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The first 1,000 is always the hardest, right?
That's what they say (not sure who "they" is), but in my experience it doesn't have to be SO tough.
By the end of this post, you'll know the key guiding principles that will lead you to your first (or next) 1,000 followers.
But I'm gonna make a few assumptions so we can move things along here.
Don't proceed here if you don't already know:
- Who your audience is
- What they care about
- What topics you plan to post on
Those are the usual topics of conversation in posts like this, but I'm going deeper.
If you're good to keep going, let's dive into:
Guiding Principles to Getting 1,000 Followers
We'll start with the basics and get increasingly more specific. Sound cool? Cool.
Knowledge comes first
And your personality becomes the ultimate cherry on top later.
Listen, I get that you've been told all this time that your personality and being "authentic" (🤮) is the only way to succeed.
The fact of the matter is that nobody cared about you when you're just starting out.
But instead of seeing that as harsh or sad, flip the script.
Because no one cares about you when you start, you can create things without worrying about judgment. You can publish without ego and find out what works and is helpful.
80% or more of the content you share while you're a small account should be focused on knowledge. The more personality-focused content will come down the road, but this isn't the right time for that.
If you're trying to build a brand, you have to be helpful first.
People approach situations thinking "What's in it for me?"
Show them that you are there to serve.
Give away your knowledge for free in your posts, and watch a loyal following start to build.
An added bonus? You'll start getting DMs and opportunities based on your knowledge.
80/10/10/0 rule for posting
Assuming you know the topics and types of content you want to share, you still need a game plan for how you format it all.
The 80/10/10/0 Rule is pretty simple?
- 80% of your posts are strictly knowledge
- 10% of your posts are your stories
- 10% of your posts are moonshots
- 0% of your posts are asks
Knowledge Posts are self-explanatory: they're all about sharing straight-up knowledge with no caveats. Examples include:
- Step by Steps
- Quick tips
- Simplify complex ideas
- Teach what you know
- Give away free bits of consulting
Story Posts are all about your motives and learnings as a person (relative to your topics). Examples include:
- Talk about your origin
- Talk about your journey
- Talk about why you share what you share
- Talk about your end goals
Moonshot Posts are crazy ideas or differentiating content. These are the weird things you try that can either take off or totally flop. Either outcome is acceptable, but you have to take risks. Examples include:
- Rejecting industry norms
- 24 hour AMA sessions
- Give away an amazing thing for free
- Deep responses to trends
Asks are anything that requires unwanted effort from your audience. You are in no position when you're just starting out to ask for much of anything. Just be helpful for a few months without needing anything in return.
This is the way.
Know your position in the content market
You hear the word "niche" all the time and prolly think it's about topics or personas.
The first layer of your niche is actually not about that at all.
You have to know what part of the content market you're speaking to.
Here are the 3 most common positions in a content market:
- Upward Niche
- Peer-Level Niche
- Downward Niche
Upward niches are aimed at sharing content for people AHEAD of you in their journey. If you're sharing content around marketing, an upward niche would have you targeting CMOs and Founders with more experience than you. Your goal would be to convince them to hire you or recommend you.
Peer-level niches are aimed at sharing content for people on the exact same level and path as you. If your topic is marketing, this niche would have you targeting people with the same job title or with the same interests as you. Your goal is to improve your network or maybe find a co-founder.
Downward niches are aimed at sharing content for people 5 years behind you, but on the same path. This is easily the most common (and easiest) place to start. If your topic is marketing, you would share everything you've learned in your career. Your goal is to level up those behind you and create authority in the space.
Figure out which position you're taking before going further.
This changes everything about what you share, how you share it, and with whom.
Post routinely, or not at all
There's really no middle ground here.
If you post when it's convenient, it won't be enough to grow.
Algorithms and audiences alike love consistency.
If you aren't in it for the long haul, don't start.
It only gets harder as you grow larger to keep up with everything that's going on. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that it all becomes so much clearer as your audience grows.
This does not mean you have to schedule all your posts out in a tool. I managed to post spontaneously on Twitter for months on end without issue.
But if you aren't creating daily, the muscle will atrophy.
- Write for 60 minutes per day
- Post daily on your channels
- Put out more content than you even think you can
It's not easy, but it makes you grow.
24 hour principle
Most of my ideas in the moment seem brilliant.
Most of my ideas in reality are trash 🗑.
You'll notice a similar pattern for your content as well.
The best musicians and writers of all time all know this:
90% of whatever you make won't make the cut.
And that's OK.
Here's a simple process to know what to keep:
- Get your ideas on paper (or screen)
- Leave them alone for at least 24 hours
- Set up a review session to come back and look at the ideas
- Cut out anything that clearly isn't good anymore
- Create and publish ideas that make the cut
You'll be shocked at how good your judgment is about these ideas after a long break from thinking about them.
Those who analyze, win
The redheaded step-child of content strategy: analysis.
Nobody wants to put in the work to really hypothesize on why a post worked or didn't.
This is a differentiator for you.
Much like you should wait 24 hours after you get an idea to decide if you should use it...
take 24 hours after a post is live until you start dissecting it.
Then return to the scene after that time and conduct a quick "post" mortem.
Here are some questions you should answer in that review:
- How strong was the hook?
- Did the rest of the content live up to the hook?
- Did I ask too much of my audience in this post?
- What went well that I should replicate?
- What do I wish I had done differently?
- What would have taken this post to the next level?
- Should the post have been shorter? Longer?
- Would I share this with others if I hadn't been the one who created it?
Over time, you may notice negative patterns you need to fix.
You may notice positive patterns to go all in on.
This feedback loop is the secret sauce to snowballing your audience growth.
Listen to people's actions, not just their words.
In other words, every engagement is a vote. Use that info wisely and you may win over some fans.
If you follow these simple guiding principles, you'll be ahead of 99% of creators out there who are just guessing (I know I was).
Here are the principles in one place for your convenience:
- Knowledge comes first
- 80/10/10/0 rule
- Know your position in the content market
- Post routinely, or not at all
- 24 hour principle
- Those who analyze, win