You highly perceptive, deeply introspective, passionately creative introvert.
This may or may not come as a surprise to you, but you’re living in an extrovert’s world. If you need any kind of proof, hit play on this incredibly validating TED Talk with Susan Cain.
For years, introverts have been living under standards imposed by institutions that value and promote the qualities found in our extroverted counterparts. Leaders are encouraged to be loud, and good employees are encouraged to follow them.
The myth of the day is that reserved, introverted spirits will never be successful entrepreneurs. And God help you if you’re trying to be successful as an introvert in a creative field.
But. And this is a big ol’ But with a capital B: introverted creators have what it takes to both lead their teams AND engage their fans just as much as extroverts do.
Before I get into ways you can hone in on engaging your audience, let’s take a look at the leadership skills most introverts possess (but would never tell anyone, of course).
My thoughtful introvert friend: You are perfectly made to pursue this whole creative career thing. Your solopreneurship grants you the space, time, and self-imposed isolation that it requires to make your art.
But as a full-time creator, you are likely getting ready to start hiring out a team of interns, assistants, writers, or editors, or are already shepherding a team to help your creative business expand. In this challenge of leading a team as an introvert, you must know that you’re not the misplaced leader that fell into this role by happenstance;
Your ability to see others for who they are and identify their strengths makes you a natural delegator — one that gladly let’s others shine as they earn it. Because of this, you give your employees, friends, or volunteers the tasks suited to their strengths.
You’re not a micromanager. You understand that everyone has a way they do their work best, and you’d honestly rather spend more time on your tasks and helping others when needed than supervising what everyone else is doing.
Your idea of getting “turnt up” on a Friday night includes turning down last minute plans to socialize with your friends. Turn down for what, you say? Turn down because you’ve got a big stack of creative potential to make manifest, damnit!
“The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting. For some, it’s a Broadway spotlight; for others, a lamplit desk. Use your natural powers — of persistence, concentration, and insight — to do work you love and work that matters. Solve problems. make art, think deeply.”
Check out this piece on WeWork’s Creator Blog for more reasons introverts make incredible leaders.
You have innate skills to lead a team with passion, trust, and wisdom, but many introverted creators are still looking to build out their marketing and engagement skill sets without faking extroversion.
Introverts naturally crave deep relationships with those around them. Most creators who label themselves as introverts value deep connections, aren’t huge fans of small talk, and would much rather have one-on-one conversations than speak to a huge crowd.
This is the perfect recipe for incredible fan-engagement online. You were literally made for this.
The internet is your bff. Why? Because you get to share your art without being the center of attention. It’s the reason why you put videos up on YouTube or built that killer portfolio on Deviantart — you’re desperate to share, to communicate, to throw yourself and your art out into the world, but you really, really, like, really don’t like people staring at you while you do it.
Because of social media and the internet, introverts have been given an incredible tool to reach people. Here are some direct ways you can nurture your relationships with your fans online:
1. Share: Post frequently on your blog, Patreon, Facebook, Medium, or anywhere else you’re sharing your long-form thoughts
You’re an introvert, friend, I know you got a lot to say! Usually, you don’t make a big deal out of speaking your mind in your daily life, but you can use platforms and social media to get all those thoughts out of your head and into the world. No, they are not pointless. No, they are not selfish. Believe it or not, introvert, your fans really do want to know what you’re thinking.
Come up with a posting schedule that allows you to get some thoughts off your chest, or simply update your fans on your creative life. A post once or twice a week is a good place to start. If you’re looking for a starting point, consider topics like:
- Musicians – weekly cover songs. What song are you absolutely obsessed with this week? Cover it in a 30 second Instagram video, or a full on YouTube video.
- Artists – share the pages of your sketchbook with us! Photograph them as small updates to post on your blog or Instagram.
- Podcasters – what’s been on your mind? Got any extended points from your last cast? Draft up some fun tidbits (they don’t have to be polished!) and share away.
- Is there anything else you do every week? Team meetings? Exercises? Hikes? Brainstorming sessions? Share it — your fans want it.
When you’re on your socials, replying to comments and writing out your long-form thoughts, ask your fans questions. “How did you feel about this song?” or “What’s on your mind this week?” or even, “What have you been struggling with lately?” Asking your fans pointed, thought provoking questions will skip the small talk b.s. and allow you to really get to know them on a much more personal level. This also allows your fans to get engaged with you on a deeper level, too. Everybody wins!
This one is a hot button topic in the creator community — should creators respond to all comments? To you, my introverted friend I say yes, within reason.
Responding to comments helps you build those strong relationships with your fans that you so crave. It’s healthy for your fan/creator relationship. When a reader or listener takes the time to consume something you’ve released, then spent more time commenting, just for you, they deserve to be responded to. In that moment, they are reaching out to you. Reach back.
But I can hear you now: what about those jerks that leave mean comments, or the shameless self-obsessed inappropriate promoters that drop links to their work on your profiles? Use your best judgment with them. Whether you ignore, delete, block, or respond, just remember: you’re here to create meaningful relationships with the people who really get your art.
Peter Hollens wrote a great article for us about exactly this. You can read it here.
Twitter chats are an excellent way to engage potential new fans again, from the sanctity of your own space. A lot of Twitter chats even happen on weekend nights, so you don’t have to feel bad telling your friends that you “already had plans” for this evening. You’ve got some networking to do.
Twitter chats are happening all over the world, and on any number of topics. You’re bound to find some like-minded folks if you jump into one. Here’s a quick start guide for Twitter Chats:
- Check out this hashtag directory on Twubs to find all sorts of conversations on just about any topic imaginable
- See what chat influencers in your field are participating in. Check out their twitter profiles — you might even find that they host a chat.
- Hop in to currently trending topics by checking Twitter’s Trends tab a few times throughout the day. When you find a topic relevant to you, click in and favorite, reply to, and retweet a few tweets.
5. Show: Live streaming or hosting webinars is the perfect relationship-building-income-generating golden child approach for introverts
This this this. This medium was meant for the introvert who craves face-to-face interaction with their fans, without putting together an event to speak at.
Webinars or live streaming events allow you to host your event on your terms. This may mean in the comfort of your own home, at a coffee shop, on Facebook live directly into your Facebook group, on YouTube for your subscribers, you name it. Your fans get to see your pretty face, you get to share your art, your music, behind the scenes glimpses into your creative world, or even just speak your mind and answer questions. It’s a fantastic way for your fans to feel closer to you, and you don’t have to physically stand on a stage to do it.
Many online small businesses, creative or otherwise, host webinar events regularly to sell their products or services. Some great services include:
All creators will love Huzza
Designed with Patreon creators in mind, Huzza offers a gamut of amazing features to help you serve your patrons and fans.
Awesome for: Patreon creators of all kinds, informal streams, collaborative streams, selling merch and collecting tips, as well as larger scale shows and events
Not awesome for: Those looking for a quick and free way to engage fans
Musicians and Podcasters will love Periscope
Periscope is a social network based around live streaming. The concept is that you can dip into someone’s life who’s halfway around the globe, and see what they’re up to through their eyes.
Awesome for: iphone addicts who stream on the go, Twitter-heavy users (Periscope integrates seamlessly with Twitter), informal streams, live-action on the street
Not awesome for: Lengthy shows or presentations, concerts, post-editing, or saving streams for future use (streams are not recorded or downloadable).
Musicians will love Stage It
Built for musicians, Stage it is a killer in-browser live streaming app that comes with a robust set of features. Set a ticket price, set up a store, sell merch, promote with an event page, and more. Stage It takes a percentage of tickets sold.
Awesome for: Musicians performing lengthy concerts, selling music, hyping up a kickstarter or crowdfunding campaign
Not awesome for: Unlimited private/free concerts, downloading past performances, informal streams
And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You might get some raised eyebrows from your friends who just don’t get why you’d want to spend all weekend at home writing songs or working on your novel — forgive them, they mean well, but they just don’t understand the way you work.
“Spend your free time the way you like, not the way you think you’re supposed to.”
Your superpower is activated in the quiet moments alone, between social outings and day jobs. Embrace your space and do what you do best: Create amazing works of art that the world is better off for.
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