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I'm Kristi. I'm the artist behind At the Dot Design.
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One of the hardest and sometimes best things about being a solopreneur is being solo. There’s nobody telling us what to do and when to do it. Then again, there’s nobody telling us what to do and when to do it. If I have a question at my day job there are lots of people I can ask. Plenty of people to offer me feedback on their ideas or share their personal experiences. There’s enormous value in being able to ask someone for their opinion.
At the beginning of 2023, I made a promise to myself to make a consistent effort to build up my creative community. I wanted to have a group of people around me who were going through what I was going through. Who is building something exciting, fun, and fulfilling. Artists who are trying and succeeding and sometimes failing. There are lots of ways to build community, but I want to share a few of the things I’ve implemented in the last year to build up my own community.
I’m a member of two online communities. I was a founding member of The Tillage Village and I’m also a part of Dylan M’s The Fellow Artist Group. Each group focuses on different areas of artistic entrepreneurship, but both have introduced me to new people and have helped me connect with fellow entrepreneurs.
I recognize that online memberships can be a little bit tough. Sometimes they can feel like a huge void or you can be surrounded by people yet still feel alone. It’s important to really think about the groups or memberships you join. Before handing over your money ask yourself if this is the right group for you. Are you joining because there is peer pressure around you to join? Or do you truly connect with the people running the group?
Once you’ve joined the group I would challenge you to make a sincere effort to participate as much as you can. In both of the groups I’m a part of I am rarely able to attend events live, but I always make sure to write comments or interact with the community after I watch a replay. It might seem small, but those short interactions build up over time and now I really feel like a part of both groups.
We all know that social media can be a vortex that sucks us in and won’t easily let us out. I am by no means saying that you should spend tons of time on social media, but when you are in that space make an effort to like, comment, and share the posts you love. Celebrate the wins you get to see and offer a kind word for a fellow artist who needs a pick-me-up. I’ve “met” so many people on social media in the last year. We celebrate each other’s wins and buoy one another up when times get tough. Social media is supposed to be social, so take a little bit of time to interact with posts instead of scrolling by.
This one might seem small and insignificant, but if you send out an email newsletter of your own, you know it can be a lot of work. I’m on so many email newsletter lists and I love receiving them all. When I read an email newsletter and something strikes a cord, I hit reply. Again, it might seem small, but if you have ever received a response to one of your email newsletters you know how good it can make you feel. I want to give that feeling to as many people as I can. Do I hit reply on every single newsletter? Of course not. But when I receive one that makes me excited, asks a question I can contribute an answer to, or even just want to congratulate the person I hit reply.
This one is by far the most fun. There are a few members of The Tillage Village who live near me! Since I work at a botanical garden we set up a date to meet there, enjoy each other’s company, and get a little bit of art inspiration along the way. Getting to meet two online community members in real life was so wonderful. I know it might not be possible for everyone, but if you discover that there are fellow artists nearby I challenge you to go out on a limb and ask them if they want to meet up in real life.
Whether you are working full-time as an artist, slowly growing your business like me, or making art as a hobby there is serious power in community. Joining online memberships, participating in social media, hitting reply on email newsletters, or meeting in person are just a few ways to start building your own artist community. I’d love to hear other ways you have found artist friends and confidants. If you have more ideas to share please comment below this post, I’d love to connect.