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How two creators transformed their community from tech headache to six-figure network
Featured in this Story of Awesome: Self Mastery Community
Launched April 2020
The Self Mastery Community is a membership site that supports people with “self-mastery” which means changing your negative thoughts and gaining control over emotions, reactions, and behaviors with training, online courses, and conversation.
The Spark: Managing the technology for their WordPress site was a time and energy suck for co-Hosts Gary van Warmerdam and Eva Beronius, who were also seeking a better solution for bringing their members together in a community.
Their Mighty Moment: “We’re playing the long game. We’re going to grow this into something really special over time. It’s a big vision and we’re just getting started.”
Gary van Warmerdam and Eva Beronius had been trying to bring their expertise together under a single membership model. But they kept hitting snag after snag.
The pair had started working together in 2015 after Eva took one of Gary’s courses. They instantly knew that their work was compatible: Gary focused on changing beliefs and releasing repressed emotions through conscious awareness. Eva focused on the intersection of meditation and conscious mindfulness.
But they struggled with meaningfully putting their work together online. They wanted to use Gary’s membership site, Pathway to Happiness, where he had been hosting training courses for more than 15 years, as a base for their venture.
But the website was showing wear and tear. Updating it was a pain. There was no way to translate it into a mobile app without paying tens of thousands of dollars. And it didn’t have any community capabilities, a factor that Gary was keenly aware of:
“I kept adding these different things at different times. I tried to bring in some plugins to allow people to have boards and a forum for more of a community feel. But we’d always end up reconfiguring. It was a technology nightmare getting things to stay working. And it never felt right.”
They were stumped. Then earlier this year Eva found Mighty Networks, and everything changed:
“When we found Mighty Networks, something clicked. We thought, ‘Here’s a platform that can host our dream and our mission.’ We saw just how easy it would be to bring this community to life. And we could really visualize what it would look like 10 years in the future.”
With their own Mighty Network, they could combine and expand their teachings in one place, and make it available to their members on the web or their phones. And because Mighty Networks did all the heavy lifting for them when it came to the tech, they could get back to their true focus: delivering connections, concepts, and helping their people get results.
Taking the ‘build as you go’ approach
Although they had a lot of course content to move over, Gary and Eva didn’t try to do it all at once. Instead, they opted to start with Gary’s upcoming Self Mastery course, which was due to start in a matter of weeks.
Taking a “build as you go” approach, the pair decided to use the urgency of the coming course as an opportunity to jump right in. They would use Gary’s Self Mastery course as a starting point, then build out the rest of the courses and the community from there:
“Our approach was essentially launch, ready, aim. We just had the bare minimum—that first course—up. And we figured from there, we could build everything else, step by step.”
Their next challenge was figuring out what the transition would look like, long-term. The thought of bringing Gary’s thousands of members from Pathway to Happiness over was daunting.
After taking the Community Design Masterclass, the pair decided that they wouldn’t try to move every single person over. Instead, they would redefine their ideal member and differentiate what they were offering inside of their new network, the Self Mastery Community:
“We realized that we didn’t want to speak to everybody. We didn’t want to try and phrase what we were doing to be for everybody. We wanted the people coming in to be really serious about the work, and realize we’re not in the business of quick fixes.”
When it came to recruiting those new ideal members, Gary and Eva used a few different tactics. They knew some people would find the community organically, from reading Gary’s books and articles. To get an extra push, Gary also linked out to the new Self Mastery Community from his original site, and some of his previous courses housed there.
Meanwhile, Eva used her own webinars to gauge potential members’ interest:
“When I launch my meditation course, we do it through webinars. So people get to sign up for free webinars, get to know the work, get to know my approach, and see if it’s a good fit. If it is, I offer them the opportunity to go deeper by being a part of the Self Mastery Community.”
With a few initial members and a loose structure in place, Eva mocked up some branding in Canva to get ready to launch. And despite starting small, they were both confident about what they were building:
“We believe so much in the content that we have. We’ve seen it work for people. And we knew that people would love coming together and sharing their experiences. So trusting in that to work made it so much easier to focus on the quality of what we were creating, and the quality of these people we were inviting into our tribe.”
With everything in place, Gary and Eva took their next step.
Courses, community, and so much more
Today, the Self Mastery Community has over 4,600 members and counting. That includes people from Gary’s memberships and Eva’s courses, as well as members who found the community from Google:
“Some of the best members are the ones that have found Gary’s work through Google because they’re already super motivated. And they’re already ready to make the change.”
To encourage people to join their free introductory courses, access to the Self Mastery Community is free. Not only is this an important step in their funnel of finding people who will commit, but the community itself offers free practices and training, plus access to content like Member Journey profiles, a monthly series highlighting one of the group’s moderators (or as Gary and Eva call them, “facilitators”) who have gotten results from Gary and Eva’s methods:
“People kept asking us, ‘Is it true? Can I really change these things?’ Posting these stories and sharing them reinforce the idea that making these changes is possible. They see that someone else has done it, and they believe that they can do it too.”
Members also get access to two introductory courses at no cost. Most people join through Gary’s Self Mastery Introduction course, which focuses on the concepts of self-mastery: gaining control over thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. The training consists of four free lessons, which are dripped out over the course of four weeks, a cadence Gary says is key to the process.
“The choice to drip content comes down to this: Changing your thinking, or changing your emotions, is a skill. And skills are developed by practice and repetition. That’s how you build skills. That’s how you make a big change. And we see that people get the best results when we do it that way. They don’t just skim through. They get a chance to go deeper.”
The other introductory course, Intro to Relaxation and Meditation, is led by Eva and helps members get started on their meditation journey, teaching them the benefits of expanding their awareness.
Once students have mastered those concepts, they can move up to one of the Self Mastery Community’s paid courses, which Gary and Eva have renamed “Trainings” inside their Mighty Network:
- Self Mastery I $149.99
Self Mastery I is the community’s flagship course. It focuses on the fundamentals of changing unconscious beliefs in order to get rid of negative thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.
- Self Mastery II $179.99
The next step up, Self Mastery II focuses on more advanced practices to help dissolve the Inner Critic, and develop skills around creating a new belief system.
- The Relationship Course $179.99
The Relationship Course focuses on helping students identify and change fear-based thought processes that create emotional drama in relationships.
- Recapitulation $99.99
This course teaches breathwork practices for releasing emotions and memories.
- Releasing Emotions $15.99
The Release Emotions course helps students learn a healthy process for releasing the emotions stored in your unconscious beliefs and physical body.
- Anxiety Support Module $19.99
This training helps students reduce anxiety with breathing practices, and address both the parasympathetic nervous system and unconscious beliefs.
They also offer paid group access. The Self Mastery Academy—Gary’s mastermind-meets-coaching group—runs alongside Self Mastery I. It’s something that Gary was never able to offer before:
“This is totally new for us. Before, we could only offer these evergreen, prerecorded courses. So to be able to offer this group alongside the course, and add that live component, is a great way to give our members added value. They get to engage more, ask questions, get answers.”
If previous students want to go deeper into the process of self-mastery, they can join the Self Mastery Academy for $299.99. Otherwise, members are invited to bundle Self Mastery I and the Self Mastery Academy for a one-time payment of $399.99.
Eva also has a membership group within the community, Beyond the Mind Pathfinders. For $29.99 per month, alumni of a meditation course she ran earlier this year can come together for continued guidance. To encourage people to keep sharing with each other, Eva structures the group with monthly themes and weekly practices. She also hosts live sessions to keep everyone on track.
Because Gary and Eva offer a lot of different options within their community, they’ve also created onboarding materials to help get their members acquainted. In their Featured Section, they spotlight a couple of informational posts, like “How to navigate between your Groups, Trainings, and the Main Community.” Members can also find an introductory Q&A video that Gary and Eva collaborated on there, too:
“We hosted a live Q&A in June, just as a way to introduce people into the community and funnel them from the intro courses into the paid courses. Because people had a lot of questions! And once we were able to answer them during a live event, we thought, ‘Why don’t we just pop this in the Featured section, so everyone has access to it?’ It’s been really helpful for new members to get an idea of what we’re about, and what our courses are about.”
Playing the long game
Opening up the Self Mastery Communit, and giving their members ways to connect with each other has been a game-changer for Gary and Eva. So far, the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive:
“A lot of people have been really happy with the move, especially now that they have app access. We have exercises and practices and meditations that they can listen to daily. Having those things close means a lot to our members, because they can just have it all on their phone and plug in.”
For members who are a bit flustered by the transition to the Mighty Network, Gary and Eva have some simple advice: Be patient.
“We tell the people who are a little overwhelmed with the move to just be patient. Give yourself time. Because at the end of the day, we’re still finding our way around, we’re still figuring it out too. And we’ll figure it out together.”
As Gary and Eva sort out what their community will look like in the future, they’re brainstorming ways to practice growth. Their plan? Add more content, improve existing courses, and introduce “facilitators” as moderators to help manage the group as it grows.
And they trust that they’ll get there in time:
“We’re playing the long game. We’re going to grow this into something really special over time. We have a big vision. And we’re just getting started.”
3 key takeaways from Self Mastery Community’s Story of Awesome
- Be clear about how this offering is different. When Gary and Eva moved to Mighty Networks, they found ways to differentiate their new offering. If you already have something in place—a membership, a community, or a course—you should do the same to emphasize the value for members in making the transition.
- Let your ideal members find you. Once you’ve identified your ideal members, give them a clear path to opt-in to what you’re offering—similar to what Gary and Eva did with their intro courses. That way, they’ll be able to figure out whether they’re ready to commit to the results that you’re offering.
- Build as you go. You don’t have to move all of your content and courses all at once. You can have a vision for what things will go where, but that doesn’t mean you have to sort it all out right away. Whether you’re moving a community or starting from scratch, try replicating Gary and Eva’s tactic: Start with a single Group or Course, and build from there.