Do you feel alone in your creative business? In this article and video, you’ll find strategies for finding connections and community that give you the support you need to keep moving forward.
I have found that when I meet a new person, and I tell them what I do— that I run a creative business, you can see them get this look in their eyes. You see the wheels turning as they begin to picture what your day to day life looks like. Lots of color and flowers and sunshine and probably some glitter. Basically, all the things that we share in our Instagram squares.
And while that might be the idealized version of what we do want our jobs to look like, the reality is, being a creative business owner can feel very lonely. It’s up to us to call the shots, make the big decisions and be responsible for the outcome. Even the most self-assured people struggle with this.
When we are in this isolated state, where we feel like we’re failing, or feeling overwhelmed, or wanting to give up, it’s so easy to fall deeper into this these emotions. We’re looking at all of the other creative business owners and thinking, “she just launched this awesome new website, and her hair looks amazing, and wow, she’s doing so good that she was able to take off for six weeks and travel through Europe and ugh, seriously, what hair products is she using?!”
You may feel alone in your creative business, but you’re not
We end up feeling as if we’re the only ones who are struggling and everyone else has it together. And it’s just not true. If we’re sitting alone in our home office and Instagram is our only window into the outside world, we will keep feeling this way. Even though we know, that there is messiness behind those squares, it’s hard for our minds to believe it, when all we see is the pretty side.
The only way to remember that we’re not alone— that other people are experiencing the same struggles, is to break down that wall. To connect with the people behind the Instagram squares. Not just so you can see the mess, but so you can hear the stories and feel the emotion that every creative business owner experiences.
This contact will remind us that we are not alone. When this happens we will stop second-guessing our every move and gain the confidence we need to move forward. Additionally, we’ll get the opportunity to help other people out with their struggles so that they can progress. How great does that feel when you’re able to help someone and make an impact?
How to make connections and overcome rejection
This all sounds great, but now we’ve got a new struggle to contend with. How do we make these connections? And how do we know which ones are worth pursuing?
I don’t care if you are an introvert or an extrovert. I don’t know another human who feels completely confident in reaching out to a stranger to basically ask if they want to be your friend. We’ve all experienced rejection in this area, most of us when we were young, and those feelings stay with you. The last thing we want to feel is alone, with a dose of rejection on top of it. It’s like saying, I’m feeling really empty right now— “oh wait, now I feel isolated, and this person just validated that I should stay in this state.”
The best way to guard yourself isn’t to stay in your own little corner, but to approach your introductions, armed with the knowledge that not every person is going to be your best friend. This isn’t a one-sided thing. You may think that you’re just like this other person that you want to get to know, but you may discover that your personalities just don’t mesh. So when you reach out and make that initial hello, and you aren’t met with warmth and enthusiasm, know that you just saved time on a friendship that wouldn’t go anywhere anyway.
Now that you have an understanding of that mindset, and you’re not going to let yourself feel rejected, you’re ready to start putting yourself out there. Here are some of the ways that I’ve forged some deep, meaningful connections to people I know I can now rely on.
Connect on Instagram
Most of us are on Instagram and have encountered people and accounts that have appealed to us. The next time you discover someone that you want to get to know better, follow them and then send them a direct message. If you’re feeling extra brave you can even send a video message. I have met so many wonderful people, and some of my favorite creatives, simply by taking one minute to send a note.
Connect on Facebook
Another place to instantly feel like you’re not alone is Facebook. There are Facebook Groups for literally every type of interest, every struggle, and you will find that as you join them, that there are way more people like you, than you would have ever imagined. So much so, that I personally find Facebook Groups to be a little overwhelming. Instead of hopping into every thread, I recommend commenting on the ones who speak to you most and conversing with the members that you really want to get know better. Once you’ve chatted in threads, you can even send a friend request, and keep your one-on-one conversation going outside of the group.
Connect in person
When I moved to Florida, I knew nobody. I was working from home, feeling completely isolated, and then I joined my local chapter of The Rising Tide Society, called Tuesdays Together, and everything changed. Much like Facebook Groups, I found a lot of these meetings to be overwhelming. But in attending just a few, I made connections with individual like-minded creatives and we started meeting up for coffee, and lunch and donut dates outside of Tuesday Together sessions. I highly recommend joining your local chapter or finding a similar in-person organization that you can be a part of. Meetup.com is another great place to make connections.
Connect through Email
You may find this next suggestion to be a little old-fashioned, but this method I’m about to share has made the biggest impact on my business and my life. In my early blogger days I would constantly come across new blogs, mostly through Pinterest, and one day, I landed on this one blog, called The Thinking Closet. It was all about DIYing— something I’m not even into, but the site felt so friendly, that it compelled me to click on the about page.
When I read the author’s story, I didn’t feel alone in my creative business. I felt an immediate connection. This girl was exactly my age, grew up in the same part of New York as I did, relocated to Florida right around the same time that I did, and also, her favorite drink was chai tea, she unapologetically shared how much broadway music she listens to. Amazing.
So I cranked up my West Side Story soundtrack, and I sent Miss Lauren Lanker an email, just to say hi. From there we collaborated on a project (in which she did all hard DIY work), met up at a blogger conference, and later went on to form a Mastermind Group with our third musketeer, Kalyn, from Kalyn Brooke.com.
These two girls were lifesavers to me. I finally had people I could trust and rely on. And in our early days of Masterminding together, a lot of our meetings were spent asking questions like, “how do you do that?” and “what do you think of this idea?”. Four years later, Lauren and Kalyn are not just business friends, but real life friends, and I seriously cannot believe that it was all a result of taking that risk and just sending a single email.
The magic of creative community
Once you begin to make connections like these, your confidence goes up. You gain an understanding that it’s totally normal to doubt yourself. When you are doing something new or pushing yourself to the next level, you’ll feel resistance, but with a community of people around you, you’ll have the comfort of knowing that you’re not alone. You’ll have real-life examples of people who went through exactly the same thing and came out victorious on the other side.
The next time you are feeling a little down, or just need a friend to talk to, you can go to Instagram, and see it in a new light. When you know the people behind the squares, you don’t just look at the photos. You read every caption. Especially the long ones.
You can sign onto Facebook and put out an SOS, or just read through the latest thread to see if someone is feeling the same way as you. I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve signed into a Facebook group, only to find that my question has been answered before I had the chance to ask it.
And as you form these deeper relationships, and become part of organizations like the Rising Tide Society, or a Mastermind group, those consistent check-ins will keep you going. They will carry you from one meet up to the next. For me, it always feels like those meetings are the rejuvenation I need to keep going and tackle the next week.
Never feel like you are alone in your struggles. Just because we may work solo from our little corners of the world, we can make instant connections whenever we need them. Don’t ever hold back from reaching out. There is another creative on the other end who needs you just as much as you need them.
Be the change
If this post has made an impact on you, I would love it if you could share it with another creative so that you can make an impact on them. Lastly, I have only scratched the surface of what is possible when it comes to connections and community. Now I want to hear from you. Have you had positive experiences as a result of joining up with like-minded creatives? Share your stories, favorite groups and favorite people in the comments! I can’t wait to read them and to connect with you.
For more inspiration on creative communities check out Episode 015 of A Podcast for Creatives.