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This Is How I Built an Audience Larger than 99% of Creators

by | Aug 15, 2023 | Writing

The path to 170,000 email subscribers hasn’t been easy.

I’ve spent 10,000+ hours doing it. 99% of creators will never reach those numbers. But they can if they change their approach.

I’ve seen people in my network go from a few thousand subscribers to over 100,000 in 6 months.

They think a little differently though.

One CTA every damn day

You don’t have an audience unless you own it. Read that again.

Creators tell me they have “x” number of followers and they’re burnt out and don’t know what to do. I tell them you only have an audience if you own the email addresses of the people that consume your work.

Social media is only an audience builder for you if all roads lead to a CTA (call-to-action) that takes users to your email list.

The mistake I see creators make is they have too many different focuses. They have a CTA that leads to their Patreon page, another for their Youtube, and another for their LinkedIn. Then they ask the user to buy them a coffee … haha.

You’ll never build an audience if you tell people to do too many things.

The only action you want a user to take is to join your audience by being on your email list/newsletter. Everything else is a waste of your time. Email lists make money. Followers make platforms rich.

Promote the same CTA every damn day for a year. Watch your audience grow bigger than you expect.

Likes ain’t cash — JK Molina

Twitter and LinkedIn for organic reach

There are a million different platforms to post on.

I’m old school and stick to the ones that already have traction and awareness from the average person. LinkedIn and Twitter are my go-to.

Here is my criteria for a platform to publish on:

  • Is the business well-funded? Can they survive a recession?
  • Are they neutral to the right and left sides of politics?
  • Do they have over 100M users?
  • Can they resist the urge to change their business model frequently and avoid too many pivots?

If the answer to any of these questions is “no” then I run for the hills faster than Mary Poppins.

Twitter and LinkedIn have been solid for me. Every day they bring in a continuous stream of new email subscribers.

They are both platforms I consume, too, to find good content and ideas for my own work. And people are civilized to me, thanks to strong policies around trolling and hate speech. Mantra: go where people are nice.

The subtle power of creator network recommendations

In the old days I built my audience with the help of social algorithms.

Now I focus more of my time on getting other creators to help me build my audience through mutually beneficial swaps. Beehiiv, ConvertKit, and $ubstack newsletter platforms allow you to do this with ease.

I was skeptical at first.

Now more than 50% of my audience comes from other creators. And I return the favor by recommending creators who I read. It feels natural/organic. And anyone can do it.

Creators helping creators grow is my favorite new trend. It reminds me of co-ops or farmers’ markets.

Get around other creators and share their newsletters.

The orange logo platform that should have failed

$ubstack has been another big part of my audience growth.

When they launched a few years back I thought they’d fail. Thankfully, I was wrong. They’ve been clever to recommend creators who can show they’re in it for the long run and have traction through their own efforts.

There’s no class system. Good content just always seems to make it to the leaderboards they have for all the main topics.

Their network has helped me grow my audience and find high-quality readers. The difference with the readers I get from here is they’re all used to paying for writing, so asking people to pay for your work is the norm.

This is heaven on earth for a creator like me. Writing is how I feed my family and support the people I work with.

Consider going to corners of the internet where people will gladly pay.

An out of date website

My personal website has always been a flop.

A while back I got some basic SEO done and revamped the WordPress template. Since then it’s roared back to life. Last month I had 300K+ unique visitors. My site is being recommended by Google all the time.

And friends tell me their search results often show content from my site. This is the holy grail for audience builders.

A website isn’t a must but it sure can pour rocket fuel on your audience building if you take the time to set one up right and perhaps do a tiny bit of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).

Final Thought

If you don’t own an audience you don’t have a creator career. And no audience means no money. So you can’t live off your creativity.

Either build an audience or die trying.

The key to building an audience larger than 99% of creators is to be consistent, love what you do, use flow states, publish where you own the audience, and go where the eyeballs are. Oh, and be patient.

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