You want to get big, but you’re not there yet. You’re inspired to pursue something you’re passionate about. You have something you’re working on that you love and you’ve made the choice to go after it!

Maybe you follow someone else who does something similar. Maybe you heard a podcast interview with them or someone else in your field who was successful, and it really lights a fire under you. You know you want to do this thing and you have high aspirations. You’re dreaming big.

Not just big as in 100 followers big, or 1,000 sales big, or even 10,000 subscribers big, but we’re talking hundreds of thousands of visitors. Millions in revenue. You’re not going to be self limiting about this at all. You are shooting for the stars, you are aiming high, and you’re not going to apologize for your ambition.

Keep that ambition.

Keep the unapologetic attitude, and don’t let anyone talk you down.

The Problem

But there’s a problem here. Tell me if you can relate to this:

  • You feel like you’re spinning your wheels.

Is this you? Do you feel like your eyes are fixed on the horizon, and you’re thinking long term, and you’re certain you’re going to make it, but it seems like you’re not getting any extra exposure? It seems like you’re not experiencing any growth?

Maybe you’re thinking, “I just have 20 subscribers,” or, “I only have 100 followers,” or better yet, “Only my Facebook friends read my writing.”

I’m going to tell you why: It’s because you’re focused on yourself.

Hear me out. You’re writing for you. You’re blogging for you. You’re writing newsletters for you. You’re podcasting for you. You’re making videos for… you.

You’re so convinced that it’s all about consistency and just showing up that you’re just making stuff for you. You’re showing up regularly, but you’re dumping your stream of consciousness.

You’re not a celebrity. People do not care about your thoughts, your feelings, and your problems. Sorry to burst your bubble. People are not hanging on your every word. What you say has to be relevant to them and it has to feel like you’re speaking to them and solving their problem. They don’t care about you! At least, not yet.

If you solve their problems long enough, if you talk with them personally long enough, if you listen to them long enough, if you make things specifically tailored for them long enough—they will end up caring about you (Related: e099 How to Read Minds). You want to write about yourself?

The only time writing about your own struggles works is when your struggles are other people’s struggles.

It’s that you’re not listening. I don’t mean you’re not listening to me. I know you’re listening to me. I know right at this moment you are hanging on my every word and this is resonating strongly with you. How do I know this? I know because I’m listening. You’re not listening. You’re not making what people want—you don’t know what people want! I’m speaking to your struggles, your emotions, you fears, and your aspirations.

Talk To The Followers You Have

“How do you know what they want?” This is going to sound crazy: You talk to them. “But Sean, I only have 20 subscribers.” Exactly! This is the best time. You have a unique opportunity right now to build real relationships and invest in the people you currently influence. This is the only time in your career that you’re going to have 20 subscribers because you’re only going up from here. You have big aspirations.They’re the people who will spread the word about you and share your story. Don’t ignore them!

Focus on the people you already influence.

  • Build relationships with them.
  • Invest in getting to know their story.
  • Find out what makes them tick.

It may be hard to realize now, but you won’t always have this opportunity. This is a unique time you’re in right now. Once you have 10,000, 50,000, 100,000 followers, subscribers, etc. (and I know you’re going to get there), you won’t be able to facilitate those special 1-on-1 relationships. You won’t be able to have those valuable 1-on-1 discussions with each and every one of these people. You simply will not.

I’m not even mega famous and I simply cannot respond to the sheer volume of people writing in. I do my honest best to respond to as many as I humanly can, but I’m talking dozens of emails a day from real people. I absolutely hate that I can’t facilitate deep, meaningful relationships and conversations with each and every one of these people, but I would simply never be able to get things done.

You have a unique opportunity right now. Respond to those people and build relationships. The people that you look up to didn’t get there by not talking to their few followers when they only had a few. They got there by doing the unscalable things when they could and by connecting with people 1-on-1.

The Key To Your Next 10,000 Followers

What a lot of people don’t realize is the 5 friends, 10 subscribers, or 100 followers they have are the key to the next 10,000. Many people overlook this because they’re so focused on getting to the next level, but these people are your ambassadors.

Do you want to get to the next level? Do you want to increase your exposure? This is how you do it: You invest in the people you already reach. You invest in them and build personal relationships with them as if they are the only reason you are ever going to do this thing.

Here’s a crazy idea: you can actually just call people up on the phone. You can actually email someone directly that is on your list—you have their email. I’m talking about clicking the compose button and actually writing them a personal email. Not just target your marketing campaigns and inserting their first name, I mean actually reach out to this person individually. Have a Skype conversation or video call. Meet them in person if you can.

Forget Marketing

In the beginning, forget marketing. Forget automation. Forget all this big stuff that is tool-focused. You’re looking up to people who have reached a certain point where they need certain tools to reach their audience. But just because you want to be at that point doesn’t mean you need to be obsessing about leveraging that kind of stuff right now for your 40 subscribers. Are those things good? Of course. I’m just saying it shouldn’t necessarily be your focus right now. What should be your focus right now?

  • Building connections.
  • Answering questions.

When you get a reply to your newsletter or you get a tweet about something you wrote, write a blog post that is a direct response to that specific person’s question. When you get a comment on YouTube, make an entire video that is a response to that comment.

At some point you’re not going to be able to answer every single email and that’s okay.

Reach out personally as much as you can right now.

Don’t get caught up in the tools. Don’t get caught up in acting big, or talking like you have a big audience. The people who have big audiences didn’t get there by acting big. They got there by doing the things that don’t scale. They got there by investing in people. They got there by focusing on one person at a time.