Building a large audience (and monetizing that audience) is straightforward. All of the strategies, tools, and methods you need to know can be summarized in these three principles:
Add value to your reader’s lives in every piece you write.
Write (and publish) on a regular schedule.
Always be building your email list.
Take a new angle on a topic. Be original somehow, even if you’re rehashing old content that your audience wants to hear about. Find a new spin. Find a way to make it practical. Find a way to make each piece of content so fresh that your readers always want to read what you write—because they trust you not to waste their time.
Set a schedule and stick to that schedule. One of the biggest mistakes writers make is overcommitting to writing, failing, and giving up. Make small goals for your writing and stick to those goals.
Instead of waiting for that one 2 hour writing session that will never come, write for 15 minutes each morning. Monday: Create the outline. Tuesday: Write the intro. Wednesday: Write the first point. Etc. Etc. But if you make your initial commitment too large, you either have unrealistic goals for how quickly you will grow, or you have unrealistic expectations of your own level of discipline.
It’s okay to not be able to write 2 hours a day every morning. Very few people can do that. And you don’t have to do it to be successful.
Better than making writing goals is making publication goals. Instead of making your goal to write every day (then when do you see the product?), make your goal to publish something every Monday and Thursday.
Don’t think about what you can accomplish 3 months from now by sprinting. Think of what you can accomplish a year from now with a full year of consistency. Quite a bit more—if you’re honest with yourself.
Build your list
Remember—readers won’t add any value to your brand if you can’t nurture a relationship with them. They may buy a book you’ve written or recommended your blog, but they’re not part of your “audience.”
Always be driving people to your email sign-up—whether that’s the front page of your site or a sign-up landing page. Constantly give people reasons to give you their email address—a free eBook or a weekly “tips” newsletter. Give away as much a you can to the most number of people (passively through a sign-up) so that you’ll own a list of contacts who have opted in to hear from you.
That list will be the bedrock of your writing brand. The more you grow it, the healthier your success will be, the more opportunities you will have, and the easier it will be for your writing to reach the largest audience.
The project of building your personal brand can feel like a massive one. At the start, it certainly feels like a lot of work. But don’t let that deter you. Once everything is built (website, email list, core tools, etc), it just takes consistently adding value in a way that nurtures your relationship with your audience. That’s all it takes.
Push through the initial hurdle—and it is a hurdle of time, emotion, discouragement, resources, and vision. But once you’ve pushed through it and built your infrastructure, your brand will have entered outer space and left the brutal pull of startup phase’s gravity. Once you can set your brand to “auto,” you can optimize, adapt, build, and scale—all of which are easier than starting.
Start writing. Start wordsmithing. Start brandcrafting. Start getting better at writing and marketing with the resources I’ve mentioned in this book. Push through the launch. Your future self will thank you.