The Big Audience Myth

Why a Smaller Engaged Audience Beats a Large Audience Every Time

The Big Audience Myth

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There’s a myth that needs to be crushed. Your belief in this myth is holding you back from building a successful online business. What is this myth?

It’s the false belief that we need a large audience to be successful.

A smaller, engaged audience beats a large audience every time.

Don’t believe me?

I’ve been part of several JV/affiliate launches. An affiliate launch is when a group of people decide to promote one particular product launch for a certain number of days.

Typically there is a leaderboard contest and extra prizes for those who finish at the top of the list. I can tell you that the biggest list doesn’t always win and the final rankings are never in the order of largest to smallest in list size.

My “Someday” Inflection Point

I used to sit around waiting for my inflection point. It’s the part in your journey where all the stars align and floods of traffic show up to your blog ready to subscribe and ready to buy.

That day never came. 

Instead, I just put my effort into creating products that simplified complex problems. I decided not to wait when it came to launching and promoting products.

I stopped believing that my next product launch was going to “place me on the map” and make all my financial worries go away. That doesn’t mean I didn’t set goals. What it means is I mentally decided to be in the game long-term.

While I never had an inflection point, my yearly income has gone up every single year since I started blogging in 2009.

I’ll Just Build an Audience First Myth

“I’m going to wait until I reach x number of email subscribers before I try to sell something on my blog.”

I’ve heard variations of this statement over and over again while mentoring others. Honestly, I’m not sure where it comes from. It’s like we think we have to have a large audience before we have the permission to sell something.

You are not officially open for business until you have something to sell on your blog. Until then, you are just hobby blogging.

There is certainly nothing wrong with blogging for fun. Just don’t confuse the two. I’m always surprised at those who are hobby blogging and then confused as to why they haven’t made any money blogging. If that’s you, you are using the wrong model.

The 5k-5k-2k Plan

What if I told you I had my first $5000 month blogging with under 5,000 unique monthly visitors and less than 2,000 email subscribers?

To take it a step further, I had my first $1000+ month blogging with less than 500 people on an email list.

Looking back, I didn’t know any better and it’s good that I didn’t.

Before you think I’m something special or an exception to the rule, let me introduce you to some other friends of mine:

  • A blogger to aspiring authors had his first $10,000 online course launch with less than 3,000 people on his list.
  • A leadership blogger who added over 82 monthly subscribers to his brand new membership site in 30 days and it was first first ever product launch.
  • A blogger with a software idea who earned over $5,000 in two weeks from an initial list of 50 interested people.

I want to stretch your thinking. If you desire to build a sustainable online business, then don’t wait to monetize your passion.

Instead of checking your Google Analytics daily, pour more time in creating a product that solves your audience’s first problem.

What’s your audience’s first problem?

Many of us don’t know where to start.

  • Should we create a massive membership site that contains everything our target audience could ever want?
  • Should we design an A-Z online course?
  • Should we put everything we know into a book?

Before you go to your cave and spend months (if not years) creating something you think your audience would love, I want to challenge you to do something different instead.

Launch something simple that only solves your audience’s first problem.

  • On my original career coaching blog, my first course helped them design a killer resume.
  • My good friend Chad Allen’s first product helped authors create a winning book proposal.
  • My first course for Blogging Your Passion helped a newbie blogger get their blog set up correctly (BYPU 101 Course).

The beauty in this model is it allows you to get feedback quickly by launching something quickly. It also leads you to creating a second course that solves your audience’s next logical problem.

You Have Permission

More than anything, I want to empower you to begin monetizing your passion now.

You have permission.

People are waiting. 


    Jonathan has been blogging since 2009 and is still in awe that the Creator of the Universe desires to have a relationship with him. His passions include spending time with his kids, reading, March Madness, surprise get-a-way trips with his wife, and watching funny YouTube videos.

    • Jeff Stephens

      This is great Jonathan! I just posted a similar post on my blog recently where I got into the mindset trap we all have regarding the size of our audience. I tried to relate the onine size to the physical size if you were standing in a room with just 50 people. That’s a lot of people!

      I like your points about putting your business out there regardless of the audience size. This is something I still struggle with…but I’m going to beat this year. Thanks for giving me another reminder to just go do the damn thing. 🙂

      • Jonathan Milligan

        That’s a great point. I had someone just the other day tell me they “only” had 500 people on their list. It was a coaching moment and a “aha” moment when I asked them if they would feel the same way if they had a room of “only” 500 people who wanted to hear them teach. Perspective makes all the difference!

    • Jeff Brown

      Excellent post Jonathan. Thanks for so generously sharing your experiences.

      • Jonathan Milligan

        Hey Jeff! Thanks for the encouragement! I just want others to know they don’t need hundreds of thousands of followers to be successful. Keep inspiring people!

    • Saule Rubinchik

      Thanks Jon! Haven’t got my blog lauched yet, but already creating my first simple yet powerful product ))

      • Jonathan Milligan

        Good for you!

    • Ron Ryan

      Thanks, Jonathan. I needed that.

      • Jonathan Milligan

        You bet!

    • Andy Mort

      Wonderful points, Jonathan. Thanks for this reminder. My experience is very much the same as yours. Small engaged audience has blown my mind in terms of the proportion of numbers who buy. Great work.

      • Jonathan Milligan

        Awesome. Love to hear other examples of this truth. Thakns for sharing…

    • Aloted Omoba

      Thanks for this. I am encouraged

      • Jonathan Milligan


    • Rhonda Peterson

      Thanks for the encouragement….and the wisdom to GET STARTED! I hear you that feedback from my tribe will help me make better decisions on the products I create, so stop waiting for the perfect product to launch and just do it!

      • Jonathan Milligan

        You got it! Go launch! You can do this…

    • Matt Brady

      “Launch something simple that only solves your audience’s first problem.”
      I absolutely LOVE this piece of wisdom! Thank you.

      • Jonathan Milligan

        Awesome Matt! What would be the first problem your target audience faces?

        • Matt Brady

          I see the first problem for my target audience coming from a lack of community among other leaders and participants in my niche. There are a few thought leaders that people tend to rally around and behind, but there is not as much of an effort to band together and learn from one another’s experiences and stories.

          Now, how does one go about accomplishing that? That is what I am trying to nail down now!

    • Manny Garza

      Jonathan – great wisdom as always! I’ve noticed that blogging, just like any business, has a barrier to entry. In our world, the biggest barrier is often more mental than anything.