Community Building September 16, 2020

My community has crossed over 400 members!

Davis Baer @DavisBaer

As a side-project, I started a community called "Local SEO Community", centered around local SEO specifically (as opposed to SEO more broadly), and we recently crossed over 400 members.

My plan is to keep it free-for-life for every who joins prior to reaching 1000 members. After that, I plan on charging new members ~$50/year to join.

I think this scarcity has helped grow the community so far. Members have invited others because they know the free spots won't last long.

It is hosted on Circle, which has been a great experience so far. I have given them a few suggestions here and there and they are super fast about replying and implementing the suggestion in many cases.

Feel free to check it out here: Local SEO Community
If you have any feedback for how it could be improved, let me know!

  1. 3

    Great job! How did members find out about your community?

    1. 2

      It actually started as a Facebook Group, so most of the initial members are from there.

      Here are the reasons for moving away from Facebook:

      1. Posts in Facebook groups cannot be found via a Google search. With this community, everything will be publicly accessible and indexed by Google, so your questions and answers can be found in the future by others who have the same questions (the paywall will only come into play once someone tries to comment/post).

      2. Putting a paywall on the community keeps it higher-quality and (hopefully) spam-free. Admin-ing a free Facebook Group becomes a full-time job of deleting spam rather quickly.

      3. Facebook ultimately owns everything in a Facebook group, and could decide to delete a group at any time. Hosting the community on Circle gives much more control.

      The hope is to eventually have the community built up with a ton of UGC, so that SEO starts to take over (I.e. people finding questions and answers on Local SEO Community that match what they're searching for on Google).

      1. 1

        Nice. How did you migrate them to a web-based community, did you contact each member via email (I know many FB groups ask for email).

        Btw, I think it's a pretty good decision you've made, plus you're opening acquisition channels like getting traffic from search etc.

        Just curious how many members did you have before deciding to migrate to a web-based group?

  2. 2

    Nice, I'm very hopeful for the future of paid communities. :)

    1. 1

      Thanks Rosie, me too :)

  3. 1

    I just signed up with Circle - this tool is amazing! How are you setting it up to allow the first 1,000 members to have free access and then paid membership afterwards? I'm slowly figuring out the pricing strategy, and I'm debating between a similar approach as yours vs. free membership for all but paid access for certain content. So glad I came across this article, as I hadn't heard of Circle before this!

    1. 1

      Right now, everything is just free, which was the easiest way to get going.

      Eventually I will put a paywall in place for anyone who wants to be a member and post/comment on things. Circle has a guide for charging for memberships:

      1. 1

        Oh snap! I don't think this overview was provided in the demo video of the tool - clearly I've got more reading to do about Circle. Thanks!

  4. 1

    Congrats, that's awesome! I've been seeing more and more communities start on Circle, which, to be honest, I hadn't heard about until recently.

    What are some of the benefits to building it out on Circle first, as opposed to another platform (Facebook Group, Slack, etc.)?

    1. 2

      The biggest difference with Circle communities is that everything is publicly accessible and indexed by Google (if you choose for it to be).

      Many Facebook groups and Slack groups have a lot of good information in them, but that information can never be found via a Google search.

      I wanted a community that can be found via Google searches.

      Ideally, I think SEO can be the biggest driver of traffic in the future.

      1. 1

        Oh interesting. Thanks for sharing! Circle's still pretty new to me, but the public access/SEO potential seems super promising.

  5. 1

    Congrats, that's huge!

    How'd you arrive at the number 1,000? Why not 401? 😁

    Also, what kind of control do you get on Circle that was important to you that Facebook didn't provide?

    1. 1

      Good question... 1,000 just seemed like a good point of critical mass and momentum to justify charging people for a membership. It just seemed like the value wasn't there if I tried charging too early.

      The biggest difference with Circle communities is that everything is publicly accessible and indexed by Google (which is not the case with Facebook Groups). Ideally, I think SEO can be the biggest driver of traffic in the future.

      How much has SEO driven the growth of Indie Hackers? Also, did you ever consider making Indie Hackers a paid membership community?

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