When I first started to think about starting up a business as a freelance Knitting and Crochet Designer, I personally didn’t know anyone who did that as a career, and I found it hard to imagine what life as a freelancer would be like. I did know of one person who was a freelance writer, and that was close enough to my business idea, so I met with her and asked her for some advice. The most useful piece of advice that she gave me was to look for some business groups online, which is exactly what I did. I am now 100% sure that, if it hadn’t been for finding an online community, I would never have taken the plunge 6 months later to start my business.

HOW THE ONLINE COMMUNITY HELPED ME

In the first few months, I attended business courses and events where I met local business owners, but the people at those events either didn’t fully understand or couldn’t relate to my work. I felt rather alone at those events, unable to relate fully to what they did in their work.  I also found that a lot of the local courses and events were not as relevant to me as an online business owner, so I ended up looking for advice in Facebook groups.

The knitting and crochet designer groups on Facebook gave me the support and specific advice that I needed. What I found most helpful was being part of a group of people who were working as successful designers and could give me practical and real advice. I also found it very motivating to know that there are real people out there running successful businesses in my industry, which helped me to believe that it was possible for me to do this successfully too.

I am now one year into running a business, and I have learnt so much during this time. Most of what I have learnt has come from the advice that people in the online groups gave me. Recently, I joined a Mastermind that I discovered in a Facebook group, and I already feel like I know the people in this Mastermind so well already. We meet every week in a Facebook group chat to discuss our goals for the week ahead, what we are struggling with, and what we want accountability for in the days ahead.

HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT COMMUNITY FOR YOU

There are so many different groups on Facebook that I highly recommend starting there. My guide below is based on Facebook but could be applied to other platforms.

Start by searching for groups

Search for groups with keywords related to your niche and broaden out your search if you are unable to find anything. I started by searching for “Knitting Designer” and then looked for artist/designer groups.

Do some Facebook Stalking

Once you have joined the group, scroll through the discussions to find out more about the group and look out for the following:

Good discussions in threads

The tone of the posts (are they positive or negative generally?)
Supportive comments and advice from multiple people within the group (not just the moderators or admins)
Little to no promotional-style posts cluttering up the feed (there is nothing worse than a group full of people who just want to sell you things!)
Size of the group (I prefer smaller groups, so this is important to me)

Once you have read through the group, you will get a feel for whether or not you would feel comfortable in it and would learn from others.

Share your knowledge

You may have joined the group to get advice or learn from others, but make sure to share your knowledge and encourage others in the group, too. The more that you share, the more you will get out of it.

Check in regularly

As with relationships in person, it is important to see your friends regularly and to keep up to date on how they are, and the same is for your online business community! I get the most out of a group when I check in every few days to see what is happening in other people’s businesses and share what I am doing.

Your People Are Out There

The online business community is huge, and I guarantee that whatever niche that you are in, you can find someone else online who does something similar, if not the same as you. Even if there really isn’t someone out there exactly like you, there will be someone who has similar business goals or mindset.  Finding the perfectly supportive and knowledgeable group that suits you and your business is possible. Now it is time to go out and find them.

As seen in Issue 20 of Roooar Magazine. Download the latest Roooar magazine here.

guest writer:

Ruth Haydock is a Knitting and Crochet Designer.  She began her fibre career back in 2009 when she started up a blog as a hobby. She now has a business as Ruth Haydock Designs and you can find out more at 

Find Ruth here.

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