I have never been a big fan of the Dresden Dolls. I don’t actively dislike them, but outside of their aesthetic they’ve never really done much for me. As a result, prior to reading this book my knowledge of Amanda Palmer was hand-wavvy at best. I knew of her TED talk, and witnessed some of the backlash against her Kickstarter, but outside of that I was pretty new to the Amanda Palmer experience. So when I started hearing such great things about her book, I decided to give it a go.
TLDR; It’s an entertaining, quick read filled with some fun (and less-than-fun) personal experiences & the lessons learned therein. Highly recommended for independent artists, or for those getting started with community management.
The core of the book really boils down to this statement:
“When you connect with them, people want to help you” – Amanda Palmer
Sounds simple, right? However, if you’ve ever attempted to put it into practice you know it can be anything but. Putting in the effort to build real relationships with your audience is work. Being able to justify that effort when you might not see the fruits of your labor for years on end can take a leap of faith.
The Art of Asking provides some great examples of how being genuine and vulnerable can lead to a wonderful community that actively *wants* to help. After years of building real connections with her fans, Palmer was able to launch the most funded music Kickstarter of all time. Her initial goal was $100,000. By the end, it had reached over $1 Million. That success didn’t come for free, but was the result of years of actively building and nurturing real connections with her fans. Who when asked ‘Will you help me?’ replied with a resounding ‘YES!’.
I thought this book was a wonderful foundation for core community management practices. While not directly targeted at community managers, the core principles are the same. Focus on real connections, be genuine, and learning how to ask for support is a remarkable (if terrifying) step!
On a more personal note, Palmer’s struggle with asking her partner for help struck a serious chord with me. While I no longer have much of a problem asking for things on behalf of a brand, or a client, the struggle of being personally vulnerable and needing support was really apt. When it’s directly about YOU, it is much harder to accept that support. I won’t go into the details, but I really appreciated her honesty in discussing her personal struggles in that regard.
Suggested Audience: Community Managers, Artists
Entertaining read about the basics of building trust and long term relationships with your community. Not a lot in the way of direct ‘how to’ steps or suggestions, but a wonderfully personal account of her approach. i.e. This isn’t the book that’s going to convince upper management, but it’s a great example and data point on how taking a relationship-first approach can yield great results.
If you think you might be interested in the book, check out the TED talk that started it all (ever so slightly NSFW at one point):
- The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help (Amazon Referral Link)
- Theatre is Evil: The album, art book, and tour (Kickstarter)
- Goodreads: The Art of Asking Reviews
- Amanda Palmer (Twitter)
And now for my own bit of asking…
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