Whether it be to spread a message, run a guild, bring together people with similar ideas or just to feel “powerful”, many aspire to own a community which they can call their own. However, starting your own community is tough due to the sheer amount of information that you have to prepare for it, funding to popularize it and maintaining your own personal life throughout the process of running the community. I can personally relate with these difficulties and to help lighten the load for you, I prepared a list of questions you should ask yourself followed by advice.
What is your purpose and how committed are you?
Are you only looking to gather a large following just so that you can brag about your numbers? Or do you want a place where people with similar interests can hang out? These are the questions you should be asking yourself before even creating the community. Ideally, you want a purpose behind it; a central idea or message that people can latch on to and connect with. For example, our purpose is to “Bring together and inspire a new generation of Japanese culture and anime enthusiasts to be themselves and think creatively“. Having a purpose helps you stand out from the crowd.
Unless you’re well know online, chances are you will be spending a lot of money both maintaining the server and running ads to attract more members. The hardest part of this will be at the start,
but keep in mind that for the community to be successful it must have a solid foundation from which to build upon.
Remain mindful of staff
While it may seem tempting to promote friends and family to staff; don’t.. The same applies to promoting too many people to staff. This creates a situation where the staff rank becomes worthless and it could potentially become abused. Ideally, break up your community into “departments” so that everyone has a clear purpose. Keep the process the same and fair for everyone regardless of their connection to you; this includes enforcing rules.
Staff should be monitored to ensure that they’re actively performing their duties within the group. This does not mean you should micromanage and hawk over their every move. It means that you should check in from time to time and make sure they’re contributing.
Foundation over appearance
While it may be tempting to decorate your server with banners and other designs, it should not be your focus at the start. Instead, you should be focused on laying a solid foundation for the community. This means creating the rules, community information, levels of protections (bot anit-raids, anti-spam and more) and more.
You will want to find someone who is capable of making your community sparkle and shine at some point in the future, but it should not be your focus from the get-go. From personal experience, the best way to find capable designers is to pick up Photoshop or Illustrator yourself. Purchasing designs aren’t cheap and as your community grows, the need for more banners or other designs will simply grow. If you don’t have a steady source of income to pay for the increasing costs, you may find yourself out of a designer. There are various tutorials on YouTube, in fact we have our own here, and Photoshop itself costs $10 a month.
Your community should not rely on bots to remain active. Bots are the sprinkles on the ice-cream; they should be used sparingly and not control your server. You will need at most 3 bots to manage your community (Chat logs, protection, auto-roles, member self assign roles). Game bots should be capped out at 5 at the very most and even that is a stretch. Engage members by hosting events (such as game nights or trivia nights) or running giveaways. Bots are not the answer you’re looking for.
You should always have an active role
Don’t sit back and do nothing since you’re the “owner”. Your purpose is to lead the community, not sit back idly. After your community is established and capable staff are in place to help you run it, you can spend less time micro-managing, but how do you expect to lead your community if you don’t work with them? This doesn’t mean you have to host events or check up on everything they do, this means talking with them and the community.
Your staff team is human just like everyone else and you are the person they look to for guidance. Don’t neglect them, take what they do for granted or assume that one staff member doesn’t mind hosting events every single week. Check up with them from time to time, on a personal level with a simple “Hi ___, how’re you doing?”. Never forget to thank them from time to time or compliment them on their work because that can go a long way in boosting morale and loyalty.
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