For the past two years, I’ve been immersing myself in a totally new world, online and off. My new online world has taken me to places I never knew existed. Meetups, Second Life, the Blogosphere, Twitter, and to PodCamps. And I’ve learned some amazing things. And I’ve met some wonderful people, many of whom are friends today.
At this year’s Podcamp NYC, I met the delightful Cliff Ravenscraft, and his energy, enthusiasm and kindness were nothing short of infectious. Cliff gave up his day job in the family insurance business and he now he makes a living completely on podcasting and consulting. Cliff runs GSPN http://www.gspn.tv, which is a network of 17 Podcasts. The main podcast is about the TV show, Lost. And he has tens of thousands of loyal listeners who tune into his podcasts regularly. Podcasting has changed the course of Cliff’s life completely since he’s become involved.
Cliff and I have very little in common and in the real world we probably never would have met (He’s from Kentucky, for goodness sake! And I have never watched Lost) But all kidding aside, we share a very similar philosophy on the merits of social networking and why it’s so powerful.
He gave an inspiring talk at Podcamp NYC and what he said has been with me for weeks and I wanted to share it with you. Here is what he spoke about.
How To Build a Community Online
Cliff spoke specifically about how to build an audience for a podcast but I believe that is VERY similar to building an audience around your music and yourself as an artist.
Behind Cliff and GSPN is a core purpose:
To inspire, educate and be in community.
From his core purpose, he does exactly that. He could never have made such a popular podcast without his community of listeners.
If you do not have a core purpose it’s like trying to navigate an unfamiliar place without a map. Your core purpose is the reason you make music… is it to inspire? Make a difference? To empower? To connect? To Help? To Heal? Choose a verb that motivates you.
Then what is your desired outcome?
To connect? To bring peace? To create community?
Here’s mine for inspiration:
To support and empower visionaries to further their careers.
You Cannot Pay Anyone to Build Your Online Community
Your community and the connections that you make in it has to be a very authentic thing that comes out of a core purpose, like his, but people can be shown the answers and the avenues on how to build relationships. I think you can pay someone to help you find the right people to connect with but in the end the true expression has to come from you.
Community Building is a Time Investment
Building a real community that supports you as an artist takes time, effort, and skills and you have to build it one person at a time. The more transparent you are and the more you share, the more people will be open to you Cliff says that when he shares himself and when he shows love to others, he appeals to people on another, deeper level. This is key. Take the investment of time.
Listen to Your Community - It’s About Them; Not About You
This is critical – listen to your community. They have voices and they want to speak too. Make it easy for them to speak to you. Leave a feedback number or ask they to post feedback on your Facebook forum (this saves having to answer individual emails). Invite feedback in every episode. Include your e-mail address and respond to absolutely everyone that responds to you. Read the e-mails in your podcast or share them on your blog, get people engaged.
K7 - http://www.k7.net
J2 - http://www.j2.com
Talkshoe - http://www.talkshoe.com
Be consistent in your communications. If you are releasing a podcast, writing a blog, or updating your Twitter account (or anything you’re doing in the new media space).
Also, communicate when you are going to be there - be regular and consistent about it, weekly or daily or monthly.
So, there you have it, amazing community building advice from Cliff of GSPN, someone who I never would have had the pleasure of meeting had he not come to his first trip to New York City.
Cliff: It was a real pleasure to meet you and I was very, very touched by who you are in the world. Please keep playing huge!
The moral of the story is, people are out there with similar interests and we as humanity have a very deep need to connect with one another.
What are you waiting for? Go make your connections.