When Tiffany Johnson quit her job in the search of something she found fulfilling, she took a gig at a bakery to fill the space. But along the way, she discovered she loved the work. And she loved making one treat in particular: cake pops. In creating cake pops, she reconnected with a creative side she realized she’d lost.
Cake pops became her gig, as she created a successful cake pop business of her own. With 10,000 Instagram followers on her channel Creatiff Cakepops, she’d figured out what she loved.
But then something else happened. People started asking how she did it. She’d try to answer them, then ended up trying to build a course, but she found it a huge lift. And that’s when she decided to start a community.
Today, Tiffany’s community – Mind Cake Vault – is 100+ members strong, and she’s able to share both her baking and business passion with aspiring cake-poppers.
Tiffany’s story shows the power of community, both as a way to connect with people like you AND to build a viable business. In this article, we’re going to talk about how to start a community from scratch.
What do you need to get started? Well, nothing actually. So many of our emerging Mighty Networks have been launched by creators who:
- Don’t have a social media following
- Don’t have an email list
- Don’t have their course content or membership structure built yet
And they are on their way to some pretty great results.
What sets these emerging creators apart from the rest of us? They have an idea that’s memorable, and it’s specific enough to capture people’s imagination and attention. And they took the steps to make it real.
That’s it. That’s all you need. So here are 6 steps to start a community from scratch.
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…
1. Choose your Big Purpose
In this post, we’re going to talk about the trademarked process we’ve created for starting communities: Community Design™. We even have a Community Design™ Accelerator if you want to go deeper on this.
But one of the first places to start is always with what we call a Big Purpose. When you bring a group of people together, you need a purpose for it. A driving force. A raison d’être. And one of the reasons some communities struggle is that they’re missing this.
Your community doesn’t need to be for everyone. It needs to serve the person who needs it the most.
Now, if this is confusing, let’s make it really simple. Here’s an image of what a Big Purpose statement looks like. Can you create one of these for the community you’re dreaming about?
2. Pick your Ideal Member
Every community has an Ideal Member. It’s the person who will benefit the most from joining. Picking your Ideal Member can be a challenge, but once you find them, you’re off to the races. Here are a few questions to ask to find your Ideal Member:
- What challenges do they have?
- What do they dream about?
- What’s their demographic? What are they like?
- Who are you best positioned to help?
- Who can benefit the most from your experience?
Narrow down your Ideal Member. If you’re thinking of something for women entrepreneurs, that might be too broad. How about women in their 30s starting a creative business? We’ve seen from experience that this type of clarity will pay off.
AND you don’t need to guess who your Ideal Member is. Why not go and interview some of them? It’s a great way to see if the people you think are your Ideal Members actually are – and most importantly if they’re willing to belong to a community.
3. Choose your platform
Building a community means choosing a place to host it. You need an online community platform, a place to bring your Ideal Members together and keep them connected.
There are lots to choose from but – shameless self-promotion – why not come try Mighty! We’re a cultural software platform that lets you bring together community, content, courses, and commerce. And our flexible Spaces mean that you can mix in events, live streaming, discussion forums, chat and messaging, member profiles, and more. You can monetize your community in a bunch of different ways, selling in 135 different currencies or even with token-gating. There’s a reason we’re ranked as the #1 community management software by the software review site G2.
Here are some of the features you can build with:
- Live streaming
- Flexible Spaces
- Live events, RSVPs + Zoom integration
- Community forums
- Chat & messaging
- Member profiles
- Polls and questions
- Courses (live or pre-recorded)
- 135 currencies + token gating
- Plans and bundles
- Android & iOS apps included
So if you know which platform you’re building on, the next step is to figure out what to build for your Ideal Members. We like to call this process a Year in the Life of a community. That’s because you know who your members are and where you want to take them (Big Purpose), so what’s actually going to get them there?
This is the time to start dreaming about how to actually serve them, and how to get them to their goals. And that’s one more reason why it’s a great thing to choose the right platform; it will give you the flexibility to build your Year in the Life.
For example, you can run:
- Live Streams
- Engaging discussions
Really, the sky’s the limit. Find the intersection of what your members want and need AND how you like to deliver value. Do you like being on video? Would you rather stay behind the keyboard? Do you love being in big groups, or do you prefer 1 on 1?
There’s no right answer. Just the one that’s right for you and your leadership style.
We should also add that the prep-work can also be getting the visual look and feel of your community right. Adding your own brand and url isn’t hard with Mighty – you’ve got the flexibility to bring your own style and voice to the platform. And you can add in things like a customized new member experience to make sure people are engaged from day 1.
5. Invite people!
This is the fun (and a bit scary) part! Throw the doors open wide and see if some of your members will join! You can start with the people you interviewed in your Ideal Member work. But the sky’s the limit.
Just in case you’re wondering, there’s no right way to build membership in your community. Some of our Mighty Hosts had huge social media followings and email lists when they started. But a lot of them had nothing, and still grew the community. Whatever you have, it’s enough to get started today. And make sure to check out our article with some tips for growing an online community.
6. Learn and adapt
Look, not EVERYTHING is going to be an amazing hit the first time. Every community owner has successes and failures. Don’t let it get you down. Learn from what doesn’t work, do more of what does. Part of the magic of this journey is finding the unique rhythm for your own community, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Don’t forget that Mighty gives you a great set of tools to see what’s working. You can check out your custom analytics on a regular basis to see where people are spending time, or add in polls and questions to find out from your audience what’s working for them.
Trust yourself to figure it out. You know what your Ideal Members need and where they need to go. You’ll get there.
The only thing left to do is to get started! You can do this today, there’s no need to wait until you feel ready. Jump in and trust yourself to figure it out.
And if you want to check out Mighty, you can give it a try free for 14 days. It will help you dream. And no, we don’t want your credit card before you try it. We want to make sure it’s ACTUALLY right for you and your community. Good luck!