Do you remember seeing those sales pages with stock photos of people working on the beach -- sunglasses on, not a bead of sweat in sight & PC resting on lap (definitely not burning up from the combo of sun + power source)?
Back then, long-form sales pages were overflowing with big arrows, red text and the promise of being able to work in your pajamas from your comfy bed (in a magical way that would never give you back pain). They worked. The message was pervasive enough to inspire a host of people to actually try this online business thing out.
As more people decide to try this online business thing out as coaches, virtual assistants, and content strategists, what separates those who fizzle out after a few years to those who find themselves surrounded and supported by a long-lasting community?
While I find myself juggling a lot of hats, everything I believe in and all of the tools I use to help my clients circle back to helping each of them build a solid foundation to cultivate a long-lasting online community (because the people I work with are big-hearted & in this for the long haul).
If you’re someone who wants to build something sustainable online (& trust me, there’s no pressure to want this, it isn’t for everybody), then here are some of the elements I’ve found to be essential in creating one. They aren’t meant to be learned or implemented all at once. Rather, as you build out a community, you’ll find yourself learning each of these lessons at different periods and oftentimes, relearning the same lesson and infusing what you’ve learned into how you show up, how you serve, and what you create.
8 Essential Elements to Build a Long-Lasting Online Community
1.) Open a 2-way conversation.
When you’re sitting across a new girlfriend for coffee, it’s understood that you’re going to have a 2-way conversation. She’ll talk a bit about herself, and you’ll share some about yourself. We can all think of that time we felt like we were listening to a monologue instead of having a conversation. Those interactions leave a bad taste in your mouth. Make space for engagement beyond clickthrough rates, and you’ll build relationships that span years.
2.) Show up consistently.
Consistency for consistency’s sake is boring. But consistency for devotion’s sake? That’s a story I want to be written into. The people who find you need for you to build a relationship with them. They desire connection and resonance in the same way that you do, so don’t leave them hanging. Show up, and when you can’t show up, be honest about why.
3.) Create your best, and then give it away.
There’s a reason why samples and free seminars work in the IRL business world. If you give the goods away, the right people will come back for more. I talk to a lot of online business owners who don’t want to give away their best material, but babe, there’s more where that came from.
Take something useful, actionable and loving, and give it away like the gift it is.
You will expand as a result of having trusted that there is more where that came from. Make space for more expertise to come your way.
4.) Don’t hide behind trendy, sexy language.
While you could have a conversation about your kids and your work, which are both great topics, you could also decide to go a bit deeper, reveal a tad more, and share lesser-seen aspects of yourself.
Why would you choose to put yourself on the line like that?
Because people who are real are trustworthy and fun to be around. They give us permission to show up as we truly are, which makes for a braver and brighter world. It’s easier than ever to hide behind clever package names, sexually-fueled copy, and a pastel website design in an attempt to be seen as edgy, different or the real deal.
Please don’t do that. You exactly as you are is enough.
5.) Do what you say you're going to do.
I know you’re human (because whoa, so am I), and I get that sometimes you’ll say you’re going to do something and then something else will get in the way and then three weeks later you haven’t followed up. I don’t expect you to be perfect, but I do expect you to try to be present.
Put systems in place so you stay consistent with your follow ups, your weekly articles and your emails. Make good on the promises in your sales pages. Show them you care.
6.) Have the strength to focus.
Scattered you = scattered results. Get yourself in order so you can help your people to the best of your ability.
7.) Ask hard questions.
I believe that good questions can change your life and introduce progress and peace. So in service of your own growth and in service of your community’s, be brave enough to ask hard questions as you create, market and sell.
-- Is this in service of who I’m serving or in service of something else?
-- Which pieces of the story am I scared to reveal, and why?
-- What could be possible if I believed that selling is beautiful instead of sleazy?
-- Who would I be and how would I feel if I didn’t think that people won’t like me if I charge more?
Inquiry changes everything.
8.) Use clear language.
People will want to be around you and stick with you if they get what you do and why you do it. So don’t hide behind flowery, spiritual language. Give them the details that matter to their everyday lives. I don’t want to find my truth. I want to stop feeling anxious as soon as I hear my alarm clock every single morning. Dig deep into their suffering and introduce a solution that they can buy into.
What aspect of community are you inspired to focus on in your business? What are you already kicking ass at?