The Ultimate Guide to Building Audience-first – Part 2

The Ultimate Guide to Building Audience-first – Part 2

Validating your Audience

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If you follow the steps in part I of this guide to find an audience, you'll likely end up with a number of options.

But: Not every audience is an audience you can sell to.

Choosing an audience is very personal. Still, there are tricks to quickly check if an audience has business-potential.

Size

Size is Relative

The first thing to look for in an audience is size.

Size is relative of course. A super niche audience that is very engaged, for instance professional mountaineers, doesn't need a lot of people to have business potential.

Audience-size is about dollars as much as headcount. If members spend thousands of dollars each, your audience doesn't have to fill a football stadium.

Growth

Audience size is a static number. It doesn't tell you anything about the change in size over time.

Is it growing? Or is it shrinking?

Ideally you pick an audience that is growing, or at least stable.

Growth potential is more important than size.
Growth potential is more important than size.

Gravity

Gravity is a metaphor I use for how connected your audience is.

Meaning: to what extent does your audience seek each other out? Are they already meeting on- or offline?

A centralised audience, one with a lot of gravity, is easier to reach. If everyone is in the same spot, all you have to do is meet them there.

Just imagine the opposite of this: If your audience were completely scattered, you'd have to seek them out would be randomly going door-to-door asking people about their journey and problems and see if they match your audience.

A low-gravity audience does not have to be a problem if you can gather them yourself. Setting up your own channel is a great way to connect to your audience, but also a time-intensive one.

The best means of centralisation are: email lists, communities, Twitter(lists), SubReddits, etc.

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Engagement

Lastly, you want to pick an audience that has high engagement.

If an audience has size and gravity, but is completely flat in terms of engagement, you probably won't be the one to bring it back to life.

Engagement simply means that people are interacting with each other. They are actively communicating about their Journey and their pains. They are looking for and sharing solutions.

An essential part of engagement is Problem Size. The ideal audience has critical problems that are top of mind for much of the time. They are aware of their pains and are vocal about them.

"You get paid in proportion to the size of problems you solve." – Elon Musk

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And the most important factor...

Do you love the audience? If all else fails, this is the only thing that matters.

How to Build an Audience

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Build Credibility.

The first thing you'll read in my Twitter bio: 'Involved in 20+ startups.' Do I feel this is the first thing people need to know about me? No. But it does instantly give me some credibility.

Building an audience is building credibility. The more people see the value of what you share, the more people might buy from you later.

Give, give, give.

Have a giver's mindset and your audience will find you.

Communicate how you are applying your specific knowledge to book progress on your own journey, and share that with your audience.

The goal is to make people relate to your journey, and to get value from your learnings. Value means they don't regret taking the time to view your content.

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Find your Medium.

Creating content and audience can become exhausting. Usually this is a sign that you haven't found your Medium yet. For me it is mostly writing and graphics. I tweet, I write newsletters, and I make images. Later I might expand into video, audio and slideshows, but those do not come as natural to me. Jack Butcher started with graphics. For most, tweeting is usually a good place to start, because it is so easy. If you're not confident in your writing ability, that's OK. People will forgive you your clunky sentences at first. With practice you will get better. Before you know it you'll be busting out tweetstorms daily. From there it is a small step to an article.

Keep experimenting until you find the ritual and medium that work for you.

Avoid the Guru-trap.

Be the one on the journey, not the one at the end of it.

Building credibility and sharing value are not about preaching sole truths. It is easy to mistake your experience for the only possible experience.

There is no truth, just the endless journey to approach it. Believing that your way is the only way closes your mind to learning new things, and new opportunities.

Once you attract an audience, it becomes even easier to fall into the Guru-trap. People will ask you questions that you do not necessarily know the answer to, but you'll feel obliged to answer them anyway.

It's OK to say "I don't know, but I'll look into it for you." Create from a place of exploration, rather than definition.

This makes you more relatable, and frankly, a better entrepreneur. There is no finish-line. There are just new horizons.

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That is not an excuse not to self-promote

The assumption that you are so popular that people will find your content on their own, and that your content is so good that it will ‘go viral’ automatically, is of course a ridiculous one.

If you have value to offer, not self-promoting is selfish and arrogant.

Everyone has value to offer. Stop sitting on all that experience and share it with the world!

When I said ‘your audience will find you’, I meant: ‘Out of all the people that see it, your audience will be the ones to stick around’.

Emphasis: The people that see it.

Your job is to make sure your content is exposed to as many eyeballs as possible. Some places to distribute your content:

  • Twitter / Instagram / TikTok / Youtube
  • Substack / Medium
  • Facedook & WhatsApp Groups
  • Quora
  • Relevant SubReddits
  • Paid Communities (!)
  • Product Hunt

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I’ve heard it said that you should spend 20% of your time creating your content and 80% of the time promoting it. I’m starting to feel like this is the case.

Here’s how I might go about distributing it. click toggle to view
  • First, I send it out to my Substack subscribers (±200 smart & beautiful people)
  • Then, I copy it to Medium.
  • I Tweet about it and post it to LinkedIn.
  • I use one or more of the graphics in the article to post to Instagram + Link in Bio
  • I create 1 or more Instagram Stories.
    • I might try Reels just because Instagram is pushing it so hard
  • I drop it into the five or so Paid Communities I’m in.
  • I slightly rewrite and post to relevant SubReddits + Indiehackers
    • I engage with the comment section.
  • Over the next weeks I’ll Tweet bits and pieces of it, sometimes linking to the article.
  • Same for Instagram Stories.
  • If I come across a relevant piece of content by somebody else, I drop it in the Comments or Quote Tweet it.
  • If it is successful I will re-use the content in a Slide Deck + re-share across all channels.
  • If the slide deck does well I will do a screen-recording of me talking over the slides and post to YouTube + re-share across all channels.

Capture your audience

If you distribute properly, you will get attention. This makes it your job to capture that attention and centralise your audience (remember gravity?).

So, all of your content should point to a single collection point. For me, it is the ‘Subscribe to my Substack’ at the bottom of this post.

Definitely Subscribe if you want to learn how I apply my experience building 20+ startups to building NoCode businesses. 😉

That e-mail list is where I’m building an audience to launch my products to. Twitter followers are a solid-second, but I also try to funnel those into my e-mail list.

The point is to create a direct line of communication from you to your audience.

Engage your audience

Remember a good audience has good engagement? That is a two-way street. Start interactions with your audience by sharing content, asking questions, reacting to comments, and listening to feedback.

Every interaction with your audience is an opportunity to learn about their pains and jobs to be done, and to understand their Zeitgeist.

Discovering your audience’s problems and finding business opportunities is an art-form of its own, which I will cover next time.

For now, thank you for reading!

One more Thing...

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