As I'm ramping up for the launch of the Build your Audience course on Tuesday, July 29th (that's tomorrow!) I keep thinking about this question:
Is it harder to build an audience today, than it was 10 years ago?
I was listening to Dan Benjamin and Merlin Mann, and they spoke about this very topic (episode 179, if you're interested).
This quote from Dan especially stood out:
“For a long time, it seemed like things were figured out. If you wanted to get the word out, you started a blog. This was the path. It doesn’t seem like that’s possible anymore. How would you become the next Gruber today? Could you go and start a blog today (with the goal of doing it for a living) if you weren’t already a super-known person? Because 10 years ago you could! It’s really hard these days for people who don’t already have a following to get that credibility.”
To which Merlin replied:
“It was a smaller field of competitors back then. It’s way harder to get traffic today.”
Has it changed?
Definitely. Here we have two people (with considerable audiences themselves) saying "It'd be way harder for us to start out today."
So what can people like you and I do?
Instead of focusing on topics & interests we can focus on people & needs. Here's what I mean: Gruber focused on writing about Apple. That's a topic. It'd definitely be hard to start a new Apple focused blog today, because the market's already saturated. People who are interested in that topic already have a lot of places to go.
However, we can focus on a particular group of people (designers, developers, writers, IT managers) figure out what they need and then provide for that need in our blog posts, newsletters, and products. When I say they're "people in motion" I mean they're highly motivated to become better: they want to be better designers, developers, writers, and IT managers. If we can help them do that, they'll gladly join our audience.
(Alex Hillman taught me about this; he calls it communities of interest vs communities of practice. You can watch the full video here.)
What do you think?
Is it harder to build an audience now than it was? Have you struggled with this?