People spend a lot of time on the internet but not enough time looking into the economic opportunities it presents. In the same vein, I guess, people spend a lot of time chasing Likes on social media but forget that the Likes have little to do with attention.
True engagement and producing evergreen, compelling content are what everyone should be going after instead.
This became real to me recently when I got a phone call that referenced a blog post I had written almost a decade ago. Yet it explains precisely the power of building community through content even before an online sale is made.
Let me explain. About 10 years ago, I wrote a blog post about the work I was doing with a client in the medical field.
I shared the way we were using social media and digital ecosystems to build community without much of a spend on ads (those were the days when you didn’t have to pay to play).
When Writing For The Internet Be Intentional
The client, whose digital footprint I helped to create, got great results just by building community one follower at a time and later adding growth marketing strategies to uptick their follower and engagement count as well as sales.
I had the wonderful opportunity to see the direct result of my work on their skyrocketing growth. As I mentioned, I shared the experience as a blog post and had forgotten about it (it’s been 10 years) until the phone rang.
On the other side was the lead administrator at another medical centre. They were looking for a consultant to spearhead their digital communications.
Our conversation began like this: “We read that post you wrote and we were impressed.” By the end of our conversation, I knew I had won a new client, not only because of what I was able to demonstrate in the present but also because of an obscure article I had written for the Internet almost a decade before.
How To Win On The Internet
Here is what I’ve discovered and what I want you to know. Being present on the Internet, in an intentional way, can help you build your business.
Yes, you can do mindless scrolling but if you pause that for a moment and direct your efforts more purposefully, you can create new opportunities for revenue streams as well as get exposed to decision-makers with projects worth your interest and your time.
There are many ways to win big online but I think the most pedestrian is getting an online shop up and running. I’m going to dive into all my go-to methods for building an online business and debunk something HUGE many get wrong.
Trust me on this, if only because I’ve seen from close-up how a genuine, trusting audience that becomes your perfect people can drive your business to reach its revenue goals.
Growing an online business does not begin with your product or service, it starts with the community you create, first and foremost.
Ok, let’s do this, friends. These tips I’m about to share are amazing
Bookmark/ pin it /etc. and I pray it serves your small business as you work hard to get your product or service into the hands of those that need it while being able to support your family,
- Why you should put community growth before sales and be intentional about it
- The fastest way to build community with Facebook Groups
- How to create an online product/ service/ course that will create impact within your community
- How to make content the currency of community building
- Why automation comes last but is the most important part of the community content matrix
You can check out the video below for a behind-the-scenes look at how I get ready for a holiday (Christmas) launch.
Ok, are you ready? Here are my secrets – altogether I call it my Launch With Profit Guide, which is just my way of saying it works. Let’s start at the top, with the idea of community and how you can be intentional with the way you grow it.
Step 01| Build Community First
I wanna be honest with you, like Bible honest. You’ll never have to worry about building business if you know how to cultivate a thriving community. That’s it.
The point I hope you get is if you nail community first, growth will happen naturally. Sometimes we make it more complicated but it’s not. You see there is a wrong premise being bandied about in the age of pivot.
We think that our products must come first so we hurriedly move our products online, deck out an online shop, and hope and “they” will come.
A lot of my entrepreneurial friends have done that and have struggled to find traction and generate sales. Why? They don’t have an audience.
That’s why I suggest community first. My idea is controversial but I have tested it. More importantly, my idea is built on a repeatable and scaleable premise.
Build community first, and your community-led products after. Heck, your online store can be based on this.
If you don’t have a system to figure out the kind of people you want in your community. (HINT: They should be your perfect people).
I *highly* recommend my Ideal Customer Checklist which you can find in my shop. It will make you super clear about the kind of audience you long to attract.
Step 02| Use Facebook Groups To Fast Track Community Growth
You can use two strategies. 1) lead groups and 2) get hyper-focused about their niche interests. In essence, go deep and not wide.
My bet is that already know what you are passionate about, once you do, the next step is to lead the way with content. ***HELLO COMMUNITY!**
You see content attracts like-minded persons who will either share the same vision or want to learn more about it from you.
If you want to supercharge community growth, check out Facebook Groups.
They are actually one of the fastest ways to build community. Plus, Groups make Facebook seem like the fun space it once used to be, and we need that given all the recent controversy that the platform is undergoing.
You can follow Groups around specific topics that you like to know about or have a specific interest in, and you can also lead a group.
Whichever way, the key to building community is to show up and speak up either as a member of the Group or as the leader.
You can do this by engaging in posts, asking questions, sharing wins, creating opportunities for others, and offering encouragement.
Doing so allows you to build trust and carve a voice that people come to rely on.
Build Your Runway
Another great strategy for community building is to be intentional about which accounts you follow. Don’t always follow people who share your exact vision, follow folks with divergent opinions from your own either in your niche and broad areas.
This will help to expand the way you think. I love this way to build community because it keeps me from being inspired by the same kind of content every single time I post.
The magic is in the work you do to build and nurture your communities. Once you follow and participate in communities like Facebook Groups what you are actually prepping for is to lead one of your own.
This is where you’ll find the biggest reward because you’re laying the runway to take off with your first community-led product.
Step 03| Be Active In Your Community
Once you set up the right platform to build a community, know that you have to be an active leader.
Don’t love ’em and leave ’em. You must figure WHAT you’re going to create each week that makes people want to stick around.
Here are a couple of points I want you to devote time to,
- The currency that underpins everything you do in your community is your content and ideas. Make sure you create content consistently.
- Sharing your ideas attracts like-minded people whose feedback, questions, and prompts make you smarter.
- By having a direct audience and a focused community you can go deep with your ideas and in the process get quality feedback on what you share.
- The more you share about the things that matter to your community in a very niche way, the closer your bond will be with members Your role is to serve them well. It’s a very thin slice between your passion and their needs but it’s a slice worth carving.
- Your community represents potential customers. Devote time to profitable content creation and your community will tell you their needs.
Ok, this part is work. IT’S CONSISTENT WORK. But … it’s super important. Don’t skip it!
Growing your community is a foundational step and will give you so many ideas about what kind of product/service you can create that will serve your audience while earning you revenue.
Ok, I see that you are getting my bulletproof, blueprint for the business I’m encouraging you to build, it’s time to start putting in the drywall.
Congrats on your strong foundation. It’s Time. Build Your First Community-Led Product
Step 04| Time Build Your Community-First Product.
Once you’ve built an audience, or feel comfortable about the direction of its growth, it’s time to THINK BIG. I’ll repeat. It’s time to THINK BIG.
Because you’ve been constantly adding value to your community, you’ll begin to know your members well and you’ll recognise a couple of things
1. The problems they have
2. The challenges they encounter
It soon becomes crystal clear about what product you can develop to serve your community. I’ll give an example.
When I started Forward Forty, I developed content around health, lifestyle, travel, and small business success.
As I continued creating value around these content pillars I noticed people asking me about content creation and building a business.
Most of the questions came from small business owners who were suddenly thrust into the work of content creation.
That’s when I decided to create Successful Caribbean Content Creators, a Facebook Group which later became the meat-and-potatoes into my Membership site, Simplify and from which I’ve launched several Lead Offers.
Tip| Don’t Self Sabotage With This
Now don’t get into any negative self-talk inside your head. If the product or service that will solve your community pain points already exist you may be tempted to think: “Oh no, I can’t do this.” I want you to stop the sabotage.
While your idea may be already out there, existing in the world, no one can deliver it with the same joy, the same points of view, the extra service sauce, and all the sweet ingredients that you put into what it is you do.
Your job is simply to develop a product that solves the pain points and challenges that your community is actually begging you to solve. All you have to do is solve the problem for them and/or for or yourself — ideally the magic happens when the two intersect
To build a product for your audience, ask: “What challenge is my community facing and what product can I create to solve the problem they have?”
And to build for yourself, ask: “What product can I build to make my life easier?”
Every successful small biz owner speaks about an overlap between their own interest/s and that of the community they serve.
The bigger the overlap the more successful you’ll be. Why? Because you will be creating from a position of purpose and passion.
Your curiosity will always be grounded with intention. That’s the biggest win of all because it helps keep your business model sustainable.
Quick Side Note | My Success Story
When I built Simplify to help female-led small businesses and brands build profitable communities on social media, I did it because I saw how many of my friends struggled to market effectively on social media.
I also had been down a similar rabbit hole.
So I designed a system that provided readymade social media content and business / digital coaching on a monthly basis that turned small business owners into content marketing machines without spending heaps of time trying to create and market content on their own
If your community members and followers are continuously expressing angst about something, there’s an opportunity to build a product.
If an obvious customer pain point hasn’t been solved, there’s probably a reason why.
But you’ll find economic opportunities in common problems people don’t know they have, or know they have but can’t figure out how to solve.
I think the most important thing I can tell you when you are working to pivot successfully is to build community first or to build community as aggressively as you build your product.
Why I Created 30 Days Of Content
You see many people do the opposite but know a community is one of the biggest arbitrage opportunities, and underpinning its growth with the right kind of content will help you succeed.
Basically, it’s the reason I created my popular 30 Days of Content, which is an online guide with day-by-day content templates and prompts you can use in your Group or any social media platform to build community.
The Guide is filled with actual content that helps you build your community faster.
Best of all, the content is repeatable and can be used 365 days of the year. 30 Days of Content is a product I wish existed when I started writing with the intention of building community.
If it did it, I would have saved hundreds of hours in creating content, knowing what to say, when to say it and how to build and engage in my community (now 50,000 strong) and refine ideas that would build my business.
If you lead with community, your products will be successful. Solve problems, it’s as simple as that.
Step 05| Automate and Scale
You’re onto the last step but it’s important as I legitimately feel that it’s the missing piece of the online puzzle.
Once you build your product/service you need to define your systems and processes. That comes with creating a Lead Offer and Landing Page, an email sequence to your paid product, and a plan to scale it.
This is the last and final piece of your online biz building puzzle. Understanding this was so game-changing for me.
Once I discovered the system and found out how to work it I didn’t feel LIKE I had to spend a ton of time wondering what to do to make my online products and services earn money, passively.
I didn’t have to put out bait every single day forever and ever amen without any biting fish
I didn’t have to sit down and wonder what to write about on social media or what my audience wanted.
For the first time, it was all there and I didn’t feel imprisoned by frustrations. Everything was automated.
Best of all, I didn’t have to be chained to my computer. I could create four lead offers directly linked to my community needs and put four systems and put my business on autopilot.
This Will Make You Go Hmmm.
I’ll talk more about that system in another post but for now, just know that if you are looking for a good way to simplify your systems and reconstruct ways to stop feelings of overwhelmed then the simple trick is to automate.
I now automate everything with my digital products: my email sequences, payment processes, lead welcomes, etc.
Oh my goodness! We have come to the end. I know I’ve given you a lot to chew upon but the real deal is this is my step-by-step process.
Is it a short one? No. Is it profitable? Heavens, YES. Building a strong community gives you a solid platform for a thriving business.
It gives you back time and more energy which ultimately helps you stay productive and, hit your sales goals.
Ok, now I’m curious. Do you have or are currently growing a community? Please tell me below and share links so I can see how you’re doing.