With the Right Audience, You Can Do Anything: The 4 Pillars to Building a Massive Online Following + 4 Ways to Fail

Written by Scott April 10, 2012

Your Audience is everything

“With the right audience, anything is possible.”

-Corbett Barr, Founder of Think Traffic & Traffic School

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Note: This is the first part in our “Building Your Online Audience” series we’ll be running the next couple weeks. Over the past years I’ve gotten hundreds of questions about building an online following. This is my response. Hope you enjoy!

There’s possibly no more powerful asset in doing work you love, than the people who support you. So today we’ll cover the potential and the pillars that make a massive following possible (and what leads to failure).

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Audience. Is. Everything.

Think for a minute of the people around you who inspire you. The businesses you cannot wait to buy from. The restaurants that become your favorite spot for a hot date. The cause you so deeply believe in.

Where would they be without the people who support them?

Nowhere…

Realize that none of it would exist without an audience. 

I don’t care whether you are one of 100,000 employees at a giant corporation or if you are a business of one. Everyone needs an audience. Some of you might want it to make money, others may want it to cure hunger or perhaps you just want buy-in from your team or someone to listen to your ideas.

Either way, the bigger and more loyal your audience is, the more of an impact you can have.

Leading a passionate life (and career) comes down to two simple steps:

  1. Finding a cause you’re passionate about – (that’s what the majority of my work here at Live Your Legend is dedicated to).
  2. Broadcasting it to the world and building your following. 

Many of us get so caught up in what excites us that we forget to complete the equation. It’s only when we connect passion with other people, that we can begin to help the world around us.

That’s where things start to get magical.

Whether you realize it yet or not, in one way or the other, we all want (and need) an audience.

And there’s never been more powerful and inexpensive tools to build one.

Many of you already have websites, blogs and businesses (brick and mortar or virtual), but judging by the questions I constantly get, something tells me that very few of you are doing the right things to build your audience (nor was I before I discovered Corbett’s work). I hope this article and the couple that follow will help.

And if you don’t have an audience at all yet, this stuff’s even more important!

Build a Loyal Following and You’ll Never Worry about a Job Again

Job security is a massively misunderstood concept. You think you’re secure at your big corporate grind until one day they announce the layoff of your whole department. So much for loyalty.

I see job security in an altogether different light.

Job security is doing something extraordinarily well and helping people in a very big and needed way. You do that for enough people and get enough of the world paying attention, and you will always be able to find work (i.e. you will always be able to find someone who needs your help).

But you can’t do that without an audience.

So what about you?

How loyal is your audience?

How many people listen to you?

Do you have a platform to communicate your ideas?

Do you have a way for the world to hear what you have to say?

Do you know the tools to get your message in front of as many people as possible?

Be honest with yourself and ask those questions one more time.

No matter your age or stage, it’s never too late to gather people for a cause. Plus, if you don’t have people who trust and listen to you, what do you have?

Behind every movement is a tribe of loyal supporters. It’s on us to find them.

an audience can change the world

An Audience Can Change the World

Invisible Children leveraged their over 2 million Facebook Fans to get over 100m people from around the world to watch a 28-minute video and rally a cause to help save child soldiers in central Africa. A few guys in San Diego launched a campaign, KONY2012, that is influencing the actions of people everywhere, including the U.S. Government. Who’s got the power now?

Martin Luther King Jr. built a following that got hundreds of thousands of people in one place at one time, that dramatically shifted the world’s view on human rights. I can only imagine what would have happened if he had the Internet!

One kid in New Jersey wanted to help his family’s tiny flailing wine shop, so he decided to create a little video blog and talk about grapes, acidity and what chardonay went best with branzino (at first he wasn’t even old enough to drink). His following became rabid and that little blog managed to grow a humble Belarus family wine shop into a $60m business in a matter of years. It also changed the course of how the world learns about and even interacts with wine (or any type of consumption for that matter). Now most everyone in the small business, entrepreneurship, and Internet world knows Gary Vaynerchuk as a household name. A million Twitter followers can do that for you.

A little-known senator from Illinois combined his passion & ability to communicate, with a very clever approach to social media & the online world, to help him become the 44th President of the Unite States. Among plenty of other things, Barack Obama changed the way candidates will approach elections from here on out.

A geek and his buddy down in Mountain View, California, 30 years ago, had a vision of simple, intuitive and beautiful technology for the everyday person. Today hundreds of millions of people believe the same, and support Steve Jobs’ and Steve Wozniack’s vision by carrying an iPhone, iPad, MacBook Air, or all three (like me :)) around every day in an almost cult-like fashion. Something tells me their vision is not yet done putting a dent in the universe either…

PASSION + AUDIENCE = IMPACT

Whether you agree with their causes or not, these people have shown that a few passionate minds really can alter the course of the world, with the right audience.

But they all had a strategy and framework for building that audience. A framework that’s been proven hundreds if not thousands of times over the last decade or so. They all basically did the same thing. That’s exactly what we’re going to dig into deeper in next week’s free webinar.

The only different between a business and a hobby is a customer. An audience.

An audience who cares, who will listen and who you can help.

The only thing that sets an idea apart from a revolution is a following who would do anything for their cause.

How the Live Your Legend audience came to be

Eight or so years ago, after moving back from Sevilla and reading What Color Is Your Parachute, I began forming my first ideas about doing work you love. I decided that passionate work was a right, not only for me, but for the world.

The problem was I had no one to listen to me.

As months past, I heard more and more people talk about how unhappy they were with their jobs. So I found ways to weave my ideas into the conversation.

Before long, a few friends started asking me to have lunch with them to talk about their desire to change careers.

Then, more and more people started approaching me. Family, friends, colleagues, even referrals.

After a few years I had become the go-to guy for people who wanted to quit their jobs. And as it turned out, my ‘quit-rate’ was about 80%. Of the people I met with, 80% quit their jobs to pursue work they genuinely cared about.

Not bad.

Now people were starting to listen. But it was still only 50 or so. I mean how many lunches could I possibly have?

Then I discovered blogs & online leverage, and I began to write on the same topic. People started to pay more attention, and bit by bit the audience grew.

Today that audience is Live Your Legend.

That audience is YOU. And together, all of you have turned what was once a small idea, into a full-blown movement.

That movement has turned into a business.

And that business has turned into my greatest source of passionate work.

Without my audience, my ideas would be nowhere.

Thank you.

It stared with one lunch.

Then, as soon as I put it on the web, my reach went from about 50 to tens and hundreds of thousands. Almost overnight. And it continues to grow.

And every time I publish something, it has the potential to get in front of a million people, or many more.

Think about how crazy that is.

I’m one guy, in a pair of sweat pants, sitting on his couch during a rainy day in San Francisco, writing down a few ideas. And it is totally possible that tomorrow morning when I hit publish on this, it will get viewed by a million people.

I’m not saying it’s likely, but it’s very possible. The same cannot be said for my favorite coffee shop down the street (unless of course they had a website, which I hope they do!)

How freakin exciting is that??

You can’t afford not to have an online audience.

The problem is most people go about it totally wrong.

When it comes to building an online following, they have it backwards.

So that’s where we’re going to start.

The 4 Pillars of Failure when Building an Online Audience:

I’ve always been a fan of Charlie Munger’s ‘failure inversions’: Instead of just listing all the ways to succeed, try studying and listing all the ways you can fail. Then don’t do them.

So here’s how to crash and burn.

1. Focus on yourself. Talk about you non stop. Tell people why they have to work with you, why your business or idea or cause is the best or most important. Brag. Be cocky. Forget about others’ needs and desires.

2. Spend your life on social media and SEO. Study every trick to quickly gaining Facebook fans and Twitter followers. Write articles that the ‘experts’ swear will go viral. Constantly update your status, chat with people and talk about gossip and other nonsense.

3. Try to keep up with everything. Install every new app or widget. Get pinged every time you get a new email. Subscribe to the latest networks and buy the newest tools that everyone ‘knows’ will be the golden ticket. Do everything just enough to know a tiny bit, but slightly too little for any of it to be useful.

4. Try to be someone else. Constantly read about what everyone else is doing in your space, then spend your life trying to be just a little bit better than them. Their product has five bells, so you come out with six. They follow the Atkins Diet, so you follow and preach eating bunless bacon-topped burgers to no end. They jump off a bridge and you grab their heels on the way down.

Simply put, that is how you fail.

There is no golden ticket. There never is.

But since we like to focus on the positive around here…

The 4 Pillars to Building a Massively Successful & Loyal Online Audience:

the keys to building a massively loyal online audience

1. Focus on helping others. If you spend your life doing nothing but this, you will have an army of people ready to help and support you in unbelievable ways. When in doubt, ask yourself what the people next to you need. Then give it to them (without asking for anything in return).

2. Your creativity and talents are your foundation. Social media and SEO are nothing but enhancements. I spend maybe 5% of my time on Twitter and Facebook, and to be honest, I haven’t even started using Google Plus (please don’t tell anyone). I know I could be doing better with them. But I also know that would mean taking time away from my core (aka: my superpowers). And most anything that keeps me from doing what I do best and how I can most help the world, isn’t worth it. Social media tools are the icing, not the cake.

In other words: spend your time creating the best content you’re capable of.

3. Know what you’re good at. And leave the rest to someone else. I would drive myself insane if I tried to adopt every new app and social gadget that came out. It would be a joke. I’m not afraid to admit that I’ve used Google Plus four times since it launched. Focus. Is. Everything. Know your superpowers and spend your life sharing them. The rest will follow.

4. Be authentic. This is the biggest differentiator one could have. And the best news is that every one of us possesses it. We just have to have the courage to live it. No one wants another Tony Robbins, Chris Guillebeau, Leo Babauta, Seth Godin, Jonathan Fields or even Oprah Winfrey. One of each is awesome. Two sucks. Especially when the second is a wannabe. What people want is you. There is always a place for someone to be their unique self. Offer it.

Know yourself. Share it openly and honestly with others. Watch the world beat your door down.

An idea on its own can come and go in a heartbeat.

But with the right audience, an idea becomes unstoppable.

That’s how a note on a napkin turns into a revolution.

So I’ll ask one more time…

What are you doing to build your audience?

Thank you for being a part of mine,

-Scott

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