When you look at the online business world, it’s not hard to get the impression the path to success follows one track. Attract thousands of subscribers, sell them a product for $97, then rinse and repeat until you have a six figure business. Sound familiar? Now, does a big audience hurt? Of course not. But it’s completely untrue that a big audience is required to be successful.

Today’s post is going to show you what other, intentionally small versions of success can look like instead.

I’ll start with the business I know best – my own! My business is made up of one service, one-on-one business strategy consulting. Last year it generated just under six-figures. It allowed my husband to quit his day job and us to start a family and during that time my email list had about 2,000 subscribers.

Here’s what you might not expect: None of my revenue came from selling to my list.

How your online business can thrive with a small highly engaged community

My clients were all referrals from other professionals and past clients, or they were blog readers who inquired through my sales page. No sales pitches on my part required.

This is the magic of being a niche business.

Niche businesses focus on creating deep connections with smaller audiences. The idea is to provide maximum value to a small, engaged community of like-minded people. In exchange, you can charge higher prices because you can solve specialized problems.

The approach is quite a bit different than the usual push to create a huge community or to spend thousands of dollars on advertising. (I see you, coaches addicted to Facebook Ads!) Instead, a niche approach to business focuses on building a small, super engaged community around your brand.

 

Today, I want to share the stories of two successful niche business owners who are past clients of mine. They’ve both built successful small businesses by providing immense value to a particular community.

Each sells a higher investment service to a select group of clients instead of selling low dollar offers to the masses. I think they’ll inspire you as they’ve inspired me.

Building community around emotional connection

 Ale Vidal is a filmmaker who specializes in directing and producing video content. Her work connects brands with their audience in an emotional, visceral way. An expert storyteller, Ale’s work takes her all over the world and ignites an emotional connection in viewers. Her community of potential clients is small, and her work is highly sought after. Here’s her story, in her own words:

What makes the community that surrounds your business unique?
My community is made up of visionaries and artists that create with a specific aesthetic, unique to their own vision and story. They celebrate originality and aren’t afraid to take risks if it means creating a better story.

There’s something about the way we grew up, the way we experienced life, which made us curious and impacted our individual approach to our art, our brand. I help my community unveil this and bring it to life through video so that their clients understand the breadth of their work.

Do you intentionally limit the size of your audience?

I would say the nature of my work limits the size of my audience. My approach is in depth and intimate, involving a lot of 1:1 time uncovering the unique traits of their brand. This level of creative energy and time is necessary to create something distinct and engaging for my clients and their audiences.

How do you keep your audience engaged?
I believe my audience and I share the same values – connection, emotion, and beauty. So, when I share content, whether it’s a behind-the-scenes image or a part of my client’s film, I ensure it aligns with those values. My clients love to think differently, so I’m very intentional about sharing content that resonates with their passion for pushing boundaries.

How do you keep your focus dialed in as your community grows and expands?
The biggest lesson I’ve learned in the past year is about consuming energy and remembering that things take time. I’ve honestly had to learn to just sit in the pauses without anxiety and always check in with my values. When I am in line with my values, then I am better able to stay focused despite how my community changes and evolves.

What are the benefits of a small audience, in your opinion?
By giving my undivided attention to a small group of people, I build loyalty with them. I’ve earned their ear. People will listen and buy from those they trust, as well as stay engaged because they feel they are more than a transaction.

By building relationships and intimacy with a small audience, I’ve become an advocate and a guide for them. Nothing excites me more than sitting down with my client, listening, understanding their vision, and giving them a voice through video to bring that vision to life.

See more of Ale Vidal’s work on Instagram

Building community around intentional simplicity

 Ashley Brooks of Brooks Editorial makes blogging and content strategy faster, easier, and more effective for entrepreneurs. Her clients want to be intentional with their business rather than stuck in a life of never-ending hustle. She is a content strategist, writer, podcast co-host, and a work-at-home mama with a small, engaged community that follows her work. Here’s my interview with her:

What makes your community unique?
I attract a lot of mama entrepreneurs and side hustlers because they’re the ones who don’t have time to make their business their entire life. Many people in my community are hesitant that they can make their business work alongside other commitments. A big part of my job is encouraging them that they can have a successful business that fits into their existing life.

Do you intentionally limit the size of your audience?
I don’t have a limit in the sense that I have a maximum number of followers, but I do limit my audience by only speaking to certain people. Pretty much every online entrepreneur has a blog, but I’m not the right person to help all of them. I’m only a good fit for working with those who want to blog intentionally so they can focus more time on living life. If someone enjoys living a go-go-go, hustle-all-the-time life, I’m not the right person for them – and that’s okay!

How do you keep your audience engaged?
I make sure every single email newsletter I send (even the ones in automated sequences) includes a personal invitation for people to reach out to me, even if it’s just to say hi! I get emails every week from new followers who want to connect or long-time readers updating me on their journey. Because my audience is smaller than average, it’s easy for me to respond and genuinely get to know my people.

How do you keep your focus dialed in as your community grows and expands?
I keep my messaging trained on intentionality and simplicity rather than jumping on the bandwagon of the newest, trendiest thing in blogging and business. Honestly, it’s tempting to shift my core message at times, but I know it wouldn’t be worth it. I often have to put blinders on, so I can tune in to what will best serve my audience.

What are the benefits of a small audience, in your opinion?
I actually know a good portion of my audience on a personal level! This lets me bring so much more value to them through my content and paid services. I’m an introvert, so this makes me more comfortable putting myself out there and being totally transparent with my people. I share monthly behind-the-scenes workings of my business with my email subscribers, and that’s not something I could do if I felt like I was emailing a crowd full of strangers.

Learn more about Brooks Editorial here

What stands out to me in both of these stories is the deep connections both Ale and Ashley create with their communities. This, in my opinion, is the key to success with any audience – but it’s especially true with small ones.

When you stop trying to be everything to everyone, it’s possible for you, as the business owner and “head of the tribe,” to connect with each person individually. You can take an interest in their situation, listen to their story, and serve them in a deeper and more meaningful way.

A business focused on deep connection makes it easier to thrive with less.

Suddenly less traffic or a smaller audience doesn’t mean less revenue and freedom. Instead, you work with fewer individual clients, make a greater impact and command premium prices.

Is this the right community and promotional model for you? Maybe – especially if you love the idea of diving deeply into topics, connecting personally with your people, and having an impact on the individuals you serve.

Want to create a small, engaged community around your business and brand? You need a Simple Sales System to guide you so that you can connect efficiently and authentically with your ideal clients. Learn more by clicking here.

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