I recommend before you read the following list of 10 tactics for growing your audience with content, you read the ‘prequel’ to this article – What I Learned From 10 Years Writing A Blog.
In that post I highlighted many of the changed conditions we face as content publishers looking to earn a living online today.
I wrote about audience sophistication, competition, content modalities, loyalty, positioning and several other important factors that you must be aware of if you want to succeed with content.
Below are ten ideas you can apply directly to your own content creation process to grow your audience.
I have broken the list into two categories – Content and Community.
The first four focus how you structure your content if you want to increase click through rate (clicking to read your article or watch your video), engagement (how long they stay on your content) and improve your search engine results (ranking higher). These are proven ideas for increasing your traffic.
The remaining tactics refer to building your community to deepen relationships, bring in more referral traffic (your existing audience sharing your content) and most important, making more sales.
Let’s begin Part 1, focusing on CONTENT…
1. The “Long Tail” (Niche Specific Topics) Is Your Best Strategy
During the early years of blogging and YouTube what you wrote as the title of your article or video became what search engines ranked it for.
If I wrote a blog post with the title “How to grow carrots in your garden,” a couple of days later my blog post would rank at the top for a search for “How to grow carrots in your garden” and various similar phrases.
Today this principle still exists. What title you give an article, or a YouTube video, defines what your content will rank for when searched in Google or YouTube. However, just because you want it to rank highly for a certain search term, doesn’t mean it will.
The problem is all those other videos and articles (and ads!) out there created by people also using the same or similar titles, which rank higher, meaning your content is pushed down in the search results.
If people don’t discover your content, you don’t build an audience.
Don’t expect your content to rank highly for any competitive search terms.
However, there is another way forward — making the choice to chase less competitive, more specific search phrases — otherwise known as The Long Tail.
A long time ago when The Long Tail concept first surfaced, I wrote my own take on the idea. I suggest you go read the post if you are new to it.
What matters today, and in fact I would argue is the ONLY path forward for new content creators, is to focus exclusively on The Long Tail of topics, specifically for the target audience you want to reach.
This means you write articles and create videos to attract search traffic where the competition isn’t too fierce, but there is interest in your topic — enough people search for it that your content will get discovered.
When done right, this kind of traffic has the benefit of being highly targeted since these people are looking for an answer to a very specific question.
You can look at each content piece you create as the answer to one relevant question on the topic you focus on.
For example, a highly competitive search phrase like How to grow carrots is almost impossible to rank for in search. But consider these more specific variations:
- How to grow carrots in a cold climate
- How to grow organic carrots in a cold climate
- How to grow organic rainbow carrots in a cold climate
You can see how my search phrase gets more and more… long.
At the same time, they also get more specific.
Someone searching for that last phrase wants to grow organic carrots, lives somewhere cold and wants a specific type of carrot. If your article or video is titled with all three of these variables, chances are you are going to rank better simply because other people are not creating content that gets this specific.
Now that doesn’t mean that specific phrase has any search volume. That’s the challenge with the Long Tail, if you get too long or go after unpopular topics, you’re wasting your time and energy on content that will never bring in much traffic. It’s nice to rank first, but useless if no one ever searches for that phrase.
So, you’re probably going to ask — Which ‘Long Tail’ topics should you cover with your content, ideally the topics that will result in traffic?
Unfortunately, there is no exact science to answer this question. What you can do is use keyword research tools and assess what content is already successful online to help guide you.
What these tools can give you is an insight into what specific questions people search for, how much competition there is (other webpages and videos about the same topic that already exist) and how much daily search volume there is.
Bear in mind you should use the data as a guide, not a guarantee.
I use keyword research tools as one data point, to help generate ideas, or refine an existing idea to focus on where the audience is. Next, I like to do searches directly to see what ranks at the top of Google and YouTube for the content ideas I have. I especially like to do this on YouTube, because you can see how many views videos have.
If you find YouTube videos with millions of views on the same or similar topics that you plan to create, that’s a good thing — it means there is an audience there.
If you do this research on YouTube, and all you find are videos with a few hundred to a few thousand views, and the videos aren’t terrible, chances are there is just not high interest in the topic.
The other factor to consider is why you are creating content. If you’re selling something, it’s better to go after your target customer, even if there is not a lot of traffic.
For example, my agency company InboxDone.com sells a very specific service — email virtual assistants. We created specific content pieces to go after our target customers. These search terms have very little traffic, but the people who do search are looking for exactly what we sell.
This is different to the kind of content I create for my personal brand business here at my blog. I teach how to make money as a content creator and I want to build as large a following as I can. This is a highly competitive topic, but there are literally hundreds of millions of people interested in starting a content business, so the potential is significant.
All this research is a starting point. You also have to make sure you content itself is as engaging as it can be, and key elements like the title you give an article or video, and in the case of YouTube — the thumbnail image you use — will significantly impact how well the content does.
2. Your Content Title And Thumbnail Image Are More Important Than Ever
The concept is simple enough – you get most of your results from a few inputs or elements. The trick is figuring out what those key elements are, and then making sure you get them right.
You get most of your results from the vital few actions.
In the case of content creation for search traffic, the single most important element is the title you use for your article or video.
For YouTube, your Thumbnail image is just as important, at least when it comes to people initially engaging with your video.
The algorithms that power Google and YouTube include many variables, but the title keywords tells the algorithm what the content is about, and the thumbnail along with the title is what compels people to click in the case of video.
To put it simply, EVERYTHING rests on the effectiveness of your title and thumbnail as gatekeepers for your content.
These are what I call 80/20 elements — so they deserve your creative focus.
Of course you need great content as well, but if the title and thumbnail fail to grab attention or hit the wrong search phrases, then you’re not getting engagement or search traffic, even if you create the best piece of content ever.
On my podcast I’ve interviewed the founders of million-dollar content businesses and directly coached a few as well. I’ve also seen behind the scenes of my portfolio companies as an angel investor. Over time, you begin to see success patterns when it comes to content.
For example, two people who built multi-million dollar businesses using content, both shared with me how important titles are.
- Alborz Fallah explained to me how his car review blog post titles always followed a formula, including the make, model and year of the car, along with the word ‘review’ to hit the Long Tail of car review searches.
- Mitch Wilson told me something similar about how he ranks his blog posts about every single game in college football, including the name of the teams involved and the date of the game in the title. He continues this formula today with his newest website, PickDawgz.com, covering a range of sports.
I recently read an article where the owner of a popular blog explained how his team switched their focus from spending several hours on writing the article and just ten-to-twenty minutes on the title, to spending hours on the title as well.
This may seem like obvious advice, but most people never put in the effort when it comes to their content titles. Ask yourself, how much time do you invest when writing your blog post titles?
Audiences today have the least attention span of any time in human history because of the sheer volume of content we have available to us. You need to get good at writing content titles. Here are some resources to help:
These articles give you a starting point to improve your skill, but the only way to get really good is to practice and test.
Don’t be afraid to change things after the fact, especially if a piece of content is underperforming.
For your YouTube thumbnails, I recommend you source a reliable designer, especially if design is not your skillset. Spend some time studying the best thumbnails on the most popular content and you will begin to see what grabs attention and what gets the click.
Data on your own audience is the most important metric.
At the very least, don’t spend hours writing an amazing article or producing a video only to spend five minutes coming up with a title or thumbnail. Put in the effort and give your content a better chance to succeed.
3. Refer To Research And Authority Sources In Your Content
When I first began blogging I initially focused on a simple formula for content — start my article with a story and end with a list of how-to steps to implement what the story is about.
This formula served me well and is still a good starting point today for your content.
Later, as I began to study books and content online, I started adding concepts I was learning about into my articles.
I’d explain a new concept I learned from a book, weave it into my stories, explain how I applied the advice and then present the customary how-to action steps. This formula worked even better than my initial one because it added more authority into my advice.
As the years went by I noticed new successful bloggers in my space emerged, using a very similar formula to my own for their blog posts. However, they took my research process a step further, tapping into academic journals to find the results of interesting experiments, which they then used as the basis for their articles.
When you add the power of social media as a viral distribution channel (people sharing posts on Facebook for example), one well researched and referenced article can spread far and wide.
While I don’t have access to their traffic stats, I suspect much of their growth was organic, powered by viral sharing of their blog posts, which in turn benefited their SEO rankings thus bringing more traffic over time. It’s a flywheel, and a powerful one for free traffic.
If you look at the world of content discovery and distribution today, most of us are getting fed what the social media algorithms think we should like.
What does that mean? Well, what gets shared the most tends to… get shared the most.
What gets shared the most tends to get shared the most.
I know that sounds like a catch-22, but it does make sense.
What people are motivated enough to like, comment on and share, plus of course spend time reading/watching (engagement), are indicators that this content is good. Thus it gets shown in social news feeds and in the YouTube similar videos sidebar, and thus reaches more people… and the cycle repeats.
The other method of content discovery we are all familiar with is searching on Google or YouTube.
Google and YouTube algorithms are not static. They learn and test over time.
For example, when you first publish a video, it gets shown to your subscribers. If it does well with them in terms of engagement, then it may get shared in other places on YouTube to your non-subscribers… thus bringing in new subscribers!
Google does something similar with its text search results. New content will rank higher at first to test effectiveness. If engagement is high (bounce rate is low), then it will retain a high ranking, even go higher over time. If not, it drops lower in the search results.
Engagement (how long a person reads an article or watches a video) is an indicator of quality. While not the only factor in search engine rankings, it’s the most important one. The higher your ‘quality score’ the better your content ranks, thus the more traffic you receive.
To tie all of this back together, by producing well researched and referenced content, and mentioning relevant authorities, people are more likely to pay attention to your content in the first place, engage with it long enough to demonstrate to the algorithms that it is quality content, and ideally, share it with others, the ultimate indicator of value.
Take for example this article that showed up on my Facebook feed:
I was immediately curious to read this article because NASA is referenced. NASA is an authoritative source. I trust it and thus give more credibility to the content within.
This article could have been just about “18 plants that are best at naturally filtering the air in your home,” but with the addition of NASA it becomes that more compelling — and shareable!
The research in this article comes from here: A study of interior landscape plants for indoor air pollution abatement, otherwise known as the NASA Clean Air Study.
That’s scientific research done by NASA presented in an academic journal and available publicly online. If you’re not a scientist or academic, you might only remember those journals from your university days — that was the last time I saw them!
While reading this advice you might have heard Robert Cialdini’s voice in your head, or at least thought of his book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.
I’m suggesting you tap into one of Cialdini’s six persuasion concepts, the principle of Authority. People pay more attention to and are more likely to take action when guided by authority sources.
This might seem simple enough, but when was the last time you used academic research as a source for your blog posts or videos?
4. Synthesize Sources To Make People Go “Wow”
Using academic and scientific research, and referring to authority sources, is like adding a stamp of authenticity to your content.
Even if your topic is not one that has lots of research available, just by mentioning an expert, or referring to a key concept or term that can be made relevant to your content, you’re giving people something fascinating to consider.
Once you get good at this, you can take things to the next level — concept synthesis.
To synthesize means to combine elements to come up with something new.
By tapping into expert research, authoritative ideas, real-world experiences, and then weaving it all together to draw a new, powerful conclusion, you have the potential to make people literally go ‘wow’.
By doing this you also look incredibly smart — and you probably are — since it’s not easy to put together a collection of concepts from various sources and conclude with a new idea that is relevant for your audience.
Since you’re reading my blog, chances are you’re an expert yourself (or working to become one) and you’re teaching others how to do something. One of the best ways to demonstrate your expertise, especially when you are not well known yet, is to use concept synthesis to come up with new systems for people to follow.
It’s actually not that hard to do, once you tune your mind to look for ideas that reinforce what you teach.
Through your content, take people on a journey by explaining the results of interesting research, weaving in your own stories or stories from well-known people or even your own clients/customers if you have them already. Show how a concept connects with another one, and how they both lead to a big idea that is relevant to what you teach.
I did this for my audience when I linked together three concepts – the already mentioned 80/20 Rule, a concept from software engineering called ‘Sprints‘ and another concept from manufacturing in factories, the Theory of Constraints.
In my training videos I explained how these three concepts together helped me achieve big results with my online business. I broke down each concept individually, including where they originated, showed how they could work together to help online entrepreneurs (like me and my coaching clients), and gave examples of how I applied them.
I didn’t come up with this synthesis of information overnight. I had to first be exposed to all three ideas in books, apply them to my business and life, and then experience results.
Once I saw the connections, these three ideas became key tools for teaching my audience how to overcome a major issue: information overload resulting in paralysis.
When there are too many activities you can do, you end up doing nothing. Combining these three concepts gives you a process you can apply to keep you focused and taking action on what matters most.
This is just one example where I combined ideas I learned into a system for my audience to learn and apply. You can do this for your audience too.
The great thing about this technique is you don’t have to focus only on your industry. In fact, it works better if you don’t.
You can draw upon anything you are learning or experiencing from anywhere (books, television, social media, YouTube, friends, family) and use it as a concept or story to illustrate a concept.
The key to make this work is to always think about your audience and what they care about. Then when you learn new things, consider how to combine ideas into a system or conclusion that you can share in your content.
Next, let’s move on to Part 2, COMMUNITY…
5. Build Micro Communities And Foster A ‘Secret Language’
If you look at audience building you will see there is a spectrum of how deep your audience cares about you and your content.
From a person first discovering your article or video or podcast, to diving into your back catalogue of previous content, looking for you on other platforms, to subscribing to your channels for a daily fix, joining your email newsletter, buying things you recommend, and buying directly from you — how they think and interact with you can grow and change over time.
At some point a person moves from a casual consumer of your content to a member of your community. It’s not clearcut how to define this transition, but what is clear is that a person starts to care about you.
When someone really cares, that translates into two of the most important criteria for success with an online business – trust and attention.
There is so much content online that people today have almost zero attention span. They are also incredibly skeptical, making trust hard to gain.
There’s a reason the term ‘influencer’ was coined to describe a content creator. Influence = attention and trust.
Community is vital because of the sheer volume of options online. By joining your community, your audience chooses you.
By fostering a community, you capture attention and build trust with a small group of people. These people all share something in common — an interest in you and your content. If you’re teaching people through your content, chances are whatever you teach, the goal or objective you help people achieve, brings these people together.
There’s something powerful that happens when you have a creator willing to lead by sharing their ideas through content, and a group of people brought together by a passion to solve a problem or meet a desire they all share.
To get started building your community, I recommend you invite your casual content consumers into some kind of micro-community experience.
Communities are often free, or there can be an entry cost, a one time or recurring subscription fee to join your community.
I run my community called the Laptop Lifestyle Academy using the Invision Community software. It’s really more a training resource than a pure community though, since it’s full of courses I’ve created. Hence I charge for membership.
As part of fostering a community, I recommend you come up with your own ‘secret language‘. Most communities end up coming up with their own as a means to communicate about their subject.
You can encourage the development of a secret language by creating terms specific to your industry.
When I first started to teach how to build a blog based business, I came up with the term ‘Pillar Articles‘ to describe a certain type of content you aim to publish on your blog. This caught on so well that people outside my own community started using it.
Other relevant language we used in my community are “Lead Magnet,” “Drip Campaign,” “Landing Page,” “Trip Wire,” “Front End,” “Back End,” “Sales Funnel,” and the list goes on.
All these terms mean nothing to people outside the world of online marketing, yet to people inside the community they are very important terms we use every day to describe what we do.
6. Deliver Live Experiences (You Are A Unique Product)
One of the greatest challenges of running a business is narrowing in on your point of differentiation, or your USP (Unique Selling Proposition).
It’s a well established fact that specialization leads to domination when it comes to entrepreneurship. Focus wins.
The traditional path of a new entrepreneur is to start off as a generalist, struggle to get any serious traction, then slowly over time refine your offer to something more specialized.
It can take time to figure out where to focus because ultimately it’s your customers who guide this decision. You respond to what they want, and once you determine a niche, you build your marketing messages around it.
The challenge online is that barriers are so low, it’s almost impossible to truly specialize since it’s so easy to replicate anything, especially as an individual who sells information.
Thankfully there is always one point of differentiation that no one can replicate — YOU.
Specialization leads to domination when it comes to entrepreneurship. Focus wins.
The idea of becoming an ‘Influencer’ might not appeal to you, but at the very least you must find ways to leverage your personality if you want to succeed online.
Your voice, your face, your writing or speaking style, your mannerisms, the way you say things and the words you use — all of this is unique to you, and a powerful force for building connection with other people.
If you want to succeed as a creator, you’re going to have to incorporate some kind personal experiences with you.
These can start as pre-recorded video — from short form (usually under a minute on Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube Shorts, etc) to longer form storytelling (typically on YouTube, but other platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn also).
Live streaming is incredibly powerful. You can’t beat doing something live for building real connection with your audience.
You can instantly broadcast yourself via most social platforms today, from Youtube, to Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, Twitter and LinkedIn. There are also platforms like Twitch dedicated to streamers (frequently gamers), and features like Twitter Spaces (streaming audio) designed for specific live formats.
If being on camera is not your thing, podcasting is an option. It’s not live, but because people hear your voice for a long duration on a podcast, it is a powerful way to leverage your personality.
Podcasting has long been one of my favorite formats because it requires far less production or setup – just sit and talk in front of a microphone. People go for a walk or drive, listening to you on a podcast for 30 minutes to even an hour.
If you’re a coach or someone who helps by providing education, the ultimate live experience with you is direct human-to-human interaction.
This can take the form of coaching phone calls or webinars, small in-person workshops and masterminds, all the way to large conferences.
It’s up to you to decide how far you go with this. Just remember – the highest conversion rates, which means the most sales, come from the highest touchpoints with you. The more time they spend with you in more personal formats, the more likely they are to buy.
When I lived in Australia I occasionally presented on stage as a guest speaker at events hosted by my friends Liz and Matt Raad.
Liz and Matt are experts at buying and selling websites and run three-day live workshops, with anywhere from 100 to 300 people in attendance listening as they teach all weekend long.
During the event, Liz and Matt sell a high-end 12-month coaching program for as much as $20,000 a year. I was amazed to learn it was not uncommon for 30% of the people in the audience to apply for their program.
That means they can earn anywhere from $500,000 to a million dollars in sales from the weekend, depending on how many people are the right fit for their program.
Attending a live event over several days means people get to know and trust you as a friend, hence conversion rates even for high priced products can be as high as 30%.
Compare this to the conversion rate on a written sales page on the internet, which can be as low as 0.3% — that’s less than one percent!
The difference is all about intimacy. People buy from people they trust. Trust comes a lot quicker when they get to spend time with you in person, or at the very least see and hear you online.
7. Highlight Your Superstar Followers And Customers
With barriers to entry so low online, anyone can publish content and appear like an expert.
The one thing you can’t fake, are results.
While your own results are a big part of your credibility, the results that really matter, are your customers and people who follow your advice.
There are only a handful of true experts in any given niche who actually have a roster of successful case studies — example clients who followed their training and succeeded.
If you’re one of them, then you have a huge advantage, one you must leverage.
If you don’t yet have successful students or clients this advice may seem hard to follow. If that’s you, your job is to get your first few successful case studies of people who have benefited from your work (your content, your advice, your business).
You don’t have to highlight only paying customers. People who buy your courses or books or coaching or software or hire you or your business and go on to succeed are the best examples, but if you have people who say they followed even one piece of advice from you (even if they did not pay for it) and got a result, can be part of your marketing.
If you’re a creator who doesn’t focus on problem solving for your audience — perhaps you’re an entertainer or performer rather than a coach or teacher — you can still follow this advice by inviting members of your audience to participate in your content.
This can be in the form of interviews or collabs or Q&A. The goal is to show that people care about you and your content, and the best way to do this is to highlight your biggest fans. They will of course love this too, so it’s win-win.
I began this process myself all the way back in 2012, recording my first ever podcast interview case study with a successful client of my coaching program.
Every year since then I’ve conducted more of these interviews as more people succeed, the most recent with Tien Chiu.
Your superstar followers and successful customers are the single most effective trust-building tool you will ever have.
Today you can find a collection of long-form interviews with people who have purchased my coaching programs and succeeded. They are all listed on my Success Stories page.
This asset is by far the single most powerful selling point I have, and the reason why I stand out from all the other people who teach how to make money with content.
I decided to up my case study game and traveled to Hawaii and Portland, hiring local video crews to interview two of my most famous graduates – Mitch Wilson and Janea Dahl.
I spent a day with each of them, sitting down to record interviews, which were later edited together with footage from around their homes. We even added aerial drone footage.
The end result are two professionally produced video interviews that act as my ‘flagship’ case studies.
We also did this for my company InboxDone.com, creating a feature case study video highlighting both a client and one of our team members who provides email management.
As the internet — and your industry — gets more crowded, the lion’s share of customers are going to go to those people who have the most effective marketing that builds trust.
Content that involves other people is powerful, because it shows that what you create makes an impact.
Your superstar followers and successful customers are the single most effective trust-building tool you will ever have.
8. Choose One Social Platform And Focus Outreach There
If you start creating content today you won’t build an audience just because you hit the publish button.
You’re not going to instantly rank high in search engines, no matter how good your content is, even if you use the perfect keywords and fill up your articles with amazing research.
There’s a chance one of your early pieces of content will go viral, which always feels good, but it’s more like a sugar rush that quickly fades. You can’t rely on consistent viral results, so it’s smarter to commit to quality and consistency over time.
You have to go where the people are today, and then do something to get their attention.
The most common methods to get in front of an audience today are to use pay per click advertising, search engine optimization and social media marketing.
Pay per click is unforgiving, but it’s instant. Soon after you set up your ads, enter your credit card and click publish, you can bring in visitors. It’s easy to run out of money doing this, especially if you have no meaningful way to earn a return on your ad spend.
Search engine optimization only costs whatever it takes for you to produce content and build incoming links. Over time, free traffic from Google and YouTube can become a reliable source of audience, but it’s never quick. Think of search marketing as a slow burn.
Social media is where most creators start because that’s where the audience is. It doesn’t take long to learn how to use YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, Pinterest, Reddit, Quora, Discord, and so on.
The challenge is how to get a meaningful result without succumbing to overwhelm. Most new creators fail because they give up. After spending a few months posting regular updates, videos and pictures, with little business growth to show for it, you begin to question, what’s the point?
I advise my coaching members to choose one platform and focus their outreach there, at least until you have more resources to expand. It’s better to build a base on one platform rather than spread yourself thin across many.
The platform you choose should be the platform that suits your niche and your content creation style.
Where does your audience hang out? What platforms are a better native fit for what you offer?
If I was starting something new focused on working professionals (a B2B service agency for example), I’d use LinkedIn as my main focus. If I was teaching how to bake muffins, I’d head to Pinterest or Instagram. If long form video is your thing, YouTube is all you need to get started.
If you like short form video content, TikTok is the place to be. Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts are also great choices as I type this because these companies are trying to compete with TikTok. You can earn a lot of free traffic just because these companies want you to use their short form video platforms.
VSCO is a rising star in the world of photo sharing that you may not have heard of. It’s like the more classy cousin to Instagram that’s taking off with a different subset of photography styles. It might also be the perfect place for you to start building an audience, before it gets too crowded.
There is a typical pattern of success when it comes to audience building. I say this based on my own success with content powered businesses, seeing my clients succeed with content and learning behind the scenes how the companies I back as an angel investor grow.
The pattern almost always goes like this…
- A new creator or founder gets an initial breakthrough result from one channel or platform. This provides initial audience growth and a customer base to get the company going.
- With more resources comes the potential to focus on new traffic sources. Often this is when testing with Pay Per Click advertising begins, and/or a long term content creation strategy for organic traffic growth.
Individual creator companies tend to stay focused on their core channels and can grow to a few million dollars in revenue per year.
Those that expand to push towards $10 Million in sales and beyond almost always need to leverage multiple customer acquisition channels, building internal marketing teams for each platform or hiring agencies.
As with many things in life and business, concentrated focus tends to bring in the most rewards. It makes sense to be amazing on one platform rather than mediocre across many.
9. Sell More To Your Existing Buyers
A common piece of business advice (that is rarely followed!) is to focus on your existing buyers rather than try and attract new ones.
It’s easy to get caught up with marketing and growing your audience. It feels good to watch your views and subscriber count numbers improve.
The real challenge is to turn a subscriber into a customer.
People underestimate how hard it is to convince someone to buy from you.
However, once someone has become a customer, it’s a whole lot easier for them to buy from you again. You have their trust, assuming their initial purchase experience with you was a good one.
This advice is even more important than ever before for one reason: you’re going to work with a small audience.
The internet is a misleading place because we see a handful of people build huge audiences and become megastars.
The truth is you’re not likely to become a megastar. You probably don’t even want to become one.
You might become a micro-influencer. A person with a small following and influence in a niche community. That’s a great place to be.
What really matters is to earn at least a full time income and possibly even become financially secure for the rest of your life thanks to your online business.
To make that happen, you need to become very good at making sales to a small audience.
It’s way more likely that you will succeed with less than 1,000 people truly paying attention to you, and maybe even as few as 100 people buying from you each year.
Some of those 100 people are not just willing to buy from you, they are willing to buy from you multiple times.
This may take the form of affiliate purchases, where they buy things you recommend (and earn an affiliate commission from), to buying your own products and services.
Your goal is to increase the LTV (Lifetime Value) of your customer base.
LTV simply means how much money, on average, a client or customer is worth to your business across their entire time buying from you.
You achieve this goal and increase LTV by selling more things, at higher prices, and when possible, as recurring subscriptions.
This is oversimplifying the math, but if you have 100 people spending $100 a year with you, you make $10,000.
If those 100 people are instead paying a subscription of $100/month, then your income is $120,000/year.
If you start selling $1,000 courses, $2,000/month agency/freelance services, $10,000 private coaching programs, or other higher priced or recurring subscription products, you can bring the LTV of a customer up into thousands of dollars to even tens of thousands.
My first ever sale as a content creator, in this case from my blog, was a $20 commission as an affiliate selling an ebook someone else wrote.
The first time I made a million dollars in revenue as a content creator was selling an online course for $500 to $1,000 (this was from sales of the course over several years).
My most recent income stream is from my company InboxDone, an agency business offering email management services. Our LTV per client is over $15,000 with this company because we have a high priced recurring subscription model.
Your path forward is all about selling more products and services to the people you already call customers. This means you will need multiple offers, and you’re going to have to get very good at sales.
You don’t need to focus on attracting over a million followers on social media, or building an email list of hundreds of thousands of people. You just need a core following who benefit from what you sell, then you need to help them with more products to solve their problems.
10. Build A Team
The strategies I’ve suggested in this article are difficult to successfully execute as a solo entrepreneur creator. You can do it, but you will burn out or hit a wall with how far you can grow.
It took many years for me to fully embrace this advice, but eventually I realized I would make much more money and have far more impact on the world with help from a team.
If I need research done for an article, video production and editing, thumbnail designs, longtail keyword analysis, a community platform set up and products created — all of these things are done by members of my team or freelancers.
Even creation of content itself, writing articles for SEO, producing case study videos from scratch to finished concept, to YouTube videos and online course videos, are done in part or entirely handed off to other people.
My latest company has 40+ staff, including a management team that basically run the business.
I realized I would make much more money and have far more impact on the world with help from a team.
Unfortunately for many creators and entrepreneurs, they want to control everything and keep costs down, so rather than invest in talent, they try and do it all themselves, or with very limited outsourcing.
Once you get traction, once the revenue starts coming in, you will soon realize that learning how to delegate becomes just as important as being the creative leader of your company. In fact, the only way you can still remain the creative leader is to delegate, so you have the space to be creative.
Other areas to delegate include content creation, video editing, copywriting, product creation, sales calls, email marketing — basically whatever you currently do that could be done by someone else.
You should be left with only the tasks you love and that really make an impact.
Of course this is not necessarily realistic until you have the cash flow to cover the cost of building a team, but you should start hiring as soon as you can afford it. Start with one task, then delegate more as you have the money to do so.
Join My Coaching Community – The Laptop Lifestyle Academy
I hope this list of ten content marketing and community growth strategies will help you reach new heights with your business.
If you want more training and advice like this from me, join the Laptop Lifestyle Academy.
I’d love to help you take the next step with your online business.
P.S. Here is the audio version of the 10 steps I originally recorded back in 2020 (it’s changed somewhat since then, so some of this audio is out of date).