The Single Most Powerful Strategy To Building Your Massive Audience

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A few months ago I began thinking about building an audience (you, this audience) from a different angle. What prompted that is I wrote a few guest posts (which I spent hours on) that didn’t produce very good results by my standards. I needed to try something different.

Now, before I continue, I still believe in the value of guest posting. Besides the tangible traffic, quality links, and subscribers that come from guest posting there are a couple of huge intangible benefits to guest posting.

  1. By providing high quality articles to other bloggers you’re building goodwill. There are a lot of great blogs out there seeking quality content. Believe me, blog editors truly appreciate receiving high quality articles from you.
  2. Public writing practice. If you’re trying to be a writer, it’s good to take every opportunity you can to practice your craft. Obviously, at a certain point, you might have so many of your own writing projects to work on that taking most guest posts isn’t worth it. But in the beginning stages of your website it’s a good idea.

That’s not what we’re here to discuss though.

The Big Idea Strategy

The big idea strategy is nothing entirely new, but I can’t recall anybody discussing it and breaking it down. And to be honest, it doesn’t always work out as well as you might expect or hope. I think that’s OK. If you continuously use The Big Idea Strategy you will hit on a few really successful ideas.

Why Big Ideas Work

They get people talking about you, usually in a decidedly positive light. While writing guest posts is all well and good, when somebody talks about you and links to you there is an instant bond of trust established. What I mean is, assuming the person who links to you has built trust with his/her audience, that trust is forwarded on to you in a way that just doesn’t happen with a guest post.

Below are 4 Big Ideas I’ve used in the past 3 months and there is no reason you can’t use them as well.

Big Idea #1: Free Manifesto / Collaborative Article

My first conscious attempt at a Big Idea was The American Dream Is Dead (Long Live The American Dream!), my free manifesto. Writing a free manifesto is fairly common these days. Writing a blog post where you solicit advice from X number of other bloggers is fairly common these days as well. I hadn’t seen anybody put the two ideas together, so that’s what I did.

Results: initial results were less than stellar. For whatever reason, August 30 (launch day) wasn’t great. But since that time over 10,000 people have downloaded the manifesto and it continues to be one of the most visited articles on this blog. In addition to that, I get a consistent stream of e-mails thanking me for writing the manifesto. Positive feedback is always welcome. :)

Total cost: $250 for the design of the manifesto by Charlie. Time investment: ~20 hours, including writing and soliciting/editing the launch day post.

Big Idea #2: Create A Holiday

This idea hit me out of nowhere and I immediately acted on it. I’m not known as a minimalist blogger because I don’t write too much about minimalism, but I live minimalism so I wanted to make myself more of an authority in the niche. Enter International Minimalist Day, a new holiday that will be celebrated every 23rd of September. :)

Results: in the minimalist community this article was passed around everywhere. And that was the exact plan. Now, in the future, in case anybody ever thinks “Hmm, I wonder if there’s a minimalist day” hopefully my name and my site will come to mind or pop up in a search. :)

Total cost: $0. Time investment: ~4 hours to write/edit the International Minimalist Day article and send some personal e-mails.

Big Idea #3: 72 Hour Sale #1

2 weeks after International Minimalist Day I released my own book on minimalism, called The Luxury of Less, via a 72 hour minimalist book sale. Another big idea to get my name out in the minimalist community.

Thought process for creating this (watch out, we’re directly entering my brain):

  • There’s a price cap on minimalist eBooks. I’m going to price mine at $9.99, which will result in a lot of sales, but how can I increase the value for all buyers, and raise the price at the same time?
  • Hmm, I wonder if everybody else who has minimalist eBooks available would be interested in a fun promotion for 72 hours. I’m already friends with all these guys and gals, let’s see what they think.
  • What would be a good price point, higher than normal, but not too high so as not to detract from sales? The minimalist community is generally known as frugal so I wanted to pack in as much value as possible, while still releasing a profitable product.
  • $27. It’s higher than any single minimalist eBook, and by packaging them all together, it will be an almost no-brainer insane value.

Total cost: $350 for The Luxury of Less design, 72 hour sale images, and Amazon S3 hosting. Total time investment: ~40 hours, including writing the eBook and putting together the 72 hour sale.

Results: Besides sending $9,388.40 to Kiva.org entrepreneurs, I got my new minimalism eBook into the hands of 1,687 sweet people in 3 days and made almost $10k for myself. How many authors can say that?

Big Idea #4: 72 Hour Sale #2

For this sale, due to its massive scale, I brought on Baker as a partner, which severely cut down on my own workload and also made it a lot of fun to work on.

Our goal with this sale was to create a package that would sell for about $100, but to provide more than $1,000 in real value. It was the same concept as the first sale in that regard. The first sale was $224 in real value for $27. We met with a little bit of resistance, and almost didn’t reach the psychologically important $1,000 mark. But Baker made it happen. :)

Total cost: ~$700. This included design services, programming, domain, e-junkie, aweber, and Amazon S3.

Results: Over 1,900 sales (I believe it’s 1,915, but we’re still waiting on some eChecks) and over $30k to Charity:Water. This was a completely different niche than the first 72 hour book sale and about 20,000 unique visitors came to our site in 72 hours. Being exposed to that many eyeballs for something that is such a huge win/win/win is a big … win. ;)

The Big Wrap Up

The Big Idea Strategy isn’t something you’ll be able to use every single day, but it it something you should think about in addition to any other audience building strategies you use. Since first consciously utilizing The Big Idea Strategy in late August, my audience has grown by leaps and bounds. And it has been a lot of fun thinking about big things I can do instead of simply writing guest posts (which I will also do, of course).

You can use this no matter where you are in the growth phase of your audience. The Internet is the great equalizer. You have all the same opportunities as I do and vice versa. In actuality, you can copy the same Big Ideas I used above if you’d like. They will adapt to any niche, any audience.

How are you going to use the opportunities available to you? What Big Idea are you going to take action on today?

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{ 33 comments }

Matt Coffman

This is such a great post–instead of the usual breathless and specifity-less “Think Big!” posts I usually come across, here’s the actual map you used to implement big thinking in your business over the last few months–the inner game to the outer game that we’ve all been privy to.

The way you’ve blown up of late has been really fun to watch, Karol. Thanks for sharing.

Karol

Damn, I should’ve used a different headline! :)

Phil

Exactly what Matt said. When I saw the headline in my rss reader, I thought this was going to be the same recycled advice. This is refreshing and the results are apparent, you’ve been showing up everywhere. Thanks. B well, Phil

Karol

Thanks, glad you liked it Phil!

Kristen Sloan

The big idea strategy has been floating around in the back of mind lately. I think you are correct that big ideas and ventures build traffic and create excitement. I’ve seen it working much more effectively than guest posts. Thanks for the detailed information and I hope I can create a big idea that moves people in the future!

Karol

Don’t hope, do. ;)

Janet Newenham

Wow. Awesome post. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your ideas with us and how you accomplished them. I totally agree with the others comments, a new a and refreshing post. I absolutely love your idea of CREATING A HOLIDAY…totally awesome!

Karol

Thanks Janet. Have fun with your new holiday. :)

Jack

I had a feeling you were starting to get these big ideas recently. I was not even remotely surprised at the 72 hour sale #2 after the first one hit me like a ton of bricks.

I figured you had the domain and the connections to pull it off, and that it would happen sooner or later (sooner). I’m a big, big fan the charitable contributions – which are not trivial at all – so I was stoked for everyone involved (and I do believe it was win-win for everyone).

Thanks for giving up some of the behind-the-scenes info. I didn’t realize how much work that took to pull off.

Any chance you can go over how you integrated Amazon S3 and handled the traffic spike?

Karol

Amazon S3 hosted all the images and the downloads. The server (BlueHost) only had to handle the actual HTML code and database calls from Wordpress. I also used WP Super Cache to help minimize that. This is the Amazon S3 wordpress plugin I use: http://tantannoodles.com/toolkit/wordpress-s3/ (I use it on this blog as well.)

Rasheed Hooda

Awesome post, Karol.

I had a similar idea a few years back. You took action, I didn’t. Now it is time to take action. I know the niche I want to be in.

Thanks for confirming what I already knew.

Rasheed

Karol

Thanks Rasheed. Yes, ideas without action are useless. :)

Roy Naim

Thanks for letting us in your head and see some of the process that went behind these Big Ideas.

I think the Big Ideas are really ways to go outside your “niche” and get involved in more communities.

You once wrote a post discussing what is your niche and you listed a bunch of things you talk about, where at the end, the niche is “inspiration”.

Tim Ferriss wrote a post once (not on his blog I don’t think) that though he discusses SO many different ideas, they all can be tied back to who he is.

Currently, I am figuring who I am and the more I think about it, the more I realize I am all of those things and I am very involved with the different communities I am in. And this can all be tied back to who I am.

Big Ideas- Bigger Crowder.

And perhaps the “challenge” would be to get the people from one community interested in the other things you talk about, but if you are you and an interesting fella, then, I think they will convert themselves.

Karol

Hey Roy, you hit on what I was talking about yesterday with a few people. When you’re in a niche doing interesting things you’ll attract people who aren’t necessarily into that niche. It opens up a lot of possibilities and opportunities. :)

Rick McCarthy

Your post shows how your big ideas paid off for you, but I don’t want your readers to forget how the big ideas pay off for them. I have participated in both of the 72-hour sales. $1200 would have been very hard for me to come up with at this time, but $124 was doable. These materials will be a great help to my success in living an extraordinary life. Hopefully, they will lead to some big ideas of my own, which may inspire someone else to have big ideas.

Add to that. 30K for charity … truly extraordinary!

Karol

Thanks for pointing that out Rick. :)

Galen Pearl

Not exactly the same thing, but your post reminded me of the Hedgehog Concept in the book Good to Great. The book is about transforming good companies to great companies, but some of the principles can be applied to individual life as well.

The Hedgehog Concept is basically identifying the one thing you are best at and using that as the focus standard for all your decisions.

The connection, I think, is that your big idea will have more chance of success if it is in alignment with your hedgehog concept.

Very inspiring and practical advice in your post–a good combination. Thank you!

Karol

I still haven’t read Good To Great. I feel like I need to add that to the queue. :) Thanks Galen!

Laurie

I love the “create a holiday” idea, that one’s right up my alley.

My goal this week is to work on refining my writing style (i.e. getting to the point without so many extra words!), so that when I come up with some great Big Ideas there will be good stuff at my blog to keep people coming back.

Also going to apply these ideas to getting my house sold…if I could accomplish that, I’d be sailing free. Then no more winters in Michigan!

Karol

Thanks Laurie. Glad you’re into this. :)

As for getting to the point without too many words: you can do what I do. Write as much as it takes, then edit A LOT. :)

Laurie

That’s a great strategy. I’m going to use the same analogy that got me to detachment the other night…I don’t own much stuff, and if my house was as cluttered as my brain, or my writing, I wouldn’t be able to stand it ;) That gives me a visual image to run with, and it’s helping immensely!

Jen Gresham

The 72 hour sale was a sight to be seen. Very impressive, Karol. Thanks for keeping creativity alive in the blogosphere. We need it! :)

Karol

Thanks, I appreciate that Jen. :)

Farnoosh

Did we thank you enough for the 72 hour sale – and I love the big picture strategies here, Karol. I am reading them slowly again and hoping to learn from you. And I am still going through the sale stuff I bought…..a treasure of information and you, a treasure of a blogger and person! Lucky, lucky us, your audience!!!

Karol

Thank you Farnoosh. You rock. :)

Jeanie

Still writing my story–

What are your thoughts on being totally raw with your Self vs. holding back?

Half of me says: “I’m fire hydrant of emotion lately, and it’s been well received, because authenticity speaks volumes. ”
the other half says:
“Hold some in reserve so there’s more for the next Big Idea and creates a little mystery.” (This seems to be partly what you do…you’ve become very mysterious and drop tantalizing hints, you amazing marketer. :)I know THAT works very well for you–looking at Kiva and Charity:Water’s stuff)

What are your thoughts on the 2 paths?

Karol-what would you do if you weren’t already a rockstar who’s DONE STUFF to contribute to causes dearest to your heart? If you were part of the uninitiated?

I’d love to help share your story even more than I already do to the (offline) world. You’re…piercingly blunt, unfailingly polite, and I don’t always communicate clearly with you. :) I’m trusting you to remain that way in your answer.

I’m searching through your site for the posts which have inspired me the most, and linking like crazy. But…it doesn’t seem to be enough. There’s SO much more to Your Story than blog posts, profound though they are.

Recap: 2 paths of sharing stories?
What would you do if you were just starting out and wanted to make a difference?
What part of Your Story would you like me to tell on my Legacy Project? Or, what would you like to tell yourself?

Karol

It depends on personality, but for the most part, being raw or honest is the way to go.

You don’t need permission to make a difference. Just do it.

As for my story and your legacy project: I’m not sure that fits. It’s your legacy project, it should be focused on you. For example, this is part of my legacy project. It’s about everybody, but centered around me. Otherwise it wouldn’t be mine.

Jeremy

I’m amazed that it only took you 40 hours to create your Luxury of Less ebook. Thanks for hard numbers to help motivate me to starting putting some words on paper.

And thanks for making your big ideas ones that actually make a positive impact versus just being a publicity stunt that doesn’t add any value.

Karol

Although I wrote it 3 times it’s less than 20k words. I write pretty fast when I’m in the zone and I didn’t do all of the editing. :) Also, the 40 hours included putting together the launch, not just the writing. Thanks Jeremy!

Jacob Sokol

i LOVE it dude. speaking from experience, this is the most effective strategy i’ve used yet. and it wasn’t even complete strategy, just complete heart in the path.

Looking fwd to playing some mental ping-pong with you one day and supporting each other in going after something uber-stellar, even to the both of us!

Karol

Thanks Jacob! Keep doing shit like getting Gary V to take you to Jets games and you’re going to explode. :)

David Damron

One of the hundreds of things you have told me to do, but I have failed horribly at is properly planning and testing.

One of my new goals, as I am re-energized is developing a path that keeps me focused towards a goal. Some people hate goals, but they usually work for me.

David
LifeExcursion

Karol

Action is more important than lots of planning … testing is always important. :)

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