This is a guest post by Paul Towers is a 3 x Entrepreneur, and the Founder and CEO of Task Pigeon, a web application that makes it easy to create, assign and manage the tasks you and your team work on each day. Paul is also a passionate supporter of the startup ecosystem and puts together the free daily newsletter focused on the Australian startup ecosystem, Startup Soda.
Content is king. And content marketing is the gift that can keep on giving.
The problem, however, is that everyone knows how valuable content marketing can be, but they get put off by the early traffic or feedback they receive.
No matter how well you write, the sheer volume of content created on the internet makes it extremely difficult to stand out, let alone break out and grow a sizable audience.
There is, however, a way to build an audience first. And it’s exactly what I did with my startup – Task Pigeon.
Task Pigeon is a task management application that makes it easy to create, assign and manage the tasks you and your team members work on each day. Well before I even came up with the concept for Task Pigeon I knew content marketing would be part of my strategy. So I built an audience first.
I have found that the best way to do that is to provide value to other people first. And preferably for free. As a result, I started, Startup Soda, a daily newsletter featuring the best articles, blog posts and tactical resources from startups, founders and VC’s.
Every day I emailed this to my subscribers for free and slowly but surely my audience began to grow. Not only that, I actually had people reach out to me asking for help.
I provided value wherever I could. The end goal was all about creating an audience. And the strategy paid off.
When the time came for me to launch Task Pigeon and create a content marketing strategy around it, I now had a pre-existing audience. That meant I wasn’t launching from scratch. I knew that at the very least I had 500+ people I could send my content to each and every time I wrote a post.
No matter what startup or company you aim to build there is often a way to create an audience first. Here’s how to do it:
Identify a niche that is relevant to your future audience
The best way to create value is to connect people with a common interest.
Regardless of the startup or company, you are aiming to build you have to identify a common interest and one which people have a desire to read or be updated about on a regular basis.
For example, a marketplace for used cars could curate the latest news and reviews on cars, a startup building a new fintech solution could curate financial news and reviews related to their niche.
Source the content
To provide value you can’t just go to the main headings everyone sees reading the daily paper. There are just too many sources of this information already, and you won’t be providing anything unique.
What I found works well with my newsletter is the personal insights and experience from the people on the ground. It’s the startup founders and early stage employees who provide the most interesting stories. Not TechCrunch or Venture Beat.
Seed your content
You need to establish an initial audience for the newsletter. Chances are if you just asked people in Facebook groups or online forums to read your blog they won’t bother. But if you sell the value proposition of the newsletter being a curated source of news and reviews within your chosen category each day, people will be more likely to subscribe.
Startup Soda started with just 25 subscribers. Every other subscriber came from word of mouth from there. I haven’t since spent a dollar on marketing or acquiring emails. Sure, you could accelerate growth by putting money behind it, but the point I am trying to highlight here is that if you provide something of value it will naturally grow.
Prove your value
The biggest mistake you could make now is to promote your content from day one. People will immediately recognise what you have done. And chances are they will unsubscribe.
You need to prove that your curated newsletter is valuable and worth staying subscribed to. After 3, 4 or 5 weeks you will have the beginnings of a strong and loyal group of followers if you chose the right niche, and identified channels to acquire your first subscribers for free.
Finally, you can promote your content
After a couple of months, you now have a subscriber base who are used to opening your email each and every day. If you then go to seed your own content in that newsletter, as long as it is timely and relevant, there should be no detrimental impact on your subscriber base.
Not only that, but you now have a group of people who you can send your content each and every time you write a new post. And that subscriber base will continue to grow.
You can now leverage your audience to open up guest posting opportunities and other doors for you and your startup.
If you are able to pitch other publications with the fact that you can help distribute any post you write on their site to an audience of hundreds or thousands of highly engaged readers then that can be extremely valuable, and help get your foot in the door.