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I bootstrapped a paid community (Weekend Club) to $1800 MRR, AMA!

Hey all, I'm the founder of weekendclub.co, the weekend co-working club for bootstrappers.

We started out in a co-working space in October 2019, then when COVID hit pivoted to remote. Since then we've welcomed bootstrappers from around the world, opened Americas and GMT time zones, tripled our MRR and seen some incredible projects dropped by our members.

I may be biased, but think we're one of the most supportive little communities on the internet.

Ask me anything :D

PS - we're live on Product Hunt today, so would appreciate any love! https://www.producthunt.com/posts/weekend-club-2

  1. 7

    What are your growth goals? Do you think you can scale the size of the community while maintaining the value?

    1. 2

      Hey Courtland - my main growth goal this year is simply ramen profitability. This roughly works out at $5k MRR, the point where I can pay my rent and survive in London (after costs, taxes and currency conversion). That requires ~115 members, from 51 now.

      Beyond that, at a minimum I'd like to grow to about 200 members, the point where I could live well and it wouldn't be totally unmanageable. I think I'd like to see what life is like then and if it's still good for our members before deciding whether to attempt growing it much larger... which I think is possible when considering new time zones, a weekday version or restarting in-person events.

      But let's assume I wanted to grow the remote version to say, $1m ARR. That requires around 1,600 members at the current pricing, a 31x increase. Naturally that would require seismic changes in how we operate to ensure it's not total chaos. I have lots to learn about scaling communities, but think we can still retain value while doing so. It would likely have to become a series of smaller ones, akin to Subreddits on Reddit.

      The simplest way is to divide by time zone, but I imagine there could also be different groups of entrepreneurs, such as content creators, SaaS builders, eCommerce types etc. Naturally, there may be tradeoffs with this. People may have a greater variety of people to network with, but it may lose a degree of the intimacy our members love about Weekend Club. I'm particularly curious to find models where people retain this at scale. So very open to recommendations!

    2. 2

      a wonderful q.

      ... +1 and congrats on the growth! this is so exciting to read!

  2. 3

    How many paid members is $1800 MRR?

    And what plans do you have in place to help manage the day to day as you grow to $10k MMR?

    1. 1

      We have around 51 paying members right now. Ha well if we manage to grow that large (I think there's a path to it but we shall see), I think it's key to keep leveraging our awesome members.

      Two Weekenders (James McKinven and Abhishek Kumar) already support me (for money) in running sessions, but really it goes beyond that. They also help in parts with onboarding and general community management, without being asked to. And I hugely appreciate it!

      As the community gets larger, we'll need more James and Abhisheks to help me out.

      1. 1

        Curious what was the free/paid members conversion rate? What % of free trial members migrated to paid?

        1. 2

          We have a 30 day free trial, rather than a free plan. Our free trial to paid conversion rate is around 50%.

  3. 2

    Hey Charlie!, seems like a neat community was looking to join right now. I'm curious how do you handle people building similar stuff ?

    Just checked the products on the site and saw that of my competitors in the group (world is pretty small I guess, didn't even know they were an indiehacker, I think that's pretty cool) but knowing how humans work (tribalism and all, "competitor===bad").

    Anyways, looking forward to hearing from you, love the community you've created.

  4. 2

    A community needs a critical mass of members for it to start rolling itself with user generated content, engagement etc.

    How did you get (and keep) those first critical users?

    P.S WOOOT WOOO congratulations!

    1. 2

      Thanks Matt :D

      The first 20 paying customers were mostly through friends I made/people I met running an Indie Hackers meetup called IndieBeers. A monthly Indie Hackers pub meetup in London.

      I spent about a year building that. Then when the idea for Weekend Club came about, there was an interested existing group of people to launch it with. Luckily they enjoyed it, and most are still members today.

  5. 2

    What's your favorite thing about running a community?

    1. 2

      Hey David! That's easy - the great people (like yourself) I get to meet and learn from.

      I only started building community in the last 2-3 years, but not doing so now is unfathomable to me, as I wouldn't be learning so many cool things, and having such interesting conversations. It's led to me making friends for life, who I can't imagine having met any other way. It's also the beauty of remote communities, the variety of characters you get to know is incredible.

      Also, I get a weird joy from introducing people who then make friends! Not sure if it's just me...

  6. 2

    Which platform did you use to build your community?

    1. 1

      We just use Slack for live chat and Zoom for the remote meetups (usually a standup, office hours and retrospective). No fancy platforms just yet, but someday we may move off it.

        1. 1

          Not yet, but I have heard good things! I know Launch MBA enjoy using it.

  7. 2

    Hello. Congrats man!

    How did you come up with this idea?
    Me and my friend are thinking of building something rn so we could have financial freedom but struggling to come up with ideas.
    How did u validate your idea?

    Thank you

    1. 3

      Thanks! To be honest, the idea was kind of given to me. Before COVID, I ran these pub meetups called IndieBeers in London. We used to go to the pub each month and chat about our products/businesses/ideas.

      On a few occasions, and most recently after a chat with @wilhelmklopp, people would mention how cool it would be to work on their projects with other Indie Hackers in the same room. Eventually, I thought I'd give it a shot.

      So we ran an 'MVP' one day, a free session, and gauged feedback after. I took the idea and came up with a '1 day sprint' solution, which went down well. After that day, I charged a monthly subscription to join the sessions. Then post COVID, we pivoted remote, and a year later here we are!

      My best advice on getting ideas is just to build something, anything, and along the way you will likely come up with something better. There is no way I'd have come across the idea for Weekend Club without just randomly doing meetups.

      1. 2

        Weekend Club itself has developed from a pub meetup, to an IRL co-working club, to a remote co-working club. I never imagined it would end up this way - and the only reason it did is I 1. have been continuously starting things for a long time and 2. allowed the idea to evolve. Don't worry about having the perfect idea. Just learn to make and launch things (without burning yourself out or financially ruining yourself) and over time you'll figure something out.

      2. 1

        Thanks for replying

        May I know whats your day job right now and did you build the website and all by yourself?

        Thanks

        1. 1

          I work as a UX Research contractor at an energy company. Building enterprise software in a team for the shipping industry.

          The website is built with unicornplatform.com - I don't write code myself.

      3. 1

        Were you worried that people wouldn't use it if you started charging for it?

        1. 1

          Not really to be honest. We got good feedback after the first trial session, and I said to join future ones it would require a monthly subscription. I told myself if people signed up then great, if not at least I tried. Luckily most people subscribed!

  8. 1

    That's great, congratulations @charlierward!

    I run a daily (my morning) co-working session since August 2020. This inspires me to evolve some things to make those sessions more cohesive and meaningful for participants.

  9. 1

    It would be a lie if I say I am not affected. :)

  10. 1

    @charlierward this is absolutely sick mate💪 how long you been operating and what was your main marketing method? Great work 🔥 🚀

    1. 2

      Thanks Adam! Operating just under 18 months on top of a full time job, but looking to go full time on Weekend Club this summer.

      We don't have the most sophisticated marketing strategy yet, but members mainly came from:

      • an existing community/audience I had through Indie London
      • referrals
      • Twitter
      • doing interviews/podcasts
      • advertising on the Indie Bites podcast
      • Indie Hackers posts

      We're looking to do more original content and experiment with retargeted ads in the near future though.

      1. 2

        Nice work man🔥 all while holding a full time job 👏 I’ll be sure to check it out!

        If you need a hand with the marketing strategy I’m happy to try to give some pointers RE all things blogging, so don’t hesitate to reach out.

        1. 1

          Thanks buddy! I might well take you up on that.

  11. 1

    You've done a great job! Here are just a few questions I have...

    1. How much was the initial price?
    2. Was there always a free trial?
    3. Any regrets/lessons learned?
    4. Have you had many haters? "this should be free etc"
    5. Did starting off in one location rather than remotely help?
    6. How do you deal with the size of the group increasing?
    1. 1

      Hey Pete! My answers below:

      1. Originally £25/month, however this was in-person and twice per month, rather than the weekly sessions people can access now.

      2. When it was in-person, we had a 1 session free trial. After going remote we realised a 30 day free trial converted much better.

      3. I wouldn't say regrets but plenty of lessons, such as: you need community guidelines earlier than you think. Onboarding is really important. Marketing doesn't just magically happen. Don't only listen to the most vocal people, as their feedback isn't always representative. Be really diligent on your spending. These are all probably common lessons though!

      4. Luckily no haters that I'm aware of! People have generally either really seen the value or politely said it's not for them.

      5. It's hard to say for sure, but I think it likely helped. It's slightly easier for people to build connections in person. So when we went remote, it meant it was less work to get a remote community up and running, as people knew each other at the start.

      6. Some things become easier as you scale, for example, the community is less reliant on you to answer everyone's posts. However for things like our morning standups, with scale we have to rethink the format so it works better for everyone. That's been a recent challenge we've been experimenting with.

  12. 1

    What’s your revenue number to go full-time?

    1. 2

      I think (at the current GBP/USD exchange rate) $5k MRR is the right ballpark. That means I can be 'ramen profitable', aka pay London rent and not starve to death. At that point I can really go in. 😈

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