How to Grow a Loyal Following

By on Nov 1, 2016 in Shop Center
How to Grow a Loyal Following

There are two ways to build a reliable income from your Creative Market shop: 1. Pure brute force (aka the bad way): Trying to constantly be everywhere at once promoting your own products. 2. Growing a loyal following (aka the awesome way): Grow a loyal following of customers who share your work and buy your products.

Growing a loyal following will increase your shop sales. But it will also bring more significance to your work. Not just for yourself, but for your customers.

It can feel overwhelming to grow a loyal following. I've found one of the easiest ways to start is to pick one thing and start doing it consistently. I've created a list of 8 things you can start doing today to grow a loyal following. Pick one thing and start doing it regularly. You'll be amazed at the results!

If you want to learn even more about growing a loyal following check out Seth Godin's book Tribes. It's a quick and inspiring read that will change the way you look at your business.

1. Be Human

Imagine you're looking to buy some great coffee online. You find two different websites offering similar roasts of coffee. The first website tells you all the technical details of the coffee (roast, variety of beans, flavor profile and taste).

The second website includes technical details too. But they also have:

  • Pictures of employees preparing beans in a vintage charcoal bed roaster
  • Articles about their trips to purchase beans in South America from independent farmers
  • Instructions on how to make the best cup of coffee ever

Which of these businesses would you be more likely to purchase your beans from?

Find ways to bring yourself to your customers. Here are a few ways you can start:

  • Write your product descriptions like you're talking to a good friend.
  • Update your Creative Market autoresponder message regularly and be sure to use a friendly and open writing style.
  • Tell a story about how your product came to be.
  • Share your design process on Instagram, Tumblr or Dribbble.

Example: Mattox Schuller of Fort Foundry does an excellent job of sharing his successes as well as flaws. Visit his website and you'll find detailed articles documenting the stories behind his typefaces (as well as mistakes he made and lessons he learned).

2. Be Helpful

People buy your products because they help them achieve something. It might help them get a project done faster or achieve an effect they don't have the knowledge to execute.

Add more value by making every interaction an opportunity to deliver value. Here's a few simple ways to be helpful to your customers:

  • Include easy to follow instructions for your products.
  • Share videos on YouTube that help people use your products.
  • Include a PDF to help customers get the most from each product.
  • Create an inspirational gallery on Pinterest where designers can see how others use your products.

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Example: Matt Borchert makes a regular habit of sharing free tutorials on YouTube as well as weekly updates featuring new goods on Creative Market. 

3. Be Responsive

We're used to not getting a response online. So when someone actually responds with a helpful note or comment we remember it. Make a consciousness effort to respond to every message you receive from your audience. Want to really impress them?

Here are a few easy ways to surpass their expectations in your response:

  • Look at their portfolio or blog. Learn about them and then acknowledge the stuff you like.
  • Include links to valuable resources in your responses.
  • Follow them on social networks.
  • Share something about yourself. Share little tid bits about your process, your work or your struggles.

4. Co-create

Want to know the easiest way to make products your customers will love? Ask them.

It's a great way to decide what to make next. Plus, when you ask for customer input they become emotionally invested in the product. Who doesn't want a product that was built with their needs in mind?

Here are some simple ways to co-create products with your customers:

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Example: Ian Bernard regularly shares his new products with followers on Instagram and Dribbble before release. This gives him valuable feedback on his product before launch and builds buzz about the upcoming release.

5. Surprise them.

99% of the time, when you purchase a product you get exactly what was described. What if you were the person who always delights your customers with something extra? What would that do for your business?

Here are some ways to surprise your customers:

  • Include something cool with your product that you never mentioned was included.
  • Surprise them with a free good from your shop (without mentioning it in the product description).
  • Share their work.

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Example: I always try to make a positive first impression when people purchase RetroSupply goods. One of my favorite ways is to add a surprise freebie in my custom email receipt. It's an easy way to over deliver and make customers happy.

6. Reward Your Most Loyal Customers

Customers that buy early are so important. These are the customers that give you your first reviews, comments, and bring your products up the ranks so they're visible to everyone.

Thank these customers by giving them special deals and letting them know you value them. I truly believe that these customers can be the difference between a hugely successful shop and one that never gains traction.

Here are some ways to reward your customers:

  • Early bird discount. Give them a special discount for buying early.
  • Run a giveaway. Give people who buy in the first 48 hours a free item of their choice when they purchase.
  • Add exclusive extras. Include exclusive extras that are only in the download file for the first 48 hours. Remove them after the first 48 hours, giving your best customers a special perk for their loyalty.

7. Assume the Best

Have you ever received a message from an unhappy customer? If you haven't yet, trust me you will! Instead of getting defensive respond to these customers with understanding. Assume they're reasonable people that had a frustrating experience.

I've found that if I respond kindly to people, 99% of the time their response back is positive. In fact, some of my best customers are those who I was able to transform a negative experience into a positive one.

8. Treat Your Customers Like Good Friends

If I could only offer one tip for growing a loyal following it would be this: Treat your customers like good friends.

What do I mean by that? Here are a few examples:

  • When you write a product description pretend you're writing to one friend. If it helps picture a customer you've built a relationship with. This will make your writing feel warmer and more authentic.
  • Be present when you respond to their messages. Write thoughtful responses back.
  • Surprise them with something extra when they buy a product.
  • Give away freebies sometimes.
  • Follow them on Twitter, Facebook or wherever else you live online.

Technically, this is just a combination of the 7 other tips. But I felt it was important enough to have its own number.

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Example: If you spend any time on Creative Market you've probably seen Beth Rufener's work or a friendly comment. Beth gives generously of her time to the Creative Market community. Between her incredible work and friendly personality it's easy to see why Beth has been so successful.

How Do You Grow a Loyal Following?

These are just a few ways to grow a loyal following. I want to hear from you. What do you do to build loyalty and community with your audience? Tell me in the comments below!

Dustin Lee is the owner of the best selling shop RetroSupply. He's also the author of The Designers Guide to Selling Digital Goods. Sign up here to be the first to know when it's released (plus, get a special discount).

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68 Comments

  1. FilterGrade

    This series just keeps getting better and better, and then at the end I find out you're writing a cool book with even more about this stuff? I'll be the first to pick that one up. Thanks for writing some seriously useful, and more importantly actionable tips, putting some into practice now. :)

  2. creatifolio
    • Staff

    Wow, @RetroSupply - another amazing set of tips for winners! I'm really enjoying this series! :) And thanks so much for the kind words and the shout-out - I am deeply touched and humbled.

  3. kelleyjohnson

    All of these tips are great, and I love that you gave examples of each! Thanks for the great post/continuation of a great series :)

  4. JuliaBausenhardt

    I will think about smothering everyone with freebies until they don't need to buy any more of my fonts...hey, wait... :D No seriously, it's great advice you give here. Much appreciated.

  5. prajwal.sherchan

    Man I love creative market u guys rockk I love your blogs so informative and guniene and one important to make followers is be genuine lot if crap out in onoine market love from beautiful country of nepal

  6. Jesussanz

    Very useful advice. Really you stimulate to do better. I hope to keep this in mind and put some of these tips into practice soon.

  7. RetroSupply

    Thanks @FilterGrade . I LOVE when articles have concrete actions I can apply immediately. So I try hard to include some in every post. Thanks : )

    My pleasure @Beth R : ) Everywhere I go on Creative Market you're a positive presence. People like you make Creative Market great : )

    Thanks @Josh Johnson and @Kelley Johnson . Thank you for a platform where I can share these ideas!

    @Shelly Laslo Secret tips! I love that. I'm glad you find them really useful!

    @Julia Bausenhardt Thanks! I think of giving freebies away like previews for a movie. If you can show people how exciting a movie is with a preview, a lot of those people are going to come back for the full feature.

    Thank you @Matt Borchert ! Your consistent quality content is inspiring. Plus, I know I can't be the only one that wishes they had as polished a presentation style as you! Incredible videos.

    Thanks to everyone for the kind words and feedback!

  8. ianbarnard

    Thanks @RetroSupply really great advice and thanks for the feature. The Instagram, dribbble and CM community have been the reason why my recent products have been successful and I'm very thankful for the support that comes from them.

  9. Godserv

    Offer my top buyer an item of their choice as a Christmas Gift. They choose any item in my portfolio regardless of price, I give it for free. Happy customer = customer retention.

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