Calm Community Building for Online Creators with Deb Schull

Download MP3

[00:00:00] Yvonne Heimann: And we are back with another episode of Boss Your Business. Today, I'm bringing you Deb Schell, a community strategist who's guided more than 60 entrepreneurs in building, launching, growing an online community. Based in central Pennsylvania, Deb's virtual strategy will expand the globe with business leaders in the United States, Mexico, Canada, Europe, going to be going there soon, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Spain, Brazil, and Norway.

[00:00:34] She launched an online community in 2020 and co hosted over 30 virtual events within your membership. You have hosted the community strategy podcast with over a hundred episodes and 8, 000 plus downloads, and you recently also just released your book.

[00:00:57] Hi.

[00:00:57] Deb Schell: [00:01:00] Hi, I'm thrilled to be here. Thank you for having me.

[00:01:04] Yvonne Heimann: Oh my God. Book publishing. First of all, congratulations.

[00:01:11] Deb Schell: Thank you.

[00:01:12] Yvonne Heimann: When, when was the release date?

[00:01:14] Deb Schell: September 21st. I wanted to do it on International Day of Peace. I don't know if anybody's familiar with that holiday, but I've been a big supporter of the International Day of Peace.

[00:01:26] And so that's why I decided to release it on September 21st.

[00:01:31] Yvonne Heimann: I love it. Yeah, we went with the number thing. We released on 12 12 23.

[00:01:35] Deb Schell: I mean, if you can get that stuff to work, good, good, good on ya, because I said my timeline, I think I pushed it back at least seven times.

[00:01:50] Yvonne Heimann: Seven times? I like, guys, we were already talking in the green room a little bit, Deb only did this in only a year, [00:02:00] whereas my book took two years, so I'm like, my head is off to you.

[00:02:06] Anybody that says just go, just go publish a book it's easy, screw you people. Just the formatting of the book in itself. I'm like, that was what killed me, the formatting of the book.

[00:02:20] Deb Schell: Well, I hired a designer who did the interior layout, and it was a friend that recommended this person to me. And it was a very, you know, not cheap service.

[00:02:32] It was very, a big investment, but I really loved the designer I worked with. He was amazing. And then I had other people that were on the editing team. We went through a number of edits. And so it was all worth that. You know, over $10,000 and, you know, I don't know if I'll make $10,000 back, who knows, but it doesn't matter, because the reason I wrote the book was to help people figure out this online community thing, because if they have this in their hand, it's [00:03:00] going to be so much easier than what the way I experienced it with like no roadmap.

[00:03:06] Yvonne Heimann: Let's talk about online community, because it's like. It's a lot of work. It's a lot of learning. It's a lot of stuff in a lot of different areas, because it's like looking just even just as my online community, right. And I'm the tech nerd. I have my, poor online community has gone through multiple platforms, through multiple locations and solutions and tools and all the things and all the stuff, and I do have some diehard people in there that have moved with me through every single tool. But that means you also have to have the right conversations with them, for them to go do crazy stuff with me, because it's like, I don't think in the end [00:04:00] for community, the platform with a tool really

[00:04:03] matters. It matters what you do with it.

[00:04:09] Deb Schell: It's just a tool.

[00:04:11] Yvonne Heimann: So how does one build? Not build. I don't like building because we're not building communities, we are creating communities. How does one do create and engage a helpful online community?

[00:04:29] Deb Schell: Sometimes it's the people in your neighborhood that you hang out with, and sometimes you don't get along with anybody that lives in your area.

[00:04:37] And sometimes there's everything in between, right? And online communities can be the bridge to you being able to connect with someone that's in Spain or Europe, and be able to do that relatively affordably and easily with technology and that can transform who you spend the most time [00:05:00] with and why that's important.

[00:05:03] And it starts with understanding what your purpose as a host or a leader is and why you would want to bring these people together. Like, who are these people and why are we going to get together? And then what are we going to do together? And how are we going to keep showing up together? So those are the questions we ask.

[00:05:24] And then we dive into that and we say, okay, I think we're gonna, I think it's these kinds of people. Well, let's go talk to them. So it just starts from there.

[00:05:35] Yvonne Heimann: And I think that's, there, there is the part two of self discovery, self reflection, because we grow, we change. We think we want to do one thing and then suddenly we realize, no, we don't want to, but it's like, you're not going to know till you do.

[00:05:56] So what I'm hearing you say is a [00:06:00] big piece of this is also getting clear of what you want to do and the impact you want to have.

[00:06:08] Deb Schell: Yeah, very, very much so. Because if you don't have a clear focus, I don't know how many you're in, but I'm probably in at least a hundred Facebook groups at this point, who knows?

[00:06:19] Yvonne Heimann: I've done, I've done New Year's cleaning. I've done New Year's cleaning. I put on the blindness. I'm like, okay, what am I trying to accomplish? What else is just noise? So.

[00:06:29] Deb Schell: But of all those communities, are you participating in them? Are you engaging in any of those? I don't know, but I'm not. There's most of them, maybe, you know, a handful, like five or six at the most of that, like hundred something.

[00:06:44] And that's because I only have so much energy. And so I prioritize where I spend my time. And so I find that maybe sometime, you know, in the summertime, I'm interested in doing some creative projects. So I'm in that group, but then like by fall, I'm like, okay, now I got to get to doing some stuff [00:07:00] and don't have time for that.

[00:07:02] So then I'm going into a different, a business networking group, you know? So we have these different seasons where these different communities fit in our lives. They're already existing. We just haven't really clarified them. And decided to like, You know, start our own community. If that's you, you haven't started your own community.

[00:07:19] If you, if you're thinking about it and like, Oh, was it just a Facebook group? And then I just promote to people. No, that's not what it is.

[00:07:29] Yvonne Heimann: Build it and they will come does not work. It, yeah, I think that that has been one of my biggest struggle, but again, caused by what am I doing and what's the impact, because I'm so multi passionate of drilling that down has been, has been a struggle.

[00:07:50] As you said, it's like there, there's so many communities out there. There is so much stuff out there. And yeah, even with my downsized [00:08:00] collection of Facebook groups or other groups, I don't engage with all of them every single day. Some of them I'm literally just a fly on the wall. I'm just a stalker and I'm paying attention.

[00:08:15] But yeah for me and my community, it has been this, okay, how can I be a resource? How can I be there for my community? How can I support them through switching platforms? Sorry, guys. And how can I trigger those conversations? Because that's what it comes down to, right? We want to create conversations, because often that's what I see in my community often enough, my community doesn't know what they don't know.

[00:08:53] So I want to trigger the conversation by somebody else coming in and asking a [00:09:00] question. Because I am best reactive. I'm best answering to things than rather just trying to figure out what you're struggling with, which then triggers the conversation. But I'm like, I think You tell me, am I the only one in this or is this a general struggle for community hosts that, that, that conversation triggering?

[00:09:21] Deb Schell: A lot of the clients I worked with have said, well, aren't they just going to come in there and post a question? And I said, no. Because do we, do they know who is in the room? Do we have psychological safety? Do they know that it's, you know, even if there's rules, maybe that even is already off putting because you're like, Oh my goodness.

[00:09:41] Like, as soon as you walk in the door, instead of getting a, Hey, welcome, you get a, Hey, here are the rules. Don't break them or you're going to be out. You know, it's not a friendly way to operate. It really isn't. If you really want to bring people into your inner circle of like. These are what I think of, like, these are your best ideal people that [00:10:00] you want to spend your time with, whether it's a business thing, whether it's just a friend group thing that you have a similar interests, you want to get, get together and knit or whatever it is.

[00:10:09] That's the point. It's you're creating this space to have these really amazing conversations, but you have to figure out how to spark it. And that they feel safe. And that takes a little bit more work than a lot of people are really willing to do, honestly.

[00:10:26] Yvonne Heimann: So how do I create a safe environment? Because I really connect with that.

[00:10:35] We are focusing a lot on, on neurodivergent people where we love life differently. If that is on the private side of things. If that is just how our brain functions with information. So there is a possibility of getting judged really fast. So yes, we want to create that safe environment of my [00:11:00] community being able to share things and

[00:11:05] not end up getting TikTok comments where everybody's like think about the West. What was that again? What was that again? I'll not, I will not rephrase some of the TikTok comments you sometimes get. Well, as much as, as much as TikTok can be open, but how, how do you, because I, I, if I see this right, you tell me if I'm wrong.

[00:11:34] It's not just about saying, Hey, we are a safe environment. You need to be able to make your community feel safe. How do you do that?

[00:11:45] Deb Schell: Well, starts from the outside and works in so when you think about the outside, we're thinking about how they land on your page. If you have a, like a landing page, however, they get invited, whether that's an email that you send or a landing page that you send them [00:12:00] to.

[00:12:00] What does that say? Is it very clear that this is for me? Is it very clear that there's going to be. What are the expectations of the space? If those things are clear on that landing page and I'm like, dude, sign me up. I'm going to press the buy button. No doubt. If it's a paid Mighty Network or paid community.

[00:12:18] Anyway, I'm thinking about Mighty Networks because that's what the platform I've been familiar with, but you know what I mean? If, if they see themselves in that also, if they also don't see themselves and they're like, Oh, you know what? I don't know about that. So I'm going to Pause. And maybe I'll think about this a little bit later because I'm not sure if it fits.

[00:12:34] So those things can happen, but that filters out the people that really align with your messaging. And then when you, when they're inside, whether it's a paid community or a free community, this applies to both. And when they're inside, they're going to start Connecting right away, right? Unless they know each other, probably not.

[00:12:52] So the best thing to do is get on a live call. We've got these tools, let's use them zoom and [00:13:00] let's do some breakout rooms and get them, maybe give them a prompt and say, hey, how was your summer? Like, what did you do? Anything exciting or whatever, whatever the prompt is just to get to know each other and build relationships because of the.

[00:13:13] At the end of the day, you know, community building is all about relationships. It's all about building relationships with people. And we can't automate people. We can't make, you know, all of these tech things that they want to automate like AI, but, people actually want to deal with other humans. And so community is the one aspect that I feel like you can't really AI it.

[00:13:40] Though there's many companies trying.

[00:13:44] Yvonne Heimann: And who knows, who knows where it goes in the future. And I'm like, I don't get me wrong. I use AI again, because I'm best reactive. I use AI to help me and just be a sounding board. So,

[00:13:56] Deb Schell: but I do too. I love. Like, [00:14:00] help with headlines sometimes. And, you know, I use my Grammarly app all the time and they have, I couldn't survive without it.

[00:14:07] We use all kinds of tools or AI, but I'm just saying like humans really want to be interacting with humans and walk into a room like a real room. You know, you wouldn't shout out your diva secret to a room full of people that you have no idea are there. And that's kind of what you're doing, if you're expecting people to like share these like deep challenges that they might be embarrassed to even tell their best friends, and then you're asking them to share that there.

[00:14:33] So just putting that into context, it really helps you understand how can I deeply reach out to those people. And so you provide opportunities for them to connect with each other, but also to build that trust with you, because they've likely built some trust by getting in the door with you, because you, you've already brought them in, but along the way that the ultimate thing is for them to connect with each other because communities are solving a problem.

[00:14:58] And so when a lot [00:15:00] of communities are solving a problem, I won't say all. There's lots of different kinds of communities, but communities I'm kind of talking about are ones that are chance purpose or mission, or they've got some kind of a challenge. They want to, like, you know, make some change in their life.

[00:15:15] That's, you know, the community is a way to do that, and get supported and why not, why wouldn't we want that? But yeah, it takes time.

[00:15:24] Yvonne Heimann: And it's like, when, when I look at my community, we are, it's all passion driven entrepreneurs. It's like, there is something that they want to change or that they want to support others with.

[00:15:37] So yeah, you need, you need that. That one thing that connects all of us now sounds like I'm already doing some of the things, right? I got a nice, easy trigger. In the beginning where, where I get them talking about, hey, just some [00:16:00] questions just to break the ice. You know, something simple.

[00:16:02] We are not going too deep yet. Where, where the big struggle for me comes in is this. Bringing them back, re triggering the conversation, bringing them back in and it's like you, you see a lot when you look out there and like we all do research, right? So what, what does that community do? What that community do, right?

[00:16:28] And it's like, I don't want to do the Monday motivation. Wah, wah, that everybody else does or your trouble Thursday. What are you struggling with right now? I'm like, really? So for, for somebody that's starting out with their community, or maybe like me, that has been a community dragging them around through the tools.

[00:16:52] What would you recommend for somebody that really wants to focus on? Re [00:17:00] engaging their community, on bringing them back, on, on starting conversations over and over and keeping those conversations going. Do you have a tip for them on what we can do to really keep that conversation going after that initial, we got them talking?

[00:17:21] Deb Schell: I think that there's different expectations depending on what kind of community you're running and what problems you're solving because people will come in and out of your community all the time. There's people that will join and get really excited and show up to every single thing and comment all the time.

[00:17:37] There's going to be other people that are like semi regular and then there's your kind of observers in the background. You've got all of these people and they're kind of moving all over the background, you know, in, in this big group. And so, they might be distracted by other Facebook groups, so they might be distracted by other platforms, they might have their own stuff happening.

[00:17:59] [00:18:00] And that's why I say there's so many elements. It's, the world is not simple and humans are certainly not anything simple, so it's very complex to think about and that's why some people just want to like make it a bite sized thing but at the end of the day humans have all kinds of things happening to them.

[00:18:20] The difference is you have to set the appropriate expectations and just scheduling content just because like that's what you told you're told to do doesn't make quite any sense and so I think I feel like you have to rationally say, what makes sense for my people? I had a woman that I was at a conference and she asked me after a talk, she said, so I had this idea about a podcast and I'm going to do a podcast, a daily podcast for my group.

[00:18:47] And I said, cool. Did they ask you for that? And she's like, no. And I said, well, you better check with them because if, that's something they're not into, then you're going to spend a whole lot of [00:19:00] time, probably an effort and energy and money, whatever doing this. And then people really don't receive it. And so I think the biggest thing that entrepreneurs do is they jump and they make a lot of assumptions about what people are going to do.

[00:19:15] And then people are just not predictable. Like you can have some ideas in certain ways that, you know, people do kind of the things that you tell them to do. And then there's just going to be others that are like, yeah, I'll do it in my time. There's just going to be those people. And so the answer is, what is retention to you?

[00:19:34] What is, as a host, would you want? If you had a thousand people in a community and maybe your top 100 people were active, would that be, you know, it's really just setting your, your realistic expectations about what a host wants and why, like, I also kind of dig behind that of saying. What is the reason for engagement when I talk to my clients and they say, Oh, well, how many times should I post and what should [00:20:00] I do?

[00:20:00] I said, we have to figure out what your community wants, and we have to see how they're going to feel and how they're going to react. Most people are not checking in every day to any platform. You know what I mean? Or they're getting maybe a, a roundup of a few or something. They're not going to every community every day.

[00:20:19] Now, they might check in once a week. If you have an event. Or if you've got, you know, they have post caught their eye between the 17 other things that are happening on their phone or their day. So it's, it's just like, we think that they're going to do these things and then it just takes time and community building is a long term game.

[00:20:37] It is something that you've, you're building relationships that, you know, I, the reason why I wrote a book and reason why I started building community is because I met people in an online community. That helps me develop an online business. And from that, I ended up quitting my corporate job and becoming location independent, which was my goal.

[00:20:56] And over three years, I met with them in Denver. I met with them in [00:21:00] Mexico. I worked with them in like masterminds, all of this stuff led up to me making these life decisions. And I am like now the cheerleader for Location Indie, which is the community that, that I was part of, because I write a book about them, because that's how great my experience was.

[00:21:18] Can you imagine if you had a community member that wrote a book about your community? Like, how cool would that be? That, wow.

[00:21:26] Yvonne Heimann: Yeah. It takes time.

[00:21:29] Deb Schell: To have that impact, there's a big investment. And a lot of people aren't, don't want to sign up for that investment of time.

[00:21:37] Yvonne Heimann: Community definitely is a long term game, where it's like, social media, yeah, I'm like, cool, quick turnaround.

[00:21:50] Something like I don't know if I necessarily, it is a community, but it's not a community. When I think about my YouTube channel, when you were talking about what's the [00:22:00] goal of your community, and figuring out what is retention for you, what does it mean for you? What's your goal? What do you really want in there?

[00:22:08] Why are you doing it? And reminded me of the lessons I learned with my YouTube channel, because I was like, I'm not at the growth I want it to be. I'm not always at the views I want it to be. We tested a lot of things. Some things just crashed and burned and other things fully take up, took off.

[00:22:30] And I had to step back and let my ego go and be like, I might not get the numbers on YouTube that I want to get. But I get the clients that I want to get, I, I don't, I don't run a, a cheap intro offer that was supported by the YouTube channel. My YouTube channel actually supports my high [00:23:00] VIP client. All of my big incomes came because they saw me on YouTube.

[00:23:07] So I don't need the big numbers. And it's like just learning that lesson. I never thought about it in the same way on my community. I just wanted to, to have a home where I can bring them together. But I never thought of it the same way. Like I did analyze my YouTube channel. So I'm really liking the idea of approaching my community the same way.

[00:23:35] I'm like, okay, why are we here? What are we trying to accomplish? What does my audience need? What does my community need? And with that structuring it accordingly.

[00:23:50] You're like that. And maybe one day, maybe one day of you guys, you're actually going to write a book about me too. I would not say no to that.

[00:23:57] Deb Schell: One of my clients that I worked with, she, [00:24:00] we did some ideal member interviews with her members. She has a podcast and it was a mother daughter duo. And I do write about them in the book.

[00:24:08] And they, you know, we did ideal member interviews because they're. They didn't have enough engagement. They're like, why aren't we getting engagement? So I said, let's talk to your members. So we did some interviews. Then after that, we learned so much that we then could go in and implement. One of the things that they learned was a lot of their members have skills that they really wanted to share with others.

[00:24:29] And so it was like a simple living commute, a community. So they were talking a lot about all of this kinds of tips and tools. So now we talked to the members and we said, great, let's put a list together of the members who want to share their skill, and then we'll have a skill sharing workshop each month that features one of the members.

[00:24:48] That they want to share something that they're doing now. Is that any more work for the host? No, you get to highlight 1 of your members and get them to do their stuff and share their thing. [00:25:00] And that's kind of between that and then having them, you know, building relationships with each other over time.

[00:25:07] The content will take care of itself because it's really about the connection and trying to feel like they're being heard is really what they're there for. It's just because they're, they don't want to put out into the void. They want to talk to somebody who can get what they're trying to say.

[00:25:23] Yvonne Heimann: And I'd like for everybody listening that didn't see my smirk on the video right now.

[00:25:26] It's interesting because I've been talking with Kitty, who is my right hand, and we've been thinking about bringing on community members. the podcast to feature them. So I'm like, okay, we are onto something here too, because I have built a platform and a growing platform. Why not use it to give my members exposure and what they are doing and what they are trying to accomplish.

[00:25:56] It's a perfect win win situation because again, [00:26:00] I like being reactive, I like talking to people rather than just having a podcast where I'm talking to myself, it doesn't work well for me. So yeah, we've been actually working on something similar to, to release and open up the podcast to my members over the next, yeah, it's probably going to be by March or something like that, but it's fun to hear that others have done something similar and it has worked well for them.

[00:26:24] Deb Schell: Yeah, I think it's helpful to highlight members. I used to do that in my other community I had two years ago and, you know, just celebrating the people who really showed up and shared and gave so much of their time to help other people and, you know, and then highlight people who changed their life and are doing these amazing things.

[00:26:44] And so I think it's a great opportunity for any, and I've had several community members on my podcast. So in the past, so I'm, and I'm planning to actually do that going this year because I didn't really talk to any about that yet.

[00:26:59] But, [00:27:00] my plan is that I want to have some events within the community builders with purpose community that I kind of kicked off the beginning of the year and then I want to record them and put them on the podcast. So I think I, I love events. I know that we're challenged with like figuring out the whole event situation of like, are people good to come? Are they not coming?

[00:27:21] What's happening? But I really just love events. So that's kind of my, I don't know. Maybe I'll change my mind in two months about that, but we'll see.

[00:27:32] Yvonne Heimann: The joys of entrepreneurship. We can change our minds. Now for anybody in the audience that wants to dive deeper, dive deeper, start, or get better at creating communities and connect with you and go stalk you online.

[00:27:47] Guys, only in a good way stalking. You only get to stalk like I do. Only in the good way. Be nice. Where can people find out more about you? Where can people connect with you?

[00:27:59] Deb Schell: I'm [00:28:00] definitely on LinkedIn a lot these days. LinkedIn and Facebook. If you look at Facebook, I'm Deb Deb Schell, and I'm on Instagram, but I'm, I'm, and I'm trying to do Tik Tok.

[00:28:11] So I am on a couple of different ones, but, mainly on LinkedIn is my, is my platform and then my website is called and it's F I N D C A L M H E R E. com and that'll take you over to my website where you can book a call with me. There's blog posts on my medium blog and lots of other tools and resources there.

[00:28:35] And of course the book. So creator2communitybuilder is that website creator and the number two And you can order on Amazon as well.

[00:28:46] Yvonne Heimann: And guys, as always, you will be able to find all of those links easily for you to just click on in the description of the episode, all the things, you got the book there, we got the website there.

[00:28:57] We're going to have the social media links that [00:29:00] everything is there and make sure to hit that follow button. So you do not miss any of the upcoming episodes. Deb, thank you so much for joining me today. It was a pleasure to have you and I see everybody soon. Bye.

[00:29:14] Deb Schell: Bye!

Calm Community Building for Online Creators with Deb Schull
Broadcast by