One of the most surprising things that I discovered when I sent out a survey to my readers a few months ago is that almost 50% of my followers are self-employed and/or entrepreneurs, with a healthy portion of those people being largely online based.
Along with having these kinds of readers, I get a handful of questions quite regularly that I’ve never written about on my site.
One question that I’ve been asked (by clients, podcast interviewers, friends and family, etc.) quite a lot this year has been…
How did I come to build such a huge following in such a short amount of time?
So… how did I build up such a huge following of loyal readers in such a short amount of time (and how can you do the same)?
I built up a six figure blog in two years… and it really wasn’t that hard. In fact, it’s as easy as 1, 2, 3.
1. Know who you’re writing for, and have something to say
What are you actually looking to make a dent in in the world?
Or, asked in a different way, what bothers you about the world and what do you wish you could change?
Or, asked in an even more different way, what person in the world (or what former version of yourself) do you wish to positively affect for the rest of their lives?
It’s absolutely imperative that you start with your audience in mind. Simultaneously, don’t ignore yourself and your own needs too. Whatever you’re writing about/creating should be fun and fulfilling for you as well. But you have to frequently check in throughout your process and ask yourself… “Who am I trying to help and why is it that I want to help them?”
If you start writing/blogging/creating/doing videos/recording podcasts for an unknown audience that you can’t clearly envision in your mind, then you’ll run out of steam a lot sooner than your competitors who have their prime demographic in their minds.
What you say and who you’re saying it to can and will shift over time. You don’t have to write about the same thing forever. Heck, I’ve written about how to strengthen your relationship, how to strengthen your penis, and how to strengthen your emotional resiliency all within a matter of months… and you could easily argue that the people that benefit from each of those posts are all very different people.
Your message will shift over time… and that’s fine… but you have to have your finger on the pulse of who you’re helping and why you want to help them throughout your entire journey.
(Side note: if you’re just starting out and you don’t yet know what you want to say, that’s fine too. These things take time to develop. Just pay attention to what you’re drawn towards. What do you find interesting? What kind of help do people usually come to you for? What kinds of things are your friends, followers, and readers frequently requesting of you? Work hard on becoming an excellent listener and your topic/topics will become apparent in no time).
2. Add massive value to your readers lives by solving their biggest problems
Once you know who you’re trying to help, you have to figure out exactly how you’re going to help them.
To do this, you have to get inside their minds. You have to figure out things about their lives. You have to figure out how they think, how they sleep, what their biggest pains and frustrations are. Essentially, you have to understand them better than you understand yourself.
Once you know what problems they’re looking to have solved, you start solving them… one by one… for free.
What!? Give away free stuff in order to build a profitable business? You got it champ!
People like people who ADD VALUE to their lives.
My overarching strategy for becoming a trusted thought leader in what many would argue is an overly saturated market (sex and relationships) was to solve all of my readers biggest problems, for free, and to do it consistently over an extended period of time.
Consider the following… which person do you think you would trust more between the following two examples?
Person 1: Someone who seems to intuitively understand all of your life’s biggest problems, works their butt off to give you simple, actionable advice to solve all of those biggest problems, and clearly enjoys doing so. Simply helping you thrive lights them up inside. And then after six months of them adding massive value to your life, they casually mention that they just put out a book on a frustration that you didn’t even know that you had (but you totally do… wow! It’s like they can read your mind and they know you better than you know yourself) and it’s the same price as a cup of coffee. Needless to say, you pick up the book, love it, and tell all of your friends about it.
Person 2: Someone who tells you that they’re launching a business, that they have a product to offer you, and they want you to buy it. They barely make any effort to communicate to you that they know you or understand you, and they haven’t helped you in any way in the past. How motivated do you feel to help this person to grow their business?
When laid out so bluntly, it’s fairly obvious.
So point number two is, simply put, the idea that you should add massive amounts of value to your followers lives and do so without being overly concerned about when you’re going to start charging them. And the longer you help them out for, the more trust and loyalty you install in your followers hearts and minds.
3. Be consistent in your delivery
So you know who you’re helping, you know that you want to help them in big ways (without being overly concerned about monetizing every time you interact with them), and now we’re on to the last point… being consistent in your delivery.
It isn’t enough to just help solve one of their biggest problems and then expecting that to be enough relationship karma to sustain your connection with them forever. Just like, in an intimate relationship, you (hopefully) don’t tell yourself, “Well, I gave them a back rub that one time on their birthday… so I shouldn’t have to do it ever again. That should keep them feeling grateful for the remaining sixty years of our marriage.” No. Just no. Clearly this is a nonsensical way to look at any relationship in your life.
You have to be consistent in your delivery… that means consistently helping people on their biggest pains and frustrations over an extended period of time (months, years, decades, as long as you’re alive, etc.).
If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you may have noticed that that is how I interact with my followers. I send out one email per week, highlighting all of the newest articles I’ve written or podcasts I’ve been on, and the follower can engage with as much or as little of it as they want.
It’s very non-pushy, and very “do whatever you want”-y. I also regularly encourage people to unsubscribe from my e-mail list, telling them that if they aren’t loving what I’ve been putting out lately, they’re free to stop reading my articles. Why do I do this? Because the people who are meant to continue to follow me are my true fans. It’s the same as in intimate relationships… our significant others stick around if they’re the ones who are meant to stick around (without being tricked or manipulated into doing so).
It’s so, so common for the people who sign up for 1-on-1 coaching with me to tell me something along the lines of “I’ve been following your work for the last 3/6/9 months and I’m just so impressed with how much value I get from all of your writing. I already feel like I know you personally and I’m already so grateful for how much you’ve changed my life just by being able to read your articles.”
This is what is known as “pull-marketing.”
Pull marketing is the mindset of, “Hey, I’ll be doing my thing over here, helping you out, and you can become a customer if/when you want… and if not, no worries at all!”
On the other hand, “push-marketing” is the mindset of, “I have a product and/or service for people. Buy it! BUY IT!!! Look at all of my sexy ads! They’re everywhere! Why haven’t you bought it yet!?”
In my personal opinion (which many of my friends and colleagues vehemently disagree with), push marketing is a bit of a dying breed and I think that the world is being increasingly repelled by it. Since we live in a world where information is abundant and easily accessible, consumers are smart, and savvy, and only want to buy things when they want to buy things. There’s a lot more choice out there now so of course they would want to make the decisions that most resonate with them (as opposed to buying the things that were the most aggressively shoved in their faces).
(Side note: not only do I consistently add value to the readers of my website, but I also add value to other people’s websites where my kind of readers often hang out. This is why I’ve written an abundance of articles for websites like The Good Men Project, Elephant Journal, Entrepreneur.com, and YourTango over the past two years).
How To Build A Six Figure Blog In Two Years
Now, contrast the three above points to what I see a lot of people doing when they first create online brands: they create a brand with a “smart” product that they assume their imaginary customers might want, and they shove it at people via push marketing techniques expecting to monetize as quickly as possible.
Remember this… the market doesn’t care about you, it only cares about what you can do for it.
If someone pressed me to name the ONE thing that I’ve done to have built up such a resilient business in such a short amount of time… I would say that it’s the fact that I gave, and gave, and gave as much as I could and allowed my followers to let me know when they were ready to pay me for the value that I consistently provided in their lives (whether that meant via purchasing my books, checking out my multiple video courses, or hiring me for 1-on-1 coaching – each of which I created because my readers told me that they wanted them as options).
I know there are probably a good number of more business minded people who would laugh at this approach and say that I was being too passive of a marketer, and they’re probably 100% right. Because I don’t consider myself a business person, or a marketer… I consider myself more of an artist, or a coach, or a writer… and if I’ve found a way that helps me live well financially while (more importantly) feeling creatively fulfilled and helpful to the world, then I’d rather feel happy than exceedingly rich (rich in terms of being monetarily rich at the expense of my personal integrity).
So that’s it! That’s all I have to say on this topic. Now, back to the good stuff!
Dedicated to your success,