If you’re thinking about launching an online community, you’re in the right place. You’ve probably heard about the many benefits of a community for bringing people together to master something interesting – not to mention for creating a stream of recurring income for the Host.
Yup, communities are amazing!
But you might also be wondering how to get started. Or, if you’ve already got a community that’s a bit stagnant, how can you breathe new life into it?
How can you take your brand, course, ideas, or goals and translate them into a thriving community – one that’s relentlessly creative, productive, evolving, and surfaces all the right kinds of joy and surprises for both you and your members?
The answer: Community Design™.
In this article, we’ll introduce you to Community Design™ and show you how it works to build a community your members will love, and how sets you up for success as a Host!
If you want more support in building your online community, come join OUR Mighty Community for free and meet other new and established community owners! We’d love to meet you. Join for free!
In this article...
What is Community Design™?
Community Design™ is our proven, planning process that helps you go from 0 to a thriving Mighty Network. Rather than just throwing your community up and seeing what happens, Community Design™ lays the groundwork for finding the Ideal Members, clarifying your value proposition and Big-Purpose goals, and planning the right activities to help your members achieve transformation!
Why you need Community Design™
Great communities need design. It’s true in a town or city, where haphazard and unplanned development wreaks havoc. And it’s true for an online community too, where poor planning causes frustration for Hosts, confusion for members, and – in some worst-case scenarios – communities that fail.
But adding the simple – yeah, it’s simple! – process of some good design means that you’ll have the right pieces in place to help your Mighty Network thrive!
Imagine a group of people on the same wavelength, running towards the same transformation. Imagine your members could meet people like them. Imagine they come for the material and stay for the friendships.
Imagine your community becomes such an important part of someone’s life that they don’t want to live without it.
That’s what Community Design™ does!
How to use the Community Design™ process
We teach the full process of Community Design™ in our Community Design Accelerator, where we’ll teach you how to put all the pieces together. This includes:
- The ONLY THING you need to have in order to charge for membership.
- The fastest, easiest way to create and charge for an online course.
- The most effective ways to structure and price your Mighty Network.
- The simplest ways to launch and grow your Mighty Network.
But in the rest of this article, we’re going to introduce you to some of the ideas from Community Design™ you can put into practice TODAY, whether you’ve built your community yet or not.
Step 1: Your Big Purpose, your story, & your Ideal Member
Community Design™ starts with you and your member, figuring out what you have and who wants it. Here are the things to think about at this stage of the process:
You’ve got something great to give your members! No matter who you are. No matter where you’ve come from. No matter what you’re dreaming about for your community.
It starts with you.
Your story has a truth to it. It’s transformational.
And you have so much to offer. Think about the things you’ve learned. Think about your unique perspective. Your successful community will be rooted, at least in part, in your story… every time.
If you want more proof, go read some of the case studies in our Stories of Awesome, and you’ll see the impact that your story makes!
Here are some things to think about as you get your story ready:
- What have you learned that you could teach someone who’s a bit behind you in their journey?
- How does your unique position, background, or identity give you a perspective that’s lacking?
- What journey of transformation could you lead others on.
Finding your unique story is the best place to start.
As you start to think about your story, you can also start to consider what an Ideal Member of your community would look like.
Who are they? What challenges do they have?
The more clear and specific you can get about who your Ideal Member is, the better it will be for your community.
Keep drilling down on this.
If you start with, "my Ideal Members are entrepreneurs…,” how can you make this more clear? How can you bring that Ideal Member into better focus?
You might refine it to say something like, “My Ideal Members are new entrepreneurs launching creative businesses.”
One thing about identifying your Ideal Members is that you don’t have to do it in a bubble. You don’t have to sit in your room and dream about who they are.
It’s way better to go out and find some potential members, and interview them! What are they struggling with? What do they care about?
Interview 15 to 20 potential members and take notes.
Once you have done these steps, you can turn your research into what we call a Big Purpose statement.
Your Big Purpose statement looks like this:
Step 2: A Year in the Life
So you know who your community is for. The next step is to figure out where you’re going to take them.
One year from now, where will your members be because they joined your community?
We call this the “Year in the Life.”
Start to list the benefits your members will have a year from now:
- They’ll be in control of their finances.
- They’ll have their art business up and running.
- They’ll have a career that brings them joy.
- They’ll be better parents.
- They’ll know how to play guitar.
There are a million different things members might get out of a single year in a community. So define yours carefully.
You can then break this into monthly themes. So, for the example of the person who’s getting their art business up and running, here’s how could we break this journey down month by month:
One-year Goal: To have my art business up and running
Month 1: Identify your perfect customer
Month 2: Create your inventory
Month 3: How a painting business makes money
Month 4: How to set up your business
Month 5: Finding your digital or in-person storefront
Month 6-7: Laying the business groundwork
…and so on.
Break that year into a plan for how to actually get your members to their goals.
Step 3: Your Community Design™ plan
We’ve thought about years and months, now it’s time to get down to the weeks and days.
While you don’t have to have every single week of your first year planned out (that would probably be overkill right now), you can start thinking about what your weeks and days are going to look like.
First, choose some weekly activities that support your monthly themes. From there, start to populate some of your daily activities in your community.
You don’t have to have something every day. That would be a lot of work for you and a lot for your members to absorb.
Start first with some regular activities. You might think about having regular and weekly co-working sessions, for example. Or maybe theme days like “Motivation Monday” or “New Member Friday.”
Here are some ideas for what to include:
- Give & Ask Day
- Skill/Lesson of the Week
- Weekly Challenge
- Question of the Week
- Office Hours/Weekly Video Call
- A Book or Podcast Discussion Day
- Community Roundups
- New Member Introductions and Highlights
- Member Profile Stories
On days when you don’t have a meeting or live stream planned, you can use a discussion question to keep members engaged.
And if you’re looking for some great discussion questions for your community, here’s a treat! We’ve got a free Guide to 1,000 Community Questions that you can use to get started. It’s available in OUR free community, which you are also welcome to join!
Step 4: Pricing and structuring your community
Now, let’s think about some of the nuts and bolts of your community.
Starting with the price.
Pricing a community can cause a lot of new Hosts some anxiety. What if nobody comes because I charge? What if people are unhappy with what they get? What if I charge too much?
It’s totally normal to feel a bit nervous around pricing, especially if this is your first try at entrepreneurship.
So let’s start with this. You should probably charge something. Communities that have paying members have more engagement. Why? Because people value what they pay for! So by having a membership cost, it actually makes it more likely your members will be successful in their transformation.
When we studied our creators last year, we found that:
- 77% of those who had paid plans were selling paid plans.
- The average membership fee is $39.55/mo.
As you’re figuring out what to charge, you might want to consider how a membership fee fits in with the rest of your offerings. For example, are you also selling a course? You could think about how these two will interact, and what it will cost if your members bundle both.
There are basically 4 ways to set up a Mighty Network for payments:
- Free Community
- Paid Community
- Paid Community + Course Bundle
- Free Community + Paid Course
Choose the one that feels right for you right now. And don’t worry, you can adjust later if you need to.
Step 5: Launching and growing
Once the pieces are in place, you’re ready to launch!
It’s normal at this stage to face some jitters. It’s even normal to face a bit of imposter syndrome.
You might find your brain throwing up all sorts of objections:
- What if I’m bothering people?
- What if they don’t come?
- What if I come off like a sleazy salesperson?
- Who am I to help people?
Don’t worry. You’ve done the work above and you KNOW that your future members need and want what you have!
And while these fears are TOTALLY normal, you’ll get more comfortable as you go.
But don’t wait until the fear is gone before you start. Just start!
And after you launch, don’t stop growing and evolving! Make sure you pay attention to what works and what doesn’t and don’t be afraid to adapt. You don’t have to have it all figured out on Launch Day.
If you’ve done the steps above, you’re well on your way to a thriving, online community! The great news, if you’re new to this, is that your skills as a Host will evolve and grow in time. And even better, with each new member that joins your community it gets more valuable and more engaged; we call this the network effect.
And you don’t need to build your community alone. Come join OUR community! It’s totally free, and full of Hosts that have been exactly where you are. And if you’re ready to take the full, real-deal Community Design™ training, you’ll find it here!
Ready to start building your community?