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The First Rule of Building a Thriving Online Audience

If you want to build a thriving online audience of fans and customers who will push you to unthinkable heights, there’s one thing you have to get right first, above all else.

Have a vision for your followers.

People don’t just want helpful tips or useful services or valuable products from you. What your potential followers really want from you is a vision for transforming their lives or their businesses into something extraordinary.

They want you to guide them through extraordinary change, and your vision must clearly articulate these four essential elements:

  1. What remarkable things you will help your followers achieve
  2. How your approach is different from everyone else
  3. Why your vision is better than the competition
  4. How you will make the change easier or more beneficial to achieve

Having vision is how you become a leader.

Creating a compelling vision is difficult, and that’s where the opportunity lies. Average people think short-term. They think about what they need to learn or do to make their lives incrementally better. They look for solutions to problems.

Leaders think long-term. They think about how to accomplish extraordinary things that might take a year or five years or a decade or more to achieve. Thinking that far into the future is hard to do. It’s also intangible and doesn’t lead to instant gratification. That’s why most people don’t have vision.

Learning about a vision when you don’t have one is an incredible experience. It’s as if someone has shown you a map of the world for the first time. Your vision can be someone else’s map.

Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others. -Jonathan Swift

If your followers can’t see past what they need to accomplish today or this week, showing them the invisible can earn you the status of a leader.

But first you need to develop a vision that will inspire.

How to Develop an Inspiring Vision

Before you can develop an inspiring vision for your followers, you need something equally important first. You need a vision for yourself and your own life.

You want to build an online audience to accomplish something else. How deeply have you thought about what you’re trying to accomplish? How far into the future have you planned for yourself?

Leaders are people who accomplish great things for themselves as well as their followers. They do that by having a long-term vision for both themselves and their followers.

When you started your website or blog, was it part of a bigger vision, or were you just playing around with it, trying to learn something new?

You won’t start to accomplish great things yourself until you start planning for your success. You can’t develop an inspiring vision for your followers until you have one for yourself.

Your plan doesn’t have to be perfect or set in stone. You don’t have to know what you want to be doing 20 years from now either (although it might actually help). Start with what you want to achieve within three years. Write it down. Then work backwards and figure out what you need to do next year, this year and this month to get there.

Try this free goal setting workbook from Scott Dinsmore to help you plan.

“It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.” -Napoleon Hill

This is how developing your own vision will lead to developing an inspiring vision for other people. Helping other people succeed is the best way to succeed yourself.

At the core of your personal vision should be your vision for how to help others. Ask yourselves these four questions:

  1. What are you uniquely passionate about and qualified to help people achieve?
  2. How can you help people achieve your vision for them in a way that no one else is doing?
  3. How will you make following your vision more worthwhile than following someone else’s vision?
  4. How will you explain why your vision is worth following?

If you develop a vision for yourself, no matter how simple it is, you’ll be infinitely closer to achieving it than you are today. If you develop a vision for changing the lives of the people you aim to help, you’ll be 100 times more worthy of following than your competitors who don’t have a vision.

And the truth is, few people have a concrete vision for the people they want to help. Just by developing your vision, you’ll put yourself into an elite category of leaders.

No Topic is Too Small for Vision

I don’t care if you’re trying to bring clean and safe drinking water to the people of developing nations, if you’re trying to help people lose weight, or if you’re selling project management software. The core of every successful business or project is vision.

Your job is to figure out how your business or project can make good, inspire people and change lives and then to articulate that vision in a compelling way. That’s the first rule of building a thriving online audience.

What’s your vision for yourself and your followers? Spend some time thinking about that and it just might change your life.

Then come back here and tell us what your vision is in the comments.

If you’re new here and wondering why all this sounds so different from the typical traffic-building advice, it’s because we’re starting something new at Think Traffic. It’s time to focus on what matters and stop passing around the same typical empty social media tips. Being successful online takes more than typical advice.

If you’d like to join our cause, sign up for free updates.

We would also really appreciate if you shared this article on Twitter or Facebook (use the buttons below).

Photo by ~jjjohn~




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