The #1 Way to Build Your Influence

Most people think the best way to become an influencer is to build the biggest following, but the real key to having influence online is to build an engaged community.

Engaged communities have people who respect you as the leader. They embrace the ideas you’ve shared. And they build valuable relationships within the community. 

Which explains why when interviewers like Tom Ward of the Tom Ward Show YouTube channel vet people for an interview, he’s looking for the engagement level of your community, not the size of your list. (

If you want to build your own community, one of the first questions that will come up is: What should my community be about?

How to Pick the Right Topic for Your Online Community

Here’s the simple 4-step PLACE Method you can use to quickly determine what your community should be about:

1- Problem: There’s usually three reasons people look to you for solutions. 1- You’re solving a problem they want solved. (A bit of a no-brainer.) 2- You’re solving a problem in a unique way. 3- You have a unique way of communicating and looking at the world.

Make a list of the problems you solve for people. Then, make a list of your unique solutions. Finally, make a list of your unique approaches to communication or looking at the world. Any combination of these three things could be the key that keeps your community on topic and engaged. If you’re not sure what your unique style is, go to Action Cue Formula and take the quiz.

2- Love: Is there something you love to do so much you’d do it for free? Have you ever heard yourself say, “This is so easy and fun, I almost feel bad about charging for it?” Make a list of those things.

3- Ask: If you have an email list, send a short email that says, “I’m thinking of starting a community around X topic. Does that interest you? Is there another topic you’d be more interested in?” 

Other places you can ask are your Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube communities. 

Tip: You want to ask the people that already know, like, and trust you, because those are the people most likely to engage with you in your community. So don’t post this question just anywhere. 

4- Creation: Look at what you’ve already created. What topics do you routinely talk about? Do you have a go-to rant or passion topic? 

Next, look at the data from your email list or wherever you engage with people. Which of your posts, articles, podcasts, videos etc. got the most likes, comments or shares? That’s likely a topic your community wants to know more about. 

Tip: People engage in communities because they want to talk. It’s not about you talking while other people listen. (That’s what one-way communications like articles are for.)

5- Energy: Engaged communities require constant nurturing. You’re going to be posting at least twice a day, for as long as you have the community. That means you need to focus on a topic that gives you energy rather than drains you. Make a list of things that light you up. 

Look for Themes and Vet the Winners

Now look across all 5 lists you created. What jumps out at you? Do you see any themes or repeating topics? Circle the winners. 

You now have a short list of possible topics. The final step is to run the ideas past your followers and see what they think.

Go back to your email list or online communities. You can engage with just the people who replied to your original email asking about topics, or you can send a message to the whole list.

In the message say, “As someone interested in _______, would you join an online community where you could connect and interact with other people interested in _________? If yes, what activities would you be most likely to participate in?” 

These simple questions will verify there’s interest in your topic and how likely people are to engage in a community on that topic.

That’s it! You now have your topic and a group of people who are willing to participate in building a community with you. 

To learn more about how to build a thriving online community, go to