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Community

Putting YOU to the front and centre

Their brief: to enhance community engagement by bringing the conversations and experiences you’re sharing everyday on our forums, homepage and social media, to the front and centre of the business.

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A couple of months ago I applied for a job and convinced myself I couldn’t take it. Then I went to the interview and left so impressed by the business and the people running it, that I had to find a way to make it work.

That job was replacing the multi-talented Kelly Exeter as editor for Flying Solo. And the reason I decided to take it was a result of meeting Robert, Sam and Peter. Their commitment to work/life balance impressed me so much, that I couldn’t walk away without trying to be part of the team.

Not only was I blown away by their collective commitment to nurturing Flying Solo’s dynamic community, I intuitively understood what they wanted to achieve with my new role.

Their brief: to enhance community engagement by bringing the conversations and experiences you’re sharing everyday on our forums, homepage and social media, to the front and centre of the business.

"Not only was I blown away by their collective commitment to nurturing Flying Solo’s dynamic and diverse community, I intuitively understood what Robert, Sam and Peter wanted to achieve with my new role."

Here’s how Robert explained the shift: “We realised it was time to unleash the power of the community. The straight out ‘advertising supports publishing’ model is under a great deal of disruption and to slavishly follow that path will very likely turn us into the kind of business none of us wants to become!

“Turning our focus towards the community will dramatically expand the appeal of our membership offering, while not impacting our advertising and sponsorship revenue. A truly engaged community is what makes Flying Solo so attractive to advertisers and will ultimately grow the audience”

What I’ve learned about community

I believe in the power of community to build trust in a brand. Publications who prioritise this quality engender loyal and engaged readers and create an authentic online experience that is almost tangible.

Needless to say I’ve jumped at the chance to spend time in the engine room of  Flying Solo learning everything about how you’re running your businesses and making them fit your life.

What inspired this editorial direction?

According to Robert, Sam and Peter three core beliefs guided this editorial direction;

  1. That a community that’s nurtured and heard will thrive;
  2. That a thriving community will always attract more opportunity;
  3. That new opportunity creates a legacy to support the business and its future.

Sam, the guardian of Flying Solo’s unique tone and style hopes the community approach will amplify what has always existed: “I believe a nurtured community benefits everyone: they feel heard and validated, we can keep abreast of the hot buttons and respond editorially, and advertisers want to be part of sites with high level of engagement.”

She also hopes the shift will streamline navigation of the site: “With thousands of articles and forum posts on offer, it can be overwhelming to know how to traverse it. The community editor can take a bird’s eye view and help guide people to the best bits. It’s going to be really valuable.”

I also really liked the simple way Robert uses perspective to express the “look and feel” of this editorial shift: “It’s about taking people from ‘I like to read’ to ‘I want to belong.'”

This shift can also be described as transitioning from a publisher who creates content, to a community that shares stories.

Planning for the future while staying true to the past

All three directors reiterated the fact that community has always been at the heart of Flying Solo. Peter told me: “Ten years ago this year, when Flying Solo was just a newborn, we wrote a values document called ‘What matters most’, and the idea of community was #1 on our priority list even back then.

“We are very aware that having a thriving community of business owners is precisely what attracts any opportunity – whether that’s site visitors, members, partners, contributors or sponsors. I love the idea that deeper than all the constant change and uncertainty, if you just do the work and stay focused on consistently delivering the good stuff, then the rest will follow.”

So how will all of this change what you can expect to read on Flying Solo?

Well, that’s where I come in! In addition to the Friday newsletter, I’ll be dedicating this regular Wednesday column to you. To start off I’d like to invite you to contribute to a series of profiles dedicated to the positive changes soloism brings to your life. Expect to see me floating around the forums and knocking on your inbox, looking for potential interviewees. And if you’re keen to get involved, drop me a line!

What do you think of our new editorial direction? How do you keep the focus on community in your business?

Lucy Kippist

is an experienced Australian editor with experience in writing, podcasting radio and television, with previous senior editorial roles at News Corp news.com.au, Kidspot and Kinderling Kids Radio. In her current role as editor of Flying Solo, Australia's #1 website for solo business owners she is pursuing her passion for women in the small business space. Connect with her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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