For one reason or another I'd put the brakes on my involvement in an online community. A community where I was a member - the Fizzle Forum. I'm not exactly sure why. A fear of fitting in? A waste of time? Not knowing where to start?
But after being thrown a challenge to participate in an online forum to build a better blog - I set myself a 7 Day Fizzle Forum Fling. And you know what? I was blown away by the unexpected benefits of the experience.
[Note: While this post contains generic tips about participating in an online forum/community, the content specifically relates to Fizzle. Fizzle is the mustard if you're keen to start, grow or refine a blog or online business. It's one of the Resources I rave about to help you do what matters].
Dodging the Fizzle Forum
So here’s the thing. I’d been a member of Fizzle for a little over 3 months. But in fairness, I wasn’t really a member. Not really. A member is someone that joins in, don’t you think? Someone who gets involved. But, I wasn’t actually involved.
After an initial peek at the forums during my first few weeks of membership I quietly backed out. I was a little bit freaked by active members who knew what they were doing. I became overwhelmed and left. I moved onto other things.
First impressions can be wrong
You might have a totally different view on it that me. But to be upfront, when I first considered the forum I made an assumption that it was all a bit seedy. I quickly popped it into the male corporate golf day space.
And you know what? It’s hard to say this, but I’d also created a false perception that the forum was host to a bunch of young entrepreneurs. Extroverts who were after sign-ups for their latest products.
Be careful of being intimidated by 'successful' people.
You’ll find there are a lot of really experienced people in Fizzle. Successful people. People with enviable websites and products. People who make real money from their ventures.
If you’re even a little bit unsure of yourself or new to this whole world, this could potentially stop you from participating. I compared myself to these ’successful’ folk and decided I wasn’t good enough. They didn’t need someone inexperienced like me clogging up their feed.
Because I hadn't bothered to take the time to find out, I didn't learn that there were plenty of people in the same position as me. I mistakenly decided that coursework would be enough. That the videos and podcasts would give me enough bang for my buck.
You could be missing valuable opportunities
It was actually a podcast outside of Fizzle that helped me see the light. I know, I know - the Fizzle leaders make it perfectly clear in the intro videos that the forum is important. But because I was taking in so many things, in truth, I didn't listen to them.
It was Darren Rowse of Problogger fame who gave me the kick I needed. He set his podcast listeners a challenge. A challenge to find and participate in an online community. Reflecting on his advice, I realised that I didn't need to look. I already had a perfect online forum right under my nose. A forum I was stupidly giving the cold shoulder.
So I decided to commit. To actively participate in the Fizzle forum for 7 days.And what unfolded was my "7 Day Fizzle Forum Fling".
So many ways to Fling
Once I'd made the decision to get involved I used my favorite productivity technique to start. I set myself a 2 hour block and focused on plunging into the forum.
After that initial 2 hours of research, I checked in everyday. Comments, encouragement, suggestions & questions.
It didn't take me long to realise that it was was a fun place to be. And I learnt so much. I started to get a kick out of logging on each day to read the Fizzler comments & questions.
I realised this was something I should be integrating into my schedule everyday.
In a forum thread I started, Can I be a Fizzler with a new blog/website but no actual product, Ken Chiavone, the Fizzler ‘Provocateur', generously offered 14 simple suggestions on how to get involved (see photo).
I used this super practical & helpful list to frame my involvement during my fling.
Now, I'm only talking about being actively involved for 7 days. Clearly, that doesn't make me a Fizzle forum expert. But in saying that, even with only 7 days of experience, I can hand on heart tell you that there's so much to learn from the Fizzle community.
It's so important to give it a chance.
7 Day Fizzle Forum Fling: 7 Unexpected Benefits
I could probably spin off a list of over 20 benefits. But let's keep it simple. Here's my 7 top picks.
1. You’ll get more specific (and honest) feedback from Fizzlers than you will from the people closest to you
It’s true. Sometimes the people around you are so supportive & proud, they don’t see your faults. They simply cheer you on. Tell you that you’re doing great. Frequently they might not even get where you’re coming from.
Whatever it is, you can rest assured that you'll get a range of perspectives from Fizzlers. People in the Fizzle community don’t hold back from giving frank and open advice. Advice that is absolutely what you need when you’re growing or starting out.
Here's 2 excellent examples of specific feedback I received on day 1 of my Fling
“...your speed dating bio is awesome. You should put that on your home page (or part of it). It’s personal and I connected to you instantly when I read it. Don’t hide it’ David Judson
"...Did you mean to have your "about" page open in a new tab window?” Jeffery
Great advice huh? Direct, simple and actionable.
2. Fizzlers will proactively give product ideas. Ideas you're unlikely to have thought of yourself
This was something I wasn’t expecting. I thought I was light years away from getting close to a product. Experienced online entrepreneurs in the forum are sure to see things you don’t. You never know, they may identify possibilities for freebie products, an ebook or something even bigger.
Faith Watson, the Fizzle Mom, suggested that one of my blog posts could be turned into a product. That was unexpected. I hadn’t even considered anything I'd already written could potentially turn into something tangible?
3. Got a problem, no matter how tiny. Ask a Fizzler
Take a spin around the Fizzle forum and you’ll soon see there are all types of questions floating around. Macro and micro. Emotional and Technical. Strategic and operational.
If you’re sweating on a problem with your progress. Ask. If they don't know, someone is sure to direct you to a resourse that will.
4. Fears or worries. Get direct support from really kind, like-minded people.
One of my favorite Fizzle threads is from fellow Australian and simple living advocate, Brooke McAlary. Her blog and podcast Slow Your Home would probably not be the same without her involvment in Fizzle.
A thread she began, Dealing With Criticism - What's Your Process, received an overwhelming response. At a time when she was feeling low, the Fizzle community rallied behind her. Fizzlers came out in droves to support and give advice to a fellow member during a time of uncertainty.
5. Generate new traffic to your website
Once you start to provide feedback, ask questions, and give genuine support to others you’ll find people will pop over and check out your website. There isn't a formula. This kind of happens organically on Fizzle.
I found myself naturally wanting to check out peoples’ websites after they’d left a comment. I wanted to know where they were at and what they were doing. I wanted to check out their thing. I discovered that the Fizzle community has a hugely wild range of interests & websites.
During my Fling, I connected with so many interesting people. They included an upcoming poet, an equine photographer, a web designer/developer, a kidney translate recipient/writer/philosopher and a digital organiser/productivity trainer.
Though this organic process of mutual feedback you'll soon find that if you take the time to check out other peoples websites - plus give encouragement or advice - they're likely to pop online and check out yours.
6. Sniff out future business connections
Of course things take time, don’t get me wrong. Let's not get carried away. But even in a 7 day period, I caught little sniffs of connections I could make with people. Hints of possible support I could give to others and they could give to me.
I'm talking mini-connections here. Mini-connections that may lead to bigger support later down the road
7. You'll get to help.
All of us love to help others. It's a thing I bang on about a lot. It makes us feel good. Worthwhile. Your Fizzle involvement will give you a zillion opportunities to help really genuine, kind people.
In the forum you can help someone else make progress towards what matters to them. By stepping out and getting involved you'll add another layer of meaning to your life.
Warning: The Fizzle Forum is a lot like Facebook
Ok this sounds weird. But it's true. Cast yourself back to when you first signed up to Facebook (or Twitter or Instagram). Can you remember that initial uncertainly of writing your first post or compiling your first tweet? How you lost yourself in finding friends, checking out other peoples lives and spying on their photos. You lost hours in your first Facebook week. You were obsessed.
Well, Fizzle is a little like that. You will (and should) spend a lot of time during your fling checking out all the elements of the forum. What are people saying? How are they responding? What are their websites like?
A 7 Day Fizzle Fling is an investment in your personal development
Whatever you do, don't stress that Forum Fling Time = Wasted Time. Don't panic that you're not doing other things.
Think of your Fizzle Fling as an investment in your personal development. A time to meet a community who will give you direction. An investment in the thing that matters to you - your business, your website or your blog.
Problogger Podcast 31 days to build a better blog Episode 20: Join a Forum and Start Participating A mini podcast. The podcast that triggered my decision to have a Fizzle Fling
Fizzle: You'll find the teachings about the forum in the beginner module - Fizzle Guided Tour: The Forum
Question: Have you hesitated to get involved in an online forum like Fizzle? If you have you’re certainly not alone. Do you think you could benefit from getting more involved. Leave a comment below.