How to Build an Audience to 750K+ FollowersMay 24, 2023
With the rise of the creator economy, more people are starting online businesses than ever before.
There are 4,950,000,000 internet-connected people waiting to get better at a number of different things.— Justin Welsh (@thejustinwelsh) May 22, 2023
Can you find 4 each day that will pay you $70 to learn one of those skills?
If so, you have a $100k+ business.
Not easy, but also not as daunting as you might think.
After gaining 500K+ followers in 3 years, I've learned that the best creators don't necessarily have unique skills.
They've just doubled down on content creation and figured out how to unlock audience growth.
In this guide, I'll walk you through my simple 5-step audience growth strategy to help you grow your following, find your tribe, and attract your ideal clients.
An audience is a prerequisite to a successful business
Most solopreneurs focus their efforts on building products and services before an audience.
Don't be them.
In reality, you need a target audience to establish a sustainable business.
You can have the best offering, but it'll be for nothing without people's interest.
The first step to getting attention is to find one platform that suits you best.
Building an audience shouldn't be a chore. To make it fun and exciting, avoid choosing a platform just because it seems like everyone else is using it.
Personally, I'm not big on video content, nor am I a photo guy. So, YouTube and Instagram didn't speak to me.
I've always been a writer, so building my personal brand and audience on LinkedIn made the most sense.
I also noticed that nobody was using LinkedIn like other social media channels. Out of 310M+ active LinkedIn users, only 1% post content, making it the most untapped channel on the internet.
Writing daily on LinkedIn has allowed me to:
- Have no boss
- Help 14K+ people explore side hustles
- Generate $4M+ in revenue with zero paid ads
- Spend more time with my family
- Travel and meet new people
I recommend focusing on one platform in the beginning. As you grow your audience, building other social media accounts becomes easier.
My 5-step audience growth strategy
- Choose a sub-niche
- Create meaningful content
- Become recognizable
- Build a relevant tribe
- Scale your ladder
1. Choose a sub-niche
People are wildly unfocused. And social media is a cluttered, busy, and noisy place.
You need to stand out if you're going to build a loyal audience.
- Who do I serve?
- How can I help these people?
There are millions of people and companies, so be specific about your niche.
Remember, you can't gain a tribe if you talk about something totally different each day.
So, stay laser-focused.
When choosing your sub-niche, consider this:
Broad topic > niche > sub-niche
Here's an example of this framework in practice:
Athletes > runners > marathoners
When you speak to one type of person, you attract the right followers, and they'll know exactly what to expect when they see your content.
As you niche down, remember that you won't see success overnight. You may even lose followers at first.
But as you consistently publish new content, you'll become the go-to person for your sub-niche.
The best part?
You can build a business with 100-1K true fans.
A one-person business wins with one niche, 1000 true fans, one big problem, and a differentiated solution.— Justin Welsh (@thejustinwelsh) February 8, 2023
2. Create meaningful content
Meaningful content attracts buyers.
But most people encounter 2 problems when building an audience:
- They focus on the wrong outcome(s)
- They think they can't create quality content as they're not experts
Focus on the right things
Remember this if you want to build a sustainable and profitable business:
Dollars over dopamine.
Engagement and vanity metrics matter to a degree, but customers matter more.
You can garner hundreds and thousands of likes from polls and feel-good stories, but these types of posts won't bring you sales.
The content you create should ultimately move people into your tribe because tribe members become buyers.
Let's say you've been freelance writing for 10 years and want to offer mentorship calls to aspiring freelance writers.
Meaningful content related to your offering could be:
- Tips for landing top-tier clients without cold-pitching
- Answers to common questions (like how to find your niche)
- Personal stories about how you overcame obstacles in your freelance journey
As you consistently share value and resonate with others, you'll start to attract your ideal people.
You don't need to be an expert to create content
Most school teachers aren't world-renowned experts.
They just knew more about math, science, and history than you did.
Similarly, most thought leaders you follow online are simply more experienced in a subject than you are.
Unsure of where to start? Create valuable content for you 2-3 years ago.
- What were some challenges you faced?
- How did you overcome these challenges?
- What do you wish you knew then that you know now?
Experiment with different kinds of content to find what speaks to your audience:
- Blog posts
- Text-only posts
- Carousels posts
- Videos and GIFs
- Photos and infographics
3. Become recognizable
When you become a familiar character, an invested audience gathers around you.
My ultimate goal when creating content is to make it distinct so that people know its mine even if it doesn’t have my name attached to it.
1. Show Up Daily:— Justin Welsh (@thejustinwelsh) May 10, 2023
- Familiar face
- Familiar name
- Familiar content
- Familiar opinions
People should know when to expect you, and what to expect from you.
It's cliché as hell but play Moneyball.
One of the best ways of becoming recognizable?
Forget about being better than everyone else. Instead, focus on being different.
Your goal shouldn't be to convince everyone that you're the best at everything.
It should be to bring something unique to the table.
Create your content with these questions in mind to get your audience thinking:
- What are some beliefs you have that others might not?
- How can you authentically challenge the way things are done?
- How can you present information in a way that inspires others?
- How can you make others question what they thought they knew?
As human beings, we all have unconventional thoughts about various subjects.
Harness the power of your contrarian ideas to draw in an audience who thinks and acts as you do.
The connection you'll form will be much stronger when you share fresh perspectives and unique viewpoints, rather than a rehash of ideas that have already been said countless times before.
Embrace your individuality and watch as others gravitate toward you.
4. Build a relevant tribe
Harsh truth: Writing random content won't get you many loyal social media followers.
To build a relevant tribe, you should do one (or more) of these 3 things:
- Be a leader
- Discover and curate content on people's behalf
- Interview industry experts and distribute your findings
Be a leader
The best way to be a leader is to craft insightful content for people who are behind in your journey.
Help beginners get to where you are faster and with fewer mistakes.
Don't be afraid to switch up the type of content you share:
- Video tutorials
Audience Building 101:— Justin Welsh (@thejustinwelsh) March 17, 2023
Every failure you overcome is a chance to educate people who haven't yet experienced it.
Discover and curate content on people's behalf
It's perfectly okay if you don't have the expertise (yet).
As you study new things, break down your learnings into digestible chunks and share them with people too busy to study themselves.
Audience Building 101:— Justin Welsh (@thejustinwelsh) October 5, 2022
1. Pick a topic you're obsessed with.
2. Research it deeply each day.
3. Create content that helps others:
- Interesting observations
- Common misconceptions
- Step-by-step breakdowns
- What will change in 5 years
An audience will naturally gather.
Interview industry experts and distribute your findings
Another way to share value with your audience is to interview authorities in your industry. Report back with your findings.
Again, you don't need experience here; you just need to make your knowledge super accessible via social media posts.
5. Scale your ladder
Every social media platform is unique, but I've learned that engaging with bigger accounts works incredibly well on LinkedIn and Twitter if you want to scale the ladder.
In 2018, I had 2,500 followers on LinkedIn.
I created a list of 50 people who had larger audiences than I did, ranging from 5,000 to 100K+ followers.
Every day, I engaged with these accounts until they noticed me and started engaging on my content too. This ultimately increased my reach.
Over time, more and more people started seeing and interacting with my posts.
As I grew my following, I adjusted the list of creators and engaged with different people.
I did the exact same thing with Twitter in 2021.
I love this approach because anyone can do it.
It doesn't matter if you're at 0 or 10,000 followers.
The ROI has been amazing for me and can be for you, too.
Try it, and you'll notice:
- Enhanced writing abilities: Improve your skills by crafting thoughtful responses to people's posts
- Increased visibility: When you engage with posts, not only will the author notice your contribution, but others who are also involved in the discussion will see your name (think of it as free promotion)
- More visitors to your social media profile: Your active participation and valuable insights will pique curiosity, leading others to visit your social profiles
Bonus: De-platform your audience
You may have heard the saying:
"Using social media is like renting an audience. But having an email list is like owning it."
This couldn't be more true.
Learn to "Deplatform":— Justin Welsh (@thejustinwelsh) November 29, 2022
I started a newsletter because I wanted to "deplatform" my audience from social media to something I actually own:
An email address.
I've found this is the best way to guard against the unforeseen, like algorithm changes or being banned.
I still share awesome stuff on LinkedIn and Twitter daily, but I also encourage my followers (with CTAs at the end of some posts) to sign up for my email newsletter.
Because I have no control over social media algorithms or policies.
With an email list, I don't need to panic if LinkedIn or Twitter decides to change its rules or ban me.
I can keep sharing my content and offerings with my email subscribers, no matter what happens on social media.
Key takeaways for building your audience
Building an audience online is simple, but not easy.
Contrary to what others may try to tell you, there are no get-rich-quick schemes.
Just like sculpting your dream body at the gym, audience growth takes time, effort, and consistency.
Building a Twitter audience is about muscle work.— Justin Welsh (@thejustinwelsh) January 28, 2022
- Idea muscles by writing.
- Editing muscles by analyzing.
- Shipping muscles by publishing.
- Networking muscles by engaging.
Work your muscles.
Make everything habitual.
You'll need patience and dedication no matter what platform you decide to build your audience.
Ready to make the first move?
- Choose one social media platform and stick to it
- If it’s LinkedIn, get discovered faster with courses like The Operating System
- Create a posting schedule that works with your lifestyle using my Content Operating System.
- Show up and put in the work (while keeping my audience growth strategy in mind)
Your commitment will attract loyal followers who appreciate and support what you do.
Now, go out there and make it happen.
I believe in you.
Whenever you're ready, there are 2 ways I can help you:
1. If you're still looking for traction in your business, I'd recommend starting with an affordable course:
→ The LinkedIn Operating System: Transform your LinkedIn profile into a lead generation machine with The LinkedIn Operating System. This comprehensive course will teach you the system I use to grow from 0 to 420,000+ followers and $4M in income on this untapped platform. Join 15,000+ students here.
→ The Content Operating System: A multi-step system for creating a high-quality newsletter and 6-12 pieces of high-performance social media content each week. Join 6,000+ students.
2. Promote yourself to 120,000+ subscribers by sponsoring this newsletter (Booked out 6 months)
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