More subscribers. More traffic. More followers.
It’s easy to get caught up in the race for more. More is better, right?
We all want our businesses and blogs to grow. But not all growth is ideal or even beneficial. Sometimes blind growth can be harmful.
More contacts and more eyeballs doesn’t always mean better eyeballs. Would you rather have 1,000 people’s eyes completely glued to everything you do, or 100,000 with an attention span rivaling a fruit fly on amphetamines?
More traffic isn’t always better either. New traffic is great, but if 99% leave without subscribing or taking some kind of desired action, does it really matter? Wouldn’t you rather have a few new followers join you every day as lifelong customers, than a few thousand who window-shop and quickly move on?
How big is “big enough?” Have you thought about this? Incredible size easily leads to overwhelm of too many good ideas. I’m sure there are quite a few “big people” out there who wish their businesses were smaller and simpler.
It’s not that growth is bad
Growth is natural. If your product or service is first-rate, if your content is terrific, if you spend lots of time building quality relationships, and if you learn to effectively promote yourself, you’re going to grow.
But we could always do more. We hit one milestone number and immediately we start wishing for the next.
We have this idea that in order to be successful we need to be as big as possible. So is that really true? I don’t think so.
- Charlie Gilkey has a blog of just over 3,000 subscribers. And with this relatively “small” following, he has had no problem carving out a niche for himself helping creative entrepreneurs launch and develop their products. He regularly partners with peers who have five times or more the size of audience he has.
- Adam Baker runs another profitable, agile business with a few thousand subscribers. He’s managed to stay lean enough to travel the world with his family while he runs his business.
- Yusuf Clack has built a successful business by targeting a small niche and speaking to them in a way that no one else has. He doesn’t have a huge online following. But he has a passionate one.
These are just a few of the many people out there who are doing quite well with a relatively small but highly engaged audience.
How exactly do you make this work?
Instead of playing for numbers, you play for depth. Think knock-out punches instead of a torrent of annoying fly-swatting jabs.
Okay, maybe that’s a bad analogy, you don’t make friends by hitting them in the face.
How about if I just tell you a few ways to deepen your reach?
- Do less, better. It’s much easier to make an impression when you focus on doing a few key things incredibly well. Become known for helping people by doing something amazing.
- Create high-value products and services. If your product price range is under $20, you’ll have to move a ton of inventory. But if you focus on valuable, higher-priced products (like awesome consulting or private training) you won’t need as many clients.
- Make more intimate connections. You can create a deeper connection with someone in a five-minute phone call than you can in five months of twitter conversation. The more you can connect on the phone and in person, the better, and the more likely you’ll create relationships that go beyond the surface level.
- Build a referral based business. When your focus is on people (not just numbers), more people will want to refer you to their friends and peers. This means you need to offer excellent customer service and you need to always exceed expectations. Also, if you have a service or product that complements someone else’s, it will be a natural fit for them to refer their people to you.
- Make yourself accessible. So many people create unnecessary distance between themselves and the people they help. They have filters, gate keepers, and barriers to communication. One benefit of staying small is it’s much easier to engage with your audience. Show that you’re someone who really cares and wants to help. The more you do that, the greater depth of connections you will build.
The more you focus on depth, the more you realize that breadth is only relevant to a point. If you become obsessed with growth for its own sake, it can be hard to keep perspective.
Sometimes being small is just fine. Sometimes, in fact, it’s fantastic.