THE BLOG

6 Lessons in Community Building That Helped This Company Reach Millions of Readers

06/23/2015 10:08 am ET | Updated Jun 22, 2016

In late 2011, Brit Morin launched a DIY platform called Brit + Co with the belief that everyone is creative. With a goal to teach and support the makers of the world, she began her content and e commerce platform from her dining room table with her first employee, Anjelika Temple, often shooting DIY projects and content from her Iphone. With a goal to build and engage a community of makers, their small team began building and launching content through their website and social media channels.

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Fast forward to 2015, Brit + Co now reaches an audience of around 12 million people every month through their website, app, and social channels. Through the expansion of their reach, not only only have their products evolved, but the company has also been able to work with well known brands to create custom content to reach their customers in an authentic way.

So let me pose the question we are all wondering, "How did they do it?". As a content creator myself, I was inspired by not only the success of Brit + Co, but intrigued by how they grew a community that was highly engaged.

I was beyond excited to interview employee number one and now creative director, Anjelika Temple about how they grew Brit + Co through content, and see if there was some big secret we were all missing.

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Here are the 6 lessons on community building that Brit + Co attributes to their success.

1. Treat your audience like you would your friends by constantly listening and learning about them and what they like.

One thing has remained consistent since the humble beginnings of Brit + Co to the wildly successful company it has become today, which is that they care deeply about their community and are always curious to learn more about them. Brit + Co Creative Director, Anjelika states: "One of the things many don't realize is that the "Co" in "Brit + Co" actually stands for "Community" not "Company." They pay close attention to what their audience likes to read, what they share and like, and constantly adapt to their preferences while staying true to the heart of the the company's core values. By paying attention, they were able to find out key insights into their community's user personas and adapt their product offerings and content to touch readers at three key stages of the creative process: learning, doing, and sharing. Remember that it's not you that drives your business, it is your customer that allows your business to flourish. So take a step back, and listen to what they are telling you.

2. Put as much care into your personal brand as you do your company.

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When Brit + Co first began, the small team leveraged social media to grow and build the brand. Brit Morin had already built up a large following in the technology world and on the topic of creativity through her previous career, and tapping into her audience for the beginning first few months was essential.

Building your personal online voice and community not only gives you a way to reach more people with your content, but brings a humanizing element to your company. The audience doesn't just see "Brit + Co", they now see Brit Morin, and all of her team members who are the passionate humans behind the technology they are engaging with.

Fun Fact: You can even build out a fun social following for your fur baby like Anjelika did for her dog Turkey that coincides with the maker brand.

3. Your content isn't just what you say online.

Think about what makes a friendship stronger. My guess is you are thinking what I am thinking: quality time. Once you have a community built online, stopping there limits the connection and impact you could have. Brit + Co realized this, and launched an annual conference called Re:Make to bring together their online community of makers for inspiring talks and living making. Not only has the conference continued to grow in attendance, but it has helped them figure out how to connect with their millennial audience in new ways that have contributed to overall company growth.

4. Understand what content and social platforms work and don't work for your brand.

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Brit + Co realized that their audience of makers really enjoyed seeing photos of finished DIY projects, and loved to share photos of their finished projects. When looking at how to present their content, they saw an opportunity with Pinterest, who was still very new back in 2011. Ignoring that the platform was new, and seeing the potential to share visually-driven content, they focused their efforts on that social channel alongside Facebook and Twitter. Truly understand how your audience wants to engage with your content, and where they are online.

5. Give back to your community in a meaningful way.

Not only is giving back the right thing to do, but it is essential in building any type of relationship. We remember the acts of kindness in our life, and the same applies to the companies we interact with daily. Brit + Co understanding what is truly important to their community recently launched the #IAMCREATIVE Foundation, which is a fund build to enable girls and women to make by offering grants to help kickstart creative projects. Not only is this an incredible gift for their community, but it results in a huge influx of readership and social sharing during the application cycle, and has drawn in high profile partners such as Mike Perry who is the CEO of Crayola, and Michelle Mesenburg the VP of Marketing at Target.

6. Stop building a following, and start building a community.

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Brit + Co attributes all of their success to their community of makers and finding
their unique voice which resonates with that audience. It is key to define who you are, what core values you stand for, and who your people are to successfully build an engaged community.

Creative Director, Anjelika breaks down the idea of "your people" and fundamentals of community building stating: "When I say "your people," I mean it. Yes, they are your users, your readers, your target audience, and your customers, but they are real people and so are you. In addition to being creative and inspiring, you have to be human, be imperfect, and be your community's friend. Being able to connect with our readers and community members on that personal level helps make sure they keep coming back. When you're focused on creating a community, rather than simply pushing content, it just falls into place."