You’ve Got Your Topic: Now Let’s Build Your Tribe!
I remember when I felt a part of an important tribe. I was 6 weeks pregnant with twins and my mom and I set foot in the “Moms of Multiples” kids’ sale in an enormous building with every piece of clothing, gadget, and gear you’d ever need for twins. I even wore the “Moms of Multiples” T-shirt because I had just joined and was going to help sell items. But first, some good deals! I remember thinking, “These people get me. They know what it’s like to have twins. They’re a step ahead of me. This is my tribe.”
Over the years, I spent less and less time with this tribe, but I’m still part of the tribe of moms. What tribe are you a part of? As I coach authors to think about their tribes, I encourage them to look at all the places where they intersect with others. Sometimes the topics of our books come from our tribes. Other times our tribe helps us brainstorm about potential topics.
The “Moms of Multiples Tribe” has topics on their social media sites to help tribe members thrive. Everything that desperate mothers like me needed to know. Remember I said they were a step ahead of me?
The basis for any tribe is to see how you can learn from someone who is not just with you, but even ahead of you. It’s not just connecting with others about what you have to show them; it’s about what you can learn from those who are more established. And you can start your own tribe to help others. Tribes are not meant to be a “serve it up to me” experience like we expect at a buffet. Rather, being part of a tribe includes a careful choice to be more aware of others than ourselves.
Not all authors have this mindset. Some want to build an audience, tribe, or platform based on who they gain as followers for their own purposes, rather than who they can follow for the purpose of creating genuine relationships.
There’s a certain give-and-take in creating a tribe—it’s about connecting with people you want to have around you, in your corner, supporting you. I like to think that when we initiate interest in someone else and join their tribe, they’ll be that much more willing to join our group.
Here are a few ways to build a tribe:
- Learn to invite yourself into other people’s space. Just like you would if you were swinging by their house to say, “Hey neighbor. Mind if I sit a while?”
- Learn to invite others to your tribe.
- Be willing to sacrifice and give some attention to others.
- Don’t be afraid to ask people what you would like from them. If you have something to offer, extend it. If you want someone to “like” or “click the link,” ask after you’ve supported them on social media. Remember what we learned growing up: “It’s better to give than to receive.” Amen.
Some of the best outlets for building your tribe are:
In 2021, there were 850,000 active podcasts with over 48 million total episodes. That’s a 20% increase from 2020. But there’s still room for YOURS! And over 37% of Americans listen to podcasts monthly. Podcast communities can help you grow as a person, in addition to introducing you to new tribes who may be interested in your topic.
There were 570 million blogs in 2021. Interestingly, many established media sites still have a blog or micro-site that they maintain as a static section where people can find them. Writers can submit their content to these sites or create their own so that they have data that connects to their topic that can be found easily through keyword searches.
Creating a presence on YouTube can catapult your tribe. It’s a great place to hold your content so people can find you. Video content can be shared on other platforms so that you aren’t just putting it on YouTube, but it can be extracted for other tribes too. Do you want to expand your speaking opportunities? Then send people to your YouTube channel!
Email lists are not antiquated—they are the “in” thing, publishers say. Email addresses stand for real people. And that’s who you want to market to. Anyone can follow you on social media and you can follow them. But it doesn’t mean they are engaged with you and your content. This is a key ingredient for your tribe.
5. Social Media
Where you spend the most time scrolling is where you need to be posting. Reels are videos that are getting more attention these days. It’s people like you and me sharing real-life stories. People love hearing about what you are thinking about, what’s going on in your life, and even a short video from you where people can say, “Huh, that’s really cool. That makes me think about (insert your fabulous topic) that I should pay attention to.”
When you hold up your book and for a minute create a video saying, “I woke up thinking about this…,” and read a quote from your book or journal and provide some additional content that points back to the message—BOOM! You’ve just invested in and expanded your tribe because you shared something of value in a form that they can share.
Influencers are people who have journeyed for a while and have created a tribe that you can introduce to yours. Here are some questions to consider as you approach influencers.
- Who do you know and how can you help them?
- How can they help you?
- What will you do to thank your influencers?
- When you “swap and share” on social media, e-blasts, etc. it’s a great way to work with influencers.
- Send them bonus gifts to show your appreciation.
We need to get past feeling like we’re promoting ourselves. We’re opening up our circle to include others—and who doesn’t want to be invited in! If you have friends (and I know you do because you’re in this group), they want to hear from you. How can you weave in your passions with your people?
Question: What action step will you take to build your tribe today?
Blythe Daniel is an author, literary agent and marketer with 25 years of experience in media and publishing. She is a frequent speaker at writers’ conferences, podcasts, and any opportunity to share her passion of writing and helping authors share their distinct stories. Her agency represents more than 100 clients and conducts marketing campaigns in addition to their blog and podcast networks. She and her mom Dr. Helen McIntosh have co-written two books: Mended: Restoring the Hearts of Mothers and Daughters and I Love You, Mom! Blythe lives in Colorado with her husband and three children.