How to build a 300,000 person audience in 3 months
...and wisdom from badass Bezos
The GameStop saga is over, Elon Musk took a 48-hour break from pumping cryptocurrencies on Twitter, and Jeff Bezos announced he was stepping down as CEO of Amazon.
What a week.
I'm sure all of you have bought something from Amazon at some point in your life. I know they annihilated your favorite local -everything- store, but isn't it great anyway. The world's supermarket delivered to your door. I love it.
What most people fail to appreciate, however, is that Jeff Bezos will likely go down as one of the best investors of our generation.
Jeff's (I sent him an email this week, we're on first-name terms now) job is primarily capital allocation a.k.a deciding where to invest the mountains of cash Amazon makes every year.
And over the last 27 years, nobody has done this better than Jeff. Instead of buying back his own stock (like Warren Buffett), he used his billions of free cash flow every year to invest in the future.
In the process, he built the most customer-centric company in the world that still grows revenue at the rate of 40% per year and turned Amazon into one of the best-performing stocks of the past 20 years.
[The 22 investors who originally backed him - if they held onto their shares - each turned a $50,000 investment into...yes...$15 billion].
Even outside of Amazon, Jeff Bezos was an early investor in Google, Airbnb, Twitter, Uber, and a host of other businesses that would have made him a billionaire many times over even if Amazon had turned out to be the next MySpace of e-commerce.
Jeff is a real badass. Hell, even after the largest divorce settlement in history, he was still the richest man in the world (I know, Elon, I said "was").
But more importantly for us, he's documented his way of thinking about risks, innovation, and customers in his annual letters to shareholders, which are a massively underrated resource for entrepreneurs.
Do yourself a favor and read at least the first one from 1997.
Here's how Jeff's wisdom applies to most of you:
Amazon is relentlessly focused on providing their customers what they want, and making their shopping experience customer-centric.
For example, Amazon's website isn't fancy, because the customers don't care about fancy. They care about what Amazon can do for them - better, cheaper, faster.
Yet so many entrepreneurs start out with an idea they think will work, build a logo, a fancy website, and then have 0 visitors or 0 sales (yeah, I've been there too, don't worry).
No one cares what you can do or how good your stuff looks - people only care what you can do for them.
Most of us think we know what other people want, but we likely don't. And so we fall in love with our own products, not with our customers.
But in the age of social media, building an ongoing conversation with an audience is easier and cheaper than it's ever been. The feedback loop is instant, and you can reach millions of people at literally zero cost.
That's why I recommend building an audience before you build a product.
Start sharing your ideas online. Get feedback on them. If you share prolifically, people who align with your ideas will find you.
Then commit to understanding what problem these people truly have - and understand how you can solve that problem.
Rapid-Fire Best Insights
The single best thing you can do to start building an audience is to write online for 30min a day.
This has 4 benefits:
It helps you clarify your own thoughts. Writing forces you to identify what you're actually thinking, see through your own bs, and encourages you to be concise
It creates a collection of thoughts so others can follow how you think over time
It creates a basis of content you can distribute on other platforms (LinkedIn, Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, Youtube, your own blog, etc.).
It gets you over yourself. Writing doesn't require you show your face and is not as intimidating as video but will build the muscle of posting online and building an audience
Start writing 250 words every morning when your mind is fresh. Publish it on a blog like Ghost. Then learn to leverage it across platforms [more on that to come].
Quote of the week: “We’ve had three big ideas at Amazon that we’ve stuck with for 18 years, and they’re the reason we’re successful: Put the customer first. Invent. And be patient.” - Jeff Bezos
Best article I read this week: In case you missed the link above, I highly recommend the 1997 5-page letter to shareholders from Amazon.
In case you're hungry for more, here's an excellent piece on how creators and influencers can build billion-dollar businesses.
Best Tweet I came across: here's a business idea you can start with $5,000 and that will make $30,000 per year in profit
Anything else I think you should know: Tiktok is by far the most underrated social media network out there to grow a large audience fast. The biggest mistake you can make is thinking the app is just for kids.
There are millions of adults on there looking for content that's relevant to them.
I started my account in March 2020 to share ideas on investing and personal freedom.
Nearly a year into it and 260,000 followers later, my videos get an average of one million views per week, with tens of thousands of comments (comments = feedback).
Here's how I did it:
Not doing trends, challenges or dancing, but posting educational, actionable & "how-to" content
Posting 2x a day, 15-25 second long videos
Eliminating pauses in speech during editing - and adding large subtitles (80% of people watch with the sound off). I first write out what I want to say (from my daily writing) so that I'm concise.
Focusing on capturing the viewer's attention in the first 2 seconds of the video with a catchy headline or movement
Using a trending song turned down to 3% of volume and 4 hashtags on every post (2 general, 2 niche)
Asking people to follow me at the end of every video
My wife applied the same principles and got 300,000 followers in 3 months. It works.
If you're on the app, reply to this email and I'll give you a follow!
Until next week,