It's been about 1 year.
Before that, I was just like you: working a full-time job, blogging a little on the side, listening to podcasts, and dreaming of creating my own products.
For 5 years, not much had changed. I kept doing the same things: fits of inspiration where I'd try to build something, only to fizzle out. I never seemed to be able to launch.
The hardest part about blogging was no one seemed to notice me. I'd get 10-12 views every time I posted. I tried building an email list, and only got to 20 subscribers. The same was true for products: whenever I created something, it just didn't seem to go anywhere.
And then it all changed.
One year ago, I got serious about building my audience. I figured out what I'd been missing: I hadn't chosen a specific audience to focus on. Go back and look at the first posts on this blog; I was flailing, talking about everything and trying to reach everyone.
First, I forced myself to choose a specific audience. I chose "product people" (which later became the name of my podcast). That was a really hard step. I agonized over it. But once I started focusing, first on business people, and finally on product entrepreneurs, it became easier and easier to attract a following.
Then, I went through these steps:
I researched my audience's pains, trends, and interests.
I learned to recognize patterns.
I created content in response to those patterns.
I created products in response to those patterns.
And all along I built my mailing list.
Because of the wonderful people that follow my work, read my blog (that's you), subscribe to my newsletters, and listen to my podcast, my life has changed dramatically. In the past year:
I've been asked to speak at conferences and on panels
I've judged two Startup Weekends, a Rails Jam, and the Static App Challenge.
I've been offered 5 jobs, one of which I just accepted (more details on that soon)
I've earned nearly $40,000 in revenue from my side-projects in the last 12 months (while still working full-time, and raising 4 kids)
What an awesome ride! And all because I got serious about building my audience.
I believe that most people (and companies) can benefit from building their own audience.
Most people try to build a product first, and then find people to sell it to. My inbox is full of folks who've followed this approach, only to be disappointed because no one showed up to their launch.
Successful product people follow a different approach: they launch their products to an established audience, and target a problem that audience shares. Why does this work? Because having your own audience is like having your own personal fan base. An audience will wait anxiously for you to release your new thing; instead of hearing crickets, you'll have sales on day 1.
"You need to build an audience before you build your product." - Hiten Shah
On Tuesday, July 29th, I'm launching a new online course called Build Your Own Audience. I'm sharing everything I know about growing your audience online (it's based on my two sold-out workshops). It will help you choose and understand your audience so you can:
blog better and get more traffic
increase mailing list signups
build products people want to buy
Have any questions about the course? Let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org
PPS: Here's a sneak peek at what's inside the course: