The 12 Days of Digital Marketing: Day 8
Welcome to Day 8 of The 12 Days of Digital Marketing.
Every day, we’ll answer a marketing question sent in by people like you. Even if—especially if!—the phrase “internet marketing” produces deep nausea or dread. We’re here to show you how it’s all about connection and authenticity.
I love my work, but it can get seriously lonely running my own business, especially these days. I never thought I’d be missing the office break room! How can I connect with people in my line of business without it feeling like a second job in itself?
– Desperately Seeking Smalltalk
Dear Desperately Seeking,
It is hard to work for yourself. Figuring things out on your own. Connecting with clients. Putting in long hours trying to get everything up and running. Especially in the early days when you’re more likely to be doing it yourself (without, say, a team to handle the specialized stuff that isn’t really your forte), it can be downright isolating. Throw in a year or so of quarantine without the luxury of coworking spaces, and…it’s a lot.
Early on in our careers as wee fledgling copywriters, we (Emma & Katie) connected with a group of other copywriters in a Facebook group that Emma and Abby (of The Voice Bureau) created. We formed a really tight-knit group of supportive friends who have mostly stayed in regular contact nearly a decade later. Many of us are in different careers at this point, whether it’s a broader marketing/branding focus or another industry altogether, but those connections have held up.
From the start, it was made clear to everyone that competition had no place in the group. That’s a big part of the reason it all worked so well. The focus wasn’t business exactly, but we did ask each other questions about things we were still figuring out and sent each other referrals when we couldn’t take on more clients or weren’t a great fit for a project ourselves. We weren’t trying to sell to each other. But we’d talk about our work and what we were struggling with and helped each other out. The ground rules we set going in really helped us sustain those relationships—essentially, respect each other, be kind, use line breaks between paragraphs, and the most important: we aren’t competing with one another. The “Friday happies” threads with three good things from our weeks were a real highlight for all of us, no matter how stressed we were at the time.
This is what we had in mind when we decided to create The Aurum, Dossier’s member community. The ability to build those relationships, to reach out a hand in the darkness, as it were, whether it’s sharing our ups and downs or trying to figure out why a Facebook ad isn’t converting, is beyond valuable in a business that can be very lonely when you’re on your own.
We’d love to have you join us in The Aurum (opening January 1 for participants in the Brand Alchemy Experience and April 1 to anyone else who would like to join), but if you’re looking to create a more specialized community for just your industry or just to have one of your own, there are a few things to keep in mind.
First…it is a lot of work to run your own community. It takes time and energy to build the relationships that will sustain it, and that means you need to be prepared to post pretty frequently for a while to get people talking and engaging with each other. Eventually, it will feel more self-sustaining as people begin to treat it as sharing conversation with friends, but at the beginning, you’ll need to kindle that fire. Questions are better than statements, and remember that people love talking about themselves, so give lots of opportunities to share.
Second, don’t be afraid to set rules, and be prepared to enforce them. If you don’t want people trying to sell to each other, be explicit about it, remove posts when people don’t listen, and be okay with removing members who repeatedly break the rules. You may find that a group member doesn’t keep up the spirit of the community, whether that translates to negativity or expressing inappropriate or hurtful views about other members. You want your community to be a safe space, so you may need to make some hard decisions about who to let in and who to keep.
Whether you decide to seek out an existing community on Facebook, Slack, Discord, or some other platform or you choose to put in the extra work to create your own, you’ll find that the people you connect with are a real community—and much better than Jim in accounting who was always microwaving fish in the break room.
Wishing you authentic connections and a community of friends,
-Emma & Katie
Have a burning question of your own? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re keeping all questions anonymous, so be as upfront as you need to be, and don’t worry about feeling silly. Chances are, lots of other people need to hear the answer, too.