Opening a Space, have many questions!

Hello everyone,

 After a long time of wanting to open up a coworking space I've finally gotten the initiative to begin building a community in one of the most competitive cities (San Francisco, California). How will I stand out from the rest? I am a professional Visual Effects artists and I've worked in some of the most prestigious commercial, film and tech companies in the United States and along with it came a great community of digital artists. Unlike New York City and Los Angeles that have a strong digital artist community, I find the bay area is more catered to the tech and medical industries however there is a market sitting there looking for a place to work. The digital artist nomads who design/ create and render those beautiful images of products / web / feature film and commercial work. The bay area is a hub for nomadic professionals and with this vfx networking I have I am trying to build a community here and targeting all the major art industries. I'm at the very beginning, rallying networking events at bars and began coworking nights using the help of meetup/ wework. I have a million questions and any feedback be great! I'm hungry and eager to open and do it correctly.

How did you market to begin growing your community?
How did you keep the community engaged?
Any advice on events I should host in order to keep momentum?
Is it too early to look for a space?
Funding? Sponsors?
What did you do for social media outreach?

Thank you for your time.

If interested in where I am, I have a meetup and a facebook group.


https://www.facebook.com/groups/mystudioCommunity/

Hi Jesse, welcome to “the club”.

You can start by taking a look at all these coworking resources:

For the community side of the business a great complement to The Coworking Handbook is Tony Bacigalupo’s book No More Sink Full of Mugs

When you have questions, search this group. It has years worth of answers .

Best of luck,

Ramon

···

On Saturday, September 1, 2018 at 9:42:37 AM UTC+2, Jesse Flores wrote:

Hello everyone,

 After a long time of wanting to open up a coworking space I've finally gotten the initiative to begin building a community in one of the most competitive cities (San Francisco, California). How will I stand out from the rest? I am a professional Visual Effects artists and I've worked in some of the most prestigious commercial, film and tech companies in the United States and along with it came a great community of digital artists. Unlike New York City and Los Angeles that have a strong digital artist community, I find the bay area is more catered to the tech and medical industries however there is a market sitting there looking for a place to work. The digital artist nomads who design/ create and render those beautiful images of products / web / feature film and commercial work. The bay area is a hub for nomadic professionals and with this vfx networking I have I am trying to build a community here and targeting all the major art industries. I'm at the very beginning, rallying networking events at bars and began coworking nights using the help of meetup/ wework. I have a million questions and any feedback be great! I'm hungry and eager to open and do it correctly.

How did you market to begin growing your community?
How did you keep the community engaged?
Any advice on events I should host in order to keep momentum?
Is it too early to look for a space?
Funding? Sponsors?
What did you do for social media outreach?

Thank you for your time.

If interested in where I am, I have a meetup and a facebook group.

https://www.meetup.com/Welcome-to-MyStudio/
https://www.facebook.com/groups/mystudioCommunity/

How did you market to begin growing your community?

Your best “marketing” will be direct invitations, in two forms.

1 - you reaching out to specific people and inviting them to come, and

2 - you encouraging your existing members to do the same!

Also, don’t feel like everything needs to be run by you. Are there other things that are going on that your community could attend/participate in together?

How did you keep the community engaged?

Engagement is a lousy metric IMO. It tends to lead to all kinds of stuff designed to distract and demand attention, and inevitably burn people out (including yourself).

Instead, the one main metric I focus on is that people feel connected.

  • What “onramps” to interacting with other members do you have? Are they tied directly to things that your members already do, or want to do?

  • Are your “onramps” accessible? To who? Who are you leaving out, intentionally or accidentally? (Not saying you have to include EVERYBODY at once - but I’ve learned to recognize my blind spots for people who’d love to participate but, for instance, don’t like going to bars.)

  • Is it easy for new members to connect with existing members, even in small group and 1-1 settings?

  • Is there some regular rhythm of support and encouragement for these kinds of interactions? i.e. if people miss one opportunity, is there another one coming up again soon?

Any advice on events I should host in order to keep momentum?

Consistency.

Is it too early to look for a space?

Are your members ready to put their money where their mouth is? How many? Would they write a check for 1-3 months of membership today?

If so, then maybe…but don’t forget to do it WITH them.

If not, then yeah it’s too early.

Funding? Sponsors?

For what?

What did you do for social media outreach?

Talk to people like a person. :slight_smile:

-Alex

Wow! thanks Alex this was very helpful.

I’m trying my best to figure out that my “onramps” are as accessible as possible but I feel that it isn’t. Maybe it relies too much on when I can host an event and people might lose interest. I have a coworking meetup tonight at wework and hopefully if all goes well I can have someone host another sooner than next time I originally wanted to host (scheduling conflicts).
The connecting members is another one, maybe I should have people offer if they’d like to post their personal portfolio being we are mainly artists, I do sometimes get the “how can I keep in touch with everyone that came?” chat.

I definitely think it’s way too early to open a space and the funding/sponsors question is mainly for networking events I throw and hopefully I can generate interest from nearby companies/organizations (autodesk, adobe, wacom, ves society) to help with cost / promotion of the event, this being a digital artist networking event. Is this too much of a reach? haha. I been to successful events in NYC and LA where I’ve seen this happen, why not here?!

···

On Tuesday, September 4, 2018 at 8:30:39 AM UTC-7, Alex Hillman wrote:

How did you market to begin growing your community?

Your best “marketing” will be direct invitations, in two forms.

1 - you reaching out to specific people and inviting them to come, and

2 - you encouraging your existing members to do the same!

Also, don’t feel like everything needs to be run by you. Are there other things that are going on that your community could attend/participate in together?

How did you keep the community engaged?

Engagement is a lousy metric IMO. It tends to lead to all kinds of stuff designed to distract and demand attention, and inevitably burn people out (including yourself).

Instead, the one main metric I focus on is that people feel connected.

  • What “onramps” to interacting with other members do you have? Are they tied directly to things that your members already do, or want to do?
  • Are your “onramps” accessible? To who? Who are you leaving out, intentionally or accidentally? (Not saying you have to include EVERYBODY at once - but I’ve learned to recognize my blind spots for people who’d love to participate but, for instance, don’t like going to bars.)
  • Is it easy for new members to connect with existing members, even in small group and 1-1 settings?
  • Is there some regular rhythm of support and encouragement for these kinds of interactions? i.e. if people miss one opportunity, is there another one coming up again soon?

Any advice on events I should host in order to keep momentum?

Consistency.

Is it too early to look for a space?

Are your members ready to put their money where their mouth is? How many? Would they write a check for 1-3 months of membership today?

If so, then maybe…but don’t forget to do it WITH them.

If not, then yeah it’s too early.

Funding? Sponsors?

For what?

What did you do for social media outreach?

Talk to people like a person. :slight_smile:

-Alex

I’m trying my best to figure out that my “onramps” are as accessible as possible but I feel that it isn’t. Maybe it relies too much on when I can host an event and people might lose interest. I have a coworking meetup tonight at wework and hopefully if all goes well I can have someone host another sooner than next time I originally wanted to host (scheduling conflicts).

Consistency is a LOT more important than how often.

Doing small, low-impact gatherings (happy hours & pot luck dinners, demo nights & casual coworking sessions) more often is ultimately more valuable than big, complex events that have lots of dependencies (special event spaces, speakers/presenters, etc).

Deep connections are more valuable at this stage than a large audience.

The connecting members is another one, maybe I should have people offer if they’d like to post their personal portfolio being we are mainly artists, I do sometimes get the “how can I keep in touch with everyone that came?” chat.

That’s a good sign! Give people a place to connect online in between events. I strongly prefer email discussion lists over social media platforms, but anything is better than nothing. Encouraging people to have discussions that are productive and valuable, e.g. asking for help/recommendations on how to solve a problem, or sharing/celebrating each others’ work.

The continuity of online interaction between offline events is a HUGE part of how we got started, and our online community is still larger than our active day-to-day coworking by more than double. This episode has a bunch of examples of how we use Slack, but they could easily be applied to any platform and should inspire more that are relevant to you and your community.

I definitely think it’s way too early to open a space and the funding/sponsors question is mainly for networking events I throw and hopefully I can generate interest from nearby companies/organizations (autodesk, adobe, wacom, ves society) to help with cost / promotion of the event, this being a digital artist networking event. Is this too much of a reach? haha. I been to successful events in NYC and LA where I’ve seen this happen, why not here?!

It can never hurt to ask (and I know personally that Adobe is generally interested in supporting local community efforts). My only advice here is to make sure you don’t get sucked into serving sponsors more than the members. It’s not hard to make an event that benefits a sponsor and the community without it becoming an advertisement. It just means keeping your members first, always, and showing sponsors how to “show up” in ways they aren’t always used to.

-Alex

Thanks to everyone for their responses! I just bought my copy of the Coworking handbook, should arrive today! I am doing a weekly event now however I don’t think it’s consistent enough and I feel I have a lot of new people everytime but not a lot of repeats. I am jumping between different venues and probably should stick to one and have it more regularly. The repeats have been really awesome and want to work together and maybe I should focus on them and find out what gauges their interest rather than focusing so much on looking for more people. I re-read all your responses probably twice a day, I know I can build this. Thanks again!

···

On Friday, September 7, 2018 at 10:47:40 AM UTC-7, Alex Hillman wrote:

I’m trying my best to figure out that my “onramps” are as accessible as possible but I feel that it isn’t. Maybe it relies too much on when I can host an event and people might lose interest. I have a coworking meetup tonight at wework and hopefully if all goes well I can have someone host another sooner than next time I originally wanted to host (scheduling conflicts).

Consistency is a LOT more important than how often.

Doing small, low-impact gatherings (happy hours & pot luck dinners, demo nights & casual coworking sessions) more often is ultimately more valuable than big, complex events that have lots of dependencies (special event spaces, speakers/presenters, etc).

Deep connections are more valuable at this stage than a large audience.

The connecting members is another one, maybe I should have people offer if they’d like to post their personal portfolio being we are mainly artists, I do sometimes get the “how can I keep in touch with everyone that came?” chat.

That’s a good sign! Give people a place to connect online in between events. I strongly prefer email discussion lists over social media platforms, but anything is better than nothing. Encouraging people to have discussions that are productive and valuable, e.g. asking for help/recommendations on how to solve a problem, or sharing/celebrating each others’ work.

The continuity of online interaction between offline events is a HUGE part of how we got started, and our online community is still larger than our active day-to-day coworking by more than double. This episode has a bunch of examples of how we use Slack, but they could easily be applied to any platform and should inspire more that are relevant to you and your community.

I definitely think it’s way too early to open a space and the funding/sponsors question is mainly for networking events I throw and hopefully I can generate interest from nearby companies/organizations (autodesk, adobe, wacom, ves society) to help with cost / promotion of the event, this being a digital artist networking event. Is this too much of a reach? haha. I been to successful events in NYC and LA where I’ve seen this happen, why not here?!

It can never hurt to ask (and I know personally that Adobe is generally interested in supporting local community efforts). My only advice here is to make sure you don’t get sucked into serving sponsors more than the members. It’s not hard to make an event that benefits a sponsor and the community without it becoming an advertisement. It just means keeping your members first, always, and showing sponsors how to “show up” in ways they aren’t always used to.

-Alex

The repeats have been really awesome and want to work together and maybe I should focus on them and find out what gauges their interest rather than focusing so much on looking for more people.

I’d bet that the folks who come back also have had opportunities to meet other people within the group and felt connected, while people who aren’t coming back didn’t feel the click. That’s okay!

Not everyone’s going to click just because they do similar work (in fact, it’s a pretty lousy leading indicator). Shared worldview, goals, and even interests other than “the work” are where most of the real bonding happens. Focus there.

-Alex

···

The #1 mistake in community building is doing it by yourself.

Better Coworkers: http://indyhall.org

Weekly Coworking Tips: http://coworkingweekly.com

My Audiobook: https://theindyhallway.com/ten

Wanted to follow up on an update. Reached out the regulars and they all responded the reason they enjoy our meetups is meeting working professionals at our networking events. Did I accidentally start an event planning company? I notice most active members have day gigs outside art and come to our co-working night to focus on their work to break into the art industry. There is something there I can work with right? It's evolving into something interesting.

Ha that is awesome Jesse! My guess is that your people are hungry for community. It’s not the events, per se, it’s connection to people like them.

Sounds like a great value proposition for your space could be connection. “Meet people like you”

···

Margo Aaron

That Seems Important

Want smart people to bounce ideas off of? I have some.

Reached out the regulars and they all responded the reason they enjoy our meetups is meeting working professionals at our networking events.

Sounds like what you’re doing is working! Keep it up, and keep that feedback loop open with your members :slight_smile:

···

The #1 mistake in community building is doing it by yourself.

Better Coworkers: http://indyhall.org

Weekly Coworking Tips: http://coworkingweekly.com

My Audiobook: https://theindyhallway.com/ten

Well not sure what to do. Seems like my co-working evenings are losing momentum and even my regulars seem to start losing interest since there isn't any new connections coming in. I host weekly co-working nights and hosting a networking night next week. I even attend other meetups in the city but I guess maybe my target audience is too broad or specific? Maybe the name of the Meetup? Anyone else run into a wall?

Hi Alex,

Just joining the group and found lots of interesting information. I am considering opening a coworking space and love the ideia o creating o community. My challenge is to define my target member and understand what I could offer them that is unique as an experience. Any suggestions? also, how to start a community from zero? Do I need to already have members enrolled to start lease a space? as you can see lots of questions!

···

Em terça-feira, 4 de setembro de 2018 12:30:39 UTC-3, Alex Hillman escreveu:

How did you market to begin growing your community?

Your best “marketing” will be direct invitations, in two forms.

1 - you reaching out to specific people and inviting them to come, and

2 - you encouraging your existing members to do the same!

Also, don’t feel like everything needs to be run by you. Are there other things that are going on that your community could attend/participate in together?

How did you keep the community engaged?

Engagement is a lousy metric IMO. It tends to lead to all kinds of stuff designed to distract and demand attention, and inevitably burn people out (including yourself).

Instead, the one main metric I focus on is that people feel connected.

  • What “onramps” to interacting with other members do you have? Are they tied directly to things that your members already do, or want to do?
  • Are your “onramps” accessible? To who? Who are you leaving out, intentionally or accidentally? (Not saying you have to include EVERYBODY at once - but I’ve learned to recognize my blind spots for people who’d love to participate but, for instance, don’t like going to bars.)
  • Is it easy for new members to connect with existing members, even in small group and 1-1 settings?
  • Is there some regular rhythm of support and encouragement for these kinds of interactions? i.e. if people miss one opportunity, is there another one coming up again soon?

Any advice on events I should host in order to keep momentum?

Consistency.

Is it too early to look for a space?

Are your members ready to put their money where their mouth is? How many? Would they write a check for 1-3 months of membership today?

If so, then maybe…but don’t forget to do it WITH them.

If not, then yeah it’s too early.

Funding? Sponsors?

For what?

What did you do for social media outreach?

Talk to people like a person. :slight_smile:

-Alex

My challenge is to define my target member and understand what I could offer them that is unique as an experience. Any suggestions?

What communities do you already belong to? Start there :slight_smile:

If you’re not already involved in the kinds of communities where people work from home, cafes, etc…now’s a great time to start getting to know people.

Do I need to already have members enrolled to start lease a space?

Signing a lease is the easy part - you’ve gotta find members either way! Waiting until after you have a lease just means that you’ve got a ticking clock and rent to pay while you’re building that community. You can’t avoid the community building part, and it’s 10000x easier to do it without the burden of rent to pay or the feeling of “this space is empty!”

···

The #1 mistake in community building is doing it by yourself.

Better Coworkers: http://indyhall.org

Weekly Coworking Tips: http://coworkingweekly.com

My Audiobook: https://theindyhallway.com/ten