Three Benefits of Finding Your Tribe and Leading It

This is a guest post by Mary DeMuth. She is an author, speaker and book mentor with nine published books, including her most recent, Thin Places. Mary also mentors writers on her Wanna Be Published blog. She is also active on Twitter and Facebook. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

A little while back I wrote about finding my tribe. In the ensuing months after my tribal journey, I’ve seen some curious and very cool things happen.

3D Rendering of a Puzzle, Spelling Out the Word Community - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/Franck-Boston, Image #12580925

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/Franck-Boston

The goal of this post, then, is to highlight the benefits of finding your tribe, no matter what business you’re in. A few months out, here are my findings:

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  1. When you find your one thing, folks find you. Once I identified my tribe (those healing or wanting to heal from past trauma), I made it my goal to revamp my website to reflect that tribe. The site went live two weeks ago. My stats, according to Google Analytics, have doubled since I’ve re-launched. Part of that is due to WordPress (an excellent web platform). Part is due to the novelty of a new site. But I do believe a huge percentage came from folks identifying with the consistency of my message.

    My chatter (emails, direct messages, Facebook interactions) has increased as well. People are sending messages about how my words have impacted them. In that, I’ve learned to better define myself and my tribe. Some examples:

    At times while reading your words my mind wanders back to one of the following: The Rabbi’s Heartbeat by Brennon Manning, The Sacred Romance: Drawing Closer to the Heart of God by Brent Curtis and John Eldredge, The Magnificent Obsession by Anne Graham Lotz, and Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. Interesting mix isn’t it?”

    I want to thank you again for your honesty in your writing and about yourself. I think as a Church we must have the courage to be honest about our struggles and have such love for others that they feel safe to do the same. You are teaching people how to do that.”

    So not only are more people finding me, they’re encouraging me, sharing their stories, and helping me hone my message even further.

  2. Tribe members take initiative in sharing you with their circle of influence. I’ve often struggled with marketing myself and what that means to me as a Christ-follower. As an unpublished writer, I went to my first major writing conference (Mount Hermon) in 2003. On my way, I remembered all the trials I’d endured to that point. Difficult childhood, painful past, relational issues, etc. The Lord clearly spoke to me, whispering, “Mary, you have withstood many trials. But will you withstand the trial of notoriety?”

    His words to me have echoed through my heart since that moment. While I am not famous, I have gained a following each year. My fear is that I’ll become a Me-Monster, promoting like a multi-level marketer on steroids.

    However, the beauty of tribal leadership is this simple verse: “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips” (Proverbs 27:2). Finding a tribe helps others promote me. It takes me out of the picture of promoting myself.

    My job? Pour into my tribe. The result? They praise the words I write.

  3. People come up with creative, innovative ways to market you. One thing I did prior to honing my tribe was to create a site called My Family Secrets. Although I loved that I had a space for folks to share their family secrets, the tone of the posts started eating at me. As an empathetic person, I took on every secret, eventually affecting my heart.

    Enter Lexie, a reader of Thin Places. She and a friend approached me, asking if they could facilitate a way for readers to share their thin place stories (places in their lives when God came near). When I launched my new site, Lexie became the administrator of this new endeavor.

    This differs from My Family Secrets in that the message is positive. And it’s interactive. It benefits those who share their stories, and it helps readers see a variety of ways God comes near. And it brings in new readers to my site. None of this was my idea, nor does it take me any time. That’s the power of tribes!

It’s been an exciting journey seeing how finding my niche in this world has benefited others. I love the twists and turns and surprises. I never knew a simple thing like honing my message and finding my tribe would deeply change me, but it has. Instead of battling the trial of notoriety, I’m waiting in expectation for what God will do in the lives and hearts of those who gather around my message.

Question: What has been your experience in building a tribe?
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  • http://twitter.com/flowingfaith @flowingfaith

    Ahh, Mary! You continue to be an inspiration and a blessing. Thanks so much for sharing your insights. Godspeed and abundant blessings to you!

    • http://www.marydemuth.com marydemuth

      My pleasure. Glad it was helpful.

  • http://www.brookemcglothlin.com BrookeLMcG

    Congrats Mary, for your post here. I sat under your teaching at the recent She Speaks conference and I follow you on twitter. I appreciate your message. As a blogger and an aspiring author I can see the benefits of finding my tribe. In fact, this message rings of another from the Experiencing God series by Henry Blackaby, "Find what God is doing and join Him there." I've been doing that through my new joint effort for mothers of boys, the M.O.B. Society. We've been amazed at the response! Apparently mothers of boys needed an outlet like this.

    But my question is this: On my personal blog…I don't want to write about just one topic. Sure, there are topics I've covered that draw a lot more traffic than others, usually the more controversial ones. Am I doomed to blog mediocrity because of this? Is finding your tribe really the key to success in blogging? If so, I've got a lot of praying to do :)

    Blessings Mary!

    • http://www.marydemuth.com marydemuth

      I don't exclusively write on my blog just about tribe-y things. (And Michael doesn't either, though he's pretty focused). Varying the content is okay to do. Finding your tribe is about discovering your passion. I find that most of the time, what I write flows from that passion, so it hits the tribe.

  • http://www.danieldecker.net Daniel Decker

    Great perspective here Mary. You're doing good work. :)

    • http://www.marydemuth.com marydemuth

      Thanks Daniel.

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    Mary, thank you for your insightful post. I've been a blogger for over five years now, and I've seen a lot of changes along they way. Your first point about finding your one true thing is so important and for many people (myself included), so hard to do. As the years have gone by, I've been able to look back at my comments, traffic, and overall response and have been able to see a clear pattern. With WordPress and its many diverse plugins, I've been able to hone this pattern into a more defined niche and help people find what they are looking for.
    That being said, I still have a long ways to go to provide a laser focused niche. My creative side is always battling with my analytical side, yet I think that using each side of my brain in the right way can be an advantage. Clearly an organized, indexed, and well laid out site is paramount in building a tribe that will return time after time. Having the creativity to think outside the box, create new things, and take on interesting topics will keep my readers engaged.
    One way I hope to do this is to reach out to a few trusted advisors and get their feedback. I want to know how my site works for them, and if they can easily find things of interest.
    You did one thing in your post today that has truly been difficult for me. You put together a clear and concise statement about your tribe (those healing or wanting to heal from past trauma). This is clearly the first step that we all need to take to find focus. I hope by brainstorming with some close friends to be able to come up with one of my own.
    Thank you too for your referral of Randy Ingermanson a while back. His snowflake software has been a real help in organizing my second book.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com marydemuth

      Brilliant! Having a few trusted people review you and your site will be really helpful. Sometimes we're too inside ourselves to see what others see.

      Glad Randy Ingermanson's been such a help. He's brilliant!

  • http://www.sequoiathoughts.blogspot.com Connie Brown

    Thanks, Mary for sharing your experiences. God is obviously leading you and using you.

    My experience finding my tribe? I'm not as far down that path. I'm praying, writing what God has given me, and I am working to be faithful with my eyes focused on him. If I worry too much about the numbers in my tribe, I lose focus. It not about numbers. It's about him. Unless the Lord builds the tribe, we labor in vain.

  • http://www.marydemuth.com marydemuth

    You're right, James. It's taken me years to land here.

  • http://www.sequoiathoughts.blogspot.com Connie Brown

    Oh, Mary. I find God is working everywhere. : )

    • http://www.marydemuth.com marydemuth

      It's that omnipresence He has.

  • http://www.sequoiathoughts.blogspot.com Connie Brown

    This discussion is helping me to think through this issue. "Finding where God is working and joining Him" sounds like a cliche to me. Sorry, no insult intended, I'm wanting to dig deeper and understand.

    Tribes. I just read Michael Hyatt's post on Tribes http://michaelhyatt.com/book-review-friday-tribes…. In the post, he talks of "passion." You also spoke of passion. It sounds like a tribe's need, plus a writer's passion, plus God's love and Spirit at work are key ingredients.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com marydemuth

      Passion does have a lot to do with it. And that's why it's helpful to gather a group of people around you and ask them what they think you're one thing is. Of course you'll have other aspects of yourself (I enjoy gardening, but I don't blog about it).

  • http://www.marydemuth.com marydemuth

    Last week I attended the Women of Faith event in Dallas where Marcus Buckingham talked about the importance of finding and understanding your strengths. His (& Gallop's) Strengths Finder really helped me understand myself, and it segues nicely into this idea of tribes. He's written a new book here about living your strongest life: http://www.amazon.com/Find-Your-Strongest-Life-Di

    Why some may argue that knowing yourself may border on selfishness, it's actually the opposite, at least for me. The more I understand how I'm wired, the better I'm able to discern God's direction and follow the path He set out for me.

  • http://www.kathyfannon.com kathy

    The first point, "When you find your one thing, folks find you," resonates most with me right now. Just this past year I've discovered what I want to be when I grow up (and I'm 45!). Discovering my purpose has easily led me to others who think the same way I do, and I'm finding friends and family are excited to tell other people about me. I'm still in training, but when I'm ready to go, it will be with ease!

    I appreciate this article as it take the pressure off of me to try to market myself. And I, too, am excited to see how my giftings will benefit others. Thank you!

    • http://www.marydemuth.com marydemuth

      Kathy, congratulations on discovering what you want to be when you grow up! That's such a huge thing!

  • Lynn Rush

    Fantastic post. Thanks for sharing this. I'm learning more and more about the Tribe concept. I'm liking it a lot. I have a ways to go, but I'm enjoying the process, for sure!

    It's been fun learning from you through ACFW, your blog, and the social media networks. Be blessed, my friend!

    • http://www.marydemuth.com marydemuth

      Thanks so much, Lynn. I'm glad you're enjoying the process. Sometimes marketing overwhelms me. And as I see it, it's a daily thing. Little decisions that will pay off in the long run.

  • http://www.sequoiathoughts.blogspot.com ConnieBrown

    Mary, this is salty talk. You clearly whet my thirst for finding my tribe and becoming more focused as a writer. Thank you for sharing. I hope I don't wander about in the bush too long before I find the tribe God has for me. Interesting country, bush country.

    Your tribe is also writers like me who're following in your dust.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com marydemuth

      The dust comment reminded me of this: "May you be covered in the dust of your rabbi." Not that I'm rabbinical, but I love that picture of walking in the dust that Jesus walked.

      • http://www.sequoiathoughts.blogspot.com Connie Brown

        I like how you turned the dust image toward Jesus. Yes, like many writers in bush country, I may be covered with dust and have a clouded view of the path, but I know who I'm following.

      • http://www.blogintheshire.blogspot.com Joules

        that is lovely

        • http://www.marydemuth.com marydemuth

          Thanks Joules and Connie.

          • http://www.marydemuth.com marydemuth

            Here is a teaching about being covered in the dust of your rabbi: http://www.stmartins.co.za/documents/nooma/dust.pdf

          • http://www.sequoiathoughts.blogspot.com Connie Brown

            This is a beautiful message. So true. Thanks for sharing it.

          • http://www.marydemuth.com marydemuth

            My pleasure.

  • Roger Bruner

    I was unfamiliar with the concept of an author having or needing a tribe until attending Jim Rubart's and Chip MacGregor's Fiction Marketing Seminar in Nashville about six months ago. Unfortunately, time ran out before I could pick their brains about how to build or use a tribe. All I knew was I needed a tribe of fifteen or twenty teen girls who'll talk my books up when they come out next year. I bought and read the book Tribes, which I had difficulty relating to what I needed. <more.>>>>

    • http://www.marydemuth.com marydemuth

      I wonder what Mike would say (or Seth) to how you specifically find and build your tribe. What, specifically, is your tribe? What do those girls need?

  • Roger Bruner

    So instead I started getting in touch with teens I knew or knew about, explaining what I needed, and eliminating those who don't enjoy–really enjoy– reading. My blog is new, and I use it mostly to keep my five or six tribe members (so far) updated. My wife and I have designed tee-shirts for tribe members–with the book cover on the front and several paragraphs on the back. And they'll be at the top of the list to receive influencer copies. I'm considering perks for imaginative tribe marking ideas. <more>>>

    • http://www.marydemuth.com marydemuth

      I like the t-shirt idea.

  • Roger Bruner

    Doing tribehood Mary's way makes sense, though…letting a tribe form naturally based on reader interest and then catering to readers in a way that's appropriate.

    I hope other people's comments here will prove helpful. :-) Please feel free to visit my blog at rogerbruner.wordpress.com if you want to see more of what I'm trying to do.

  • http://www.marydemuth.com marydemuth

    I applaud you for going forward. A niche is a niche, which means you can sell there. How many people, in your research, adopt dogs from puppy mills? I have a feeling that's a larger number than most people think. Let your tribe share your book. I look forward to hearing how it sells.

    • chrisshaughness

      Thanks for the encouragement, Mary! I suspect that thousands of people adopt rescued mill dogs, but then there are people who buy dogs from pets stores, the products of puppy mills. They will benefit from the book as will people who are contemplating buying a puppy from a pet store.

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  • http://www.marydemuth.com marydemuth

    OK, I did a little research. Your niche is MUCH BIGGER than you think. Look at this:

    There are an estimated 4,000 puppy mills in the U.S. that produce more than half a million puppies a year.[5

    Think of ways you can connect to humane societies around the US. Start with your local one. Word of mouth will definitely help. Your book is needed!!!

    • chrisshaughness

      Agreed, that's why it astounded me that publishers and agents didn't get it! I'm working it, believe me. Shelters are tough to crack because many of them already consider themselves as the experts. Thanks again for taking the time to dig into this for me.

      • http://www.marydemuth.com marydemuth

        As the French say, Bonne chance!

  • http://www.womenlivingwell-courtney.blogspot.com Women Living Well

    This is an interesting post to me as I am a fellow blogger. When I started out blogging I had no idea where I was headed. Only that I had a passion to encourage women in their spiritual walk. Then the phone call from the Rachael Ray Producer came and changed everything. When the producer wanted me to speak as a "1950's Wife" it sorta defined me.

    People now come to my sight to hear about old fashioned values and marriage principles. As I've listened to what people want and honed in on it, my numbers have grown leaps and bounds. I truly believe that only God could have gotten some bigtime producer to notice my teeny weeny blog. God defined my voice and my tribe for me and he is the one who has grown it. What a joy it has been – but also very humbling.

    Thank you for sharing today Mary – I have been following you for a while on twitter! You are a blessing!
    Courtney

    • http://www.marydemuth.com marydemuth

      Courtney, wow. I went to your sites. Loved them. And how cool that Rachael Ray called you!

      For all of you who are looking for your tribe, why not dare to ask God to show your tribe in a spectacular way? Who knows, maybe Rachael will call!

      Way to go, Courtney!

      • http://www.sequoiathoughts.blogspot.com Connie Brown

        Hmm. You have not, because you ask not? At first those words stung a little. I know you didn't intend them to sting anyone. But they prompt to add this: For those who've asked, keep asking, and keep seeking, keep knocking. Although God answers before we ask, not all prayers result in micro-wave fast results today. I like this information on tribes, but some of us need to keep our focus on serving God who rewards those who seek him and serve him.

  • http://www.stepparentingwithgrace.com Gayla Grace

    I think we are especially helpful in ministering to our tribe when we can relate to them through our brokenness, which you have done beautifully. I felt God leading me toward ministry with stepfamilies and created my stepparenting website/blog because of our own difficult journey down the blended family road. It has helped me stay focused with my writing because of my passion toward helping other stepfamilies.
    Thank you for your story and for sharing with us!

    • http://www.marydemuth.com marydemuth

      Thanks Gayla. And what a needed ministry to stepparents!

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  • http://www.almasimanagingstress.blogspot.com/ Miriam Kinai

    My experience in building my tribe? My tribe aka ministry is Christian-Medical Stress Management. Building it through my blog and books has reduced the stress of trying to do too much and freed my time by deleting all other options. I have also found that when you focus on your calling aka niche, you have a larger impact, achieve more and get louder applause from Him, from within and from others. It also frees you from the worry of "making it" because you trust God with the results as you have faithfully fed the tribe or sheep He has called you to feed and lead.

  • http://www.3threat.net Alan Danielson

    Great post Mary. Godin's "Tribes" is one of my favorite books and it's shaped the way I approach leadership. Your insights here are really valuable. I can especially relate to what you said about folks finding you. That has been really true in my own experience. Thanks!

  • http://www.edifier1.wordpress.com Kimberly Teamer

    Reading your comments on the idea of finding your tribe is fascinating to me. It makes perfect sense. When you find that sweet spot – that place where everything just seems to click, the place you identify with best – there is an internal ease that comes. From there, the passion flows effortlessly.

    Thanks, as usual. I so enjoy your insight. It has been my pleasure getting to know you through your writings and public speaking.

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  • http://www.marydemuth.com marydemuth

    Roger, I hopped on over to your site. One thing that may be helpful is to write things that teen girls would want to read, in terms of meeting their needs. What do they need? You seem to be focusing primarily on you writing books, which is a different audience. I'd suggest asking some of your tribe members to post. Or have them ask you and your wife questions. Keep it interactive.