Grow Your Audience

Simon D Member
A guide by Julian Shapiro on how to grow your audience. Yes, I know. You heard a lot about this lately but trust me when I tell you, this is advice you need to bookmark.
Grow Your Audience

How do you quickly grow an online audience? Here’s how I’ve helped folks do it. It’s a mix of writing, marketing, and startups:


One audience building approach:

  • YouTube/Twitter for viral distribution
  • Blogging for SEO distribution
  • Newsletter for maintaining relationships
  • Podcasts for deepening them

Twitter gets the word out. Newsletters keep people around. Podcasts help them better know you.

A question to ask when building an audience: Are they following you for your mind or your labor?

  • Labor: You’re COLLECTING good content for them
  • Mind: You’re CRAFTING original content

Mind-followers are extra loyal. They’re with you no matter what you do in the future.


One way to measure the value of an audience:

Audience value = Size * Affinity * Goal fit

  • Affinity: How much attention they pay to you
  • Goal fit: Their ability to act on your goals, such as:
  • Buy from you
  • Vote for you
  • Share your ideas
  • Take social action


How to grow a YouTube channel:

  • Pitch the video’s value in the first five seconds
  • Ask a question you don’t resolve until the last five seconds
  • With YT algo, 1 amazing video > 10 good videos
  • Quick cuts don’t give people time to ask if they’re bored

—Mr. Beast


How to grow a podcast:

  • Be YouTube-first; do video interviews
  • Split eps into 8-25min YouTube clips with SEO’d titles
  • Get guests that are searched for on YouTube
  • Swap eps into other shows’ feeds
  • People come for content and stay for rapport, authenticity, charisma

Podcast interviews are boring by default.

I’m guessing 99.5% of podcasts are listened to by no one? The holy grail: Unfiltered conversations between charismatic storytellers. Listeners stick around when it feels like they’re catching up with interesting friends over dinner.


How to improve newsletter growth:

  1. Offer something for free to capture emails
  2. Use newsletter plug swaps to cross-promote yours with others
  3. Link from your Twitter bio and at the end of tweets
    • Once you’re big:
  4. Referral incentives
  5. Paid ads → CPM sponsorship funnel


Common newsletter formats:

  1. Editorial deep-dives
  2. Web link roundups
  3. Inventory updates like Zillow, cheap flights
  4. News headlines like Morning Brew

Choose whichever format you can most consistently generate high quality content for and that serves your target audience.


What’s the benefit of starting a newsletter?

  • No one can take your subscribers from you
  • Dedicated eyeballs; you’re not lost in a Twitter feed
  • Intimate for deepening audience relationships
  • Get people to click your plug links—whereas links on Twitter/YT perform poorly

PSA: You don’t have to send your newsletter every week.

Send it as often as it’s actually interesting. I haven’t seen evidence that you must “stay top of mind” at a high frequency. In an era of content saturation, quality—not frequency—keeps you relevant for the long-term.

Newsletter tip:

Instead of just giving newsletter subscribers the option to fully unsubscribe, you can also offer to reduce email frequency. For example, let them click a link to go from weekly to monthly. Now they might stick around.


How to grow a personal blog:

  • Publish when you have something to say. Novelty > volume. Be known for signal over noise.
  • Distribute posts via your newsletter and your friends’.
  • Post to Hacker News and reddit.
  • Learn the basics of SEO.


How to grow a Twitter audience:

Maximize retweets. Retweets put you in front of non-followers. A percentage of them then follow.

What people retweet:

  • Ideological alignment
  • Referenceable advice
  • Clever humor
  • Elegant articulations of how the world works


A simple Twitter growth tactic:

Be quick to respond to viral tweets with insightful and actionable advice of your own—add a complementary perspective.

People will see your thoughtful responses and follow you too. Happens all the time.

People often use Twitter bios to describe their identity. But, most people don’t care if you’re a “2x founder” or “Ex-Google.”

To increase follow rate, you can rewrite your bio to explain WHY ppl should follow: which topics you cover and from what perspective.

Source: @julian

Image credit: Julian Shapiro