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How to grow an audience from scratch


Growing an audience is challenging, but what if you’re starting from scratch? That can feel impossible. Unless you use some of the tips we’re going to share in this video. These tips are super practical and things you can do right away to get rid of that zero.

One of the easiest things you can do to get new subscribers or followers is to include a link in your social media or professional bios, and in the signature line of emails and messages.

For example, let’s say you’ve started a YouTube channel and you already have a Facebook page and twitter profile. You can update your social media bios to include a link to your YouTube channel along with a one sentence description of what folks can expect to find there.

Even better, provide a link that will take folks directly to a subscribe or add window if the platform you want to grow has this functionality.

We recommend linking to only one platform at a time. If you’re trying to grow an audience on multiple platforms, choose the one you want to focus on first and link to that one. You can always leverage the audience you build there for other platforms in the future and doing this increases the chances that people will actually click through.

Tip #2: Direct message people in your existing network

Audiences are built one person at a time. While someone with a larger audience does have the advantage of social proof, growing from scratch basically works the same way.

A person becomes aware of you, is convinced that what you have to share is valuable and worth following, and makes the choice to become a part of your audience.

Within your existing network, that first step is already taken care of. They’re already aware of you. Now all you have to do is, one person at a time, guide them through the other two steps.

Whether it’s your friends list on Facebook, your email contacts, or even just the contacts in your phone, there are likely people who know you, care about your success, and would genuinely find value in what you have to share.

Take the time to message these folks one by one and just let them know what you’re trying to do, that you thought of them because they might find what you have to share valuable, and invite them to be one of your first supporters.

You’d be surprised at the number of folks you can add to your audience this way.

And this can even work with folks that maybe you haven’t been in touch with for a while but have been wanting to reconnect with. Reach out and let them know you’ve been thinking about them and ask them what they’ve been up to. Most of the time, if you’re genuinely interested in their life, the conversation will come back to what you’ve been up to and then you have an opportunity to, gently, let them know about what you’re doing.

As long as you’re coming from a place of wanting to have a genuine connection and to provide value, this tip can give your audience a nice head start.

Tip #3: Use reciprocity in the comments

There’s a book written by Robert Cialdini called Influence where he talks about something called the rule of reciprocity. This rule states that when people are given something of value, even something they weren’t necessarily asking for, they feel a sense of social obligation to return the favor in some way.

You might have experienced this trick in the form of a “free vacation” from a time-share company as long as you come watch a 3-hour presentation about our resort properties. This rule is even at work with coupons. Would you have actually bought those muffins if they hadn’t given you a coupon for $1 off?

Reciprocity isn’t just some sneaky trick, but it’s a core feature of how humans interact with one another. You can actually use reciprocity to your advantage while being genuinely helpful.

Check out the comments section of other creators in your niche or find forums that discuss topics related to the kind of content you share. Creators with large audiences can sometimes be too busy to respond to every comment left on their video or post, which creates a great opportunity. If you can help those folks or add something valuable to the conversation and you do that consistently, over time, people will remember you and feel compelled to see who you are and what you’re all about.

Remember tip number one? When they eventually click on your profile, have that link ready to go.

It’s important to note here that the comments section is not the place to share your link or try to get people to join your audience. It might feel at first like you’re just giving knowledge away and not getting anything back. But reciprocity is a powerful force that, if given enough time, can bring folks into your audience who already see you as an expert.

Tip #4: Make real-life connections

In today’s digital world, the idea of an audience feels a bit ambiguous. There are subscriber numbers and follower counts, but those numbers represent real, living, breathing individuals. In your everyday interactions, you likely cross paths with people who would be a good fit for your audience.

These could be people you chat with in the grocery store or meet on a bus or train.

These people might be in your religious circles, or they might be part of a business networking group.

There’s a similar principle we used for tip number two that also applies here. One of the best ways to find out if what you offer might be of value to someone is to be curious about them. When you ask questions about someone else’s life and you show a genuine interest in their needs, it makes it a lot easier to make a connection between their problems and your solutions.

Tip #5: Host a free workshop

The tip also uses the rule of reciprocity. You offer something valuable for free and attendees feel more inclined to become a part of your audience. But how do you host a workshop?

There are a couple of different approaches you could take to finding a space for hosting your workshop.

You could look for a venue that will allow you to use their space for free. Some churches, libraries, and even businesses will allow people to borrow space in an unused conference room or classroom. I once hosted a 6-week video editing workshop in a local library, and they even advertised the workshop to their patrons.

Another approach is to find meetings that are already happening where the info you share might be valuable. For example, in my area there was a weekly realtor meeting where they shared marketing tips and I was invited to come out and share my video editing workshop material with them. This was great because I didn’t have to do any advertising and I was able to speak to a room of 30 plus people I had never met.

This tip is probably one of the most difficult because you might be dealing with self-doubt, a fear of public speaking, or the discomfort of asking to use the space. These are real challenges and if you want me to address some of them in future videos, let me know in the comments. But if you can work through those challenges, hosting workshops on a regular basis can be a really reliable way to grow your audience.

Those are our five tips and I hope you’re able to put some of them into action today to start growing your audience.

I want to hear from you. If you’ve grown an audience from scratch, what are some of the methods you used? Let us know in the comments below.

Thanks for watching and I’ll see you in the next video.

About the author

Ben is a video content marketer for Podia, an all-in-one platform where online courses, digital downloads, and membership websites – alongside their creators – thrive.