I spend most of my time talking about freelancing because I feel that – for most people – freelancing is the best first step to take when transitioning from an employment context.
If you’ve been an employee your whole life, jumping into freelancing is a much smoother transition into entrepreneurship than most of the other business models available.
That said most people don’t want to stay freelancers for forever.
Fortunately, if you’re a writer who’s been following me to how to freelance, you are a great candidate to build an audience.
In today’s episode of Write Bites, we’re going to cover a simple four step process you can use to start building your audience the right way.
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Today’s episode is sponsored by Copy.AI, a toolkit that helps writers, marketers, and freelancers skip writer’s block forever and use the power of GPT-3 to quickly create first draft copy for themselves and their clients.
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I spend most of my time talking about freelancing because I feel that – for most people – freelancing is the definitive best, first step when transitioning from an employment context.
if you’ve been an employee your whole life, jumping into freelancing is a much smoother transition into entrepreneurship than most of the other business models available.
That said most people don’t want to stay freelancers for forever.
Fortunately, if you’re a writer who’s been following my channel to learn how to freelance, you are a great candidate to build an audience.
Most audiences today are built using writing.
Some people do it through videos.
Some people do it through audio.
Some people do it through visual social media channels.
But I would say the vast majority of people who have profitable audiences today have built their audiences using writing.
And I’m going to teach you every step that you need to go through in order to build your own audience in this episode.
So let’s dive in.
#1: Identify a Topic That Satisfies Market Demand
So when we talk about building an audience, unfortunately, you can’t just write about what you want to write about.
There are people who’ve just started talking about whatever the hell they wanted to talk about and built an audience of raving fans who love their work.
But as a general rule, that’s not how you’re going to build a profitable audience because people don’t really care about what you care about.
They care about what they themselves care about.
So in order to build an audience, so you need to be talking about what a large group of people care about.
Now, obviously there are going to be overlaps between what you care about and what other people care about. And that’s the sweet spot. That’s what we’re looking for.
We’re looking for something that you have an interest in.
Maybe some firsthand experience, or maybe just a passion to dig in and research about this topic…
but ultimately we’re trying to find some sort of a overlap.
Obviously, for my own brand, freelance writing, copywriting, building businesses online is the overlap that I’ve found.
It’s something that I’ve done a lot of work to gain experience in, and by extension, there are a lot of other people who are actively looking to do some of the same things that I’ve done.
So it makes it really easy for me to just talk about what I know, and build an audience that way.
If you’re early on in your online career, maybe it’s more something that you’re just really passionate about.
Maybe it’s a topic that you really enjoy researching, and you can do the legwork to do research and find interesting takes and angles and ideas that other people are not aware of.
Even if it’s not your own original firsthand experience.
Since profitability and monetization are ultimately the goal of building an audience in most cases (if that’s not why you want to build one, great), the topic that you want to focus on should be something that holds a lot of perceived value for people…
Enough value that they would be willing to invest money in the outcome or growth in that topic area.
Obviously for myself, talking about freelance writing – that fits that criteria because I’m helping people make more money.
It’s really easy for my audience to want to invest money in learning more about this topic, because if they do learn and if they do hit their goals, they are going to be making more money themselves.
Now, money isn’t the only one goal.
Increasing health, happiness, achieving more power in your life, productivity or stuff like that – a better relationships, whatever it is – there are a lot of things that people value enough to invest in them.
One last thing I’d throw in here is that a lot of people think that they need to come in and identify something brand new.
They think they need a new idea.
A brand new angle.
They need to be talking about something that nobody else is talking about.
Nine times out of 10, this is the wrong choice.
You want to be doing stuff that a lot of other people are doing.
You want to be talking about a topic that a lot of other people have already proven is profitable.
The key is then just to go in and do it better than the other people are doing it.
Most people don’t have audiences, so if you’re coming into this to build an audience, you need a little bit of audacity.
You need just a tiny bit of narcissism to say “Hey, I think I can do this better than what other people are doing”.
You need the confidence to come in and say “I think I can do this better than other people who are already playing this game”.
Okay. Okay. So once you have your topic, the next most important thing…
#2: Identify Your Distribution Channel
Now, a lot of people just pick their topic and they just start making content with no clear plan for how people are going to find it.
Do not do that.
What you want to do is choose your distribution channel.
Where is your audience?
Where are you going to find the people who want to hear about this topic?
Once you know where they are, once you know how you’re going to get in front of them, then you can create the content specifically for that type of distribution.
For example, what I do is SEO.
I focus on search demand – what people are searching for – and I create resources that I can rank so that they find them.
SEO is not the only distribution channel.
I know a lot of writers who have built massive followings on Twitter or LinkedIn or other social channels.
The content that they create is entirely different than what I’m building for SEO.
The types of content that you make need to be crafted to fit the channel.
So choose your distribution first, and then we get to content.
#3: Craft a Targeted Lead Magnet
Okay. Number three: you’re going to identify a lead magnet that is going to attract the audience that you want.
So when we talk about building an audience, the money is in your email list.
We want people on the email list.
That’s more important than our SEO numbers.
That’s more important than the engagement we’re seeing on a social channel.
Every other metric is secondary to how many new email subscribers we are getting every single month.
That’s our goal. We want more email subscribers.
Email subscribers are going to promote your future content. It’s your single best promotion asset.
You have direct access to get in front of people on your email list at any time, which can not be said on social channels or other things.
You’re at the whim of another algorithm that you don’t control.
Whereas with email, you can always get in front of your email subscribers.
So we want to identify some sort of a lead magnet – that is, some sort of piece of content that we will ask people to give us their email in exchange for…
and we want that content to be a really good fit with the type of audience we want.
So for example, mine: super straightforward.
I’ve created a free crash course on copywriting and. And that attracts freelance copywriters, which is exactly who I want to talk to. That’s the audience I want to build.
Whereas another example, I have a recipe blog where I want to collect email addresses of people who are interested in a certain type of food, a certain type of cooking.
My lead magnet for that blog is a short digital cookbook that fit my brand.
So once you have the lead magnet in place, then we get to…
#4: Create Lots of Content Over Time
We have our funnel in place here, which is distribution into email sign up.
We’re using our content to attract people to sign up for our email list.
And then we’re also creating content to send to people already on our email list.
This is going to further develop our relationship with our email lists because getting them on the list is just the first step. Now we want to build a relationship with them.
We want to establish our authority on the topic that we’re focusing on in building our audience.
In order to do that, we need to continue sending great content.
So the content works on the front end of acquiring new people to our audience…
And it also works to increase the quality and relationship with our existing audience.
And that’s really all it comes down to.
Over time, you’re going to continuously be adding new people to your audience, and there will be some attrition.
Every time you send an email, you’re going to have people unsubscribe from your email list and that’s totally okay.
The key is that we want to continue creating content and really growing our distribution, so that the number of new email subscribers we’re getting each month continues to go up.
At that point, you have an audience.
And the next step is to monetize that audience in some way.
But there’s a ton of ways to do that. And, we’re not going to dive into that in this episode because ultimately when you have the audience, you have the asset and you can then experiment and monetizing it in a number of ways without really any issue because the audience is there.
We’ll dive into monetization in a later episode, but I hope that was helpful and I will catch you in the next episode.
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Do you agree? Do you disagree with the fierce heat of a thousand suns?
Let me know in the comments below.
Plus, if you have a question you want answered on a future Write Bites episode, ask in the comments or shoot me an email, and I’ll add it to the schedule.