Community Building January 5, 2021

What are the biggest challenges you face as a community builder?

Kieran B @kieranball

For me it's a few things:

  • About half the members don't engage at all.
  • It's hard to keep even the engaged people coming back consistently.
  • Mine is cohort-based so I have this long period of no revenue coming in and not knowing if I'll be able to convert enough people on the next intake.
  • Pressure to deliver value for paying members.

These things bother me! How about you?

  1. 1

    Hey Kieran (MY REPLIES IN CAPS),

    About half the members don't engage at all. IT'S NORMAL, HENCE THE NEEED TO HAVE NEW MEMBERS CONSTANTLY. PEOPLE ARE USUALLY MORE ENGAGED AT THE EARLY STAGES, SO HAVING NEW MEMBERS WILL LEAD THE ENGAGEMENT.

    It's hard to keep even the engaged people coming back consistently. IF YOU HAVE A PAID COMMUNITY PLUS SOME KIND OF CRM SO YOU CAN KNOW WHO ARE YOUR MEMBERS AND WHAT THEY WANT/NEED AND DIRECT THEM TO THE RIGHT CONTENT OR EVENTS.

    Mine is cohort-based so I have this long period of no revenue coming in and not knowing if I'll be able to convert enough people on the next intake. WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY COHORT-BASED? LIKE CLASSES?

    Pressure to deliver value for paying members. YES, BUT THE VALUE OF YOUR COMMUNITY COMES FROM THE MEMBERS. YOU WOULD NEED TO THINK HOW TO ALLOW YOUR MEMBERS TO BLOOM SO THEY CAN CREATE VALUE FOR ALL.

    1. 1

      This is solid advice, thank you!
      Cohort-based means I have roughly 50 members join all at the same time, so they start their journey together. Then 2 months later I repeat, but the original 50 are still there so it grows over time.

  2. 1

    I am struggling too, mine is a free community and yet I can see it failing

    1. 1

      Honestly I don't see free as a reason for it not to fail. It may actually be the opposite. I was debating whether to make my community paid from the start or make it free and monetise later.

      I decided to make it paid from the start. It was scary and imposter syndrome was strong.

      But people paid. And this gave me 10X more motivation to make it awesome. It also meant members took it more seriously and were more engaged. If I'd made it free from the start, I think my a big part of my brain would have been consumed with how it would ever cover the cost of the time I put in.

  3. 1

    all of these are natural challenges.

    start by attacking each problem independently. that's how i do it. it can seem overwhelming if you try to do all of them.

    1. 2

      Thanks for the encouragement :)

  4. 1

    Hi Kieran. I help manage a website dedicated to facilitating collaboration/networking for IT Executives. It started as a side project for us during Covid, as our "full-time" job was in event production, and quickly became the #1 focus for us. In our experience, engagement and finding new membership was/is tough. Even though we produce articles, videos, interviews, etc., we found that the bulk of engagement happened through community posts where people could provide input on real-life experience or lessons-learned, and the new members largely join through word of mouth after people found value in the opportunity to talk openly with peers. Also, our community is free, so we have to find alternative sources of income without bombarding our members or selling personal information, which has ultimately been the hardest part.

    1. 1

      I can relate to your experience, @kieranball

      Thank you for your insight, @GordonsPass

      I launched methodpractice.com recently. It's a community for Therapists. I thought learning to code was hard but marketing and onboarding has been much harder for me! The task comes down to pulling members away from Facebook which is a huuuge task as Facebook is easy and has a hold on their attention. I also have no marketing budget or experience! It doesn't help that I'm introverted by nature (starting a community is a personal accomplishment too!). New members don't complete the sign up process and then disappear. No members have actually started interacting with each other yet. The upside is I love what I'm doing, I think what I've created is going to help members and the needs of Therapists is very important to me so I know it's just a case of sticking at it and learning.

      I suspected that the ability to interact would be a strength so it's good to know that's been your experience. I hope that's something members find valuable.

      I'm in an early access phase at the moment so everything is free. I'm hoping to transition to a subscription later. Do you mind sharing what alternative sources of income you've identified?

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