Community matters to all of us. After the pandemic we know how important the network of people around us is and how much we need to support each other. But for freelancers in the creative sector, cultivating a community can be a game changer in many ways. Here are the top 10 reasons why your Community should be included in your New Year’s Resolutions for 2024.

1. Networking Opportunities 

In our social lives, we build a group of friends around us who provide support, mental nourishment, advice and joy. It’s the same for professional networks. Your network, if nurtured and cared for, can provide you with connections to peers, potential clients, collaborators, and mentors. With these connections come possible projects, collaborations, and learning opportunities. Interaction can be as simple as interactive social media posts and a newsletter that make people feel part of a group. 

2. Support and Collaboration

Working from home can feel a little isolating when you have colleagues but freelancing comes with the fact that you are probably working alone a lot of the time. Mitigating this isolation can seem like a mammoth task and one that can be put off until tomorrow. However, creating a community around you or becoming part of one can give you that sense of belonging. Plus this community space can lead to shared knowledge, skill development, and the chance to work on larger or more diverse projects as teams can come together spontaneously and organically.

Community

3. Referrals and Recommendations

One of the most powerful marketing tools, and probably the one with the highest success rate is word-of-mouth recommendations and referrals. If you have a strong community then those who are part of it are likely to recommend you to others outside of the group. But equally, those in your community can refer or recommend each other internally and externally, widen the bonds of trust. People are always more likely to follow advice from someone they know or trust the opinion of, especially when they have direct experience. Community is crucial to building this space of trust, loyalty and confidence in the abilities and skills of its members.

4. Learning and Skill Enhancement

Something that communities often do very well is facilitate knowledge sharing. When we feel part of a group, knowledge that we might gatekeep from the general public. This could be due to imposter syndrome and not wanting to be ‘found out’ or simply from fear of criticism from unknown commenters on your socials. But, this information is a well cared for community space suddenly becomes a learning and teaching tool. It means that we can learn new skills, stay up to date on what’s happening in the industry and receive trusted feedback in a safe space.

5. Professional Development

Depending on the type of community you have or are part of, you probably have workshops, seminars, training sessions or video courses available. If you have produced these, they are a great way to showcase who you are, what you know and what you can provide in terms of services or products that are tailor made for individuals. If you are part of a community, by simply engaging in these activities or events, you can enhance your own skills whilst bringing your experience and knowledge to others. And from this there is the chance to meet new people, opening up new work opportunities.

together

6. Client Relationships

As mentioned earlier, trust is vital to the success of any business and community. A community can include not just peers and mentors but also clients and potential clients. Before someone hands over money, especially if you are offering a service rather than a tangible object, you need to show a good working relationship with your clients. So, by engaging in community discussions and showcasing expertise, as a freelancer, you can organically attract and retain clients who value your work and contributions as well as those in your community. 

Even if a potential client decides that someone else in your community is a better fit for their needs than you are, you have still facilitated that connection and will always be a part of that customer journey experience. This will again feed into the storytelling of that relationship and further advertise you and your community. 

7. Industry Insights and Trends

Your community can provide a lot of quantitative and qualitative data but in a more casual and approachable way. There will always be those for whom numbers are their ‘thing’ and those who would rather that they never saw another number again in their life. This means that in a community there will be people with different strengths and that can communicate information in different ways to make it digestible and helpful to everyone. The community is not a space for competition but for sharing and support (with maybe a sprinkling of healthy coopetition). Challenges, job opportunities, potential collaborations and advice can all be found in community forums. By engaging with others or even starting your own posts to get the conversation going, you will find a wealth of insightful information and points of view waiting for you. 

8. Personal Growth

All this potential has many benefits but possibly the greatest personal benefit is the chance for personal growth. Interacting with people from different backgrounds, with different skills and ideas can help broaden your own perspectives and open you up to a whole new way of seeing things. I am not suggesting for a moment that you might be close minded but I’m pretty sure none of us know everything so there is always a chance to learn something new – it’s both an overwhelming and deeply exciting fact! Whether it’s a new technique or an entirely new craft, this can lead to collaborations, skill exchanges or a whole new product.

9. Brand Building and Visibility 

If you participate and engage with others in the community then your visibility and your brand credibility will increase. People will start to see the person behind the brand giving you some of the most important endorsements – those of your peers. Share insights, respond to discussions and put your work out there will pay off. Even though at first it can be very daunting, after a few interactions and posts, it will become easier and less time consuming. 

10. Long-Term Relationships

One thing I have always admired about Flowerista is how many ex-clients stay in contact and treat those they worked with as more than colleagues, there is a sense of friendship and mutual respect for the jobs that each person does. THese create long lasting relationships both personally and professionally. You will always have someone to go to an event with, there will be someone in the audience who can speak from a professional point of view about how great you are or give you the thumbs up at the end of a speech. They can provide ongoing collaboration prospects or recommendations for future projects. The possibilities are endless and the best part is that it can bring you a lot of joy.

Being part of a community is beneficial not just for your work but for your mental health too. Feeling like you have a place where people talk about problems or ideas similar to yours, where you can go to for advice and find support is essential to a healthy working life. So enjoy and I hope you find your community!

If you haven’t heard about it already, Flowerista’s Community is to be found on Circle. It’s free to join and it’s full of amazing people and a lot of exclusive information. To sign up, click the link here or head over to the website for more! No community is complete without a community manager. Depending on the size of your community and what you offer them, this manager may well be you or you might just have invested in someone like Cristina, who manages our Community with kindness, gentleness and warmth as well as providing plenty to think about and engage with via posts, videos and chats. Sara, our founder, often sights a chart which shows the exact moment Cristina joined us and the almost overnight increase in the Community and its engagement!! She’s a real gem and we are so lucky to have her with us!

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