Indie Entrepreneurs want to build an audience and have “free” marketing on Twitter.
But 90% of us struggle with getting any followers. We tweet for two weeks, get no traction, and give up.
When I started my Twitter journey, I prepared myself to tweet into the void for a few months.
But instead, I went from 0 to 1000 followers in 52 days (hopefully, without being too cringe).
In this playbook, I will deconstruct my Growth System for you. Good news — we will go beyond “niche down” and “tweet daily”.
Plan your content
The biggest mistake is to start tweeting without a plan.
You will quickly run out of ideas, and your account will be a mess. People don’t follow inconsistent creators that post random stuff.
That’s why you need to plan your Twitter strategy. Let’s start with your value proposition.
Your Twitter account is a product just like Netflix, Product Hunt, or Google Analytics. It has its own target audience and value proposition.
People don’t follow you because you are building some fancy startup.
They follow you because you can provide value for them.
This exercise will give you a clear understanding of your value proposition:
- Choose 3-5 values that your share. Understand what principles are part of your personality.
- List 5-8 big topics that you want to cover on Twitter. These topics should be aligned with your values.
- Describe your target audience. Try to determine 3 segments to pick the best one.
- Determine your value proposition. Describe in one sentence what your readers will get from you
- Pick a unique differentiator. What makes you different from other Twitter accounts on this topic?
Here is my value proposition.
Don’t overthink this step. You will very likely change your value proposition in two weeks.
It’s okay to pivot. I’ve done it three times.
Don’t tweet right away. You still need to create a content matrix.
You want to have a balanced and focused feed. Otherwise, it will be a mess.
1. Pick big topics from the previous exercise.
2. Put them into the “Authority-Empathy” spectrum.
- Authority topics make you look intelligent and trustworthy enough to create content for your target audience
- Empathy topics make you more human to understand users’ problems
3. Brainstorm 3-5 posts for every big topic.
4. Visually differentiate posts based on their end goal.
- Engagement. People will reply to your post and create value in the comments.
- Likes. People will like to save the content and read it after.
- Action. People will do the desired external action (subscribe, buy, support on Product Hunt)
5. Ensure your content matrix is balanced around the “Authority-Empathy” spectrum and post goals.
Here is my simplified content matrix.
Come back every week to update your content matrix with new content ideas.
If you feel like tweeting something outside your matrix — tweet it.
This framework is a tool, not a goal.
The last thing to do before hitting that “Tweet” button is to set up your account: profile picture, background image, and bio.
Your conversion to followers depends on it.
1. Pick a photo picture with your face. It’s either a professional photo or a casual photo with a colored background (use this tool)
2. Create a straightforward background image
- Size is 1500x500px
- Your value proposition in 1 catchy sentence
- Check the appearance on both Desktop and Mobile
3. Write an incredible bio
- Start with your social proof (experience, brands, achievements)
- Follow with a value proposition (yes, one more time)
- Have a link for the most curious followers
Here is my account.
Don’t tweak it every two weeks. Instead, update it when you change your value proposition.
Also, don’t overcomplicate this step.
Nobody cares about your last 3 followers or the MRR progress bar.
Make your bio about the reader, not about yourself.
There are a lot of tools for Twitter. It's easy to get overwhelmed by choosing them.
The good news — you don't need any paid tool to get your first 1000 followers.
I used only three free tools to grow on Twitter:
- Twitter's analytics. Understand how your tweets are performing.
- Typefully. Write and schedule tweets.
- Pika. Create stunning screenshots.
But what about BlackMagic, Tweethunter, ilo, and Hypefurry?
These are great tools, but you don't need them at the beginning this much.
Focus on the content and distribution, not automation.
Write incredible content
It’s high time to create fantastic content on Twitter.
Let’s break it down to 6 popular formats. I will deconstruct each format and give battle-tested tips to nail it.
Love or hate it, threads are an extremely powerful way to grow on Twitter.
This is how it works:
- You write a valuable thread for your target audience
- Your followers like or retweet it to read later
- Algorithms get signs that people love your content
- Algorithms show your content to unknown people
- You get new followers
Of course, you can do it with one-liners and memes. But with less than 1000 followers, it is hard to get any traction on step 2.
That’s why my top-3 tweets of all time are all threads.
Here are five battle-tested formats of threads that work on Twitter:
- Listicles of tools. Collect products, Chrome extensions, or mobile apps. People love to explore new apps (example)
- Listicles of resources. Curate the best threads, articles, videos, or any other content (example)
- Listicles of people. Give a shout-out to incredible Twitter accounts people should follow (example)
- Personal experience. Share a breakdown of something you did and summarize learnings for your readers (example)
- Step-by-step guides. Create a 101 post for newcomers. People love to learn new topics (example)
Moreover, follow these five tips to increase your chances of going viral.
- Polish your Hook tweet. Make at least three iterations with your opening tweet. Combine clear value proposition and intrigue.
- Tag people. Even one like from a popular account can boost your thread. But please don’t SPAM and tag Elon Musk in every tweet. He is not showing up. Tag only relevant people to this specific thread.
- Make it visual. Include images, screenshots, gifs, and videos in your threads. Nobody likes to read plain text.
- Make a clear structure. Start your lists with a heading, leave blank lines, and don’t put more than two sentences in one paragraph.
- Finalize your thread with a summary tweet. Repeat key ideas and nudge people to perform a CTA. People will more likely follow you if you ask them to do it.
Write two or three threads weekly. Don’t post a new thread every day; it’s pointless.
Try different formats to find the best match with your target audience. Don’t just spam every two days with listicles of tools.
Create content around your journey. Tell your audience about your wins and losses.
This content will both increase your authority and sell your product if done right.
There are two main formats:
- Wins. Let people celebrate your success. Share your revenue milestones, users’ testimonials, and personal achievements (example)
- Losses. Let people support you during tough times. Share your mistakes, failures, and missed goals (example)
Too many accounts get progress update posts wrong. They tweet about the new landing page footer or daily optimization tasks.
Your progress updates post should benefit the audience, not yourself.
Educate your audience not to make the same mistake, motivate people to keep going, or just make your followers good about themselves.
And three more tips to level up your progress update posts:
- Show, don’t tell. Add screenshots and gifs to your post. It’s easier to get the point.
- Follow the 70-30 rule. Tweet 70% about your wins and 30% about your losses. This way, you gain authority without losing empathy.
- Simplify everything. Your audience doesn’t need every detail. Make it easier to understand the situation and the results.
Don’t make your whole Twitter personality about the progress updates. Instead, diversify it with threads, memes, and one-liners.
Twitter favors accounts that get engagement in the replies. You can spark it with specific questions.
People, on the other hand, don’t tend to engage in replies with unpopular accounts. Here are three go-to formats to increase your engagement level:
- Share an opinion. People love sharing their thoughts about new designs, product ideas, and metrics benchmarks. Just ask the interesting question and engage with the replies (example)
- Give a recommendation. Ask questions that lead to tagging Twitter accounts or sharing links. People love suggesting products, resources, and other accounts (example)
- Self-promote. Let people promote themselves, and your engagement level will go through the roof (example)
Mix engaging questions with high-quality threads, and you will grow like crazy.
Here are four tips to supercharge your engagement level:
- Be genuinely curious. Don’t ask questions just because you have to. Find topics that you really want to discuss with your audience.
- Ask something people can answer. The majority of people will reply to you from their mobile. Don’t ask questions that require 5 hours of research.
- Start with a question. Make it easier to find the question in your post. Provide the context if necessary later.
And please don’t make copy-paste posts like “As a developer, do you sleep?”.
Twitter users love free stuff. Especially, when it looks like a part of the paid product.
Don’t entirely rely on free giveaways. You still need to create content and engage with your audience. But sharing freebies occasionally can help you grow faster.
There are two formats of giveaways:
- Free product. Share free Notion templates, Airtable databases, or beta access to your product. Usually, this is done to get an email and upsell later (example)
- Free service. Do something free for users who replied to your post. You can review their landing Twitter bio, roast their product idea, or draw a profile picture (example)
Don’t do giveaways more often than once a month. And do it right with these tips:
- Reduce the barriers. Don’t ask to retweet if you have less than 1000 followers. People don’t trust you right now. The reply is enough.
- Simplify. Don’t ask to reply with a weird emoji. Most people are too lazy to find it. Go with popular emojis or simple words.
- Do it manually. There are tools to automate giveaways. But you don’t need them until breaking 1000 followers. Sending 100 DMs is not that hard.
- Ask to follow. Sometimes people have closed DMs. You can either ask them to open or ask them to follow you. The latter is more effective.
- Align it with your product. Don’t do random giveaways that bring a random audience. Instead, make a freebie that sells your product naturally.
One-liners were meant to be tweets in one line. But in the world of threads, one-liners are now thoughts in one tweet.
Usually, it contains a thought-provoking idea to make your readers feel a specific emotion (surprise, empowerment, curiosity).
You should definitely try writing one-liners, but they tend to work better for bigger accounts.
Here are four tips for leveraging one-liners before hitting 1000 followers:
- Spark the emotion. Focus on making people feel something. They can be curious or irritated, empowered or flattered. But don’t just tweet into the void your random thoughts.
- Be concise. If your one-liner is 280 characters, just write a thread. Keep it under 200 characters to make it easy to scan.
- Understand the desired action. Choose between like, reply and retweet. Don’t try to do them all.
- Be original. Don’t copy-paste templates from others. It may work, but it’s harmful to the community. Nobody wants more garbage content on Twitter.
One more time — please don’t copy-paste tweet templates.
It brings impressions but losses authenticity.
It’s not for everyone, but it’s a fun thing to do.
Memes usually perform poorly before 1000 followers. So get used to 5 likes for a while.
Here are four tips to make better memes:
- Go to Reddit. Get inspired by analyzing r/memes. Then, copy templates to Figma and customize them for your target audience.
- Mimic templates. Every week there is a trending template by “thought leaders”. You can always make fun of it (example)
- Stick to your audience. There are a lot of funny memes about politics and social issues. But if your account is not about it, don’t tweet about it.
- Don’t be rude. It’s easy to get carried away with memes. Be conscious not to harass your followers. Instead, make them feel good about themselves.
Memes are a great way to balance the expert-human ratio on Twitter. But they require a lot of patience to start working.
Distribute your content
Even the best content is useless without proper distribution.
You want to put your ideas in front of thousands of people. You can do it by leveraging multiple distribution channels.
Here are five ways to get more impressions.
In reality, no one knows how Twitter works.
Some tweets go viral, others flop.
It’s a mystery box, and you never know what you will get.
However, there are some battle-tested learnings to make algorithms work for you:
- Include relevant keywords. Twitter sometimes recommends your tweets to new people. It detects the topic by specific keywords in your first tweet (e.g., startup, SEO, UX). Find the right keywords in the Topics.
- Leverage timezones. North and South America live in different time zones than Europe, Africa, and Asia. Find the core geographical market and tweet for it. Retweet your tweets in 6-9 hours to share with the other half of the world.
- Minimize the number of links. Twitter hates links, especially those from new websites. So it can limit impressions or even hide tweets with links.
- Have a gap between tweets. Don’t tweet a one-liner right after publishing the thread. Twitter will go crazy and limit your impressions. Instead, have at least a 3-hour gap between tweets.
- Engage with people. If you engage with a person in the comments or DMs, Twitter will more likely show them your next tweet. So engage with your followers a lot.
Don’t overthink algorithms. Sometimes they work for you, and sometimes they work against you.
That’s life on Twitter.
This is the easiest way to get the first followers on Twitter. Join the existing communities and share value with its members.
There are some active hashtags for Indie Entrepreneurs:
There are three tips for using hashtags effectively.
- Don’t spam it. Don’t include a hashtag in all of your tweets. Only share the most useful content with existing communities.
- Don’t include every hashtag. Don’t try to show your content to every possible community. Instead, choose a hashtag and stick to it. People don’t like spammers.
- Engage with others’ content. Don’t just put the content with a hashtag. Connect with other creators and engage with their content. Be an active part of the community.
Hashtags are beneficial from 0 to 500 followers. Their importance decreases later.
Outreach on Twitter is key to growing faster.
Why spend 100 hours finding the viral tweet when you can just connect with 20 new people daily?
It doesn’t have to be annoying or salesy.
You can empower and support other creators.
Here are four tips to outreach properly:
- Only reach out to active accounts. Connect with people who recently posted new content or replied to your mutual friend. Don’t waste time reaching out to lurkers.
- Engage and follow before DMing. Don’t just slide into DMs. Instead, engage with the last tweet and follow your new connection. It will increase the chances of a reply.
- Support, don’t sell. Don’t try to sell anything. People don’t buy products from strangers. Instead, compliment their work, share a content idea for them, or ask for feedback on your work. But don’t sell right away.
- Ask to help. People always need help with something. So ask to help them for free. It’s a great start to making close connections.
Reach out to creators in a supportive and personalized way, just as you would like to be contacted. No one likes to be bombarded with design logo prices.
Engaging with big accounts can give you additional traction. It’s not a lot, but before 1000 followers, every engagement matters.
Usually, it’s done through replies to new tweets. Some people will open your profile and follow you if the reply is good.
Here are four tips to make it work:
- Don’t be trivial. No one is going to follow you after seeing “Congratulations!”. Add something to the table: start a discussion, make a funny joke, or share the opposite point of view. Don’t be boring.
- Don’t be too sarcastic. Making jokes with big accounts is a sound strategy, but beware of crossing the line. Nobody likes rude people.
- Promote yourself organically. You will find perfect tweets to promote your recent tweets. Do it, but make it naturally. It’s okay to add value. It’s not okay to take advantage of their followers.
- Be human. Big accounts are still run by humans. They have goals, feelings, and pains. Communicate with them as you would like to be treated in the future.
Don’t spend more than 20 minutes engaging with big accounts daily.
Connecting with your followers is far more critical.
Go beyond Twitter. Share your tweets on other platforms.
Don’t do it with every tweet. Instead, pick the most important one and spend an additional hour on the distribution.
There are six significant channels for Indie Entrepreneurs:
- Linkedin. A lot of creators repost their content on Linkedin. They either post it on their profile or share it in closed groups. Tech people are active on Linkedin, so it’s very effective.
- Facebook groups. Your target audience already has favorite Facebook groups. Join them and engage with active members. You can share your tweets in the comments to help people.
- Product Hunt. There is a Discussion page on Product Hunt. Create content around your tweets and gain additional impressions from Tech people.
- Indie Hackers. The bootstrap community is still active here. Post your tweets in the relatable groups and connect with other Entrepreneurs.
- Reddit. It’s a tough platform, but you still should explore it. Reuse your content to create posts in relatable subreddits.
- Slack / Discord groups. There are a lot of free groups there. Join them and share your content with people. Usually, you can just drop a link and not bother about repackaging.
Only a few creators leverage external platforms. Be a pro, unlock this growth driver.
Iterate to become better
In the beginning, your tweets will suck. It has nothing to do with you.
You need to iterate every week to level up your Twitter game. You can do it through learning, experimenting, and the right mindset.
Don’t try to have mind-blowing tweets from the start. Instead, start today and get 1% better daily.
Learn from Twitter
You don’t have all the answers right now. If you think you do, then you’re wrong.
Learn from the community:
- Analyze popular accounts. Study opinion leaders in your niche. Understand what they do and why it works. It’s not a zero-sum game, embrace the competition and learn from it.
- Ask your audience. Engage with your followers daily. Ask them questions and learn from their reactions. Don’t act like you have all the answers. Instead, learn from each other.
- Connect in DMs. Make at least 5 new connections weekly. Just chat about building an audience and running a business. It will change the way you view Twitter.
- Run interviews. Go deeper with user research. Find 10 people from your target audience and talk about their Twitter experience. Change your content based on the responses.
Learn daily. There is always room for new knowledge on Twitter.
Explore our 50 free resources for Startup Founders [10 must-follow Twitter accountas]
Almost nothing works the first time. So you need to make changes and be patient.
Get ready to experiment a lot to find your unique style. Iterate on everything:
- Positioning. Try different value propositions. But don’t change it more than once a month.
- Content matrix. Create new topics and test them with 1-2 tweets. It will be enough to make a decision.
- Hook tweets. Make at least 3 variations of the Hook tweet to find the best one. A hook tweet is more important than any other tweet in your thread.
- Content. Try speaking to different audiences and highlighting different angles of the problems. Experiment with formatting and Tone of Voice too.
- Call-to-action. Asking to follow your account can work better than the link to your product. Try both to find out the right one.
Be extremely agile.
One customer insight can completely change your positioning and content matrix.
This is the last part of your Twitter game.
There will be no motivational speeches but battle-tested rules that you should stick to.
Without the right mental model, growing Twitter can be very painful.
Here are seven tips for setting the right mindset:
- You can’t predict virality. Sometimes your 4-hour thread will flop, and a 5-minute rage tweet will go viral. Algorithms are black boxes, don’t expect to understand them.
- Consistency and integrity matter. You can’t build an audience tweeting once a week a random thought. So you either take it seriously or don’t even start.
- Give, give, give, ask. You want to grow on Twitter to sell your product easier. But before it, you should focus on providing your audience free value. Selling will be easy later.
- Writing gets easier. Get ready to spend 2-3 hours daily at the beginning on Twitter. Each month it will get easier.
- Some people will grow faster than you. You will see accounts go from 0 to 1000 followers in 30 days. Don’t be sad; everyone has a unique pace. It’s not a zero-sum game.
- Being nice is a superpower. Empowering others and sharing positivity can be your competitive advantage. People tend to follow nice people.
- There is life outside of Twitter. Don’t focus too much on one platform. There are plenty of them to explore. Be ready to move to the next marketing channel.
These tips will help you keep going through the hard times. We have 10 more time-and-true tips to grow on Twitter here.
But the most crucial step is to start.
Otherwise, this mindset will be useless.
Let’s summarize this article with a step-by-step action plan.
- Determine your goal on Twitter
- Describe your value proposition
- Brainstorm the content matrix
- Select the first 10 posts from the content matrix
- Write tweets following tips in this article
- Pick the distribution strategy for each tweet
- Engage with 20 popular accounts daily
- Reach out to 5 new people daily
- Run 2 interviews with your target audience
- Summarize your learnings for the next sprint
Growth on Twitter can be slow and painful, every day may feel like a pointless struggle.
Or you can actually enjoy creating content and connecting with new people on Twitter.
Now go and start your Twitter journey. Your 1000 followers are only 50 days away.