I talk about selling digital products and courses a lot. And you’ve heard me say 1,000 times that you don’t need a BIG audience to make those sales, but you do need an audience. But how do you get one? I’m sharing 10 ways to build an audience from scratch.
10 Ways to Build an Audience
Want to listen to the podcast version of this post? I’ve got you covered!
Some background on me – I’ve spent 6 years growing my audience!
I have NEVER had a post, YouTube video, or anything go viral. There are always those people who go viral and gain a huge audience overnight, and I love that for them! But that is just not my story. So when I tell you I’ve used all of these methods to build the audience I have, know that I’m telling you the truth.
DISCLAIMER – If you’re building your audience on social media, then you STILL need to direct that audience to your email list. Your email list is the only thing that you own, independent of Facebook or YouTube or Instagram. And it’s the most direct way to reach your followers. So send everybody to your email list! Okay, now let’s go.
1. Facebook Group
Facebook groups are a great way to build an audience. If you can create a group FILLED with your ideal client who are all linked by some common thread, that’s powerful!
Facebook groups have REALLY stood the test of time. I built one initially five or six years ago (I have since turned it off), and they are still a very valid way to build an audience now. Facebook is REALLY pushing groups right now, so use that to your advantage!
Make your Facebook group keyword friendly so people find it when they’re searching. Run a promo that encourages people to invite their friends. There are tons of ways to do this!
The BIGGEST mistake I see people making (and that I want to warn you about) is making their Facebook group all about them. People don’t want to join a group that’s just about you (especially if you're trying to attract new members). Those people CARE about how your group is going to help them. Focus on a common niche or belief that will loop everybody together and that you can support!
Instead of “Friends of Jessica Stansberry,” I might create a group filled with all people who want to create an online course, or who want to get started on YouTube, for example.
Instagram is a really easy way to build an audience right now because of Reels. Reels are a great (and pretty fast) way to help you grow. My husband has a pretty small Instagram account, and after he had one or two Reels take off, he’s up to 400 followers. The rate of follower growth from one Reel may not be super massive (he has one with 10,000 views, for example). But if you stay consistent and know what you’re doing, you CAN grow on Instagram.
Your posts and Reels should be used to build your audience, and then use your stories to nurture them and send them to other places. Instagram is my preferred social platform!
A podcast is definitely an option if you want to build an audience! But disclaimer: this is one of the SLOWER ways to build your audience.
I’m a believer that your podcast should be an element that is a lower part of your funnel rather than the top of it. Podcasts aren’t super easy to find via search unless they’re super niched, but it is possible. A lot of my audience growth from late 2015-16 was from my podcast. And we planned that strategically! We purposefully brought on guests (who we loved) who had a larger audience than we did. Their audience would then listen to the episode and their audience might stick with us, too!
4. YouTube Channel
Building an audience with a YouTube channel can be really helpful! YouTube is a search engine, so if you create SEO-friendly content, you can be found really easily via search and then send those people somewhere else. People who are on YouTube are definitely not just on YouTube – they’re also on Twitter or Instagram or Facebook.
YouTube videos also have a long shelf-life compared to other platforms. I have videos that are four years old that still send me thousands of subscribers per month because they’re still ranking in search and being discovered. The SEO benefits are massive!
Blogging is a fantastic way to build an audience because you can take advantage of the SEO capabilities of Google. However, it’s much harder to show up on Google search rankings with a blog post than it is with a video. Weigh those options for yourself when you’re deciding your path.
When you’re trying to get people to know, like, and trust you, they’re going to do it MUCH quicker if they see you on a video than if they read a blog post by you. WIth a blog, that process is going to go slower.
Now, the last half of this list can be used in CONJUNCTION with the first half to send people from those places to your email list!
Freebies are a free opt-in that will grow your email list. You can send people to a freebie, a free PDF or download, from ALL of the places we talked about above. You can also use it independently.
I have mainly built my email list using freebies! I might create a YouTube video about a topic and then direct people to a link in the description for a freebie related to it. If it’s a video about ClickUp, that might be ClickUp templates they can get. And to get those, they need to be on my email list!
Webinars can serve multiple purposes! One webinar could both build your audience and make you money. But you can also create webinars as a way to build your audience in itself.
You send out information about a webinar on your social media to get people to sign up (you might even run ads). And there might be people who see it on your social media or see an ad who weren’t really in your audience before, and after the webinar they are now in your audience.
8. Other People’s Platforms (OPP)
Doing joint-ventures with people can be massive to growing your audience! Doing a joint-venture webinar, giveaway, being a podcast guest or a YouTube channel guest can be a great way to build an audience. It exposes someone else’s audience to you!
You need to build relationships with people who might want you on their platform to make this a success. You CANNOT cold pitch people to do a joint-venture with you. I promise that won’t work. Working together with people who don’t offer the same service or expertise as you but whose audience is virtually the same people is one of THE most powerful ways to build an audience.
These LAST TWO ways to build an audience are paid.
9. SLO (Self-Liquidating Offer) Funnels
SLO’s are a paid way to build an audience, and I think they’re pretty great! I have an entire podcast episode about this that you can check out here.
SLO’s are funnels that are built for the purpose of 1) recouping the money that you spend on the ads to get someone to purchase and 2) build your email list while you make a little money.
You are running ads to a paid product, so when someone purchases you make the money back that you spent to send them an ad for your product. I tend to call these “small offer funnels” because you want to send people to a product at a relatively low price.
Since these are a funnel, you will run ads to the lower priced offer and then offer an order bump and an upsell at a higher price that lets you make some money! And anytime someone buys, they go on your email list. It’s a win-win-win.
10. Facebook Ads
ANY of the ways that we talked about building your audience can grow via Facebook ads. Facebook ads will massively accelerate any way to build an audience, but it will cost money.
If you have a budget and knowledge of Facebook ads, they can be great! But because they are a LOT to manage, you’ll want to make sure you have the staff and budget to make these work.
Wow! There are 10 ways to build an audience. I hope these were super helpful and you find the one that’s the best for you!