How to start a freedom-fuelled business: 4. Creating a platform, building an audience and using social media.
One thing I wish I had known for the very beginning of ever having entrepreneurial aspirations, was how important it is, to create a loyal audience. In other words, finding ways to create a fun, helpful and beautiful space for people to connect with you, so that they walk alongside you and your brand, and become your clients and customers.
I used to think that if you build it, they will come.
What I have discovered however is that if no-one knows that you, your message, brand and product exist, no-one will come. It doesn’t matter how awesome your products are, how life-changing your services are, how problem-solving what you do is… If there’s no-one around to hear about it.
I remember a few months after deciding to turn my blog into a business website, with shaking hands (again) finally pressing ‘publish’ on my mentoring services page. I was wired with fear and anticipation for the response from the world. Again, I held my breath and waited. And do you know what happened?
Nothing happened at all. I received some feedback and praise from my friends, and fellow ambitious entrepreneurs… And then crickets. Cue: tumbleweeds traveling past the corners of my digital enterprise. Not even they stopped to have a look.
Ah yes. Those were the good old days. The very modest beginnings of learning how to actually build an audience, using social media and directing them to my platform of choice: my WordPress website. Now, I smile with gentle kindness and hindsight at the disappointment and failure that I felt, because it was what led me to where I am. Today, I am going to share with you my top tips on how to create your loyal tribe of devoted folk who want to know all about your services and products, and buy them.
Remember: you don’t have a business, until you start making sales. And in order to make sales, you need to have people who want to buy from you. Simple.
But how can the people who want to buy from you, find you?
This is where you have to decide what platform your want to shout your message from. You have choices: A website / blog. Facebook. Instagram. Twitter. Periscope. Snapchat. Newsletters. There are soooooo many choices it can feel scary and overwhelming at first.
I began with the WordPress blog that you still see now. Back then it looked quite different. And then eventually expanded out to having Facebook, Instagram and my weekly newsletter as my main focus. However, that’s not the only way to do it. In fact, many of my mentoring clients start with building their audience on their Facebook or Instagram page. One of them has very successfully run her entire health coaching business for 2 years, directly off her Facebook page, and has never had a website at all. It’s impressive. (She’s building a website now, however, as even Facebook has its limitations.)
The reason why websites and blogs are invaluable for business, is because they provide a space for you to give your audience fresh content on a consistent basis, giving them a reason to return to your site, over and over again. Which is what you want, because that’s where your services and products are. However, for now, you can begin where you are comfortable, and start engaging your audience from there.
I’m breaking down these tips into 3 main parts:

  1. How to build your audience on Facebook.
  2. How to grow your audience on Instagram.
  3. How to create a devoted audience for your website / blog.

Now let’s get started and jump right in.

  • Publish content consistently.

Consistency really is key. I would start with posting something relevant to your business, whether it’s entertaining, inspiring or informative once per day (but no more than 3 to 4 times). This can include your own photos and words, someone else’s photo or words (with credit, obvs) your own article, or an article that you have read and loved.

  • Comment on other’s Facebook pages.

When you don’t have an audience of your own, you have to make yourself visible in other places. The best way to do that is to develop relationships with folks you admire or have a similar business or idea as, by commenting on their posts. Not only will they adore you for it, but their own audience will start to notice you, and be tempted to find out more about you.

  • Offer a free gift.

Create something of value that appeals to your target audience. For example, if you’re a health coach, you could offer a free 5 day weight loss course. This could be a professionally done eBook or a course that they receive by email. Offer that piece of content or gift for free in exchange for liking your Page and for sharing your page with others.

  • Schedule your posts.

It’s impossible and crazy to be on social media all day long 24/7. So how can you keep giving your growing audience consistent content? You schedule your posts. I like to batch-schedule once per week, and then add other posts and content throughout the days, as I feel inclined.

  • Post useful, beautiful, inspiring content, consistently.

Instagram is a visual place, for visual people. This is where you consistently, I would say once per day is perfect, share beautifully curated images and messages, that add value to the people viewing them and form the flavour of your business and brand. Here is where your tribe can fall in love with all you are and all you do. I love telling stories alongside my photos, and notice that I get the most engagement when I share my real, raw truth, over idealised perfection. (Plus, here’s a bonus: if you have a Facebook page, all your Instagram posts can be sent over with one tap of a finger, et voila (!) you have some more beautiful content on your Facebook page!)

  • Use hashtags.

Hashtags are an Instagrammer’s best friend. You can significantly improve the reach of your posts by including relevant hashtags. I recommend using 3-7 hashtags per post for the best results. Hashtags should be related to the post content and/or your industry or niche. If you want to know which hashtags are the most popular, you can search Google (or any other search engine) for the most popular hashtags on Instagram. They vary slightly but usually stay fairly consistent.

  • Actively engage with others.

One of the best ways to grow your audience is to actually connect with people. This means being active on others’ profiles by liking and commenting on their posts. Responding to comments on your posts also generates conversation and followers. Find new people to follow in your industry and start engaging with them. When they begin to recognize you and your profile, they will often follow you back and return the favor with likes and comments. Answer questions, thank them for their thoughts, or ask them how they’re doing. Keep the conversations going and more people will chime in.

  • Follow more people.

No one wants to follow you if you only follow 25 people, or only have 50 followers. We all have a social belief that more = better. You’re here to be active and engaging, so follow more people and get active! While there’s no ideal specific ratio for followers to followings, you should be following as many people as possible. Once you have a healthy amount of followers, you can start to unfollow people who don’t inspire you, but at the beginning the best way to gain more followers, is to follow as many people, that you genuinely like, as possible. (Just a heads up though: don’t follow someone just to get them to follow you and then unfollow them – it’s rude and not good etiquette. Really follow people you have a genuine interest in.)



  • Get clear on your message and write in your authentic voice.

When I first started my blog, I honestly didn’t know what direction I wanted it to go in or what my “blogging voice” was. I wrote posts almost every day for 6 months, until I started to find my voice. It took time to learn how to make my articles both entertaining and engaging, as well as informative all at once. The only way to do that, is through practice. You might have great things you’re saying on your blog, but also consider the way you say them. Do you talk as if you’re having a conversation and try to keep people interested and engaged? Or do you basically write a diary that’s not very personable?

  • Respond to comments.

This is one of the most important things you should be doing. Acknowledge your readers. Don’t just say “thanks.” Be thoughtful. Try to build a conversation and a friendship. If you always see a similar name in your comment section, try visiting their own blog and leaving a comment. If you can build a community in your comments section, people will continue to come back and say hello. And the only way to build that community is to engage with your readers. Once you reach a certain point, it’s not possible to stay sane and respond to every comment. But until then, it should be a priority.

  • Design a website / blog that looks and feels like ‘home’.

Your blog design is important. It’s like the cover of your book. If it’s boring, an obvious template, or cluttered, it will drive people away even if your content is great. You could either hire a blog designer to create something customized for you, or you could purchase a premium theme to help you stand out online. I use Headway Themes on my WordPress site and then get my amazing illustrator and graphic designer Marija from Posy Willow, to help make it pretty for me.

  • Get to know SEO.

50% of my audience find me through a search engine. If you’re not properly using SEO, you’re missing out on tons of potential people to join your tribe.
Top tips: Name your photos something that pertains to your post instead of using a name like “J2596.JPG.” Also, add a keyword to your post and try using it in your post’s title, content, meta description, etc. Use relevant tags, and add a meta description (the description that shows up under your post title in a search engine). I use a plug-in called All in One SEO that is easy to use and extremely helpful.
I’d love to support you in growing your own freedom-fuelled online business. If you feel called, I’d love you to book in a free 15 minute chat with me. You can schedule our call and find out more on my Work With Me page.  *Excuse me while I burst with anticipation and excitement over here.*
You can access all the articles in this 8-part series, here:

  1. Identifying your skills, and deciding what kind of business to start.
  2. Understanding your great, big, guiding why. (By using your heart and intuition to make decisions.)
  3. Overcoming fear, self-sabotage, and putting yourself out there.
  4. Creating a platform, building an audience and using social media.
  5. Finding balance and boundaries, to live out your freedom-fuelled life.
  6. Changing your mindset around self-worth, value and money.
  7. Honing and defining your niche and your message.
  8. Nurturing relationships and connecting with influencers to elevate your brand.

Image from Zooji

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