Creators thrive on community; your biggest advocates are out there, waiting for you to find them. But how do you find your tribe, adding fans and patrons to your community that will enjoy sticking with you as you continue to create? Have you ever wondered:
- What the big deal is about identifying your community?
- Does it really matter if you participate in your community?
- Can a community do more for me than just pledge money?
We’ve got the answers to all of those questions. To help you build your community, we interviewed three Patreon creators about what makes them, and their communities, successful. Check out the full video of the panel at PatreCon 2018 here to see these awesome creators in action, or read on to learn about three important aspects you’ll need to consider when building and engaging your community.
Lauren Shippen wants you to value your connection to your community. Lauren is a writer, director, and actor. She’s got a lot going on, including writing a series of fiction books for teens and working spin-offs and future projects...but Patreon is the home for those who follow her original creation, a fictional podcast drama called The Bright Sessions.
Lauren’s primary goal for creating and growing her community is building deeper connections.
“It’s all about connection...both to people who help me make the thing I make, then also to people who create things that are similar to what I create, and then the people who consume it...it’s about being open in my writing and finding a community of people who connect with my writing. It makes me a better creative.”
Recognizing that community is important because of the connections it creates, Lauren found her community by engaging in the space as a fan first. Being a genuine, engaged member of the fandom that she hoped to create for meant that she knew those fans, had meaningful conversations with them, and was one of them before ever recommending her own material. Connecting with your community first means that they’re more likely to engage as your supporters when you need them. In fact, Lauren believes that building your community and asking them for help should go hand in hand.
“If you have an ongoing conversation with your community then when you need them to [act] on something they’ll be there and be enthusiastic.”
Bryanda Law explains how to hunt down and engage your community. Quirktastic Media was founded by Bryanda because she wanted a community of people around the things she loved. Aimed at people of color who are geeks, nerds, and free spirits, Quirktastic Media has developed into a media platform and app that helps quirky people find their tribe. But growing that tribe took some effort, and Bryanda did it from the ground up. Bryanda started with what she knew, which was blogging, and found creative ways to draw in members of the community so they could find and connect with her.
“I didn’t have any marketing class, I didn’t know about entrepreneurship. I started a blog for the creative outlet...I needed people to talk to. I started getting people by creating lists of people in my community, like “70 Cosplayers of Color That You Need to Know.” Then I let them know they’re on the list, and they’re like “Oh my god!” and they get excited.”
After building her community through her blog, Bryanda made a switch and went to her customers instead of them coming to her. She highly recommends doing some research to find out where your best potential patrons are hanging out. Talk to your community, pay attention to their preferred platforms to engage on, ask them questions about apps they use or their favorite influencers. That will point you down a path for growth that includes the community you’re looking for.
Caitlyn Doughty shares the power of putting your community to work. Caitlyn is a mortician and death educator who creates death positive content. She knows that there are groups of people out there with interests that might make them feel pegged as out of place or weird, and that’s why she’s created video content surrounding death. She’s seen first-hand the power that comes from community in bringing out people to participate in conversations about things they love, even if they’re a little off the beaten path. Building your community creates that engaging environment, but Caitlyn also knows that your community is there to step up and support you.
“My vision of my community is an army. They give the tools for other people to go out and continue to spread the message...Patrons on Patreon can tell when you would absolutely be doing this even if they weren’t funding you. That’s when they want to be part of your community, and are proud of being part of your community. The when you ask for things from your audience it’s not a GoFundMe, you’re not begging them for money. You’re saying ‘this is my revolution, this is what I care about’ and a lot of them want to be part of that.”
Community empowers others to be more vulnerable, outgoing, and participate in conversations about things they love. When Patreon creators foster that environment, actively seek and participate in their community outside of their work, they circle back with more followers who are excited about the content being created. Caitlyn’s bonus piece of advice for rallying your community to be ready to support you? Support them!
“Don’t be afraid to promote other people doing similar things to what you’re doing. A rising tide lifts all ships. When you’re small it doesn’t feel like that...but at the end of the day, what has happened is you’ll be in an article or a list...which makes your community so much more robust. If you’re part of a larger community you’re seen as a force to be reckoned with.”
Do you know what you want to offer your followers as you build your community and online membership? Sign up for Patreon here and start rewarding your community.