What would you do if you had to start all over from scratch?
No money, no readers, no subscribers, nothing….
Sounds like your worst nightmare right?
Check it out…
I was recently floating around in an internet marketing forum, and came across a thread asked for advice for getting started in internet marketing with no money. More specifically, how to grow your audience from scratch.
There were some really great responses and words of wisdom shared. I thought a good deal of my readers would find value in such a discussion so I decided to share an enhanced version of my response on that thread with the hopes of providing a newbie with a solid blueprint to follow.
My “Grow Your Audience From Scratch” Blueprint
If you had no money and wanted to grow your audience from scratch, I’d recommend following this process:
Start a free WordPress blog
A blog is mandatory if you’re going to build a thriving audience. Your blog is your central hub, it’s the anchor of all your online efforts.
No blog, no platform.
Since you have no money to buy web hosting for a self-hosted WordPress blog, you’ll have to start a free blog with WordPress.com
Action Item: Create content that gets immediate results for readers early, often, and continuously.
Teach your best stuff
You need to have something of value to offer your audience. Great content is the cost of entry into the grow your audience game.
If you’re a writer, create a free downloadable PDF with you best 5 tips. If you’re a speaker, record yourself talking about your topic. If you’re great with video, make a 3-5 minute clip packed with actionable advice.
Whatever you do, share your best stuff and be insanely passionate about it. Don’t worry about what you don’t know, or who knows more than you. Start with what you know and build from there.
Remember, expertise is relative. You know more than somebody about something. These are the people you want to serve. In turn, they’ll follow you and you’ll grow your audience fast.
Action Item: Create a “timeless” resource. Offer it for download on your blog in exchange for an email address.
Start an email list
This is my single greatest regret in my online career was not building a list from the very beginning. You need to start building your email list asap.
Email is your most important channel. It will allow you to communicate with your audience, build trust and rapport, and sell your products and services later on down the line.
I would usually recommend ConvertKit (aff link) for your email marketing needs, but if you have no money to work that’s not an option.
The best free option is MailChimp hands down. They have a free plan that let’s you host a list of up to 2,000 email subscribers.
Action Item: Start building a list now.
Start a Facebook Group
It’s important to create “listening posts” so you can bring people together and see what happening with your audience on a deeper level.
Besides, Facebook is like the world’s watercooler at this point. It’s perfect for asking questions, testing ideas and connecting with like-minded people online.
Make sure you create a Facebook group around your topic that publishes entertaining, informative, and educational content. You’ll want to emphasize a sense of community to people contribute and keep coming back. If you can create a large following like this, you’ll create a valuable extension of your business.
Eventually, your content will start to grow legs and you’ll grow your audience even more. They key is to provide value to your audience constantly.
Become a person of value.
Action Item: Engage and build your audience organically by offering great content and troubleshooting problems.
Build relationships and amplify your reach
Building relationships is the fastest way to gain trust and create the foundation necessary to establish a solid business.
You’ll want to make a list of 10-20 key players in your niche and reach out. Don’t spam them, simply introduce yourself.
Let them know who you are, what you know, and how you can help them if they ever need it.
If you do this in a respectful and professional matter, and crank out high-quality content, you’ll have no problem landing interviews and guest posting opportunities.
This lends you their credibility while extending your reach exponentially. You’ll need this type of exposure if you’re going to grow your audience and build a lucrative business moving forward.
Action Item: Secure a few guest post on other notable blogs.
Start doing free webinars or teleseminars
By this point you’ll be cranking out blog posts, and nurturing relationships with your email subscribers. Creating the same type of material gets tired real fast.
It’s important to create multiple touchpoints; creating content in as many different formats as possible (or as your skill set permits).
Creating free webinars or teleseminars is a great way to spice things up; giving your audience new content in a new and more engaging format. You might even attract new followers. The more engaging the content or platform, the more sticky it’ll be.
Action Item: Once you get a small but loyal audience, start doing free webinars or teleseminars using and create as much value as humanly possible.
Host a paid webinar/teleseminar OR a free webinar/teleseminar and pitch a product
Ok, so you’ve been hustling your ass off by now. Tons of sweat equity accumulated. Great.
You’ve been giving away high quality content, the stuff most people would charge for. But you didn’t, and your small army appreciates that.
As a result, you’ve earned their trust.
Now is the perfect time to start to ease your way into charging them for stuff. You started this to make money and help people right?
At this point, people will probably be delighted to throw some money your way. You finally made some cash, #winning
Action Item: After doing about 5 or so free webinars, you can host a paid webinar OR a free webinar and pitch a product/service at the end. (ie: detailed report, consulting service)
Editor’s Note: If I had to start all over, it’d go a route similar to this. It would take a ton of hustle but it’s more than possible to build a rather large following from ground zero.
For The Money Hungry…
Now I know some of you are thinking that the blueprint I just outlined takes too much time to get to the money.
Maybe it does, keyword: Maybe
Thing is, you could immediately jump right to charging for your report or ebook, but who trusts you enough to buy it?
You don’t have money to buy traffic and bypass the organic route, so how else would you suggest going about it?
Your offers should always be proportionate to the level of trust you’ve earned. If you’re just starting out, you’ve earned no trust and therefore “should not” be asking for money.
You could, but I doubt you’d be very successful. It might actually backfire, and you’d insult people and come across as a scam artist.
Don’t be a scam artist.