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This past week my writing partner Isaiah and I were having this big discussion about our strategy. We’re making a bunch of short comics, but it’s going slowly, and we don’t know if it’s connecting how we want it to. What always comes up in these conversations is how we don’t have the audience or platform to promote what we make. So if you are someone who feels like they don’t have enough followers, fans or audience, I know exactly how you feel.
How do you build an audience from nothing?
I am obviously speaking as someone who is figuring this out, so help yourself to the grains of salt. Building an audience is a powerful thing. That’s why we want to do it, because if you have an audience, even a small one you get to make things for that audience. To make the things you want you need the audience to show up. The thing is you can wait, hope or pray the audience will show up but it probably won’t unless you start building your platform now so when you do have something to share you’ll have a few people to share it with.
Building an audience can be a little like saving for retirement. Putting in a little bit of money over a long enough time and you’ll have enough to retire on. The more money you put in the more interest is earned. Compound interest is an amazing thing. I’m not here to tell you to save for retirement (but you really should). I’m want to talk about the compound audience.
Your audience will start small. Everything starts small. That’s okay and it’s no reason to give up. Just know that it’s going to be small for awhile. Early on when things are compounding the look almost linear but it will grow with time. The first people who will follow you will be your friends and acquaintances. They like your work not because it’s good but because it’s yours. The important part is that we need to start contributing. It will start with your immediate network then grow from there.
Contributing to your audience by sharing your work, work in progress, learning, and ideas. Posting your work can be uncomfortable and vulnerable. It feels like a lot to ask people to look at your work. When you release your work it becomes real, and that is frightening. This is something I could be better at. I always feel like the work could be better. I need to remind myself that sharing work the benefits outway the risk. Nothing truly bad will happen. Nothing we cannot handle.
The hardest part about contributing to your audience will probably be consistency. This is hard because it takes discipline. It’s easy to post something for a week then disappear for a month. Constantly contributing early on will pay dividends later on. Including making sharing part of your routine and a habit you can rely on. I’m not the best at consistency. One area where I’ve been good is with this blog. Every Friday I release a post and my newsletter goes out. I trust that by showing up every week people will start to notice.
You might not think your ready, but you are. You don’t need to be ready because right now the stakes are low. Start building slowly, one person at a time. Then when you are ready you do have something to promote, the audience you’ve put work into will be there. What you post doesn’t have to be pretty or perfect. It’s probably best if it isn’t, choose something that’s easy to follow through on. Start early and contribute often and your little nest egg of an audience will grow.
PS. Austin Kleon’s book Show Your Work is a great resource for learning how to share your work.
Other posts about audiences
Where did the general audience go?
The two fears of audiences
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