Today, I’m sharing my top 5 strategies for creating a community of true, raving fans that will turn your brand into a magnet for engagement and genuine connection.

I started my online business journey in 2010, with a food blog, and have since gone on to build multiple successful online brands and have earned more than one million dollars online. 

Through these experiences, I’ve learned a thing or two about what truly resonates with people. And trust me – there is a huge difference between just having followers and building a community that actively engages and champions your brand.

So let’s get into your 5-step playbook for creating raving fans, distilled from years of hits and misses online. Learn from my mistakes and elevate your brand to something that makes a lasting impact in your niche.

Step 1: Embrace Authenticity – Be Unapologetically You

What Is Authenticity? Simply put, it’s about being real and true to yourself. No imitations, no pretending to be someone you’re not. It’s about embracing every part of your personality, spirit, and character – quirks and all.

Why It Matters for Your Business: Authenticity is your secret weapon. Ever felt the pressure to fit into a mold or offer services just because it seemed like the “entrepreneurial” thing to do? I’ve been there – thinking I had to trade time for money with one-on-one client sessions because that’s what was expected. Spoiler: It wasn’t for me. The moment I embraced what truly resonated with me – educating, writing, and content creation – everything changed.

How to Be Authentic: It’s the little things that count. Whether it’s openly sharing your hobbies outside your niche, using slang or even swear words in your content (if that’s your vibe), or maybe it’s sporting purple hair and tattoos. Your unique traits are what attract your people. And remember, authenticity also means showing the not-so-polished, behind-the-scenes moments of your life or business. These glimpses make you relatable, building a genuine connection with your audience.

Real Talk: You don’t need to put on an act. For instance, I rarely swear, so I don’t force it in my content. But if a slip happens, it’s all good – that’s just me being me. And it’s that realness that your audience will gravitate towards, much like how some people vibe with other business leaders constant swearing because it’s authentic to them.

Remember, the goal is not to impress everyone, but to connect deeply with the right ones. Let your true self shine through in all you do, and watch as you attract a community of fans who not only get you but also can’t wait to see what you do next.

Step 2: The Power of Vulnerability – Show Your True Self

Understanding Vulnerability: Being vulnerable means opening yourself up to the possibility of emotional exposure, criticism, and even attack. It’s not just about showing your successes; it’s also about sharing the struggles, the setbacks, and the real human moments.

Why It Matters: Vulnerability sets you apart. It’s rare and refreshing, especially in the online world. For example, back in 2017, I decided to start posting income reports. It was a way to document the ups and downs of business and provide a transparent view of my journey. This openness not only held me accountable but also allowed others to learn from my experiences – successes and failures alike.

Learning from Feedback: Embracing vulnerability means being open to feedback without defensiveness. Remember, no one knows everything. Growth and learning are about adapting, changing opinions, and sometimes even directions, based on new insights. It’s okay to be wrong. What’s important is your willingness to learn and evolve.

Dealing with Criticism: Facing criticism is part of the vulnerability. It’s not always easy, and yes, it can sting, especially on bad days. But by being open and honest, you leave little room for naysayers. It’s about confidence in the value you bring, despite the inevitable critiques.

Encouraging Vulnerability in Others: By being vulnerable yourself, you create a space where others feel safe to open up. This fosters a deeper connection and allows for genuine support and growth within your community. It’s a cycle of mutual trust and openness that enriches everyone involved.

Step 3: The Importance of Being Genuinely Helpful

Why Helping Matters: The essence of attracting raving fans lies in your ability to be genuinely helpful. It’s about creating content that not only answers questions but also solves problems, making someone’s life easier, better, or just more pleasant. This is the golden rule for building a community that cherishes your presence online.

The Three Pillars of Helpful Content:

In order to create true fans, you’ll need to consistently publish three types of content:

  1. Trust Content: This is your foundation. It includes posts, videos, or articles that solve specific problems, answer questions, and provide value. It’s about creating content that your audience is actively searching for, so that you are who shows up when they’re Googling (or YouTubing or TikToking) their problems.
  1. Proof Content: Show and tell. Share your successes, your customers’ wins, and the tangible results of your work. This type of content not only inspires but also showcases your expertise and the real impact you can have on someone’s life.
  1. Belief Content: Address the deeper doubts, fears, and hesitations your audience faces. By acknowledging and speaking directly to these concerns, you create a deeper connection and help your audience feel seen and understood on a personal level.

Creating Value Before Anything Else: Even if you’re just starting out or still finding your footing, remember: being helpful doesn’t necessarily mean having all the answers yourself. It’s about guiding your audience to the right ones. Recommending resources or sharing knowledge from your niche can also establish trust and demonstrate your commitment to their success.

A Strategic Approach to Content: Focus on mastering one platform at a time, ideally one that allows for evergreen, long-form, searchable content like blogging or YouTube. This approach ensures that your helpful content continues to reach and benefit your audience long after it’s published. As you grow, gradually expand to other platforms, using each to complement and amplify your primary content.

The Big Picture: Being helpful is about more than just answering questions; it’s about becoming a trusted resource that your audience turns to time and again. By prioritizing their needs and continually delivering value, you’ll not only attract fans but foster a community of engaged, loyal supporters eager to spread the word about your work.

Step 4: Be Present & Make Every Connection Count

Presence Defined: Being present isn’t just about showing up; it’s about being genuinely involved and engaged with your community. It’s a reminder that the most potent connection tool you have is yourself – your attention, your time, your care.

Your Unfair Advantage: When you’re new to the scene, it might feel like the established players in your niche have all the advantages. But here’s a secret: your fresh perspective and availability for one-on-one interactions are invaluable. While bigger names struggle to maintain personal connections due to their scale, you can offer something incredibly special – your presence.

The Art of Personal Connection: In the early stages of building your audience, the direct interactions you have – be it through DMs, emails, or comments – are golden opportunities to foster deep relationships. Each reply and acknowledgment makes your audience feel seen and heard, reinforcing their belief in you not just as a brand, but as a person who genuinely cares.

Building a Vibrant Community: Encourage conversations, ask questions, and invite your audience to share their stories. This doesn’t just increase engagement; it strengthens the communal bond, making your platform a place where people feel valued and understood.

Staying Human in a Digital World: As your brand grows, it’s natural that personal interactions become more challenging to maintain at scale. But it’s still beneficial to prioritize connecting personally as much as possible. Show your followers that behind the brand is a person who listens, responds, and appreciates them.

A Simple Mantra: Be a good human. It’s that simple. Care genuinely about the people who take the time to engage with your content and your mission. This genuine care is what will transform casual followers into dedicated fans.

Step 5: Give Back – Show Your Gratitude

Express Your Thanks: Never underestimate the power of a simple “thank you.” Make it a habit to regularly acknowledge your followers, subscribers, and clients. Personalized gestures of gratitude make your audience feel valued and appreciated and more likely to remain engaged with you.

Special Treats for Your People: Consider creating exclusive offers or content for your email subscribers or most engaged community members. Whether it’s a discount, a special upgrade, or a unique resource, these gestures show your audience that their loyalty doesn’t go unnoticed.

Reward Engagement: Small tokens of appreciation, like sending $5 Starbucks gift cards to active group members during the holidays, can make a big impact. Such acts of kindness reinforce the community spirit and deepen the connection between you and your fans.

Honor Your Early Supporters: Acknowledging those who believed in you from the start is so important. For instance, offering a lifetime discounted rate for early subscribers or members as a token of appreciation not only shows gratitude but also builds loyalty. It’s a way of giving back to those who took a chance on you when your idea was just taking shape.

In Conclusion: Crafting Your Community of Raving Fans

Creating a community of raving fans doesn’t happen overnight. It’s built on the foundation of authenticity, vulnerability, helpfulness, presence, and gratitude. 

Each step, from embracing your true self to giving back to those who support you, is crucial in cultivating a space where genuine connections can grow.

Together, you’ll create more than just a community; you’ll build a movement of raving fans who are as invested in your success as you are in their growth and happiness. Here’s to your journey of building lasting connections and a fanbase that feels more like family.

Erica Julson is a registered dietitian turned digital marketing pro. She has over 12 years of experience blogging and building online businesses and has taught over 900 wellness professionals inside her signature program, SEO Made Simple.