How Luvvie Ajayi Jones created a fun, safe space in the middle of a “dumpster fire of a world”

Featured in this Story of Awesome: LuvvNation

Launched April 2019

Launched
April 2019

13,400+ Members

13,400+
Members

Free <br>& Private

Free
& Private

LuvvNation is a free community curated by author and podcaster Luvvie Ajayi Jones that offers a safe place for her socially-minded followers in a “dumpster fire of a world.”

The Spark: Luvvie was looking for a way to connect more deeply with her followers without the bad vibes of social media when she stumbled upon a solution: Mighty Networks.

Luvvie’s Mighty Moment: “LuvvNation isn’t just about me. It’s about bringing the LuvvCousins things that will be useful for their lives in any way, whether I’m attached to it or not.”

After years and years of keeping up with her adventures, Luvvie Ajayi Jones’ followers decided enough was enough. They were going to need a name for themselves:

“I’ve been blogging for 17 years and I have a really engaged and plugged in audience who wants to know what I’m up to. And five, six years ago, they were like, ‘We need a name. Rihanna got a Navy, Beyonce got a Beehive.’ So they took a vote, and we ended up with LuvvNation.”

It was long overdue. But Luvvie—a best-selling author, podcast host, and speaker—wanted to do even more. She was looking for a way to open up a conversation with her followers. And she was hoping to find a place where her smart, funny, socially-minded audience could also talk amongst themselves:

“I wanted to get everyone in one place. So if they ever wanted to just take a break from the rest of the dumpster fire world, they had a place to do that.”

Luvvie already had an established following. Her TED Talk, “Getting Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable” had over 5 million views. Her podcast, Rants & Randomness was taking off. And she had more than 320,000 followers on Facebook, and over 318,000 followers on Instagram.

But when it came to social media, she was concerned about both the lack of privacy they provided, and the lack of true community.

Fortunately, as she explored her options she came across Mighty Networks. With a Mighty Network, Luvvie could have control over her own platform. She could better cultivate connections with her community members. And she could maintain a real sense of integrity, too:

“We don't own social media platforms. And right now there's a big conversation about privacy, and that these platforms aren’t really valuing our data. They’re just seeing people as pure profit.

But with a platform like Mighty Networks, I can control the direction of the community with the integrity that I have. I’m not selling anyone’s data. And I can go on there at any given time, and make sure there’s nothing crazy or hateful.”

And so LuvvNation—the platform—was born.

Calling all LuvvCousins

Luvvie already knew exactly which of her followers were going to be the most attracted to LuvvNation:

“Any space I’m in will always be women-centered. It's a space where people come in there and know that they're expected to level up, whatever that means for them. And I think a lot of them are looking for the courage to do bigger things, and to defeat their fears.”

And as soon as they joined, they jumped right in and made a name for themselves:

“As soon as I started, they actually started calling each other LuvvCousins. And I think that speaks so well to how it feels like a tribe, a home, and a haven. They see themselves as play cousins, which is great.”

The next step? Luvvie had to figure out how to differentiate what she was offering on traditional social media from what the LuvvCousins could expect in LuvvNation.

The first difference was the most obvious. When members of her audience joined LuvvNation, they would be getting direct access to Luvvie:

“I’ve actually been trying to move people from my Facebook page and saying, ‘Come join me in LuvvNation because if you don’t see me anywhere else, I’ll be there.’ There are days where I’m not posting on Facebook, but I’ll be in LuvvNation. I have DMs in there. They can reach out to me directly. I like their comments and see what they’re up to. So it allows me to serve my community in a real way.”

She also wanted to be super intentional about the kind of space she was creating:

“People operate in the way that you show them they should. If I was to curse in a post, people would curse in their posts too. I started realizing early on that we are mirrors of other people and that my members will mirror my behavior.”

To make her community even more valuable, Luvvie decided to add additional features that she doesn’t offer on social, from impromptu live events and giveaways to handwritten notes:

“I tell people, ‘If you want to be a VIP, come into LuvvNation.’ Because we do different things there that I won’t touch on social media. I want to make sure that the people in LuvvNation have extra access to me, and that they’re receiving things from me that only they can receive.”

Getting to the “good stuff”

Today, LuvvNation has nearly 13,500 members and counting. And although Luvvie typically checks in once a day, her community is self-sufficient enough to basically run itself:

“I think the best communities can almost run themselves. If I don't go into LuvvNation for three days, it's still lit in there. They'll still be talking to each other, whether or not I'm in there or not, which is fantastic. They don’t need me for the party!”

While the community is free to join, it is set up as private, so new members have to answer a question before they can be accepted:

“So the question is, ‘What is one of Luvvie’s podcasts?’ And that’s not because we’re trying to promote the podcast. It’s because I want a particular type of person in LuvvNation. You have to be familiar with something that I’ve done. You have to be willing to at least Google it.”

Once they’re in, new members are walked through an onboarding process where they’re encouraged to introduce themselves and get comfortable with the House Rules, which are outlined in one of LuvvNation’s Topics called “Rules of the House.”

Here’s how LuvvNation is organized:

Challenges
Luvvie introduces different Challenges to her members to encourage them to spend time each day working toward making change in their lives.

The first was the Do Better Challenge, which aligned with Luvvie’s first book, “The Do Better Manual.” The challenge included daily prompts related to health and finances and lasted for five weeks. 

With the Purge Challenge, Luvvie partnered with a professional organizer, and created daily prompts over 30 days, encouraging her members to get rid of things they no longer needed. 

The Good Stuff
Luvvie renamed her Courses feature “The Good Stuff”, and uses it as an archive for completed challenges and courses she has hosted on a previous platform. The Good Stuff is also home to Luvvie’s Intro to Public Speaking Course:

“I earn six figures every year, just getting on stage. And I teach people how to get it done: How do you actually tell a good story? How do you create a keynote that you use over and over again? And that’s available in LuvvNation.”

Luvvie has also kicked off more impromptu sessions. At the beginning of the pandemic, she just decided one day to hop on Zoom and check-in with her audience, which became a Friday event called Chat and Chill:

“While we were doing it, it was just me in my robe. Then I started having guests on there too. It was amazing. And it was just a really good way to further connect with my community. They felt like they were getting the girlfriend check-in that they weren’t able to do in real life. And it gave them a lot of value.”

Being able to access LuvvNation via the mobile app has given her members a lot of value, too. And because Luvvie is using Mighty Pro, her branded app brings the community to a whole new level:

“With Mighty Pro, people can go to the App Store and download LuvvNation, which is epic. As a thought leader, having an app that is branded to me, where my audience knows they can go at any given time if they want to connect with people but they’re tired of the rest of social media. It’s right there.”

A space that inspires and encourages

What’s next for Luvvie? Her next book, “Professional Troublemaker: The Fear Fighter Manual,” comes out in March 2021 and she’s planning to offer her community a special sneak peek before it’s released. And she’ll look to the LuvvCousins to help her spread the word:

“LuvvNation was absolutely in my mind as I wrote this book. It’s going to reflect on some of the threads I’ve seen, on some of the questions people have asked. And they’re going to be really important in publicizing my book. I’m going to go in there and say, ‘Listen, I need your help to make this book soar.’ Because I have no problem asking them for help.”

Asking for help goes both ways: Luvvie does her best to check in with her members to make sure that LuvvNation is getting them the results that they need:

“My team and I, we listen. I don’t have all the answers. So I let my members know that they can tell us what they need from us and how we can serve them better. We constantly listen to them and try to get their feedback so they can tell us what they need and we can see if we can provide it.”

As far as the community itself goes, Luvvie has a few plans for the future. She wants to get up to 100,000 members, and offer them transformation in their lives. She wants to create more courses and groups, and explore options for monetizing them. And she wants to bring experts and leaders into the community to share their knowledge and lift up her members:

“I always love to connect great people with great people. And we’re going to start doing more classes in there, I’m going to tap other people and say, ‘Hey, come serve LuvvNation on my behalf,’ whether it’s talking about skincare, or how to invest, or purging your house. Because LuvvNation isn’t just about me. It’s about bringing the LuvvCousins things that will be useful for their lives in any way, whether I’m attached to it or not. ”

And at the end of the day, that’s what LuvvNation is all about:

“Sometimes you just need community to push you forward. And I feel at the minimum, that is what LuvvNation is. It is a space that inspires and encourages people.”

3 key takeaways from LuvvNation’s Story of Awesome

  1. Be intentional about the space you create. The more you model and set clear boundaries for your community and what’s acceptable, the more likely your members will be to uphold and maintain the culture.
  2. It doesn’t have to be all about you. Just because you’re the Host doesn’t mean the community has to revolve around you, all the time. When your vision is strong, your community can practically run itself.
  3. Not sure what your community needs? Ask for feedback. Your members don’t expect you to have all the answers. Luvvie checks in with her community members to make sure that they’re getting what they need to achieve their own results and transformation. And you can, too.

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