Success in your niche is not dependent on SEO. Or having 10,000 Twitter followers. Or getting 40,000 pageviews a month. If you want to have a long-term career or want to make an income doing what you are doing, you don’t need tons of numbers. You need a targeted audience of raving fans, not just fly-by readers.
I’ve talked about this before on the blog and podcast. Paul Jarvis talked with me on the podcast about deleting 7,000 emails from his list because they weren’t his Rat People, as he calls them.
I have talked about people over pageviews and have seen my list grow massively on this blog, which has literally 1/10th of the pageviews of my lifestyle blog. Because it’s TARGETED. And intentional.
I posed this question recently: Should you write for yourself or your audience? (Spoiler alert: And then didn’t answer the question.)
So, yeah. Maybe I talk as much about audience as I do email lists.
But here at the Smarter Artist Summit in Austin, I’m hearing from indie publishing insiders and bestselling authors about the same thing: a targeted audience of raving fans is KEY to your lasting success.
Listen to Create If Writing – Episode 039
Mark Lefebvre from Kobo Writing Life shared about how Kobo tries to help turn the non-readers into readers and the free readers into paid readers by targeting the audience. You can reach these readers through a great cover (because people DO judge a book by its cover) and you can reach them through a free book funnel, but without a lasting relationship with your readers through a lasting platform like email, you will not continually sell books to your audience. Period. (You can check out Mark’s on books HERE.)
Julie Huss, known to her readers as J.A. Huss, shared about her raving fans and how they helped propel her books to both the USA Today and New York Times bestseller lists. She distinguishes readers and fans in this way: readers will pick your free or 99 cent book, while fans will buy your next book at full price. Readers drop by your blog from Pinterest, read a post, and leave. Fans follow you on all your platforms and sign up for your email list and interact with you and everything you do. If you can get fans, she said, you can always sell books.
During her session, Sean Platt from the SPP podcast said: “People are never going to resonate with the best version of you.” When we try to polish ourselves up and present some picture-perfect version to our audience, it’s not believable. When we share our mistakes and let people get a real glimpse behind the curtain, they resonate with us. They respect us more. They form a deeper connection and go ALL IN.
I want to point out the difference between vulnerability with your audience and OVERSHARING. (I touched on this a bit in episode 30 of the podcast.) A healthy vulnerability does NOT mean apologizing every time you send an email. Or if you have a long blog silence. Or if you post a terrible picture on Instagram.
Just post the thing, send the email, and don’t feel like you have to say sorry. (Or maybe DON’T post that thing if you don’t feel like it’s good enough quality. That’s another choice.) Healthy vulnerability is NOT vaguebooking, where you passive aggressively post on Facebook something vague about an issue you are having or something that ticked you off.
A healthy vulnerability is being willing to share some of your real and actual life without retouching.
It’s an intentional choice to pull back the curtain a little and share your struggles. Your mistakes. Your questions. Every piece of your life doesn’t need to be fair game. But choosing to go deeper with your people allows them in closer than arm’s length.
James Tonn from Podium (who bought us the audiobook version of The Martian) talked about the need to target audiences on different platforms. Your book readers may not be audiobook buyers. Your podcast listeners may not buy audiobooks (or ANY books). Each audience may have some overlap, but they are NOT the same. His best advice was to go after your ideal, targeted audience from the beginning and then overdeliver to them.
Andre Chaperon (of Autoresponder Madness fame) talked at length about autoresponders in email and how to weave a story through your emails. He highlighted the importance of knowing the context of how people got on your list. Did they come from the back of your ebook on Amazon? Did they find you on the main page of your site? Facebook? Instagram? A particular post?
This can get tricky if you don’t have a great email service provider, but you can use shortened links (if you’re not talking about embedded forms only) and track as best as possible, or use a tool like ConvertKit where you can see which forms have how many signups and who came from WHERE.
The overall thread weaving throughout the day was that we as authors and bloggers and people creating something online need a real and a lasting connection to our people. A targeted audience takes work, but has longer-reaching effects and will result in a more stable income, if that’s your aim.
Oh, and also? You’ll ENJOY it more when you are cultivating these relationships.
Has finding a targeted audience been a focus for you? How are you cultivating these relationships? Leave a note in the comments to share your experience!