Before I get started, I want to mention quickly that when it comes to blogging, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how I want to approach blogging and what kind of content I want to share here. So I’m trying something new, kind of different from what I’ve been blogging about. I’m going to share more about what I’m currently working on and lessons I’m learning in the process (starting with the Facebook Group project).
However! I would love to do a blog series like “Ask Cindi”, so if you have any questions about starting your creative business, managing costs, getting more done each week, getting organized in business, or marketing/networking, comment below or send me a DM on Instagram and I’ll add it to the list!
Let’s talk Growing a Community using a Facebook Group!
BTW — this post contains some affiliate links. I only ever want to recommend products I ACTUALLY use in my business and have come to trust. Yes, some of these are affiliate links, which means I get a small kickback—but like I said, I wouldn’t ever tell you to use something I don’t use and adore in my own business.
For starters, starting a Facebook Group and having a community is something I’ve been wanting to do for quite some time.
It started with a spark of an idea. I dreamed of having annual parties, something that’s kind of like a gala, where we get to dress up and be fancy for an evening as entrepreneurs. Like, you know back in high school where we’d get so excited to get fancy for semi-formal and prom? And then after high school, we really didn’t have anything formal to get fancy for? Well, I miss that! I love getting all fancy! So I thought it would be super cool to bring that idea to life, but for entrepreneurs. Like an annual gala. Even as I’m writing this, I’m imagining one of those long evening gowns that’s sparkly from head to toe, maybe like rose gold, and just imagining it puts the biggest smile on my face. Doesn’t that sound like so much fun?!
And yes, that IS something I want to bring to life someday! But in the meantime, it also got me thinking about how lonely the road to entrepreneurship can feel, and wouldn’t it be nice to have a supportive community of fellow entrepreneurs who are growing alongside you to also support, cheer on, and feel the love from?
Some of these Facebook groups can be so cruel. And inauthentic. And for a long time, it made me shy away from Facebook Groups altogether. But then I thought, what if I can create something different? I know I’m not the only one who gets turned off my disingenuous Facebook Groups, so let ME be the starter of something different, something that feels more homey and loving and supportive.
THUS! The Savvy and Soul Community was born!
Of course, a lot more ideas started coming to mind too.
I want it to be a place to learn, grow, and support each other.
I also want it to be a place where you network with each other so you can grow TOGETHER.
What I mean when I say networking with each other is that one of the things that really helped me grow when I started as a photographer was expanding my personal network, and one of the ways I did that was working with other vendors, especially ones who shared similar ideal clients but worked in a different niche.
It meant, in the beginning, putting aside trying to sell my services, and instead focusing on SERVING first. And what ended up happening was that when I focused on SERVING, the selling started happening on its own! I started getting referrals from people who saw firsthand what it was like to work with me and recommended me to others, my network grew, my client base grew, and I grew.
Because I put serving others first.
So I would do things like making my own versions of styled shoots (especially while I was building my portfolio of the kind of work I wanted to do more of). When I created my own versions of styled shoots, I’d look for styles of vendors I’d either want to continue working with in the future, would suit the style of clients I wanted to attract, and the kind of working relationship I would want to keep recommending to others. I’d make my pitch to them to put something together, and I’d do most of the work, making it as convenient for them as possible (ie, if I reached out to a flower vendor for a beautiful bouquet, I went out of my way to pick up the flowers instead of asking them to come to me). And when I completely edited the images, I’d offer them to the vendors to use in their own marketing, just asking that they tag me. When I posted those photos myself, I’d tag and recommend the vendors I used. And anytime someone posted on social media “looking for _____”, I’d comment and recommend the vendors I’d worked with.
But I didn’t do this JUST so I could grow, I did it because I wanted to help others; it came from a place of serving my clients first. I know what it’s like trying to find a good list of recommendations, and I knew it would be of value to my clients to get recommendations for vendors I’d personally worked with and trusted, rather than my clients going through the time and frustration of searching through dozens of Google listings on their own.
However, it was such a beautiful bonus that by serving others first, it DID naturally come back to me and help me grow. It felt good to grow from the place of serving others first because helping others is something that’s an important part of having my own business.
This brings me back to one of the reasons I started the Savvy and Soul Community. I want it to be a place where you find friendships with other entrepreneurs, but also build networks that will naturally help each other. This group is a safe place where you’ll learn how to do that if you aren’t sure how.
All of these ideas are just the beginning. I hope this community becomes something bigger than itself. It builds upon the movement of #communityovercompetition. I hope that no matter where we are in the world, we’ll find a friend we know because of this community. I hope that eventually, we can have face-to-face meetups and hangouts, and learning opportunities together.
Inside the community, here are some of the trainings we’ve already had:
Next month, in August, we’ll be doing Annual Goal Planning for 2022. You might be thinking it’s wayy too early but actually, you’ll be sooo thankful you did some goal planning early because then you get to start laying the foundation for those goals during Q4 as you button things up for 2021 so you can hit the ground running come Jan 1! Plus, once the holidays come, I prefer to enjoy more of that season with my family rather than scramble trying to figure out a business plan in the last four weeks of the year.
I’m working on more content planning this week to plan out more upcoming trainings.
When I asked on Instagram earlier this week what you wanted to learn more about, the two responses that got the most feedback where:
There will definitely be more trainings on these topics (hence, the last training I mentioned above), but I’m also considering doing some series on Business 101 and Project Management 101. Let me know if either or both of these sound like something you want to learn more of!
When I say Business 101, I mean, I see a lot of questions around things like, “should I go sole proprietorship or LLC?” and what the benefits are and what you wish you knew when you started, and contracts with clients. These are important things to establish in the beginning of business, but it can seem like a lot to pick from when you don’t understand all of it yet.
And when I say Project Management, I mean, once you decide what services you’re offering and it’s time to take on all the clients, how are you going to manage that full workload of clients as well as the other business tasks? How will you keep track of what stage each project is at and make sure you’re delivering project deliverables within the promised timeframes? How will you make sure project costs are staying within the budgets you initially decided upon?
That’s where Project Management comes in. And who am I to teach you? Well, it’s what I studied as a concentration with my second bachelor’s degree in Engineering (Business Management and Marketing was my first bachelor’s degree) as well as working in the construction world as a Project Manager. I have lots of fun things to teach you to help you navigate the management of your client projects. 😊
Lastly (and perhaps the most beneficial reason I’m excited to grow this community!), I’m really really excited to make new friendships with you all! I absolutely LOVE meeting new people, hearing your stories, getting to know you, cheering you on, and seeing you grow! I LOVE that we’ll get to grow as entrepreneurs TOGETHER, get stronger together, build a life that we love together, and impact and change the world together!
I would love for you to come join! When you do, please introduce yourself. 😊 There’s an announcement at the top of the group with all the deets on how to post an #intro, which includes telling us who you are, what you do, what part of the world you’re in, and your three wishes (like if you had Genie from Aladdin!). Oh, and there are a few quick questions to answer when you join, but that’s it!
I can’t wait to meet you and hear about your story!
PS. Tell me in the comments below, do you want a Business 101 and/or Project Management 101 series??
Photos by: Diane Boland Photography
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