How to engage with your community as a creator

We talk a lot about communities these days and the power they have to drive impact. However, there are still a lot of unanswered questions about how to engage with it in the long run and stay relevant.


Recently, I attended a local event named Designing a Community where a bunch of professionals shared their insights. From how you can leverage your brand with the help of a community until specific best practices, such as running research sessions to find out more about the people within a community.

However, there’s little knowledge out there about how to engage your community as a creator and by that I mean people who are reaching their potential and make money out of what they’re doing. It could be designers, copywriters, photographers, marketers, folks who sell ideas and concepts.


As a community builder myself, I’ve always been interested in how to maintain and even foster a meaningful dialogue with my community which was formed by entrepreneurs from a wide range of creative industries. But before diving deeper, let’s start with what a community means in my humble perception:

A group of people who share similar values and interests and are working together at something bigger than themselves.

Sometimes, a community can start with two people and other times, a community can take shape naturally as well, without starting from any specific objective in the early days. Think about all the birdwatching lovers out there for instance. Each of them come to admire the beauty of nature and without any talk in advance they find out they have similar beliefs and start acting like a tribe.

Now, no matter the type of creator you are — maybe you sell coaching sessions on the Internet, perhaps you create ceramics over the weekend or take photos with your phone and share them on social media to change people’s perceptions, there are a few ways in which you can engage with your community.

The blunt truth is that you don’t need all of them to create and nurture a community. Moreover, some of the following ideas may harm your level of engagement just because the profile of your community doesn’t resonate with a particular approach. This being said, always experiment and see what works for you and your people, not what became a hit for someone else.

The obvious and comfortable way

Since we live in such a dynamic and digitalized world, we simply can’t avoid communication channels such as social media (be it Facebook, Twitter, Product Hunt, Quora etc.). But there’s more than that. Take for instance private groups, formed especially when you know things about your community, there’s already a certain liaison between the members and a feeling of belonging.

Anything that makes the relationship authentic, transparent, and meaningful will help your community feel confident that they are in good company.

I’m a constant listener of this podcast about creative entrepreneurs (Pe Bune) and recently I was invited to a closed group on Facebook, together with other people from their audience.

Usually, I don’t join such groups since most of them are just noise, but because I had a background about the podcast, the guests and the host, it felt natural and now I am a silent yet grateful learner out there. I did not open a topic yet, but I read quite a few and I feel I get value out of it. It strengthens a nice feeling of being part of something authentic.

E‐mailing is also a helpful way to talk with your audience, especially if you succeed to balance the content and make room for people to follow‐up. For instance, you could share your creative process and help your audience learn from how you do things. Or send an e‐mail with exciting news before announcing them publicly. Anything that makes the relationship authentic, transparent, and meaningful will help your community feel confident that they are in good company.

Comments on your blog are also one of the most popular ways to engage with your community. Even though they might seem like an old‐school tactic, people still leave their thoughts if you managed to touch them with your stories. Don’t take it for granted and make sure you answer genuinely, no matter how close or far those ideas are from your beliefs.

The not so common way

No matter how fans of the digital world we are, we still need to meet people in person. Nothing can beat the non‐verbal and preverbal gestures that say so much about a person’s feelings, emotions, and so on.

If you’re the kind of creator who deeply cares about who buys your stuff or consumes your content, you should go outside and chat with those people. Try to find out how they use your products or benefit of your services, what are their biggest ambitions or frustrations and how your work improves their lives, no matter on what level.

A few months ago I started running Skype calls and 1:1s with our growing community of Pixelgrade’s customers. It’s quite a big effort both in terms of energy and time, but it pays off big time. To be honest, most of what I found out by talking to different customers impacted our current offer and I am pretty sure that without such dialogue we might have continued as we were used to, without asking the hard questions.

On top of that, as a community builder for creative industries, I know how crucial is to take some of the people who are active within your tribe and ask them specific questions about what keeps them engaged, what needs are not fulfilled yet, how would they want to be represented and so on. Making room for these kinds of discussions brings a lot of clarity and helps you not only engage with your community but also build upon and bring the impact to the next level.


Takeaway

As a creator, you can’t hide behind your work and hope that people will knock on your door, be it digital or non‐digital. It’s part of your mission to get out your comfort zone and run actions which will close the gap with your community and inspire everyone to build a better future together.

There are no recipes out there, just stuff that could work or not so much. You need to take it one step at a time and experiment to find out what fits your style and core values. Once you do that, you will succeed to engage with your community and develop liaisons which will make you a better creator.

Oana Filip

Oana Filip is a digital storyteller @Pixelgrade and community builder for creative industries. A true believer in the power of making the world a better place.