Lately, I’ve been thinking about all the community building taking place online. There are no hugs, long lunches, cozy dinners, or fun shopping expeditions. This is a new kind of community. When a person puts their life-long dream project on Kickstarter and gets funding for that dream by a group of strangers, that’s community building. Sure, the strangers(backers) get a book or a private viewing of the project, or maybe just a magnet, but the main reason is to back a dream. That’s one example of online community building in the 2000’s.
This essay is not about Kickstarter. It’s about what I’m seeing and doing to build my own online community in order to fulfill my dreams. I’ve only been actively participating online since mid-March, and I’m still in the midst of a major learning curve. It’s like one grand experiment. Furthermore, I’ve been thinking about my online motives, goals, advantages, and my accomplishments over these few months.
Motives and Goals
*I’m here to learn about the current world of writing and publishing; it’s very important to me that I not be a burden to this new community, but an asset within it. I want to add what I know, not detract by asking others to find answers for me. Research is the key.
*I’m here to brush up on my writing skills. Some careers involve active editing, for the rest of us, it takes work to present polished writing that doesn’t confuse, or make the reader stumble over bad grammar and sloppy editing. At the same time, I love to experiment; to play with new words and forms of writing.
*I’m here to express my thoughts and feelings, beyond my friends and family. I’m getting my toes wet in the pool of public writing. My real life circle is following along; they have history with me and my writing. My circle knows who I am and who I am not. They know the ride I’ve been on these past 53+ years. Publishing is a goal that is now in sight, so I need to see how strangers react to my writing.
*I’m here to compile, polish and publish my books, stories, essays and poetry. I want to share the laughter, tears, knowledge, and my own unique take on this life.
*No commitments, except self-imposed writing ones. This fits with my current state of mind, as do the next two items. Somehow, I can build a website and learn the intricacies of social networking. However, schedules, appointments and commitments still elude me. Half the time my name eludes me :>) I’m still taking baby steps in this fog of grieving. Everyone does this their own way and mine involves a lot of solitude. I can reach out with my writing, but that seems to be my limit right now. (I still need to learn how to link to past blogs in order to let new readers in on my back story. That said, I’ve recently lost a grandson, and a sibling and my husband in the last 3+ years.)
*No face-to-face. The illusion of anonymity is a plus.
*I can wear my jammies, clip my hair in a pile on my head and apply no make-up.
*Whatever I want to know is here.
*This blog website: almost 1100 views and almost 300 followers. Those are just numbers, but everything I read says I have to have high numbers to sell books–whether I self-publish or use a traditional publisher. The minimum number of 10,ooo views is what “they” say.
*To raise those numbers, and build a community of readers who want to jump on this wagon with us, I joined Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and Pinterest.
*I’m an active member of several writing and critique groups, to practice and improve my writing skills.
*I’m meeting and circulating myself in groups where my writing focuses: memoir writers, widows, patient advocates, and people who are involved in all aspects of writing for children. I’m following and interacting with the best of the best of experts in social media, publishing, and the other areas of the business of writing in 2013. June of 2013, to be specific, because things are changing at a pace that boggles the mind.
*And last, but is actually first, I’m writing like crazy, editing, re-writing, and getting ready for the next leap.
I opened this essay talking about online community building. I hope I have shown you how and why I am building my own online community and the importance of having one. If I were in the writing and publishing world in New York City, I would be doing much of this in person, although they are all online too. The business and social hub of the world can now kick off their high heels and suits, fire up their computers and be part of another kind of community.
It’s going to be a fun and exciting adventure, so I hope you will all join me in my growing online community.