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Audience Building

July 7, 2022

Side-project Marketing: Grow Your Audience Without Lifting a Finger

Kevon Cheung

Founder & Head Teacher


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I want to tell you something.

I say the best way to use social media is to block out time to use it so you’re not always distracted by it. But if I’m being completely honest with you, I can’t help but open my Twitter app first thing after I wake up.

This is bad because I'm in bed for another 15 mins! I’m trying to fight this.

At times I find social media to be stressful and exhausting. I feel the need to keep up with this input (tweet) → output (exposure) formula. I feel like I cannot take a break.

The first time I felt this way was when I was about 6 months into building my online presence. I showed up every day tweeting and making friends. I wrote some articles and shared them on Twitter and forums. My following and article views were growing, but I felt like I had to actively push it.

I'm in for the long game. There must be a better way right? What can I do to get away from this formula? How can people spread my name for me?

Let’s fast forward 12 months

You might have heard of my free email course Making Twitter Friends. More than 2,300 people took it in its first 12 months! I was blown away. Because I didn’t have to talk about it every day and people keep signing up.

How did that happen?

If you've done the course, maybe first let me ask you - how did you hear about my course? Did a friend tell you? Did a friend post about it? Very likely.

My free email course was helping me grow my audience without me lifting my finger to talk about it! This really opened my eyes.

I later learned that this is called side-project marketing.

It means you’re creating a mini, free product that has standalone value to attract people into your world. Through that, they will start to learn about your other things. E.g. my book, my course, my template, etc.

This concept (I like this much more than "lead magnet") changed my approach to grow my business.

Hey don't get me wrong. I still write tweets, make short videos, and write articles, they're important as I stay present. But now I also have mini products that organically bring people into my world.

This is pretty awesome.

Why does it work?

If you think about it, how recommendable is a tweet, a video, or an article? Sure, sometimes you come across a good one and you send it to your friends. But I'd say 99% of the time, you don't.

This is because it is hard for a single piece of quick content to be worth the effort to share. It is just a quick inspiration or learning.

Okay, now can you think about what you recently shared with friends? Is it something offering more than a blog post? Maybe a guide? A mini course? A free tool? Something with a name? Something a lot of people are already talking about?

That’s right. When it is a "product" that offers a complete experience plus when it is easier to talk about it, you talk about it! You can just say “Hey Greg. You should do <Making Twitter Friends>!” instead of the clunky “Hey Greg. You should check out this video that helps you make Twitter friends!”

Isn't this intriguing?

What is a good side-project?

If you do some quick research on this term, you'll find that it can actually be a wide range of products. Like a free tool or SaaS app. Or a free email course. Or a free ebook. The goal is that this side project is a mini product.

But then ... to me, it sounds very much like a "lead magnet" which I don't like. It almost sounds like just a quick, dirty way to get people's emails.

This is the part that I have a bit more opinions. To me, a killer side-project has these criteria:

  • It is solving a specific problem
  • It is a product itself with a memorable name
  • It has to be educational and to-the-point, offering so much value
  • It doesn’t get outdated
  • It is interactive to create a touchpoint between you & your audience - building relationships
  • It has fresh testimonials all the time
  • It is email based (if you're a creator) because ... you're reading my email now, so emails are important

It sounds like a real, developed product right? It is! And you have to be more than happy to give it all away for free. Then through that, you’re bringing people to you, building trust with them, and they'll spread the word of this side-project for you!

Also, if you recommend them to follow you on Twitter, most of them will. This is how you expand your social media & email audience together.

Students share the course all the time.
Students share the course all the time. See all of them.

Usually, you lead them to the next thing you can help them: a main offer.

Funny enough, I didn’t.

For the first 12 months, I had nothing to sell to the people who completed Making Twitter Friends. It was only until last month when I published my new Twitter book, Find Joy in Chaos, that I have the right next step for them.

Before I wrap up here with this sharing, I have a video course to share everything I know in developing Making Twitter Friends that brings in 3,000 students organically in 23 months called Email Course Engine: How to Grow Your Raving Fans on Autopilot.

Hope this helps! I can't wait to see your first side-project 💪