This is going to be hard. It is also going to be enjoyable if I can help you avoid all the draining parts. I love this and I am not going to lie about why. It is amazing and humbling being a long-time voice in this field. I am grateful for all the doors it has opened up for me.
Now, you have something to share with our field and I want you to succeed. This is where you start. Your voice and unique position in the field are what people will follow. Once you have built them, monetizing your content gets easier. However, your first step is the hardest.
I have spent 7 years watching influencers and those who never quite take off. Most success stories are like mine. I started sharing and realized what my unique position was early on. The luck, skill mix is a real thing.
I was just being me offering my views on an emerging field. People started following me because I made data science understandable and accessible to a wide audience. I spoke about it as a practical, applied field. I synthesized complex concepts while also making them relevant to business. I shared my experience and what I was working on.
There are a lot of others who do the same and have a similar position. What makes me unique is my voice. That is not my literal sound but a combination of my perspective and delivery. I am a strong believer in First Principals. I say what I think and back it up with the evidence that has convinced me.
Your Turn. Finding Your Voice to Gain Followers.
Self-awareness goes a long way. Writing, teaching, and sharing are very personal activities. Believe in what you create and put authenticity into the way you create it. What you are going to create reflects on you, so make it the real you.
What specifically is a “voice”? It is a leadership concept. Creating content and growing a following is leading when you do it right. You are going to lead most of your followers. Your voice is your projection of authority. Creating a voice is the process of building your communication style around getting people to engage with and listen to you.
Avoid trying to answer the question, “Why should people follow you?” That is a dead end. What is worth following? What content is worth reading? What ideas are worth sharing? Answering any of those questions is more constructive.
Explain why what you choose is worth following, reading, and sharing? Support your answers with tangible evidence. Spend a week doing this with everything and continually refine your answers.
This is your voice. It is the process you use to evaluate all the information that comes your way. When you think about it, you are bombarded by content. If you use your time wisely, you have an effective filter to allow the best information in.
Many people looking at the Data Science and Machine Learning fields are having a difficult time creating a filter of their own. Your voice and authority are built on sharing your filter with them. You help them stop being overwhelmed and start learning. That builds trust in you and your content.
Differentiating Yourself from a Crowded Pack
Look at people with a large following and you will see examples of different voices. That perspective makes it easier to see behind the curtain. Now you understand what makes their content successful and built their community in the first place.
A voice is enough to carry someone for 3 to 6 months. Most people fade away because there is someone else with the same voice who is new. People like new because it seems different.
Find ways you are different to make it past the first few months. You need longevity because you start getting paid around 6-months after you get popular. Real money starts coming in after a year.
What I see working for most creators is a combination of being entertaining and being passionate. I have taught statistics to an 8-year-old who hates math because I love it. I make my love for math obvious and entertaining. It works.
When I got burnt out on machine learning I stopped posting for a year. I knew no one would listen to me anyway so why bother? Post about what you can make people enjoy. Share content with the goal of making people who hate the topic smile a little after reading or watching.
That is the goal of differentiating yourself. Anyone can do a project writeup or video tutorial. Bring something that viewers and readers can take away with them which goes beyond the content. This is what sharing your passion really means.
What makes Sal from Khan Academy so compelling is the obvious love for teaching and sharing. Watch people who successfully share content for their tricks to incorporating their passion into the content. Look at the extra work they put into making the audience leave with something more.
That keeps people interested and allows you to grow a larger, engaged following.
What Comes Next?
Once you have a voice and unique position, it is time for the fun part. Building your community and following. Trust me, this is the most enjoyable phase of the whole process. My next post will cover building a community from the ground up.