When asked how he built such a robust online community with his blog, Jon Acuff's answer was simple: “The same way you build an offline one. Slowly and honestly.” That got me thinking.
Maybe I've been going about this all wrong. Maybe I've been looking for a magic-bullet solution. Maybe I've been lazy in thinking that it wouldn't require hard work to build a sustainable blog audience.
There is no magic bullet
If you're a leader or writer or wannabe-influencer, you may be looking for that “one thing” that will get you to another level. I know I was.
Most of us who want to influence others are in search of the many. A larger blog audience. A more dedicated Twitter following. A tribe of inspired individuals who will read what we say, believe what we believe, and share our ideas with the world.
But that's not how leadership works.
If you are waiting to make it big until you reach the many, then I have some sad news for you: You are going to be waiting a long time.
The reality is there is no “magic bullet.” There is no 1-2-3 solution to building a community. It takes one crucial ingredient that most of us would rather sidestep: plain, old-fashioned hard work.
A lot of us are looking for the many when, in fact, we should be looking for the one.
It takes time to build an audience
It takes patience to find a following. It takes courage to keep putting yourself out there time and again. It takes gumption to garner enough trust with your readers that you can ask something of them.
It takes honesty, too. You have to go first. Wherever you're leading someone, you have to be willing to take the first step before asking them to meet you there.
This can be scary and intimidating, but it's what leaders are called to do. And if you want an audience, then you're asking to be a leader.
This doesn't just apply to blogging, of course. This pertains to church groups and conferences and families and corporations, as well.
If you're the one trying to build a community, it will require sacrifice. That may come in the form of time, patience, security, energy, resources, or all of the above.
So is it worth it?
It had better be.
Life is short. If you're not willing to put in some time and commitment to build a tribe, then you had better get another hobby. Find something that is worth the cost.
This is the only way to gain influence, to truly lead, whatever your art form may be. Slowly and honestly. It won't be easy, and it won't come without it costing you something.
But getting there is worth the struggle.
Where do you begin?
Start with one. A coffee date. An email. A phone call.
Don't wait for the auditorium. Share your best messages now. They matter now. We need them now. Not later. As you do this, you'll find that what you have to say slowly begins to matter to more and more individuals.
And before you realize it, you've found yourself a whole group of people tuned into what you're saying. And that's how influence works: one audience member as a time.
How have you seen this to hold true in your own writing or attempts to build community? Share in the comments.