How to cultivate community (and why it’s important)

How to cultivate community (and why it’s important)
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There are many benefits to being an online creator, most of them involving independence and autonomy—things like having a flexible schedule, location freedom, and therefore the ability to travel, etc. On the flip side of these perks can come feelings of isolation or a lack of community.

While community used to be limited to people that lived nearby, our digital world allows us to be in community with people all over the world. Many creators are catching on to why community is not only an essential support system in their own lives but also an attractive (and lucrative) benefit to offer their audiences. 

In this article, we’ll explore why community is so important and how to create it. Even if you don’t think you need community, find out why cultivating connection is important for supporting yourself and the people you serve.


Why should you build a community?

As social creatures, humans are hard-wired to seek out connection for a sense of well-being, happiness, and even survival. In fact, belonging is recognized as a core human need in psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Recent research consistently supports the importance of social relationships and community. 

Living in a digital world can really take a hit on our ability to connect with others. Even for those who don’t consider themselves creators, innovative technology designed to bring people together can actually inhibit true connection, as we hide behind our smart devices. In a world where we can work remotely, stay in touch with loved ones via social media platforms, and send gifts without leaving our couch, many of us suffer from a community deficit.

On top of that, creators often walk a road less traveled, as it’s often a path they pave for themselves. Blazing your own trail can be lonely, and many feel like they have to do everything on their own. It can be hard to ask for help, which is why many creatives shy away from community.

Related: How to build an online community

The myth of being self-made

Meanwhile, Western culture is rooted in individualism and loves to glorify the self-made. That, coupled with our own distorted comparison traps, makes it easy to believe people can and must go it alone.

Don’t get me wrong, there is A LOT we can do on our own. But the reality is we can’t do it ALL on our own. There is support that is seen and unseen all around us. Don’t believe me? Consider:

  • The virtual assistant you hire to help with administrative tasks
  • The copywriter or graphic designer you work with

But wait, I’m using AI these days, you might argue. Let’s Zoom out a bit further.

  • The engineers that developed AI in the first place
  • The people who manufactured the laptop you do all your work on
  • The software developers at Teachable and/or any of the apps you use that make it possible for you to have a thriving business
  • The teachers and mentors you learned from
  • The authors of the books you read that inspired you to create your own business
  • The people who believed in you (even the people who didn’t believe in you and motivated you to believe in yourself)
  • The clients, students, customers that make it possible for you to sustain your business

Zooming out even further, consider all the ancestors that came before you, making it possible for you to be here today.

Even though we might feel alone or like to believe we are completely self-sufficient, the reality is we are not alone. And we need each other.


Why don't people join communities?

That said, there can be a very real and understandable fear of community. You don’t have to look far back in the past (or even around in the present) to find examples of communities that require you to fit in or conform to avoid rejection. Even when not life-threating, fear can come up because we want to be accepted by others, especially our peers.

Unlike fitting in, Brené Brown recognizes true belonging as “connection to a larger humanity [that] gives people more freedom to express their individuality without fear of jeopardizing belonging.” In her book Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience, she writes, “True belonging doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are.”

Given our culture’s community deficit, along with our human need for true connection and belonging, creators have a great opportunity to offer community to their audiences.

“Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much.” –Helen Keller

Related: Engaging your online course community with purpose

What are the benefits of creating an online community?

Offering community, when done right, can offer the belonging and true connection that humans not only want but need. Brown defines connection as “the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”

While creating a community does not automatically make it a safe space, allowing space for members to share with and witness each other can build trust and safety over time. Through sharing and witnessing, members can:

  • Feel seen, heard, and understood—and therefore less alone.
  • Process challenging experiences.
  • Share resources and wisdom.
  • Find inspiration.
  • Feel supported.

Related: Revive an online community that’s lacking engagement


How to cultivate an online community

1. Make people feel seen in your community

“Never underestimate the power of being seen,” Brown writes in Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone. Before you can ask members of your community to be brave and share vulnerably, lead by example. “You will always belong anywhere you show up as yourself and talk about yourself and your work in a real way.” Modeling vulnerability and authenticity can show members what belonging can look like and encourage them to follow suit.

Truly seeing members of your community might look like:

  1. Sharing the spotlight – giving a shout-out, featuring the work they’re doing, or expressing gratitude
  2. Asking for help, feedback, or recommendations
  3. Offering inquiry questions (i.e. journal prompts)
    These examples can empower and validate community members, while showing you value their opinions and insights.

2.  Be open and available to interact with your community

Holding space for others requires your presence and availability—not to fix or change anything, but to acknowledge where others are at when they share. This is a part of truly seeing someone. 

“True belonging is not passive,” Brown continues. “It's not the belonging that comes with just joining a group. It's not fitting in or pretending or selling out because it's safer. It's a practice that requires us to be vulnerable, get uncomfortable, and learn how to be present with people without sacrificing who we are. We want true belonging, but it takes tremendous courage to knowingly walk into hard moments.”

3. Make people feel safe in your community

In theory, calling your community a “safe space” sounds great: a space where members of a group feel physically, mentally, and emotionally secure and are free to express themselves without fear. While most have the intention of their community being a safe space, we can’t always guarantee that it feels safe for everyone and shouldn’t assume that it is. We can set a collective intention for the community to be a brave space, but what’s even more responsible, inclusive, and equitable is to offer an accountable space.

At Teachable, we’re proud to offer community to our network of creators through teachable:hq, a creator hub available to all Teachable members on a paid plan. And, we’re making it even easier to create your own community with an even more engaging learning experience.


Katie Davidson

Katie Davidson, Katie is a freelance writer, copy coach, and certified yoga teacher currently based in California. Her work has been published on,,, and more. She has also been featured as a yoga expert on POPSUGAR Fitness. When she's not writing (or practicing her handstands), you can find her somewhere on a beach, cacao-chai latte in hand, with her beloved pup Toby.

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