Online communities are more important and needed now more than ever. More and more people are working from home, working remotely and are facing the loneliness that often comes with being a freelancer or entrepreneur. The best way to bring a community together online is through a membership site. However, planning, building and running a membership site is much easier said than done so I wanted to talk to someone who has a lot of experience recently in helping plan, build and launch a successful membership site to share what she’s learned with you.

In this episode, you’ll hear from Karen Beattie who is the Senior Content Manager at Smart Passive Income (the brand behind successful entrepreneur Pat Flynn). She shares what they learned with launching their membership SPIpro which, I’m actually a member of as well 🙂

I wanted to do this chat not only to learn for myself because I’m in the planning and building stages of my membership but to help you who are considering launching a membership in the near future or who have clients you’re building membership sites out for.

In this episode:

03:26 – Greeting to Karen
06:22 – Different reasons
10:11 – Bring tribe together
13:36 – Launch Plan
15:14 – Why paid, not free
19:20 – Purposeful
23:46 – Platform decision
30:58 – Setting up
34:38 – Active members
41:10 – Pricing
43:59 – Maintaining
52:29 – Final thoughts

You can also view the full transcription of this episode below.

Learn more about –> The Josh Hall Web Design Club


Connect with Karen:

Featured links mentioned:

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Josh 0:17
Hey, everybody, welcome into Episode 69. In this one, we’re going to be diving into what’s behind a successful membership site. And my guest today is somebody who is knee deep in a membership site. This is Karen Beatty, and she is the senior Content Manager for Smart Passive Income calm. Some of you may recognize that name because that is the website for Pat Flynn. Pat is an entrepreneur and somebody who I consider a mentor of mine for the past couple years now. I’ve gone through a lot of his courses and been through a lot of his training. And I’m actually a part of his membership, and their membership is called SPI Pro. And I’ve learned a lot about watching what’s working for them. To apply it to my upcoming membership, if you didn’t already know, I do have a membership in the works right now. And so when I found out that Karen and the team SPI are launching a membership, I joined and I’ve been really learning a lot and I figured I would pass down what I’ve learned with membership sites to you. And I reached out to Karen to see if she’d be interested and coming on to talk about what they’ve learned with with SPI Pro with what’s worked well for them what they’ve learned from and I hope that you can use this for yourself if you are interested in having a membership site one day. But then also for those of you who are designing membership sites for clients, you can basically take everything that Karen and I talked about in this episode, and you can offer it to your clients for things to watch out for, and to help them really build a successful membership site. Because with a membership site, what I realized and having this conversation with Karen, is that the tech side of it is only a small part of it. The rest is how you build, run and manage a membership membership site moving forward. So really excited to share what we learned in this conversation. And I wanted to make sure you knew that if you’re interested in hearing more about my membership. Most of my interviews here are sponsored by a course but I’m not going to talk about a course in this one, I want to just briefly touch my membership because I am so fired up about this guy’s for those of you who have been on my email list for the membership stuff I’ve kind of filled you in on what’s coming. But there’s so much excitement around it. And I’m really excited because I’m going to open it up to the founders here soon. If you’re interested in getting more details about my upcoming membership, go to Josh hall.co/membership. And there’ll be a place where you can get more info. And I’ll fill you in because essentially, I’m bringing my tribe together, it’s going to be an amazing place for community networking, exclusive trainings with myself and more direct access to me to ask questions and to just expand your network and meet some amazing people and have that community and support behind you. So I’ve interested go to Josh Hall.co/membership for more. And now enjoy my really fascinating talk with Karen and Karen’s not your average Karen. She’s not your let me talk to the manager Karen. Karen is super cool. She was really open about what this worked well for SBI Pro with our membership. Without further ado, let’s have fun. Karen, welcome to the show. awesome to have you on.

Karen 3:29
Yeah, I’m so excited. Thanks for inviting me.

Josh 3:32
Well, I just told you before we went live I it’s kind of a selfish episode because I’m building out my membership right now. And I’ve been doing some some r&d, some research and development. And I’ve been interviewing and talking with some people who have memberships in place what they’ve learned. And you had recently interviewed me and did a blog series on me for for the Smart Passive Income blog. And I thought you know what I’m gonna reach out to you just to see if you’d be interested. And I figured why keep it between us and I could share it with my audience because a lot of my audience are web designers who either are building memberships or have clients who are building memberships. So really excited to talk shop and help them out. Before we dive in, if you I’d love to hear from you where you are, and then what you do exactly with Smart Passive income.

Karen 4:17
Sure. Well, I am in Chicago, Illinois, so So yeah, so I work from Chicago. Our team is all remote so that is great. We love having remote team. And I’m a senior Content Manager. So that means I work on content such as blog posts, ebooks, we help you know, whenever Pat has a new book coming out, we help him with editing and proofing and getting that all ready to go. We’re also starting a new podcast so I’m working on that. So yeah, just really anything content related. I am the manager. So

Josh 4:54
Awesome. What’s the podcast? I didn’t know there was a new one in the works.

Karen 4:58
Well, we’re not sure yet.

Josh 5:00
Yeah, okay, okay.

Karen 5:00
No, actually, yeah. So we’re not ready to announce it, but we should in the next couple of months, you’ll probably be hearing more about it.

I think the idea of a membership, particularly nowadays, is more pertinent and crucial than ever. – Josh

Josh 5:08
Okay. All right, fair enough. Well, I’m pumped. And yeah, you know, it’s it’s interesting because I followed Pat Flynn for I think about a year and a half now. I heard him, Have him through my business coach, and then went through his power of podcasting course, which was just a, just a huge, huge foundation piece for me to really kick off this podcast, which you’re going to be Episode 69. And it’s going awesome. I just I love doing the podcast. And the next big thing for me is the membership. So I’ve been doing a lot of research on it. And what was interesting about Smart Passive Income. And what you guys are doing, is, you have this membership that I’m a part of now I joined recently for SPI Pro. And I’m sure we’ll talk about some of the specifics. But it’s been really interesting. I haven’t really, I haven’t really dived in too much as a contributor. Yeah, I’m more just kind of creeping, just kind of being observer watching how it’s flowing. Yeah, it’s kind of looking. And it’s just amazing. I think the idea of a membership, particularly nowadays, I think, is more pertinent and crucial than ever. And I think that’s actually the course, the first question I have for you, Karen, is why a membership for any type of brand or website and why now?

Karen 6:19
Sure. So yeah, there are a couple different reasons for that we had been talking about doing some kind of membership community, or some kind of community really, since 2018. And one reason is, because people were asking Pat for that. So you know, that was kind of on our minds, our audience was looking for more of a community, and, you know, more opportunities to network. And the other reason is, just, as you know, because I know that you have a lot of courses, like courses make up a lot of our revenue. And, but it’s not recurring income, like you put together a course you launch it. You know, sometimes you put them evergreen, which is, you know, great, but, but we were just thinking about just the future of the company, and you know, how we could just make the our revenue a little bit more stable, you know, just have some recurring income that was coming in, you know, month to month. But really, you know, I think at the core of it is that we just thought it was time for our audience, they were just wanting something more, a lot of them, like, you know, have been following us for 10 years, you know, which is when Pat started Smart Passive Income. And, you know, they, we have a lot of great content on our blog, it’s free content, if you’re looking to start in an online business. So there’s tons of great content, but then what happens when you’ve already started your business, you’ve already taken the podcasting course, and you’ve started your podcast, you know, you’re doing the affiliate marketing, you know, all of these things. What do you do next? Like, how do you kind of get to the next level? So our idea around SPI Pro, our membership community that we launched in July, was just to have a safe place for entrepreneurs to come and ask questions, to get feedback, to get like more in depth training, because we wanted to, you know, like business fundamentals, like, Okay, if if you start like hiring a team, and your business becomes a little bit more complicated, like, what are those business? You know, like, cash flow, and how to price products and like, sure, kind of the more in depth topics that you may need to know once you’re a little bit down the road as far as an entrepreneur.

Josh 8:46
Yeah, and it’s funny hearing you say that, Karen, because you’re echoing all the challenges that I have as a course creator now. And because I do have nine web design courses, and they’ve been amazing. They’ve been life changing for for hundreds of people on mobile, I’m closing in on 700 students now. Wow, that’s amazing. It’s been awesome. It’s just been incredible, however, and I say, however, because it just what you said is the problem that I’m facing now and my students and that is, what’s next, like a lot of people will go through depending on where they are in their journey. They may go through all the courses, I have a bundle where you can go through all of them, or they may just pick and choose which ones are best for them at that time. But it does it begs a question what next, like they go through a course and impacts their life, they implement the systems, and that’s awesome. But what I found as a course creator, is unless somebody intentionally reaches back out to me, inevitably, they’re gonna disappear, they may not disappear right away. And I do have private Facebook groups for the majority of my courses, and those have kind of turned into little mini memberships. But what I’ve found is that number one, a lot of people will just disappear and it’s no fault of their own. They’re just done with the course if I’m not really engaging them to go to further because people listen to the podcast but I don’t hear from that many people. And I want to hear from people, I want to bring everyone together. And that’s exactly what my membership is, it’s basically the chance to do exactly what he said, Bring my entire tribe Finally, together and to do Q and A’s and to stay in touch with me and to be able to talk with me more directly. Because what I found is, it’s become, it’s become very scattered, and very messy with how I’m communicating with all my students. Right now. It’s over Facebook Messenger, it’s on my personal profile, or my business profile, it’s email. It’s through course, comments. It’s through YouTube comments, you know, there’s like all these different avenues where I’m getting so many different hits, and all these different places. And it’s very messy, it’s very scattered. I actually think I know a membership is going to be a lot of work, but I think it’s actually going to be very, very stress relieving for me just to have people in one place that’s more organized. And more importantly, what you’re probably getting at with SPI Pro is you bring them together, like Yes, exactly. A lot of my students I’ve been I’ve been basically a matchmaker for the past year and a half, I’ve been pairing students up with each other, a lot of my students are collaborating, working together now. And I’m like, man, I want to get like everybody together. And it’s gonna save me so much time from having to repeat the same email over and over. So is that another big aspect too, with just bringing the audience not together with just you and the SPI team? But with each other?

And it just like, so amazing to see people come together. – Karen

Karen 11:25
Yes, definitely. I mean, that’s a huge part of it. In fact, when we did a survey, um, we found out that that was the number one reason people wanted to join a community was networking. And, you know, I think the life of an entrepreneur can be really lonely. You know, like, you’re kind of, you know, usually you’re working from home, or you’re alone in an office or, or, and so I think just having other entrepreneurs to, you know, just bounce ideas off of get feedback from learn from, I think that’s a huge, you know, reason that we wanted to build the community. And what really solidified that was, last year, July 2019, we had our in person conference called Flynn Con, that was the first one we’ve ever done. And it just like, was so amazing how to see people come together. And yeah, we had a lot of really great teaching from Pat. And like, you know, me main events on the mainstage and guest speakers. But what was really cool was just seeing entrepreneurs come together, and talk to one another in the hallways, and in the lobbies and at dinner. And so that just solidified our thinking around, we just really need to find a way to keep this going. And to, you know, do it online. And I think especially now with COVID. You know, I think it’s especially important for people to have that connection. And, you know, to me, I mean, we can only meet online, really right now. Like, I think it was just really, um, you know, it was just really great timing for us to have already planned this, you know, and then unfortunately, COVID happened, but I think it just fulfilled a need that people had for just coming together and networking and just having other people to, you know, have community with,

Josh 13:22
I was actually curious as an outsider for Pat Flynn and for SPI. I kind of wondered if you guys hurried up a membership because of COVID? Or Had it been planned for a while. So it sounds like it was in the works. And then

Karen 13:36
it was definitely in the works. Yeah, we had Yeah. It was definitely in the works. We had actually the end of last year, our plan for 2020 was to put together the community SPI Pro, and then launch it at this year’s fling con. Okay. So that was our plan. But then we had to cancel fling con, of course, because we couldn’t, you know, no one could travel to San Diego and we couldn’t have an in person conference. So yeah, that was our plan. We had originally planned to launch it at flin con, we ended up going ahead and launching it in July as well. We just had to you know, change our launch plan a little bit. Yeah, yeah. It was it had been in the works for a while.

Josh 14:18
Yeah. And again, I I definitely I understand a lot of what you’re saying with the reasons why. And I think most of my audience is web designers. We already feel this because we’ve been remote workers. Most of my followers are working from home or in remote spot. So we’re used to doing things remotely. But in the in the web design realm. We have word camps and meetups and a lot of things that were in person I always tried to go to a meet up every a couple times a year at least. And those were invaluable. So now it’s really difficult. I personally think there’s no better time for any industry to have online communities. Because it is it’s crucial because it gets lonely working from home. A lot of people aren’t used to working online alone. So it’s like culture shock. I Some students, yeah, I have some students coming from wait like fastly different industries. So I really wanted to, on my end, I wanted to really bring everyone together and have this community, one of the next questions I have for you. And it’s kind of a kind of playing devil’s advocate on this one, which is why a premium membership over like a free Facebook group, or just something, you know, like a free community or something like that?

Karen 15:21
Well, we do have a community on Facebook, that is pretty active. I’m not sure how many members we have in that community right now. But there are a couple issues with that, first of all, Facebook is a platform is a little bit difficult, just because you know, you have your just general news feed. So when someone posts something, it’s just kind of this linear news feed, that’s kind of hard to join the conversation if you kind of come in and out. So that was one thing, just Facebook as a platform itself. The other thing is, we wanted people who were and you know, we welcome anyone, any entrepreneur, whatever level they are, wherever they’re at, on their journey, like beginners, you know, if you’re doing it as a side gig, that’s great. But we wanted people who were just really committed to growing and being active in the community, and wanting to get to the next level. And I think when you have a free platform or a free community, you get a lot of people who maybe come in and out maybe aren’t that serious, or just kind of curious, which is fine. You know, and we welcome everyone into the Facebook community. But we just thought that there was a need for a different level of community where people were definitely committed to growing and interacting with one another and, you know, growing their businesses,

Josh 16:50
Yeah, I think but with a membership, even if it’s a very low cost membership. I mean, some people do memberships for like, $1, just to weed out the people who don’t want to pay a thing, which, yeah, the trick like you like, I have a Facebook group for web designers. It’s free. It’s 22,000 people now. So

Karen 17:09
That’s amazing.

Josh 17:10
It’s amazing. But it’s 22,000 people want a free place, which has become very difficult. Now, I’m not gonna close the group down. But this membership is completely different. That is basically a forum. Now, it’s basically tech issues. Like if you have questions about certain tools, or something like that, I’m going to keep that open, it’s a great place to test the waters with some of the tools I use, and, and I’ve tried to run it as best as I could. But with 22,000 people, you get some bad seeds in there, no matter what kind of right rules and strict guidelines we have, like we we actually have a really high denial rate, we’re at almost 50% denial right now. Because just in web design, you get a lot of people all over the world who are just wanting to join something for free. And I’m like, Listen, if you can’t even fill out the questions, I we’re not gonna let you in the group. If you know, you got to at least, about the questions, I have no idea what you’re going to be like. But it’s been an issue. And that is the problem. It’s it’s, you know, the free groups attract people who may not be serious about their business. But also when I found that when you pay for something, even if it’s a small charge, you’re more invested in automates automatically makes you as a member want to contribute and get more out of it. Because look, I’m paying to be here, I’m going to want to do this thing. And the other big problem, you mentioned that with Facebook, you don’t own anything, you’re at the mercy of Facebook, and even with a with a boosted post or something like that, you’ll get maybe what 5, 10 percent of the people see it. If you’re lucky, like in a big group, a very small percentage. So so with a membership platform, it’s as huge because everyone’s gonna see it, you can control the variables. Was that a big thing for you guys as well, you just wanted to have full control of, you know, bringing the community together?

Karen 18:55
Exactly. Yeah, there are a lot of factors. I mean, when we envisioned what we wanted the community to be Matt Gartland, our C co CEO, he and pat are co CEOs now. But we had about, he wrote down about six different things that we really wanted in the community. You know, one, of course, was community. One was purposeful communications. And that meant something similar to slack, where you could have different channels, different ways of organizing the information instead of just a straight newsfeed private networking such as LinkedIn, like something similar to LinkedIn, a knowledge base, similar to help scout and he as you can tell, he used a lot of these tech platforms as kind of his inspiration. He was like, I want something like this and this and this. And then exclusive access and advice so you know you’re paying a membership fee, but you’re also getting access to To You know, more access to Pat, more access to our team, access to experts, that type of thing. And rich content, which we have free workshops that we do within the community, we have free ebooks that we have created exclusively for the community. We have events such as, you know, Pat holds these asks AMAs asked me anything events. So that has been really fun. We have experts that Come on, like from our platform partners, such as ConvertKit are teachable to do like little trainings within the community. So there’s a lot of like really enriched content that you can get for free. And then we also have exclusive discounts, you know, from a lot of our partners as well. So there’s a lot of, so you’re paying a monthly fee, but it’s a yearly fee, whichever you choose, but you’re getting a lot of free content that you wouldn’t get otherwise.

Josh 21:00
Yeah, and a lot of just, yeah, a lot of like premium exclusive stuff that you wouldn’t get as somebody on the outside just for free. And then I think more of everything you said right there. It’s the purposeful content like this purposeful conversations. That was a big thing for me, too. And I know, we’ll talk about the platform that we’re both using, because I’m using what you guys are using with SEO, pro, right. And I thought the exact same thing, I was like, Okay, I’m getting Facebook messages and emails randomly from people, my students who I’m basically coaching people for free right now. And I just I know, right now, at my level, it’s okay, but I know here pretty soon, I’m not going to be able to manage it.

Karen 21:40
Exactly.

Josh 21:41
So I like I like that aspect. I like the idea of Facebook groups. For my courses. In particular, however, it was the same thing, we just went over no control. It’s spotty, and buggy at best Facebook groups, and then you’re just members aren’t going to see everything. And then the other thing was I liked the idea of like the slack base channels. And I know my team, we use Basecamp. And I really liked the idea of having certain threads to where when you’re in that thread, you’re in that space, like, exactly, I’m in the zone, you know, it’s much different than just a Facebook thread where, you know, you could just see something while you’re eating dinner with your family and you see something and you know, you’re just not in that space. So the idea of all that together was huge. And I I have been kind of toiling I had been looking through all these different platforms. And when I found that you guys were using one called circle Circle.So I joined the community because I wanted to be a part of the community. But I also was, you know, more really looking forward to just kind of seeing what’s worked because everything that you’ve done, I’ve basically copied the SPI playbook and it’s working out awesome.

Karen 22:43
Great.

Josh 22:44
And everything that you just said from the different threads, the different chats the the more direct access to me exclusive, like relevant timely trainings, then connection and networking with really great people like all those aspects are, what I’m bringing in my community. But the trick was what platform to choose. So I did, I went with circle, and I’m setting it up right now. And I love it. I’m the only member right now because I’m building an app, but I just like being inside circle, I tried some other ones out. And I felt like they were just clunky. And they were just there was just so much so many different things that were going on. I just I liked how circle was very conversation based it is kind of a mix of slack and Facebook groups to me. Right. But that like LinkedIn, more professional network, private kind of network aspect to it. So that’s kind of why I went with circle. Why did you guys go with circles? The same thing? Or was there anything else that really stuck out to you?

Karen 23:40
Yeah, so when we first you know, started toying with this idea of a membership community when we looked at a lot of different platforms, and you know, there’s mighty networks, which has been around forever. And, you know, there I think there’s one called Podia so we were looking at different platforms, but in the meantime, you know, Matt was really looking for one that really fit our vision, we didn’t want to have to fit our vision into their platform like you know, someone’s platform. So um so in the meantime, he was talking with some people at Teachable which we have a really close relationship with because we host all of our courses on Teachable and they’re just a really great partner and he was talking with Ankur who is the CEO and founder of of Teachable and so they were talking about this idea and you know, Matt was thinking well maybe Teachable could, you know, create something, but that wasn’t you know, that just wasn’t a really good fit. But then in the meantime, Ankur was telling Matt about a couple guys who used to work at teachable who were starting Circle.So and, you know, the whole idea for circle was to help creators, you know, have a platform For community, and they were doing some interesting things like, you know, like the slack like channels, and you’re really able to create your space the way you want it. Yeah. Instead of just having to fit your idea into a, you know, a template. So, so Matt was started talking with them even before they launched the product. And so when he found out what they were doing, he was he was all in he was like, yeah, this is exactly what we need. And so so yeah, it was really

Josh 25:29
That was just out of beta, right? This in the summer,

Karen 25:38
it was this was like, well, he started talking with them way back in January.

Josh 25:42
Okay.

Karen 25:43
Yeah. And so they had just kind of a, you know, a prototype put together. And he was really impressed with that. And then he went back and visited them again. And they had built it out even more. And so. So actually, he and pat are now advisors for circle. And so they’re able to have some input on like, Oh, we think this would be really great for, you know, any, you know, new things, or new features that they could offer on the platform. But yeah, and then it’s also white label, so you can have your community branded the way you want. So yeah, there were just a lot of it’s also I think, Circle, like with Mighty Networks, you can go into Mighty Networks and like, create a website and actually put your courses on that site in order to, you know, sell your courses right on mighty networks. And so it’s kind of an all in one platform. But we really didn’t need that because we have Teachable for our courses. And we didn’t want to have you know, we wouldn’t move them to a different platform. We already have, you know, a payment platform set up. So with Circle, you can connect all of those various platforms to your community in circle.

Josh 27:02
Yeah, it’s funny, I’m nodding my head because same thing I basically just a step behind SPI like, I already have my courses set up, I’ve got that, you know, all set. So the one I was trying out before circle, the platform was very similar was an all in one, which I liked some aspects of that because it was, you know, fairly easy to integrate a lot of different things together. However, there was all this stuff for landing pages and sales stuff and courses. I’m like, I don’t need any of that. Like, I already have my website. I’ve already got all that in place. I just need the community aspect of it. And yeah, I really, I like circle I liked I just thought it would look very minimalistic and clean. And it was kind of like an open slate that you could add your own, like flair to like you’re saying one thing for me too is because I did find out I think I listened to the podcast episode where Pat talked about being an advisor for Circle and I’m like, you know what, if these guys and some other really good folks are behind this brand new product of Circle, I feel like it’s going you know, it’s going up. There’s it’s I know it’s in really good hands and it’s we’re at the cusp of something really cool. I feel like it’s it’s going to be worth investing in and funny story. I ended up making a connection with Jay Klaus, his podcast scheduler reached out to me and asked if I’d be interested in having him on the podcast. He was actually just a couple episodes before you. And I was like, okay, freelancing school. And then I found out he’s in Columbus, Ohio is like, Oh, that’s cool. local guy. So yeah, we reached out, we connected and I got him on the podcast. And when I was checking out circle, I went to the bottom of the landing page. And there’s Jay Klaus. So it was like, a crazy, like, small digital world. And I reached out to Jay and I was like, dude, I saw you on circle, I’m actually looking into circle. And he’s like, dude, I just helped out SPI pro set circle up. And I saw that you got featured on the SPI blog by Karen. So it was like a crazy, small digital world all at once. But that kind of sealed the deal. For me that was like, Alright, you know what, I feel like this is a platform and just as a quick lesson for my students and audience who are listening, when you’re deciding on a platform, it is a really big deal. It’s a really important decision, because it’s something that’s ideally gonna last a long time. And I think I think the value in what we’re talking about Karen is we’re diving into like, why it was so important to make this decision and how to make it because we had all these needs, we identify what we needed, which for my web designers listening, you can just basically copy this entire conversation and create like a list of you know, what your clients need, and then decide what platform is going to be best out of the biggest needs because had I had not, you know, had courses if I didn’t have a website, I may have chosen an all in one type of solution. But I had that all set up. So again, there’s a lot of other platforms and I use WordPress. So there’s a ton of really good plugins. I’ve used Memberpress before on a client site. We’ve done some other forum based stuff, but this one community driven I think was huge and cool thing for me and what I’ve told The people who are really interested in my membership is, since I’m a member of SPI Pro, I’m learning what’s working for you guys and kind of passing that on to my membership. So it’s, it’s really exciting, exciting times,

Karen 30:12
We’re still we’re still figuring out what’s working and what’s not working. Yeah.

Josh 30:16
Let’s talk about that. Yeah, cuz I and I’m telling everybody it’s gonna evolve, like, it’s gonna start out fairly simple. At the start, like I have all the threads set up, I have, you know, we’re gonna do monthly trainings and q&a is with me. But it’s going to evolve, we’re probably going to expand on more part of me, I tend to like, just put too much on my plate all at once I want to do challenges. I want to do a book club. But I realize I’ve got to take it one step at a time. I’ve got to get the foundation set, and bring my my founders in first, my early adopters, my tribe, and then really get it set up, and then we’ll evolve it. But yeah, what’s what do you feel like are something that’s worked in some things that maybe haven’t worked so well so far?

Karen 30:56
Sure. And just to be clear, we have we have a, you know, 10 to 12 person team doing all of this, so. So yeah, if you’re one person trying to set up the membership community, it might look a little different. But so we knew that networking would be a really big value. So we do a lot of meetups. So we have as soon as you join as a new member, you can join a new member meetup. I don’t know if you’ve done that yet, Josh.

Josh 31:24
I haven’t. Yes. Because it’s location based now too, right?

Karen 31:28
Yeah. Well, so we we also Yes, so we have a new member meetups, and those are just a lot of fun. We just, you know, everyone talks about, you know, what their business is doing where they are, it’s just pretty casual. But those are just really fun. And some people come more than once. So just to meet as many people as they can. We also have subject based meetups. So if you’re interested in podcasting, we’ll have a podcasting meetup. So you can talk about podcasting. And then we’ve recently rolled out mastermind groups. So we have, so you filled out a little application about what you’re interested in, what how many times a week you would like to meet, you know, just kind of all information about what you would want from a mastermind group. And then we did matchmaking, so we, you know, based on, you know, some based on location. But, you know, otherwise you’re, you know, like what you’re interested in and how many times a week you wanted to meet. So that is really exciting. People are really excited about the mastermind groups. We also, like you mentioned, we have a book club so people can meet, we read a book once a month on a topic, and then we come together twice a month to discuss it. So that’s been really great. Um, so those are just some of the opportunities where people can just get together and meet and get to know each other and network.

So the networking, the communication, that connection, those are the things that sounds like they’re working really well. – Josh

Josh 32:52
Gotcha. Yeah. So the networking, the communication, that connection, those are the things that sounds like they’re working really well, over the past couple months, because I know, it’s only been a few months since the memberships been up. Have you seen any red flags? Or things that you realize haven’t worked? Well, you decided to cut out initially anything like that?

Karen 33:11
Um, not that I can think of we do. We did set up, you know, before we launch, we set up a lot of different channels. You know, like, similar to what you see in Slack. And some of those we’ve noticed, haven’t been getting much action. So we’ve talked about maybe, okay, well, maybe we need to simplify the number of channels that we have. So we have talked about that.

Josh 33:36
That’s, I know, I’m glad to hear that because I started doing the same thing, I started setting up a bunch of channels, and I was like, You know what, I’m gonna start out with just one forum. And then I’m gonna wait till it gets to like 20 or 30, or 40 channels, and then break that out. Because I feel like, it’s gonna give me a good idea. I would imagine same for you guys, you probably have a good idea of what’s popular, what’s needed, and then kind of figure out how to organize all that accordingly.

Karen 34:00
Yeah, and like you said, it’s evolving. Like, you know, even before we launched, we had, we went through different iterations of like, Okay, what are the channels going to be? What are we going to, you know, what features are we going to have, and we just kind of edited that down, as you know, before we launched and now we’re just evolving that even more, we’ve added some channels and deleted some, you know, just based on what people are, are engaging with.

Josh 34:25
What’s been the difference between the type of people and the membership versus the some of the free groups that are out there for SPI.

Karen 34:36
And we’re finding that people are just really hungry for content and connection. So it’s a very active community. Um, you know, we we feel like just the leveling of engagement is just a lot higher. You know, we have monthly challenges based on different things like we’re going to have a challenge where people can pitch their idea, and we’re gonna call it Smart Tank instead of shark tank. And, you know, and just the number of people who get involved in events like that is just really has really been fun to see.

Josh 35:17
Yeah, it is and what a great opportunity to, particularly I think for people who are really shy, like, as a web designer, if they join my free group, it’s 22,000 people to put your work out there to ask for feedback. That’s, like, it’s the main reason I set that group up was to have the community for feedback, but I realized it’s just different now. It’s kind of one reason I wanted to have this community because I feel like it’s a safe place to grow. And I think you actually use it on your landing page, right? It really is kind of like, a safe place for entrepreneurs to, to a qualified people to really help each other out. And to help. Exactly very lonely journey often entrepreneurialship.

Karen 35:55
Yeah, yeah. And we are keeping it pretty small. You know, considering we have about a little over 500 members right now. And we feel like that’s just a really nice size to start with, we’re kind of still considering ourselves in the beta stage. So we’re kind of, you know, taking these 500 members and figuring out what works and what doesn’t work. But yeah, we definitely want it to be a safe place. So where people can ask questions and get feedback and just support one another.

Josh 36:26
Yeah, have you found that it’s been a really good, I hate to say sales place, but I imagine it has really opened the door for a bunch of other opportunities for what you guys are doing with Smart Passive income, and also pets courses, like, somebody gets in there, and they took one of passive pet courses, and then they see a bunch of people talking about how this other course really helped them, they’re likely gonna want to buy the course, like, have you found that it’s really opened up a lot more opportunities like that.

Karen 36:53
Um, you know, I don’t know that we have any metrics around that yet, as far as people, you know, buying courses from, you know, just from being an SPI Pro. I, we are offering a lot of we started workshops, which are kind of in between a webinar and of course, so they’re they’re live workshops that we record, and then people within SPI pro can just get it for free. So, so there’s just a lot of opportunity for the members to have free content. But I don’t know, if it has resulted in more core sales. I’m not sure we have any metrics on that yet. Anyway.

Josh 37:36
Gotcha. Yeah, something I’m gonna try to track as best as I can. Just because I, I know a lot of people are because I’m doing the same thing workshops and trainings. And I know, inevitably, those are gonna lead to some other stuff. But I think the really cool thing too, for the the members is a membership is a perfect place to fill in the gaps between courses, like, exactly, I’ve got nine web design courses, they cover pretty much everything you need to know for somebody, it’s like my almost like a little mini University, you can get through every course and be ready to get clients and build your websites. But there are a lot of little things that I want to continue to train on, that are in and around those topics. But they don’t really fit in those topics, like I really want to do some trainings about like advanced things with Google Analytics. But that doesn’t really fit in with any of my courses exactly. So I know, for me, it’s going to be the perfect like, the glue that kind of pieces, everything together. And really exactly together. I think for me, yeah, I know, you guys have a heart for the people at the core of this too. Like, I don’t want my students to disappear. I want to continue to oversee them and help them but I’ve got to do it in a more organized way. For my, for my sanity. I know everyone wants to stay, you know, healthy and to do good content. But at some point, I’m almost catching it before it gets out of control. I feel like.

Karen 38:54
Right. And I think within a membership community, people help one another. So burden isn’t going to be just on you because you can’t, you know, you can’t help that many people, you just don’t have enough time in the day. And so we’re finding an SPI Pro, that people are finding each other and helping each other out. Like if somebody has a question, you know, somebody will pop into the channel and answer it before we can even get there. And so there’s just a lot of that type of thing going on. And that’s really fun to see.

Josh 39:25
Yeah, that is a huge aspect for sure.

Karen 39:27
Yeah. And we’ve also talked about just like providing like mentorship, relationships as well. Like if somebody needs help with like, finances, you know, business finances, like being able to hook them up with some kind of mentor within the community that would be able to help them

Josh 39:44
well, I’ll throw my hand up if if there’s anything that you’ve seen that I’ve you been doing that would help the community I’d be I’d love to do some sort of like mentor segment or something, particularly podcasts. Yeah, sure. I’ve learned so much this year, and it’s been awesome. Actually, just over a year I launched. I launched officially On November 4, of 2019, so at the time of recording this, right of the year, so, so yeah, yeah, really excited. I’m curious. I’m sure everybody is price point, how did you guys decide what the price point was going to be? Because what’s really interesting is with your audience, it’s very vast, like you’ve got people who are just starting out who probably aren’t making barely anything, but then you’ve got people in the high six figures and seven figures. So I imagine that was kind of hard to figure out, you know, what’s gonna be the best fit, I know, for me, I’m still just about to solidify my pricing. And I’m trying to keep it low enough to where somebody early in their journey can join. But it’s definitely going to weed out the people who aren’t willing to invest anything. But at the same point, I want it to be a place where I can help the people who are getting into six figures and higher because I want to coach them on a on a higher level as well. So it’s a little easier for me, I think, because most web designers are making between the 10 to 25,000 range, but then the more advanced range are 50 to six figures. For you guys, it’s much more drastic, how did you guys figure out price point?

Karen 41:10
Sure, um, well, Matt is Matt, our CEO is a, he’s kind of the pricing guru. In fact, he’s working on a workshop called Pricing for Profit. So that will be coming out in a few weeks. But we, you know, I think we just did a lot of research, you know, on how other membership communities were priced. And then, you know, we wanted to start out with a price point where, you know, you know, most people would feel like, they would be able to, you know, be able to do it, you know, even if they weren’t making six figures, or a million bucks, or whatever. So that’s where we started, it’s $49 a month or 499 $499 a year. So you can choose whether you want to pay monthly or yearly. And that being said, you know, in the future, we may end up like, you know, doing some different levels. So, you know, there might be a higher price point for, you know, just getting more access or more features, if you are, you know, wanting that. So that, you know, that’s maybe something we do in the future as well.

Josh 42:20
Yeah, same here I was, I think, initially, I was gonna do different tiers, but I think what I’m gonna do is just have a basic membership price, but then founding members will get a big discount that will, you know, will grandfather them will stay with that discount. But then I may open up some different tiers, eventually, I want to kind of see how it goes kind of do as a phased approach so the first few months ago with it, and then maybe open up a lower tier for the people who you know, want to join. But, you know, maybe they don’t have the budget, but then also have a higher tier for people who want more x direct access to me. Because that’s the big thing is I, I realized I need to protect my time, since I don’t have a big team with this, like you said, you guys have a dozen people involved. It’s just me right now. So I’m keeping it at a very stable kind of position and a stable pace to make sure and that’s why I like the idea of kind of taking a phased approach, which I’m all about taking phased approach. Anyway, I’ve told my clients for years, when you build a big website, just doing phases, phase one can be this and then see how it goes makes your workout, then we can do phase two, and I think with a membership site, for anyone who’s building membership sites for clients, I think it’s really important for them to to adopt that idea. I would actually say with any membership site, it has to be like that, right? Because it’s not just something that is like your product, your it’s a community, so you’re gonna hear from people and evolve with it.

Our team is in there every day, you know, engaging with the community, answering questions, posting messages. – Karen

Karen 43:41
Yeah, yeah, it’s definitely something you had, you know, that’s one reason we wanted to start kind of small, you know, let’s just kind of see how this goes and work out any tweaks before we invite, you know, thousands of people in whatever. But I think too, you know, it is you have to keep in mind a membership community is a lot of work. I mean, it’s not like you just put the plot, you know, you just invite people in, and then, you know, it’s kind of hands off. It’s not like that at all it is, you know, we’re in there. Our team is in there every day, you know, engaging with the community, answering questions, you know, posting, you know, messages. We just hired a community manager. Her name is Jillian Benbow, and she’s just terrific. She has a lot of experience in communities. So she is taking over a lot of that, but you know, all of us are still very involved in the community. So, so yeah, I think if you’re a solopreneur starting a membership community, I think it’s definitely, you know, start small, just figure out what you can handle. And that, you know, you know, maybe you just invite 20 or 50 people in at first and see how that goes. And can you handle that and maybe, you know, maybe you can hire a community manager at some point or have someone within the community, you know, volunteer to help, you know, help manage, you know, something like that. But I definitely think having, like you said, a phased approach is definitely a smart idea.

Josh 45:17
Yeah. And you said it as a solopreneur. I like I’m very aware and prepared for how much work it’s going to be. So it’s a why same thing, I’m going to start small, I did an invite for people who are interested in the membership, and I have like 177 people on that list who just want to find out more. And that’s going to be the core group that I offer it to at first, like they’re gonna, you know, they’re going to come in, and I’m going to get a feel for how to manage it really well, moving forward. Before I do, like a big push, you know, yeah, advertising push. And I also don’t want to have a big push, and there’ll be like, no content, and the membership is already running. But the cool thing about bringing, like a core group of people is they already know like, and trust you, they’re already the Eagles that are ready to fly and do this thing. So they’re going to likely be much more engaged than having a bunch of random people who don’t know yeah, so

Karen 46:05
Exactly. And I think you too, have to figure out what’s gonna bring, keep people coming back, you know, like, that’s why we have monthly challenges. You know, we have events like Ask me anything events with Pat, and we have the monthly book club, like having those kind of regular events that will keep people coming back. If they don’t see that there’s like new content, or there’s not a lot of activity going on in the community, then they’re not likely to log in every day. Yeah. So it’s just kind of figuring out what those things are, that will keep people coming back.

Josh 46:37
Yeah, that’s great. Well, it’s a good reminder for me, and for anyone doing membership sites, or even their clients just to, to keep a pulse on what’s working, and then do be prepared for the amount of work. I know, it’s like, I think being a web designer, and having done web design for a decade and growing my business, I knew that every project was going to be 10 times more work than I thought it was originally going to be. So when I was getting ready to do my podcast, I knew how much work it was going to be. But what’s funny is a year in, I don’t feel burned out, I feel more passionate and pumped up than ever. But it’s because I knew it was gonna be a shit ton of work. And I also knew that I wanted to follow a proven path, which is why I went through Pat’s course, the power of podcasting course. So sure, that’s, you know, I was very aware, that was gonna be a lot of work, because a lot, that’s what happens when I think a lot of people get started on something, and then they burn out, or it just drops three months or six months down the road, it’s because they didn’t anticipate how much work it’s actually going to be. I think that’s a problem with a lot of people just in general, who start their businesses, they just don’t, right, because a lot of people on the outside family and friends and you know, people around will be like, Oh, you just design websites that must be easy and fun. Like, well there’s a little more to it than that. Or you just, you know, you made an online course and you sell it to people, that must be cool, you know, you must just sit around all day and not do much. It’s actually a little different than that. So yeah, I think being aware that it’s gonna be a lot of work and then trying to prepare on, I’m trying to prepare as best I can, but I know there’s gonna be surprises, and there’s gonna be some things that pop up. So I’m like, I’m almost leaving room in my schedule, to, to be able to handle the unexpected.

Karen 48:12
Yeah, yeah. It is it you know, I think the the flip side of that is you really get to be in contact with your audience and your community. And it’s like, for us, it’s just been really fun to actually get to see faces of people who have been following SPI for years. And maybe we’ve communicated, you know, through email or something, but we actually get to, you know, see them on a zoom call and chat with them. And so it’s, it’s a really rewarding experience. Like once, once you launch it, and you know, you just see people interacting and and just building community. It’s really fun.

Josh 48:53
Well, you got me fired up, Karen, I’m really excited because that’s exactly how I feel about it. It’s, you know, the recurring income, the stability will be awesome. Of course, from a from a financial standpoint, that’s a big Pro. But I think even more so for me, it’s that same thing, like, like I said, I have a lot of students who are great, and they come in, but if I don’t, I’m at the point now where I can’t remember to, like reach out to a student from three months ago, they’d have to reach out to me and then I’m gonna engage with them. Like I’m, I want to stay in touch with people. And I know what’s been really cool. And I think the really cool thing about a membership is you get that personality, other than just an email address, like when somebody purchases a course. It’s awesome. It’s great. But all I see is an email. I don’t know this person. I don’t know anything about them, though anything about their business. So what I’ve been doing because I can manage this right now is everybody who joins a course. I send a personalized quick loom video I just say Hey, welcome to the course also Naveen, I’m excited to help you I want to hear about your business. Just shoot me a quick video or a quick note and I’ll give you some insights to help you get to the next level. It doesn’t take much time I batch record those, and it’s been like the most amazing ROI For me, because people are blown away that I took the time to send a video. Yeah, they also have piques their interest in more. But then for me what’s been really cool is I don’t just see an email, I see a real person. And they tell me their story. Like I just heard recently from Salite Matthew, an airline pilot, who’s, you know, learning web design on the side. All kinds of people from different countries, I’m like, I’m seeing them and I’m getting a feel for them and their story and their businesses. And I think it kind of levels you as a creator. Because you can get very business minded and lose the human touch of it. But when when you see an order, come through and see an email, it doesn’t impact. It doesn’t impact you the way when somebody sends you a video, and you’re like, you’re making a big difference in my life, I just lost my job. And now I’m building my business like that’s, that’s the really exciting piece. And I think for as a membership, I’m really excited to hear from more people, to which anyone can send me a video anyway, I’d love to see it. But to be able to have this on a regular basis, and then to see and track the growth. That’s what I’m just I’m really fired up about. Yeah, boy, this has been awesome. Karen, thanks so much for your time. And for, for dishing out what’s working for SPI Pro, I think we covered, you know, where you guys were at as a business. But then we talked about really the need for the membership, and then also just the need for your community. I think that’s huge for anybody deciding on the platform, we talked about why we both ended up going with Circle and why that’s so important. It really is it’s a it’s a huge step, because migrating and moving platforms is not something you want to do from a membership. That’s that’s even 100 times more complex than just a website. So that’s huge. And then we talked about, you know, really what is working well with the community, maybe where you need to pivot, knowing it’s going to evolve, keeping tabs on your members, and really planning out the fact that it’s going to be more work. And I think going over, you know, some of the success stories already in here and how it’s impacted members, but then impacted you guys as well. And I’m really fired up for mine. So yeah, this has been great. This, this pumps me up. Thanks so much for sharing everything you’ve learned so far.

Karen 52:05
Yeah, well, I’m excited for you to get yours up and running. And I definitely think is going to be a rewarding experience. And yeah, it’s been great to chat.

Josh 52:14
Awesome, Karen. Hey, do you actually do you have like a final thought for anyone who’s considering doing a membership? Or maybe even if they’re working with their clients, and they just want to pass on some information you have, but just like a final thought that would would help them just from the get go?

Karen 52:29
Yeah, I definitely think that it is a worthwhile endeavor. I think people are craving community right now. I mean, not just because of COVID. But you know, just everything going on in the world. I think we’re craving community and craving, just being in connection with people who have the same passions. So I think it’s really serving your audience, if you put together a membership community, and I think it will also be fulfilling for you as well. Just knowing that you’re doing something really great for your audience and helping them connect and get to the next level in their business.

Josh 53:06
Well said perfectly said I love that what a great ending thought, where can my audience go to find out more about you and SPI?

Karen 53:13
Sure. So Smart Passive in smart, passive income calm. And if you want to learn more about SPI Pro, you can go to Smart Passive Income comm forward slash Pro, and that will give you all the information you need. And you know, if you want to apply to become a member, there’s the application that you can go into on that page. So So yeah, that’s, that’s where you can find us.

Josh 53:38
Awesome. Yeah. And I’ll link that in the show notes. And yeah, I was, I was hoping I’d make it through. I imagine I just just got by the filters. So I was excited to get the get the approval to join recently.

Karen 53:49
Oh, we were excited to let you in Josh. We’re excited. And now you have to join the book club because I I’m in charge of the book club.

Josh 53:57
Yes, I actually that’s actually it’s funny because a lot of my students, I recommend a lot of books, and I’m hearing more about books almost than anything. They’re like, dude, I read the book that you mentioned in your course or your podcast. It’s like changed my life. And I’m like, Oh, I want to talk about that. So it’s definitely an aspect I’m gonna implement pretty soon. So yeah, I’ll definitely join the book club and see what’s up and maybe try to share some some cool. I don’t I don’t do as much reading right now because I have a two year old and a 10 month old.

Karen 54:21
Oh, yeah.

Josh 54:23
Man I miss I miss just, you know, being able to read so maybe I’ll really try to make some time for that. And then yeah, definitely look for me in the club here soon. Okay, all right. Here’s Karen. Thanks.

Karen 54:35
Okay, thanks.