The Campfire Approach to Audience Building
A systematic approach to building a red-hot relationship with your audience members and turning casual observers into raving fans.
If you’ve ever built a campfire, you know that to build up the fire successfully, you need to follow a specific, systematic process.
Regardless of what style of fire-builder you are (personally, I’m a log cabin-er), the process is always the same and can be summarized as follows.
- Gather the materials you’ll need including tinder, kindling, medium and larger logs, and a match.
- Build a frame using your kindling.
- Fill that frame with tinder, perhaps paper or wood shavings.
- Light the tinder. Supply additional oxygen if needed.
- As the fire spreads to the frame, add progressively larger kindling as the existing frame burns up.
- Continue this process, over time adding larger pieces of wood as the size of the fire grows to support them.
In a way, the process is nothing short of magical.
While it would be impossible to light even a medium-sized piece of wood with a single match, by following this process, you can fairly quickly build up a fire capable of lighting and consuming whole, uncut logs.
When it comes to starting a fire, this process might seem obvious.
But it turns out that building a relationship with an audience follows a near-identical process. And yet so often we try to skip steps, attempting to set fire to the whole log without first building up the base.
Much like we can follow this systematic, repeatable process to consistently light fires, so too can we follow the same process to consistently grow our audiences.
Defining Your End Goal
Before we go any further, let’s take a moment to talk over what we’re actually trying to build.
When we think about “building an audience” around our creative work, we might first think about the size of our email list, or our podcast, YouTube or website analytics, or perhaps even our customer or client list.