30 Day Challenge

Want to create things for a living? 2015 is the year. The first step is building your audience, and we’ll show you how.

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30 Days. 30 Steps.

Too much to process at once? Check in daily to stay on track or accept the challenge to get tips delivered directly to your inbox.

Day 01

First things first: what’s your goal for the month?

Whether you’re days, weeks, or months away from project launch, now is the time to start building your audience and generating excitement around your work.

Set yourself up for success by committing to a goal. Where will your audience be in 30 days? Choose a place to store your ideas—notebook, Google Doc, or otherwise. Write down your goal and shout it from the mountaintop.

Day 02

Before you can build your audience, you need to figure out who these wonderful people are.

Eager learners, bookaholics, cool dads? Get a clearer picture of who they are and what they care about. Understanding your target audience and where they hang out online will guide your outreach strategy.

Kickstart your research by reading Gumroad's Tools for Getting to Know Your Audience and Sacha Greif's Picking the Right Niche.

Day 03

Email gives you a direct link to your audience.

Building an email list will allow you to establish a relationship with your audience before making any sort of sales pitch. In fact, when it comes to launching products, email lists convert at rates 3x higher than other channels.

Beginning tomorrow, we’ll walk through the specifics of building an email list. Get started by watching Creating Your Email Plan with Jeff Goins, whose email list is 100,000+ subscribers strong.

Day 04

Clear the runway and turn on the edge lights. Your Gumroad profile is the gateway to your business.

Today, use Audience to quickly create your very own profile. People interested in what you’re up to can sign up to follow you. You’ll then be able to send updates and attachments to these followers.

Curious about other email list tools that integrate with Gumroad? We recommend checking out MailChimp, ConvertKit, and Drip.

Day 05

Want to sell more? Give more.

When you provide value in a giving, no-strings-attached manner, you’re setting yourself apart from the snake oil peddlers of the world. Here’s a blog post on selling more by giving more.

It may sound simple, but providing real value is the surest way to build your audience. Keep this in mind throughout the entire audience building process, whether you’re crafting an email, writing a blog post, or pitching a guest post opportunity.

Day 06

Give potential subscribers a compelling reason to sign up.

Visitors who hand over their email addresses want to be sure that doing so is worth their while. As Jeff Goins explains, the important thing is to “make a promise and deliver on that promise.”

What will subscribers get out of signing up for your list? Daily insight into your creative process? Weekly tips and tricks? Look to Creative Morning’s Out of the Ordinary Emails list for inspiration.

Day 07

Allow the world to experience your work and it will thrive.

A good way to encourage people to follow you is to offer some of your creative work for free. If you’re an author, this could be some of your writing, a teacher, some of your lessons, etc.

Today, create a simple piece of content that you can offer for free to subscribers. Then, use Workflows to deliver a welcome message and this piece of content as soon as someone follows you.

Day 08

E-spread your e-wings and share, share, share.

You probably write lots of emails that aren’t directly related to your blooming biz, but that doesn’t mean you can’t point out your venture.

Link to your profile in your email signature. And while you’re at it, send out an email to your close friends about what you’re up to. Your crew will boost your signal to their networks and broaden your reach.

Day 09

Those who can do should teach.

Sharing valuable content with the world is key to audience building. If you can educate, entertain, and inspire people, they’ll keep coming back for more. What type of content can you share? Focus in on a topic and develop a theme. Share your expertise, process, learnings, and approach.

Get started by watching What Is Content Marketing and Why Should I Do It?, the first in our five-part series with content-marketer extraordinaire Pat Flynn.

Day 10

Pick one content format that you can do really well.

Love to write? Set up a blog on Tumblr, WordPress, or Squarespace. Enjoy being on camera? A YouTube channel is your best bet. Want people to be able to consume your content while on the go? Launch a podcast.

Rather than trying to hit every content format from the get-go, start by mastering just one. Remember, you’re not limiting yourself to one format into perpetuity. You can always add on in the future.

Day 11

Great content enables transformation.

Pat Flynn recommends keeping your audience top of mind when writing content. Think about the transformation you want your readers to undergo. How are they going to be different after reading your content? What do you need to do to make that transformation happen?

Check out this video interview for other best practices related to getting content ideas and making sure you produce content your audience wants.

Day 12

Consistency is important. Get into the groove of sharing.

Gather ideas and schedule your content. Start a content calendar in Google, Asana, or even a good old fashioned paper calendar on your wall. Remember, amateurs do things when they’re inspired or when they feel like it, professionals do things on a schedule.

Read Austin Kleon's inspiring post, Something Small Every Day. And on the other hand, here’s a post about a more business-minded approach to an update rate.

Day 13

It all comes back to your email list. Add a link to your profile page wherever you share content.

People who appreciate your content will be eager to sign up for your email list, especially if you promise them more of the good stuff.

Make things as easy as possible for people who want to follow what you're up to by linking to your profile at the end of blog posts, in your website's sidebar, using YouTube annotations, or in podcast episode descriptions.

Day 14

Nobody likes to be left hanging. Stay in touch with your growing list of followers.

Now that people are signing up on your profile page, don’t forget to reach out to these folks. Today, use Updates to send an email to your audience. Or, write the email now and schedule it for a better delivery time.

Stuck? Look to Jeff Goins for advice. Above all, remember that there are humans on the other end. Use email to initiate a conversation, not just to broadcast yourself.

Day 15

What doesn’t get opened doesn’t get read.

Let’s face it, email inboxes get flooded daily. It’s easy for any given email to slip through the cracks and go unread. However, you can earn your audience’s attention with effective email subject lines.

The best subject lines give your audience a compelling reason to open your email. Learn how to write an open rate boosting subject line, thanks to MailChimp's Best Practices for Email Subject Lines.

Day 16

When it comes to social media, don’t spread yourself too thin.

Instead of having a presence on every social media platform out there, narrow your focus. Do some research and pick two platforms where you can thrive.

There’s a great article in our resource center on digging deeper into social media to begin to understand potential reach, geographic insights, previously successful types of content, and more.

Day 17

A picture’s worth a thousand words, or at least 140 characters.

Tweets with images get more clicks, favorites, and retweets. If you’re tweeting about a product, show the product. Your images should be informative as well as attention-grabbing.

Don’t have the skills? Canva is a simple tool for designing eye-popping graphics directly in your browser. We also recommend Death to the Stock Photo for free packs of photos that are far from typical.

Day 18

Get dolled up for the socials.

It's the easiest thing in the world to share links to your profile and work on social media, but there's a lot more to it if you want to go full-prom on your biz.

Here are some resources to help you get the most out of your social channels. Build a strong narrative and get analytical with Twitter. Make each picture on your Instagram worth 10,000 words. Set up annotations and optimize your YouTube streams for sales.

Day 19

Curating content can be just as useful as creating it.

There's likely already some great stuff out there related to what you're working on. Align yourself and be part of the discussion.

Use Google Alerts to stay on top of interesting pieces of news in your area. Consider using Buffer to queue up links to articles on Twitter and Facebook. Check out Buzzsumo to find influencers and what's being shared most. Also, check out Sidebar for inspiration. Comment, like, retweet, discuss.

Day 20

Get involved in communities of people with aligned interests.

Look for groups of people excited about the kinds of things you’re working on.

Get on Reddit, Dribbble, Facebook Groups, Hacker News—whatever applies to you. Starting now, take ten minutes every day to read some posts and add valuable upvotes, comments, advice, links, etc. to the conversation. Contribute without asking for anything in return.

Day 21

Get some face time with your audience.

In today’s increasingly virtual world, there’s a lot to be said for face time. This can be online or in person.

Check out this video from Brennan Dunn on webinars. Schedule a Skype conversations with a reader. Grab coffee with one of your listeners. Host a live event and invite your viewers. Think about ways you can reach out to and get to know your audience.

Day 22

Special guest appearance by: YOU.

Guest blog posts can help you engage with audiences that overlap with your own. Today, identify three good potential guest post venues and copy down their contact email addresses.

Look for content that’s in the same vein as your own or of relatable interests. Hone in on audiences that are only slightly bigger than your own. Brainstorm on guest post topics. These should be mutually beneficial to all parties: you, your host, and your host’s audience.

Day 23

Hello, Neighbor.

It’s time to shoot for those potential guest blog opportunities.

Today, reach out to the bloggers from yesterday. Tell them what you can bring to their community, and tell them your ideas for guest posts. Make sure to mention that you’re not out for a hard sell— you want to deliver good, valuable content. If possible, send a writing (or video, etc.) sample. If they think their audience will benefit, heck, who wouldn’t love a little downtime while someone brings the content?

Day 24

Dive into metrics.

Your Gumroad profile has its own set of analytics that will inform you on your audience growth over time.

Go check out your Audience dashboard to see what’s working and what’s not quite working. Check your signups against your efforts. Does a new blog post result in lots of new signups? How about a new video, guest post, or tweet?

Day 25

Metrics are crucial, but so are individual voices.

Pay attention to the specific things that your audience is responding to. Make sure that it’s easy for people to reach out to you via comments and email.

What’s getting clicked—jokes, detailed information, tips, behind-the-scenes stuff? What questions are you being asked? Can you answer these questions by teaching your audience something new? This is a great way to think about future content and products.

Day 26

Are you finished?

How’s your product coming along? Are you ready for launch? If you’re like most of us, you’re probably plugging away at your project, but having trouble sending it out the door. This is an extremely common problem, but that doesn’t mean it’s not extremely frustrating.

Read this post for tips on wrapping your project up and getting your product out the door. It’s time to get your work out into the world.

Day 27

There’s an art to selling to your audience.

At some point, you’ll want to sell your product to your audience. But how to do this well, without feeling just a little bit slimy? Remember, this isn’t about tricking your audience into buying your work. You have something truly valuable to offer.

As Jeff Goins says, “the best kind of selling is selling the thing that people already want.” Watch this video for more of Jeff’s take on the tough question of selling a product to your list.

Day 28

It's almost time. Rally the troops.

You’ve built an audience. Your product is ready (or almost ready). It’s time to set a launch date and plan your launch strategy.

Check out this case study on James Clear in the Resource Center. It’s loaded with information and tips on leveraging your audience and launching your first product. Also take a look at this case study with James Gurney for help planning your launch timeline and promotional efforts.

Day 29

Launching a product is as easy as pressing a button. However...

When you’re getting ready to launch the product your audience has been waiting for, there are things to consider. Discounts, tiered pricing/bundling, and announcing the release. What, you thought it was just pushing a button? Sure, it’s technically that easy, but getting the most out of it takes a little elbow grease.

Read this Help Center article on offer codes, as well as this post on pricing and positioning a product.

Day 30

Audience building is an ongoing process.

You’ve got a growing list. You’ve (perhaps) got your first product. You’re done, right? Nope.

This is a career, not a gig. Your mindset should be about your next twenty projects. What worked well? What you can you improve on? Every audience, niche, and career is different, so there’s not a single perfect formula. Also, even after a product is released, it’s not over. Think about updates and continuing to bring value and related content to your audience.