If you’ve been following me for a while you know how much I value the concept of owning your platform (it’s what I teach in my Platform Launch Plan free workshop).
The reason a platform is so amazing is because you have instant access to an audience who actually care about what you share with them. This can translate into some amazing things.
For example, in my case over the last 15 years (about the amount of time I have had an online audience), I have used my platform to do the following –
- Sell over two million dollars worth of my own training products like online courses, ebooks and a membership site.
- Survey my audience to find out if my idea for a WordPress plugin is something they want, validating my idea, pre-selling the plugin, and then working with a partner to create the plugin and sell it to my audience (it was called the ‘Smart Slider’).
- Launch a completely new start-up company, a marketplace connecting bloggers with advertisers, and use my audience to test the idea and gather feedback (this company was called CrankyAds).
- Get invited to speak at events without ever seeking to become a speaker.
- Make hundreds of thousands of dollars recommending affiliate products and also meeting many leaders in my industry after promoting their products.
- Launch another company, InboxDone (email management services), which has grown to a team of over 25 people, with amazing clients from all kinds of different industries.
- I met several co-founders and partners (Gideon – BecomeABlogger.com, Claire – InboxDone.com, Walter – Smart Slider and CrankyAds, and Kerry – BlogSetupServices.com) all because my platform connected us in some way. I’ve also hired many talented people from my audience to grow my companies, making the process of sourcing new staff so much easier.
There are many other smaller and simpler benefits, like being invited to dinners and lunches at conferences, other successful people seeking you out and introducing you to more successful people, and access to free software and tools.
While not every project I listed above succeeded, I could not have even tested the ideas without access to my audience. It’s the ultimate feedback mechanism for new ideas, you don’t even have to create a product or service, you can just ask your audience if they want it. Then when you do have a product or service for sale, it’s the ultimate validation tool because you have a source of first customers.
As anyone who has ever attempted to start a company knows, finding customers, meeting good partners, testing ideas in a meaningful way, receiving direct feedback from paying clients — all of these things are quite difficult to achieve without an audience.
With no audience everything comes down to your ability to hustle and/or it costs money. You have to find people, spend money on ads or try and open doors when everyone is wary of you because you’re not a known-quantity. It’s just so much harder.
Audience Building Is THE Skill To Have Today
This is going to sound obvious, but it’s worth stating: Businesses fail because they don’t get customers.
Ok, yes that is a generalization. There are other reasons why companies fail from poor financial management, to corruption and government intervention, but I would argue as a general rule, most people who start a small business want customers. Without buyers, you have no cashflow, and we all need cash.
Getting customers is all about sales and marketing. You need to reach the right people, convince them to trust your business and sell them something they need or want.
Knowing how to do online sales and marketing is one of the most valuable skills you can learn today. Owning your own audience is even better, because you already have the distribution channel with trust built in. All that is left is to offer a product or service that people want.
With an audience who become customers, you have the potential to scale your product and service offerings over time. You may start with selling affiliate products which leads to your own e-commerce store, or perhaps you sell services and then expand into offering home-study programs (or vice-versa).
If you’re a new entrepreneur, no doubt feeling some anxiety about whether anyone will ever buy what you plan to sell, by having an audience it’s like selling to friends, plus you have a safety net – you don’t have to succeed on your first attempt – you can return to your audience again and again with new offers.
If you spend your ad budget on your first marketing campaign and it fails, you’re done, until you can find more money. With your own audience, you can go back to them, learn why they didn’t buy what you offered, adjust, and then try again selling a new product or modified version of your previous product. All of this costs you nothing, just the time it takes to create content to communicate with your audience.
You Don’t Have To Be A Social Media Star To Have A Platform
Bear in mind when I say having an audience and owning a platform, it doesn’t need to be about your personal brand.
You might be surprised when I reveal to you that I’m barely active on social media. My platform was built on the back of writing words in blog posts and email newsletters.
Of course if you love social media, or video or audio, you can certainly use these as platform building resources, just don’t feel like you need to be one of those people who spend their entire day glued to their phone posting videos and photos.
You can and should gravitate to mediums that you enjoy sharing content on and will be consistent with long term, but you can remain simply the name behind your company.
I’ve experienced the power of a personal brand as a tool for marketing and sales. This blog you are reading right now and all the courses and ebooks I’ve sold over the years, are all about the ‘Yaro’ brand and content that came from me.
I’ve also experienced just being a co-founder of a company that sells something people want, but not because of the name of the co-founder. InboxDone today mostly has clients who have never heard of the Yaro personal brand, yet without the platform I built I would never have had the audience to test the idea during the start-up phase.
Start Growing Your Audience Today
My concluding advice for you, is no matter what situation you are in, start to grow your audience and develop your content marketing skills today.
No matter what kind of business you launch, or if you already have one, by establishing a platform and growing an audience you own, you create a powerful tool for testing ideas and acquiring new customers.
Growing an audience is a never-ending experiment. You learn about yourself, you learn what kind of company you want to focus on, you may change directions, start new things, but all the time, you have a direct line of communication with your audience, a direct connection with potential customers.
Your audience doesn’t have to be massive. Just a small group of people who care about the ideas you share, can take you to amazing places.
The best thing though, is that you OWN your platform. It’s not about having a large following on Twitter or a Facebook group, or how many subscribers you have on YouTube or views on TikTok. These are all external platforms that while fantastic sources for audience growth, you don’t own them. They can change or be taken away and you are powerless to stop it.
If all of this sounds confusing, if you’re not sure what it means to ‘own a platform’ and you want to learn the fundamentals of online content marketing, then I invite you to take my free workshop –
It’s just over an hour long and breaks down all the basics. If you want more advanced training, my Blog Mastermind 2.0 program is the next step after you take the workshop.
Good luck with your own platform building.