Dototot • Engaging Education

Who Is Your Audience?

  • et cetera
  • By Jared Nielsen

One of the more difficult, yet more important, tasks as a creative producer is finding your audience. “Who is your audience?” Answer this question and making things people want to buy will be easy. In this post, I’ll outline the first, easy steps you can take towards building your tribe.

Who Is Your Audience?

Every artist has an audience, real or imagined. Consider: when you’re making something, who are you thinking about? Who is the peanut gallery in the back of your head? Whether it’s your parents, your peer group, your future self, collectors, or ‘God’, your goal is to communicate something to someone. Nobody honestly makes work for themselves (unless they are psychopaths, robots or narcissists par excellence). I come from a fine arts background and I was trained that my audience was myself, my peers, and collectors, though you’re supposed to pretend that you’re too good for money and what collectors think isn’t important.

As Jason Zook and Paul Jarvis say in How Dare You:

Build your audience with people you’d want to hang out with.

If you’re a creative producer and you don’t know who your audience is, start with yourself. Would you buy your work? If no, you need to re-evaluate your efforts. If you wouldn’t shell out some clams for your wares, how can you expect anyone else to do so? I wouldn’t buy our videos and e-books. Unfortunately, that’s where we sink a lot of our time. I would however, buy our puppet patterns. They’re some of the best on the market and a better price than the competition. Unfortunately, there’s not a big market for puppet patterns.

Find Your Niche

You can’t sell to everyone. And you can’t compete with the big shots. What do you do? Niche down. The trick is to find the balance between what you want to do and what someone is willing to pay for. In The $100 StartUp, Chris Guillebeau outlines a Venn diagram of potential success.

Guillebeau Venn Diagram

Unless you’re creating something no one has ever seen before, it should be easy to get an idea of similar work that people are willing to pay for. Just because someone else is doing it, doesn’t mean you can’t too. That’s why finding your niche is so important.

Learn From Experience

Finding and defining your audience is an ongoing process. Not everyone in your audience today will be there tomorrow. You will change. They will change. That’s life. Here’s what Jeff Goins has to say about it:

We don’t find our voices writing for ourselves. We find our voice when we hear it resonating with others.

When we set out to create The Hello World Program, we didn’t have a clear picture of our audience. We followed The Field of Dreams approach and attracted crickets. It turns out the audience for The Hello World Program is our childhood selves and they aren’t buying. We’ve learned a few things along the way. Whether or not you’ve answered the question “Who is Your Audience?”, these are simple steps you can take now to help you define, build and retain audience.

Get Your Name Out There

People need to know who you are. You need to establish trust and authority. Sell first, then build. This is especially important if you’re planning to build time-consuming products.

  • Share one thing everyday

    • This is Austin Kleon’s secret to success. And it works. It’s not slimy. It’s not spammy. Share one thing everyday, whether it’s a finished product or a work in progress. The criteria: it must be something you’re excited about and that you think your audience will want to see, too. Pick your channels, but don’t spread yourself thin. Five max.
  • Talk to people

    • Whether it’s IRL or IRC, get out there and meet people. Start conversations, ask and answer questions on forums, share the work of your peers. The criteria: be sincere and aim to be helpful, even if you’re asking a question, ask one that will generate answers that will be useful to others. This should be fun. If it’s not, you probably won’t do it which means you’re probably working in the wrong niche.
  • Build your platform

    • If you don’t have one yet, you need a website. Buy a domain, find cheap hosting, and install WordPress. Use a simple stock theme to get started. Don’t get sucked into design yet. Allow the design of your site to emerge alongside your voice. Prioritize content production. Your website is like a gallery. It’s more important for you to make the paintings you want to hang on the walls than it is to paint the walls themselves.

Get Analytical

Take advantage of the free tools that simultaneously help you acquire audience, retain audience, and inform the definition of your audience.

  • Install an analytics service like Google Analytics or Piwik on your site so you can gather information about the traffic you’re generating.
  • Use the built-in analytics social media channels provide. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest have great tools, freely available. Why? They want you to succeed so they can succeed. See how it works? You are their audience. They are giving you something you want. Periodically check your stats and see what people are responding to your work.

Get Organized

The ultimate secret to success online? Consistent quality content. The only way to accomplish this is by getting organized: create an editorial calendar, make realistic to-do lists and actually use them, and, most importantly prioritize your time. In the words of productivity guru James Clear:

To serve an audience long term you’ve got to figure out what’s important to you, what your voice is. It can take a while to discover what those things are and that voice is.

I hope this post helped you answer the question of “Who is your audience?” Got more questions? Got it figured out? Let us know in the comments below. Otherwise, stay tuned as we dive deeper into these questions in future posts.

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