Which should I build first: the audience or the offer?

beginner business tips listing building marketing Apr 13, 2022

I got a great question in my inbox yesterday from a lovely beginning stages entrepreneur, actually you might call her a "side hustler", which isn't realllly my favorite term. But it's one you likely know and so I won't digress (for today at least, ha!). 


She's still working a 9-5 (been there), but she'd like to take her business full-time eventually (been there too). 

Here's "Luna's" question:

Are you like, wait, how did Luna get inside my head?! 

It's kinda like the egg and the chicken, which comes first, right?

Do you build the audience and provide loads of free value so you can launch to them later or do you try to immediately get your business to a place where it's meeting all your financial needs and not worry about building the audience, at least for now?

Here's a few things I can say with a great deal of certainty after launching my own business and supporting dozens of folks in launching theirs:


1️⃣ Building a nurtured audience is one of the most important things you will ever do in your business. 

I can't emphasize enough how important it is to find the humans who your product of offer serves. 

Without them you literally have no business. 

Might seem like common sense. "Of course I know I need to find folks to sell my amazing offer to, Emily. Duh."

But you'd be surprised how many small business owners I see who skip this crucial step. 

They come up with a super rad offer and before they pause to figure out if they have the audience to pitch it to they're off and launching and more often than not, bummed with the results. 

I get it. 

I really, really, really do. 

YOU know your offer is transformational. YOU know your offer is one of the best out there. YOU know it's really going to help. 

But if you haven't gotten other folks on board with that message, it's gonna be frustratingly hard to sell. 


2️⃣ You don't need nearly as big of a list as you think you do to successfully sell. 

"But Emily! You said I need a big audience to sell!"

Nope, nope, sweet pea. 

I said you need a nurtured audience to sell. 

The first time I launched M4M I had about 300 people on my email list and less than 1,000 followers on IG. I told myself if I got 3 yes's I was a go. I ended up getting 5. 

Was it boatloads of cash right out the gate? 

No. Of course not. I was charging $300 a month for a $1,000 a month program. But I'd nailed down my first $1,500 a month in reoccurring revenue and for most beginners, that's some significant coin. 

On that webinar I had 25 people register, about 20 people showed up live, and 5 of them signed up. 

That's a 25% conversion rate, which if you don't know much about conversion rates on webinars, is quite HIGH. 

Last year I had a $60,000 launch with less than 1,000 people on my list. 

You don't need big numbers to make money. You need engaged and nurtured people to sell to. 


3️⃣ It takes TIME to build a nurtured list of folks who would actually buy from you. 

As business owners I think we are predisposed to a certain amount of ungrounded, unproven optimism. 


It's good. We need it because this shit is tough and without that kind of blind optimism here and there I think we'd likely give up. 

But where this doesn't work is sometimes (is this you, Emily?) we have a tendency to overestimate how much work we can get done in a given amount of time or underestimate how long it actually takes to do something (like build a nurtured audience). 

In Made 4 More I strongly suggest (borderline require 😬) you spend at least 90-days talking to your audience at a regular frequency (could be just 1x a week) before you attempt selling something. 

(this is what Luna means by giving away "free, helpful, and supportive content")

One of my favorite mottos is slow is smooth and smooth is fast. It takes time to build a nurtured audience, but once it's built, you can expect growth to happen quickly.  

Taking 3 months to nurture your audience before selling is very antithetical to traditional capitalist narratives which will tell you to sell, sell, sell. 

I enjoy teaching something different. 

Try it and let me know how it works for you. 


4️⃣ You don't need to put out "lots" of free content. You need to put our good free and low cost content. 

This is the age-old capitalist narrative: more, more, and more is better. 

But really what you need is 3 key messages that you recycle through over, and over, and over again. 

And you don't need a lot of it. 

You just need high quality, thoughtful content. 

Most of my clients email their list once a week and post on social 1-3x a week. 

So take some time to think about what are the 3 key messages you want your ideal client or customer to truly grasp in regards to your offer.

Here are mine:

  1. You can stop trading time for money (I teach about sustainable scaling practices)
  2. You can build an equitable business (I teach about anti-capitalist approaches to marketing, sales, and delivery - including hiring)
  3. Your lived experiences and story matter (I honor people as whole humans and teach a strengths-based approach to business using the CliftonStrengths assessment)

What are your 3 keys messages? 

Start writing all your content, free and paid, from this place. 

Ok so back to the question, do you need to create a whole bunch of free stuff and build a list before you can make money and ditch your 9-5?


I think you can do both simultaneously. 

Start your list NOW. 


Don't wait another day to start sharing your message with the world. Get building that email list or social media village. 

Think of it as pushing two balls forward slow and smoothly:

👉 Start building your list and nurturing your audience with high-quality free and low cost content...

👉 And spend the rest of your time outside of your 9-5 doing direct outreach and networking. 

Get a couple practice clients, do a low-key pilot program (check this one as an example), make your sales page on a google doc and pitch it to a few folks before going public. 

See if you can validate your idea before going to market in a way that feels easy and fun (again, this is a great example! 😘). 

Ok, that's it for this AM. 

I'm rooting for you. 

Keep asking rad questions and I'll keep answering them! 

Want to submit a question for me to answer here? Email me at [email protected] or hop in my DMs on Instagram and ask away! 



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