One of the major goals of marketing with content and other inbound strategies is to create an audience for your brand or business.
An audience is a group of people who show up to hear what you have to say. They’re interested in you and what you do, and they view you as a resource or go-to for answers and information that they need.
Most importantly, your audience is a group of people who trusts you and sees you as an authority, an expert in your industry. This pool of people includes your best prospective clients.
Clearly, an audience is key to business success when you engage in inbound and content marketing.
Building an Audience with Content Marketing Takes Time
If you’ve been reading this blog, you already know how important an audience is. But you also know I’ve said — more than once — that content marketing takes consistent effort over time in order to work.
Which means you won’t have that valuable audience on Day 1. You may not even have it on Day 632.
It may feel like this presents a little bit of a problem, or at least a challenge, when you’re dealing with a new business (or are just new to content marketing strategies).
Without an audience, are you getting the benefit of inbound marketing?
Absolutely. The benefits just look a little different, but having no audience is a useful stage that you should take advantage of as you work to grow your business.
Don’t get frustrated that your website traffic or social media follower count isn’t as high as someone else’s blog or social networks. Instead, focus on the benefits that only show up when you have no audience, and learn how to make the most of them.
1. You Can Explore to Find Your Voice
Business brands tend to evolve over time. Your brand includes your voice. If you’re not sure what “voice” is, think of it as your business’ personality.
It’s hard to know exactly how you want to sound when you’re still in the beginning stages of launching your business, or communicating about your brand through online mediums.
Your voice will develop with time and as you create more and more content. But that will require you to explore different ways of communicating. You might want to try a different format, or play around with sentence structures and word choice in your writing.
This sounds like a small thing, but it makes a huge impact on your overall brand.
And when you have no audience, it means you can try on different styles, voices, and tones in the content you create without worrying about confusing (or losing) your followers. You can observe the reactions of those first few members of your audience to determine which of those styles and tones you try works, and which ones do not.
Explore until you find something that feels like you — until you hit your stride and settle into a voice that is authentic — and that resonates with your audience.
2. You Can Hypothesize, Test, Analyze, and Iterate Freely
Before you have much of an audience, you have more freedom to test ideas. Come up with a hypothesis, then experiment with it to see what happens.
You can throw things at the wall to see what sticks. Then you can iterate based on what worked and throw out what didn’t.
It took me 3 website iterations, multiple blog themes, one failed business model idea, and a restructuring and relaunch of this brand before I felt like I finally got my brand and business right.
It was a lot of throwing things at walls then running with what seemed to stick best.
Today, I’m much more established and grounded. I know who I am and what my brand is. And the cool thing is, so do thousands of others!
But I still need to do some tweaking and fine-tuning. I want to focus on growth and scaling up, and that will probably require a renaming to an actual business name (instead of just my name).
So change will still come. The brand will stay the same but the details may shift. And when I do a future pivot, I have a big audience to explain that to.
I’m responsible for making sure they understand the changes and what it means for them.
I also need to figure out how to make sure all the current pipelines and funnels that currently send me prospective clients still lead to me after I make a big shift or change.
And I have to ensure I’m not losing anyone who was just getting to know me, because they missed out on the pivot and now aren’t sure how to find their way back.
In the past when I wanted to change something up, I could just do it. I shifted wildly from personal finance blog to business and marketing brand. It was abrupt and no one got a warning — but it was fine because my audience was small.
Test, experiment, and iterate while you still can, while there’s no pressure to do or say a certain thing. Act and fail fast while your brand is still malleable and isn’t beholden to anyone else’s expectations.
That’s the real beauty and value in having no audience: there are also no expectations. Take advantage!
3. You Can Take Your Time to Create Consistency
Once you feel like you hit on voice that reflects what your brand really is, you need to make sure you communicate with that voice everywhere.
That means creating content consistently across every single platform you use for your marketing: your blog, social media, email, interviews you give or podcasts you record as a guest, videos on YouTube, and so on.
It takes a lot of work. You need to build the habit of utilizing multiple platforms simultaneously — and you need to develop the system and process you’ll use to do it efficiently.
It also takes a lot of practice to get this right. And you want to get that practice in before you grow your audience. Why?
4. No One Will Notice If You Screw It Up
Because no one will notice if you screw it up from time to time. And you will.
That’s not meant to dissuade or discourage you! Acknowledge that fact now, and you’ll be able to deal with it and move on quickly when it happens (instead of getting in a tizzy or feeling like a failure because you made a mistake with your content).
Because I have a lot of work to do and I try to do it quickly, I still have typos and broken links and little errors here and there. That kind of stuff hangs around even when you gain experience and a following.
And guess what? When I screw something up right now, about 5 people immediately email or tweet at me and point it out. Embarrassing.
I am glad they’re there to set me straight. So please keep doing it, my eagle-eyed friends! It’s helpful — but, yeah, still embarrassing. I should be more careful or know better!
But when I first started blogging and had a small audience (by which I mean my mom loyally read every single thing I wrote, but no one else did), no one noticed when I messed up.
That gave me the space I needed to learn. Again, I still make small mistakes, usually of the typo variety. But I understand my purpose and my mission now. I know my voice and I can create that consistently across all the content I produce.
I know this because I practiced.
My biggest stumbles through that process came the earliest on. I’m grateful for that. Fewer people were standing around to watch me flop onto my face.
So if you’re just starting out and don’t have much of an audience yet, feel grateful. Be thankful for the freedom that gives you to practice and to mess up and to make mistakes without a huge cohort of people watching you struggle to figure this thing out.
Because it’s not easy. It’s tough. But you can learn and improve as you build that audience up.
In a year from now, when you’re writing to thousands of people instead of just 5, you’ll be nailing it almost every time because you had the freedom to practice and fail and try again.
Feel Confident When You Grow from No Audience to Massive Readership
The most valuable thing about having no audience is having that room to play, create, and explore. There’s no pressure to get anything right, so test out different ideas and iterate on them.
You can gain confidence in your content as you practice — and through that practice, you grow your audience. By the time you reach your first thousand readers or subscribers, you’ll be more sure of yourself, your voice, and your content’s mission than you were when you started.
You got all the kinks out when you had no audience. Which means you’re performing at a higher level when you do have that readership.
Remember, if you have no audience, that’s just part of the process. It’s one step of many in your content marketing efforts.
This is the stage of your content marketing efforts where there are no set expectations. It’s in this time that you’ll craft what you want your growing audience to know about and think of you.
Don’t let that opportunity go to waste!