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Tips To Build Your Audience For Your Online Business

Audience building is something that so often gets overlooked in the online business realm. If you’re finding that maybe you’re focusing on the wrong things when it comes to building your audience, or you’re unsure of what you even should be doing, or maybe you’re suffering from comparisonitis (yeah I made that word up but I swear it’s a thing!) and looking at what others are doing when you really should be doing what feels right for you….well, I’ve got you covered.

So often I see people are just looking for the numbers to grow their audience, but they don’t actually have a solid business model behind the audience they’re building, and they end up wasting time, effort, and money with very little result.

If annnnnny of this sounds familiar, keep reading, because I’m giving tips on how to build an audience and how to create a business model that works together with your audience so you can be reaching those ideal customers and purchasers of your product or offerings.

So….what is an audience?

Yep, let’s start at the basics, and honestly the answer to this question is just about anybody who knows who you are and what you do. If someone knows who you are but they don’t know what you do, guess what? That’s a friend, or an acquaintance, or heck, even a mailman, but they’re not part of your audience.

People need to really know what you do, how you serve people, what your business is, and what they can purchase from you so that they can actually refer you to other people as the expert and the authority in your niche.

Also, let’s stop for a reminder: just because somebody knows you and know what you do does not mean that they are your ideal target customer!

What you should be thinking about

  1. What is your business model?

When you’re building a business and growing an audience you really want to think about a few key things:

What are your offerings? 

How are you bringing people through your customer experience?

How are you getting in front of more of your target audience?

2. Who is your ideal customer?

It’s great to have referrals from others but you also want to be calling in your ideal customer as well. Who are they? What do they value? What is their mindset? What are they thinking, and feeling, and how can you best show up and serve them?

At the end of the day, you want to be not just building an audience, but building an audience of your ideal customers who see the value in what you offer and are ready to purchase from you.

A note about size!

If you’re just starting out and feeling discouraged that your audience is tiny, don’t worry! I promise that audience building snowballs over time. The more you’re showing up consistently the faster you’ll start to get traction, and yes, it will probably feel really repetitive and redundant at first, but it’s all worth it! 

Think about it this way: if you are showing up as the expert and sharing what you doing and you’re attracting your ideal people, even if you only have 10 or 100 followers on Instagram but they’re a super engaged audience, that is worth it’s weight in gold, far more than having 100,000 followers and barely any engagement.

I started my lifestyle blog in 2011 at a big fat zero followers as a lifestyle blog and I unintentionally built my audience by engaging and commenting on other blogs that I was reading, and leaving meaningful comments and having actual conversations with people.

In fact, many of those conversations that started in blog comments made their way to emails – really loooong emails. I was really loving getting to know people through my blog and it eventually turned into having conversations with people who wanted me to start designing their blogs because they were loving my design.

And that, right there folks, is how Pinegate Road was born!

It all started with having organic and meaningful conversations with people who eventually asked me to help them with their personal brands and online presence because I had a passion for sharing what I loved and was having real conversations with people.

When you’re starting to think about building an audience ask yourself how can YOU start to have these conversations with people? How can you put things that are exciting to you out into the world and naturally call in people who are also excited about the same thing?

If you’re thinking about this strategically, this is where that energy and that strategy come together. How can you actually have a business and a business model that matches what you love putting out into the world and that you love sharing and connecting with other people about? 

How can you then translate that into offerings that get more of those engaged people into your atmosphere so that they then know what you do and they can either refer you out or become your ideal clients?

Get excited!

Getting started really comes from a  place of being excited about what you do. I think that this is a huuuuuuuge thing because if you’re not excited about what you’re doing….why are you doing it? 

Seriously, life is far too short to be doing more of what you don’t love, you need to do more of what you do love, and you’ll find that when everything is aligned with your audience, your business model, your energy, and your excitement, that the magic really happens. That’s when you can really start growing that audience that feels natural, fun, and exciting to you, and the money and the energy will just start flowing throughout your life and your business.

My best piece of advice…

If you’re just starting out or are entirely new to this, I would pick one niche or one direction to become known for. This can feel really overwhelming because – of course! – you want to pick the best thing ever and you’re never going to have another chance to do all of these other things that you’re excited about (so not true by the way), but the truth is that this is the biggest thing that holds people back from actually getting going!

If you’re feeling like you just want to do #allthethings and this is holding you back from even moving forward, pick ONE thing that you want to get known for and that super excites you and put everything else that is exciting to you into a document or a journal and hold all of those ideas for a minute. 

What you may find is that as you start jotting down all of these exciting things you end up opening up pandora’s box and get bombarded with so many more exciting ideas….BUT the idea is to pick just ONE.

By focusing on one thing you can get to where you want to go and once you’ve reached that goal, guess what? You’re orbiting, you’re flowing, and you will have the time and space to pivot and move on to the next really exciting thing. This will be the biggest mindset shift and the biggest hurdle as you’re building your audience but overcoming it will make a huge difference to how fast you can grow!

Now the fun part: how the heck do you actually build an audience?

There are different ways to do this and I’m going to go through the fast, medium, and slow ways to make this happen, so keep reading!

The fast way: Spend money. Sounds simple, right? Money talks, and to build an audience quickly requires paid ads or paid engagement. When you’re doing paid ads you want to really make sure that what you’re doing is leading those ideal people to you, and this will probably take some experimentation but if you can nail the strategy it can pay off super quick in terms of building an audience.

The medium way: This approach has you taking intentional time and doing personal outreach and engagement – not paid. This is the middle ground if you don’t have the money but you also don’t have the time to wait for organic growth. This could look like you going into places where your ideal client hangs out and engaging and posting and getting your name out there in a really non-creepy and valuable and relevant way, and building relationships and friendships, and engaging meaningfully.

The slow way: Engage, engage, engage, and show up consistently and with valuable content. Organic growth does not come quickly, but it can bring some really amazing ideal customers your way.

And remember:

Sometimes we get so hung up on the ideal client avatar’s demographics that we forget one of the most important pieces of why people purchase: their values, their mindset, their fears, their problems, and their dreams. 

Instead of asking yourself “where does my ideal customer shop?” ask instead “what do they most value in life?” and then speak to that, and engage with that. This is less about targeting women who are 25 to 45 who like to knit and it’s more about connecting with people and finding out where they’re at and then meeting them there.

The different types of audience building

There’s a lot that you can do to grow your audience, but some of the big ones are:

• Your email list (or phone list if you’re old-school like that): How can you get this information when you’re building a relationship on a social media platform that might not exist in 5 or 10 years? Remember, none of us own our Instagram or Facebook accounts, but guess what….we do own our email lists! Thats’s why I create content that attracts people to get on my email list from social media. Annnnnnd it’s why I’m always look for more ways to diversify my audience so that if one platform goes down I’m not left with well, nothing.

• Social media: I love connecting and engaging on Instagram, but I also know that if Instagram shut down tomorrow my audience would be gone, so the goal here is to get my audience onto my email list by providing them with something valuable in exchange for their email address.

• Blog traffic: Another way to build an audience is to focus on traffic to your blog, using search engine optimization (SEO) and Pinterest. These are things that are more evergreen – as people search you are becoming the go-to answer on the other end. The goal here is to get people to experience your business for the first time and then follow you on social media and join your email list – you want them to not only experience your business, but also take the next step towards purchasing from you. 

• Podcasting: This is much more of a passive way to build an audience because it’s very much a one-sided conversation (though I love to hear from my listeners!) and your podcast audience is usually not taking direct action from your podcast. The goal is to really just build up that relationship and get people to know who you are and what your area of expertise is and eventually, either refer someone to you or become a customer themselves!

• Network events: Ok, granted, most of these in-person events have been cancelled due to a global pandemic, but that doesn’t have to stop you! Many conferences and events have now moved online, and there are a ton of online communities that you can use to network and build your audience. 

Final piece of advice:

You don’t have to do all of the above to build your audience! Pick one thing and focus on that and get really known for that. Focus in on your niche and the one thing that you want to get known for and do that really really well and you can totally build an insane audience through one channel only. Don’t spread yourself too thin!

Final final piece of advice:

Take notice of what you love, what gets you excited, what your audience loves, and do more of that when you’re posting and when you’re creating content. Do what feels amazing to you because that is what your calling is and you are meant to be doing more of that. And, bonus, that will come through in your energy and in your content and it will have a snowball effect on your audience building!

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