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You’re working hard, you feel like you’re doing a good job with your work, but you just don’t seem to be getting any traction. No matter what, your audience isn’t growing at the rate you want it to.

Why is it that some people seem to be getting recognition and you’re not? Do they know something you don’t?

It turns out they do.

Growing an audience is not a result of magic and it’s not a result of luck: growth comes when you consistently serve great content to that audience.

It’s not just any kind of content, and you can’t just do it whenever you feel like it. There are 4 very crucial keys to growing an audience, and you don’t just need one—you need all 4 of them.

Show Notes
  • 04:59 So you’re putting your stuff out there and you’re not getting the traction you want—maybe it’s followers, maybe it’s views, maybe it’s subscribers.
  • 05:39 Often, people view metrics as a judge of their work—or worse: themselves as a person.
  • 06:12 But this is somewhat of a broken way of looking at it. There are too many factors in play to simply view metrics as a clear indicator of performance.
  • 06:50 Really, this is indicative of a goal problem. If your goal is wrapped up in a certain growth rate and you’re not seeing those numbers, it causes you to experience a certain anxiety with the results.
  • Key #1: Curation (kind)
  • 08:16 This is the kind of work that you’re projecting. It’s whatever you blog about, or whatever work you put on your portfolio, or what you talk about in your tweets, or what you send to your subscribers.
  • 08:45 You want to project a certain kind of thing. This is really difficult for those of us with multiple passions (Related: e070 Curation vs. Fragmentation – When Do You Separate Work From Multiple Passions?), that are good at many different things. But the problem is people cannot process you being a woodworking, programming, guitar player. Even if you’re good at all of them, they cannot process the complexity of it.
  • 08:49 You have to curate what you share (Related: e074 Curate What You Share).
  • 09:20 The power of association with a single thing: people think of you immediately.
  • “Someone mentioned typography—naturally I thought of seanwes.”

  • 09:50 Someone hearing a word and associating that with you is incredibly powerful—that kind of association only comes from curation.
  • 09:59 When you’re putting out tons of different kinds of work, people will not have that kind of strong association.
  • 10:20 You may be good at a lot of things, but if you’re not curating, you’re not going to be known for any of them.
  • 11:21 You don’t have to have a lot of work before you curate. Just start curating.
  • 13:21 The sooner you choose what you’re going to share, the easier it becomes. You’ll find that as you get specific, one thing will lead to the next thing. You can pivot. Just start.
  • Get specific. Build the curation muscle.

    Focusing doesn’t mean you can’t ever do anything else—it means you’re giving attention to one thing at a time.

  • 14:05 “Can you curate too far?”
  • KEY #1 ACTION STEP: Pick 1 thing and project only that kind of content.

  • Key #2: Consistency (frequency)
  • 20:46 After you’ve narrowed down the kind of thing you’re projecting, now you want to nail down the frequency. That’s the regularity—how often you’re putting things out.
  • 21:26 Diversification in the kinds of media you utilize is a really good way to stay in the forefront of people’s minds.
    • Just like with learning a language: we learn in many different formats.
  • 22:41 Different people consume information and learn better in various kinds of media.
  • 23:43 “How often should I put things out?”
  • 24:25 Every other week is a bad idea. Think about how confusing it is if you miss a week: people who follow will notice that you skipped and then wonder if you’re going to make up for it the following week or if you’re just going back to your normal schedule 2 weeks from now. They can never really know without doing a lot of thinking.
  • 24:48 Weekly or more is best: “Every Wednesday & Friday.” Is it a Wednesday? There’s new content. Is it a Friday? There’s new content. That is strong.
  • If you’re going to do something, do it at least weekly.

    KEY #2 ACTION STEP: Set a schedule and create public accountability by announcing it.

  • Key #3: Quality (value)
  • 26:57 You’re curating and you’re being consistent, but maybe you’re coming up short on the quality. Are you throwing up crap on a regular basis just to hit your deadline?
  • 27:33 It’s good that you care enough to be consistent but it’s not enough. Consistency is only one of the keys—you can’t just pick one of them, you need all 4 keys.
  • You can’t consistently put out crap and you also can’t just put out gold once every 2 years.

  • 28:01 For instance with this podcast, yes, we could just turn on the mics and ramble. It’s easy to justify: we’re already curating and we’re already showing up consistently, right? It’s easy to justify, but we don’t have all the keys. It’s not enough just to curate and show up consistently, you also have to deliver quality—every single time.
  • 28:40 “What’s the big deal about quality?”
  • 28:47 We really work hard, sweat it out, and make it a point to make sure the show we do is valuable, even if it comes down to the last minute.
  • It’s not enough to curate and show up consistently—you have to deliver value.

  • 30:12 Don’t confuse quality and perfection. (90%)
  • 30:59 Care enough to show up consistently, enough to curate, and enough to provide value.
  • 33:07 I’m not saying you can put out awesome stuff all the time. Some of your work is not going to be as good as the other work. Your best work isn’t always going to be the latest thing you put out. If you put out something that is sub par, I want you to feel bad about it. Focus on the value and quality of what you’re putting out.
  • 33:48 “How do you help someone that doesn’t care?” You can’t. You either care or you don’t.
  • 34:33 “Is the only way to do this to be a workhorse?”
  • 34:52 No. Sometimes, you can be smart. You can be creative. You can think outside the box. If you’re coming up to your scheduled newsletter time and you don’t have anything prepared, what are you going to do? Are you going to throw out some crap just so you can say you “showed up”? No, definitely don’t do that. But what you also cannot do is write 3,000 words at the last minute when you don’t have time because you waited too long. This is where you have to be creative. Tell a story, show some process work—find a way to provide value no matter what.
  • 36:34 Providing value doesn’t always mean working overnight, or not getting sleep, or not being with your family. Sometimes it means being creative, being smart, being human, and telling a story.
  • KEY #3 ACTION STEP: Sweat a little. Care.

  • Key #4: Time (patience)
  • 43:42 Expectations vs. Projections
  • 44:19 Expectations are emotional. It’s having your emotions tied to an outcome.
  • 44:33 Projections are objective. They’re based in reality. It’s more about math and calculations.
  • 44:51 Having expectations that go unmet results in you feeling disappointment or anxiety.
  • 45:15 If you’re letting your emotions (good or bad) influence how consistently you’re showing up to do your work, that’s where it gets dangerous.
  • 47:31 Your expectations are almost always going to err on the side of you wanting something sooner.
  • KEY #4 ACTION STEP: Have projections not expectations.