From Dream to Reality: A Thankful Pause on the Road to Success

Deb Schell, CEO and Founder
6 min readNov 10, 2023

With fall comes change in many forms. Leaves are falling like snow, and clocks are being turned, all while this planet revolves around the sun. Changes in personal or professional life mean navigating new opportunities or looking at new ways of doing things to offer fresh perspectives. If things aren’t working, try changing the actions, people, places, or things that make it difficult.

This year has been filled with wonderful conversations with friends, alone time to delve into personal growth, and times of financial challenge as I navigated the third year of business. With everything happening worldwide, it can be easy to focus on the problems, but today, I want to celebrate my hard work.

It might be too early to discuss a year-end review since it’s only the beginning of November. But I enjoy finding the highlights in times of challenge, and I can’t wait until the end of December to look at all the beautiful things I’ve accomplished, contributed to, or experienced.

One of the PolkaDot Powerhouse community’s tenets is celebrating our successes at each meeting and congratulating our peers for theirs. I can’t emphasize the importance of reviewing what you’ve done because you might feel a bit stuck, as I do. Before I jump into the list, let me share a few notes of gratitude. I am so thankful I’m still doing community work. This year has hit the community industry very hard, and many communities have closed, shifted, or are non-existent.

I am seeking work in other fields to compensate for the challenging economy. Like many others, I may need to return to that 9–5 life to find a bit of calm. Proving the value of a community and demonstrating why someone should invest money in it have long been challenges. There is a double standard for compensation depending on the type of work an individual does, leading to a difference in perceived value.

Community builders’ work is powerful, and there will be much more emphasis on and a need for moderators, facilitators, and leaders in this space in a matter of years. Since that time isn’t today, I will return my writing to my love for travel. A new announcement will be coming soon, but before I share my ideas for 2024, I’ll thank all who’ve supported me and helped me achieve the following list of twenty things I did this year to connect, create, and collaborate.

Communities have been a big part of my journey. I’m building the community directory to share resources for the best and brightest places to connect, collaborate, and be in the community with others. I couldn’t have done this work without the support of individuals from these communities.

Mia — A client supported by Deb’s consulting in 2023. Click here to view more client work.

Celebrating twenty in twenty-twenty-three

When running a business, I’ve found that many people provide suggestions for getting clients, growing and audience, and developing passive income. The ideas that people have given me overs are reflected in this list. It takes a long time to build web pages, learn new digital tools, navigate challenges of client retention, and build an audience on social media. If you’ve experienced this yourself, you know what I’m saying… So yeah. This is a BFD as my former manager in sales used to say.

  • I worked with over twenty business owners, helping them navigate the Mighty Networks platform, developing a community strategy, and designing courses and chats. (Click here to see a few of my client examples.)
  • I have been a guest speaker on over 13 podcasts after setting a goal to pitch 3–5 podcast hosts each week from June — December.
  • Over the past year, I have redesigned my website with a new landing page and several service pages and added resources, such as checklists, worksheets, and digital downloads.
  • This year’s new opportunity to sell online products was a goal, and I have set up my Artist Studio to sell my photographic artwork on canvas.
  • After hosting my photography on a premium website for over ten years, I removed all my work. I transitioned it to Behance for more visibility.
  • In March, I exhibited my photographic artwork at a venue in Central PA. Friends and colleagues attended the first exhibit I’ve done since 2017.
  • As a creator, affiliate marketing is one primary source of revenue I want to grow in the future. I’ve created a place where you can find out what tech tools I’m using.
  • Between August and October, I hosted the Community Straety Podcast, Season 2 — reading experts from my newly published book, Creator to Community Builder. The podcast has also hit over 10,600 downloads since its launch in 2020.
  • At the beginning of the year, I set out to write a blog post each week, and I’ve been successful in writing more this year than in past years.
  • Creator to Community Builder: Find Calm While Building Your Online Community is now published and available in digital or print form. This project was extensive and required patience. I’m proud of the book and hope you find it helpful.
  • Camping is one of my favorite summer experiences. It became a refuge and escape from my four office walls since I couldn’t travel this year.
  • Another goal for this year was to dive into email marketing and create more lead magnets and email sequences to grow my list. Since switching to ConvertKit in April, I have gained over 100 subscribers, compared to less than 30 the previous year. ConvertKit also launched a Creator Network, which I have joined.
  • Over the year, I found ways to generate more leads; one place I started posting is YouTube. I’ve already had success with my efforts, as several clients found me through the platform.
  • Since launching Creator to Community Builder, I began hosting a weekly book club from October through December. I’ve had several terrific conversations with community members and leaders who share their thoughts about the book.
  • The Community Consultants Collective, established in 2021 with a few friends, has developed into a professional organization now led by Todd Nilson. This group of consultants, freelancers, and community builders meet monthly to support each other.
  • After becoming a YouMap® coach in 2022, I launched an Explore You program to help clients identify their strengths, skills, and unique values for brand and website alignment.
  • I wrote my first e-book to help busy leaders design a content calendar to create more digital products for passive income.
  • This list would only be complete with mentioning the fantastic communities that helped with personal and professional growth. I’m a PolkaDot Powerhouse Lancaster Chapter member, a volunteer facilitator for The Network Incubator, and took on a volunteer communications role with River Crossing Playback Troupe.
  • In the fall, I could volunteer and attend the Pennsylvania Conference for Women, an event I’d wanted to participate in for years. I met many fantastic people, shared my work with women, and made connections that I hope will continue to flourish.
  • You. I’m proud to call you a reader, and I hope you can celebrate that with me! Over this year, I’ve grown my audience and met more new fantastic community builders. I hope that continues in the future.

Authors Who Lead Podcast Interview

Deb Schell’s Journey from Book Writing to Community Building. In this episode of “Authors Who Lead,” I talk to Deb Schell about her book, “Creator to Community Builder: Find Calm While Building an Online Community,” and the art of community-building, book writing, and the challenges authors face in today’s landscape. Click here to listen.

Email Deb@FindCalmHere.com for questions or comments.

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Deb Schell, CEO and Founder

Community Strategist, Author, Podcaster, Designer. Find Calm Here, where community strategy meets intentionality.