I have no community. And it feels fake to actively build one. Thoughts?
I want to be a creator. really badly. But right now, no one is already following my work or cares about my artistic capabilities.
I have led a pretty normal life so far, and I've only made friends with people I like hanging out with. I've been perpetually self-employed, so I don't have almost any professional contacts in the area I'd like to create in. I haven't done any formal schooling or professional work in the area I'd like to create in. It's pretty much just been a personal (very personal) passion of mine since I was a kid, and the only other people that are really at all invested in it are the two or three private teachers I've had.
And maybe I'm crazy, but I don't want to build a community just for the sake of building a community. I don't want to try and befriend people just because I'd like them to pledge to my campaign someday. I don't want to do random uninteresting work in my creative area just to build contacts that I won't otherwise care about. I don't want to try and dredge up pen pal friendships on forums and social media just so that I'm connected to other people who care about my creative area. I don't want to reach out to bloggers and big voices in my creative area just so I have a big powerful friend I can call out to. All of this stuff seems really really fake. I want my friends to be my friends because I like them, not because I feel like there's some level of value I could maybe cash in some day.
And maybe I'm even crazier, but I don't want people to support me only as a result of liking me. I want people to support me because I'm good. Because they respect my abilities, because they are excited about my ideas, even if they've never met me in their life. If the only people I can get to support a project are my friends, family, or any other people who are in some way emotionally invested in me, doesn't that just mean my ideas and abilities suck? Isn't that just friend and family charity?
What do I do? What does anyone do when they have nothing but skills and ideas?
I guess I'm mostly just asking for therapy here, but all of this genuinely concerns me.
Hey Blaine. Here's my two-cents. Continue to own who you are and keep making what you want to make. You're already a creator and if your ideas and art come from a place of passion, follow that passion. Maybe that path leads you to Kickstarter, maybe not.
When I scour all the campaigns on Kickstarter, I'm not solely looking for an item or a thing that will make my life better. I'm looking for individuals who have a passion and are doing something about it. It's their story that I'm interested in, not just the thing they are creating. I enjoy following creative minds as they navigate through all the highs and lows involved in running a campaign. Living a bit vicariously through them along the way. And I appreciate a balance between introverts and extroverts examining how they navigate this space. Knowing that my support, and sometimes my feedback, helps them on their creative journey is a priceless feeling and motivation.
So what do you do? Well, if you have an idea (which you do) and want to see it become a reality, do something about it. Again, this may or may not involve launching a Kickstarter campaign, but it sure is a great option. And if I'm allowed one really corny moment in this response it's this: Sometimes the journey informs the destination. Position yourself to be surprised and don't hesitate to challenge your assumptions. If that advice seems bad, or makes anyone uncomfortable, re-read it pretending Master Splinter is lending his wisdom to the Ninja Turtles.
So let's assume, for the fun of it, that you decide the ideas you have would benefit from being on Kickstarter. Cool! Now we're cookin'! Start small. You mentioned you have a few friends that you value, you may have a few family members who would like to help, and you have 2-3 teachers that you respect. Start there and compile them into a list. Sounds gross I know, but trust me, it's a very necessary step that a lot of people overlook. And I think it would be a big mistake to think of these individuals as mearly 'friends and family charity'. Instead, consider them a solid foundation that you can now build upon. It's more than okay to have these important people as the base of your project. And chances are, they will want to be there. Let people define how and why they support you. I know nothing about being a pianist, but I'm still intrigued and inspired to join your community to gain perspective on something I'm not familiar with.
At the end of the day, it sounds like you may have more support than you think. And it's obvious by your articulate and heartfelt post (and reply!) that you have the skills necessary to deliver a great message. Besides your aforementioned friends & family, you have about 53 people within this thread alone that would love to see you run a campaign. I know I'm curious. You're an active member of the Kickstarter community already and that's a great start. Further along than most!
I could go deep in the weeds here, but I think the first decision you need to make is if your art and ideas can translate on a platform such as Kickstarter. It's a great way to build community in a genuine way as long as you define what your North Star is and stick to the path you create for yourself.
And I think I speak for most reading, if you ever do decide to run a Kickstarter campaign (apologies if you already have and I missed it!), let me know.
What a great heartfelt post. I feel for you because I feel the same way. It's hard to build a community just to pretend you care but then really just to ask the for money. It feels fake because it IS fake.
You have a few options:
- A) Be a poser and do it just for the money, and lose all your real friends.
- B) Or unto your own self be true.
Alex Eames post suggesting you start a blog sharing your thoughts and your art is a good idea. Joining communities of people that have the same skill set is ok too, there's nothing wrong with authentically looking for new friends to share your passion with. And/or you can just launch a Kickstarter and let other adults make their own choice to "throw money at you"; and the market (and your skill) will determine your success.
And honestly, bro, there's nothing wrong with NOT being a project creator. Do you already create art? Then you're already a creator. Kickstarter's just a place to share/sell/fund it.
I say you choose option "B".
p.s. ...but if you ever do post a project, let me know. Because you have a passion and a spirit that I'd back in a heartbeat.
I've been reading "The Art of Community" by Jono Bacon, and it's made me realize I had been carrying a fundamentally flawed conception of what community is ha. When I heard that word, I for some reason always thought of a group of people who all liked each other from a friendship perspective, who actually knew each other and had invested in one another. That isn't what community is, and frankly I'm a little surprised at myself that I had such an inaccurate and unrealistic picture of it. I'm far from being a community expert, but I'm going to share my updated thoughts and how they relate to my original question.
Community is a group of people who share a common goal or belief and who regularly participate or collaborate with one another in some way to further that goal or belief. That's it. No more is required ha, they don't have to be friends, they don't have to know deep details of each other's lives, they don't even strictly speaking have to like each other, as long as they can work together in their common goal or belief then they're a community (at least this is the definition for our purposes).
The way this relates to my original question is really important. I thought that in order to bring a person into your community you had to have some sort of personal relationship with them, you had to be interested and aware in the details of their life, how they're mother's doing and what their childhood was like etc etc. To me, since I'm a little more of an introvert and am very logical and goal oriented, it seemed like for me to actively build community in that way required that I reach out to valuable people and feign interest in their personal lives (let's face it, if the only thing you know about a complete stranger is that they could potentially be valuable to your ambitions, you have absolutely no good reason to really be interested in their personal life). I of course recoiled from that whole idea, because, well, that's a dick move. So I simply thought that this whole "community" thing was for extroverts and mine would always stay as small as my family and close friends.
You don't have to pretend or be fake in any way to build a community, but you do have to stand for something that other people can be involved in somehow. With things like big collaborative projects like open source software or political movements it's obvious how that would work. With things like art or business pursuits it's less obvious, but it can still absolutely work. I'm going to use myself as an example.
I'm a Classical Pianist, I have been since I was little and it's arguably the thing closest to my heart. I also believe in Classical Music, it has a set of values and outlooks that I think are very unique and could be really valuable if they were applied to other genres. Classical Music values complexity and depth, it focuses on the "surprise" side of the surprise/repetition balance, it places craftsmanship and discipline in a central role, and I think most importantly it has a very high emphasis on the written score and live performances rather than just recordings, which means each piece of Classical Music can create a perpetual dialogue between the composer and the various performers, and is given new life with each performer rather than being crystallized forever by the original recording like modern music very often is. Those are the things I believe are really special about Classical Music.
I also think the genre isn't living up to it's potential in our time, and I would love to update those values and outlooks in a way that was emotionally relevant to our lives by composing new music along those lines.
That's how I would build community. Simply sharing those values in a public way and creating work that furthers them would be the seeds of the community. Then anyone who could share those values would be interested in my work because they would want to see that change happen in the world as well, and that would give them a reason to invest in me and my work. If they chose to make derivative works based on mine, if they were evangelists for my projects, if they volunteered to help with events, hosted get-togethers, or even if they just shared my work with others, all of what would help the community grow. And none of that would be inauthentic at all. We would simply be sharing in a common goal and furthering it.
When I asked my original question I was really worried about being selfish under the guise of being selfless. It seemed to me like community building was just the term people used when they marketed for more fans to make more money, fooling people into paying up while believing they were part of a cause. Is it really "community" if it's all essentially focused on one person or company that's making all the money? Well, it all depends on how honest that one person or company is. It's okay to want to make money, as long as you're upfront about what it's for and where it's going. And if you legitimately have beliefs motivating your work, that gives people a real cause to join and a reason to engage with your work beyond just paying you. Yes the selfish motivations exist, but if we're honest about them existing, and if they exist alongside real beliefs, everything's okay. And if you're open about your work and allow people to freely share in it then people can utilize it for their own goals as well.
As for community and friendship, just because there's a big goal doesn't mean you can't form friendships with people. The goal will be the original reason for people to talk, but of course eventually friendships will form and people will gain more personal knowledge of each other. This is where the more selfless behavior starts popping up. Appreciate the people who've joined your community, invest in them and care about them. You should never pretend of course, but allow the foundation of the practical goal to build a more emotional network.
So there you go, I guess you can consider this an explanation of community for the skeptical or confused ha.
(I actually think a big chunk of my misconception came from Amanda Palmer's "The Art of Asking", because she's a super emotional extrovert who loves getting to know new people, so this was the way she naturally approached community building. She's great, but not everyone has her personality and outlook so not everyone can have her methods.)
Start a blog and a twitter account, and use them only in ways relevant to what it is you want to create. These will naturally attract people who are interested in your work. It will take time. But if you picked a good field, they'll come.
It's basically what I did, but I picked a REALLY popular field (it wasn't an accident, but it was something I was really interested in and knew would be big).
That's my suggestion. You sound really genuine and this is a good way to build a genuine following of people who are interested in you and what you do.
Hope it helps
Building a community is hardly a fake endeavour - if anything, it's one of the best ways to lend yourself some credibility while connecting with other people in a space. It might sound silly, but starting a blog geared towards your specific niche or even joining a forum and actively participating in it can go a long way towards bearing fruit in the future.
The funny thing about community is in how it emerges. Some of my favorite communities have evolved simply because a blogger wanted to start writing about their favorite subject - OMG! Ubuntu is a terrific example of that. Others have emerged simply because someone on a video site spent their time writing and performing funny songs there, and a few people watched it and wanted more. Over time, a community or audience can grow dramatically.
Many online communities develop and grow for two reasons:
1. A group of people hold a common interest or set of common interests.
2. People within a group enjoy spending time with one another somewhere online. Initially they may come for their interests - but they also stay because they legitimately enjoy the other people that take part in it.
The thing to keep in mind involves your approach. You shouldn't start a community in the sheer hope that someone will support your campaign - that's putting the cart before the horse. But you can participate in an existing community of people, have a good time, and make some friends. Show off what you're working on from time to time.
Some of those friends might end up wanting to build something with you, some may admire your work, and others might support your campaign simply because they know you and admire what you've made so far.
Full disclosure - this commentator works at BackerKit, a post-campaign platform for project creators.
Hi, Blaine. Artist and introvert here. Building a community has been like pulling teeth for me.
I don't interact with most of my community. Well, let me clarify: I don't chat with them, and I generally don't make friends with them. I'm on social media, and maintain an email subscriber list, to allow people to hear from me about new articles I've written, new videos I've posted, and new products and classes I'm offering. It's always been a sort of one-way communication with me.
Three years ago, after a good ten years of this approach, I was diagnosed with cancer. I had to put some of my creative endeavors on hold, so I was honest with my community about what was going on. I figured I'd write one post on my personal blog, send out the link, and be done with it. That's when I discovered that my community wasn't following me in the detached way I thought. I was flooded with messages, offering help. People I'd literally never spoken to, or interacted with previously sent money, prayers, and offers to do things for me---most of them accompanied by messages saying how much my work had inspired them over the years. Without any real disturbance in my hardcore hermit lifestyle, I had created a tribe of people who cared for me, and came running when they heard I was in trouble.
(Cancer is gone. I'm healthy. Not the point of this story.)
So, community building isn't about making fake friends. It's about finding a tribe of people who like what you do, and what to hear about it. You don't have to become their best friend. You just have to let them in, and give them a peek at what it's like to be an artist. Just open the door a tiny crack, and let people see what you do. Before too long, you'll find there are a lot of people peering through that crack, cheering you on.
PS: In the 5 Kickstarter projects I've done, only 3% of the funding came from people who found me on this site. The overwhelming majority came from off-site clicks: my own web sites, social media, and my email list. This is why having a tribe is important on Kickstarter. Most projects don't have the luxury of being media darlings, and raking in total strangers as backers. They come from the people who are following you, and interested in your work.
It is tough and I can feel your pain with this one. I am in a similar position with the game I am developing. Memphis TN isn't exactly known for game development so it has been incredibly difficult to share my passion and work with others who understand. Kickstarter is going to be a tough ride for me as well but family and friends who I have shared this passion with have been glad to support me and my dream.
Ultimately it will take work. Sometimes the broadcast for support can feel insincere and thoughtless. You won't likely have much success with this and it certainly won't make you feel much better about your cause! Those who are close to you should understand your passion. While they may not contribute financially for you, see if they might contribute with their time. They can be the spokesperson for your dream to help get the word out there.
My sister and wife are social butterflies. They have helped me spread the word and believe in my goal. Their help has been more significant than any financial contribution they could have offered. Be creative!
Social media is your friend. But your friends and family are also your friends! Help build the ground work with real people, whether it be family, friends, or break out of your shell and chat with people who might enjoy your idea in public. If you are being open, honest, and genuine, it will begin building quickly.
I feel the same way about that. Even though I've only had one backer, he is a backer who did NOT come from my social circle and I try not to bother my real friends with my advertising campaign.
My suggestion is to create a Twitter account just for your project and tweet the short link to your projects' webpage to celebrities and any relevant Twitter profiles.
For example: my project is about the study of the universe so I post tweets to NASA, Stephen Hawking, Neil Degrasse Tyson, Albert Einstein.
I also post my link in comments on youtube videos that are relevant as well.
I'm hearing you and can relate wholeheartedly. I've just had normal jobs and not created my own film project before my campaign.
I'm not asking family and friends for donations, as I don't want pity donations. I want people to donate to the project cause they like the product/ rewards/ page. For me, I'm going to my project regardless of it succeeds on Kickstarter. Just getting your work out there should be your goal, you'll feel good and people will most likely follow you that way. Thanks for sharing your story.
I'm an introvert as well, so I hear what you are saying. But I've also worked in advertising, so I can tell you for a fact that you can't be successful without promoting and marketing yourself. I'm not a particularly good self-promoter, and after my Kickstarter campaign, I feel like I've learned a lot about self-promotion. My initial fear with constant posting on social media was that people would start to get annoyed with me and unfollow...suprisingly though I've gained followers through my daily Kickstarter promotions. Anyway, I'm getting side-tracked...
Think about your own life and how you've discovered other artists / products. You'll realize that you seldom stumble on people/products by coincidence. For instance, if you wanted to eat a burger, would you go to a restaurant you just happened to see by chance, or would you go to a place you had heard of before or had some prior experience with? If walking distance is not an issue, most people would pick the choice they're already familiar with than risk something new and completely unfamiliar that is just as likely to disappoint them as please them. So this is the challenge, especially with crowdfunding: you're asking people for money, and people need to trust you and like you to give you money. That's a hard sell if you're a complete stranger to them.
Secondly, think about celebrities you like. There's a plethora or actors and musicians I like, but I don't expect to have any relationship with them. I just like their work, and for whatever reason, I feel compelled to see / hear/ buy all their new stuff that comes out. And maybe there's a bunch of artists that create art I would love, except that because they never promote themselves at all, I never learn about them so I can't spend money on their work.
Hi Blaine. Building a following should be by showing what you do, and letting people who enjoy it follow you. You have a start. Let's take the YouTube channel you list on your profile. You have four uploads, and people have watched them and a couple of them followed you. But you stopped uploading 3 years ago. If you start uploading again, and do so consistently, you will build a following of people who enjoy your creations.
You can be sincere, genuine, authentic, and still build a following. In fact, you will have a much stronger following by just being you. But people outside your friends and family must see your creations to have the following you describe. So be true to yourself, but also upload regularly.
Hi Blaine, many have said that you are genuine and I feel the same. Just recently I failed in getting enough funding for my campaign on kickstarter and I believe thats because I didn't have enough community to back me up, no matter how noble the cause is. Most of people want to fund projects which benefit them. Its kind of marketplace. You definitely need a good community of friends who know what you are doing and then when you need their support, they shall not hesistate to pledge your project. This helps creates buzz and rank your campaign better for all others to notice. Building a community of initial backers is a lengthy process. But you can do it like many suggested here. Lastly I want to say this although my campaign didn't succeed but I don't think I FAILED because there were still 7 backers who I didn't know at all but they found my campaign and backed it. I didn't work on initial buzz or PR or anything like that. So I take those as my lesson learned.
Its NOT about how hard a 'Hit' you can take, but if you can STAND AGAIN after been Hit !!! :)
Unless you get extremely lucky, then you will have to have some type of marketing plan. It's no different than trying to sell any other product. It all comes down to advertising. That is the most difficult part. If Kickstarter puts you in the projects we love category, you might be ok. Otherwise, you could have the elixir of life and it will be so buried on kickstarter that no one would ever find it. It's like searching Google, do you ever go past the first page when searching? I thought Kickstarter was different, but it's still all about the advertising. All I have had so far is a bunch of spammers trying to sell me some crap. Just being honest here. I guess it still takes money to make money.
Blaine, thank you for sharing your thoughts. I am glad to see that the concerns you are voicing are not unique to you or me, that building a sincere community (not necessarily friendship) is a must for a successfully funded project.
Unfortunately, having launched my project already a couple of days ago, I learn the hard way, that this building process should have already started long before. Ah well, life is full of learning. I embrace this evolution with gratitude.
Wish you all the best on your future endeavors.
I think more people understand where you are coming from than you think! You are a very genuine person. Is it possible that you don't have a lot of followers because you haven't put yourself out there? Build your community with the idea of finding like-minded people who are interested in your ideas. You have a gift, why not share it with the world!!
I can sympathize! Marketing definitely feels weird like you described. I am just beginning this year, so don't have any advice, but figured out something that has comforted me. From observing other companies and things, it seems like marketing is the kind of online community where people follow the company because they like whatever the company does, whether or not they would actually be friends with the owner. It's like business-related community is a different culture than friendship-community. If that is the case, we are in culture shock, because the business-related communities are opposite to how introverts' minds work. It is like another kind of socializing to learn and we can learn to do it, like we learned to socialize in school.
Building a crowd is possibly the toughest part of crowdfunding. Finding groups, communities that are in your particular niche is hard as well. As you stated, trying to build this community is especially difficult when you know your ultimate goal is to get funding for your project. One thing to think about is that your search is something that you are interested in and many of the others there will have projects or products that they want to push as well. I su..ggest doing a search and visiting some of the communities and begin at least commenting and answering questions. You'll find yourself getting involved more and more as you become part of these communities. It takes a great deal of time as well and there are times where it may be feasible turn to a professional such as myself (not trying to promote) to give you tips, help you find and build your crowd. It's a process. Good luck with your future endeavor. Btw I love this campus.
We have the greatest reservation about much of what is said on Kickstarter, and elsewhere about Kickstarter. I cannot square the circle of using some artificial method of generating traffic to a project, and the concepts and guidelines expounded in the ‘ethics sections’, of Kickstarter.
To us it seems unreasonable, that a Community of backers who believe in nurturing new and original concepts, and projects should be so reliant on projects bringing their own ‘Community’.
Reading the posts here causes one to ask, where is the ‘Community’? And, how is the Community to be accessed? Is it not the role of the Community to assist other members? Is that not what we mean by ‘Community Spirit’, and so on? Like-minded individuals, interested in new and original ventures, interesting technology, deserving Arts Projects, and the like?
In our own case we have a modest technology project, we have spent a great deal of money on the usual social media outlets. And have exhausted the Family and Friends angle. With little or no result. Half way through our campaign, we find that we are still at the 1% level. And according to what we read, likely to remain on that level.
We read all over the net, and on Kickstarter, your project can only succeed if you spend six months prior to project launch engaging with agencies and potential backers. Building up lists of emails, and effectively bringing your own ‘Crowd’, of First-Funders. Or renting a First-Funder Crowd from some agency, for a percentage. What happens to these First-Funders, during the campaign? Do they drop out as the ‘Community’ takes over, or do they stay in, absorb all the rewards, and receive their pledges returned with a small percentage? Both outcomes are possible, for a clever well connected agency?
To us this entire practice seems repugnant to the ethos of the platform and the ‘Community’, and would also appear to be expressly forbidden by the Kickstarter rules on ‘Gaining the process’. Yet again and again, we read, this is the only way? It seems to be an open secret both inside and outside the ‘Kickstarter Community’, if you bring your own cultivated crowd, all of whom pledge within the first few days, your project will light up the platform algorithms, and the entire ‘Community’ will be at your disposal.
All of which seems so contrary to the ethos and ‘Community Spirit’ we always thought defined Kickstarter.
We’re beginning to believe in the truth of these claims. Is this really what Kickstarter means by a ‘Community’?
Blaine Hansen, wow you are so spot on with your post. I have recently launched on Kickstarter, and have felt exactly everything you described above. within minutes of my project going live, I was inundated with messages from PR , marketing, and everything in between trying to sell me "potential backers". I can honestly say it took the wind out of my sail. I launched my project to connect with people who genuinely loved my art....am I being too naive? I will keep y'all posted with my Up's and Down's. It feels good sharing the process though.
There must be, and is, something deeply annoying to anyone who cannot or will not, for the various good reasons presented, form a community of their own. Everything you read that comes officially from Kickstarter tells you the platform is a 'Community' and that by supporting projects and launching a project, you become part of that 'Community'. But for people who try to access that 'Community', other truths prevail.
From all the commentary inside and outside of Kickstarter, it appears the only way to have a successful campaign is to bring your own crowd. Or rent a crowd through an agency.
This seems to us to be not only repugnant to the espoused ideals of the platform and the 'Community', but also a possible fraud on those who genuinely like the project and wish to support it, because it has merit.
Many successful projects seem to bring their own crowd. They get fully funded in a very few days. Which begs the question of motivation. It is quite possible that by prior agreement, first-funders are pledging only, and later dropping out, or that they are paid when the campaign concludes, their pledge returned with interest.
If anything like that is going on, then it can only be considered a fraud against those who fund because they like the idea only.
The very worrying aspect is that we are explicitly told by many successful campaigners that their success was due to the fact that they brought their own 'Community' with them. Or, used an agency to do it for them. It also seems to be common knowledge that those without such a 'Community' languish on the back pages and fail.
As one of those projects languishing on the back pages, we fail to understand the Kickstarter definition of 'Community'.
Well Blain Im some what refreshed to read your thoughts because that is exactly how I think I dont want to become a Social Butterfly and a Social Climber & go out just to meet people who can advance me Economically, I was hoping crowd funding would provide a Platform for Contacts and investers - how however they seem to want us to Blog all over FACEBOOK and TWITTER ** I dont see FACEBOOK and TWITTER as Business Platforms - their Social Media well Im waiting for KICKSTARTER to approve my campaign - their saying by Thursday they should , but I dont wanna be begging people for money on a personal basis eith ** I dont have a group or a following either ** My name is Steven Conger I have a Campaign posted on KICKSTARTER, I was hoping KICKSTARTER brought the community , and made our campaigns available to their community ** Its kind of like baying a Ton of money to have a Booth at a trade show a few days - and when you finish and dont have any new customers or sales , I might comment to the trade show organizers that I didnt bennifit from their show ** and they tell me , ( its because I did not invite all my customers and community to come to the show and see us at our BOOTH ) - I would respond by saying- -- why should I pay you Just for me to see my Customers
What if we start a place here where we can get followers? Is that allowed? I have actually been going into the post here and finding people to follow.
It is a little time consuming but it might work. I want to make a movie but I want to get a following before I even try, and just because you follow someone it doesnt mean they are going to follow you back.
Some of you guys have your profile private, how are people supposed to find you or your item if they cant follow you?
All of the comments posted here have ministered to me tremendously... I am an author of inspirational journals. I launched a Kickstarter months ago but, unfortunately, shut it down prematurely due to the same concerns. After reading everyone's comments, I have a different perspective and am encouraged to start a new campaign. Thank you!
I have no community. And it feels fake to actively build one. Thoughts?
66 followers | 28 answers