Are you a content creator who wants to learn how to build an audience from scratch? You’ve come to the right place, my friend.
Check out the ultimate guide to building a true audience of fans that will absolutely love what you create.
If you’re a creative person, let me know if this sounds familiar.
You might have had a creative passion project project you did for fun—say writing poetry, creating watercolor, doing daily video essays…
Chances are you started doing this privately. Sharing your creations with the world tickled your fancy eventually, however, so you decide to share it.
Now, either these two things happens:
You get...zero reactions. (Welp, it’s time to delete my social media, change my name, and move to Timbuktu because that was SO embarrassing!)
Maybe it wasn’t so dismal. Maybe you’re showered by praise and love from friends and family. (Thanks, mom!)
If you’re on Camp A, let me tell you: I feel for you. I used to create tons of blog posts that I realized nobody would read, and that really stung. The temptation to fall off the face of the online world as I knew it was strong.
For most folks though, you’re probably on Camp B. And while I think it’s great that you have family and friends that care about what you post, you may eventually realize that your friends and family can’t always show that same love and support for every single thing you create.
Regardless of which camp you belong to, the problem really boils down to this:
It’s not your content that’s the problem. It’s that you aren’t reaching the right audience.
If you want to make sure that your content—from blogs, YouTube videos, podcasts, or Instagram posts—are getting in front of the people you want to be reaching, then keep reading, my creative friend. In this post, I’ll show you how to build an audience, even if you’re starting from absolute scratch.
The Content creators' ultimate guide to building an audience from scratch
What audience-building is
Before we jump into the juicy audience-building strategies, I wanted to quickly narrow down what I mean when I say “build an audience.”
But I found my struggling to define exactly what audience-building really means. The more I thought about what it was, I found myself creating a list of what, at least in my opinion and experience, audience-building was not.
And here’s what I came up with.
What audience-building is not about:
If you want to build an audience, it’s not enough to just stop at the vanity metrics. Vanity metrics are those numbers that we crave so badly, even if we don’t know the meat behind them. You know what metrics I mean: Likes, Followers, Subscribers…
Before I proceed, I want to clarify that this doesn’t mean that more Likes, Followers, and Subscribers doesn’t mean you don’t have a true audience, period. That would be pretentious and false. Besides, many creators have grown their audiences the right way and get a ton of these Likes and Follows.
Instead, I want you to understand that having a ton of Likes, Followers, and Subscribers doesn’t always mean having the right audience.
Want proof of this? Just try and recall the last time you might have stumbled upon a random Instagram account that probably had a ton of followers but absolutely zero meaningful engagement on their posts.
If there was any engagement, it looked like they’d just paid a visit to Bot City. Generic praise, emojis, and (worse) comments that have nothing to do with the post itself.
Becoming the “I” word
Okay, I’ll be clearer: influencer.
Before the fans of Instagram it-girls come throwing hate bombs at me, let me explain: becoming an influencer for becoming an influencers’ sake.
I believe influence is the result of doing something that has made an impact on people in some way. Whether you’ve motivated them through a tough day, given them laughs after a dull week, or helped them understand things they might not have before...you’re influencing them—but because you’re doing something else first.
Influence on others is the by-product of the content you’re sharing. There’s no such thing as sharing content with the goal of “influencing.” The goal is something else: either to educate, inform, entertain, etc.
This is because influence happens in the minds of our audience. And when you have a true audience, then you’re likely influencing them in the way that truly matters as a creator because these people genuinely enjoy what you create and share.
So, no, you don’t build an audience with the goal to become an influencer. Becoming an influencer happens when you build that audience first, no matter how small it might be.
What it means to build an audience
So now that we know what audience-building is not, here’s how I recommend we approach the topic. Remember that this is the meaning of audience-building as we go through the rest of the post.
Audience-building is creating content that people connect with, so much that they willingly give their time and attention to you, the creator.
A true audience will take time out of their day to pay attention to your new post. They’ll read your emails, they’ll secretly stalk you on social media…
And when you have people like that following you, then you can say you’ve built an audience of true fans, and you’re well on your way to building an audience of your dreams.
5 Strategies and Tactics to Build an Audience from Scratch
Okay, so we understand what it means to build an audience—as in what it really means.
Now for the fun part: how do we actually build an audience, especially if we’re starting from scratch?
As you might guess, this section tackles only on genuine strategies that really work to build a true audience. So this post will NOT include topics like joining engagement pods, link exchange groups, and sleazy one-size-fits-all giveaways (so nope, never will this post recommend you have to join those sponsored and spammy iPhone 20 Pro Max Ultra S510 giveaways).
Identify your unique value
Consider this the strategy of strategies if you want to build your audience. Your unique value as a creator is what sets you apart from similar creators out there, even if you’re in the exact same niche.
Think of it like your favorite shoe brand. Your Favorite Shoe Brand definitely has a Competitor Shoe Brand, but you probably like your Favorite Shoe Brand for a reason.
Maybe they’re made in ethical manufacturing houses instead of Third World sweatshops, which is a cause that is dear to your heart. Maybe their designs are just more appealing to you. Or maybe they cover a wide range of foot shapes and sizes, which is something Competitor Shoe Brand has always fallen short at.
Either way, your unique value is one of the biggest reasons somebody will look at the content you share and say, “Hey, I like this person. I’m going to follow them and see more of their stuff!”
Tips for identifying your unique value as a creator
I totally hear you saying, "I get it, Mica, but how do I actually find my unique value? There are SO many people in the niche I want to be in!"
I gotchu, friend. Try answering these guide questions for identifying your unique value as a content creator, even if you are in a crowded niche.
I can’t tell you how many times someone’s asked/told me some variation of this statement:
“Mica, I want to go out there and share all my best ideas, but I don’t have an audience yet. I want to wait until I have an audience so they can see my best work.”
And if you’re currently on this train, let me tell you: I get it.
But here’s the rub, junebug: how do you expect people to follow you if you’re not sharing great follow-worthy content?
Think about it. 😊
As a content creator, it’s up to you to keep creating and sharing consistently. Just notice your own behaviors when it comes to following other creators that aren’t your friends and family. You probably subscribe to them because you like what they’ve created so far, and, hey, you totally want to catch more of their great stuff in the future.
So can you really expect that people will give you their future time and attention as a follower if they don’t see the great stuff you’re coming out with as is?
But, Mica, what if I run out of post ideas if I share my best ones now?
Totally valid fear, my friend. I was so afraid my creative well would run dry at some point too.
But here’s the simplest solution I’ve found: content repurposing.
What is content repurposing, you might ask? I love that curious mindset, sunshine.
Content repurposing is a tactic where you take one existing piece of content you already have—say, a blog post—and then repurposing it (get it?) into something else—like an infographic, a video, or an Instagram Carousel, etc.
Repurposing your content is great for a number of reasons:
Oh, I already hear a few of your brain-gears turning and asking: But what if I create daily vlogs or content that relies on trends? How do I repurpose those?
The Case of Evergreen Content
If you’re currently only creating “topical” (dictionary definition: of immediate relevance or importance, e.g. news of the iPhone 20, reviews of the hottest fashion trends now, etc.) content, challenge yourself to create evergreen content.
Evergreen content is content that stands the test of time. It's not likely to become outdated anytime soon, and even if it does get dated, it's usually very easy to give it a refresh instead of creating a related piece from scratch.
So even if you shared a video about how your new habit of meditation changed your life three years ago, many people will still enjoy the lessons and insights you learn from that post. That counts as evergreen.
Examples of Evergreen Content to Create in Different Niches
Note: These examples are YouTube videos and blogs because I believe they are the BEST evergreen channels we can have.
The lifespan of blogs and YouTube videos last way longer than your average Instagram or TikTok post—but one powerful trick I’ve learned from the more topical platforms (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, etc.) is to simply re-publish or reshare old posts from your feed, as long as they’re evergreen!
Building a content creation workflow for ultra productive and consistent content
I always say creating those first couple content pieces is easy; it’s staying consistent that’s hard.
And let’s face it: consistency is what sets apart successful content creators from the ones who don’t give themselves a fighting chance to grow an audience.
Side note: I say consistency is important, but there are so many other factors that will dictate content success—the timing and quality of your posts, and yes, even a little luck. However, being consistent also means consistently trying to create better and testing new strategies to grow and learn. Hard work always precedes luck.
So if you want to stay ahead of your creation process and actually stay consistent, you want to nail your content creation workflow.
That topic merited a whole ‘nother massive post just like this one, so check out the link here to read The Ultimate Guide to Crafting a Productive Content Creation Workflow.
The Ultimate Guide to Crafting a Productive content Creation Workflow
Perfect for bloggers, podcasters, YouTubers, and every content creator in between.
Focus on the Share Factor
You’ll notice that I call this tip “focusing on the Share Factor” versus “making a viral post.” There’s a reason for that. 😉
I don’t believe you can engineer virality in a definite way. Yes, there are frameworks we can follow, there are other viral posts we can try to copy (but also kinda wanna say: don’t copy, steal like an artist instead).
But true virality happens organically. It happens when the right content hits the right audience at the right time and place. I know that’s vague, but it’s true. If there was some kind of magic formula that guaranteed virality of a post, then I’m sure millions of people would already have it.
Instead, focus on the Share Factor of your posts. Think: what would make somebody share this?
Does it make them feel a certain way when they share this type of post? Does it say something about them as a person? Is there useful information that will help other people too?
A helpful resource you can use is Jonah Berger’s STEPPS Framework that explains why things catch on and elements you can use to try and engineer a viral post. (I would show you the resource here, but I think it would be more fair to Jonah if you downloaded it right from his site!)
Practice the Share Factor on your Content
It’s always helpful to nudge people to share your posts. Make the ask nicely, but don’t expect people will share even if you do ask.
Here are some non-slimy ways you can ask people to share your posts—keeping in mind that there’s something share-worthy about it in the first place:
- “Share if you agree!”
- “Share this with a friend/a furparent/an aspiring author in your life/[insert any relevant characteristic or (non-discriminatory) label].”
- “Sharing this helps get this message to people who need to hear it most. Thank you for helping me get the word out!”
Get in front of other people's audiences
Many creators and coaches always recommend the tactic of “getting in front of other people’s audiences” for building your own audience faster. And since I’ve seen the results in my own life and blog, I had to include this tip here.
It works like this. There’s a creator or a brand somewhere out there that has even a slightly bigger audience than you. We’re assuming that this person or this brand has people in their audience who could be perfect members of your audience.
So say you got in front of their audience—maybe by partnering up with them for an online event or launch, or giving a free class, or whatever-else-have-you. These people who likely never knew you existed now know you exist.
And when they see that this person (aka you!) are a creator that makes awesome stuff too, they’ll be much more inclined to want to follow you for more awesomeness. It’s a win-win-win. 🎉
Quick caveat about using other people’s audiences
But okay, let me just briefly make a disclaimer about this tip: there’s no rushing this.
I know we all want to grow our audiences fastfastfast, but the truth is the speed of your results will always depend on the hard and smart work you do first.
This strategy is no exception. If you’re going to want the BIG honor of getting in front of other people’s audiences—remember, this is an audience they themselves worked hard to get—then you need to be worthy of that honor in the first place.
The trick to being worthy? See all the tips we’ve just talked about.
Be very clear about your unique value and how your content serves other people. Create lots of valuable content that is deserving of an audience.
Because here’s the thing: imagine if you were this content creator who already had an audience, no matter how small.
Say a random person DMs you on Instagram, wanting to collaborate with you.
You check out their account and see...nothing.
Probably a couple selfies or throwback groupfies from their last Thanksgiving pre-pandemic… But try as you might, you just don’t see what kind of value your audience would get from this person.
So you just ignore the DM and forget that this person ever got in touch with you.
Steps to get in front of other people’s audiences
Hey, I’m not going to leave this strategy on a depressing note. Instead, here’s my recommendation for how you can start this tactic yourself.
Pay attention to the (right) metrics
Finally, if you want to build an audience from scratch, you need to be paying attention to how your content is doing.
This is where metrics come in. But of course, if you want to really be productive and purposeful about the process, then you gotta focus on the right metrics.
What this means is paying only enough attention to those Vanity Metrics we talked about before. I repeat: vanity metrics aren’t the end-all and be-all of your content’s impact, but they can be helpful indicators.
Instead, pay attention to the right metrics that tell you how your content is performing in the real world. This is data you can use to keep making something that’s doing well OR to improve things if they’re not doing so hot.
Metrics content creators should be paying attention to to build an audience
There are a ton of metrics out there, so I know it can be really overwhelming about where to look. So instead of trying to think of the big fancy names they’re called, focus instead on finding out which metrics on your chosen platform can tell you…
Real talk: this step can take a while to master. You’ll need to put in the work and test and test and test.
But enjoy that process. Show up to the task with the mindset of “This work will help me become a better creator,” instead of “Ugh, this is so much work and it’s not doing anything.”
Trust me, sunshine. If you really show up and do the work honestly with zero shortcuts, then that kind of work will pay off.
Question is: are you the kind of creator that looks for shortcuts or are you the kind of creator that does work that will pay off?
How will you build an audience from scratch?
So that wraps up another massive post. I hope you enjoyed learning about these tips and tactics from me; I sure know I had a great time compiling all the tips and strategies that helped me build an audience from zero.
Let me know which tip or strategy you need to zoom in on, and how you’re planning to start! Until then, I hope you keep creating the content you love and that others will love too.