The Skills You Gain From Starting a Community

Andy McIlwainIf you’re interested in community as a profession, and you’re looking to build your experience, start an online community. This industry is full of amazing people who trace their roots back to taking initiative, not simply reading and studying, but actually doing. Our guest on today’s show is an example of this.

Andy McIlwain, who works in community at GoDaddy, will tell you that he has only been doing this “professionally” for one year. But his experience in community dates back to the late ’90s, when he began to moderate and manage gaming communities on a volunteer basis and as something he did on the side. But when a perfect job opened up at GoDaddy, he found that the skills he had been building for the last 15+ years translated pretty easily to the corporate world. We also discuss:

  • What ezboard and Medium have in common
  • The partnership model for growing online communities
  • How GoDaddy identified the customers they wanted to be early adopters in their community

Big Quotes

“When I came into this, although I had the volunteer and hobbyist experience, I was worried that that stuff wasn’t relevant, that it wouldn’t carry over. When we started looking at things like strategy and tactics for how to get a community up and running with GoDaddy, I was worried that my instinct was going to be wrong. Thanks to Chris [Carfi], I realized that my instinct wasn’t wrong, that even though I was jumping from something that I thought was wishy washy side project stuff, it wasn’t wishy washy at all. It was real, it was legitimate, and it was relevant to the type of things that we were trying to do as a company.” -@andymci

“[I was talking to] someone looking at getting into digital strategy, doing education courses, and I told her that, ‘Honestly, I think the best thing to do is just go out and start working on something. Don’t jump in and take a college [continuing education] course if you don’t need to. Going and starting a meetup group, volunteering with an existing community; just going and starting something is the best way to learn. It’s going to be trial and error, but that’s how you learn, that’s how you pick up the skills. Just get in there and start doing it.'” -@andymci

About Andy McIlwain

Andy McIlwain wrangles content and community for GoDaddy’s Pro offering aimed at web developers and designers. His work in online community management began with forums and fansites in the late 90’s. In 2011, he jumped to organizing in-person community events with the Toronto WordPress meetup group and WordCamp Toronto. On the content side, Andy has helped small businesses, startups and marketing agencies get their content processes up and running.

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