082 - How To Build An Audience From Scratch With Russell Nohelty



About Russell

Russell Nohelty is a USA Today Bestselling author, speaker, and six-figure creative entrepreneur. He’s raised over $170,000 on Kickstarter, built a mailing list of over 20,000 people, and exhibited at more than 150 events since 2016. Now, he teaches creatives how to lead a complete and successful life through his teaching academy and podcast The Complete Creative, www.thecompletecreative.com.



Show Notes

Josh Tapp 0:01
What's up everybody? Josh Tapp here again, and welcome back to the lucky Titan podcast. Today we've got Russell nulty on the mic. And I'm super excited for this one because we're going to be talking about how to start an audience from scratch, which pretty much everybody we know that is the number one question on most people's mind is where do I find my customers? So, Russell, introduce yourself really quick, and we'll move forward from there. Sure. So I'm a USA Today best selling author, I run a company called wannabe press. Two years ago, we broke off the educational wing of one of the press into its own site called the complete creative. So one of the press is the publishing company that I run that sort of tests all of my crazy theories about audience building and content and everything. And then once we have sort of a process down, I teach it through the complete creative. Awesome. And so you're you're focusing pretty heavily on helping people in that creative space to really build a company. So give us a little bit of background on on
Russell Nohelty 1:00
Your your audience building and what you're doing there as far as you know, helping people to create that. Sure. So I have started three other companies in the creative entrepreneurship space two publishing companies and a photography studio. And all of them failed. Like, within like five years. I think the longest one I had was a five year company, but it was really like not five years full time or even mostly part time. It was sort of like I would focus on it for a couple of months, and then not for like a year and then a couple. So like, I technically owned it for six years, but I wasn't really doing anything with it for most of that time. And I've also own a Verizon dealership and I had a couple of regular entrepreneurship companies too. But when things really started changing for me when I started really getting
traction was when I started really focusing on the audience and like what they want and bringing something to them and it was hard for me to tell at the beginning, what was wrong with the companies but once I started Finding like that people were resonating with the books that I had and like willing to pay me for those books, sort of the then the warmth that came with all of that and like the outpouring of support the, the coldness of the first companies, the the the lack of any of that really became apparent. So it wasn't something that people ask me all the time. Like, how did you know that these companies were failures because like that's, like important, like most people, like sort of are like in the dead space over here. And it was, it was something that I couldn't explain until I like had something where people were resonating and like it was sharing on its own and like, people were excited and people weren't just being like, that's so nice. They were like, holy crap, this is awesome. And the minute that that happened, and I started like, like, turning towards the warmth, it's kind of a hippie kind of thing to say, but like turning towards that part. The more I turned towards it, the more I sort of became a guide. Light. And the more and more and more I realized sort of what was missing in that first decade of me doing this sort of creative work.
Josh Tapp 3:08
Yeah. And that's awesome. Because you've, you've been able to see the failures, a lot of people, I guess I struggle with this when when talking with entrepreneurs, when they just kind of had the one success, they haven't seen, they really haven't learned a lot, right, they've learned a lot of things to succeed in one area, but they haven't seen all of the failures that happen for you know, along the way. And so you know, you're coaching a lot of people right now on helping them to, to build their own audiences from scratch. And that's, that's really what intrigues me. So could you walk us through that process of exactly how you guys do that? And, you know, the direction that you take people that way?
Russell Nohelty 3:42
Sure. So I sort of take it from the exact opposite way that like 99% of people do, like actually hate the word scale. I think it's a it's like a, a, a, a curse word. So that's like, like a no no word for me when it comes to, to building an audience. It's not that you don't want to get to scale. But the idea that the end goal is scale makes it seem like you're going to get there in two or three or four weeks, which theoretically could happen. But the fact that we're all going in on scale and putting 1020 $30,000 and by growing an email list, and then it's a dead email list, or it's a dead Twitter account, or whatever it is, is a is sort of the one of the most pervasive negative things that happen in entrepreneurship. And it's probably the number one reason I find where companies go bankrupt because they're scaling way too quickly, instead of doing the right things at the beginning, which are not sexy, like the one I'm going to show you is like, it's like the boring, mundane work of starting a company. But like at the end of that mundane work, you will actually be able to scale knowing that your company or your project works. So I was very much I was very much a change Kevin Kelly's thousand true fans. And so the system that I kind of have sort of breaks that part down of how you get your thousand true fans, and it does the process is 110 100. And then 1000. All right, does that make sense? Yeah. So the first step is number one is how you find your first most, first the most rabid engaged fans. And I'm going to assume that you've never sold anything before. If you have some sales and you've, you've been able to accumulate some money, and you have some customers, then you can look at the most the person who has spent the most and get the same sort of information, but I'm going to assume that you have never sold anything and you don't even have a product. In fact, I always tell people don't even create a product idea in mind, but don't even create anything until you have get to at least step two, which is 10. So the goal of to find your first your first rabid fan is To find somebody who likes you, but not enough to lie to you. So what I mean by that is no family, no close friends. The best example I have is I'm about to go through my 20th high school reunion. And there are people that I became friends with on Facebook decades ago, who we became still became Facebook friends, and they would like and comment on a bunch of my photos, but I was like, You weren't really close in high school. Like, why are you? Why are you doing this? Okay, what like, what is it about me that like you still glommed on and you still you still have a connection? 15 years on someone like that. Can you picture someone like that in your head for yourself?
Josh Tapp 6:43
Yep, I have deleted all of them from my Facebook
Russell Nohelty 6:45
page. Well, let's, let's say you still have one. So
Unknown Speaker 6:50
you still have this.
Unknown Speaker 6:51
Alright. So
Russell Nohelty 6:54
I want you to think about that. But the second part of it is the just under a Like knowledge that when you before you start making something, you're going to start researching it and sharing it places and start talking about it right. And so you're likely going to be posting something like that on some social media platform or emailing with someone about it. And those are the posts that you're really looking for this rabid, super engaged fan who constantly comments positive things, not negative things, but like positive things. It's not like if you're a knitter, and and you want to, and you want to create a bicycle, like you need the person not to be commenting on your knitting stuff, but on your bicycle stuff, or you need to make something with knitting. And so, step one is you identify this person and you start, you reach out to them like as a human personal interaction, and you start a dialogue. And you say, your goal is to not get the demographic information. So the second thing I hate about this, the second word I hate about entrepreneurship is demographics. Because demographics mean Nothing psychographic data is everything. So, demographic data is they're 18. They went to high school, they live in Utah that you they live in Maryland, they, they they have a master's degree like they like soup. Those are demographic info that that doesn't help you. The psychographic information is all of the things that make them up. So when you think about how you would describe your your mother, you would not describe her as a 65 year old person who went to University of Maryland and like Sue, you would say, she's caring. She's kind. She always she, like she loves she loves knitting. She plays bingo, like these are the things that are actually important to developing. The human that you're going to be talking to. Demographics is good for targeting. But messaging is all about psychographic information because it's how you separate yourself and so you're going to have a very in depth conversation, ask them if they can spare an hour of their time. Day and actually converse with them. And you're going to find out you know why they like you? This is probably the hardest question like, you've got to figure out like really like, what is it about you? Is it like you're elegant? Is that that you're refined? Is it that you like? Is it that like you talk about entrepreneurship, whatever the thing is, for me, you can see the little bead behind me. That is our mascot, Melissa, the wannabe for both of my companies. And she is a sort of rebellious, snarky spunky, like punk rock, punk rock girl who like probably grew up in like, gotten an office job. Like she's still got that sort of punk rock, anti authority, anti rebellion spirit. And whenever I asked this question, and wherever I describe it, they can almost everybody I've ever described, but you can imagine somebody that like fits that description. They can be like, Oh, that's just like my cousin or uncle. Can you think of someone that like kind of fits that description. Oh, yeah. So, and that's sort of what you're getting at like, Okay, this is kind of the aesthetic vibe I'm giving off. And and you also want to figure out like, what they hate about whatever industry you're talking about and what they love. So like, what do they hate about bicycles? What do they love about bicycles? Where do they hang out to talk about bicycles? What brands do they also react to all of the stuff that like actually makes them tick? That has nothing to do with like their demographics? The demographic is the easiest thing to figure out later. But we want the messaging part of it, and this is what we're getting at. Okay, so let's say you have one person Now, the next step is 10. How do you think you get from one to 10?
Unknown Speaker 10:41
Unknown Speaker 10:42
Russell Nohelty 10:44
you repeat nine times to 10. And now, look, it might be seven, it might be 13. Like I dislike 10 because 10 is a nice, like round number that people can think about. What we're trying to figure out is the consistency among these 10 people. Because you're going to be, let's call it your first focus group. And you want to make sure they all have a bunch of similarities that you can then say, okay, they said they hang out, six of them said, they hang out in this group and force it in this group. And three said that like, they like me because I'm rebellious and seven said that they like because I'm elegant. And whatever the thing is, you can get sort of a picture because the first person is going to be right about some things, but they're going to be real wrong about something too. Or you might interview that first person and be like, Oh, that's not the view. That's the vibe I want to give off. And you may have to literally change all the things about like, what you're doing for that what but if you get 10 people who've already who already know like and trust you, that all kind of gives you the same information, then you can kind of start thinking about pre validating your concept. Okay, so now you've got your 10 people. And your goal now is to pre validate a pre validate the idea you're doing which means I like to use $20 as an example, as possible. product that you're going to make, because $5 like, I will give someone $5 just to shut up, right? hundred dollars is like, Well, I'm not gonna, I might like a product or a person, but that's way out of my price range. $20 is just enough where someone's like, well, I really like that product, like it's real money. But it also like we blow $20 bills, like it's our job. So if we like something, we're going to get it for $20 especially if it like really resonates with us. Right, right. Like I just bought a pair of Ruth Ruth Bader Ginsburg socks for $20. And I don't even feel bad about it. So.
So what's your goal now is to take this 10 these people's information that you have and create a PayPal link or a very simple landing page. These people have known you for a decade probably or at least a year, so you don't have to be fancy about it. You should trust that you're going to deliver the thing, especially if you have a little bit of a prototype. So if you're a It could be a book, like I make books. So $20 is great for a book. That's the price that I usually charge for a book. But it could also, if you're making a bike could be a bike seat or handlebars, or like a kickstand or whatever, it's a piece that you're going to be able to test and see if it is the actual thing that they want. Because here's the thing, people are going to tell you what they want, but they are going to be, but they are not actually going to be right most of the time. And your job for the first part of it. What you don't want to do is develop this massive product, because that's what people say they want, and then be wrong. You want to do it in this minor stage where like, maybe you're spending $1 on a product, maybe you spent $20 on the product for these 10 people and like you can deal with losing $20. And your goal is then to to sort of figure out what they're saying to the side of their mouth. Because what they what what people say out of the front of their mouth is almost always wrong. So your goal is to say you said you want this Is this what you really mean and that's going to give you the best messaging you You could possibly get for when you are scaling this thing up. So your goal then is to take is to get at least five, but hopefully more like eight or 10 people to buy the product that you're offering them for $20 that'll give you if you get all 10, they'll give you $200. And from that with that $200 you know, have a customer, a product and a profit. Those are the three keys for business, those The only three things you need to run a business. I mean, like there's ethics and all sorts of other things that like go into it underneath it. But if you've got an audience, a product and a profit, you've got, like, what you now have the nascent stages of a business. And so now we're going from 10 to 100. This is a much bigger leap, but we've got our product, we've got our profit. And our goal now is we have we now have talked to 10 people who already know like and trust us and have bought in from us, right. So the next goal is to find 90 more people who don't know who we are And get and develop a process for them to know like and trust us and then buy the product. So at the end of this, you'll have 100 buyers. And this means infiltrating the Facebook groups that people talked about going to the forums, you know, running, maybe running some some ads building. But like you're using the profit that you already have built in, you're not you're not dipping into other funds unless you really, like we don't want you to be spending 10 grand here we want you to be to be able to run a business and that means to take the profit and reinvest that into marketing, because that is what people do that is and we're not, you know, I've never had to take a $20,000 bank loan. One time I took like, I bought two credit cards, and I spent way too much on credit cards. It haunted me for a decade and it was a company I really wish I had not started at least the way that I did. So I want you to have an app out valve to if you're spending if you're if you're making $200 and after six months. You hate all the The people you meet, I want you to be able to say, well, like, I didn't, I didn't lose my shirt. And now I'm going to do something else. But the ideally your process then is going to be an email sequence funnel or a website funnel or some process is social media funnel with chatbots, or whatever the thing is, but your goal is to figure out a way that is replicable. To get someone from not knowing you, to buying from you. And something that you can repeat yourself or you can have an automated system do and you're going to be tweaking it throughout this whole process and say I got 10 people in there were no buyers. Oh, I got the next 10 people and there were three buyers. All right, got the next 10 people and there were six buyers. You're never going to get six and 10 people buying who don't know you like I'm just giving a the example for now. Your goal then at the bottom is to get 100 buyers because you have the first 10 plus 90 again, it might be 73 it might be 125 it But it will roughly be 100. And you should have be like, okay, I am. So when you're done with the stages, you have a system that gets someone from not knowing you to buying from you and you can repeat it and profit from it or at least break even from it at the bottom. That might mean changing cost Am I but But whatever it is, you now can say if I spent $100, I'm going to make $100 in profit, not in cost in actual profit after the cost of all of my marketing. So
now, you validate. So now you've pre validated this might be they call them a lot of micro offers now so like it used to be called tripwire offers, whatever the thing is, but now this thing can kind of work on repeat for you. Because you're you found this like little product that you can use to build your mailing list or build your audience or do whatever. But we're going to put that aside for the moment. This is now like your goal because if you can start building a mailing list or something or a business for free after like all expenses, you've now hit like the literal like gold golden ticket for like making a business that can scale. But now you want to validate your real process because you're not in the business of making a kickstand, right? Like, like, like the kickstand is just a part of the bike. So now you're going to you you've taken out 100 people's information, what they like what they don't like, like what they really wanted a bike, and you've tweaked whatever you wanted. And now it's like now you use that money to like make a website that's nice or go to Kickstarter or whatever your crowdfunding platform of choices, and you bring your hundred people and hopefully I said that's all right, you bring they bring 100 more. So on Kickstarter, for instance, this is how like mostly it works. You bring your hundred, they bring their hundred and now you have 200 or affiliates or however you're going to do this but your goal is to take your hundred and double it. Now you've got hopefully 200 people that have bought this product and you are Have the major product which has a higher profit margin. This is your core offer, not your tripwire offer. And now you can you are using this the tripwire offer and using your may offer and now you can have an upsell maybe that has like a course on how to how to bike better or a down sell or whatever other pieces but they're that that's a company. And now you can use those two things to to scale your mailing list to like to like grow people on your mailing list for free and upsell them into your bike and continue to develop a community on social media and all of that stuff was built with like time This takes time. This is not something you can just that is going to happen in two weeks or four weeks or six weeks. takes time to actually go and do this and find your audience. But if you can do this part, you will never have to ask what should I make for my audience next because I swear to you, they will tell you they will tell you even if you do not want to know That's it. That's how we get from one zero to 1000. and develop a business along the way.
Josh Tapp 20:06
See, and I love that because what you're really bringing to the table with that concept is that you know, a you don't have to have money with it. But this this isn't you don't have to take that entrepreneurial leap that everybody is constantly talking about, you know, I did the leap of faith and just quit my job or what have you. But it's like, you could build that while you have a full time job and, and doing school and five other things because it just takes time. And as you put in that time, once it started to pay for itself, then you could leave your job or whatever you want to do. It's just yeah, anyway, I could go on for that four days, but that is awesome.
Russell Nohelty 20:37
Yeah, and you know, what your what you're not going to do with this is be stuck. Finding the audience later or developing the product. First. I do a lot of these podcasts. And most of them start with someone saying, okay, so I have a product, how do I build an audience? And I'm like, and I have to then be like, well, that's wrong. I don't like telling the audience I don't like telling the hosts that they're wrong but like, like If you if you have the product you're trying to fit in the audience like, it's not that it can't work, it's just like you better hope that you develop the right product. Whereas if you develop the audience, and then the product for the audience, you've now mastered the, the thing that most businesses are looking for, or looking to do, you've figured out how to make a focus group, how to survey people how to talk to people, how to like do it at scale, how to build like a tripwire or mini offer to like, make a big featured offer, and you can then take that and say, Okay, so now I have a product that I really want to run that's like this product, that and that you can do it the opposite way theoretically, or you can be like, Hey, now I have this product idea. And now we can go back to that audience I have and see if it now works. But if you start the opposite way, it's it leaves. It just you better hope that you came up with the right product because if you come out with this product that nobody wants. You will than stuck, like, especially if you've prototyped it and done all this stuff for it, you know, you're stuck sort of in that sunk cost fallacy,
Josh Tapp 22:08
right? When you're leaving it up to luck. You're just saying, Hey, I really hope there's a group of people who wants this product.
Unknown Speaker 22:15
Absolutely. I love that.
Josh Tapp 22:17
Well, hey, Russell, you know, our time's up here, man. But I'm really grateful for you coming on the show today. And I wanted to ask you, though, everybody's probably listened to this and just said, Wow, you've brought true value to this podcast. I mean, actionable steps is what we're all about. So Russell, where else can people connect with you and learn more about your strategy and your content, everything you do?
Russell Nohelty 22:35
Sure. So the easiest way is I have an audience building webinar, which goes into this in detail. It's about 20 minutes long. It has slides. It's really, it's really nicely put together, and that is at the complete creative.com forward slash audience. And you can go and sort of learn about the process that we use to get to where we are today and a simple, a little bit more information on the process that you can use. To do the same,
Josh Tapp 23:01
I love that. So guys, head over to the complete creative.com slash audience. And Russell. Thanks again for coming on the show today. Thanks for having me. Yeah, thanks, man.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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