If there is anything that an entrepreneur, blogger, consultant, (you name it) is familiar with, it's the word "solo." Hours are often spent alone, tucked away chasing our dreams with a wild pursuit to share our creativity with the world. Working in a not-so-traditional manner means trading traditional offices for the road, coffee shops, hotels, and living rooms.
Being a solo-preneur can be lonely if you let it.
Something I've really realized about this community, though, is the beautiful support that is there. The support from like-minded bloggers or photographers, business owners, or creators — everyone understands what it's like to work on our own (most of the time). The community supports each other in a way that is truly beautiful to watch unfold. Like an intricate spider web, there is this intertwining net in the community — it's encouraging, it's inspiring, and it’s there to catch you in those moments of melancholy.
I know there has been moments in this journey where I ask, "Anyone else?" So I wanted to encourage others who are pursuing their passion that there's community everywhere, if you look for it.
I asked 12 entrepreneurs to share how they create community. It's powerful.
Take a look how...
Grant Legan, founder of Grant Legan Photography
"I find it most important to connect with those who you most admire. Surrounding yourself with the people who not only inspire you, but challenge you. I admire my friends I have met within this space that work to create things outside of the box and admire the weirdness that flows along side it all. Appreciating those achievements that others make within your circle is important, catching up with them when you can, and finding out what they look to accomplish in the coming years, if there is anyway to help those out around you even if its just words of wisdom on a bad day, I think that can be the most important. In a world filled with curated perfection, it's nice to be a real person outside of the social world. The best things I have learned over this past year during this internet/social media explosion: listen, be present, learn about people, and be appreciative of your opportunities and never compare yourself to others."
Emma Kate, founder of Emma Kate Co:
"So much of my work is just me, myself, and I — tucked away in my studio, doing the work, often late into the night. There's an irony in being a 'social' influencer when mostly I work entirely solo. When I moved back home after a few years living and traveling, I used Instagram to reach out to some local creatives — I felt a great need to seek out new networks — to find “my people” who were also chasing a less traditional, entrepreneurial dream. I held an Insta-meet on a whim, I put a call out online, suggesting a time and a place to meet. I remember arriving, and feeling ridiculous, convinced that no one would show up. And then forty people came. Forty, beautiful, exquisitely creative souls. And I realized that it wasn't just me desiring connection. Now, we have coffee-fueled coworking dates — and I've made friends for life. Community is vital."
Emily Nathan, founder of Tiny Atlas Quarterly & @tinyatlasquarterly:
"I started #mytinyatlas, the community tag for tiny atlas quarterly magazine, with the help of some friends as a way for our very group-effort magazine to invite in the rest of the world. And wow, how much world it has brought us. The tag has almost 800k posts on it now but in addition #mytinyatlas has lead me to create huge group photo shows, small and large community events around the world, and a real way and reason to reach out to so many people who I personally end up connecting with. For the production of the magazine I try to pull as many people in to the office in Oakland as possible to work in person as well. It's easy to think we can work remotely, but we always do better and much more efficient work when we are in the same space."
Nastasia Yakoub, founder of Dame Traveler:
"Collaboration is key. Give two hard-working and passionate people something to work on together, and watch the magic happen. Many of my friendships have been born out of collaboration and have blossomed as a result. I also believe in connecting with others who have a different approach to their work than my own. It allows for both individuals to learn much from one another."
Michelle Madsen, founder of Take Aim:
Working in the digital world can often place you in front of your computer or phone most of the day…also being an entrepreneur with a small business demands a lot of hours, usually hustling on your own. I feel pretty fortunate to be doing what I am in Los Angeles. There’s a big community here and all it takes is attending the events, reaching out to each other for coffee and opening up about what’s going on in your life. My first year blogging, I knew no one. I started putting myself out there and found so much in common with everyone I met. Now, most days, I’m juggling between social and work because I have a lot of opportunity to join in with all the events and meet-ups happening. One thing that has been the best for me in recent months is sharing, planning, and consulting with a couple other close blogger friends. Finding people to bounce ideas off of and ask questions to is incredibly helpful and makes me feel like I’m not on my own.
Jaharn Giles, founder of Mister Weekender:
"To create a community hungry for my next blog post or Instagram photo, I create content around a topic I am genuinely passionate about — travel. I make sure this content stands out from the crowd by constantly communicating my niche, which is adventure and travel. I also make sure my purpose also is constantly communicated, and that's to inspire people to live an outdoors lifestyle. It's here where I have shaped my community of likeminded nomads, who love to travel as much as I do, and love adventure and nature, and love living an outdoors lifestyle. I also think engaging with my community has really shaped the way I create content; I am always replying to comments and questions, I listen to what they say and I produce content based on what they love seeing and reading the most. After all, everything I do is for my community so it would be crazy of me not to listen to them!"
Katie Dean, founder of Katie Dean Jewelry:
Creating a community and connecting with others as an entrepreneur is SO important to me and honestly, totally vital to my creative mindset. I mainly do this by utilizing one of my favorite social media platforms — Instagram, of course! — to reach out to like-minded creatives and point blank asking them to meet up! After starting my business mainly through promotion on IG I figured, what the hell, why not build a real genuine connection with the people that I follow and admire their work? It’s one thing to show love via the amazing world wide web but meeting up in person creates that true magic and friendship which is what I thrive on. Now it’s a part of my everyday life. I try to meet up with new and old friends at least 2–3 times a week. It keeps me fresh and inspired to hear how someone else is doing plus talk about biz and get another perspective on things. Amazing collaborations and opportunities have come from taking the plunge and making that first ‘move’ to say hi and reach out to my peers. So my advice is — get out there and have fun!!
Sara Combs, founder of Design Comb:
"I feel lucky to have social media as a resource to find and meet similarly minded people. I make it a point to meet those that inspire me, and it’s those people who help me feel part of a supportive and creative community."
Sarah Gerber, founder of Twenty Twenty Studios:
"Having worked either at home or in a solo office for the first 4 years of my business, one of my biggest goals for 2015 was to find a new office that would help me connect to a greater community. I ended up finding a co-working space early in the year and its been the best decision I made this year. Having people greet you when you walk into your office every morning is a great way to start the day. Also, I would say, collaborate. Whether you need to for your company or not, find a project that requires you to work with other people, and then go find those people. You never know what might happen and the very least you will probably meet some cool people."
Marianna Jamadi, founder of Nomadic Habit:
"Actively seeking engagement within your own industry as well as others is key in creating community. By living your authentic life, you will naturally gravitate towards people that feel seamless to what you do but it is great to be able to collaborate, connect, and find ways to help each other out. This will result in a successful community of strong entrepreneurs that understand that the collective is more important than the individual. Reach out to people that you find interesting, talk to those around you at coffee shops, be open, and ask questions."
Katey Yurko & Cynthia , founders of The Violet Fog:
"It sounds cheesy, but we get that feeling of 'togetherness' by rooting for our fellow creatives. We're loud about praising them and sharing their work (on the site, on socials, etc) whenever we can. Cyn and I make a point to keep in touch with other entrepreneurs like ourselves by supporting their events and projects and also constantly asking them what they are up to. We do our best to stay tuned in so we can recommend them if we hear of a possible opportunity that might totally be their thing, or vice versa! It's great when we all really want to help each other grow. We all bring different strengths to the table. Recognizing and appreciating that, looking out for each other...it really fosters a more supportive (and thriving!) community."