Note from Jackie:
I wrote this post almost 2 years ago… and yet it’s even MORE true now than it was then.
We’re in the middle of this creating your product series. I thought I’d be able to think of ways you could sell your first product without having a “community”. I could only think of one. Warrior Forum special offers. Unless your product is in the IM niche (which I don’t recommend) that’s not going to work. I don’t think I’ve seen any products on “How to care for your horse” sell or even listed as a WSO, so that’s out.
It got me thinking.
So who are you going to sell those first products to?
Which got me thinking… you’re going to have to know people, and they’re going to have to know you.
Which got me thinking… you’re gonna need a community.
Which got me thinking… Damn people are going to freak out. (Damn I’m freaking out a little bit!)
Which got met thinking… yeah, but it doesn’t have to be hard and if you’re gonna build a blog you’re gonna need one anyway.
Which got me thinking… that maybe we oughta talk a little bit about community building before we finish these products so we have someone to buy them.
Which got me thinking… just what is community building?
What is community building?
When I think of community building at the very core I think of readers who come regularly to read my blog. More than that I think it’s people who not only read my blog, but look forward to my emails and new posts. They are people who of all the “newsletters” they’re subscribed to that they have “labeled” or otherwise funneled into their very own trash file… mine stays in the in box. They read my emails, not only that, they click through the links in my emails.
This happens because I offer value. I offer information, insight, things to think about, things to ponder, reviews, tutorials, all the things my “community” have shown me over the years they want. I value my community. They value me.
That’s my first thought of community ~ which I’ve done a pretty good job of creating around here (although it took me a long time ~ because I wasn’t consciously doing anything to build it, I was just doing what I do lol).
My second thought about community is meeting other people in your niche. For me it would be meeting and connecting with other bloggers, other internet marketers, other people who do what I do. This is something I haven’t done quite as well. I’ve kind of sat over here being a hermit. Talking with people who show up here, but not really venturing out of my cave.
This is something that’s really held me back in terms of building my community. It’s fantastic that I have readers who love me, but when you get peers who love you ~ your reach extends way farther than you could ever reach on your own.
What the heck are you talking about?
Here’s an example. We live in the middle of nowhere. Our nearest neighbor is a mile away. For the first 8 or so years we lived here we didn’t know anyone out here. Hanna came along ~ we didn’t know any other kids for her to get together with. We didn’t know anyone who might be willing to baby sit so we could go out. We didn’t know anyone I could call when I thought I would go insane from being up with a screaming kiddo for 18 hours straight.
Then Hanna went to school. I was forced to get out of my cave (and away from the computer screen). We started meeting people. They started introducing us to other people, who introduced us to other people. Here’s what happens when you meet a couple people.
After 10 years of living here we had never gone to a party. We were invited to 3 or 4 parties and get togethers last year.
After 3 years of Hanna being here she’d never had a playdate. Now she has a number of friends she gets together with regularly ~ and gets invited to birthday parties, and sledding parties, and halloween parties…
After 10 years of knowing no one out here… when my husband had to close his business he was offered 2 jobs from local farmers.
The Power of Connection.
This is what connection does. Imagine if you had a few key connections in you niche! If you became friends, really, friends with a couple bloggers in your niche what could come of it?
Could you get guest posts on their site? Would that open you to a totally new group of readers?
Might they know other bloggers you don’t know? Might they introduce you? Might that get you in front of a whole new group of people?
When you come up with your first product do you think your blogger friends might be willing to send people to see it? Whether they’re affiliates or not? I know I have done that for some of my blogger friends.
Do you think you and your blogger friends could get together and form a mastermind group?
Do you think you and your blogger friends could work together and come up with some exciting products?
Do you think you could do your first podcast by interviewing your blogger friend?
Do you think you could have your blogger friend do a guest post on you site about something they know a little better than you?
The answer is YES YES YES… to all of the above.
Here’s the thing. You, all by yourself, may be a fantastic blogger. You may have a fantastic audience, and your arms are only so long, and they only have so much reach. When you reach out to other people, your reach becomes as far as they can reach, and as far as all the people they connect you with can reach… it becomes almost infinite.
So what is building a community?
Creating a place where people come to get information and make a connection and a place where you get out in the world and get information and make connections.
Friends help friends. Would you ever say no to a friend if they asked you for a cup of sugar? My guess is no. I’m finding out it’s pretty similar with friends online.
Tips to get started building your connections:
1. Stop being scared people aren’t going to like you… YOU are likeable… and bloggers are just people.
2. Go say hello. Yeah, go ahead, just drop in, you don’t need to call first. Stop by and leave a comment. It’s a great ice breaker. Don’t say “great blog”, but say something that adds to the conversation, adds to the community.
3. Go say hello to someone who you think is way out of your league. What’s it gonna hurt. Best way to do this is to retweet one of their posts, or reply to a question they might ask on twitter.
short aside: if you’re going to build a community ~ and make connections ~ you’re gonna have to get on twitter.
4. Go say hello to someone who looks interesting. Follow a button on their blog to their twitter page or their facebook page. Add them, send them a hello message ~ tell them why you decided to follow them. A personal message goes a long way with a friend request. (they will remember you!)
Just remember… this is just an introduction. We’re just getting to know people here. You wouldn’t ask someone to marry you on a first date… we’re not asking any business favors in our introduction. We’re just shaking hands.
Let me hear it.
What are your fears about creating a community? What other ways can you get out there and “shake hands” with someone new today? Can’t wait to hear what you come up with… tell me in the comments.
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