Or how to make the most of online communities
Over the weekend, I went to CopyCon18, Australia’s leading copywriting conference. There’ll be heaps of wrap up posts about the event (and I’ll link to some of them over the coming days at the bottom of this post), but instead, I wanted to write about how to make the most of online communities.
You see, I was honoured (and more than a little bit overwhelmed) to be named the member of the year for The Clever Copywriting School community, the group run by the conference organiser, Kate Toon. I joked on the day that it probably said more about my Facebook addiction than anything else, but there’s more to the story than that.
There’s no denying the important role this group has played in my growing business. But it’s not enough to just join. Getting maximum value from online communities requires effort on your part too. So let’s take a look at some of my tips!
In the beginning
Five years ago, I was sitting at home with a newborn baby shitting bricks about going back to work. You see, I’d actually quit my job before I fell pregnant with her (long story, which I kind of wrote glossed over here) with some vague idea of doing freelance writing. But when it came to how I’d actually make that happen, I was a bit lost.
Nonetheless, I eventually got my website up and running and started investigating the world of copywriting, stumbling upon Kate Toon, and her two awesome sub-brands The Clever Copywriting School and The Recipe for SEO Success.
From zero to (hero?)
So today, I have a happily chugging along business. It has provided a steady stream of income for my family and helped to pay for a range of awesome things like overseas holidays, bathroom renovations, staggeringly expensive and unexpected car repairs, and of course, those ever-growing daily expenses. (Hello, cost of living increases, anyone?)
I can hand-on-heart say that one of the key foundations for my business that has helped me to be successful is the support I have received from other members of online Facebook communities, especially TCCS. But why has it made such an impact on my business?
Have a go
First of all, online communities give you access to opportunities. In my case, this has meant job leads, referral partnerships, and profile building activities such as guest posting, event speaking slots, and sharing of my content across social media platforms. That’s the kind of stuff that is gold dust to a business with a shoestring budget.
Put yourself forward for the opportunities. Say yes as much as you can.
Extend to the real world
Online communities are great – especially for the shy, the socially awkward and the introverted. Tick, tick and tick. You can build relationships in a way that doesn’t need to sap your energy and leave you feeling like you need to stay in bed for a week. But where the real magic happens is face to face. As much as it is slightly confronting and challenging for me, I try to do this in a way that is about promoting connection.
So if someone joins and mentions that they live near me, I suggest meeting for a coffee. I’ve also reached out to members of the Business Chicks community on this same basis. For groups that run real-world events, be brave and put on your big girl pants and go. For example, as well as attending CopyCon and other TCCS events, I’ve made the effort to go to a couple of Freelance Jungle events, which has helped me make connections with some great people, not least of all my accountant!
Be brave and leave your house. Think connection, not networking.
Be helpful and genuine
One of the most humbling experiences for me at CopyCon over the weekend was the number of people who actively sought me out to introduce themselves and tell them how much they’ve appreciated my contributions to discussions and questions. I don’t profess to know it all, but I am happy to share what I do know. A rising tide lifts all boats, and all that. I operate in online communities from a starting point of wanting to be helpful, sharing mistakes I’ve made so others don’t have to, and trying to form genuine connections.
This means that when I want something in return, people are often willing to help me without me even having to ask. It’s been great for building my profile, with other members referring me to clients that aren’t a good fit for them, but perfect for me. I’ve also benefited from online community members sharing my content online and recommending me in groups and other platforms that I’m not active in.
Help people and they will help you.
Are you making the most of the online communities you are in?
Do you feel like online business communities are a timesuck or a genuine help to your business? Let me know in the comments.
CopyCon18 wrap-up posts
I’ll add to this list – if you have a post, let me know!
And PS – if you are thinking, “hot damn, how did I miss out on this goodness?”, there are video tickets available here so you can see all the presentations and get access to their slides and handouts.