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How to Grow Your Audience: 3 Keys to Creating Content People Actually Want to Read or See

Chances are that this week you’re going to write something or upload something you hope people will want to look at.

And if you’re like most content creators, what you produce will likely get ignored by almost everyone.

You’ll work so hard on:

Your social posts

Your vlog

An email to your audience or congregation

A blog post

Your next talk or message

The media and marketing around your message

A big ask for money/volunteers

And you’ll be frustrated because you don’t get nearly the response you’d hope for. In fact, despite your best efforts, only a tiny percentage will open it, read or watch it. Some will simply delete the email, or worse, delete you.

How do you change that?

This week, you’re going to write something or upload something you hope people will want to look at. And if you're like most content creators, what you produce will likely get ignored by almost everyone. Click To Tweet

Every week, I write this blog, release podcast episodes and write almost daily emails. As the audience has grown (the content now gets accessed over a million time a month), I’ve learned a thing or two about what connects and what doesn’t.

Want to hear the most surprising part?

You don’t have to sell your soul to gain an audience. Many people think to get noticed you need to be loud, opinionated, sensationalist or otherwise attention-grabbing. And while that’s the way the world is going, that’s not the way you need to go.

In fact, you can do the opposite—you can stay true to your convictions, avoid trend-jacking and decline the impulse to comment on every crazy thing that’s happening in the world, and still connect with people, perhaps far more deeply than the angry people do.

Two distinct advantages also arise when you avoid selling your soul to get clicks. First, you sleep better at night because you’re still trying to make the world a better place. And second, you get to be yourself. If you produce content (text, interviews, posts or videos) that flow from the core of who you are, you’ll never run out of content.

Right, you say…but how do I get an audience if I’m just being me?

Below are three things that I’ve seen make a huge difference, at least they have for me.

If you produce content that flows from the core of who you are, you'll never run out of content. Click To Tweet

When posting content for a cause, business or organization, most people make two fundamental mistakes:

They write from their viewpoint or the viewpoint of the organization.

 What they write only helps them, not the reader or viewer.

Create content like that on a regular basis, and most people will begin to delete whatever you send them the moment they see who it’s from.

Sure, your mom might read it and tell you that you did a good job, but if you actually knew how few people read your stuff, it would be…depressing.

As someone who writes a lot, the last thing I want to do is spend time writing something nobody reads.

The good news is, if you can successfully change just three things, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a better—and far more effective—content creator.

 1. Figure Out the Why, Not Just the What

Most of us naturally start communicating by outlining the what, how and when behind our subject.

The problem is nobody actually cares about what, how or when of your issue until they understand why it matters. I completely agree with Simon Sinek, that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

Why would someone care about what you’re communicating?

Why does this even matter?

How are people going to be better off as a result of reading/watching/listening?

What would they miss out on if they didn’t participate?

If you can’t figure out why, either you have content not worth posting or a message not worth giving.

But once you’ve isolated it, you’ve got the beginning of a great angle for composing your piece.

To break this down a bit, the why behind this article is the issue that most content creators care about: how can I get more people to read or watch my stuff?

Nobody creates content hoping to attract zero audience. But so many people end up doing exactly that.

Nobody creates content hoping to attract zero audience. But so many people end up doing exactly that. Click To Tweet

 2. Shift Your Screen View

To really isolate the why behind your what, try this every time you write something: shift your screen view. Imagine what it would be like to receive your email, read your post, watch your video or listen to your content.

It’s amazing to me that as I’ve coached people on this point they instinctively know how they’d receive something they just created: it would bore them and they’d delete it or ignore it.

Don’t just think about what you want to accomplish when you create content. Think instead about what your audience wants to accomplish.

The best way to avoid that is to think about how you would receive the content if you were sitting on the other side of the screen.

Don't just think about what you want to accomplish when you create content. Think instead about what your audience wants to accomplish. Click To Tweet

When you begin to isolate that, you’ll start to answer the age-old marketing question: What’s In it For Me (marketing people call this the WIFM). As much as you might resist that (it sounds selfish), the truth is you pass everything that comes your way through that filter. You ask yourself: what’s in it for me?

If you can isolate what’s in it for your readers—why they would act—you have struck a chord that will resonate with them.

Then do something great with the why and the WIFM—lead off with it. Make that the first sentence.

Ever wonder what your 13-year-old son is thinking?

Chances are you want to do something significant next year.

This week,  you’re going to write something or upload something you hope people will want to look at. And if you’re like most content creators, what you produce will likely get ignored by almost everyone. (Recognize this?)

Hard to ignore that, isn’t it?

I’m not saying you’ll get it right every time (I don’t), but when you do a decent job of thinking what my audience is thinking, the content resonates much more deeply.

All you did is shift your screen view, zero in on the WIFM and isolate why it all matters. Now you’ve got something people care about.

When you do a decent job of thinking what my audience is thinking, the content resonates much more deeply. Click To Tweet

3. Be Helpful

So what really makes people read, click and care in the long run? Whenever people ask me why my audience has grown, other than providence and grace which you really can’t control  (and which there has been so much of) I immediately point to the word helpful. 

If you produce content that truly helps your audience, you’ll likely always have an audience.

People are drawn to things that help them—that make their life better or give greater meaning to it (this is good news if you lead a church or non-profit, or work in a company where you’re passionate about your product.)

If you bend over backwards to help people, you will always have an audience.

And if you run all your writing/events/activities through a ‘helpful’ filter, you will find engagement grows.

If you produce content that truly helps your audience, you'll likely always have an audience. Click To Tweet

So what does helpful look like? Here’s my current approach:

On this blog, which you’re reading, I try to solve every day practical leadership and life problems people face.

On my Leadership Podcast, I try to bring you behind the scenes to some of the world’s top leaders and have the backstory conversation you would want to have if you were sitting down with them at lunch.

In my courses, I distill all my best leadership strategies and philosophies into practical, hands-on training in productivity, communication and church growth.

In my books, I try to help you solve life and leadership issues that require a longer treatment.

In my (almost daily) emails (you can subscribe for free here) I curate the best of my content in digestible chunks to give you daily fuel.

And what about what you want, you might be asking? Well, to quote Zig Ziglar, you can get everything you want in life if you will just help enough other people get what they want. That is exceptionally true.

You can get everything you want in life if you will just help enough other people get what they want. Zig Ziglar Click To Tweet

Feel Like You Never Have Enough Time?

Advice is one thing. Finding the time to implement it is another.

My High Impact Leader course, is my online, on-demand course designed to help you get time, energy and priorities working in your favour.

It’s perfect for leaders who feel like they never have enough time in the day to get it all done.

Many leaders who have taken it are recovering 3 productive hours a day.  That’s about 1000 hours of found time each year. That’s a lot of time for what matters most.

Here are what some alumni are saying about The High Impact Leader Course”

“Thank you, thank you, thank you for providing the course again. It has absolutely made an impact in my life and family already that I can’t even describe.” – Joel Rowland, Clayton County, North Carolina

“Just wow.  Thank you, thank you.” Dave Campbell,  Sioux Falls South Dakota

A game-changer.” Pam Perkins,  Colorado Springs, Colorado

Curious? Want to beat overwhelm and have the time to reflect, rest and reinvent yourself?

Click here to learn more or get instant access.

What Do You Think?

The most fun part for me is that you can implement all three tips in this post the next time you release content.

What have you found helpful in communicating better? What do you struggle with most? Leave a comment!

6 Comments

  1. Chris Kuhne on August 1, 2019 at 9:00 am

    Carey…! This is SO helpful (#3 – from above) 🙂 As I’ve just launched my blog & website, I have been struggling to figure out what voice to use and how to be most helpful with my content; and to find which audience do I want to speak to. Some things I’ve written are more devotional in style that could target anyone, and some get really specific to issues that worship leaders or worship pastors face. So to comment – your 3 points are ON point, and so helpful to serve as a lens to shape how to make my posts helpful to my readers and not just fun for me. But secondly, when it comes to “shifting your screen view”, what advice would you give on how to distill my audience or my readership? I don’t want to be in too many lanes with my content, but I don’t want to be too narrow either. I’ve even considered having 2 different blogs for this reason, but that just overwhelms me. Thanks so much for your guidance and mentor-ship for this seasoned leader, but brand new blogger! – Chris (chriskuhne.com) 🙂

  2. Joshua on July 30, 2019 at 1:18 pm

    Thank you.

  3. LESBIA CANDELARIA on July 29, 2019 at 8:05 pm

    Carey, you are so assertive on the topics you select for us, your audience! I’ve been listening to your podcasts for long time now and I have never found any other professional that can be so clear and helpful than you! Thank you for this article! Sometimes I ask the same questions and haven’t thought deeply on the three points to attract more my audience. So, this helps me to target my intentions toward the people needs more than mine. I realize that’s God’s way… Thank you again!

    • Carey Nieuwhof on July 29, 2019 at 8:21 pm

      Glad to help!

  4. Kyle Adamson on July 29, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    I love this article! I have been listening to all of your podcasts from the very beginning and just started my first YouTube channel a month ago to give advice on combining business and theology tips because of the interview you had with Sean about YouTube. Thanks for being a great Christian leadership example.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on July 29, 2019 at 8:24 pm

      Kyle,

      This is so great to hear! Glad to hear this content is helping.

      Cheering you on!

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