Audience Building · · 3 min read

How to find traction

Creators I talk to are often chasing "growth." I get it – I chase it too. But the problem with "growth" as a goal is that if you aren't more specific, it becomes an always-moving goal post.

What does growth mean?

Growth to what end?

How much growth is enough growth?

Most creators never define "enough" growth or any true, measurable goal. So they pursue it endlessly, feeling like they never achieve the goal, and slowly they begin to burn out. Which also makes sense – it's demoralizing to never ACHIEVE your goal no matter how hard you try.

One of my favorite members of the Creative Companion Club (yes, I can and will play favorites) said this week that being a digital creator can feel like "walking through the mud."

Oof. What a familiar, visceral feeling.

I think we can all relate to our effort sometimes feeling like we are walking through the mud. It's slow, it's dirty, it's frustrating...we're not trying to go THAT far or THAT fast...and we can SEE the finish line ahead...but wow, is it hard to get there.

I think this is a shared experience for just about everyone – at least when they are getting started. And for some of us, it's the experience for a long, long time!

So, if you're feeling that way, you're not alone.

But that doesn't mean that things get better without real, intentional effort.

If you're feeling this way now, and it seems like you just can't get any traction, there's one fundamental issue you need to address:

Your message is not connecting with the people who are receiving it.

I'm sorry if that felt like a gut punch. It's not as severe as it initially sounds.

It's actually very simple how things grow, spread, and stop feeling so hard. There are only a few variables to consider:

  1. Your intention
  2. The message you're sharing
  3. The audience receiving it

Your Intention

Language is a technology. I know that sounds crazy, but it is. We developed language as a way to communicate with one another and share our thoughts, beliefs, warnings about the sabertooth tiger, etc.

In our own minds, our ideas are feelings, intuition, and connections between synapses long before they are forced into the constraints of language.

Have you ever just been unable to find the right words?

But we internally feel, intuit, and understand our intention in a high-fidelity way without having the perfect words for it.

Intention is the first thing we understand about what we're trying to do. Our intention is the compass for the people we want to help, the problem we want to solve, and the stuff we want to create.

Your Message

This is where things can easily break down (and often do). Your message is the way you transmit your intention to others using language.

Who are you helping? What do you help them achieve?

One common point of tension is that our intention is to help all kinds of people – why can't I help both Person A *and* Person B?

So our message becomes very general. Even vague. Language can be sloppy and imprecise – and if we're trying to capture all of our intention, it's hard to do that without being vague or long-winded.

Unfortunately, the true magic happens when you are specific and concise.

But there is a LOT of resistance to that. It's difficult to capture all of our intention.

The Audience

The people on the receiving end of your message are the audience. They aren't necessarily YOUR audience (yet) because it's your message that wins them over. But I'm talking about the people who are literally seeing or hearing your message right now.

If your message connects with that audience, they start paying attention to you. They often DO become your audience.

Putting it all together

When you're not finding traction, there's a disconnect between your message and the audience. So start with this question:

Am I getting my message in front of the right audience?

If you are evangelizing a vegetarian lifestyle to a bunch of meat lovers, your issue is targeting – you're putting your message in front of the wrong people.

The solution, then, would be to change the people you're getting in front of.

You can do that by finding different online (or offline) communities. You can change the people you collaborate with or the places you spend your time.

But if you're confident you're getting in front of the right audience...then you know it's an issue with your message not connecting.

Chances are that you're being too vague. You're trying to be something for everyone and coming across as nothing for anyone.

Or maybe you just aren't using the same language that the audience uses when they think about their problems or goals.

You need to determine where that disconnect is happening and make a change. Because if you continue putting the same message in front of the same audience, you will continue to get the same results.

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