Ari is an aspiring entrepreneur with a passion for community. He lives around the world, taking photos, and doing online school. And for the past couple years, he's been growing the Photography Lounge community.
Meet Ari Dutilh
Today, the Photography Lounge Server has over 10,000+ members and strives to be Discord’s home for photographers of all levels.
Ari started building the community at age 15. He wanted a photography community that—as a beginner shooting photos on their iPhone camera—was beginner-friendly.
Ari says: “I understood the importance of attracting experienced photographers who could share valuable information and help out members just starting on their photography journeys. We have people taking photos on their laptop webcams as well as people shooting professional-grade work on Leicas and REDs, and I think the dynamic that creates is perfect.”
Ari’s Recipe for a Thriving Community
- Truly Listen to Your Members: “Sometimes we host editing streams or record educational podcasts, and we also don’t shy away from general topics of conversation. If people want to talk about movies, video games, or finance, they can.”
- Constantly Improve Your Server: Actively explore ways to change and improve your server. Just because it's always worked doesn't mean it always will!
- Maintain a Great Team: “[It’s definitely important that] Staff members are active in the community daily. Moderation is also very important; ensuring that our members feel safe and undisturbed at all times is vital.”
- Host Events on a Cadence: “We actually host weekly photo contests where anyone can submit photos they’ve taken that follow the current week’s theme. At the end of the submission period, members vote on the photos they like the most, and winners get server points and special roles.”
- Get Involved: For an admin to know what's best for their community, they have to be involved!
Keeping an Eye on the Numbers
For Ari, keeping an eye on the numbers and being aware of the stats coming in through Server Insights is essential.
“Pruning members who haven’t interacted with the server in the past 30 days is something I do routinely. If your community is going through a dry patch and you’re dedicated to driving engagement back up, here are the steps I’d take..."
- Announce your revival plan with an @everyone ping. Be sure to include new updates and plans you’re introducing.
- Prune anyone who hasn’t interacted with the community in the past 30 days using Discord’s native pruning feature.
- Become the server’s most active member, chatting with people and listening to any suggestions they might have.
- Rinse and repeat!
“After some close calls, we’ve managed to maintain the most difficult statistic for a Partner community on Discord. The “New Member Retention” rate. Luckily, Photography Lounge avoids issues now, staying between 20%-30%. I think we’re able to stay in this safe zone thanks to our introductions channel, which cues new members to introduce themselves. Our existing members welcome people personally, and I think having this instant human interaction when you join the server really helps.”
Of its 10,000 members, the Photography Lounge server has recently hit an impressive 5 million messages sent and 350,000 photos shared since its inception. Beyond sharing their work, community members constantly connect and create genuine friendships.
“Honestly everyday I see people actively contributing and chatting in the community."
"Recently, I discovered that two members met through the community, and decided to go on a ski trip together in Austria! This was by far the coolest online to IRL thing I’ve seen happen in the community. Makes me really happy to see people meeting great friends in the server.”
Make Friends, Experience New Things, and Adapt
“Building a thriving community is immensely rewarding. You make great friends, are exposed to unique opportunities, and learn a lot. I’d never consider ending my time at Photography Lounge because, at the end of the day, I owe so much to it.”
Thank you to Ari for his help in writing this article. If you’d like to join the Photography Lounge community, click here to check it out. If you’re interested in learning more about engaging a community on Discord, click here to find out more.