In today’s episode Anna looks at why building your audience is one of the very first steps you need to take in your fledgling business.
I loved doing my coach training back in 2014 (shout-out to the International Coach Academy!) I even completed the two-year course in six months, doing the final oral exams at 3am in Hawaii, where I was travelling at the time! I graduated with enthusiasm and passion for helping others and had my website and social media profiles up and running in a matter of days.
And then… nothing! Well, almost nothing. A handful of people visited my website… A couple of my friends followed my Facebook page… And just one person signed up to my in-person workshop that I had excitedly announced.
As it turns out, it’s not enough just to create a website, pretty social profiles and a range of products and services. I learned the hard way that the crucial step that I had missed, that has to come before you start trying to sell anything, is building your audience. Attracting a community of fans who will be thrilled to buy from you when you do announce your services.
But how on earth do you build an audience from absolutely nothing when you’re first starting out??
Find out on this week’s podcast episode!
*Resources mentioned during the episode*
The One Step Outside Facebook group– Join us over in the Facebook group to meet like-minded people who are working on reimagining success in their life and business and to get access to direct support and free training sessions from Anna. www.facebook.com/groups/onestepoutside
Hello there and welcome back to the Reimagining Success Podcast.
Now, we have started talking about what happens next. We’ve quit our jobs. We’ve decided to launch this new business. What on earth happens next? If you didn’t listen to my story in last week’s episode, then I’d really encourage you to go back and have a listen to that. I think there are a couple of really key insights there that may very well be familiar to you, or if you’re lucky, you haven’t yet made those mistakes that I made and you can start afresh, do it right from the beginning and, hopefully, I can guide you through avoiding some of those mistakes.
This week, I want to talk about how to build an audience from nothing,
and I’m going to talk you through some really practical tips, so five tactics that you can actually implement right away to start building that audience, but, before I do that, of course, I want to talk to you about why this is so important, and it’s a little bit around what I said last week as well, so bear with me. However, when I first established myself as a coach, or at least I thought I was establishing myself as a coach, I had completed the training. I did this two-year online certification that was accredited by the International Coach Federation.
I will do a shout-out for the training I did because I thought it was fantastic. It was an Australian-based company called the International Coach Academy. It really appealed to me because it was international, so there were coaches from all around the world, those around India or America or Australia, Germany and all sorts compared to some of the, perhaps, more American-focused-often-coach courses, as well as some of the English ones, of course, but, for me at least, I was nomadic at the time, I was location-dependent, travelling the world, and that international aspect really appealed to me.
It was taught via teleclasses, so it was virtual. It was easy for me to do while I was travelling around. There was a peer coaching element involved. We’d be coached and coach each other, which was fantastic, and, of course, we had access to all these mentor-coaches who were advanced in the field as well, and a fantastic part of this particular training was we got to develop our own models and frameworks. It wasn’t just using something like the grow model that everybody knows from corporate, but we developed our own models and frameworks.
Now, I share that because it sounds fantastic, and I really thought, “I’ve done the training now.” It was a two-year course. I did it in six months. I qualified with flying colours, of course, and that was in 2014, and, 2015, I put my website up and I said, “Ta-da, I’m a coach,” and I think that’s where a lot of us go wrong because we think that, just because we’ve done a training, just because we think we’re good at something and just because we’ve put up a website, created our social profiles and perhaps announced a workshop as I had done, that suddenly people are going to buy from us, and that’s not the case.
I’m so sorry to burst your bubble, but you simply can’t just put up a website or a social profile and, from nothing,
suddenly get hundreds of people buying your products, and, of course, especially if you have a low-priced product, you are going to need hundreds, if not thousands, of people buying to even make a substantial dent in your bank account, so that’s something for another day, but something to consider, so you simply can’t just put up a website and expect people to come and buy because the number of people coming on that first day, unless you’re already an established celebrity with a massive presence, maybe you’re an influencer in another business perhaps, then you’re probably not going to have a lot of traffic coming to your website.
You certainly can’t go out there and start telling people as some people do, “Buy from me. Buy from me. Buy from me.”
Now, obviously, that’s an over simplification, but a lot of people are learning or trying to implement these tactics that a lot of experts, so-called experts, teach I guess going around in other people’s Facebook groups. As soon as somebody says, “Oh, hi. I’m looking for a business coach,” and they’ll jump in and say, “I’m a coach. I’m a coach. PM me,” and so on rather than doing the due diligence and understanding this person’s needs and, “Am I right fit?” and so on, so we don’t exactly know how to get those sales.
We talk about sales, which, of course, again is a topic for another day in terms of our mindset around that.
It feels probably quite uncomfortable when I say that. You, perhaps like me, feel, “You know what? I just want to serve people.” Especially as coaches, we’re really passionate about supporting others. We have this mission and, whether you’re consulting, freelancing, perhaps, you’ve experienced an incredible transition, and you’re passionate about a particular mission or cause and you want to help others with the same, you really want to share your expertise, teach others, help others, whatever it is your particular new business is about, and that’s very admirable, but, again, it takes time to get other people on board to help them, as we say, know, like and trust you, or as I would have said back in my Procter & Gamble corporate days, we would have built awareness in the funnel, created engagement, then we get conversion and sales and then, perhaps, loyalty and so on, so the traditional marketing funnel.
People have to actually know who you are as a first step, but you telling them, “Hello. My name is Anna and I’m a coach,” isn’t necessarily going to get them to buy. Now, you may be lucky, and I did have one or two people who did literally just see my things that I’d put out and thought, “Oh, yes, great,” and that’s fantastic, but that’s probably not going to build a massive business for you, unless you’re very skilled at writing copy and very effective and impressive sounding, so it’s not enough just to say, “Hi. I’m Anna. I’m a coach. Buy from me.”
That’s a very good first step. They know who I am. The second step is really helping them get to know you, so, “Okay, I’m an expert in this. My background is in branding and marketing, and I’ve now qualified and trained as a coach. This is my mission, my belief system. This is my own personal story. This is how I’ve helped clients,” and so on, so, gradually, you get to know who I am, maybe listen to my podcast. You read my book. You join my Facebook group, and you begin to trust and like me, and it may not happen in a linear way. Hopefully, you like me if you like my personal style. I’m sure there are many who don’t, but you know it’s all around finding that chemistry fit as well, and trusting me because you’ve heard my credentials. You’ve joined my free training sessions, so you get a sense for what I know and you’ve seen the value that can create for you and then you think, “Oh, I’m now ready to work with Anna.”
As I’ve shared many times in the past, that may take a few days, a few hours. Some people are very much action-takers. They’re convinced very quickly, and they just want to go for it and they say, “You know what? No, this is it. I’m going to step up, and I’m going to invest in this, and I’m going to trust this person. It’s the right thing. It feels right to me,” which is fantastic if you are one of those people, if you have those people attracted to you. However, most of us will take longer, so, in my case, the coach I work with now, I’d heard her on a webinar. I had had a personal recommendation from someone else, and she was a guest on a podcast that I was a guest on the week after or something, so three different ways in which I’d heard of this person. I got on a couple of calls with her, and it took actually months to even get on that call. First, I messaged her on LinkedIn and I subscribed to her newsletter and so on.
Now, there are so many opportunities for people to get to know you,
but you need to create those opportunities, so, as I said, I have a Facebook group. I have a podcast. I have so many other things. I have a book and all sorts of other platforms and so on, so I hope you can see, and this, of course, is something I’m really passionate about as you can tell, the strategy of understanding who the audiences, of course, is incredibly important as a first step because you don’t just want to pay to get likes or buy followers or whatever. It’s all around getting genuine people who are interested in what you do and, therefore, will eventually, ultimately, want to buy from you, understanding who that audience is, what you want to stand for, coming up with your content strategy and so on.
However, as promised, I wanted to today focus on some really practical tactics. I’m not going to get into the sophisticated strategy. If you go back a few episodes, I think, quite some weeks, and, I’m sorry, I don’t know the number off the top of my head, but if you search for Personal Branding Content Strategy, I have a series of episodes on that. That’s more the strategic part of that, how to establish your personal brand, and, next week, we’re looking at how to build your credibility, which is an important piece of this as well, but without further ado, because we’re already well into the podcast episode, I want to give you those five tactics, so here we go. Drum roll please.
Number one is connect with people.
I’m going to say, specifically, connect with people on LinkedIn. Of course, it depends on who your audience is, but LinkedIn is a fantastic professional platform and, at the moment, at least at the time of recording, it’s one of the platforms where you’re still getting a lot of organic reach, so you don’t have to pay for ads, and, in fact, I found ads to be quite an effective in the small extent to which I’ve tried those, but the fact is that the more connections you have, the more people are going to see what you post.
Obviously, you need to get your profile in order first. You want to make sure you have a great headline and a summary and it’s really clear where you do so that, when you connect with people, they can see if they’re interested, and they’ll click to see your professional profile, and then they’ll be following the content you create, which, of course, is the next step, but, first of all, just connecting with those people who you think would be ideal targets for you, and it’s, again, not about messaging them, as some people do to me, lots of sales messages, “Hey, I’ve got this webinar. Sign up to this and sign up to my email list,” or, “Buy from me.” It’s just about connecting. You’re there. I thought it’d be interesting to connect, and then that’s the very first step of beginning to build your audience.
The next step there on LinkedIn would be liking, commenting, engaging with other people and then, of course, ultimately, you want to be creating your own posts and videos and so on, but I know that can be a bit of a stretch when you’re starting out, so, the first tactic is simply to connect with people on LinkedIn and not just anyone. They really should be your ideal clients, so, whether it’s new business owners who have been in business less than a year or it’s busy professionals, CEOs, executives and so on. Obviously, on LinkedIn, you can really search based on their job titles, companies and so on, so that’s the first tactic is connecting with people on LinkedIn.
Now, the second one is perhaps more specifically if you’re a writer, because this is my background, I love to write, I’m a strong writer, but at least assuming that you’re an expert in something, which I hope you are because you’re now going to be building a business in this area, but that is to write for other publications, so, as I did, you can absolutely start a blog on your website, but, again, that’s not actually creating an audience. It’s a great thing to do. Over time, you can build the organic search. You can post, share automatically those posts to social media and so on, but in terms of actually speeding this up and getting an audience in the short term, which is what we’re looking at here with the tactics, it’s actually much better if he can write for other publications.
In the past, guest posting on other blogs was a really big strategy. I think it’s not so much so effective anymore, but, certainly, finding niche platforms that accept people, and, yes, to be honest, it’s likely to be unpaid, but that’s okay because you’re doing it to build your audience and your credibility, not to add money at this stage, so, for example, in my case, I’ve written for places like Thrive Global, which is Arianna Huffington’s a platform now, and she’s all around redefining success, so that’s a perfect fit for me; The Muse, which is a career and coaching platform; Besomebody, which is all around personal development and, again, alternative ways of looking at career and so on.
This is not about being published on New York Times. It’s not necessarily physical publications, but there are places. Huffington Personal, in fact, does pay, I believe. I haven’t yet submitted anything there, but there are platforms where you can quite easily become a contributor, assuming you are an expert, or at least you have some interesting things to say, so it won’t even be necessary to do that kind of formal pitch, but, really, have a search for platforms and probably all the ones that you’ve been following yourself anyway because that’s a great place to start.
Now, the third one you may not have heard of is Quora, quora.com, so have a look at that. It is a platform that has a lot of people, actually, a lot of people in India, funnily enough, so, hello, if you’re following me from India. I get a lot of Indian people contacting me, but it’s basically people asking questions, and it could be, “How do I build my personal brand? How do I start a business? Is it too late to change your career when you’re 30, 40, 50 or whatever?” and those are obviously questions that are relevant for me, and the first benefit, of course, is just that you’re seeing what other people are posting and asking. Second is that you can then really refine your thinking because you’re crafting your responses to those questions, and the third is that you can grow your audience.
Just like on LinkedIn, you want to make sure you have a good profile on Quora, perhaps a direction to your website or even to LinkedIn or to a resource or something like that. However, your answers should very much be adding value and answering that question. People on Quora do not like it if you go in there and just sell, so all of this, in fact, we’re talking about, really, adding value, answering specific question, sharing your perspective and, in doing so, you will get an audience.
Now, if you’re lucky, if you’re clever, you’ve written a good post, which I have managed a couple of times, more luck I think than anything, you will get picked up, say, if you’ve got 10,000 people viewing, lots of people sharing and liking your posts. That is a great way to get onto bigger publications like Business Insider, Inc. Magazine, of course, and so on. That’s happened to me a couple of times, so that’s if you’re a writer as well, but, again, if you’re an expert, I think you should be able to craft good answers. They don’t have to be massively long answers. In fact, you often do better with shorter answers.
Now, the next one is if you’re more of a speaker, of course, you can speak, but that’s a bit of a scary prospect for some people, and it takes a lot of time and effort finding those events and so on, but, actually, speaking on other people’s podcasts is a great tactic. It’s fantastic to have your own podcast, as I can tell you as I launched mine in December, 2018, but before you even launch your own podcast, going on other people’s podcasts is a fantastic way to build that audience.
Obviously, at the beginning, if you haven’t spoken on podcasts before, start out small.
Find people either by searching on Apple Podcasts, for example, iTunes or joining some podcast groups. I’m a member of She Podcasts, for example. Every Tuesday, they have a pitcher’s thread when they’re looking for guests, and then you can join. People are starting podcasts all the time, so you can be one of the first people who they interview and, yes, they maybe don’t have a massive audience to begin with, but they probably have more than you if you don’t yet have a podcast. They certainly are reaching different people and, hopefully, similar people who are then close to your target, and you want to complementary, not competitors to you. Probably, it’ll be something that’s more synergistic, but start out small. It gives you practise and then, of course, as you grow confident, if you grow your confidence and you feel ready to do so, you can, of course, pitch yourself to some of the bigger podcasts as well. Who knows? You can get on those as well, but guesting on other people’s podcasts is a great tactic to build your audience.
The final one actually is related to that, so, simply partnering with other people who have a similar audience, again, piggybacking on their audience. Now, a random example, but let’s say I’m a yoga instructor and someone else is a nutritionist. We might then share on each other’s guest post or the other person might promote my retreat or my content in her email or I can do a Instagram takeover, all sorts of creative ways, so, obviously, we can’t go into the details here, but finding others who have synergistic, again, audiences with yours. You can piggyback on their audience. It can be really powerful, again, rather than just relying on your own website and so on.
Now, you have to think here what is in it for them because you need to add value both to the audience, but also to that person. You can’t just go, “Hey, I want to steal your followers,” so you really need to think about what’s in it for them, how is this relevant, how does your message really match what they’re already putting out there, and that goes for whether it’s a podcast or a blog or email or whatever it might be.
To summarise, and you might want to go back and take notes again if you’re on the move now and just remind yourself, but, first of all, connect with people on LinkedIn. Secondly, write for publications, like in my case, Besomebody, Thrive, The Muse. Third, Quora, create a profile, start answering questions. Four, be a guest on other people’s podcasts; and, five, partner with others who have the same or similar audience, so I hope that was useful, and, next week, we’ll be talking about how to establish your credibility in a new field, which is really very much a complementary piece of the puzzle to building an audience that we talked about this week.
Thanks so much, and I’ll see you next week. Bye for now.
Connect with Anna:
If you’re ready to start to reimagine what success could look like for you, here are some of the ways in which Anna can support you:
Get private mentoring for your business– Partnering with a business coach can help you see those blind spots and get both external accountability and expert guidance to take your business to where you want it to be. www.onestepoutside.com/freeconsultation
Get private career coaching – Individual coaching is fully tailored to your specific goals and desires so we can create the programme that works best for you, with the support that you need to move forwards. www.onestepoutside.com/claritycall
Grab a copy of Leaving the Corporate 9 to 5– After interviewing 50 people who have left the corporate 9 to 5 to forge their own path, Anna has collected their stories in a book that will inspire you with the possibilities that are out there and reassure you that you’re not alone in looking for an alternative. www.leavingthecorporate9to5.com
Join the One Step Outside the 9 to 5 group programme– This is your roadmap to transitioning from a corporate job into setting up a meaningful business that will bring you more freedom, flexibility and fulfilment outside of the corporate 9 to 5. www.onestepoutside.com/9to5
Up-level with the Fast-track your business programme – This is your guide to taking your business from surviving to thriving and making sure that you achieve the freedom, flexibility and fulfilment that you dreamed of when you started. www.onestepoutside.com/fasttrack