Ben - Are there any aspects of freelancing that have really impacted how you approach community building?
Totally, I would say during my freelancing career I had to get really good at my communication skills and be transparent with my clients on timelines, etc. This is allowed me to use this skillset over at being a CM and making sure things are properly communicated to our members!
Also, have you had any great wins as a community manager since you've started?
One of my biggest wins has been getting awesome feedback from our members about how much they enjoy being part of the community. Getting a Slack message or email about how this community has helped change their business for the better is such an awesome feeling!
Kirsti - I’m curious to know how you prevent burnout and approach boundary-setting, especially in a community made up of freelancers. The freelance world never sleeps!
Thank you so much for having me! Such a good question!
For me, since my last big burnout phase, I have been a lot better at noticing my triggers and what to look out for. In the past, I used to ignore this and just push through. However, now when I notice these feelings I put more of a pause in my day or schedule so I don't reach that phase!
Boundary-setting can be tough, but you just have to be firm and stick to your plan. If you don't want to check Slack after 5pm, remove it off your phone, etc. Once you have a plan in place, it is a lot easier to stick to it and enforce the rules. Also, people tend to respect your boundaries a lot more than you may think once you let them know what they are!
Sagi - What’s one piece of advice that you’d give to new Community Managers?
My main piece of advice is to remind yourself that you don't need to know everything. A lot of the time when I am trying to brainstorm ideas for cool events, I ask my community members what they want to see. Lean on your community to give you the answers/insight that you need!
What’s one misconception about managing a community?
Such a good question! For me, I would say the time commitment that goes into it. It is something that is really hard to quantify in a set of hours because it is this living breathing thing that takes time to nurture. Also, judging community solely based on business numbers ROI is not going to lead to a great community experience. There is so much value out there that members can get that will lead to years of brand loyalty that might be hard to quantify as direct ROI now.
In your opinion, how is managing a community of Founders different then other types of personas?
I would say that for the community that I am managing now, most of our programming, workshops, etc. are all centered around what can help grow our member's businesses. In a way, I really enjoy being in this niche because it allows us to find our target member a lot easier and also allows us to provide content that they'll find valuable in which they can add to their business.
Jocelyn - What's been the most challenging and rewarding parts of switching your career from freelancing to community manager? Or from project manager to freelancing?
The most challenging for me has been to having to start from ground zero. There were definitely skillsets from freelancing that I could translate over, but for the most part I am learning from scratch. I would also say though, that this is the most rewarding parts as well. It has reminded me to always keep the "learner mindset" activated and to be curious. I also really enjoy being in groups like this where I can learn from others in my field. Making these connections has been super rewarding!
Katrine - What are some of the most successful engagement tactics you've used as a CM so far? Have you ever launched a community program that just completely flopped? How did you handle the failure?
Some of the most successful engagement tactics have been making sure to amplify our members in our posts in Slack. For example, we might have a question come in from a member asking about a specific field, etc. I would go through our directory and directly tag people who I feel like would be able to assist with this. It is giving that extra little nudge to spark conversation that helps so much!
Oh yes, all of the time! Most of the time it is with certain events/initiatives, but it is because we just wanted to test a new weekly series or whatever it might be. Whenever we launch something and it doesn't perform, we really don't let it get to us because we try and go into it without expectations. If it crushes, then great, If it flops, then oh well back to the drawing board. Even reminding yourself that the other initiatives that you are running are killing it and maybe if one thing isn't working out, then it isn't so bad in the end!
Cole - When building a new community, what would you say is the most important metric to account for? What's your favorite engagement play to kick start a community?
For me, it is our members who continue to show up month after month. With freelancing especially, there will be busy months and slow months, so for us when checking our metrics, I love seeing the trends of our members coming back to our Slack channel, attending events, etc.
One of my favorite engagement plays is getting our community members involved! Look, everyone loves talking about themselves, so why not use this to your advantage. Is there a series that you can feature your members and promote? Can you have certain members create content for you? Getting your community involved goes a long way!
Lindsey - What's been the most surprising thing you've learned on your community building journey?
Honestly, it has been the receptiveness of other community builders and how much everyone is willing to help each other! Coming from marketing and website design, I just didn't have that with my previous field, so that has been a really nice surprise. It seems like communities aren't competing with one another!
Which communities do you draw inspiration from in building your own?
I am an avid user of this channel and from what others are posting about. I also really look up to @Tom Ross, @Noele Flowers, and @Gesche Haas because they're such great leaders in this space!