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Since launching this blogging business in the summer of 2011 I’ve always focused on one thing: community. Instead of “networking” like everyone else advises, I spent all my time building relationships, both online and offline.
I went to in-person workshops, meetups, and conferences. I met people for coffee, Skype dates, and group mastermind chats on a regular basis (and I still do this every month!). I interact on Twitter and reply to comments and share feedback. Not because I’m trying to get something from them, but because I actually care!
Over the years, I’ve built up a community of 3,000 loyal subscribers and over 25,000 readers visit this blog each month. Here’s how I did it.
1. Creating a spam-free community
Two years ago I launched what is now called The Careful Cents Freelancers Club on Facebook. It’s basically a free group for freelancers and solopreneurs who are looking for a safe space to ask questions, offer advice, and share their accomplishments.
As a member of The Club you get access to the weekly newsletter, book club, and fun freebies. We also have a weekly Freelancer Feature where we highlight a different freelancer who has reached an amazing milestone (like quitting their day job, or getting mentioned in the press).
To-date we’re up to 1,200 members and growing every day! The reason I started this private group is because I believe that a supportive freelance community can help you get through any obstacle, and you should be able to access something like this for free.
I tried joining LinkedIn groups, but they were full of self-promotional links and spammy stuff — no one really cared about each other’s success. Then I tried Google+ communities and other Facebook groups, but they made me want to run away within a month.
So I gave up and started my own group.
2. Sharing actionable advice every week
Another aspect to the loyal community of readers that I’ve created around Careful Cents comes in the form of a weekly newsletter. I don’t just share a blog post blurb or links out to random articles, I send out personal stories, tips, and advice on topics that I’m dealing with in that moment. And most of the content isn’t published anywhere else.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m very big on offering spam-free resources, and the weekly newsletter is no different. I’m a real business owner and encounter the same obstacles you face every day, and this is what I share in my emails each week.
There are over 4,200 subscribers on my newsletter list with a 35% open rate (which is unheard of in the financial industry and business sphere).
3. Building a trustworthy team
The backbone of my business is built with a community in mind, and this includes dedicated team members who help keep things running smoothly. Over the past 4 years I’ve hired a Community Coordinator, two different Assistant Editors, a PowerPoint expert, a tech guy, a VA and other contractors for various jobs.
I’m by no means a one-woman show! There’s absolutely no way that anyone could (or should!) do all of the business tasks themselves, which is why it’s important to outsource work to team members you trust.
In addition to hiring contractors on a regular basis, I also work with highly motivated freelance contributors who share their personal stories of quitting their jobs and being freelance business owners. This allows for different perspectives, more ideas, and continues fostering the community here on Careful Cents.
4. Fostering connections
I’m extremely proud of the dedicated community I’ve built around my blog and brand. It’s taken several years, many late nights, and lots of email conversations, but I know many of my readers by name and am genuinely interested in seeing them succeed.
Between just these two mediums, The Careful Cents Club and my weekly newsletter, I’ve built up a community of 2,980 subscribers and it’s increasing every day.
Financial obstacles are very difficult to overcome, and even more so when you don’t have the support you need. This is why I work every day to create a trustworthy and spam-free space for freelancers to overcome their financial mountains.
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