6 Steps to Building a Fan Based Tribe

A part of the Tribe series.

The following six steps are the framework for everything we will be doing to build your tribe. It is the funnel that we will use to move people from first contact into fans that are passionately behind your movement.

In future weeks we will break down each of these steps in more specifics detail and action items.

1. Find where people are already showing up and join them. Your potential fans are already congregating together in different places. Show up in person (or better yet, get an opportunity to speak) at conventions and conferences. Follow people on Twitter and get involved in Facebook groups and pages. Do interviews with other experts in your space. Find where people already are and then get involved.

2. Start a blog and write regularly. This is your home base and everyone that finds you online will inevitably land here. Use it to expound on your ideas and teach what you are learning.

3. Setup your email marketing. Gain access to directly email your fans. This is your most important asset! This is where the people that truly care about what you are doing are going to be. You must move people from being more than just blog readers to email subscribers.

4. Train your community to get involved. This is key and the thing people often overlook. Start small with things like Q&A’s but ratchet it up over time. From early on, teach your fans that you expect them to roll up their sleeves and work with you.

5. Cultivate your top 1%. As you ask your community to get involved you’ll start to see a few people’s names show up over and over. Invite them in to interact with you and start giving them tools to get even more involved. These will be the people that will have the biggest impact on growing your fan base.

6. Connect your fans to each other. The goal is not to grow a large list of disconnected followers. The goal is to build a community. This means they need to interact with each other. Give them opportunities to do this via digital and physical means. Forums, Ning communities, workshops and book signings are all examples of this.

These are the steps you will use to start building your community of fans that will buy your book and help spread your movement.


Spend some time thinking through each of the six steps and making notes on how you think you can best engage your community in each one.

What is your role as leader of your tribe?

Every leader cares for and supports a movement.

This ties in closely to the homework I assigned in the previous post. Your “movement” is connected to your Idea Sentence. Your job as leader of your tribe is to care for and support your idea.

Think of your movement as a small house plant. To help it grow you provide direct care such as watering it regularly and protecting it from pests and harmful environments. You also support it’s growth by making sure it gets enough sun.

What can you do for your movement and idea that provides the proper environment and care for it to grow and spread?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Challenge the status quo. Point out the ways you are working to change things. Identify a common enemy (a person or an idea).
  • Create a culture. What makes the people in your tribe different? Do you have a common language? Common ideals or backgrounds? What would you want people outside your tribe to know about you and your followers?
  • Have huge amounts of curiosity about the world you are trying to change. Never stop learning. Always be looking for bigger and better ways to care for and support your movement.
  • Communicate your vision of the future. What do people’s lives look like after they have been a member of your tribe for a long time? How is their life better?
  • Commit to your “idea” and make decisions based on that commitment. Your Idea Sentence from last week should be the litmus test for everything you do. All of your efforts and movement should be to spread your idea further.
  • Go first. Leaders are always the ones that step out first and then call people to follow them.
  • Put your own skin in the game.  Be willing to make mistakes (and admit them) and move on. People respect and follow a leader that steps out and risks their own reputation.


Get a piece of paper and write your Idea Sentence at the top. Now go through each item in the above list and write down at least one concrete step you can take to care for and support your movement.

What is a Tribe?

The short answer:

A tribe is a group of people connected to an idea, connected to a leader and connected to each other.

What does this mean for you, the author? Let’s go through each element individually.

Connected to an idea

When people join your tribe, what are they becoming a part of? What is the bigger “idea” behind your work? If you are a non-fiction writer, answer the question “How are you trying to make the world a better place?”. For the fiction writer, start with a question like “What is the world I’m inviting people to be a part of?”

People join a tribe because they want to be connected to something bigger than themselves and, even when it’s your fans, something bigger than you. What are your ideals? Why are people connecting with you instead of one of the other millions of authors out there?

Answering these questions is a key step towards building your tribe. The ability to put this into one phrase or sentence allows you to easily communicate to people why you are someone worth following and connecting with.

Connected to a leader

In this case, YOU are the leader. In next week’s email I will go into more depth as to what your job is as the leader, but for now, know that for your tribe to exist, you will be inviting people to connect with you.

This can look different depending on the tribe you are building (more on this subject in the weeks to come) but start thinking about how your tribe is going to connect and interact with you.

Connected to each other

You are one person and can only do so much. It is important when you build your tribe to connect the people in your tribe to each other. This will allow them to engage around you and your ideas without your direct involvement. Give your fans opportunities to share with each other how your work has changed their lives for the better.

By connecting your fans with each other you will increase their enthusiasm about your tribe, give them comradery around your idea and allow you to distribute the work of building and supporting your tribe to others.

Your Homework

Take the time to sit down and put together your tribe’s “idea”. Start by writing out everything you are trying to accomplish with your book(s) and your career. What are you calling people to be apart of? Then put that idea into one sentence. This will be the sentence that drives everything else you do.

Extra – Download our free 16 Principles for Building and Leading a Tribe ebook.