For indie creatives: The distinction between audience and allies

It’s a dance . . . a two-step: Audience and allies

At last week’s creative retreat, one of the many rewarding conversations was on outreach.

If you’re an indie creator then it behooves you to understand the difference between your two primary modes for growing professionally.

Indie creators = freelancers, artists, writers, designers, small biz entrepreneurs, filmmakers, lifestylers, creatives of all stripes 

Audience and Allies

1) Your allies are the supporting cast to your dream career

I’m a writer. My allies support that mission: My editor, various designers (cover design, book design, web design), tech help and more. Some of you will have assistants, agents, publishers and — shades of Hollywood — even a manager. This is the team that supports modern-era logistics for a writer.

Your allies are also your personal support team. Those family, friends and peers who are keen to see you flourish
You can tell who they are. They’re the ones checking in to see how your work is going. They’re the ones who help you when you’re down. They lift you up when you’ve got no lift inside you. They are eager for you, and it shows.
Other allies are more orbital, distant even. They are reviewers, bloggers, networkers, reporters, thinkers and influencers who can act as an assist when a project is launched.
Allies are not your audience, though some of them may be in it. Allies enable you to reach your audience.

2) Your audience is the universe of people who adore your work

They may not care about you personally, yet they’re avid to get their hands on what you’re putting out to the public.

They may or may not be your followers on social media, but they sure as hell are the ones on your email list. They’ve signed up because your message is meaningful to them. 

Your audience pays for your work. Their money — exchanged for the results of your creative effort — allows you to create more. Their money supports you financially. If you gain enough of an audience, you get the prize — to live solely from your creative wits.

. . . . . .

Is there overlap? Sure. There’s overlap in everything, even apples and oranges. (Zinc, dietary fiber, number of syllables if you’re speaking in the singular . . . .) The important thing is your relationship to each. 

You cultivate allies personally. It’s a one-to-one relationship. You get in touch. You support your allies as much or more as they support you. 
This is why you are allies and not simply contacts . . . it’s reciprocal. You support your allies, in turn you seek their support when needed.
How do you support your allies? 
It’s up to you to figure out. 
It may be passing along information. It may be commenting on their blog or social media streams. It may be connecting them to something you believe they’ll value. It could be an introduction. It’s supporting their efforts in whatever ways you can.

You cultivate your audience in mass.
Your audience is sparked by your best work. It’s that simple. Put out your best work, consistently, and you’ll grow an audience. 
In the beginning you will have more allies than audience. Then comes that first email from someone you don’t know. 
I remember my first blush with an audience. A wildish story of mine was published in college . . . and people I didn’t know came up to me, some almost babbling in appreciation. That was a new kind of headiness. 
Years later the first fan mail showed up in my inbox, from someone a thousand miles away — someone who didn’t know me! In it the sender — at this juncture my greatest and only known fan — expressed heartfelt thanks for a piece that meant oh so much to her personally.
Once you have an audience of one you’re on your way. It’s all math from there. Add. Build. Grow. 
It’s easy if you’re relaxed about the time it takes. It’s only hard when you need it all now.
Here’s what makes it easy. It’s the creative two-step. You only need to do two things to further your creative career:
Support your allies.
Wow your audience.
For you —

Evan Griffith
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