I am back on the podcast after my little holiday break!
Building community is my main focus for 2019 and I just moved all my programs over to Mighty Networks, so it made total sense to kick things off with a ramble on these things. If you also feel you want to build more community and connection around your business this episode is for you! Listen to learn about:
- How my understand of community in business has changed over the years and why it takes time to unlearn competition
- What tools and software I am using to facilitate online communities
- Why I think Patreon is a great way to build a mutually supportive network
- What services and programs I am offering in 2019
Listen to the Embodied Business Podcast
on Apple Podcast // Spotify
⋒ Hi, my name is Yarrow.
My Embodied Business podcast explores what it means to build a livelihood with integrity, joy and anti capitalist values. I offer practical guidance on tech, strategy, ethical marketing, creativity and money and interview other small business owners who do things their own way.
You can learn more about my work, listen to other episodes or join my community at PinkWellStudio.com
You can also sign up for my newsletter - I offer free monthly Spark Sessions and share resources, ideas & new episodes about once per month over on Substack ⋒
Hey, everyone, my name is Yarrow and you’re listening to the DIY small business podcast. I’m back, I’ve been on a bit of a Christmas break, which is really beautiful. I kind of gathered my thoughts, I had a deep chill, I spend some time with family, I dove deeper into some hobbies, you got to have those as well. And now I’m slowly coming back to the world of business and want to reconnect with all of you. So this episode is all about community and how to build it around your business and why that’s important. And I think community, for me will be the main focus in my business for the whole year. So it kind of made sense to have an episode in the beginning, to dive deeper into that subject, and to tell you more about how I’m currently building community, how I’m thinking about it, but also how I technically and which, with which software, I’m supporting the building of community, which I think is just as important. Before I dive in, I want to give you a little catch up to what I’ve been up to this winter. So you might have heard that I’ve moved all my courses and programmes from teachable to mighty networks, which was a tonne of work and my Christmas break. But it was so worth it. And I really wanted to get that done before. I’m kind of diving, you know, really diving into the year and working with clients again, so teachable was great. There’s nothing wrong with that platform. But I really noticed that I loved people communicating with each other through the commenting portion of that. But it could have been better because teachable is a course platform. Mainly it’s not a network as such. And then the other thing that was on my mind was that I ran more than 20 free workshops last year. But it was amazing. It was such a great way to get to know of you and, you know, make connections and see what everyone is up to and think critically about stuff and how to do things differently. And the one thing that many people said during and after those workshops was that it was so amazing to not feel alone. And so, so yeah, I yeah, I feel the same, it can be really lonely, to work for yourself, or even if you have a small team. There’s just so many decisions to make on a day to day basis. And it’s really beautiful to have a sounding board and people who get it and know what it’s like. So yeah, that that just seemed like a really big priority. So I moved everything over to mighty networks, which if you don’t know it, it’s it’s a platform that also supports courses, but it’s primarily and networking, you can think of it as a Facebook, but not on Facebook. And everyone has their own little profile, there’s a feed there’s groups. And then there’s courses in my case. And there’s also a live chat. It’s just a lot, much easier to navigate. I think there’s also a mobile app, which I really love because it means you can now take my courses wherever you are. The app, again is super easy to navigate. And you’ll find a tonne of like minded people, which I really appreciate. So we’ve already started introducing ourselves and exploring courses. And then the next module of the magic embodiment came out, which is a year long programme, all about ritual and magic and folk herbalism. And the theme for the month is expression, which felt really good at the beginning of the year. And then the DIY, small business core was renamed, was formerly a DIY business magic programme. And that’s also part of the programme now proud of the platform. And
I think it’s really beautiful that people set up their own profile to share about what they’re currently working on. And I really wanted that space for us to support each other small businesses as well. So you can Yeah, yeah, it’s almost like a directory. And that’s really cool. We’re also starting a life round to Morrow, basically, tomorrow is a free online kickoff workshop. That is the 17th of January. If you’re listening to this later, check the link to sign up for workshops out anyway because they’ll always be new ones. But anyway, so tomorrow is the first one for the year. And it’s all about clarity and purpose and business and you can still join and if you can’t make it live, you can receive the replay but that will be really fun. And we’ll have another workshop twice a month. And it will basically lead everyone through the DIY small business programme over the course of four months, which feels like a good time frame to provide like a solid container with gentle accountability, lots of extra resources and a chance to talk to other people. So the magic of embodiment programme is available for a pledge of $3 or more And a DIY Small Business School, including the community, the live workshops, the course itself. All of that is available for $11 as applied to my Patreon, so if you pledge your CEU receive an email automatically now, that will invite you to the network. Cool. I’ll link to that in the show notes. Okay, so now I want to dive in. I was thinking about how my understanding of community and business has changed over the years. And I remembered that four years ago, when I was starting out, it felt incredibly abstract to me, like people were already advising them and saying, Hey, you know, you don’t just want to talk at people you want to book community. And I was like, and, I mean, I was part of communities, then I would say that actually, my business started with a community when I did B school, because it was such a huge Facebook group with people that wanted to support each other. And that’s how I found my first clients. And, you know, got to know other people. And it was a really important step, I think, for my business. But nevertheless, I felt confused. I was like, but what does that really mean to build community? And how, what can that practically look like? And I think that’s because, in within employment, or especially within larger corporations, there’s such a strong culture of competition, and very little space for very sincere collaboration. So the idea of community when we’re leaving that space, and starting our own businesses, can often be really confusing. So yeah, that that’s where I kind of started, when I did B school, I also kind of had no idea what I really wanted to do. I was one of these people who was super Regulus, I kind of want to help people, I want to work on the internet. And I want to work from home. And I had been designing websites by that point. And I had also kind of done some social media work within the companies that I had worked for. But it never occurred to me before then that I would want to be a web designer. So that was a revelation. And I learned that I wanted this by being in this community. And I think that’s one of the reasons why I think, really making that an integral part of your business strategy. And in the way that you prioritise your time and energy throughout the year is super important, because it’s such a great way to receive feedback and to get to know your own skills and to see what people are most interested in. So even if you really want to look at an accurate benefit of building community, from a purely
business growth point of view, I want to say, there are so many good reasons to really make that a priority. So you’ll better understand your customers needs. You see what questions they ask you understand problems with services or products that you want to offer, you will see word of mouth recommendations, ideally, and you feel less alone working for yourself. And I want to go a little bit deeper with these first few points I made about us understand the customer’s needs. So obviously, it’s it’s really great to be on Instagram, for example, and to post something beautiful, and receive a formation in the form of likes, for example. But I think interacting within communities or groups, and that could be anything from actually, you know, commenting on Instagram or being part of a mighty network or Facebook group or whatever or mastermind, means that not just Are you showing your work and you’re kind of getting some kind of positive feedback. You’re also seeing what questions people ask. And that’s, that’s so valuable. So as a web designer, for example, I would design something and people would be like, Hey, I like this. But do they actually want to buy it? And what are they struggling with? So it took me about two years in my business until I realised that people didn’t just want a nice website. They also wanted tech training, and support in the long term to manage and edit and update their sites. And they wanted to help with everything around their digital strategy as well. So I began offering things like social media content, strategy support, large project management, technical integration, software and consultations. And that’s because I was an active member of these kinds of communities. And I was in dialogue with people to better understand what they really needed. So yeah, I began this journey with being in community with Facebook groups. In 2015. When I first started my business, that was huge, like everyone had their own Facebook group, and it was pretty spammy as well. I got invited into a few 100 groups just from being in them being a member of this initial really large, peaceful group. And most of these people also added me they never sent me No, there was no communication. People would Just add hundreds and hundreds of people to their groups, and then spam those groups with promotions. And to be honest, obviously, that wasn’t all that was happening. There were some really beautiful, very sincere groups and I met some really amazing people and I had great conversations. But overall, there was also a lot of spam. And there was almost like this hype around Facebook groups. And I couldn’t resist it. I started my own about a year later after starting my own business. And the first one was one all around web design and online marketing, which I grew to 500 members. And then I had a smaller one, four, and the Daedra was podcast as well. And I started the web design and branding and tech support group, because I, again, I wanted like a chance for people to ask questions, I wanted to see what they want to know more about. And I also wanted a chance to share resources very quickly. So without needing to send a newsletter. I was sending my newsletter about once a month. But I was also observing a tonne of tech trends and design stuff that wanted to share with people more quickly. So that seemed like a good idea. And I noticed that I felt a lot of pressure, which I was clearly creating for myself, because no one, you know, no one is saying that to me. But I felt quite strongly that I needed to be present in that group every day. And I was usually answering two questions right away. And it really distracted me. And it was kind of feeling that it was pulling my workday in two different directions. And I was also noticing that people were not really talking to each other on that. They asked me questions, and then sometimes they liked what I was posting. But I felt like it wasn’t a great place to create dialogue and real community connection. So about a year and a half ago, I decided to close that group down because I felt you know, it was just draining my energy. And is also seeing more and more people getting really tired of being on Facebook and getting really distracted and kind of weighed down, you know, you would log in to maybe connect with some business folks, and then have an hour passes. And you could just snap into your feed, to explore exploit dozens of articles and stuff. And yeah, so I felt like that time had come to an end, I wanted to let go with that Facebook group. And then at the beginning of last year, I finally made the plunge and really began offering more life online workshops. And I had done that once or twice before, I was incredibly nervous every time. But last year, I was really like, Okay, this is the year I’m going to get on top of this nervousness. And like because I really want to
connect with people. And I want to create a space where people can also get to know each other and not just hear me talk basically. So I found that zoom was the right software for me to use because it enables people to be on video as well, which I really like people can ask questions, they can either unmute themselves and then just ask or they can use the chat box. And zoom also offers a really easy way to record an and share session. So that was feeling like a worthwhile investment, add $15 a month for me. And the first few workshops definitely were super awkward. And I just got easier every time. And I also noticed that there’s just a tonne of stuff just by doing the work that I had been doing for a couple of years, that felt really easy to share. Because I had experience I knew about different software options and strategies. And you know, I had, I had walked my talk and I, I didn’t feel I needed hours and hours of preparation anymore, because there were some things that I could just riff about, which was really great to see and feel. And I think running these workshops last year has really grown my community, not just the numbers, you know, it didn’t give me just new Instagram followers, or more people on my newsletter list definitely has done that too. But more importantly, people have become much more responsive to my work. I feel there’s a community of people that I I have a sense of if that makes sense. And I know again, that sounds a bit abstract. But I what I mean is that I feel more intimacy with the people I work with, and I feel that we have made, I have a commitment to mutual support that goes beyond like a one off financial transaction. And that’s really beautiful. So of course, we’re living under capitalism, I have to make a living and pay my rent, and bills and other other things. And so yes, I have to sell my services and I want to build my Patreon. And I need to charge money. But the more I was able to be in these spaces, often the recipe and getting people together to explore the more it felt like good, you know, just go ahead and feel better. To do this and to run this business in this way. And I get to know people and I got a lot of feedback. I always feel energised after live workshops and I love that like minded people are also talking to each other because I feel that isn’t that much business support out there for small businesses that want to work online. That is underpinned by similar values of like kindness and compassion and thinking about politics and access and sustainability. And so I really want everyone else to meet each other as well. Yeah. And so yeah, this is how we’re coming for full circle. Now. I had my courses on teachable last year, which was great, because it also, again, it’s easy to navigate, easy to brand look good. And it was pretty accessible technically. But I wanted that community aspect. So over Christmas, I moved everything over to mighty networks. And that’s where we are now are and people connect with each other. And it’s beautiful. I also feel right now that really communities are going to be more important
in business in ways that maybe we’re just beginning to understand which again, I feel like sounds a bit weird to say, and there’s always like this new thing. And that’s the future now, you know, but I think that what I’m seeing and feeling is that people are really overwhelmed on the internet, we’re overwhelmed with information with political events. There’s a loss of connection. And an intimacy is really what so many of us need, we need intimacy and spaces where we can be radically creative, and have soundboard. So I think that’s becoming increasingly important. And also, I think, what’s really attractive to people and, and what helps us is to create content and good ways. What I mean by that is that it’s beautiful to log on Pinterest, and to see hundreds of pictures and explore stuff. But I love listening to podcasts because people curate content for me, you know, I’m getting to know, new podcast hosts at the moment. And I love every single episode. And I really took a tonne of time over Christmas to just, yeah, listen to hours and hours of podcast conversations with cool people that really inspired and, and I build this trust with the podcast hosts because I knew you know, I had a sense that they’re talking to cool people. And I want to know more. And that feels really good. So I think this idea of curation and community building really feeds into each other and is becoming increasingly important. Another big trend, of course, that we’ve all seen as Patreon, Patreon has been around for a number of years. I really love the platform, but I don’t think it’s perfect. So one problem, for example, is that it has kind of dodgy policies around queer stuff. There are some LGBT Patreon creators that have been flagged up as adult content, and they’re not being listed in the discovery, for example. And that’s a real disadvantage. And there’s often no reason for that to happen. So I think that’s a shame. And just to say, Yes, I am aware, this platform isn’t perfect, and they’re taking their own card. And so there’s lots of things to think about with that. But it has really enabled creators like myself to have a little bit more of a stable income, and more space to create free stuff for a tonne of people. And I think that’s incredible. And again, it’s this idea of building community and having long term mutually rewarding commitments of support rather than these like one off transactions where I’m selling you something. I want to kind of touch on also how I’m technically delivering community access at the moment, just in case you’re interested. So when I say that, what that costs, so I was under teachable on a free plan for teachable and I’m using mailer light for my newsletter, because pretty affordable, because $10 a month over 1000 subscribers and has a tonne of functionality in terms of tagging and designing newsletters, and I feel it integrates really well. So I love it all around. And I really recommend it anyway. And I was on teachable on the free plan, and now moved to 90 networks. And I am on the I think it’s called the professional plan, which is $47. And that’s because that’s the only plan that includes courses. And now that I have a little bit more Patreon support, it’s worth it because I feel that it’s also making the courses more accessible and that they are available through the app now. But I did think about that investment of causes a lot of money, but they also have cheaper plans as a free plan. And then as a $12 plan that you can also build to that you can also use to build your community. And then how it practically works is that whenever someone becomes a patron, they automatically receive a mailer light email, which is pretty long because it has a tonne of information and links and you know things and it basically tells people how to sign up for the network and where to access content has a little video that explains that how to navigate the platform because it’s pretty new, some people haven’t used it before. And then it also says how to sign up for workshops, and so forth. So that is how I technically create this. And then my workshops are all in zoom. And people can sign up for them through my mailer light forms, and then they receive a reminder. Yeah,
I think that’s it. That’s all I wanted to riverbed today. So it’s been a little bit of like, a ramble about communities, why they won my heart and why they’re so important. And I want to remind everyone that I’m here to support you with tech stuff. That’s something I also want to do more of this year, I’ve had some really beautiful client calls this week, talking to people about what they want to achieve this year, and what software systems can support them, and kind of what steps they can take in terms of content and social media strategy, which been it’s been honestly such a joy and I would really love to do more of that work. I’m offering retainer starting at five hours, and I’ll link to that in the show notes. So if you feel like you want to have some support in that area this year, then check that out. I’m also still offering web design and I will link to that as well. And if you have any questions as always, please let me know I would really love to hear from you. And I’m wishing you a beautiful gentle start to 2019 Bye