The greatest struggle in the digital age is vying for people’s attention. Attention is becoming one of the hardest things to attain and then maintain in the present age. There are so many distractions, it’s becoming harder and harder to concentrate on one thing at a time. Attention is almost a form of currency. There are entire careers based off the notion of trying to get people’s attention, and then sell to them – Marketing & Advertising. But what if you’re not trying to sell to them? What if you genuinely want people’s attention so you can help them. You have valuable insight and knowledge to help people in similar situations to you but no one is listening, yet.
People don’t want to be sold to. They are too used to the ‘sleazy salesman’ approach over the last number of decades from radio, telephone, television, and now the internet. People are becoming conditioned to advertisements. They just block it out. People, like myself, want to hear personal stories. They want to see the journey and rise of another person. They want to connect on a human level to someone they see on the internet. Humanising people on the internet is how you are able to develop a relationship with that person. To humanise something you must have a face, you have to show your behind the scenes working to show that there is no magic touch, no cheating, just hard work and a commitment to showing up at something you love to do.
In order to sell something to someone, you have to provide them with the value first, then let them know there is a way to purchase from you.
‘Information Overload’ is the term given to the abundance of media, news, content overload the people are subjected to on a daily basis. This about how many web pages you visited today, on your phone or desktop, and what articles, posts, description, comments were on these pages, and what variety of options presented to you on each of these pages, from sharing, liking, commenting, to just reading, clicking play, or buying. There is so much information to process in the world that you can’t possibly pay attention to all of it. This is why people are becoming more closed-in, only visiting sites they like and know on a consistent basis. They are shutting out the noise. This is why you need to start with valuable content.
Getting attention, in the right way, takes time. It’s incredibly valuable. People will eventually see your work over time, what matters is that you start now. Be known for something, “The Lettering guy”, people will come to expect that from you, which makes you reliable. If you share quality, valuable content over time, you will grow and amass an audience who will see you as an expert in the field. Thus, willing to listen to everything you have to say.
Share free value at the start when you have a small, dedicated audience. So you can build upon and sell to a larger audience in the future. It’s a long-game mindset. There are no short-term solutions to becoming known as an expert in your industry. By giving away free value at the beginning, you’re invoking the ‘rule of reciprocity’. Which states that; when you offer free value to someone, they feel compelled to offer something of equal, if not, greater value back to you. People don’t like feeling a sense of indebtedness. How would you feel if you went out for dinner with a friend of which you haven’t seen in a while, and they paid for you that time? You feel obliged to return the favour. You’re in debt to that person.
Build with your future audience in mind. This means knowing the type of person to whom is going to consume your content, ie. Being a letterer, I know that fans of lettering, fonts, and typography and to a broader extent, designers, artists, creatives, and freelancers are all among those who will possibly consume my content. This means to know what their struggles are will set you up on how to write about solving these problems and providing valuable content to help with these problems. Show up consistently and create new, valuable work constantly. This is how your work will become noticed over time. You are not going to become an over-night success.
“How do I become an over-night success?”. 10 years of hard work and showing up everyday.
The idea of building attention is to make it more likely that someone is going to listen to you, value what you have to offer in terms of your word and the work create. Be so prolific at what you do that people want what you have, in terms of skills, knowledge, your message. After time, through building attention with the work you produce and the value it offers people. The more likely they are to want something from you.
“The point of building attention is to make it more likely that a passing client will want what you have. This only occurs when your perceived value is so great they want that more than they want the money in their pocket.” – Liam Veitch, FreelanceLift.
No one cares how hard you work, so there is no point beating yourself up about it if you don’t get as many views, shares, likes, or the attention you think you deserve. Create what you love to do without the promise of success. The more ‘hands-in-the-jar’ you have, the more likely people who consume that type of content are to finding you and your work. Meaning, if you post videos, blogs, newsletters, artwork, podcasts etc. They reach more people and on various different platforms. Over time, when you have a healthy amount of content in one area, you can branch out to different media forms. Again, it all takes time.
By leaving comments and reaching out to people on various platforms, you are creating a trail for people to find you. When is the last time you reached out passed your own network? You’re not going to find people on your own platform. Leave comments, start conversations with those you already follow. Even better, if that person is in your own field, you have the advantage of knowing they having their own audience who are interested in that type of work/content. This is how I found many different lettering artists on Instagram. Leave a trail for people to find you.
One thing benefits the other, and when people do find you, the more value you have to offer, the more likely they are to continue returning. This is why it’s so important to gain attention from your primary outlet, i.e Lettering in my case, then when people come to your site and consume the value from the other outlets you have on offer, i.e video shows, tutorials, newsletters, courses, ebooks, various free assets that relate to your industry, they are more likely to return to your site. This only works is there is value from your outlets in the first place.
There are 3 key components to earning attention online; Your web presence, the value of the content you provide, and the quality of the relationships from your existing audience.
Start with the content, create the work you want to be known for, and once you have it up and running, you can then start to direct people to it from then. Why vie for people attention when you have nothing to offer in the first place? This is a sure-fire way to guarantee people never return.
Allow the quality and value of your work speak for itself.