Last week we looked at where we belong in a Crafty World. Today, lets talk about Community. What is it? Why you need to engage with it, and why we can all benefit from it.
At first glance, community suggest the people physically around you, who you live among, interact with. Lets look at it from a slightly broader sense. Lets apply community to what our craft is, who our craft is. When applied to you as a maker and creator, community isn't necessarily the people physically around you, but rather in your area of craft, or interests.
Even that is a broad answer, there are communities within themselves. For example, I am a leather maker. Think of all the products out there made from leather. Shoes, boots, bags, purses, CosPlay, Steampumk, Reno-Fairs, clothing, clothing accessories, and the list goes on. Then for those, you have niches or styles within them: Western, Modern, Formal, Outdoors, Retro, etc.
There are many podcasts out there talking about business that hits hard on community or your 'tribe' but lets narrow it down. You need to find your community for a few reasons:
Find your peers or those who are also involved in your craft. Networking is a general name for this. Reach out to others to chat or hang out and discuss what you're both doing. The benefit of engaging with others in your craft is far more beneficial than one might think. When you have someone to bounce ideas off of, or ask a question about how they do something is an asset. You will find also, that people love to talk about what they do.
Where is your community? They are all over. They are cross town, and all over the world. A great place to start is on Social Media. Before Facebook took over the world, online Forums were your go to spot. While there are thousands of forums still active out there, it seems that most have migrated to Facebook Groups. I guarantee you there are Groups for your specific craft. I don't care if you hand carve intricate faux coral for aquariums, I bet there is a group for it.
When you join these groups, ask questions and engage others and be active. You will learn from this as well as meet other like minded folks.
Similarly, Instagram is a great place for community. I love IG, and I am most active there. I have met and chatted with a ton of makers through that platform. The same as FB: engage others on there, ask questions and talk with them. I'll bet that hand carved coral aquarium person is posting on there!
Look locally too! A buddy of mine started a FB Group specifically for local makers. We have a fairly active group and we try to meet once a month to chat about what we all have going on. This has proven very beneficial for a few reasons. We can all discuss and share what we do, how we do it, and why. We have 2-3 leather makers, a few woodworkers, a welder, and more. We are a diverse group, but we all share a few threads that we can all apply to our own craft or even the business end of our work. This is community. Other makers/creators helping each other. No one has an agenda.
I encourage you all to go out and find your community. Engage those in your field, and reach out to that one person you admire and follow.
Please let us know what you think about this weeks post in the comments below or shoot us an email! Thanks!
Next Week: Finding Help