What’s the worst mistake you’ve made (so far) with the empire and how did you fix it, prevent it in the future, learn from it?
This is going to be an incredibly unpopular answer, but my biggest mistake was starting the Offbeat Bride Tribe.
I started it on a whim as a way to test out a platform I was curious about, and I have regretted it ever since because A) community platforms suck and B) community management is emotionally difficult for me.
Now, let me be clear: the Tribe is a very happy mistake! 20,000 of you love it deeply and passionately, and that love totally outweighs my personal issues with forums. It’s totally worth it because you guys love it. But oh man, it has been really hard for me.
See, forums just are not my scene. I’m a blogger, not a community manager. I get deeply anxious over members fighting (like upset to the point of sweating, my heart racing, and shaking hands), frustrated by duplicate posts, baffled by people posting in the wrong place, and I bang my head over answering the same questions over and over again.
Business-wise, forums eat time and money and don’t have a great business model. I get irrationally emotional over community criticism: it hurts my feelings when frustrated members call me a “micromanager” for making changes to the community, or refer to me as the evil “THEY” (as in “Why did THEY do this!?”).
To be clear: I totally own these shortcomings. These are not the failings of the Tribe, but my failings as a community manager. My mistake was not recognizing my own limitations.
Nothing on the Empire has been more emotionally difficult for me than dealing with the Tribe. Nothing. It took me almost three years of anxiety to realize that I needed someone else to manage the community, and thank GAWD I have a community manager who agreed to take on the Sisyphean task. My emotional state vastly improved when I finally outsourced the community management to her. I’m too delicate, y’all!
It’s also been an enormous technical challenge. I’ve invested tens of thousands of dollars in development, and sometimes the Tribe still feels like a janky mess. It’s hard, expensive, frustrating, unfulfilling work. It’s worth it because people love it, but oh man.