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The Brutal Truth: Why Building An Audience Isn’t As Easy As It Seems

An audience you have responsibility for is empowering as you address people directly.

However, it comes with challenges you need to be aware of.

Let’s not hide away from the fact that building an audience is hard. When you begin, you are making that brave step into unchartered waters, or more simply, starting from zero.

While the prospect of reaching and connecting with like-minded people is undoubtedly exciting, it is not without its share of challenges and obstacles along the way.

In this article, we’re going to delve into the obstacles of building your own audience and how to navigate them effectively.

Defining Your Audience: Beyond Social Metrics

Before jumping into the intricacies of audience building, let’s clarify what constitutes an audience in this context. 

Beyond mere social media metrics and follower counts, an audience represents a group of people who actively engage with what you share. It’s a flow of communication from you to someone else who has opted in. It could be someone who subscribes to your newsletter, or chooses to attend your event.  

It moves beyond superficial metrics, and over time, encompasses genuine connections and meaningful interactions that can foster a sense of belonging and camaraderie.

An audience is where the communication starts and over time that can become a community.

The Journey Begins: A Personal Quest for Connection

For many people, the decision to embark on the journey of audience building stems from a drive for autonomy and taking ownership of their online and in-person presence.

For me and You Are The Media, I wanted a place where I could share my insights and experiences that represented me, that was also free from the constraints of traditional marketing channels or fighting to be heard with everyone else on the same timeline. 

What started as a personal endeavour gradually became a community driven by shared values, coming together and finding ways to improve.

The Challenges You Will Face

Uncertainties appear to test resolve and determination. 

Getting to a place with others comes with a lot of lessons, struggles and trying to figure things out by yourself. 

This is what I now know what it takes to create a loyal audience after many years at the wheel.

Audience First (What You Want v What They Decide)

Understanding what people want is often different from what you might assume they need to know. 

When I began, my message was generic marketing rhetoric. It was standardised and had no stamp of me. I fitted into an industry box. 

It’s imperative to remain flexible and adapt your narrative alongside the evolving preferences of your audience. As an idea when you hit 50 to 100 subscribers, reach out to 20 subscribers and ask what they would like to see from you. 

This necessitates a keen focus on analytics, speaking to your audience directly, and paying close attention to their interactions with your content. 

By putting in the effort to create and monitor content actively, you can gain valuable insights into what resonates most deeply with your audience, allowing you to refine your approach and more importantly stay relevant.

Never Underestimate Commitment and Consistency

This is the biggest reason why audience building fails. It’s the tendency to drift or lose focus once you’ve begun. 

The ability to keep going and refine as you progress is paramount. It’s essential to maintain a steadfast commitment to your chosen theme or curiosity for at least the first year. 

Just because audience growth may be slow, it’s better to focus on creating for the right people, rather than more people is your answer. No one can sustain a huge audience and build better connections where thousands of subscribers become your goal.

Delivery can be challenging, but it’s crucial to keep swinging until you find your voice and establish what feels relatable and comfortable for you. My journey led me down the rabbit hole of how businesses can become self-sufficient promoting themselves, whilst being supported and encouraged by people around them. This is what keeps me going as I can continually modify and experiment.

Conversion Comes With Patience 

Building an audience isn’t something you can turn around to see people with you inside a week from a standing start. Converting people takes time. 

Increasing your output of content does not guarantee an influx of people; rather, it’s the culmination of your track record and continued presence that fosters conversion. It’s important to recognise that even with a landing page in place, you’re still at the starting line of your audience-building journey. 

Patience, persistence, and a long-term perspective are essential virtues to progress on this path.

You Have To Think Way Beyond Useful Content. The Power of Outreach

While creating useful content is undeniably important, sustainable growth stems from the outreach you undertake. 

Building genuine connections and engaging in meaningful conversations with your audience are crucial components of audience building. 

Showing a genuine interest in others and actively participating, you can forge deeper connections and solidify your position as a trusted source.

What has helped YATM over the years has been the live events, this solidifies bonds with people who were only known through email addresses.

Find Your Competitive Edge

Regurgitating what others have already said will never let you carve your own space. Neither does jumping onboard what everyone else is doing.

It’s essential to inject your own unique perspective, quirks, curiosity, and experiences into your content to differentiate yourself. Sharing personal anecdotes, your origin story, overcoming hardships, and documenting lightbulb moments are powerful ways to infuse life and yourself into your work and resonate with your audience on a deeper level than anyone else. 

Cultivate Loyalty Over Time

Loyalty cannot be rushed or forced; it is a product of time, trust, and genuine connection.

While some subscribers may never fully engage with your content, others may become vocal advocates and invaluable assets to your overall belief and approach. 

It’s essential to recognise the value of each subscriber, whether they’re actively engaged or passively observing, and to nurture relationships accordingly. If someone hasn’t opened a newsletter from you in the past three months, perhaps things were never meant to be and that’s ok. There are plenty of other people who value your work. 

Paying For Reach Is Easy, You Can’t Buy Trust

Paid reach is what we have done for decades and is easily attainable, trust remains an invaluable commodity that cannot be bought. 

Genuinely caring about your work and the role it plays for other people are the cornerstones of trust-building, and it’s a continual process that requires ongoing effort and investment. 

To truly connect with your audience, it’s not about diluting your message to fit into the mainstream narrative. Instead, it’s about distilling your message until it becomes personal and has meaning.

Getting people to care is why they stay, it’s not always about the content.

While compelling content is undoubtedly essential, it’s the sense of belonging and participation that keeps audiences engaged and invested. 

Creating opportunities for active involvement, such as inviting subscribers to contribute to newsletters or lead events, fosters a sense of partnership and ownership that transcends mere consumption.

By minimising the distance between creator and audience, you can create a space where everyone feels valued and included. This is where audience progresses to a community.

Let’s Round-Up 

Reaching out to people directly gives you a place to build from, remember that the path may be long and arduous, but the rewards are immeasurable. 

Strength and longevity stem from taking initiative and bringing ideas to life. When you rally others around a shared vision, you pave the way for progress and evolution over the years. 

Building an audience is far from a walk in the park, especially when you’re venturing into this for the first time. Simply taking that first step can feel like scaling a mountain. Yet, this is where you discover your resilience and determination. 

Every obstacle you encounter along the way serves as fuel to delve deeper. You embark on this approach not to just expand your reach but also to evolve alongside people who support and engage with your work. This two way relationship is what fosters growth and propels you forward with a sense of purpose and enjoyment.

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