and understand the value each has to offer.
But I also know it’s easy to spread yourself too thin and the best results often come as a result of focus on a single platform.
I’ve always loved Twitter, so a few months ago I decided to focus my efforts there and essentially abandon posting on other channels.
The results have been eye-opening.
With a focus solely on Twitter, I was able to post more tweets, be more strategic in how I use the platform, and most importantly reply to more people and develop more true relationships on the platform.
That last part is huge.
When you focus on a single platform you’re better able to connect with people there on a one-to-one basis and that’s ultimately how you grow your following as opposed to just broadcasting a bunch of stuff to the “masses” who most likely aren’t paying attention.
Remember: Every audience is built one person at a time so act that way.
As soon as I focused my attention on Twitter, the reach of my tweets and size of my following there took off.
- In the last four months I’ve had a 201% increase in follower growth with 1,305 new followers compared to just 433 followers in the previous four months.
- In the last four months I’ve had a 248% increase in tweet reach with 1.9 million impressions compared to just 546,000 impressions the previous four months.
This growth is a direct result of my increased focus on a single social channel which enabled me to use it in a more active and engaging manner.
⭐️ Key Takeaway ⭐️
The lesson here is not that you need to use Twitter.
It’s that choosing to focus on a single social media platform and using it to strategically connect as opposed to randomly publishing posts will likely speed up your audience growth.
Use social media to talk with people instead of just at them.
And again, consistency is a key.
I currently post at least five tweets a day (and typically more).
Post on your chosen social platform every day — possibly multiple times a day depending on the platform — and regularly reply to other people’s posts and look for ways to provide value.
The occasional good post isn’t enough to drive consistent audience growth.