Here Is How (And Why) Musicians Should Build An Online Community

For eight years between 2011-2019, I had a regular writing practice.

For several days each month, I began my day writing. When I finished, I posted my thoughts on my blog.

The problem was that I didn’t really tell anyone I was blogging.

By 2019, I had hundreds of posts floating around that nobody knew about.

Then, in 2020 I started writing a book. I met with a lovely literary agent who told me that the book concept was great but that it would be incredibly difficult to get picked up by a publisher if I didn’t have thousands of followers on social media.

I needed to show that I had an audience big enough to justify a publishing house picking me up.

I decided that it was finally time to try to grow my online audience.

I’m now in year three of my online experiment and the process has been fascinating.

Here is my advice on why musicians should and how musicians can build an online community.

Here are five reasons why musicians should build an online community.

  1. Your online presence matters. So many musicians I know don’t think their online presence matters or that somehow sharing content online is beneath them. Change that mindset and instead think about all the opportunities you have to share your art with a wider audience.
  2. People will support your efforts. Musicians often hesitate to post online due to concerns about others’ opinions. However, in my experience over the past three years, I have received unwavering support. The worst outcome has been that some posts go unnoticed, which I embrace as it allows me greater creative freedom and the chance to take risks.
  3. Consistent posting aids in identifying your true direction. Many musicians make the mistake of pretending to be something they’re not, or worse, someone they don’t wish to be, solely to gain an audience. While this may produce results in the short term, over time, it will lose its appeal because the posts don’t reflect their true selves. Regular posting helps me organize my thoughts and concentrate on topics that are crucial to me.
  4. Regular posting online can help you define and achieve your real-life goals. Clearly defining your goals through regular posting will help you grow your audience online and build momentum for engagements in real life. When I started, I had a very clear objective. I wanted to build an online following so that I could have an audience large enough to justify a publisher picking up my book.
  5. Your online presence enables you to better understand your audience’s interests, allowing you to develop content that is both pertinent and captivating. For me, this has been a massive experiment. Initially, I targeted the 20-something demographic because they were the intended readers of my book. As I recognized the universality of my topics, I shifted my focus to musicians, and finally to creatives to widen my potential audience. My upcoming book title The Path Of The Unrelenting Creative evolved out of a better understanding of my target audience.

Here is how I focus my efforts on my online presence:

Most musicians want to build an online presence but they fear that it will be too time-consuming and ultimately take away from their creative practice.

Building an online presence takes time and commitment but I feel that the benefits of regular posting far outweigh the amount of time it takes to post.

Here is how I made my social media practice into an everyday routine.

  1. I remind myself WHY I post every day. Before I start any posting, I look at the five reasons above, which focus me in on WHY I post before diving in. I post to help other musicians thrive with a personal goal of guiding people to think of me as the first place to go when they need life and career advice.
  2. I anchor my strategy around one platform. To start, I strongly encourage you to focus on one social media platform and go deep before spreading yourself across multiple platforms. I anchor all my strategies around a weekly newsletter. Perhaps you are more comfortable on video and you’d prefer to create a daily reel on Instagram or a weekly video on Youtube. Whatever your choice, start with that platform, identify other musicians posting regularly, and study their process in order to develop your own process of posting. Note: My advice to you would be to launch a newsletter. Social media platforms will change, but email will likely live on forever. I have a weekly newsletter that links to the articles I have written, along with weekly advice for musicians from other parts of the internet.
  3. Go hang out where your target audience is hanging. If you are a performing artist and you want to get the 40–50-year-old crowd to your next performance through your posts, Snapchat and TikToc are not the platforms to consider.
  4. Don’t do more than you are comfortable with. You do not need to be a posting superhero with your posts, but you do need to be consistent. Carve out time to create your posts and only do what won’t burn you out in the process. The only way to be consistent is to develop a routine that becomes a habit.
  5. Commit to an extended period of time. When I started my newsletter in 2020, I set a goal of publishing 20 weeks’ worth of content. I didn’t take a break until week 45. Once I started going, It became easier to build the work into my day and I loved the rhythm of the routine so much that it became an automatic part of my week.
  6. Plan your content. Decide what type of content you want to include in your posts. Some common types of content include news, industry insights, tips and tricks, interviews, case studies, and general updates about your life and career. You can also mix and match different types of content to keep your posts fresh and interesting.
  7. Choose a topic for your writing. Consider selecting a theme or topic for your online posts. This will help you focus your content and create a consistent brand identity. In 2019, I surveyed my audience (highly recommended) and found that the majority of musicians wanted to learn about three basic things: Work/Life Balance, Meaningful Work, and Financial Stability. To this day, I focus my writing on those three areas.
  8. Create a content calendar. Once you have a list of content ideas, create a content calendar to plan out when each piece of content will be published. This will help you stay organized and ensure that you have a consistent publishing schedule. Whether it’s once a month or once a day that you’re posting, consistency is key.
  9. Write and design your content. With your content calendar in place, it’s time to start writing and designing your content. Make sure your content is engaging, informative, and aligned with your voice.
  10. Test and iterate. As you start publishing your content, pay attention to what resonates with your audience and what doesn’t. Use this feedback to adjust your content strategy and improve your social media strategy over time.
  11. Share your content widely. One of my biggest fears is that my content would oversaturate the various platforms where I post. For the first couple of years, I only published a weekly newsletter. Over time, I have pushed my content onto other channels in hopes of engaging with more people.

Here is my current online content creation strategy:

Note: I give myself 2-hours each day to create and post. I get up early to give myself time to put things out into the world.

Content creation: One hour each day

  1. Compose one newsletter created each week
  2. Compose four original blog posts each week

Distribution Channels.

As soon as I complete each post, I share the content in the following ways: One hour each day

  1. Convertkit (via direct email, once a week for my newsletter)
  2. WordPress (all original content gets posted here, daily)
  3. LinkedIn (all original content gets posted here, daily)
  4. Medium (all original content gets posted here, daily)
  5. Instagram (all original content gets posted via link in bio, daily)
  6. Facebook (all original content gets posted via link)
  7. Twitter (I break up original content into bite-sized tweets)

What’s next:

Here are the things I’m thinking about as I continue to build community:

  1. All efforts are focused on growing my newsletter because that is the place where people can see all my content each week. In light of this, I have a call to action asking people to join my newsletter after every post.
  2. At this point, writing is the easy part. The hard part is transferring the concepts I write about into video and audio content, which I think will help me find a larger audience. Over the next few months, I plan to experiment.
  3. I will keep going. Full stop.

You have tackled WAY harder challenges by building a daily practice around your art. Building an online strategy requires a mix of planning, creativity, and flexibility. By following the steps I outlined in this post and staying focused on your goals and audience, you can create a community that drives engagement and supports your artistic goals.

Like what you read here? Join my newsletter below to receive weekly tips just like this, designed to help creatives like you navigate the most important decisions in your life and career.  

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Nate Zeisler is the Dean for Community Initiatives at the Colburn School in Los Angeles. He envisions a world where students majoring in the arts have a clear path to a sustainable career, where creative minds are empowered and inspired to rule the workforce, and where access to the arts is not just for the privileged few, but for all.

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