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How to start monetizing with a small audience

How to start monetizing with a small audience

The creator path usually goes something like this:

  • Create content
  • Build an audience
  • Monetize through ads, sponsorships, products or services

But contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to wait until you have a big audiences to monetise.

In this article, we're going to cover:

  • The benefits of monetizing with a small audience
  • 5 Tips for Monetizing With a Small Audience (With Examples)
  • When you should monetize

The benefits of monetizing with a small audience

You might think that you need the credibility of a large audience to monetize or that you’ll make more money if you wait, but there are some advantages to monetizing earlier.

The stakes are lower

When you're a small creator with a small audience, you can get into the habit of creating and shipping. By shipping to a smaller audience, you can get continous feedback. This will help you to improve your offerings and your skills as an entrepreneur. It also helps you to tackle perfectionism head on.

You don’t have to go all-in

Most creators start their journey as a side hustle. Going all-in can therefore be a daunting idea. Instead of feeling like you have to make a sudden transition from side-hustler to full-time creator, you can slowly grow your income as you experiment with different business ideas. This eliminates the pressure of making money, so you're free to go at your own pace when launching products and services.

You're free to experiment

Most creators aren't sure how to monetize their skills, especially if they're new to the game.

Having a small audience lets you experiment as much as possible, whether it's creating free or paid services. And because you have a small audience, you won't have to worry about "confusing" your audience, as most creators with large audiences worry about.

5 Tips for Monetizing With a Small Audience (With Examples)

1. Create an engaged email list

In today's digital era, giving your email to a stranger on the Internet is a sign of trust.

An active email list helps you sell your products or services to fans already familiar with your work. It takes time to develop an engaged list, but lead magnet like PDFs, email courses, or video training can help. Any time you launch something new, you can let your audience know straight away.

2. Consider what you’re good at

Most creators-turned-educators believe that you should be monetizing later in your journey. In reality, you can start immediately, especially if you already have the skills and knowledge.

Matt Ragland is a full-time creator who believes monetization is simpler than most people think. He recommends asking yourself 2 questions:

  • What are the skills that I'm already proficient at?
  • What can I talk about for at least 30 minutes without preparing for it?

You already have knowledge that people would pay for. For example, if you’re a Youtuber you could create a workshop on how to create YouTube videos.

3. Solve a specific problem

People pay for things that help them to solve specific problems.

For instance, Dickie Bush realised that writing consistently was important in order to grow online. So he shared this tweet:

He asked his Twitter following to join the 30-day writing challenge called Ship 30 for 30 for $49. Two years later, Ship 30 for 30 has helped tens of thousands of writers on the internet to build a daily writing habit and it’s become a fully pledged business. And it all happened because Dickie solved the problems writers faced with consistency.

By solving a very specific problem, you attract the right people.

4. Repurpose your digital products to high-priced services

If you have a small following, it might feel icky to start selling digital products and services. But you can have different offerings, including free digital products that are high-value and low-effort to produce.

For example, Niharikaa Kaur Sodhi is a creator who offers free Gumroad digital products like Side Hustle Checklist for people who want to get into the world of side hustling.

However she also caters to those who want a more comprehensive and structured guide, with the following products and services:

  • Summit 21, a 3-week cohort course on how to become a consistent writer
  • Consultation call for $499 for people who want to have 1:1 work with her

You can start with small free or paid products and develop them into something bigger. In this way you can offer multiple tiers at different price points.

5. Stick to simple systems

Monetizing can be as simple as creating a Notion or Excel template, uploading it on e-commerce websites called Gumroad or Buy Me a Coffee, and promoting it on social media.

Most creators overcomplicate the system, which holds them back from building a business.

The best way to overcome this is by developing a simple system.

Justin Welsh is one of the best creators with a robust system for selling as a creator. He made $14K on a launch by sharing his content creation system (something he was already using) with other people.

Simple systems helps clarify what you offer with your audience, and this is crucial when offering a service or a product.

Is there a right time to monetize?

The simple answer is no. But there’s a good chance you can monetize now if:

  • people are asking you to solve their problem
  • people are asking you the same questions over and over
  • you have enough experience or knowledge with a certain topic

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to monetization. Just make sure you’re not holding yourself back.

If you want more inspiration on how to monetize regardless of your audience size, check out our conversation with Matt Ragland.