A year ago, I published a video called ‘If You Decide To Love Someone’, and currently, it has 2 million views. I believe this brought a lot of people together because the vulnerability that was expressed, and it is this vulnerability that connects us all as human beings. This is a good foundation to build a community on, because you will only ever be expected to be who you are. It also invites others to do the same.
What is “Community”?
I understand a community to be any collective of people with a mutual interest at their core. A community can be for better or worse depending on the common interests among the audience.
When building a community online it can become very easy to start seeing people as numbers, and you can quickly get lost in that way of thinking. When you keep in mind that your audience is composed of human beings, it inclines you to be more considerate with the content that you share knowing that you are reaching the minds of real people on a daily basis.
3 Steps To Foster Community
The three most important aspects of building a community for me are honesty, vulnerability, and consistency.
Let's first dive into honesty. Before you can be honest with an audience, I think you have to first be able to be honest with yourself. So for me, I spend time with myself. I journal to put my thoughts and feelings into words to better understand them. When I understand something for myself, I can more easily convey it to an audience.
It’s easy to fall into an idea or image of who you want to be, or how you want to present yourself. I believe a true community is formed in honesty. It is better that people love you for who you are than for who they want you to be. So be honest, with yourself and with your audience.
Number two is vulnerability.
Although we have different experiences on the surface, in our vulnerability we find that we understand the same emotions and feelings at our core. People experience content in one of two ways, we enjoy it or we connect with it. It’s good to create something people something people can enjoy, but it is powerful to create something people will connect with. Vulnerability is how we build this connection. It is a reminder we are not alone in how we feel, especially in this digital age. Even more, in not feeling alone it is much easier to feel a part of something, and thus, a strong community is born.
Honesty and vulnerability kind of go hand in hand. The best way I’ve found to dive into that for yourself is to engage in internal dialogue. That means asking yourself questions. For example, when we get upset, we tend to exist in our emotions, but what if we took the time to step back and consider: Why am I upset? Where did this come from? How can I express this in a way that is productive? I think that's when you begin to actually start to understand our emotions rather than simply existing in them, and from there, we’re able to better explain and convey what it is that we’re dealing with on the inside to someone else.
These things correlate directly to consistency because the content that you create will be a reflection of your real-life experiences. If you're consistent in questioning yourself and diving into your own thoughts and emotions, then you will be consistent in expressing them and sharing them with an audience.
Honesty doesn't always mean being able to monologue your thoughts and your emotions. Honestly can simply be you embodying and embracing yourself. If you're comical, be comical. If you're laid back, be laid back, but be realistic about who you are when you present your content. When people start creating more vulnerable content, some can get caught in this cycle of feeling like they always have to be super deep or super in touch. But being honest means expressing who you are, and acknowledging that you are not always one version of yourself. This carries you into creating more dynamic, meaningful and engaging content.
What Community Means to Me
For me, my creative process first starts with journaling. I think writing helps me to articulate my ideas better. So I first have to put down my raw thoughts and emotions, and from there I can refine it and make it into something that is palatable or presentable for content.
It can be difficult to be vulnerable to an online audience. I believe that when we put our confidence in the words or the reassurance of others, then we also give them the power to control how we feel when they don't agree with us. If you live by their compliments you’ll die by their critiques. So even in building a community, remember you are not defined by what you do. You are who you are, a human being that is still growing, still learning, and still finding their way through life. Through content you invite people along that journey, but you live for yourself - not for an audience.
Having a community has given me a platform to share the light I find and the lessons I learn throughout life. Sometimes knowing that I can share these lessons to benefit someone else gives reason to the darkness I experience. It also serves as a reminder that I'm not alone in the way that I think or in the ways that I feel, and I'm not alone in my pursuit of meaning and truth in life and how to find my place in it. It's very reassuring to engage this path and engage this journey with people beside you, all walking and growing in the same step as you are and helping each other out along the way.
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