In order to create a true fan, you need to delight someone over and over. And that takes time, no matter how you slice it. But you can juice up the process a bit by creating what I call “rabbit holes.”
The hyperlink is one of the most under-appreciated features of the internet. It’s such a simple thing, yet you can use it to be insanely generous, treat your fans to lovely surprises, and curate specific, meaningful experiences.
Because every time you link to something, it’s an invitation. A chance to say, “Follow me further down the rabbit hole. Trust me, it’s gonna be rad.”
And every time you deliver something worthwhile on the other end of that mysterious click, you build trust. You nurture a budding relationship.
But let’s take this a step further.
Sometimes I stumble onto a piece of content that rocks my world. Maybe it’s a YouTube video, a podcast, an essay. Or whatever.
I get to the end, and I can feel myself buzzing with excitement and possibility. Maybe the creator showed me a glimpse of my best self. Or followed through on a meaningful promise.
Regardless, I’m fired up, and eager to follow wherever they want to take me next. I’m like putty in their hands.
But often, there’s no obvious next step. No easy, clear path to follow for the continuation of delight.
Sure, I can check out the homepage of their website. I can subscribe to their mailing list. I can track down other content that might interest me.
But these things take work. And there’s little guaranteed payoff. The onus is on the consumer to figure out what to do next, which dissipates the energy built up by the initial experience. The excitement and delight begin to wear off.
And that, my friends, is a wasted opportunity.
When you create a rad emotional experience for an internet stranger, that’s a moment to be cherished and nurtured. It's an opportunity for you to keep the magic going.
You’ve already done the heavy lifting, and gotten them into a peak state. Now, you have the opportunity to say “if you liked that, you’ll love what I have in store for you over here.” It’s one of the best chances you’ll ever have to keep delighting them, and move them closer to true fandom.
I like to think of Ungated as a cake, with ever-deepening layers of delight.
On the surface, you’ve got a bunch of articles. Some are super long and thorough and useful. And some, like this one, are rather short. But all of them contain at least one contextual pathway to dig deeper into my world.
Most often, I link out to other Ungated articles, especially when I think they’d be particularly delightful to someone enjoying the current piece.
Sometimes I link out to books that have been influential in my journey, or other creators who’ve inspired me. These aren’t technically part of the Ungated cake, but they sure are a wonderful, generous thing to put on the other side of a hyperlink.
And no matter what, every essay, long or short, comes with a “magic link” to discuss the piece with other creators in the Ungated community. A layer beneath the website, there’s a thriving social ecosystem that’s only ever one click away.
And beneath those layers lie many more, consisting of an “email oasis,” multiple products and workshops, coaching calls, and perhaps more as I continue to build out the Ungated creative universe.
The point is this. When you create work that captivates and delights, you can’t take it for granted when internet strangers find themselves craving more.
So give the people what they want.
Btw, there were a lot of links in this piece, for obvious self-referential meta reasons. But I definitely wouldn’t click this link if I were you. 😱