Whenever Joe Pulizzi tweets, “Don’t build on rented land,” the positive response amazes us.

Creators get it – to create a long-term, sustainable content business, you need to have direct access to your audience. But the allure of third-party platforms, especially social media, is great, given their huge audiences.

Here’s how to have the best of both worlds:

These five ideas can help you do just that.

1. Create a content extension: Accidentally Wes Anderson’s Wally Koval built an Instagram following of 1.5M with once-a-day images and captions of a global locale. Then, he extended that Instagram week with an email called the 8th Post – the same format as Instagram but only accessible by email. (He has since evolved to a biweekly AWA non-newsletter to capture his audience’s emails.) That bonus gave fans something they wanted (more content) and AWA the opportunity to own their audience.

2. Include calls to action: Audiences on your rented land might not be aware you own land or that they could visit it. Use calls to action to publicize your owned land and invite them to join you there. 

Design low-key CTA for awareness of your brand’s owned land. Blippi, a kids’ educational video provider, includes its website address in the about section of its YouTube channel. Black Forager mentions her link page in her Instagram bio.

Develop specific CTAs to your paid and free content products. Ask your podcast listeners to subscribe to show notes. Ask audiences for their mobile numbers to receive a weekly text message with a helpful or inspiring note relevant to your content tilt.

3. Make an offer: No matter how people find your owned site, they are still just visitors. When they arrive or after they’ve consumed some of your content, present them with a gift. The Broke Black Girl does that with a pop-up offer made to visitors within a few seconds of arrival. She offers a free guide – The Top 5 Money Mistakes Most People Make – available to those who provide their email addresses.

4. Host a contest: Everybody likes to win something. Brainstorm what would motivate your audience to enter a contest. A user-generated content contest can be a win-win method because you get content to repurpose on your site and the email addresses of entrants. However, this type of contest limits responses only to those who have and want to contribute content. Simple prize drawings usually elicit bigger audiences because they only require a name and their email address. Their succcess usually depends on much the audience values the prize offering. 

TIP: Note on the entry form that the contestants agree to have their names added to your brand’s database and receive future emails from you.

5. Don’t abuse the privilege: Welcoming the audience to your owned land is only the first step. They’ve trusted you enough to give access to their inbox or text messages. Now, it’s up to you to keep earning that trust so they don’t unsubscribe. Deliver what they signed up for without bombarding them with promotions and other things they didn’t agree to receive. Make it clear on how they can opt out – that means don’t try to hide or make your unsubscribe note so small they can’t find it. Invite them to be among the first participants in new launches, products, etc.

What do you do to attract an owned audience? Share in The Tilt Discord community.


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About the author

Ann regularly combines words and strategy for B2B, B2C, and nonprofits, continuing to live up to her high school nickname, Editor Ann. Former college adjunct faculty, Ann also helps train professionals in content so they can do it themselves.