What if I Don’t Have an Audience?

By Sean Platt

audience with vintage lighting

Today I want to address a really important question that is relevant to well, 100% of Smarter Artists at the very beginning, hopefully much less of you now.

(If you prefer audio, you can listen to this episode on the Smarter Artist Podcast)

But I still think it’s an important lesson that no should forget, and a question we get rather often.

And that’s what if I don’t have an audience?

And the advice here is really super simple.

Build one. Start small and get bigger.

I’m not trying to oversimplify this. It really is that simple.

No one starts with a big audience.

If you do, it’s fleeting. I always think of the kid from Target who was famous for like ten seconds because someone put his picture on Twitter and he blew up, and then he was on Ellen a week later.

That’s an audience overnight, but it’s not an audience built on anything substantial, so it’s therefore too frail to last.

You think about the audiences that really grow, that really matter, that’s what you want to emulate.

The small band that turns into a big band.

audience at concertWhen I was in high school, two high schools over there was a band in Cyprus. I went to school in Los Alamitos and in Cyprus there was this band everybody was talking about called No Doubt.

They turned into one of the biggest bands in the world and I watched it right there from street level where they just really gathered a crowd.

I’m from Long Beach so Sublime was really, really big, and same thing. They were this tiny little local Long Beach band.

Snoop Dog, same thing. Everybody in Long Beach knew Snoop Dog, but then all of a sudden he was national because he had a few people, then a community, and then some radio play, regionally and then just everywhere.

It’s the same for actors, actresses, directors. Think about it. How many small roles turn into big roles?

You see an actor or actress who’s really exceptional in this one little position and then they get cast in another movie, then they’re the best friend, then all of a sudden they’re the lead, they’re Katniss. They’re Jennifer Lawrence and they’re everywhere.

That starts small, it turns big.

And small authors turn into bestsellers.

You just have to be patient and you have to know that you’re building the right things at the right time with the right people.

It’s not about how fast can you get a million readers, because that’s not reasonable. It’s how fast can you get one.

How fast can you get one person to love everything that you write?

Because if you can get one person who does not know you, who randomly finds you, and becomes a true fan and loves what you write, then you can get 10.

And if you can turn ten into a hundred, then you can turn a hundred into a thousand.

Now that’s a really, really long slog, like the long second act that we all have to suffer through when writing our books, but just like the end of your story, the reward here should be really, really great.

So, if you don’t have an audience, that’s nothing to worry about at all. That’s actually a really exciting place to be.

You get to start at the beginning.

You get to make one reader fall in love with you and then ten X that over and over again.

You get to make one reader fall in love with you and then ten X that over and over again.… Click To Tweet

That is a beautiful horizon in front of you. Just make sure that you are treating it with all the respect that it deserves, and that you’re really taking the time to bond with those readers now because some of them will be with you forever and they’ll tell all their friends, and they will help you grow as an author and be able to build the career that you’ve always wanted.

It starts with one.

lady reading a bookYou don’t have to worry about having a big audience. You have to worry about having a small audience that you can grow into a big audience.

And you don’t have to worry about having a small audience before you worry about finding your first tiny little handful of readers. That is your initial audience and you grow it from there.

Seeds make a garden. Look for the seeds.

As always, best of luck doing this.

This is really, really important. I hope if you don’t have an audience, you have one soon and you grow it. If you already have an audience, I hope you’re doing everything you can to nurture it because that’s the life blood of what we do.

Sean Platt is the founder of Sterling & Stone and loves that he not only gets paid to make up stories and come up with crazy ideas, but that he gets to do so with his best friends. Together, they've also co-authored the bestselling non-fiction titles Write. Publish. Repeat., Fiction Unboxed, and Iterate & Optimize to help Smarter Artists get smarter, faster.

Sean lives in Austin, Texas with his wife Cindy and their two children, Ethan and Haley.

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