Growing a Professional Maker Community to Support Your Business
We live in an amazing time, where online access to people is easy to come by. There are a million Facebook groups, forums and social media accounts that are all competing for our attention.
It certainly does not seem like we suffer from a lack of information or connection with others. But when you jump in to so many groups and subscribe to so many emails, it can very quickly feel noisy and overwhelming.
We sign up for more groups and follow more accounts partly because we want to grow, but partly because we have FOMO (fear of missing out). We're afraid that we are going to get left behind so we stay in this frenzy of information.
Then there comes a point when what you really want to do is just shut it all off. But then you would lose the great connections and support that your business needs. So how do you build a community online that will help you as a maker?
BE WHere You're UnderstOOD
You probably got into this because you loved making something, or at least were good at making something. It was also something that you discovered people would pay for. The cycle of making and selling seemed to turn into a business. Maybe that happened by accident or it’s been the plan all along.
It's likely you didn't get into this because you thought, “I know a way to maker millions! Hand make all the things” OR “A business where I'm the one running just about all the details is surely a recipe for early retirement.”
But you also care about money and a healthy business. Because these things let you continue to make what you originally loved doing and do stuff like eat and go on vacation and not stress about paying for a place to live. It’s what you see as living the dream (hey! we happen to think that's a pretty awesome dream).
This mindset is a very specific one for makers. And it is often not understood in many business groups. And if people don't really understand your business, why you run it or what you want out of it, it will be very hard for them to support you.
There’s a lot of stuff out there that wants to tell you how to live the dream or how to make the dream happen (hint: if you are already making and selling what you love, then you’re already making that dream a reality!). Shark Tank wants to tell you that you need investors and think about how to scale by offshoring. Others tell you that success comes by these steps that have been neatly laid out for everyone.
Make sure you are with people who get what you want.
ARE YOU WITH JobbiesTS and HobbiesTS?
You know that your definition of a successful, happy life involves you creatively expressing yourself through making. And you probably also have a few other requirements (they often involve making your own decisions because you're over bosses, working in your PJs and other things along those lines).
But that also doesn't mean you aren't serious your business. This is more than a hobby or even a jobby (a hobby that makes money). You could be doing this part time or full time. That doesn't take away from the serious with which you pursue your business and craft.
Think about what's out there right now and think about if it's supporting your business (the worksheet below will really help with that!). Are you tired of being on forums where people to just vent and gossip all the time? Are you surrounded by enough peer-level makers in the groups you're in? Can they help you get where you want to go?
If the answer is no, then you need to find the communities that can do that and exit the ones that aren't.
GETTING WHAT YOU PAY FOR
I am a lover of so much of the free advice that is at our fingertips on the internet. I have gained a lot from free Creativelive courses, blog posts by experts and free worksheets (um, hey, there's one at the bottom of this page so obviously am into them!). Like so much.
But there are times when paying for knowledge, specialized help or just the right exact thing you need is totally worth it. Because success is not likely going to come from Googling "How to be a successful maker."
For instance, one of our members is Danielle of The Merriweather Council. She has so much great FREE info on starting out on Etsy and also a paid course. But when people really want to nail Etsy, when they've tried a lot and their shop still isn't taking off the way they want, I tell them go buy the course. Stop searching through all the mess of the internet-- the answers are all right here. Yes, it costs money, but it will save you time and mistakes because it's quality stuff and just what you need.
So don't be in groups or follow accounts or subscribe to emails with the hopes of free information or tips that aren't going to get you where you need to be. Be in a group for support and follow people to see if what they say is legit and if you like their vibe. That way when you need what they're selling, you know it's a good fit.
YOU. NOT GURUS.
Ever heard the phrase, "Do the work"? There are ultimately no magic formulas for running a successful business and you have to make the decisions based on the best information you have. Whatever expert you hire can only give advice or tools or even run a specific part of your business. Ultimately you are the "decider."
Your insights and “AHA!” moments in your business are likely going to come from sorting out all the information and deciding how you want to proceed. That means you need space to think and ask good questions of other people who "get you."
Turn Down the Noise
Okay, so we've created a worksheet for you to help sort out what might be noise in your life. I hope you find it useful. We want you to have it and use it-- no commitments or newsletter sign ups.
But you might be interested in what AHAS membership is all about and if that's the case then we'd love to tell you more about what we do.