The One Thing Most People Get Wrong About Building An Online Community

I asked a friend for an interview. I wanted to talk to him about his new YouTube channel, to showcase some of his works that he’d already made.

What I’d do was take those words, add them alongside a featured video, then post a couple recommends in the next few days. He’d started getting serious with his channel, videos that were mostly voice overs about comics and talks on social issues. In my eyes, it was an opportunity to help kick-start his channel, bringing insight on who he is and what his channel was all about. A reasonable start for a newly bred channel.

To my surprise (not), he gave me the following answer:

“I can’t. I think I’ll have to wait until my channel gains enough subs so I can do an interview.”

I gave respect to his decision and I knew it wasn't easy. I also realized that one thing that most people get wrong. The one thing that sets us back when we want to do something, the belief that something should be perfect before people know about it. The image that people will only appreciate us when we have this shiny armor braced on our chests.

We shut down opportunities because we think it’s not the right time. We fail to take the jump because we’re not sure if we’ll land on the rock or in the water.

It’s an interesting take because that’s what I found in someone doing almost the same thing — but started off with an open mind. Tanner started streaming video games to a handful of followers. The gaming community Twitch houses has thousands of streamers, streaming to millions of viewers online. There’s competition everywhere, and much like YouTube, its a hard nut to crack. He didn’t have to hide his flaws or begin with a high status level to build the community he has. He was able to come upfront and start off with his community admitting his flaws. A couple months later, he’s partnered with Twitch, now has a paid subscription service, and most of all, a strong community behind him.

In a world where competition is the primary factor that challenges most creators, a healthy community is all that matters when you strive to be successful. You have their back and they have yours. This can only happen when you’ve accepted your flaws and dropped the armor, allowing people to see how much they relate to you. One quote by Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn and now VC at Greylock, laid it nicely.

“If you’re not embarrassed by your first version, you’ve waited too long.”

It’s all about putting your best foot forward and letting people know why you’re doing it. This form of communication helps when you’re starting a business, blog or pretty much anything. That invaluable connection is often missed by most people and we start chasing after the wrong things: metrics, plugs and meaningless pitches.

That human component is missing because we choose to build a wall. A wall that looks pretty from the outside, with little value on the inside.

It’s easy for me to identify with this because I struggled with it as well. It wasn’t easy but thankfully, I learnt something from it.

Cover Image, Wrong Way| Dallas | Originally Published on Medium

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