Finding your people and building community
Finding your people is not as difficult as it sounds.
It can be lonely being a creative. We often create and work alone and if you are like me, you crave the conversation, brainstorming and warmth that comes from having other like-minded people around you. Bringing your creativity online is a fantastic way to connect with other artists and makers and if you’re thinking about making the transition from hobbyist to creative business, then building a community is essential.
You community is comprised of those who “get” you and resonate with your art, your values and you as a person. These are the potential customers that share your love for your craft… and with our constant access to social media, it’s easier than ever to figure out where to find them.
It can be overwhelming to spread yourself over all social media platforms, so my advice is that, for one, you stick with what you LOVE. If you don’t love the platform, you will end up frustrated. Secondly, where is your audience hanging out? Once you know that, you know where you should be focusing your energy.
I recommend that you set some time aside to comment on the images, videos and posts that other people share and do it regularly. Consistency is key!
You also want to be sharing your own creative content on whichever platform you’ve chosen. This will help to establish you as an expert at what you do… as well as being a creator your people can trust.
However, putting your art “out there” isn’t enough. You also need to interact with your audience. That means showing up to answer their questions and responding to all of the comments they leave for you. It is challenging at times, I hear you! If you can carve out about 15 minutes at the beginning and end of the day, making that a habit, you will see it make such a difference.
One of the best ways to build an excited and engaged community is by getting involved with online events. This could be anything from taking part in an art challenge along side other creatives (see this article about Reflections on a Daily Creative Practice for several ideas for fun and artsy challenges) to teaching or participating in a workshop, to joining a creative design team.
Each of these activities gives you the opportunity to interact with like-minded creatives who have the potential to, one day, become a customer or a collaborator. I’ve met some amazing art friends by simply connecting via Instagram comments or direct messaging.
So far, we’ve only looked at ways to build community online, but these lessons apply to the “real” world too:
Find out where your people are hanging out - craft fairs, art galleries, local sewing circles?
Think about how you can run something that others could get involved with - a community event, an in-person workshop, etc. I remember sitting in a Barnes & Noble some years ago while I was out of town when a group of ladies came in and started sharing their journals and talking about art. I could not resist talking with them to find out what they were doing. Too bad I didn’t live locally or I would have joined their monthly gatherings.
It’s a good idea to give any “real world” contacts a next step - a way to keep the connection going. This could be anything from exchanging phone numbers to simply passing along a pretty business card. I can’t tell you how many times I have been caught without a card when someone has asked. Yikes! They are interested and I just freeze because I realize how unprepared I am.
There are many, many ways that you can start building your community, the key lesson here is to go out, be brave and start making connections.
Have a blessed day!
Check out the Creatives Get Real Podcast - 011: Branding as Storytelling for a real conversation with me and Sandi Keene where we chat about the importance of understanding your ideal audience so you can build the right community.