Audience Growth

Owning Your Audience: Why Creators Should Think Beyond Growing Followers

by Tori Lazar · Published Oct 21, 2022

Did you know only 4.3% of creators make over $100,000 per year? This is despite the creator economy being worth an estimated $100 billion. The reality is that income disparity is alive and well in the creator economy. And if you ask us, it’s an accessibility issue.

We need more creators at the top to be willing to share the secrets to their success, and more platforms like Clara that encourage discourse around pay transparency for creators. We also need better tools at better price points to suit the unique nature of building and growing a creator business.

Change takes time. However, there are actions that you can take to improve your chances of creating a profitable business. The first step is to think beyond growing your social media followers, and get serious about owning your audience.

Why you should care about owning your audience

Right now, you can have 5,000 highly engaged followers on Instagram. But if you aren’t incentivizing them to share information that allows you to connect with them beyond the app, you’re essentially just renting your audience on the platform. If Instagram shuts down tomorrow, or if it rolls out changes that you don’t have control over, you may risk losing a community that you’ve worked so hard to build.

When it comes to owning your audience, first-party data is everything. If you aren’t familiar with the term, first-party data is information that a company collects directly from its audience or customers and owns. This can be their name, email, phone number, or other identifying information. Here’s how you as a content creator can benefit from having first-party data:

Future-proof your business from unpredictable algorithms

Social media platforms are constantly evolving and updating their features. It’s not good for your income, nor for your mental health, to be dependent on unpredictable algorithms.

Personalize your brand

When you build brand loyalty outside of social media apps, you’re able to introduce more personalized touch points and brand experiences to your audience.

Uncover insights about your audience

The more you know, the more you grow. Understanding the journey from passive follower to paying customer enables you to work smarter, not harder.

How to grow your audience

So, what’s the right approach to growing an audience? Instead of seeing your social media channels as the be-all and end-all of your online presence, create marketing strategies that leverage social media as a means to build a successful business.

If you are just getting started as a creator, here are a few tips that’ll help you attract your target audience:

1. Establish your personal brand

Building your personal brand allows you to attract and relate to your audience in more authentic and meaningful ways. It’s also the best way to ensure that your target audience understands who you are, what you and your business stand for, and why they should choose you over your competitors.

2. Choose one social media platform to focus on

Pick your main social media channel for discovering and reaching your target audience. Start out on one channel and master it, before adding other platforms to your content strategy.

Be consistent with your content strategy. Pay attention to the little things like hashtags (yes, they still matter!). Leverage content partnerships with other creators, like Sounds Like a Cult and The Minimalists podcast hosts did. And don’t forget to take advantage of resources offered by programs like YouTube Creators.

3. Create a performance-driven landing page

Create a performance-driven landing page for your link in bio, and always include a lead magnet on the page to build your contact list. Whether it’s promoting an upcoming event, launching a new product, or showcasing your portfolio of work, landing pages are essential. They are often one of the first steps to building your brand. Links are not enough.

4. Network and promote yourself

A strong network is a creator’s superpower. The top 1% got to where they are because — beyond their talents — they are strong community builders who aren’t shy about leveraging their connections or self-promoting. Join a virtual community, like Black Girl Magik, Freelance Founders, or Female Startup Club.

Tips for owning your audience

If you’ve seen substantial growth and are ready to build more meaningful relationships with your audience, here are a few things you can do:

1. Develop an SMS and/or email marketing strategy

Leverage that contact list you’ve been building through the lead magnet on your landing page (see previous section). Depending on the information you collected from your audience, you can develop an SMS and/or email marketing strategy to connect with them in more meaningful ways through their most convenient channels. Check out how podcaster Ellen Yin uses SMS marketing to connect with her podcast audience and increase episode downloads.

2. Engage with your audience through unique experiences

Create more intimate experiences and offerings that give your audience an opportunity to interact with you, and with each other, in real time. Think community events, workshops and courses, 1:1 consulting sessions, and private group chat communities that are highly shareable and act as a secondary lead generator.

This is how you:

  • Foster community and build brand loyalty.
  • Monetize your content and establish growth loops.
  • Make your community feel invested in your journey and growth.

All of the above = sustainable success for you.

3. Make data-informed marketing decisions

Analyze the data, identify trends, and apply those learnings to your business model and marketing strategies. For example, if you notice most of your audience members end up buying into your course after attending a community event, you should absolutely hone in on your event marketing strategy. This is the first step to getting smarter about where you invest your time and how you engage with your audience — which, if done well and consistently, will lead to increased conversions and revenue.

4. Share customer testimonials on your platform

Amplify the impact and value of your content through customer testimonials and other opportunities for self-promotion. Not only does this deepen your relationship with current customers or clientele, but it serves as social proof and sales assets when engaging with new followers. Get more tips and tricks from business development consultant and the king of self-promotion, Terry Rice.

Top Image: Jordan Rhea rehearsing for a Live video.
Photos: Courtesy of Bliss Braoudakis.

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Further reading

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About the author

Tori Lazar

Tori Lazar is the Head of Marketing, Community & Partnerships at Norby, a breakthrough marketing platform for creative entrepreneurs. She dedicates her work to helping business owners articulate their purpose, sustainably execute on their vision, build meaningful relationships, and ultimately, achieve long-term success and growth.
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