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I built a 50K following in 9 months and it changed my game completely! This is how I did it.

I know this advice is worn.

Whenever I give it, I feel people rolling their eyes - they're tired of hearing how you should build an audience.

But there's a reason that you get this advice over and over: It's because it works.

Do you strictly need a huge following to launch a successful product?
No, you don't. But most likely, you're then dependent on people that have.

To me, it changed my game entirely!

My first SaaS Product - failure!

I started building my very first SaaS Product in February 2020. I made a lot of mistakes, but the biggest one was underestimating the value of having an audience.

At this point, I had around 250 followers on Twitter and barely used LinkedIn.

I launched it in June 2020 - and no one cared. It got close to 0 traction and I had to almost drag users into the platform by force.

It was the book "Rework" that made it clear to me, how important a dedicated audience is. So I decided to build one! I stopped everything else and made it my primary goal to grow a dedicated following as fast as possible. At the time of writing this post, around 9 months after, I have 40K followers on Twitter, 7K on LinkedIn, 3K on Instagram, and 3,5K subscribers on YouTube.

My second SaaS Product - success from day 1!

Then I started building FeedHive

I made a public announcement about FeedHive in a tweet on the 3rd of January this year, and another tweet announcing the beta launch on the 6th of February.

This time, it was different. I had 32K followers at the time, and the tweets got almost 3K likes in total and a lot of comments!

When I launched in beta, I got the first 50 paying users in a few hours, and I went straight to $250 MRR within the first 48 hours. Today, FeedHive has more than 120 paying users, and a total gross revenue of almost $4,000 - and it's been live for 10 weeks.

There's no doubt. Having a dedicated audience change my game completely!

How did I build a dedicated audience?

I've talked about my story here before, and the most common question I get is "How did you grow such a big audience so fast?".

There are some awesome courses and books that I can recommend, but let me just break down the basics of how I did this:

Provide value

Above all else, you should be posting something that's valuable.
And what is "valuable"? Well, it highly depends. But a few things you can ask yourself is:

  • Is my post actionable? Does it give anything that people can apply after reading?
  • Is my post helpful? Does your post have any takeaways that people can benefit from?
  • Is my post interesting - even if you don't know who I am? This is especially important when you're still small.

Don't ask for anything in return

I've seen people start growing, and as soon as they reach 2000 followers, they want to start selling their ebooks, courses, etc. That's such a shame! Wait waay longer before asking for anything in return.

Be very careful with giving people the impression that you're busy with building followers so that you can monetize them. It's a huge turnoff.

Give, give, give! Relentlessly! Without asking for anything in return.
Keep doing this for a long time. Have patience.

When you've built up trust, credibility, and sympathy - then you can start promoting your products.

Post consistently!

Yes, that means every day. Multiple times a day. And across multiple platforms.
On average, I post 4-5 times on Twitter, 2 times on LinkedIn, 1-2 times on Instagram - every single day! I haven't missed a day on Twitter in more than 300 days now.

I know, it sounds like a lot of work! It is in the beginning - but trust me, it'll ease up over time. Right now, I spend around 3-4 hours every Sunday creating, planning, and scheduling content for a whole week.

A couple of hints:

  • Use a scheduling tool. Schedule a whole week ahead, so you can spend your time on something else during the week.
  • Recycle. When you begin posting, you'll notice that you can easily recycle a lot of your content. You'll get new followers all the time, and it's perfectly ok to recycle a few times to let all the newcomers get a chance to see the post as well.
  • Save drafts. As soon as you get a good idea - write it down as a draft. When you get to your content creation session, you'll have a lot of great drafts to work with.

In fact, FeedHive is built to make exactly these routines easier! That's what my SaaS Product is all about.

Engage with big accounts

In the very beginning, it's worth spending a good deal of time engaging with big accounts.

This carries multiple benefits. When big accounts post on social media, their posts often go viral, and you can use the comment section as a broadcasting channel to get yourself noticed.

Most social media platforms move the comments with the most engagement to the top, which makes it much more likely that the big profile's followers will notice you.

Secondly - if you do this enough, the big profile itself may notice you, start engaging with you and even follow you. And if you have great content - they may even share it!

A few things you don't want to do

Don't make your profile look spammy. Use your real name (or real company name). Don't try to apply any clever SEO marketing tricks in your name, like "Simon | JavaScript | SaaS". It does not look very appealing.

Don't use hashtags either. I know this is a bit controversial, but in this year 2021, I suggest you avoid them altogether. There's no free marketing in this world, and hashtags will only make your content look poor and spammy. Think about it - when did you search for hashtags to find good content the last time? Barely anyone does this. People typically use hashtags because they think they'll get "free" exposure out of it - but if everyone else is doing it, that's exactly why you shouldn't.

Stay away from heated topics. Avoid topics where you risk spreading negativity, or spike negative reactions. So I suggest avoiding politics, avoid "calling companies out" and other topics that are prone to start a heated debate.(Unless, of course, your brand is politically oriented, and these topics are a part of your mission specifically.)

Be helpful and humble

Lastly, keep being helpful and humble, also after you reach a huge follower count. Don't stop saying thank you when people compliment you. When your followers appreciate your content, tell them how happy you are that it helps them.

Replying to every single comment and DM can become an overwhelmingly big task - but do your best to keep it going as long as you can. And when you hit the point where there are too many comments for you to realistically reply to, pick your comments in favor of small accounts. Big accounts that comment on your posts get plenty of attention already - focus on replying to small accounts instead. It means so much more to them.

Alright - I could go on and on here! But I'll stop, and maybe make a longer blog post or YouTube video out of this.

I hope this can be helpful to you. Please - feel free to ask any question you want, and I'll answer the best I can.

  1. 51

    Isn't it funny that every time someone tells us to build a community, they happen to coincidentally sell a scheduler or a community-building software? 🙄

    Is there value in building an audience? Of course.

    Is there value in building an audience before launching a SaaS business? Probably not. Speak with your customers 1 on 1, go do that for a couple of months instead of chasing clout on Twitter.

    We don't roll our eyes because we have been bombarded by "build your community" advice from people that sell community software...

    We roll our eyes because this is bad advice, and your own numbers support my claim.

    Spend 9 months to build a 50K Twitter following, just to get $250 in MRR on launch?

    I'm sorry but to me, that would be devastating.

    1. 6

      Yup, agree.

      I'm running a SaaS in Brazil and started without an audience. Instead, I focused on SEO, now after 10 months, we're getting 40k monthly visits from google without having to be active posting every day. Just one of our articles gets almost 10k visits monthly.

      Yeah, having an audience can be great, but it's not the only path to success and doesn't work for every business.

      1. 3

        We're also started from SEO and have reached about 100k monthly visits from google after 12 months.

        But in some areas there isn't enough keywords and traffic from SEO and if you have "your audience" (loyal) it's really cool for quick jump :)

        1. 1

          True.

          My niche has ~2MM monthly volume search accordingly to my research using Ahrefs. So yeah, I agree that's not for every niche, but so is building an audience.

          1. 2

            By the way I noticed that I'm looking for new ideas through a SEO's prism (like go to Google Keyword Tool and test some keywords). It's like a professional deformity :)

      2. 2

        My goal is to focus on SEO as my primary source of traffic as well.

      3. 1

        Thanks for the comment!
        SEO is far better in the long run. In some markets there are not enough total searches, though. And in the first 6 months to a year SEO could bring very little traffic. Or you could find fierce competition.

        What does your SaaS do? What did you write about?

        1. 1

          Yeah, we got almost no traffic in the first 6 months.

          My SaaS is an Edtech focused on ENEM(Brazilian SAT), this is an exam that is done once per year by ~7mm students and it's the only way to get into the best Brazilian universities.

          We wrote about essay writing which is the most important part of the exam, my girlfriend is a Portuguese teacher and she's writing the articles.

          1. 1

            Thank you!
            I think being active in a community or on social media is helpful to get traffico in those first months, while SEO starts working.

            1. 1

              For sure.

              We tried Instagram but didn't get the same success, we're at only 2k followers right now. Honestly, marketing is so damn hard hahah

      4. 1

        Would you mind if I took this offline to discuss how you built up your SEO?

        1. 3

          Hey man, I don't have a secret, really, I'm not an expert.

          All I did was:

          1. Keyword research using Ahrefs and the Surfer chrome extension
          2. Created a content plan on Notion prioritized by low difficulty and relevance to our persona
          3. Optimized the site using Page Insights and created an AMP version for mobile
          4. My girlfriend then wrote the articles

          We didn't spend time getting backlinks or anything like that.

          1. 1

            Cool, thanks for that. I know you can estimate monthly searches with those tools. Can you also tell how competitive a search term is?

            1. 2

              Yes, Ahrefs has the estimated difficulty of each keyword.

              It's completely based on how many backlinks the sites of the first page have. You kinda can infer it just by searching the term and seeing how "good" the articles and sites are.

              1. 1

                Ah gotcha. Thank you so much!

    2. 5

      I hear ya Farouq. Although, I check out Simon on Twitter and he does provide value in his Tweets, and is genuine. He happens to be promoting his new product, which I fully support.

      With that said, I tend to agree with your post. The "audiences" on these platforms are hit or miss. And yes, the largest influencers are that way because they already did something successful.

      I launched a cloud-based accounting firm in 2019 that connects to QuickBooks Online. If you look at our Twitter page (https://twitter.com/LendLlc), we have about 221 followers.

      Before launch, we INTENTIONALLY did 0 social media marketing. Instead, we focused on operational planning and content.

      I recently removed revenue information from IH (for my own reasons), but those who saw it know that it was about $24K per month.

      So yes, 50K Twitter followers and a few bucks is not much. Social media is MASSIVELY overrated.

      In fact, I just lost 3-4 followers just because. Haha.

      1. 1

        Congrats Matt! I find this very inspiring. To be honest I've felt held back by the social media and "building an audience" thing because it's not natural for me and I find it a very crowded space. Surely everyone can't build an audience and say the same stuff in different sentences? I also think personally that finding a product organically makes me more likely to become a customer because I have a problem and looking for the solution.

    3. 2

      I see the value in having an audience but you are right. It doesn't happen often these days on Twitter or IH to see constructive criticism 👏 Everything is always great.
      So... just by accident, because of your honesty, you gained a follower 🙋‍♂️.

    4. 2

      But 50k Twitter followers could lead to lucrative opportunities in the future, so you increase your floor potential as an entrepreneur. So it's not a waste of time, it's more like spreading your eggs across more baskets.

      1. 5

        It's a major waste of time if you are a SaaS tech-founder.

        Coming up with good content to post, promoting those posts, and interacting with your "beloved" community (that you want to sell to) is a full-time job.

        With that said... let's not pretend that the majority of these followers aren't following you just to get a follow back...

        And the quality of those followers will keep on deteriorating as long as more people are told to build communities.

        And all that, for what?

        You are barely providing value, you are just polluting Twitter with more click-bait nonsense.

        Take a look at the successful people that have an established audience.

        The famous profiles with leverage in this space that you see on Twitter like Jason Lemkin or DHH became famous after creating a successful startup, launched a successful book, or even both.

        It's NOT the other way around.

        1. 1

          Have you read any of DHH’s books? Specifically the chapters about building an audience?

          1. 3

            What are the main points?

            Also, I bought your Gumroad book on building a Twitter audience, but to be honest, I didn't get anything new from it. It felt like you kept all the real secrets to yourself.

            Granted, I believe you have done well on Twitter. Occasionally I see someone promoting one of your Gumroad products.

            1. 6

              So he is also selling how to build a Twitter Audience.

              No response needed on my end. 🙄

            2. 2

              Here’s a summary: https://mixergy.com/jason-fried-customers-clips/amp/

              “You know, companies have fans, have customers, but having an audience is like the real secret, I think, to making it, especially today...”

              DHH and Jason elaborate more on this in Rework.

              1. 1

                Thanks. I need to give that a read.

          2. 2

            Thanks for jumping in, Daniel 😊

            I love DHH's books!
            As I also mention in the post, Rework was the book inspiring me to get started with building an audience in the first place.

    5. 1

      I'm getting back here to answer a few more comments.
      Thanks for sharing your opinion - not surprisingly, I fully disagree.

      I see my peers have already raised a lot of great counterarguments to this, so I'll leave it at that.

      All the best 😊

    6. 1

      Cannot agree more. This post is just to sell the product. Its ridiculous to say his first product failed because he had no audience.

  2. 8

    Congratulations!

    One important thing to notice is that your personal audience overlaps with your potential customers.

    That's not always the case. In fact sometimes trying to build an audience is pointless.

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  3. 4

    Consistency is the hardest part. You should use hashtags on LinkedIn because it increases your reach. Limit them to two or three.

    1. 1

      I don't believe it does.
      In fact, I spend a good deal of time A/B testing this a few months back.
      For me personally, it gave me nothing - actually, if anything, a slight decrease.

      So I disagree - I don't think you should be using them on LinkedIn, and for that matter on Instagram either.
      But I'm aware that this advice goes against what a lot of other marketers are saying 😉

      1. 1

        It does because people follow hashtags and then your content can show up in their feed. It takes two seconds to add to your posts and has upside. It's possible you weren't using them properly.

  4. 3

    Very nice post @SimonHoiberg thanks! Quick question: when you say "recycle content" what do you exactly mean? Things that worked in the past to be reposted in different form (but same essence) or?

    1. 2

      Thanks a lot!

      Yes, basically.
      It means that you take an old piece of content and post it again. (So, not retweeting or sharing, but posting as a new post).

      Sometimes you post it exactly as was, and sometimes you change it a little.

      1. 2

        sometimes a simple repost works. +1.

  5. 2

    Thank you @SimonHoiberg for the post. I use FeedHive to schedule some of my twitter posts. Really helpful. Love the recent UI update. Have received a lot of recommendations about the book Rework. Might as well check it out.

    1. 2

      Thanks a lot! I'm really happy to hear that you like the product!

  6. 2

    Good stuff Simon.

    I'm realizing more and more that I need a fully automated system for social media marketing. I want to put in as much as I get out of it (almost nothing). I can't fathom the thought of posting to Twitter instead of coding, haha.

    1. 1

      Absolutely!
      But I think most of us feel that way - at least to some extend.
      That's what FeedHive is here to solve 😁

  7. 2

    Thanks a lot for sharing all this insights!!!

    I already saved your questions in my notes on "how to tweet".

    I have 2 questions.

    • Did you consider to work on SEO instead of social channels?

    • Did you plan to launch FeedHive or something similar since the start? Otherwise how did you choose what to tweet?

    1. 1

      Thank you 🙏 I'm really happy it was valuable to you!

      To answer your questions:

      • Yes, I did consider that. And I still consider content marketing as one of the main strategies that we're gonna use in FeedHive
      • Yes, I did. As mentioned in the post, I tried launching another product before building an audience. When I began growing, I didn't know that FeedHive was going to be the next thing I would build, but I definitely knew that I would be building and launching another SaaS product!
  8. 2

    Thank you for sharing! And congrats on your MRR.

    How much time did (and do) you spend on audience building?

    1. 1

      I've spent a lot of time on it, during the past 9 months.
      But at this very point, I spend around 3-5 hours every week.

      It becomes substantially easier to push content at scale as time goes by.
      You get better at the routine, and you collect a lot of artifacts that can be recycled or reused in combination with new content.

  9. 2

    Thank you very much for sharing @SimonHoiberg, and Congrat !

  10. 2

    I disagree about hashtags.. I use hashtag search every time when I look for the latest tweets on multifamily investing, for example. Without hashtag search it is very hard to find content in specific niches.

    1. 2

      Alright, fair enough.
      I'd claim that you are one of very few.

      There was a survey conducted last year, and the number of people using it to find content was surprisingly little.
      On the other hand, the number of people using it because they wanted to get discovered was almost 100%.

      Of course, this was a survey done on a subset of users, but it gives a pretty clear picture of how people are using hashtags today.

      1. 1

        I think one size fits all doesn't apply here. If you are in a very specific niche (like micro cap stocks, multifamily syndication, etc), it will be very hard to find your content without hashtags. These topics are so niche and usually don't get pushed by networkds' algorithms. I would say: analyze your niche and decide whether you need hashtags depending on how users can discover your content.

  11. 2

    That's really interesting to read.

    Did you choose to create FeedHive after you created your product ? Or did the idea emerged from the community ?

    1. 1

      Thank you 🙏

      It actually emerged from building an audience.
      Over time, it got very clear which pain points I had, and what prohibited productivity. And that's what I set out to solve.

  12. 2

    anybody out there who has managed to build their business without renting users from the global monster that is Twitter?

  13. 2

    Hi Simon, this is really inspiring. Could you please share the recommended courses and books you mentioned?

    1. 3

      Absolutely!
      Besides Rework, one of the books that completely opened my mind was "One Million Followers" by Brendan Kane.

      There's also a number of awesome courses and ebooks done by big influencers in the tech space, like @dvassallo and @catalinpit.
      You should definitely check these out as well.

      1. 1

        Thanks for the mention!

  14. 2

    Thank you for this insightful post and for building FeedHive! I was just thinking about what to post and the inspiration tool is amazing. I'm challenging myself to post everyday and this is so helpful!

    1. 1

      I'm so happy to hear that! 😁
      This is one of the main pain points that we set out to solve, so it's a great confirmation that we're on the right path here 🙏

  15. 2

    Simon, you're my man hehe 😎

  16. 2

    Great post! Feedhive looks amazing what stack is it built on? Did you use any no code platform for it?

    Love to build up a twitter following! Will follow ur advice

    1. 1

      Thanks a lot 🙏

      It's built on AWS using a fully serverless architecture.
      The front end is built with React.

      Check out this video, I break the tech stack down into details here:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I7MeSo8AWPQ

  17. 2

    Wow, what a great story. Thank you for sharing the tips. :)

  18. 2

    Hey Simon! congratulations on such an amazing milestone 👏

    I have been a follower for a while now, really enjoy your content.

    I applied the same exact steps that you mentioned for the past two weeks and I was able to reach ~1700 followers. Couldn't agree more with these two:

    1. Don't ask for anything in return
    2. Be helpful and humble

    Thanks for putting this information out there, is really helpful!

    1. 1

      Thank you so much 🙏

      And congratulations on your growth! That's awesome 💪

  19. 2

    Very nice tips :)

    1. 1

      I'm happy you found it useful 🙏

  20. 2

    Hey Simon.. love too see your growth. 😍 I have question that arises when I open twitter and I go in deep thinking what to tweet? And If I tweet something anyone like it or not? ....

    Any recommendations for me?

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  21. 2

    Hehe your tool looks great and love this take! Great job on all the success, Simon!

  22. 2

    Amazing story!
    ps: fyi, your second link to FeedHive is broken, thought to let you know

  23. 2

    Great stuff man. No eye rolling here. If there's something I always struggle with is growth, so all tips are welcome. Will also give FeedHive a try, looks great.

    1. 1

      Thanks a lot, I'm happy to hear that I get no eye-rolling from you 😉
      I hope you'll enjoy using FeedHive - in April, we give all new users 7 days on the paid plan for free, so you can get to try it fully.

      And after that, we have a free plan without expiration that you can continue using as well.

  24. 2

    Great stuff Simon. Do you have any comments on posting as the "product" versus posting as oneself?

    1. 1

      It highly depends.
      Building an audience around the product can definitely be highly beneficial.
      But it's also risky. If you have to close down, or the product somehow doesn't survive the market, where does the audience go?

      I would suggest building an audience around yourself as a personal brand.
      On the other hand - not everyone is comfortable with that.
      It's a lot of exposure on you as a person, and that's not for everyone.

      So there are pros and cons for both, I'd say.

  25. 2

    Great case study! Worth to take the time to read it. We wrote a article about SEO Audit for SaaS companies in case you are interested: https://www.breeeze.co/blog/how-to-sell-seo-audit-to-saas-companies

    1. 1

      Awesome, thanks.
      I'll take a look!

  26. 2

    Just signed up to test FeedHive - I'm not a twitter person but I've checked out a few of these tools before. Your dashboard is extremely clean and the UI is intuitive, I especially like how "slots" work.

    1. 1

      Thank you, Tomas 🙏
      Wow, you have no idea how much this means to me. I'll make sure to forward this message to my team 😍

      Also - we're gonna have LinkedIn integration coming up very soon!
      So stay tuned 🚀

  27. 2

    These are amazing tips. This is a really great piece Simon!

    1. 1

      Thanks a lot!
      I'm really happy you liked it.

  28. 2

    Thanks so much for sharing. And congratulations on the payoff for all of your diligence!

  29. 2

    Thank you! This is helpful. Going to check out FeedHive :)

    1. 1

      Thank you!
      And please do - and let me hear what you think 😍

  30. 2

    Awesome growth Simon! You definitely provided a lot of value and it's not a surprise.

    Tell me one thing, how would you describe your current Twitter audience? In 3-5 words

    1. 1

      Thank you, Brunor!
      I'm happy that you think so.

      If I would put a few labels on my audience, it would be entrepreneurs, freelancers, developers and javascript enthusiasts 😁

  31. 2

    Congrats on growing your following... how are you utilizing these followers to make money?

    1. 2

      Thank you 🙏
      I do that in different ways.
      There's a direct way of converting some of my audience into paying users of FeedHive.
      Then there's the indirect way when some of my audience becomes advocates of my product and my brand in general.
      And finally, there's the indirect way when a large audience leads to opportunities, both freelancing, affiliate deals, etc, that I wouldn't otherwise have been presented with.

      1. 1

        So are you capitalizing on these things or have a way to measure the return? Or later down the road you're planning on making money with the audience.

  32. 2

    Great stuff, Simon! Congrats on the successful launch and for all the value you provide to the community!

    1. 1

      Thank you, Braydon 🙏
      I do my best - and I'll definitely keep posting and sharing for as long as it helps people.

  33. 1

    How about when you start from zero? Do the same principles apply?

  34. 4

    This comment was deleted 3 months ago.

    1. 2

      No risk? Haha... until you get canned. Why do people think corporate jobs carry no risk?

      Actually, being an entrepreneur is LESS risky!

      1. 0

        This comment was deleted 3 months ago.

    2. 2

      Thanks a lot!
      We're aiming at hitting $10K MRR in this year.
      I hope we can make it 😉

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