Build your audience and then monetize. Is that true?
“First, build an audience. Then, create the product.” Joe Pulizzi.
Is that true?
Is building your audience first the right approach when starting your business?
Yes, we buy from brands we trust. Without visibility and authority in your field, it isn’t very likely to launch a booming product. However, this strategy does not guarantee 100% success. Numerous flourishing projects prove this theory to be one of several possible approaches but not the only one to make it.
Yes, we buy from people we trust
We build trust over time and exposure (brand awareness). A killer product or service with no visibility or authority is likely to fail more. But it takes time to establish trust.
Will you have the patience for it?
Build your audience with Joe Pulizzi
When you’re getting serious about building an audience, I recommend the fantastic book Content Inc.: How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Businesses by Joe Pulizzi.
In this book, Joe Pulizzi advocate building your audience first as the solution to prevent start-ups fail. Creating your product in your garage and engaging with potential customers later is, according to him, the reason why 90% of start-ups go bankrupt.
The new approach is to engage first and figure out a product to sell afterwards. You build an audience in your chosen digital space. Your followers will share with you their problems, pain points, and then you have a product possibility. Even a hater is a business opportunity if you can extract the positive outcome of the interaction.
Engage first, create after.
Joe Pulizzi is well known for the sweet spot formula:
Knowledge or Skill + Passion.
“Find the sweet spot that works for you. While we have many knowledge and skills areas, we have much less passion. So start with your passions in mind.”
I use the Ikigai to help people find their niche with a 4 Steps Proven Method.
Is it the killer strategy? Well, it depends.
What is the right way to monetize your audience for you?
Are you building your audience for content marketing only or a product/business? How will you monetize it?
You can easily monetize your audience from a blog and social media accounts with affiliate marketing and advertising. People enjoy what you say, write and publish, and this is enough to generate money.
How to monetize your audience:
- Affiliate Marketing
- Paid Products (books/ebooks, courses, premium content and coaching)
In most situations listed above, you are the product you sell. You = your business. People buy because it’s you. While being extremely flattering, you’re not building a scalable business because there is only one you. You have codependency with your business.
Besides, there are numerous downsides to building your audience first. It’s not a guarantee that your product will sell.
Your audience is only one of the numerous factors of success
When you build an audience first and then monetize, you better start to have a serious conversation with yourself beforehand. Here is what to know before starting.
Will your audience follow the same speed and grow as you?
You change as you evolve and age. What’s fun, engaging for you now might not be in the future.
Knowing oneself and your values is essential to fuel your visibility in the long run. If you are deeply passionate about one or maybe two topics since childhood, you have the necessary expert profile to feed your audience in the long run without growing tired of it. Very few individuals can reinvent themselves, and even artistic people can feel limited in the public image that sticks with them. In some extreme cases, this affects mental health.
Are you in a niche that allows you to monetize?
Some niches are more accessible to monetize than others. Moreover, it is essential to understand trends and long-lasting changes. Influencers that have the intelligence to grasp the contradiction of an audience to shape their notoriety around it are the ones most likely to make it.
Knowledge is power. Comprehend the niche market you address, and people need essential to target the right platform. Your message can be compelling, but it will reach its target published where your future clients are.
For instance, there are tremendous opportunities with the silver economy – which are baby boomers ageing. They are more connected than the previous generation, are dynamic and request more and more services online. But, that’s may not be the right audience for you if you are not passionate about it.
On the contrary, a person fascinated with watersports and constantly sharing his opinion on material, brands and spots tips is ideally skilled into a niche that could generate a complementary income for him.
Do you want to be the product or building a business?
When you are the business, the face and everything revolves around you. There is not much time left to work on your business. You’re too busy working into it. Investors or banks are reluctant to support personal brands as they are too intrinsically connected to a strong leader and rarely transform into lucrative companies.
Creating a business requires implementing a framework for other people to operate and serves the brand vision, mission and purpose. Your popularity is excellent leverage to gain attention and expose you to the right people. However, this asset can become a limit when you scale up or retire from your company. Only a few brands resist the test of time, and many entrepreneurs fail to hand over their company effectively.
Do I enjoy more working alone or with people?
What do you need to ask yourself to decide: Do I enjoy working alone or with people more?
When you enjoy working on your own, you have an expert profile. In other words, the ideal consulting/coaching configuration. Creating a job for yourself means freedom, pleasure, and control. You can be the product and make a living with great joy.
When you are a team player, as I do, creating a job for yourself is imitative. At my core, I enjoy building human adventures with and for other people. I enjoy co-creating, collective intelligence, and networking. I love to convey knowledge and fail forward. The freedom I enjoy the most is the one that comes from being able to rely on others in a group. It is why building a business is more likely to bring me the independence that satisfies me.
Individual brand or business, what’s the difference?
Great businesses are the ones that are designed to be massive since day one. Entrepreneurs who organize their companies with these possibilities are more likely to achieve great results and stand the test of time.
When you start building an audience around your person, keep in mind that you will likely design an individual business that provides work for you. It’s a fantastic and rewarding adventure, but it’s different from creating a business with others as a team effort. Clarify your goals and prepare for the outcome you’re after.
It’s both: create and engage at the same time
“If you want to increase your success rate, double your failure rate.” Thomas J. Watson
Build yourself or your product first; your audience will come. According to my experience, it’s doing both: creating your product in your garage while engaging with potential customers.
Your business doesn’t have to be an overnight success. It takes time to find the right market/product fit. When you build your audience first, you close yourself to opportunities, and necessary pivots can be painful to implement.
Building your audience first delay the necessary entrepreneurship experience for your company to thrive at a later stage. Every great company or wealthy person learned a lot from failures.
- Build your audience and monetize at the same time.
- Think business, think value-added and impact even if you don’t monetize it yet.
- Try, fail and learn in the pure tradition of Eric Ries build-measure-learn-feedback loop for success.
If you’re starting your business or building an audience, these articles might interest you: