It was almost a year ago that I announced this tenth year of daily blogging would be my last. October 12, 2019 will be my final post. And with just 31 days until then, I’ve been thinking a lot about the best way to say goodbye to my readers and to my little blog. Many of my friends and family have asked me what I have in mind for the final post, but that’s a lot of gravity and pressure to put on one entry, even the final one in a ten-year daily streak. So while there’s a fine line between honoring something for an audience who shows up willingly and overestimating your own importance in their lives, if you’ll indulge me, here’s what I’ve got in mind for the next 31 days.
For each of my remaining posts, I’d like to share one thing I’ve learned and benefited from while engaging in this daily practice, none of which I knew of or fully appreciated before I started. Here’s day #1 of 31:
It’s easier to make things for an audience you have than it is to find an audience for things that you’ve made.
The beauty of the internet and social media is that you can reach an audience with the push of a button. But all too often, people, organizations, and companies find something to announce and then shout into the online universe to find an interested audience. Kickstarter is a great example of this. Sure, there are success stories of products, projects, and films that got their start and their funding with a Kickstarter announcement. But there are a lot more examples of people who announced their big idea on Kickstarter and then hoped an audience would show up. That’s like that person on the street corner acrobatically spinning the arrow to generate interest in the rental property to their left. Sure, you may get the occasional passerby who happens to want exactly what you’re promoting. But would it not have been better if you already had a group of people who were voluntarily giving you their attention and waiting for you to bring that product to them?
In October 2011, my business partner Arun and I released our first version of the Collegewise Guide to the Common Application. We thought it was a great idea and we were excited to share it with students, parents, and counselors. And while the guide is free today, we initially charged $12.99 per download.
And our advertising strategy to promote it? Simple. I went to my blog readers and said, “Here it is.”
No paid advertising. No spamming strangers who didn’t want to hear from us. No smarmy tactics or anything else that just wasn’t us. I’d already been blogging daily for four years. I had an audience at the time of over 10,000 people who were already showing up willingly to read what I had to share. We didn’t have to find people who might be interested. The audience was already there. And if the guide were good enough, they’d tell other people about it for us. That’s exactly what happened.
The best way to start building an audience? Whatever your project is that you’re envisioning or even already working on, start by identifying, as specifically as you can, who it’s for. What need are you trying to fill? How will it help them? And most importantly, what can you share, teach, or otherwise give them today to start earning their attention and trust?
If you start today giving people recurring reasons to show up, when your project is ready to share, your audience will be there waiting.
And appropriately, for the final time on this blog, I’m happy to announce that our 2019/20 Collegewise guide to the Common Application is available today. You can download it for free here.