I was so chuffed Racheal from The Yogipreneur asked me to join the ❤ Your Community Blog Tour. I don’t write enough about my business, and that kind of knowledge is so useful, both for those of you signing up for TeachNow and for anyone who wants to serve by sharing their ideas and expertise.
Yesterday Katie Den Ouden shared smart advice and tomorrow you’ll enjoy the always wonderful Anna Guest-Jelly’s post.
AND NOW FOR my philosophy of community building with a tad of marketing advice mixed in::
1: Serve the people you want to serve
Desperation does not build a business or a social change movement. Respectful give and take does. Love your people unabashedly, and love yourself and your desires, too.
Forget serving people whom you think you should serve or the people you assume will let you serve them. Please serve the people you love and admire.
Give generous tastes of what you offer – I always lead a free class for whatever course I’m teaching – but then ask for the customer or the donation or whatever is you want. Claim your desires.
2: Create strong boundaries
It’s not about giving until you are a dry husk, it’s about savoring & serving the community building process: give and take. Feed and be fed.
I always cringed with I read interviews with all those wunderkind internet figures who inevitably say, “I answer all my emails personally.” I don’t. I treasure them, but if I answered them all, I would never create anything new. Think boundaries that work for you, not rules.
3: Be patient
I know you hate me for saying that. But honestly there is no secret to creating a huge following. Ask yourself, “Since failure is fantastic (because I get to learn) and I trust myself to handle what life brings, what do I want to do first to build my community?”
Notice the word “first” in that last question. Building a community takes time and consistency. Scale up slowly. So many movements and businesses fail because the founder never slows down before she speeds up.
4: If you can serve one person, rejoice
Yes, you want and maybe need bigger numbers to make your rent, but if you judge yourself or your community for being small, you will overlook the perfect places to grow. Look at the people right in front of you with care and deep attention rather than over their heads hoping to spot the bigger community you crave. Serve here now.
5: Your favorite community building platform might not be your most successful
I adore teaching, and most of all I adore teaching live at my retreats, but they are too labor intensive to fill and teach more than a few times a year. So I teach online more often. And it works better for the majority of my community because they can’t always travel. So to serve and earn, I do both. It’s not about perfection, it’s about sustainable service.
6: Your community’s favorite platform might not be yours
I’ve created a number of large, profitable online communities that I eventually closed because I wanted to explore new projects. But I alienated people in closing these communities. Be as graceful and honest as you can when a new mission calls.
7: I’m an introvert
I get drained if I spend too much time on social media and need to unplug, sometimes for days and even weeks at a time. I do schedule content when I disappear, but I also embrace my communication style and wear it proudly. My bigger mission is to have a whole life and to model that for my community.
8: I’m still learning to write
Writing is my first love and I struggle mightily to write well. I take writing classes, I read critically, I teach writing, all in service to becoming a better writer. Even though I published my first book 22 years ago. I am a very slow learner, but I want this, so I keep working at it.
9: Marketing your offers is personal growth on steroids
When I want to yell, “Just take my class, just coach with me, it will be incredible,” or “Just support 350.org, they are doing great work,” I remind myself that’s not true. I am not the right fit for everybody and neither are you. My causes might not be your causes. Community building and marketing are as much about owning your gifts and your shadow as it is about figuring out whom you want to serve and how to effectively communicate with them.
Marketing to your community is a practice in owning who you are and what you know, and in owning who you aren’t and what you don’t know. When you stop trying to be somebody you aren’t and then you stop being defensive for not being that person, marketing gets a whole lot more fun. Sometimes.
Marketing is also great training in not taking anything personally.
I look forward to answering your questions in the comments and I sure hope you’ll join the TeachNow community for a free class tomorrow on Dissolving the Obstacles to Teaching and Increasing Your Triple Bottom Line of Teaching. If you’ve always wanted to teach or you struggle with teaching in ways that are profitable and sustainable, join me.
Thanks, Racheal, for asking me to reflect on this!