I’ve been inspired lately by the idea of creating a community. I think about it a lot.
I recently read (well, listened, actually) to a book called The Membership Economy by Robbie Kellman Baxter. And while the book wasn’t necessarily life changing, it got me thinking again about how exciting and fun it would be to build a community to both learn from and serve.
“But who do I serve?”, was my first question.
Do I serve an audience of people who resemble my agency clients? Those people are mostly entrepreneurs of service-based businesses. But is that enough of a thread to bring them together? My gut instinct is that it is not. Although I know it could be, in theory. There are far stranger niches, after all.
My clients are typically busy business owners who care just enough about the work I do to make sure it gets business (read: financial) results for them. However, they are not seemlingly the type to join a community of people who could theoretically range from dog walkers to corporate lawyers.
I even went so far as to claim a stake in the sand with the idea by registering a domain called Servicepreneur.com. I register a lot of domains. I’m one of those people who registers a domain with every idea I have. But I’ll probably never use it.
One of the great things about the Internet is that no matter how small your niche is, there’s probably a community for it. The best part is that the smaller your niche, the more traction you’re likely to get with that audience — at least, in theory.
For example, Servicepreneurs are anybody who owns a service-based business. And that accounts for a LOT of people. But their business challenges range so dramatically that it’s hard to put them in the same group.
Even within the realm of service entrepreneurs, I personally only solve one problem for them, which is attracting and retaining the right clients. What do I know about human resources that they don’t?
Aside from that – it’s a big world with a lot of industries and it doesn’t make sense to add a mining consultant with a hair stylist and get them to speak the same language about the problems they are facing.
Finding a niche
So what are some good niches to create a community around?
Some examples are:
- Working and Lifestyle
- and Relatable Professional & Personal Challenges
Theoretically, the list could go on and on, but this broadly covers the ideas I have right now.
A good friend of mine, Dmitry Kornyukhov, started a community for translators. Rather than creating a forum or chatroom, he went a step further and hacked together a WordPress blogging platform that all members can publish content on themselves. He gave a voice and community to the translation industry.
It’s pretty amazing what he accomplished actually. Especially because he a) had the idea, b) built it himself and c) is completely self-taught.
The community now has roughly 2,000 members and is thriving under his leadership after about one year. He took the membership concept and successfully brought it to his industry.
So what will I start?
I have tons of ideas, and it’s not easy to pick one. Another idea I liked was Remotepreneur, which would be for business owners who do business remotely (online) and/or have a team of remote workers. A distributed workforce as they call it.
I’m a remotepreneur and my team is entirely remote. Although I do see about half of my clients and some of my contractors at least once or twice a year.
Who knows, maybe I will launch that idea one day. But for now it’s another idea on the shelf (with the domain to go with it *wink*).
The last idea I have is one that speaks to me directly. I’m a digital strategist. It’s a hard job because it relies on knowing a lot about a broad spectrum of Internet technology and marketing.
To be an effective digital strategist, you need to know about fundamental business principles, like cash flow and creating a break-even analysis, and of course the principles of marketing as a whole.
But you also need to know about how the Internet works; how people use it to make purchase decisions, human psychology, design fundamentals, web development, search engines, digital advertising, copywriting, content creation, email communications, public relations, social media and the list goes on literally forever.
And despite how challenging it is to reign in the complexity of near-unlimited options for achieving business goals through digital channels, there’s no real centralized place for us strategists to chat about ideas and get feedback from one another.
The term “Digital Strategist” has been around for over a decade and has since seen an upward trend consistently over time. This indicates that the role is not only sticking around, but getting more popular.
Also known as digital marketing strategist, digital media strategist, content strategist, social media strategist, “strategist”, UI/UX strategist, web strategist and various other renditions, this role is becoming ever more important as the need for a wide breadth of knowledge increases with every new technology and tactic.
For that reason, I’m investing into creating a Slack community exclusively for self-identified digital strategists (in all of the various forms). It will be called none other than #DigitalStrategist.
Digital strategists are people in an organization who create the roadmap of digital marketing tactics to be used to achieve measurable business results. This person oversees the implementation of the technical and tactical work, but usually does not complete most or all of the tactical work themselves. But of course some do that too.
I don’t know how big the group will become, but significant growth is not the primary focus. The point will be to make it a tight-nit community of people who care about the work they do; people who want to be a member of a community of like-minded professionals with whom to share ideas and reign in the complexity of our jobs together.
Is this you? Shoot me a message on Twitter and we can get you on board.