Pastel raindrops on a sunny day

vrijdag 5 januari 2018

Top tips for running your own community!

We all know how importend a community is within the lolita world. It is something that bounds us together and gives us plenty of opportunities to meet new people and if you are really lucky the opportunity to travel around the globe for international meetings as well like the ones from Street Fashion Europe, SFE for short. While SFE isn't perse a community, it does provides us in my eyes the best moments to interact with people from all over the world.

When it comes to running your own well balanced community there are some hits and oh-no's that you need to keep in mind before you have a good running community. 
Like I said in my Lolita Resolutions post, I'm currently working on building up the Belgian community again. We are definitely not a big community and we also are very unfortunate for living a couple of hours away from each other. Which makes organising meetings a really big deal. People tend to say I come but in the end they blow things off. Sometimes a day before the actual event which resulted in 0 members going to the meetings. 

There is always the chance of people canceling on meetings but when you only have 7 people going and most of them cancel in the end there is not much left of your motivation to organise more meetings in the future. But I really want to put my shoulders under it and make 2018 the revival year for the Belgian Community! Though how am I going to do this? Well I'm going to share my tips and tricks so you can apply them on your own community. 

Change the "No one will show up mentality"

This is one that I'm guilty of as well, the thought of "why organising something when no one is coming anyway". Thinking like this is the worst community killer, when there isn't an opportunity for people to meet up with each other they tend to forget about it. Both online as in real life, they think you aren't wearing the fashion anymore or just not interested in it anymore. 
When you don't plan meetings for your own community people can't come together and spread the word of the fashion. It's going to result in a dying community and no one joining the community as well. Or they are going to a different community from an other country, this is something what is going on here in Belgium. 

Since there is a very active Dutch community, the Belgian comm members join the Dutch community to explore the fashion but not joining and interacting with the Belgian one. 
I can't blame someone for going towards an active community with over 400 member instead of one with just over a 100 members in your own country but still this saddens me a bit. 

So my first tip is, invest your time in your own local community first. Even with a post in the online facebook group or when you are up for the task organise a meeting yourself. Think of small meetings like going out to a museum, have a lunch together, maybe a get-to-know-eachother meet would be nice too if you are just staring out. It doesn't have to be a fancy high tea to come together with your community.

Photo by Cerise

The bigger the better? 

Does it really need to be a big event with 20, 30 or even 60 or 70 people attending to be a successful day out? I don't think so! The point of a local community is to have the opportunity to go out with you comm members and to dress up for the occasion. Not impressing each other with the most OTT coord you can come up with or expecting to have a local meeting with over 20 people joining if your community isn't that active. Things will grow overtime, start small and with regular events like an annual picknick meeting, International Lolita Day meetings or maybe a crafting day if you have the space for it. Share your experiences within the community so other people can see how much fun it was to attend the past meeting and the ones that joined the meeting can look back on the day as well. 
To me this is really important, when others can't see anything from a past meeting they aren't getting motivated to join in next time. 

Top: Belgian Community Meeting in 2016
Bottom: Belgian and Dutch comm members at Under the Sea in 2016, photo by Anh Binh

But there are only newbies in my comm

Everyone needed to start with being a newbie in a new community. Even when you are dressing in lolita fashion for over a year or longer you are still a new duckling in the pound. You are going to join a group of people where you most of the time don't know anyone in the first place. 
When you don't have a very big or active community the chance that there are a lot of "newbies" is a lot bigger than when you have a community with a larger active group of members. But this doesn't mean that the new members aren't welcome to meetings. Some of them are still waiting on getting their first items or just want to see how a meeting is like. 

Letting them joining a community meeting is the first step in building up a community. Cause the moment you restrict the meeting rules when you have a small community they get scared of not fitting in. Which is definitely not something you would want. Though I don't say you need to lack all the rules or guidelines like wearing lolita fashion is mandatory but when you have a beginners meeting or a swap meeting, rules can be a little less strict so members who are not wearing the fashion yet can join in as well.

Illustration by Amy Holliday

Help each other when needed

A lolita community is some sort of family, we are all different in our own way but without the support of others there is not much fun in being in a community. New members are still searching for their own voice in the fashion so help them out when they have questions about shopping, styling or maybe advice them a bit on what to wear at a specific themed meeting if they ask for your help. We need to support each and every one of us in the community without breaking each other down. It is so much more fun to be in a community where people accept each other and don't talk behind someones back. Being there for advice will grow the bound between all community members as well help them to make better coords in the future if they are still working on finding their own style within the fashion. 

Get in contact with others on Social Media

This is something that I want to add to my list of tips as well, but it hasn't something to do with your own local community perse. Though this doesn't mean that you can't apply it to you local community members as well!
And that is to interact with people online, don't just simply leave a like and scroll on but take a little bit of time and comment on the picture or post you see online. Leaving a comments instead of only a like will spread a community feeling between the one that posted in the first place and you who are commenting. This way you can interact with each other and start a conversation. Talking with fellow community members brings so much joy and gives you some motivation as well to keep doing so. 
Think about leaving a comment on an Instagram photo or story, reading and commenting on blogposts from lolita bloggers or maybe leave a comment on the youtube video you just watched. 

The creators love to read your comments and also love to interact with the people who comment, and this way you are spreading your own name as well by doing so. Which will result in people getting to know you a bit better as well and recognising you from online. So a win win situation if you ask me.

Building a well balanced community takes a lot of effort and also a lot of time. You will need to invest time in your community in order to get something out of it. Without your support and the support of every single comm member you are up to a failure I think. So please invest in your local community and spread the fashion with everyone around you in your own community as well in the international community online on the social media platforms. Be active and enjoy every single moment! 

This post is in collaboration with the Lolita Blog Carnival. 
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4 reacties:

  1. This is a great post. The fact that you're writing the from the point of view of re-building the Lolita community in Belgium gives you a good insight into what it's like at the beginnings and will help those who might not have and never have had a community in their local area. I think what I'd add is that what every community needs is at least one very determined person in power (an admin or moderator) who will persevere and keep going. It links with what you said about the 'but no-one will come' mentality. Many people are afraid to volunteer to organise a meetup because they're worried that others won't come or that their idea will fail or even feel under pressure to deliver something amazing and original. It should then be up to the admins/mods to step in and carry on organising meetups, even if in the end they turn out to be for three people tops, because that will keep the community going and will show the rest in the group that there's someone who's willing to put the time in for this, which would hopefully encourage them to eventually come. And maybe even eventually host a meet themselves, knowing that they have that admin/mod to rely on for help and advice. It's a burdening task, often quite thankless (as in people will assume that the admin/mod will just keep on going instead of offering them their support in whatever way), especially when the community is only just starting, but perseverance will hopefully yield results and help build that community up to something bigger, more reliable and regular. Even though my own comm is big and it was already 'fully operational' for a few years before I joined, when you look at our meet planner, there are the same few people who keep organising meets, most of whom are our mods. The other few people, however much they'd love to, simply wouldn't be able to pick up and continue doing a meet a month if the mods decided not to host anymore, so they're crucial to our comm continuing being vibrant and active. And every comm needs a person with that sort of dedication who won't do it for the glory, so to speak, but because they want to and believe it's the right thing to do. And from what you wrote, I think that you'll be that person for the Belgian community, so stick with it through the hard parts and I know that all your efforts will pay off. <3

    1. You have no idea how much this comment means to me, I was reading it and got teary eyes when I read that you think I was going to be that person in our community. As well that you liked the post in general and my view on it. It was a hard one to tackle at first but I'm really happy with how it turned out!

      Having a determined person is so important like you said, without them things will slow down very quickly. But it's also such an unthankful "job" to have though I'm more than happy to be that person in our community cause I really want it to succeed after all those years.
      You can be very proud on your own community as well with having a small group of members that are keeping things going and planning things for the whole community.

  2. This is a fantastic post. I'm one of two people trying to get a small regional community back up and running and it's been kind of disheartening so far, so this was a good reminder of what to do!

    1. It's a tough position to be in when you want to get a community back together but don't give up hope! One day all the hard work will pay off ❤︎ That's what I'm telling myself too


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