Being a full-time maker is a wonderful thing. You have the freedom to shape your business and decide how to spend your days, all while doing something that you love. However, with that freedom comes a small price. Working by yourself can be quite lonely. An entire day can pass by without having a single interaction with another person. There are no colleagues with whom you can chat during your breaks, to ask questions when you are unsure about something, or to vent when you are having a tough day.
Finding community as a maker when you are self-employed is just as important as knowing the ins and outs of your business. These people can provide support, serve as a sounding board, or just be people who “get” what it means to be in your world. (Which, let’s be honest, may look like to some like you’re just having fun all day!) Whether you live in a bustling city or a small town, community can be found both locally and globally, in-person or online. It’s just a matter of seeking out those connections. Here are just a few ways to find community as a maker.
Find a local group
Do a Google search to see if there are any local groups for makers. It can be a neighborhood artists’ association, a craft guild, or just a group of people who like to get together to talk about their work. If you can’t find anything, start your own! Meetup.com can be a great way to connect with other like-minded people, or you can even put an advertisement out on Craigslist.
Join or start a Facebook group
Regardless of your feelings about Facebook, groups are a fantastic way to connect with others. The group can be as small or large as you want it to be, and you can adjust the privacy levels to let in everyone with a Facebook account or keep it invisible and invite-only. What’s great about Facebook groups are they allow relatively easy communication: you can post a question or a comment and everyone can see all of the responses and you can search for past posts. If the group is private, you can talk about just about anything without the whole world seeing it! I am part of several Facebook communities, one of which is a regional group for crafters to share information about shows, ask questions related to our businesses, or even to vent when we’re feeling frustrated.
Read & comment on blogs
You may wonder how reading a blog can help you to build community. I have found through commenting and sharing blogs I have formed real friendships, some of which have turned into even in-person ones as well. I feel that many people who are in this world truly want to help each other and connect with other like-minded folks, and if you are genuine in your comments and sharing, then people often want to connect back with you.
The most important thing to know, regardless of how you build your community, is to give back. Communities form from people helping one another. Pass on the wisdom you have gained through your own experiences and invite in people who are also seeking community. It can be a lonely world working for yourself, but with an open mind and little bit of effort, you can easily connect with others.
Bev Feldman – Linkouture
Bev Feldman is jeweler and blogger in the Boston area busy juggling her small creative business with caring for her young daughter. You can find her work at Linkouture and can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest. She loves connecting with other creatives, so be sure to say hi!