When it comes to creating a passionate online community, few people have enjoyed the kind of success that John Green has. The 36-year-old best-selling author, video blogger, and charity fundraising guru has enjoyed a meteoric rise in pop culture. He recently landed on Time Magazine's list of the 100 most influential people in the world and, on June 6, he will walk the red carpet to celebrate the Hollywood adaptation of his book, "The Fault in our Stars."
So naturally, for someone with over 2 million subscribers on YouTube (John runs that multi-faceted empire with his brother, Hank) and 2.4 million followers on Twitter, there are some big questions from others who are just starting out about how one can recreate that kind of success. In a new interview with FastCoCreate, Green says the not-so-secret secret is to just be yourself.
"You have to be authentic with your audience," he shares. "When you treat them well, they respond generously. We do a lot of nonprofit work, and a lot of times [those organizations] say, 'We want young people to like this, so we're going to do this 'hip, young' thing.' I just wince. All you can be is yourself. In my case, part of that is being old. I don't know about One Direction, and they forgive me because I don't pretend like I do."
Green also recommends throwing yourself out there — good and bad — and soliciting feedback from your community. This creates a connection that's deeper than just the one-way street of publishing and walking away.
"They'd seen me struggle, they'd heard me read [parts of books] that had to be abandoned," Green says of his long effort to write "The Fault in our Stars." "It made them feel invested in it from the beginning. I'm more likely to read a book written by a friend, and if you extend that idea out, people are more likely to read books if they feel a personal connection to the person who created it, and to the process."
John also recommends using your growing community as a force for good. Last year's "Project for Awesome," a community charity event created by John and Hank, helped nonprofits raised over $700,000.
Besides absolutely loving what you do and a passion to never stop creating, Green also revealed in a recently posted video called "Deserving" that a lot of his success has come down to one big thing: luck.
It's a beautiful piece of vlogging because it sums up everything he mentions in his FastCoCreate interview as keys to creating a passionate audience: staying humble, being honest, showing gratitude, and giving back. Build a community around those pillars, and you'll likely count the Green brothers as some of your first subscribers.
Check out a trailer for "The Fault in our Stars" below.
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