12 Ways to Grow Your Audience (Even If You’re Starting From Scratch)

Have you ever created content, pressed “Publish,” and wondered if anyone would notice?

Ever launched a new product or service only to realize there’s no one around to buy it?

WORST. FEELING. EVER.

Listen, I get it. I’ve been there too.

You put your time, energy and resources into your business.

Blood, sweat, and tears.

But that’s not enough.

Behind every successful business, there’s a thriving audience (or community if they’re smart).

See, there’s an order of operations. And before you can build a sustainable business, you’ll need to grow your audience.

Peep game…

Your audience is the Achilles Heel of your entire operation. They test, fund, and share all your products and services with the world.

No audience, no business. It’s that simple.

One of the most common questions I get asked by my readers and clients is, “What’s the best way to grow my business when I’m just getting started?”

My advice is always centered around building your audience, not the business. If you’re just starting out, there’s no better investment than building a mailing list. I’m talking Day 1.

That said, I decided to share 12 easy-to-use list building strategies you can put in place right away to grow your audience. These strategies will also help position you as a trusted advisor in your niche.

12 List Building Strategies for Solopreneurs

Set up a landing page dedicated to lead generation

Landing pages are highly focused on a particular topic, usually with a single call to action.

They convert much better than most other pages as a result.

For example, I have a landing page focused on getting people to sign up for my weekly newsletter, Solopreneur Chronicles.

And yes, people sign up after seeing my welcome mat or reading my articles (more on that later). But the lion share (like 80%) of my audience comes through my newsletter’s landing page.

Anytime I reference my newsletter or people ask how the can learn more about what I’m working on, I link back to my landing page.

So this is the very first thing I recommend you do.

If you don’t feel savvy enough to set up your own landing page or don’t have the budget to hire someone to set one up for you, check out ConvertKit. They’re a great email service provider that allows you to create landing pages with ease.

Add social proof to your landing pages and opt-in forms

Social proof is like instant credibility.

This is important because you only have about two seconds to grab someone’s attention and communicate trust online. If you get it right, passerby’ers will consume your content. If not, they’re likely gone forever.

That said, adding social proof can make or break your first impression. There are a couple of ways to do this effectively.

You can add a testimonial from a client or someone your audience trusts. You could share your audience size to show how credible you are. You could also use the “As Seen On” strategy and show all the media outlets you’ve been featured in.

Again, there are several other ways but I want to give you an idea of how to get started.

Choose one and execute.

Put a Hello Bar at the top of your site

Ever go to a website and see those horizontal notification bars asking you to do something?

That’s a Hello Bar.

And they do a good job of converting random visitors into loyal followers.

So how do you get one?

Go to the Hello Bar site and sign up (it’s free).

You’ll be up and running in 5 minutes flat.

Create a Welcome Mat or overlay pop up for your site

A welcome mat is a full on-screen overlay that invites visitors to sign up for your mailing list.

A standard overlay doesn’t consume the entire screen but it darkens the background so you can focus on the pop up itself.

Is it annoying? For some people.

Is it effective for growing your audience? Absolutely.

My welcome mat is the second highest converting source on my site (behind my newsletter’s landing page).

SumoMe makes it really easy to add a welcome mat or overlay pop up on your site.

With the click of a few buttons, you could have all this up and running in minutes.

Add opt-in forms after every new blog post

The internet is NOISY. The chances of someone finding you in the sea of chatter is slim. Because of this, people have a “next to nothing” attention span.

So if someone does find you, and takes the time to read your entire blog post, then it’s safe to say they liked it.

At this point, you want to give them an opportunity to join your mailing list and get more content.

This is simple and effective. Low-hanging fruit.

You could code your own opt-ins, or use something like SumoMe or LeadPages here.

Link to your landing page at the end of every email via Post-Script (P.S.)

This is another one of those low-hanging fruit strategies.

Everyone uses email. They even use it to communicate with other people from time to time.

This makes it perfect for leaving a subtle notice about a new project, video or service.

You can create a super simple postscript that reads something like this:

P.S. It’s been a full year since I transitioned to a vegan diet. It’s been a life-changing experience. After receiving a bunch of questions about recipes and the best ways to make the switch, I’ve decided to write a book called “Aspiring Vegan.” If this sounds interesting to you, learn more here.

Simple and straightforward.

Adding a postscript to your email signature will help you get some extra eyes on your products and services.

Make content upgrades for your most popular content

As content creators, we have a responsibility to make sure our audience gets results. Whether it’s to inform, educate or entertain. We should strive to help our audience move from their current state to the desired state.

Content upgrades are like goodie bag gifts for your audience.

Check your analytics software and see what content is most popular. This will show what topics to focus on and where to place your content upgrade.

This is a great way to grow your audience. Think about it. People are already responding well to the content. Now you’re going back to make it better.

And it doesn’t have to be complicated at all. In fact, the best content upgrades are simple.

It can take the form of a checklist, cheat sheet, swipe files, audio or video.

Whatever you decide, make sure it compliments the original content and helps folks get a small win.

Content upgrades that lead to small wins builds confidence in your audience. Confidence in their ability to generate results, which translates into more trust and sales.

Include a link to your landing page in the author bio section of guest posts

Writing for sites with large audiences is a great way to build a following fast.

They give you access to a new audience, you provide great content, everyone wins.

But if you really want to get the most out of your opportunity, you need to convince those readers to join your mailing list.

To do this, you should add a link to your landing page in the author bio section.

Here’s an example of what I use:

Dewane Mutunga writes at DewaneMutunga.com, where he empower solopreneurs to work smarter by teaching them how to master their psychology and leverage systems so they can live their most fulfilling lives possible. For more actionable advice on building a high-leverage business and living a more fulfilling life, join his free newsletter, Solopreneur Chronicles.

See what I did there?

I provided great content, shared a bit about myself and linked to more value.

If you want to go a step further, you can link to a “special gift.” A content upgrade that’s only for that audience. Create a special landing page exclusively for these readers ahead of time and your conversion rates will go through the roof.

This helps in two ways. First and foremost, it helps grow your audience. It also helps you see which opportunities performed the best. You know, measurement matters.

Get interviewed on a podcast and share a link to a special gift at the end

This is similar to the last point, the general idea is to get as many of the show’s followers to join your tribe.

There are two simple ways to do this.

First, be sure to ask the host if it’s ok to give his/her audience a gift. If you get the green light, be sure to mention it early in the interview.

“Before we go too deep, I wanted to let your listeners know I have a special gift for anyone who stays until the very end.”

Seed planted.

Then at the end, let them know where they can get their special gift.

The other way is to simply ask the host to add a link to your landing page in the show notes for the episode. These are usually added to all the directories the show is on and their site (more reach).

You can do both to maximize your chances of growing your audience.

Create a free email course that teaches your best stuff

Email courses are a great way to grow your audience, build trust, and sell your products or services.

I mean think about it. Visitors come to your site and get to solve a problem that been bugging them for weeks, months or even years. Just like that, they get the desired outcome. And who do they have to thank for this better life? Their new trusted advisor (you)!

Oh and my favorite part? Email courses are fully automated.

Create once, teach forever.

So what’s one problem you can help your ideal client solve?

Once you figure that out, outline the solution so it’s delivered over a few days. You want people to take one tiny action each day that’ll bring them on step closer to their desired outcome.

Create a 5-day email course that gets sent to anyone who signs up (from a landing page remember).

You can’t go wrong with ConvertKit or MailChimp here.

Run a contest with audience-specific giveaways

Do you like free stuff?

I know, who doesn’t. No different for your audience either.

That’s why running a content with audience-specific giveaways is such a powerful way to grow your audience.

Now you might be thinking, “I don’t know the first thing about what to offer or running a contest.”

I feel you. But listen, it doesn’t have to be overly complicated.

KingSumo makes it super easy to get a contest up and running in a matter of minutes. They also make it super easy for people to share it with their friends and family (more reach).

The secret here is finding giveaways that your audience will find valuable.

Let’s say you’re a health coach and your ideal client wants to lose weight. It might be a good idea to offer a one-on-one coaching session, a popular weight loss book, 30 healthy meal recipes, and a voucher for a free month at a local gym.

Make sense?

Again, it sounds like a ton but KingSumo does all the heavy lifting.

(Rafflecopter is also worth checking out.)

Host a live Q&A session

Live video is extremely popular right now. Facebook is investing millions of dollars into Facebook Live. Everywhere you look there seems to be a new startup doing something in the live video space.

I’m not surprised one bit.

Video also has the highest perceived value and is the most engaging form of content you can create.

Remember, if you want to grow your audience you’ll need to help people solve their problems. What better way than hosting a live Q&A?

You get to position yourself as a trusted advisor and attendees get their most pressing question answered.

Win/Win situation.

Crowdcast makes this “easy peasy lemon squeezy” as my 5-year-old daughter would say.

It records each session and makes it available immediately after the video ends. It also allows you to share your live feed on Facebook and YouTube (more reach).

This software is easy-to-use, has a bunch of useful features, and provides a great user experience. Your audience will think you’re a genius. More points in the trusted advisor bank.

And the best part?

You can set it up so everyone that registers gets added to your mailing list.

Easily one of best ways to create high-quality content and build a thriving audience.

Got all that? lol

Ok, so I get that this can be a lot to digest. Luckily, I put together a checklist with these list building strategies you can take with you and refer back to as you grow your audience. Grab a copy here.

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