First of all, what do I mean by "organically"?
I mean that you won't have to pay for ads and actually you don't have to pay for anything. Period. I went years without spending a dime (literally) on building my online presence and it's worked just as well as it works today. (Which is pretty good.)
Secondly, what follows is a total non-bullshit approach, my own personal formula for attracting people, profit, and opportunities. I have applied it throughout the years and it has gotten me: jobs, opportunities, free products, and amazing connections. It's also allowed me to do what I love and start a new online business.
Finally, this approach is suitable for entrepreneurs, freelancers, and bloggers.
So anyway, here I am, passing the torch onto YOU.
Step 1: Give value.
This is the most important rule in the formula. You have to give first.
You can give knowledge, ideas, frameworks, exercises, methods, products, and so on. Anything you can give, you must give to those who need it.
You see, giving starts this circle of sharing and trust. It immediately puts people at ease with you because you prove that: a) you're not a robot, b) you're not interested in their money... yet, and c) you're generous and therefore, a good, trustworthy person.
Some people call this "helpful marketing". And it's NOT about some kind of trick where you create a nonsense ebook that's free and people have to opt-in.
Just look at Marie Forleo's videos - they're valuable and free. Kevin Dewalt has advised hundreds if not thousands of entrepreneurs at no cost. Before he passed, the incredible Scott Dinsmore gave away tons of tools to help you "live your legend", and some of it was not reserved only for those who signed up, but also for the general public, on his blog. And Nikki Elledge Brown, "the communication stylist", gives away her best advice in free videos & worksheets, which you can access after you sign up for her newsletter.
Some marketers go as far as advising you to "give your best work for free". And the truth is, the more you give, the more you will get in return.
It's up to you what you give away for free and what you save for your online course or ebook or consultations or freelance projects... but you have to cut some of that cake and give it to the masses. (And btw, if you're blogger who writes and wonders where the money is, create something and sell it! Took me a while to get there.)
Step 2: Do what you love.
I have gotten all kinds of things out of twitter. The incredible truth is, right now I would have been broke and jobless if it hadn't been for twitter. Not to mention, I would NEVER have started an online business. Which is my way of saying:
In my case the tools were "twitter" and "blogging". Those are things I absolutely LOVE doing. I would spend a whole day on twitter in the background, and I would write at least twice a day. Like I've said before - when you love something, it shows. But it more than shows - it attracts people. You become a magnet for people and opportunities, and the more you do what you love, the more you get to do it.
And anyone who is successful will back me up on this. I know it might be scary to dive into the murky water and hope for the best, but smart people do what they love ON THE SIDE until they can do it full time. Nobody's telling you to quit your job. (It took me years of starting projects before it paid off, but then again, I wasn't all that focused.)
Marie Forleo is a big example of a side hustler. She bartended and taught dancing classes for years before she could dedicate all of her time and energy to Marie TV and all of her other projects. If you're a side hustler too, here's a blog you can follow (Secrets of a Side Hustler) and a podcast you can listen to (The Side Hustle Show).
Seriously, if you're not side-hustling RIGHT NOW, you should start. Even if you already have your own business, you can accelerate it with side projects.
Step 3: Network your butt off.
You can't really go very far without this step, but here's the good news:
Networking doesn't have to mean spending all day on social media or spending hours trying to find good content to promote or even spending weekends in networking events in the "real world". Of course, those are great if you enjoy them and have the opportunity to do it, but most of us are: busy, tired, and just desperate for some "quick fixes".
Well, instead of a "quick fix", I'll give you something better.
What I did was choose relevant communities I absolutely LOVED (I was a member of a writers group, an artists group, a makers group, and many more) and just spent some of my time there. I would talk to people, help anyone if they needed it, give advice, and just... mingle. I did everything you would do at those events, but I did it online, when I had time.
It's free, it's fun, and it creates connections that will change everything for you. Those will be the people who will share your content, try your product, cheer you on, and so on. A community is the most organic way to grow, and if you can start your own community - even better! Just a little disclaimer here:
If you're Ellen or Oprah, this won't be true. (Or if you're buffer.) But if you're someone who's starting to grow their online presence and you want to create a community... the reason for people joining it better be pretty darn compelling.
You won't have much success growing a community of "my fans" or "my brand's users", but communities like #Nomads, We Are Not Alone, Puttytribe, and Live Your Legend are the kind of communities people want to join because they give people something to believe in. #Nomads is for people who like this kind of lifestyle - it's not an interest, but a full-grown movement. We Are Not Alone revolves around the idea that writers and authors don't have to write alone. Puttytribe is for multipassionate people (like Yours Truly). And Live Your Legend is a truly inspirational message for our entire generation.
If you want to start a community, make the reason to join compelling.
P.S. In this case, I'm using the words community and tribe interchangeably, but there is a palpable difference. We'll talk about it another time.
Give value. Do what you love. Network your butt off.
If you follow these three steps, I guarantee that you will build an engaged online audience in no time. You will not have to pay for ads (I didn't), you don't have to have a fancy site (I didn't), and you don't even have to follow anyone's guidelines if you don't want to. When it comes to marketing, every bit helps, but I'd say first focus on the important bits.
Now go think of something that you love, something that will be valuable to your audience, and find the communities that fit those perfectly.
And if you want to get funky and creative with your marketing strategy...