By now we all know that if you want to significantly grow your business, you need to produce some sort of product. And in order to make money from this product, you need to build an audience of readers, social media followers, and email subscribers so you have a base of people to sell to.
But how do you get from building your audience to creating something they will actually buy? Because many a product hath been launched that audiences just did not want…or need…or know that they needed. And that, my friend, can be a major bummer. No one wants to spend all that time creating, marketing, and launching a product to only make a handful of sales.
So instead of guessing what would be profitable, wouldn’t it be easier to spend time with your people, to get to know your people, to understand what they’re working through and aiming for?
The answer is a big fat YES.
Talk to your people, pick their brains, and flat out ask what they want.
Here’s how . . .
Follow your people on Twitter
I think a lot of us have a tendency to only follow people on Twitter that we look up to or want to learn from. Yes, connecting with people who inspire you is a great way to stay motivated, but you also need to be connecting with those most likely to hire you and buy from you. Twitter is a constant conversation so it’s one of the best places to chat with your audience and find out how you can help them. I prefer to build a conversation on Twitter over any other platform because it’s out in the open and easy for other people to read and join in.
Host a live chat
Whether it’s a quickie hangout on Periscope or a full-blown webinar, there’s nothing like interacting with your people live and getting real-time feedback. Not only does being live help viewers get a better sense of what you’re like, it also allows you to guide the conversation in a direction that will provide the most insight into what your audience is working toward and where they need the most help.
See what they’re pinning
Pinterest isn’t just about promoting your own content; it’s also a great tool for researching what your audience is interested in. Take time to peek at your followers’ profiles and see what type of information they’re pinning most. Chances are, if they’re interested in reading about it for free, they’ll pay for a product that gives them more info and direction.
Build an online community
One of the best ways to make yourself available to lots of people at once (without completely exploding your inbox or schedule) is by building an online community. Slack, Facebook, and Google+ all make it easy for anyone to join, connect, and collaborate. People tend to be a little more open and honest in a non-public group, which can help you really dig into what challenges they’re facing.
Send a reader survey
The easiest solution is often to just ask. After many years of surveying my audience, I’ve found I get the best responses when I ask open-ended questions. I used to think I was making it easier on my readers by asking only multiple-choice questions, but that limits their answers. Even if you include the option to add their own answer, most people will pick one of the options you provide. This time around I created a survey that was almost entirely fill-in-the-blank questions. I got SO MANY great blog post ideas and I realized almost every person that responded (over 180 people) was ready to start making money online. (FYI: I create my surveys with TypeForm – it’s really well designed and free!)
An lastly, you need to project an image online that is available and approachable (no matter how introverted you may be). I do my best to respond to as many comments, tweets, and emails as possible each week. The more people feel a connection with you, the more likely they’ll be to open up about what they need and the more they’ll trust that you can provide something to help.