Building an Audience: Think About Who You’re Trying to Reach
If you’re creating content and putting it out in the world, there’s one question I think you need to ask yourself on some kind of regular basis (monthly, yearly, something): who is your audience? More importantly, who do you want your audience to be?
Your audience is made up of the people you’re trying to influence — to get them to buy, know, or learn a thing, or to turn them on so they come back for more.
It seems to me (especially on social media) that we forget our friends who also create content aren’t necessarily our audience. They can be. Plenty of sex bloggers are also sex blog readers. And in the beginning, your audience will absolutely be people who know you or who participate in the same things you do.
But in order to grow, you have to find a way to move past your circle of friends and fellow content creators to reach a wider audience.
And I think a lot of people forget that, especially when they’re on social media. So…I’ve got thoughts.
You Need Time to Build an Audience
I think most content creators know they need an audience. This isn’t news to anyone. But what may surprise you (though it shouldn’t) is that it’s going to take time to be found, earn trust, and get people to come back for more. You’ll do it one person at a time. You might go days without a new person finding you or they might all show up in a mad rush. But if you expect it to happen on some magical timeline, you’re going to be disappointed.
Think About Who You’re Talking To
I see this most often on Twitter but it can happen anywhere. Because a diverse set of people follow you — other smutlancers, people who like your content, adult companies, and random people who showed up out of nowhere — it’s not always easy to know who you’re actually talking to.
A lot of us go on social media to vent about our sex blogger or smutlancer life. That’s a completely valid thing to do, and I won’t say anyone can’t do that. But context matters, as does your audience’s understanding of what’s going on. If you want your audience to understand the inner workings of some part of your smutlancer life, by all means, share it. But if you get frustrated because people don’t respond the way you wanted, it may be that they’re the wrong audience for that particular message.
And if what you’re talking about on a consistent basis only matters to one small part of your audience, it may be harder for a wider audience to connect to you. Anytime you create content — and that includes a social media post — think about who you’re actively trying to reach and whether this message or format is the best way to do it.
Not Every Opinion Has to Be Shared
I’ve got all kinds of opinions. Lots of them. Some are as bitchy, snarky, and nasty as I get. My personal philosophy is that my websites and social media feeds are almost never the place for those unedited opinions. Will I share how I really feel on a topic that pertains to my brand — good or bad? Abso-fucking-lutely! Will I share the unedited version where I say things that are judgmental or mean? Nope.
As people who put our sexual thoughts, lives, experiences, and/or knowledge out into the world — to make money — we walk a fine line. Building an audience means figuring out what you want to be known for. If you want to be know for harsh opinions or off-the-cuff statements, go for it!
But if you’d rather be known more as your best-self (with plenty of reality sprinkled throughout), not every opinion you have needs to be made public. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have opinions. It might mean, however, that you find a small group of people you trust to share those opinions with instead of making them public.
Hot Takes and Your Brand
Recently I was severely annoyed by something that is part and parcel of putting thoughts onto the internet. But I could see that my tantrum-like reaction to it might be misunderstood, and it could have alienated the audience I want to have. So I went to a close friend who lets me vent and unleashed fire and brimstone. Once it was out of my system, I felt better and could even see my initial annoyance was an overreaction based on stress, not the thing that happened.
Hot takes are a thing, and I get it. Some people want to be known as the salty one with a hot take for everything. If it works for them, cool. But sit back and watch other hot takes for a while. Don’t engage, just watch. Many are made without full awareness of an issue, without any context of what’s actually going on. If you’ve ever watched someone go off online and found that it stressed you out or made you less likely to follow, you’re not alone.
Hot takes aren’t a way to build an audience for everyone. The test to know if it’s working for you is whether your audience is growing and if they’re an audience who supports you. Support can mean reading your work, clicking a link, buying a thing, etc. If not, they might only be there for the hot take. Depending on your goals, that may not be helpful at all.
There’s No Single Right Way
As a reminder, there’s no single right way to build an audience or to figure out your brand and how you want to be seen. We’re all doing our best to figure it out every day. But if your audience isn’t growing or (worse) it’s shrinking, make sure you’re spending your time talking to the audience you want. It’s easy to get stuck talking to people we know in our own bubbles, but your fellow smutlancers probably shouldn’t be your main audience. (Unless you decide to build a site devoted to your fellow smutlancers and share unasked for advice…that’s a bit different, of course.)
Many of the people who could be in your audience and help your online presence grow aren’t here for the drama. They’re here for what you can teach or show them or for what you make them feel. They won’t understand the jargon, might not even consider themselves sex-positive (yet), and won’t care about the annoyances and foibles of the sex blogger, sex toy reviewer, adult brand world. If they ever care about it at all, it’ll likely be because they care about you.
How much you think about this stuff depends on your short-term and long-term goals, what you want from an audience, and what works best for your personality. But none of us grow and succeed (in whatever way that means) without people paying attention to us and liking what we do. The next time you’re ready to go on a rant or have even a valid complaint to make, just consider your audience before you hit publish. Maybe you still hit publish…and maybe you don’t.