Hi IH community!
Last October I closed GrowthSeeker.io community. I want to share what worked and did not work, to help others in the path to build a paid (or not) community.
Before starting, if you want to know more about all the "failed" trip, the three pivots, more lessons learned, figures, and how I manage failure with a growth mindset, have a look at this Twitter thread and listen to the podcast attached. I was interviewed in a podcast to talk about failure:
Now, let's go!
Things that worked for me to build the community:
- Understand what the members were valuing the most and pick a tool for that (live chat communities vs forums vs live streamings/room). Eg: If one of your rituals is a live call (let's say you roast a landing page to help somebody every week to improve conversions), maybe your tool is discord because of the live rooms.
- Personally introduce members that share interests. Drive networking and show them you care about their businesses. Have a list of "members care" like a CRM to do this personal touch. I was using Notion.so to keep track of this list.
- Have a calendar of events so that people can download the appointment and block their agendas.
- Live calls (depending on the purpose of the community and the audience might work or not).
Things that did not work:
- Change from Discord to Circle after having some tens of people. Fight vs change management again, onboard again, and lose the momentum. That was the wrong decision.
- I'm a firm believer in having a why embracing the brand, and in my case is a deep why. However, people did not seem to care about that. Probably why + charge + apply the rules would have been a better combination.
- Not getting serious enough about some stuff. Eg: Some members were spamming others. I could have avoided charging money early enough to filter the quality of the members.
- Too many groups / overcomplicate the community.
- Keep the conversations out of the community. The 1:1 talks to start having my initial cohort of engaged people were through email, twitter, linkedin... not in the community. Change that inertia and have the people share things in the community instead of sharing with me in private via other channels was hard. I could not incentivize them enough to share and talk in the community and switch from the usual communication channels.
Not having an accountability ritual (this depends on the community's purpose, not always makes sense).
- Gamify the use since the beginning to incentivize participation. Works best to add value, dynamize the networking, have exclusive content, and be patient to little by little having people in the community.
- The scalability of the paid community model vs my purpose with the community. My goal was to democratize the access to mentorship for entrepreneurs with no access to mentorship or guidance via the community. That was a full-time job, a considerable amount of time. To make a life from this, I needed to charge around 45$/mo (with discounts for 6mo or yearly). But I've learned that that's a high pricing point for the target audience.
I've learned so much with this process. My top learning is the huge amount of time and effort that's needed to make a community work. Now I know that our beloved @rosiesherry and other community builders are not from this planet... you all have my total admiration (you already had it, but now even more)!! Huge kudos for your hard and excellent work!
Now, I'm trying the other way around. I've built https://startupbuilder.mba as a digital product (a notion template) to help with the idea validation process. I offer the community an extra feature to validate and get help from other innovators worldwide following my validation program.
That's it! I hope it helps somebody :)
AMA, happy to help ;)