You want to grow your audience. You need to meet other content creators. But how?
You’re a content creator. Of course you’re thinking about avenues for growing your audience! You know it will involve finding personal connections — meeting other people who have an audience.
A lot of good can come from growing your personal network. But it’s also something people can feel awkward about. You don’t want to give people the impression that you’re merely trying to use them or get something from them — as if that is the only reason you are talking to them. That seems weird.
So how do you approach an influencer and seek for some kind of genuine connection? (And not make it feel awkward!)
I’ll offer some examples. I’ll start with some epic fails and weird mistakes I’ve come by.
Here’s one: Somebody sent me a message invite on Facebook. I didn’t know him. He had a picture of Greg Bahnsen (a well known Theonomist) as his profile picture. He didn’t have a picture of himself. And he said, “Would you like to discuss Theonomy sometime?”
I said, “No thanks.”
He hadn’t given me any reason to want to discuss it with him.
Whereas, if somebody were to comment on my Facebook Profile and have a discussion with me (and I got to know who they were), then I might be more interested.
There are all kinds of ways to reach out to people; think about how to make it interesting to them.
Well That Was a Fail!
So you want to grow your audience. You know you need reach out to other content creators. Your goal is to have video discussions with them or to write guest articles or to overlap your audiences in some way.
How do you break the ice?
Here’s one idea I’ve seen people try. It doesn’t really doesn’t work. (To be clear: You shouldn’t do it.)
I saw somebody publish an open letter (to me) saying: “I challenge you to a debate.”
This is a person that I know personally. He never reached out to me one-on-one about this challenge before posting the public letter. And he was a bit critical in the wording. Not cool.
I know the man personally to some degree, so I said, “Well sure, I’ll do it. But I’m not doing it because you were critical of me publicly. I’ll do it because I respect you.”
We’ll see how the discussion goes. That’s one way of approaching people. I don’t recommend it.
In the next part I’ll cover more ideas about how you can approach people and get the conversation going (even publicly) in a way that gets your message out there.
This one isn’t as awkward. But there is still something to learn.
We’ve seen a couple of examples of people attempting to reach out to someone else and get a public discussion started. The examples weren’t necessarily bad. But they were clumsy. These approaches didn’t bring the intended results.
Here’s another example.
This person gets a little further. In this example, think about what the man did right — and what he did wrong.
Someone got on my email list (a good move). He was receiving my emails, and he started reading them, and he hit reply to one and he said:
“I really appreciate what you said here. I like that.”
Then we had an email exchange back and forth (probably three or four emails).
But then… he arrived at his point. He told me something that had been on his mind from the beginning. He said (roughly):
“The way you’re using this one word… you need to change that. You need to use it this way instead. It’s really important. Do this instead of that.”
I didn’t know how to respond to that email. I didn’t email him back. It eventual slipped my mind. Time passed.
No loss, really. If that’s the way such a person wants the relationship to go (emailing a stranger to tell him what to do differently) I guess we’re done.
I know that may sound cold. But here’s why it’s reasonable:
If someone tries to use the two-way communication channels I’ve created as a means to simply slide in and try to change the message I’m producing (and if we don’t already know each other or have some shared background) how much weight should I give their input?
Until I know that they are somewhat familiar with my work (more than having read an article or two), and until I know something about their own viewpoints, I don’t have a way of judging the value of the input they offer.
We would need some shared context before I would be motivated to heed their advice. I carefully consider the advice of friends, Patreon supporters, frequent participants in my online discussions, past and current customers, and anyone I’ve done creative work with in the past. When we have shared context, their input matters. But free advice from strangers is usually worth what I paid.
I’ll be candid: There are a lot of people telling me to change this or that about my platform, all the time. They don’t even agree with each other. But they want to change the output of the machine I built.
Why would I want to pursue a connection with such a person? They should be creating their own platform, not trying to control mine.
So to that sort of person, I do not have much to say. Just: “Thanks for the input!” I cannot go much further, because I don’t want to invite more input of the same kind.
Okay! Enough of the Negative Examples.
Let’s talk about some things that work — things that help grow my audience and other people’s audiences. Let me tell you about some content creators with whom I have an ongoing successful relationship.
The first connection that comes to mind is Jacob Brunton. We have a website that we own together. You’re looking at it. (You’re looking at the blog part of it, that is.)
The project with Jacob came together after many months of getting to know each other virtually over Zoom, Skype, and emails. You have to build trust with somebody to do that kind of thing. We learned that we had enough in common. We had an actual friendship develop. Then a project like this became possible.
An other successful example:
My friend G. S. Muse writes some great articles for our blog. Sometimes we do videos together. He has his own video platform. I have mine. But we have a lot of interests and values in common. We’re friends. We talk almost daily. And we help each other.
That’s the kind of thing that you should do. Find someone making material that you like. Get to know them over the long term. Talk about what you have in common.
It is simple. It is fairly time intensive. It is worth it.
So get started.
A Call To Action:
Now is the time to get into the game.
What one guy can do, another can do.
If I can create content and grow an audience, YOU can too.