If your blogging online instead of writing in a journal, there's a good chance your looking for something: community. The creative communities fostered around blogs and businesses are great; they can inspire you, challenge you, question you, and join with you on your journey. They are there during the ups and downs, the big successes, the epic failures, and they will likely be the folks who stick around and support your business. They will spread the word about your business and help you to forge an instantly recognizable brand.
Do you ever feel like you're wasting your time writing content no one is reading?
Do you feel like it's all been done before and there's nothing left for you to offer?
Do you feel as though you've hit a plateau and are no longer experiencing growth?
I've got some tips that will help get you on the path to community greatness. No one wants to feel as if the content they spent hours producing is being seen by no one. We all want to feel like our advice is being eaten up and helping people. Here's how to help and build a community of folks to share and encourage one another in your creative pursuits.
1. Share Your Work
I think one of the first aspects in fostering a creative community is to share your own work. There are so many folks I'm inspired by, both bloggers and public figures of various sorts, who motivate me to tackle epic creative projects through their experiences. Interacting with them even on a very distant, digital level allows for new ideas and renewed enthusiasm to blossom. Do this for your readers! Share your creative process, or what your day looks like as an artist or business owner (I did that right here).
If you want to be really generous, create a tutorial to show your readers exactly how you mastered a technique or created a piece of wonderment.
2. Give away your knowledge for free
Not all of it. But lots of it.
Giving away what you have worked hard to learn will ultimately position you as an expert and a generous knowledge-giver in your community. This keeps folks coming to your blog and sticking around when they find out exactly what you can do for them (of course you then take your remaining 10% of expertise, and put together a badass course which you can sell).
Consider offering a webinar to your audience or creating Youtube tutorials exclusively for your subscribers. These little extras will set you a step above the rest and make sure your blog and your projects remain memorable. If you find yourself struggling to balance your creative life or your work life and your blog or website, consider limiting the number of blog posts you publish, but making sure that each post is a good length (at least 800 words) and packed full of seriously useful, inspiring, and actionable information. These are the kind of posts that will stand the test of time and lend themselves well to sharing over and over again. Round ups and weekly favourites (while occasionally fun and interesting) do not, and have a definite ticking clock attached to their reshare value.
All killer, no filler, mavens.
3. Call your readers to action!
There are many ways in which you can give your readers a call to action— and it's extremely important that you do in order to foster a strong and responsive community. It's only too easy to read a blog post, think "That was good" and leave. You need to ACTIVELY be engaging your audience by asking questions. Sometimes it's hard to come up with exactly what to say in a comment when there is no prompt; it's much easier to provide a quality comment that moves beyond "Love this post" if you're prompted with a question.
Even better, ask for advice from your readers. Never mind that people usually love to give advice, it humanizes you. It shows your readers that you have struggles in the reality of your daily life, too, and gives them a chance to become a closer part of your community by offering their own sage wisdom. Consider:
"What do you struggle with the most in the morning?"
"What is your favourite part of the creative process? Let us know in the comments!"
"Have you ever dealt with customers like this? What did you do in a tough situation?"
The Call-to-Action can also come in the form of a subscriber content upgrade, which we highly recommend. Keep your audience engaged by inviting them to subscribe to your blog or website's newsletter (there should be at least two places on each page where this can happen) and giving them something awesome in return. Go above and beyond for your readers, and reward them with seriously useful FREE content for staying engaged and becoming a valuable member of your tribe. This could be:
- a free video
- a workbook
- a podcast
- a tutorial
- a free ebook
- a cheatsheet
- a guide
- free graphics or fonts
- coupons for your business
To attract your subscribers, you want a nice, seriously obvious button. Like this.
No seriously, subscribe. Click that gorgeous button right there and receive Muses' Mail, a weekly newsletter for creatives who want to develop their business and live their passion in a way that blends creativity, mindfulness, and a no-bullshit perspective.
I cannot recommend highly enough focusing on building your email list. Your most engaged, most passionate followers are giving you a sweet slice of their precious inbox real estate. They're letting you show up there once a day, once a week, or once a month with YOUR advice, YOUR projects, and YOUR products. Fucking harness that, mavens. These are the brilliant people that will come back time and time again, who will engage with your posts, who will inspire you, who will support your business. Don't let that go.
4. Get Close with Social Media
Social media mastery is a seriously great way to interact with your followers— in many ways it's faster and more immediate than your blog itself. It extends your reach outside of your blog and makes sure your brand is recognizable in so many different arenas of the internet— and we want that. Once you've got your brand totally nailed down (I highly recommend using the same profile picture across all platforms, and making sure you have epic branded cover images) start building your presence on platforms such as Pinterest and Twitter.
My new favourite place to be is on Pinterest Group boards. They are a small little community in and of themselves and give you a great place to share fabulous content, both yours and others. In the two months since I began to pin to Pinterest group boards and implementing several other key Pinterest strategies, my blog views have gone up by almost 350%.
Twitter is also a great platform for building community, and really encourages a group mentality of helpfulness, rather than competition. Share and be shared, my friends. I personally like to keep my Twitter activity 80-20: 80% other peoples' content, 20% my own.
Get your crew actively involved by creating a challenge or participation activity! This gives your readers a chance to not only try out something you're sharing, but to build a skill and get their own work out there. Consider hosting something like a drawing challenge, where participants sketch each day and upload their photos to Twitter or Instagram with the appropriate hashtag. Sharing love all around. At the end of your challenge, share some of the highlights from the challenge, or consider giving a way a prize for those who participate each day.
Caroline from Made Vibrant used this technique to build community, and also to foster her Better Lettering program by challenging her readers to participating in 30 Days of Hand Lettering and sharing with the #30daysofhandlettering hashtag on Twitter and Instagram.
6. Creative Collaboration
Team up with those you love in the wider creative community! Use this opportunity to conduct a creative interview, or share some of your favourite creatives work (with their enthusiastic permission, of course!) Although many creatives do their best work alone, sometimes having a partner to bounce ideas off of creates magic. Tap into that juicy possibility and learn and grow together.
Host a webinar together, co-write a blog post, guest write a blog post for another blogger, create a collaborative piece of art, or write an ebook or workbook together. Not only will this allow you some fantastic creative idea-swapping time, but it will allow you to bolster each others' creative communities. Chances are the type of person you would collaborate with probably has a similar niche audience. Together you can build and share and expose your audiences to a bold new flavour. Take it to social media, babe.
7. Be Extremely Helpful
One of the best things you can do to grow your audience and build a gorgeous, sparkling creative community is to be extremely helpful (yes, I'm serious). Be the person that your audience thinks of coming to first when they have a comment, query, or quandary. How to get it done?
Respond to as many comments a you possibly can. Give a little bit more value to those who comment with an additional tip. Refer to your commenters by name, whenever possible. Be available to your readers.
Search about on Twitter for some questions that you might be able to answer. Get active in Facebook groups (where people are always reaching out for help) and get known as an expert in your field. They'll remember you when they need help the next time. Consider creating your own Facebook group specifically for your tribe, especially if you are thriving in a relatively unique niche. Allow for some sweet collaboration, sharing, and helping to happen, and stop by to answer questions. Become an agent of learning and exploration.
Finally, consider holding office hours. Twitter is a great place to do this, as are Facebook groups. Get out there once or twice a week and hangout like a badass professor waiting to offer your shining wisdom.
8. Show Your Failures
There's been a lot going round on the internet lately about social media reality. Is social media fake? Are blogs fake? Are the people who post on social media and blogs creative a sort of false reality in order to make themselves feel better?
Of course there is always some element of curation in what we share. If you get three photos taken of yourself, you'll probably pick the better one. If you did a few takes of a sketch, you'll probably show the better one. That's not a bad thing. It only becomes insidious when you begin to suggest that this type of curated life is reality, and you can have it too, if only you eat like this, behave like this, and buy this product.
Give your audience occasional glimpses of the raw, badassery that is your every day life. Share your daily routine, share your biggest failure, and what you've learned from it. Show the prototypes of a product or project that led you to where you are now. These things humanize you. These things show your readers that you are like them, that you worked to get where you are. It really helps alleviate that bullshit toxic-comparison and creative doubt thing that tends to happen when faced with a bunch of lives that seem to be perfect, that seem to be the ultimate vision of success and wonderment.
>> If you've got the guts to show up and bring your vision and expertise to your community, grab my beginner's guide to starting a quality blog. It's for absolute beginners, and it gives you the framework on which you can build a blog that works for you— not a formula. Because this guide is for beginners and I want it to be accessible for as many fresh bloggers as possible, there is no launch, no epic marketing funnel, and it's $10. I think you'll love it.