How Crystal Paine Created a Mastermind Membership to Help Fellow Bloggers Level Up

Featured in this Story of Awesome:

Launched on Mighty Networks in January 2019, Your Blogging Mastermind is a paid membership site that gives members the tools, tips, and techniques to be successful as influencers and bloggers.

Crystal’s Mighty Moment:
“One of the things that I always say is that I want to lower the podium so that people don’t think that I’m all the way up here, and I know everything. I’m learning too.”

Crystal Paine was led by one big belief: that everyone has a message to share with the world. But she knew too that for most people, the hard part was getting their message out there.

Crystal had had her own message that she turned into a popular blog, Money Saving Mom, which in turn became a successful digital business. She had the experience and the tools to help bloggers spread their own messages. And she knew she had to give back:

“After a few years, my followers started reaching out, asking for a behind-the-scenes look at what I was doing. They wanted to know how they could make money blogging, and they wanted a place where I could take them through the steps of monetizing their social networks.”

She started YourBloggingMentor.com, dedicating that site to beginning and intermediate bloggers who wanted to learn more about earning money from blogging, and offering courses that covered the basics of starting up a blog, content creation, monetization, and more. But once her followers had those basics down, they reached out to Crystal again. This time, they wanted more advanced tips and tricks, and a guide to scaling their own blogs and virtual businesses.

“These were people who had the basics down but wanted more advanced tools. They wanted more access to me and my work. They wanted to know whether I offered coaching. And they wanted to know how they could take their digital business to the next level.”

She started thinking about creating a membership site, where she could gather her most dedicated followers and give them both a refined set of tools and a behind-the-scenes look at how she ran her business. But she was also hesitant. The thought of creating a membership site from scratch felt like too much work:

“It felt so big and overwhelming. I didn’t know the first thing about creating a community or keeping up with it, so I kept pushing it back and thinking, “I don’t want to do that, it’s such a big commitment.” It seemed so much harder than selling a one-time sort of thing, and I was nervous about making it happen.”

A Fresh Perspective Leads to New Possibilities

At that moment, Crystal decided to get an outside perspective. She hired a coach who helped her figure out the best way to set up a membership that would be a personal and professional boost, and they got to organizing what the membership would look like.

She decided on a few things to start: That the membership would be hosted on a private forum that was built into her website; that she would launch to a small group of her most dedicated followers; and that she would lock those early adopters in with an exclusive lifetime fee of $27 a month:

“I told them upfront that they were going to be my guinea pigs, and that this was going to be a new experience for all of us. That I was going to be experimenting with what to offer, and how to offer it.”

The feedback was immediate: Crystal’s members liked the membership but wanted to be able to connect with each other and share their experiences. With the forum, they just couldn’t do that in a meaningful way, which left them frustrated.

“People weren’t responding to it, partly because we’re used to social media that’s fast, and the forum was slow. It was antiquated. It was outdated. And it also wasn’t user-friendly. And when something’s not easy to use, when it’s not user friendly, people just aren’t going to use it.”

Her members started asking whether the group could be moved to Facebook, but Crystal had her reservations. Having done some short-term coaching groups via Facebook Groups, she knew that the platform would ultimately be too distracting and that she wouldn’t be able to control her members’ experiences or reach them consistently due to Facebook’s algorithms.

“There’s so much going on on Facebook. You get distracted for 45 minutes reading things that are not going to help your life at all. And it wasn’t just that: It’s hard to police and manage on Facebook, and you just end up having to give up a sense of control over what’s going on there.”

After researching some options, Crystal came upon Mighty Networks. It was the perfect fit: a Mighty Network would enable her to offer her members community-forward features on a dedicated membership site platform. She could:

  • Offer a user-friendly solution that gave members multiple ways to connect, from direct messaging to finding fellow members nearby
  • Host live group coaching sessions to where she could offer her expertise and answer member questions
  • Message and reach 100% of her members without the distractions of social media
  • And since a Mighty Network was available on both the web and mobile apps, Crystal could create a branded community that was available no matter where her members were

With a Mighty Network in place, Crystal started planning to launch her new paid membership site: Your Blogging Mastermind. 

Creating the Tools for Transformation

When it came to launching to a larger group of people, Crystal put some rules in place: she would invite followers she already knew, and she would aim to keep her group on the smaller side to start.

“Even as we did a bigger launch to a bigger subset of people, I figured that having a smaller number of people would be good. That way, I could continue to be super involved, answering questions, and really engaging with people.”

She decided to invite members who made at least $200 a month from their digital business, so that she could focus on reaching people who were already making money, but wanted to get to the next level. She also sought to include people making up to seven figures, to offer members more depth and breadth, and the opportunity to learn from each other and grow together.

With her ideal members in mind, she then went about recruiting:

“I pulled from every single resource I had at my disposal: My email list, my Facebook and Instagram followings, all of it. Then I used those platforms, and I said “Ask me anything about blogging.” From there, I looked at the kinds of questions people were asking, and if they were more advanced or complex, I would reach out and see if they were interested in joining Your Blogging Mastermind.”

One year and much experimenting later, Crystal’s community is currently 93 members strong. Now priced at $46.99 per month, Your Blogging Mastermind uses a single-offering membership model (ideal for new communities!) to provide member-only access to:

  • Live hour-long group coaching sessions twice a month
  • Monthly office hours where members can ask Crystal questions via live Zoom
  • Twice annual in-person mastermind events, where members can set goals for the next six months
  • Access to Topics where members can chat, reach out for help, celebrate their wins, and more

Crystal structures her group with a Monthly Project, a theme that spans one to two months, focuses on blogging-specific topics like building email lists, and sets benchmarks to hold members accountable. Plus, she uses a weekly calendar to help encourage her members to stay engaged. On Mondays, members get an opportunity to celebrate their wins, and on Fridays, they can submit social media posts that they want extra engagement on from fellow members, to get an extra boost.

But for most members, the main benefit of a Your Blogging Mastermind membership is the direct access to Crystal, her 14 plus years of blogging experience, and the ability to not just ask her questions, but to get genuine feedback and access to opportunities, too:

“It’s important for me to log in there regularly, and communicate regularly, and look for opportunities to give them an extra boost. I’ve endorsed books, I’ve promoted their stuff, I’ve critiqued their sales pages. Because at the end of the day, they’ve invested in my membership. And in turn, I want to invest in them.”

It’s not just the investment that’s the two-way street: From listening to feedback to experimenting with recent launches, Crystal is learning as much from her members as they’re learning from her:

“One of the things that I always say is that I want to lower the podium so that people don’t think that I’m all the way up here, and I know everything. I’m learning too. I don’t know everything about everything, and we all need to help one another because we all have strengths, and we all have weaknesses.”

With a High-Value Experience, a High-Value Reward

So far, Crystal’s members are loving the transition to Mighty Networks. It’s given them the opportunity to connect in ways that were impossible with a simple forum:

“They’ve loved being able to engage, being able to tag people, and to connect with each other. People have used the local feature to start their own meetups, which has provided a lot of additional value.”

As Your Blogging Mastermind grows both online and off, so do Crystal’s plans for her members. For now, her focus is on creating a high-value experience while trying new things and using her mastermind members to test out her new offerings:

“I’m all about experimentation. If I’m thinking about introducing a new course, or I’m publishing a new ebook, I reach out and I say, 'Hey, what do you guys think of this?' I try to give them opportunities to do things that my members from my other businesses aren’t getting.”

She’s hoping to expand her reach down the line, but for the time being Crystal is focused on nurturing the relationships she has with her current members, and helping them share their own messages with the world around them:

“I believe so strongly that everyone has a message to share with the world, and that the world needs to hear your story, and hear your message. When people come to me and ask where to get started, I tell them all the same thing: Start with serving. Start with connection, start with a commitment to show up every single day. That’s what gives your people the value that they’ll keep coming back for.”

3 Key Takeaways from Crystal’s Story of Awesome

  1. Embrace experimentation. Crystal has been able to create a beneficial structure for her community by being open to experimenting with her members, her offerings, and more. That commitment to experimenting, and her members’ willingness to provide feedback, has been crucial to her membership site’s success.
  2. Set yourself up for success with small numbers to start. Crystal has thousands of followers, but she first launched her membership to a small group of her most dedicated people. It’s a lot easier to build something that gets results for those people, before scaling to more members down the line.
  3. Be clear about how your offering is different. Crystal differentiated Your Blogging Mastermind from Your Blogging Mentor by setting a rule that the former was for intermediate and advanced bloggers, and by being specific about her ideal members. When your motivations are clear, you open yourself up to a greater chance of success because people know what to expect.

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