Have you ever felt discouraged about how slowly your audience is growing? Disheartened by the number of people who bought your last offer or product? It could be that you’re focusing on the wrong thing.

women excited and laughing on a swing and with balloons

I want to chat about a scenario I see play out a lot in the online space. Here’s what it looks like:

You come up with an amazing idea for a product you are excited about in an area you’re an expert on, and you cannot wait to share with your audience.

You start working hard at creating the product or developing the service, and decide you’re going to launch this thing.

You even grab Level Up Your Launch to help you create the strategy and plan for getting your product out there.

You launch your product or service, confident you will get a huge response.

But, your audience doesn’t respond the way you expect. Sales and sign ups are low. 

So, you set out to create something different. You decide to make a NEW product, something that is sure to sell.

You spend hours developing this new idea and you put it out there to your audience, since you’re sure that this time they’ll be as excited as you are.

But once again, the results aren’t there.

Does this sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone! I see this so often in the online space, and it’s something I’ve experienced myself as I was building my business. The biggest issue I have seen and experienced is this: there wasn’t a community in place that was ready to buy.

You may have had a great offer, and launch strategy. But the number one ingredient–people who want to buy what you are offering–wasn’t there.

After more than 6 years in the online space, I’ve started to see why some people are so successful at growing their business or launching and others are not.

Here it is: people who are successful have focused on building a community, not just on growing an audience, and that community is willing to buy from them.

Today, I want to share with you what the difference is between these 2 mindsets and why it matters to you.

“That number one ingredient [is] the people, who are ready to buy what you want to offer them.” -Esther Littlefield

Building an Audience vs. Growing a Community: What’s the Difference? 

Let’s get clear on the differences between growing an audience and building a community so you can see why putting your focus in the right place really matters.

An audience tends to have one-way communication. When you go to a concert, you’re in the audience. You are listening and the band is playing. Very rarely do you contribute to the show.

You attend a presentation or a workshop as a member of the audience. The speaker is on stage delivering the message. One way.

But when you build a community, there is two way communication. You are still the leader of the community, but there is communication, feedback and insight from the community members as well.

“In a community, there is two-way communication.” -Esther Littlefield

In an audience, there’s a level of separation between the leader and the audience members. Sometimes there can even be a sense that the leader is untouchable or better than the people in the audience.

But In a community, you are able to build relationships. There is a level of trust and connection. The leader often knows the names of those in her community. Even if she can’t personally connect with each one, she works to create an environment where people are known.

In an audience, people are spoken to. In a community, people are spoken with.

In an audience, people are a number, potentially contributing to the leader’s goals for building a platform. In a community, people are valued contributors, providing value to the leader and to others in the community.

In an audience, participants are observers of the leader; in a community, members are able to be seen and known by the leader and by one another.

Why is this important to that launch scenario outlined at the beginning?

Because when you sell something to an audience, some will buy it if you have presented an offer that interests them.

But when you sell something to your community, many people will buy simply because they know you and trust what you are putting out… even if the offer isn’t 100% aligned to what they need right then.

Over the next few episodes we’re going to talk more about this concept of community and why it’s so very important in your business. And we’ll talk about some practical things you should be doing (or not doing) as you build a community.

And be sure to check out Episode 34 of the Just One Simple Thing Podcast to hear Christa Hutchins’ thoughts on platform vs. community.

Faith Focus:

Recently I was in Alabama for the Clarity to Courage conference. And friends, it was powerful. Here’s a link to an instagram post I made about the experience.

One thing that I took away from my experience was the difference between sacrifice and surrender.

I’m not an early bird, but each morning I woke up early because I wanted to get out and see the sunrise and spend as much time on the beach as I could before needing to be ready to head over to the church for the conference.

I sacrificed sleep AND my normal breakfast routine in order to spend time on the beach. Why? Because the beach was most important to me at that moment.

Sunrise Gulf Shores Alabama

I sacrificed food and sleep in favor of the beach.

We all make these kinds of sacrifices from time to time. Sometimes, we make sacrifices for the sake of our faith. For example, you might fast in order to pursue a closer relationship with God, or sacrifice your evenings to participate in a bible study.

In our business, perhaps we donate a portion of our proceeds above and beyond tithes to a worthy cause. 

But is sacrifice really what God wants? As I watched some of the women at the conference, including Avery who put it on, what I saw were lives and businesses surrendered to God.

Yes, most of them sacrificed things to make the event happen. But they also were walking out a surrendered life. This is so much more powerful… and I believe it’s really what God wants from us. 

Several other passages throughout Scripture remind us that what God wants is our hearts; our lives rather than just sacrifice.

This passage from Mark says it well:

Mark 12:32-33 (read the whole passage for context): “‘Right, Teacher,’ the scribe replied. ‘You have stated correctly that God is One and there is no other but Him, and to love Him with all your heart and with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself, which is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.’”

I want to live a life and have a business that is surrendered to God, which means I hold everything with an open hand. I encourage you to ask yourself whether you are living out a surrendered life and business? Or are you just making short term sacrifices that you think will please God?

Shine a Light Segment:

Today I’m shining a light on Sonita Reese, founder of First by Five.

First by Five helps people-centric entrepreneurs lead with conviction and do what matters so their people and businesses win. She delights in serving service-based businesses with growing teams through the intersection of strategy, people, and operations through her Good Growth Pathway™.

Sonita is thoughtful, wise, and strategic, and I have loved getting to know her in my upLIFT Mentormind. If you are an entrepreneur leading a team or organization and want help aligning your team or organization for growth, you need to connect with Sonita.

Visit her website to learn more and book a call: www.firstbyfive.com

Next Steps to Grow Your Community:

To hear more on these topics, check out the Just One Simple Thing podcast with Christa Hutchins. In episode 34 she talks about the issue of building a platform, so be sure to take a listen.

And I want to invite you to come join my community inside of the Christian Woman Business Community! This Facebook group is full of women like you who want to grow a business online without compromising their faith or values. I’d love to connect with you there. Go to estherlittlefield.com/bizgroup to join.