While there’s a tonne of growth-hacking ways to fast-track getting an audience, the slower, more reliable way to do it is to engage with the audience you do have. No matter how small it is. After that, it’s a matter of actually fulfilling a purpose for you audience and producing stuff that they can’t help but want to read, hear or see.

Be interactive

While you’re in the early part of developing an audience for the stuff you’re writing, recording or filming, it’s absolutely vital to make the small audience you do have, feel like they are part of a community, or at least, that they feel like you are accessible to them. This is the stage of your content producing journey when you actually can do this. In fact, with only a small audience, you can over-service these early fans and really develop a strong rapport with them. This is how you grow the first burst of audience. Your first fans will be who brings your next wave of fans. If you’re providing a strong connection and rapport with those earlier fans, they will only want to share that with their friends and colleagues. And while this isn’t exactly scalable to thousands of followers, you can always bring your early super fans in to a private Facebook group to continue to reward them for their loyalty while you provide a little less servicing to the more recent followers who are now there for your content itself, rather than the interaction you give them.

Be useful

Next, growing an audience is a matter of answering the questions that real people have in their real lives. That means knowing what your potential client or potential fan actually wants, needs and desires. And that isn’t all that hard. You can start by typing questions in to Google. If you’re selling solar panels and are producing content about solar power, then you only need to type in a couple of words like “solar power” and it will suggest what is being searched-for by people around that topic. Using a service like “Answer The Public” also helps to see what questions are being most asked around the world on the topic of your choosing. In fact, they give you the questions to answer yourself. When you find out what your audience needs or wants to know, then you’ll find a bigger audience to see your stuff. If you’re useful, then you can’t help but find an audience.

Take a stand

Another way that has proven to be a very good audience builder in the world of outrage marketing – and yes, that is a thing – is to take a rather strong stand on a topic. It could be controversial, opinionated, related to a cause, or just be a different way to do a common thing, that you happen to believe strongly in. In a world of billions of people, any opinion will find it’s tribe of followers who will agree, and an equally big tribe of people who will disagree. Though, this method is not for the faint of heart. If you have a strong opinion, you need to be able to back it up with more than just “this is what I believe.” If you can explain your opinion, back it with evidence, stand by it and ensure that it can be understood by an audience, then you’ll go a long way to building that audience. You will need a thick skin though. Strong opinions come with strong opposition. Entering in to a rant-fest isn’t what you’re after. And you don’t keep an audience loyal by belittling people who don’t agree with you – even if they are belittling you.

Building an audience can be an epic journey of testing, trying and failing before you find that sweet spot between what you like making and what they like seeing. But you can accelerate the growth a bit by servicing those early followers with plenty of interaction, being of real use to your target audience, and taking a stand if you need to, in order to build a tribe of like-minded followers.