How to Build Your Online Audience

Reese Evans

| Jun 20, 2017

A few years ago I was folding sweaters at a retail job that I was so over, and asking myself if that was as far as my career would take me. I had taken the job while I was in school, but a few years later I was still there, completely out-of-love with the work I was doing everyday.  

I had been job hunting for years, but the longer I stayed in retail, the harder it was to get out. After failed interview after failed interview, I realized that if no one was going to give me the opportunities I so badly wanted, I had to create them myself.  

In a brainstorm session, I dreamed up my idea for my business, yes supply It was an idea that combined all my passions—empowering women to go after their dreams and being able to make things look pretty with a gorgeous blog. Plus it would allow me to see what I could create if I just had the opportunity.  

I was scared to put myself out there, creating a blog that was so close to my heart….so I hesitated, and waited. But when finally overcame my fear, and put myself out there, I started to create a loyal community that grew like wildfire. Every day was an incredible adventure of saying what was in my heart, creating content that felt good, and truly making a difference in people’s lives by empowering them to live their dream. 

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Wondering how I quit my job, and generated a $14,000-month in sales just 2 months after quitting—without using any paid ads? 

How I’ve been able to sell a $5000 coaching package without even having to hop on a sales call? 

Why my clients, customers, and followers are constantly talking about me and referring their friends and family to me, without asking for anything in return? 

The secret is in EFFECTIVELY growing an audience catered perfectly to my online business. 

I grew my audience to 21K+ on Instagram, my Facebook group to 2000+ incredible and targeted members, my Twitter to 4000+ followers, and a Pinterest platform of 1500+ that drives targeted traffic to my page, where I get 15,000 views a month because I put the work in to create an incredible community, and put effort into nurturing them. I prioritize having an incredible community of creatives who are ready to turn their passion into a successful business rather than simply “getting followers”.  

Of course, my products and services sell, but I never have to feel “salesy”. Because I built such an incredible community who trust me and love my content, they are excited to invest in my products and services. 

In this article, I’m going to walk you through some key strategies you’ll want to add to your toolkit to grow an audience for your online business  

How To Grow an Audience For Your Online Business  

By this point, I’m going to assume you know your products and services that you want to offer.  

What you need to do first is have a deep understanding of who you want to service, and which incredible people you want to have in your community 

Understand Who Your Products or Services Truly Help 

There’s a lot of content out there about “getting more followers” or “hitting 10K” and although numbers are a great way to track your progress, that is not the most important factor.  

You want to ensure that you’re growing your audience with the right people who will truly be impacted by the work you do, and are excited to purchase your products as they know it will solve a problem they have.  

When you first begin, start with an idea of the products and services you want to offer and the outcome you want to provide. 

At the end of the day, when someone purchases your products, they’ll be doing so because of the outcome they want to achieve. 

 If someone is investing in themselves by making a purchase with you they’ll want to be a changed person when they consume your product or complete your program.  

Having a deep understanding of what you want to offer and how you’ll help people is key.  

Will you:  

  •  Help people lose weight? 
  •  Help them grow their social media following? 
  •  Help them create habits that increase their productivity? 
  •  Grow their business and sell more?   

Once you know the transformation products provide, that will make it easier to grow a targeted audience whose problems you can solve with your products and services  

At this point, once you know the outcome your business is providing, create your target client avatar.  

Creating a client avatar 

 This will be the person you hope to serve, and who you want to connect with through your content.  

Determining your target client avatar requires some work and research, but once you have a deep understanding of who you want to serve and how you can help them, growing your audience becomes much simpler.  

Your target client avatar is a specific person you have in mind. You should give them an identity including their age, name, occupation, and feel like you really know this person.  

Some things you’ll want to have to create your target client avatar are:   

  •  Name 
  •  Age 
  •  Occupation 
  •  Brands They Use + Purchase From 
  •  What Kind Of Language They Use 
  •  Where They Spend Their Time 
  •  Their Pain Points 
  •  What They Hope To Achieve + Accomplish   

Here’s an example of a target client avatar:

Building a community online is one of the most important steps in creating the foundation for a successful online business, here is how you can get started.

There are several steps you can take to find and refine your target avatar—here are just a few:  

  • Schedule discovery calls with current members of your audience. See what their struggles are, what their career is, their favorite brands, and any other questions you find relevant are. 
  • Send a survey out to your email list. Allow them to be anonymous and poll them with the criteria mentioned above! 
  • Stalk your ideal clients on social media, see what they’re buying, what they’re wearing, what they’re complaining about on Twitter. Look for common threads!  

Find The Platform That Works for You  

If you want to see a quick increase in your audience growth, make sure you’re communicating on the platform where you’ll be able to easily reach your audience.  

Find platform that your target audience is spending their time on and allows you to connect with them in a medium that you’re comfortable with. Don’t feel you have to be on every platform, just strive to find where you feel you’ll succeed and absolutely stand out there.  

I’ve worked with plenty of people who have ditched the overwhelm of trying to be on every platform and streamlined their processes by focusing on just one and they were more successful for it. 

When you’re first starting out KEEP IT SIMPLE.  

If you get too caught up in trying to be on every platform, you’ll spend your time learning the features of each, without being able to connect or grow your audience. It can be discouraging and ultimately make you want to give up when you’re working so hard without seeing any result.  

If you have a simple conversion strategy you can stand out on a single platform and turn your followers into customers, by focusing your energy on what works best for you instead of trying to be good at everything. 

Once you’re comfortable on one, then you can expand to the next. 

If your business is centered around coaching, social media strategy, or business, Facebook groups are a great place to connect with your audience.  You can search for any niche on Facebook and find thousands of people with the interests that your company serves just by searching in groups.

Building a community online is one of the most important steps in creating the foundation for a successful online business, here is how you can get started.

When I started my business, I looked to facebook groups to connect with like-minded people, learn from others, and also to promote my content that I thought the group members would find valuable. 

If you’re looking to connect with more like-minded entrepreneurs, join my free facebook group, the yes supply society. 

Instagram is a great platform if you love to create visually appealing content. When I started my business, I didn’t know much about the online world, so Instagram seemed like the best place to start. I grew a substantial following on there, and didn’t venture to stand out on other platforms until my following was well over 6000 on instagram. 

Pinterest caught me by surprise as I'd assumed it was only for wedding planning, crafts, and home decor, but it actually drives significant traffic to my site. You can find so many niches on Pinterest as it is a popular way for people to share their blog posts and grow their email lists effectively.  

YouTube is the second largest search engine, behind google, and video content is the way of the future, so doing your research to see if there are leaders in your niche who do well on YouTube. If not, venture out and try to be the first. 

Of course, there are pockets of every demographic on almost all of these platforms, so do your research and find out what works best for you. 

You’ll also want to consider which medium works best. If you’re a slow writer, but you can talk for days on camera, then sharing your content in video format by starting a youtube channel or live streaming on instagram and Facebook can work wonders for you. However, if you don’t feel comfortable on camera, then blogging and creating insightful written content is your best bet. 

Once you’re established which platforms you’re going to focus on, you need to capture your audience by positioning yourself as an expert and growing a community. 

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Become The Go-To Expert For Your Audience and Their Needs 

Now that you know who you are aiming to attract to your audience, and which platforms you wish to focus on, we can focus on growth. 

In a competitive online world, what is going to help you stand out from the competition is your personality, being consistent in your growth strategy, and adding incredible value to people’s lives whilst helping them get closer to their goals 

If people know who you are, connect with your story, and feel the passion in everything you do, they’ll be excited to work with you or purchase your products. They’ll come back to you again and again, and refer you to their friends as a go-to in your niche. 

A good growth strategy is composed of a mix of:  

  •  Quality, Genuine Content 
  •  Solid Engagement With Your Ideal Clients + Customers 
  •  Solid Strategies To Increase Your Discoverability 
  •  Staying Consistent With Showing Up- Especially When You’re First Starting Out   

I’ll go into each of these points in detail. 

Creating Quality, Genuine, and Valuable Content 

If you want to grow a loyal audience, your content has to be about your audience, not you. 

This is absolutely crucial. 

If you want people to trust you enough to purchase your products, then you need to establish that relationship with content that is valuable, actionable and helps them achieve their goals.  

When I first started yes supply, I knew exactly who I wanted to help—women who really wanted to go off on their own and start a business that aligned to their passions, but didn’t know where to start. I wanted to create a platform that provided mentorship and REAL strategies that worked—not fluff. I know that including strategies that encouraged self-love and confidence were important, as implementing this in my life created a complete 180 for me.  

I started off by sharing my BEST advice, and stories in my own life that had helped me overcome obstacles to achieve my goals such as growing in my career, overcoming self-confidence issues, and finding a focus and purpose in my life. 

I often had questions coming in from my community, even when it was still small, so I strived to create content that answered the questions that we’re coming my way and could make a big impact for someone who has starting out behind me. For me, “How To” articles that broke down how I achieved a goal in my own life really helped the members of my audience. 

In areas there where I didn’t have the answers, I sought them out. I interviewed incredible female entrepreneurs, asking them how they created their YES, and made sure that I asked the burning questions that my audience had. 

I did everything I could to help my avatar achieve their goals and I stopped at nothing. At this point, while I was focused on growing my audience, I didn’t have my goals to monetize my business at the top of mind. My #1 focus was providing excellent content that grew a community around everything YES. 

It’s important to remember that although you want to create incredible content, that shouldn’t take up all of your time. Your schedule should look like 20% content creation and 80% content promotion to get your knowledge and expertise in front of the people who need it. 

Storytelling Is Essential  

Another tool that truly helped me stand out from the competition, and grow the perfect audience for my business was my use of storytelling. I didn’t just tell my audience why something works, I would share it in a story. 

By sharing personal stories of how I created yes supply, personal obstacles I had overcome, and even just snippets of my day, I formed a friendship with my audience. Humans communicate better through stories. We LOVE stories. They’re the perfect way to show how something works in a real-life situation, and why it matters.  

Your story should include: 

Before: Where you were before a transformation in your life—this section of your story should relate to your audience and where they currently feel they are. 

After: Where you are now, and how you’re the one who is credible to solve their issues, and create valuable products and services that offer a solution. 

Why you’re passionate: Through sharing your story, relating to your audience and sharing how you’ve overcome an obstacle that you’re now helping them solve, your passion for helping others will shine through. 

By infusing my content with stories, I gave my readers content that was more memorable than simply an article stuffed with facts. Since my stories were so easy to share, it boosted my word-of-mouth referrals which were a powerful way to spread the word. 

Most importantly, my story shows my followers what’s possible for them and how yes supply can help them go from working in a job they’re not happy in to finding their passion and creating a business that allows them to earn a great income while doing what they love.  

Work on ways that you can share your story to connect with them in a genuine way, and not only will you attract dream clients, but you’ll also be more satisfied in your business, knowing that you can be yourself in everything you do.

Building a community online is one of the most important steps in creating the foundation for a successful online business, here is how you can get started.

Solid Engagement With Your Ideal Clients + Customers 

In a world where we are being CONSTANTLY bombarded with distractions, pop-ups and notifications, if you don’t show up for your audience, they’ll forget about you. 

Don’t take it personal, it’s not about you. It’s about them.  

People need to be reminded who you are and how you can help them if you want them to be engaged.  

When I was starting out I made it a point to show up every day on my social media platforms to engage, share stories, and connect with my audience.  

Building the tight-knit community I have was a result of me being there for my audience every day, just like a good friend, and they know they can depend on me.  

Once I gained momentum, I worked to connect with my audience on multiple platforms so that I could communicate with them on different levels, and expand my reach.  

With social media, and the changing algorithms, you can never be 100% sure if your audience will see your content, so once I had gained momentum on one platform and felt comfortable with my processes I expanded my reach. I wanted yes supply to be in front of my audience’s eyes regardless of which platform they were on so we could stay at top of mind. 

I would pull my followers from Instagram where my biggest audience was to my email list using an email opt-in with valuable content like a valuable guide or free training in exchange for their email address. This helped me drive traffic from my social media to my email list. 

To promote my email list, I would share posts with related tips or short video trainings to promote the incredible value that my audience would receive when they signed up. I always lead with value before asking for something in return. 

Once members of my audience were on my email list, I tried to stay in contact often by sending weekly updates, valuable advice, and offering to answer any emails with questions. When a member of my community was KILLING it by achieving a goal with the skills she learned from yes supply, or quite her job to take her business full time, I was giving my members shout outs. 

From there, I invited them to join my free Facebook group where they could connect with other women in the yes supply community, share their own social media platforms so they could grow their own followings and where I could pop in to answer questions and give really valuable live streams sharing some of my best tips on how to turn your passion into a business.  

I also use my blog to drive subscribers to my email list, where from there, they will be introduced to my Facebook group as well. 

Solid Strategies To Increase Your Discoverability 

If no one knows that you exist, it’s hard for them to become a loyal subscriber, or purchase your products, so it’s important to strive to increase your discoverability as best as you can. 

Whenever I have a great piece of content, or a great piece of value, like my Facebook group, I position it strategically in multiple places so more people can discover it! 

You can grow your Facebook group for free by:  

  • Sharing incredible content on your other social media platforms and encouraging people to join your group to get more trainings with you 
  • Running live streams on your Facebook page, or on Instagram and encourage people to join your group 
  • Growing your presence in other Facebook groups that have the type of audience you are trying to capture and attracting them to you and the content you create 
  • Emailing your list, letting them know that if they want more interaction with you and an opportunity to connect with like-minded people to join your group 
  • Making your group exciting by running live-streams and exclusive events for your group members only  

One thing that I love about growing a Facebook group around your community is that it’s a two-way conversation. While on most platforms it feels like you’re talking at your audience, Facebook groups truly create space where multiple people can jump in on a conversation or brainstorm on a topic.  

How I Grew My Following To 20K+ on Instagram 

If you love creating mood boards, creating motivating and inspiring content, and making things look pretty, Instagram is the platform for you. If you can’t be bothered to make things look gorgeous, I wouldn’t spend time on this platform.  

Instagram is a highly visual platform, so if you want to see growth, you need to put the energy into making things look good. That is the main component of growing your audience on this platform. There’s quite a few instagram tools I use to help me stand out. One I love is this incredible tool called Planoly that allows me to curate content, and make sure it looks gorgeous visually 

Once you have a strong foundation of beautiful, and inspiring content increasing your growth and reach will definitely be hinged on increasing your discoverability as well. 

You’ll see much quicker growth on Instagram if you implement the proper use of hashtags.  

Aim to use 30 hashtags every time you post, as every hashtag is another opportunity for someone to discover your content and hit the ‘follow’ button.  

You can also grow your audience by increasing your discoverability in other ways on the platform. Adding geotags to your posts means that when people are nearby, they can search your location and discover you.  

I would also tag accounts and brands that you want to align with when it makes sense. By tagging accounts that align to your message and brand, you increase your discoverability when your target audience is searching for images they are featured it. By tagging brands on instagram that you love when you are posting, you also increase your potential for being reposted, and being seen by a wider audience. 

Last but not least, remember that social media is social. I put a lot of energy into chatting with members of my audience online, ensuring I’m commenting back when someone leaves a comment on one of my pictures, and actively engaging with people who I think would be perfect to have in my community.  

The Instagram algorithm is always changing, and they’re bringing out new features, so strive to use the new ways to get yourself out there. I find that Instagram loves to promote those people who are using their new features like Instagram Live + Stories, so integrate these into your strategy to boost your visibility on the explore page.  

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Get More People Talking About Your Business  

A great trick I use when I promote my webinars, free trainings and email opt-ins is a tool called www.enticehq.com

When someone signs up to a free training of mine, I’ve set it up so they go to a thank you page, where they can get access to a BONUS piece of content when they share it with a friend. 

By implementing this on the thank you pages of my opt-ins it has led to thousands of additional shares, and more people signing up for my list, and joining my live trainings. 

Best of all, these shares are word-of-mouth referrals which is the most powerful form of marketing. 

This is what I put on my thank you pages (using entice) to motivate those who have signed up for my workshops to share with a friend:

Building a community online is one of the most important steps in creating the foundation for a successful online business, here is how you can get started.

This is the kind of social share that goes out from my audience for in order to access a BONUS workbook:

Building a community online is one of the most important steps in creating the foundation for a successful online business, here is how you can get started.

Guest Posting And Being Interviewed By Major Platforms 

Often, when you’re launching a business your biggest worry is ‘getting traffic’ but it’s important to remember that you don’t have to create traffic out of thin air! The traffic is already there, they’re already online, they’re simply on other people’s platforms. It’s up to you to get in front of them.  

My target audience was on other platforms just like the one I was creating. It was only a matter of positioning myself in a way they could find me.  

 I researched ways to collaborate with incredible influencers in my niche and share value on platforms that had a bigger reach than mine.  

This way, I could grow my audience at the speed of light. 

One platform that made a huge impact on my growth was collaborating with the Bossbabe network. I provided a free training to their customers on how to create passive income in your business, which truly helped their members, but also helped me establish myself as an expert in my space by associating with them.  

Reaching out to blogs, publications, podcasts, and other influencers with a large audience to collaborate and provide free content to their followers is a win-win. The person who you collaborate with will get valuable free content to publish, and you will position yourself as an authority by associating with industry leaders.  

Since then, I’ve been featured on numerous podcasts, blog posts, and even publications like Globe and Mail, NYLON magazine and Flare.  

All of these opportunities came from me putting myself out there, never turning down an opportunity to be interviewed, even on smaller platforms. I was so passionate about getting my message out there that anyone can create a life and business of freedom, I love to be interviewed and share my tips anywhere I can. 

I like to network, not just online, but in person as you form real connections and stand out in people’s minds. Opportunities like being featured in the Globe and Mail and NYLON came from real-life connections. Always be looking for people who you can help, and who in turn will help support you in getting to the next level in your business.  

Stay consistent with showing up—especially when you’re first starting out 

Think of how many people who you’ve met in your life once, but never heard from again so you sort-of forgot about them. 

Standing out online is the same way. If someone comes across your platform, but they don’t hear from you on a regular basis they’re going to forget about you.  

However, if you make an effort to show up, share incredible strategies that people can’t find anywhere else, you’ll stick in people’s minds. 

Consistency and being there for my audience played a huge part in growing my audience for my business. I made an effort to post every day, and to show up on live streams almost every day to be there for my audience and become a go-to source of information and support. 

I turned showing up in my business into a habit. I knew that if I wasn’t there, people would turn to other outlets for information. With yes supply, I strive to create the best content available, and make sure that people get the tools and mentorship they need to turn their passion into a business, so I want to be available with new and valuable content at every opportunity. 

If it’s possible for me, I know you can do it too. When I started yes supply, I was working a regular job. I didn’t have any experience growing an online audience, or a social media following. I knew nothing about online business. But I was extremely passionate. I knew I wanted to create a business that gave me the freedom to travel, work on my own hours, and really make an impact in the world. 

Out of all the strategies out there to grow your business and increase your income, I know from experience that building a loyal audience, and a community around your mission is has been the biggest factor for me. I wouldn’t be where I am without building a community around what I’m doing of perfect clients and customers who see my value, and are excited to purchase my products and services regardless of the price tag.  

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Reese is an online entrepreneur who helps female creatives, and future girl bosses create a blog, business and life they love. After making a change in her life and going from a job she hated to a dream life, Reese became passionate about helping other women do the same and that's how her business, Yes Supply, was born.