The Journey of Building A Community of 50k+ Members With Natalie Franke, Founder of Rising Tide Society

Welcome back to another episode of the She Did It Her Way podcast! And today is no exception of someone who has gone out and done it their way. I’m so excited to bring to you Natalie Franke, who is the Head of Community at HoneyBook and co-founder of the Rising Tide. Born out of her 7-year journey as a freelance photographer, Natalie built the Rising Tide to give solopreneurs the resources and support they need to be successful in their business. Natalie and the Rising Tide joined forces with HoneyBook in 2015 and today she leads a community of 75K+ creative entrepreneurs and freelancers. Natalie has been featured in the New York Times, Forbes, NPR, Bustle, and others. She studied neuroscience and the psychology of seeing at the University of Pennsylvania.

Her journey as a freelancer started when her mom gave her a camera, prior to that point in her life, she envisioned her career taking place likely in corporate America, moving to New York and working in the big city of Philadelphia. When her mom gave her first camera, everything that she thought she knew about what she wanted to do with her life came and just unraveled in front of her. She fell in love with the ability to capture images, emotion and being creative. So from senior year of high school all through the senior year of college, she started photographing portraits and when she graduated she was photographing almost 30 weddings per year.

In 2014 about two years out of college, Natalie had hit a lot of the goals that she had set for herself and her business. She was financially stable as a business owner, bringing in well over six figures, and she had a really loyal clientele but found herself incredibly isolated and incredibly lonely. And so right around 2015 she started to think about how to build communities for the very first time. It was just a thought of, “Hey, can I start, you know, cultivating a community in my hometown of Annapolis, Maryland?, Can I start getting these small business owners together? Can we sit down around a table side by side?” 

Natalie, her husband, and their friends, Davey and Krista co-founded, at the time, a small coffee meet-up in their hometown. So that’s where it started it rapidly expanded and grew because the pain was not just experienced by her and not just experienced by business owners in Annapolis, but the community members all across the world. And so Rising Tide went from one meetup to 12, to a hundred to now over 400 meetups that happen around the world, both in-person and online. And they have grown this community alongside HoneyBook for the past four years.

In this episode you will…

  • Learn about stepping outside the box
  • Discover that being successful is not about following a linear path
  • Find your passion and the things that you really want to do
  • Forget about the pressure from other people
  • Focus on the things that you love to do 
  • Hear about the benefit of being in the right community
  • Learn that the online community is powerful, it’s one of the most accessible formats for community 


“It’s been a dream to just be a part of a brand that understands the impact of the community over the last four years. So it’s been a journey. It has been a real journey.”

“I alluded this process of breaking the rules and stepping outside of the box, but I think the world tries to tell us that our paths must be linear, that we must, you know, go to high school, go to college, get a safe job, climb that corporate ladder. When I really, really kind of in those college years, especially as my business started to grow, realize that I didn’t want to climb a corporate ladder so much as I wanted to build my own.”

“Even your heroes feel like imposters too, you know, no one feels like they have made it. No one. Nope. Not even her. Like no one has no one ever feels like they have made it. We all think of that one person. She thinks she’s made it. She knows every day is just roses and daisies. Yeah. No, it’s not. I think, you know, everyone feels like an imposter and you have to tackle that head-on and stop entertaining the lies that you will never measure up.”

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