To celebrate the rebrand to Small School, we have a special for you (only June 11-14, 2024) →

Audience Building

April 13, 2023

I Use 7 Unconventional Ideas to Grow My Genuine Community

Kevon Cheung

Founder & Head Teacher

Are you also sick of the growth hacks you see everywhere?

How people writing dozens of listicles on Twitter because they get lots of likes & retweets. Or how creators are forcing people to reply to get something. Or the worst I've seen, "I am giving away this $347 product for free! Get it now!"

I have no doubt they are clever, using these hooks to get people to act.

But I never want to play that game. I also don't want to be around these people.

If you think about it,

Only short-sighted creators would do growth hacks like these.

They only have one goal — fast follower growth.

But 99% of them have no idea what to do next. How will they build a business around it? No idea.

I prefer to build a business from day one and do things very differently.

  • Instead of going for scale, I go for depth.
  • Instead of going for audience, I go for community.
  • Instead of going for tricks, I go for genuineness.

I know this is working because despite starting this business from scratch for only 2.5 years, I can see the growth from my business metrics and, more importantly, the magnitude of word of mouth that I'm getting.

When I do things that surprise people, then they are happy. They enjoy being around me. We become supporters of one another.

The more people talk about me, the faster I grow.

So I sit down and think about what I usually do to foster these genuine relationships.

And here are the 7 unconventional ideas (because not a lot of people do them) that continues to grow my genuine community.

1. Be randomly generous

I don't have to tell you that the Internet is huge.

This means that when you do one kind act, the "good" that comes back to you can be 10x.

I don't look at everything as a transaction. It is much more than buy & sell to me.

The other day, I saw in my inbox that Sue McLachlan, an entrepreneur friend I met online, was guiding her 17yo daughter on entrepreneurship. She was using her own audience to show her daughter that she can also create value and sell things people want.

I wanted to do the same with my 2 daughters!

So showing some support is the right thing to do there. What's the return? No idea, it doesn't matter.

2. Lift everyone up

To run this business, I have contractors to help me.

At this point, I have a video editor (Benjamin), a designer (Ihor), and an assistant (Marjorie).

All 3 of them are amazing at what they do.

Usually, people don't talk about who is helping them. Because what if they get more business and don't have time for me or they raise their prices on me? Valid concern.

But I'd much prefer to give them the spotlights so that they can grow together with me.

I like them. I want them to be successful.

3. I make sure the world knows what I enjoy

This is easier said than done.

Because people are so busy worrying about themselves than taking the time to do so.

But in any industries, I'd say the lowest hanging fruit to build your network is really be open about what you appreciate.

If you're genuinely enjoying, people can tell.

Jay Clouse has been my favorite creator because he is caring and honest. I'm only in 1 paid community and it is his Creator Science.

As I'm learning so much from him, I thought it'd make perfect sense to give him a shoutout.

4. Reply to my emails

A lot of people make it sound like spending hours in your inbox is bad.

"You're not doing real work!"

But in the creator economy where a community is everything, interacting with people is the time most well spent.

Regularly, I get a lot of people emailing me.

Although sometimes I'm 1 month late in my reply, I always try to get to everyone. It is tiny little things like this that people remember you for life.

I'm obsessed with entrepreneurs with a community-driven mind too, so when I learned that Sarah Renae Clark and Maurizio Leo also do the same (they said it in the interviews), I knew it is the "secret sauce" everyone is looking for.

5. Not calculating everything

There are people who want to squeeze every dime from others' wallets.

That mindset doesn't work well with a community-driven business, really.

So I sometimes give out random gifts at scale.

For example, to celebrate my second daughter Audrey's birth, I decided to give away my book for as low as $1. Around 200 people got to enjoy it!

Some ask "wouldn't this make previous buyers angry? Or people won't buy anymore knowing you do this?"

Again, valid concerns.

My thinking is that generally people don't get angry about low-priced items. A supermarket is giving out the $10 chocolate you bought yesterday. How do you feel? Well, you miss out and you move on.

And these acts are random, meaning there's no way my community can predict it, so people will still buy if they need my products now.

6. Say no to money

I have an amazingly supportive community around me.

I always say that a community doesn't grow around one person. If I put myself at the center of this, this community doesn't exist.

And through the journey, so many people have helped a ton.

There is this time when a member wanted to get some advice from me about her creator's business model.

I said "Sure!" and she went "let me pay for your time!"

I happily denied her because she has helped me a lot. It is the right thing for me to do.

7. Surprise people with effort

Who doesn't like a surprise?

I give a lot of care to my students at Build in Public Mastery.

Usually at a cohort-based course, because so many things are happening, students don't get the 1:1 attention as much.

But I want to meet every student and give them a head start, so I do a 25-min onboarding call with all of them.

The thing is — I don't advertise it.

I want to keep it as a surprise factor. (If you're thinking of signing up to the course and reading this, sorry!)

And a lot of them later tell me that this is the best course they've taken — because we care.

Mini steps you can do today

You might now wonder how you can change your approach now.

For starter, I’d suggest to do 2 things:

  1. Take time to interact and listen to people around you. Do things that don’t scale. You’ll gain a lot more
  2. Don’t be afraid to give shoutouts, lots of them. If someone has helped you or if you enjoy someone’s work, share it with everyone publicly

All these good acts will come back to you.

Newsletter Signature Divider
Newsletter Signature Divider
Newsletter Signature Divider
Table of Contents

Leverage Human Psychology

I used human behavior to grow my Twitter/X following. I went from having 0 followers to 423 in 8 weeks, and then it organically grew to 1,489 in another 8 weeks. It is not a massive audience, but it is enough for me to start monetization.

Read for Free

Leverage Human Psychology

I used human behavior to grow my Twitter/X following. I went from having 0 followers to 423 in 8 weeks, and then it organically grew to 1,489 in another 8 weeks. It is not a massive audience, but it is enough for me to start monetization.

Read for Free