​Popping in with an announcement and casual style episode of the podcast to let you know, if you haven’t already heard, that I just launched my brand new Student Center!

The Problem: To this point, I’ve had a handful of support groups on Facebook for some of my courses but, apart from the typical issues with Facebook and social media, I’ve found it very hard to manage all the groups and while I wanted to have a support group for every course I have, I didn’t want to have more social media groups to manage.

The Solution: Enter my new Student Center which is built off of the same platform I run my web design club off of, Circle! I’ve had such a great experience with building my web design club on Circle that I decided to make a dedicated center for all my students through the new Student Center.

Now, as a student, you’ll have access to a support forum for every course you’re enrolled in, the ability to introduce yourself to ALL students to increase your network and engage with other students and you’ll have access to all “student-only” live Q&A’s I’ll be doing moving forward!

I know this new student center will be a total win-win and it’s already coming to life having just launched it. I’m so excited to be able to offer more value for my students, better support and community for you when you join a course and to keep in touch with you as you move along in your journey!!

In this episode:

01:08 – Value and announcement
01:42 – Fanboy excitement
03:22 – Future interviews
04:06 – New student center
04:41 – Problems of social media
05:39 – Engagement is down
07:04 – Distractions
08:11 – No ownership on SM
09:03 – Why the move to Circle
10:10 – What is Circle
12:20 – What is the student center
14:23 – Student perks
16:19 – Big ole “but”
19:06 – A sweet life interruption
21:04 – Link access in courses

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


Featured links mentioned:

Episode Transcription

​Josh 0:15
Hey everybody welcome into the podcast. This is episode 105 and in this one it’s gonna be a different type of episode mainly because I just want to take some time to chat with you about some cool stuff going on. And I want to dive into what I just recently launched which is my brand new student center and also want to fill you in on kind of what’s behind that and why I am ditching Facebook or at least the majority of my Facebook groups. All of my course Facebook groups I am keeping. My main Divi Web designers Facebook group which is my free Divi support forum, I am keeping that. But I am pulling all of my other groups off of Facebook and combining them into this brand new student center so I want to fill you in on that this is more of just a casual chat type of episode and it’s a little bit of an announcement episode. But I did make a pact with myself early on that I would never do an episode that is just an announcement. I have always want to give you value and I always want to give you something to think about and be able to implement in your business.

Josh 1:13
So with that in mind I’m going to give you some thoughts as to the problems that I’ve discovered with having Facebook groups in particular and some of the solutions that have really helped me with launching groups outside of Facebook and having a platform that you can truly own and put your content on. So that’s what we’re gonna dive into in this episode. I do want to say real quick too though what a month for the podcast if I can. I didn’t plan on doing this but I just wanted to just talk about this briefly because I felt like March 2021 has been one of the best months of the podcast so far for a lot of reasons. We just had my first Scottish guest Suzanne who was awesome. World traveler if you haven’t listened to that 102, what an episode that was with her.

Josh 1:58
Previous to that we had my two biggest business mentors in, James Schramko who is my business coach and author of the book “Work Less Make More”. My other big mentor Pat Flynn who I’ve been through several of his courses. He has helped me out in so many ways that he doesn’t even realize and doesn’t know about. So having them two on the podcast and then followed up with Suzanne. And then if you haven’t heard I just had the voice of my hockey team the Columbus Blue Jackets, Bob McElligott on and we talked about getting better on camera and communication. And man that I enjoyed the episodes so much because the three guys I just mentioned James, Pat and Bob. They are the three that I have had in my ear the most over the past two years more so than anybody. Pat with his podcast the Smart Passive Income podcast, James with his podcasts Superfast Business and then Bob being the voice of the Columbus Blue Jackets. He hosts CBJin30 which is the Blue Jackets podcast. so for me I just wanted to take a moment to share this personal win with you guys because why it was just incredible to have these three who literally I listened to more then anybody in the world. To have them on my show this month has was just so cool so I don’t know. I just wanted to share that with you. Not out of pride but just I wanted to share it with somebody was super cool.

Josh  3:17
So I loved love this month of the podcast. And we’ve got some awesome stuff coming up too. We’ve got some great ones. Next up is going to be one of my close Dev and designer guys, Christian, who is a professional white label designer, you’re going to hear about how he started and built his white label design career. And then we’ve got my SEO expert, Michelle coming on to talk about keyword research. We’ve got my email and DNS expert Amr, who’s coming on and talking about email delivery deliverability we’ve got so many great episodes coming up. So get ready, because we’re gonna have some fun here in the next little while here in the podcast as well. But back to the subject and the topic on hand. So I just recently launched if you didn’t know, especially for those of you who are students, if you didn’t know, you should have got an email, unless you want subscribe from me testers. Now that’s all right. But I just launched my brand new Student Center. And previous to launching my student center. I had a handful of core support groups on Facebook, I had a support group for my business course, for my maintenance plan course, for my CSS course and for my SEO course. So the question was, though, what about having groups for all the other courses because I have nine courses at the time of recording this. And I thought about that I was really close to pulling the trigger on creating a support group for each one of those courses. But there was a big problem. And the problem was Facebook. 

Josh  4:43 
We’re gonna talk about some of the things that are probably most obvious with Facebook or any social media. But it was just very segmented and very difficult for me to be able to manage effectively. I guess that’s the best way I can put it. I’m not completely against Facebook. I use Facebook still it’s in its I know, it’s very active for a lot of web designers. So I was hesitant to make this change. And I will say this was not an easy overnight change. I really thought through this and I went through a lot of painstaking back and forth on what I was going to do, because I wanted to offer all of my students better support, and more of a community like atmosphere. And I want to be able to talk with you guys on a regular basis more as well, which is what’s going to come into play with a student center. But I could not do that with the segments in Facebook groups. 

Josh  5:30
What I found is that not only are they difficult to manage, well, personally, Facebook’s made a lot of changes recently, a lot of changes. And what I found is that Facebook overall, has gone down as far as engagement goes, like I don’t know, more people have just got off of Facebook, or the recent polarizing times with political crap. And then just just the typical distractions, you’ll get being on social media, and Facebook, in particular, with ads. And you know, with anything else, it can be very, very distracting. And I wonder if that’s the main cause of what I’ve seen is a big, big increase in lack of engagement, or should I say, decrease of engagement, I do kind of wonder if that’s what’s going on. I do know, there’s a lot of changes with algorithms as well. And just from a little bit of an aside with social media. And, disclaimer, I’m no social media expert. So those of you who do know this very well, please contact me go to Josh Hall, co slash contact, let me know what you know about what’s going on with social media and Facebook, because I want to get the inside scoop on this. But I have seen a lot of differences between videos, images, and boosting posts and adding links in the actual description versus in the comments. I’ve seen all these different things going on. And I’m getting kind of sick of it. I’ll be honest, I’m getting a little bit sick of social media. And I’m certainly going to keep my Facebook going at Josh Hall Co. And I’m certainly going to keep again, I mentioned this right in the beginning, my main group that we web designers Facebook group is still going to be there. But I’m personally getting a little sick of it.  

Josh  7:05
I find it distracting the other day, actually, yeah, just earlier, I’m recording this in the beginning of the week. But last week, I went on to answer a question in my one of my course groups. And I got distracted, I saw an article I was interested in, I checked that out. And then I ended up over at my typical web designers Facebook group. And then I saw something else that I was interested in. And then I saw one of my friends had a baby. And next thing I know, 15 minutes later, I was like shit, I didn’t even get to the purpose of me getting on Facebook. So that is the real, those are some of the reasons why I’ve decided to launch a centralized Student Center, because I just felt like I could not support students in all these different Facebook groups. And I didn’t want to open up an additional five course groups being that I could barely handle the four, not because there’s so much going on. But it’s just very difficult when it’s all segmented. And there systems you can put in place to utilize Facebook groups. But there was a lot of that going on. 

Josh  7:56
And most importantly, and I’m kind of highlighting the problems here that I’ve experienced. And maybe this is resonating with you if you are doing any sort of groups. Or maybe you’re considering starting a community of some sort for you to you, your colleagues or your clients. And maybe you’re considering Facebook groups, the biggest problem is you don’t own it, you have absolutely no ownership. And luckily, I’ve never had any issues with Facebook taking anything down or anything like that my only beef with Facebook is that I literally cannot do an ad or boost a post with anything in regards to generally money. And it which I understand I understand that However, there’s been times where like, like, for example, last year, I released an episode on how to make six figures in web design. I couldn’t share that on social, I could share it on social media, but it was a got barely any engagement. And that’s likely because Facebook isn’t sharing it like I wasn’t able to boost the post, it was purely organic. And if it doesn’t get caught pretty instantaneously on social media tends to just die. And then you’re not going to get seen unless somebody actually goes to your actual page, they can always see what you post on your page, but they’re not necessarily going to see it on their feed. 

Josh  9:03
So all that to say I’ve learned a lot with social media and Facebook over the past couple years in particular. And it’s all led me to want to pull my stuff off there at least from the course perspective. And that enter my brand new Student Center which I’m going to be really excited to tell you about here because again, it’s something that I now have some ownership and control of. That’s the biggest problem with social media is you do not control anything. The oddly enough, the most control you have of your Facebook and of your social media as far as what is appearing in people’s feeds, is if you do an ad is if you pay them to show it that is that is actually what’s going on now. I’ve had some organic posts that have got pretty far generally it’s just within image, nothing promoting like nothing salesy or promos or anything like that. Just something more personal. Those tend to do all right, but anything else just seems like I get more frustrated than anything with Facebook. 

Josh 10:00
So all that to say those are some of the problems I’ve experienced with running different course support forums and groups on Facebook. So what I’ve done is created the student center. Now the question is, okay, well, you created this new Student Center. But what is that? Is it a WordPress website? Is it using a forum plugin, like BB press or remember press or something like that. Most of you who have been listening pretty intently to the podcast recently have heard me talk a lot about this brand new company called Circle. And their website is Circle.so. It is strictly a forum based community type of platform. And it’s what I use for my web design club. I went through a pain staking, challenging month deciding what platform I was going to use. This was in September of 2020, I really went back and forth with several different platforms. And I’m so glad I chose Circle as the the platform that I was going to build my membership off of, which is my web design club. Because it’s been so great, it’s brand new, they’re actually only just over a year old at the time of releasing this episode. So it’s a very new company. But they have a lot of great people with them. Pat Flynn, who I mentioned earlier, is an advisor to them. That’s one of the things that sold me with them. I’ve actually got a call coming up with one of the owners, which I’m super excited about, I might make that into a podcast, maybe I will, we’ll see about that. But I’m so glad I went with this platform, if you haven’t seen it, the UX. And the design of it is just beautiful it is it’s kind of like Facebook meets Instagram meets LinkedIn. But without the polarizing distractions, it’s just you’re there for what you’re there for. And that there’s so much power to that.

Josh 11:37
On top of it, you can do anything you want to you own it. Now, yes, Circle owns the platform, they run the platform, but you are not reduced to what they’re going to show like when you post something on circle, it shows up, it’s you go to your home feed, and that’s what’s there. So there’s, there’s so much power and having a platform, lets much like WordPress, it’s open source, you can do whatever the heck you want to or you get access to change the coding, if you want the styles, you can do anything you want. So circle is what I’ve had a lot of success with, with my web design Club, which is several months old now. And I’ve learned so much with building a platform and a community off of Circle and I’ve had so much great response in my web design club that I decided you know what, I’m going to take this to the next level. And I’m going to create a student center based off of Circle. There’s so many benefits and pros to this that I’m going to cover here. But I just launched it. So at the time of releasing this episode, it came out last week, I just released released my brand new Student Center. And here’s the really cool thing. Well, a lot of cool things. But what I’m most excited to share with you, if you didn’t know as a student, for those of you who have been through one or more of my courses. Now, with this centralized Student Center, you will have a dedicated forum for each of the courses that you’re enrolled in. So if you are in my web design business course, you’ll have a forum inside the student center that’s dedicated to that course. So you can chat with other students who have been through that course, who are growing their businesses. I also have a forum for the maintenance plan course and all my courses. So if you’re building your maintenance plan, you have questions about that, you can dive into the maintenance plan course forum. Same with my see, even my cPanel course has a forum now dedicated to that. So there’s literally a forum in the Student Center, which is built with circle that has a dedicated, it’s almost like a mini Facebook group inside each one of those. So it’s really, really, really cool.

Josh 13:25
On top of all that, not only we have forums to all the courses that you’re in, I’m also doing some ongoing calls now with all students. So we are doing live Q&A’s at the time of releasing this episode, we just did our first one yesterday. So we just did our first live Q&A, I will be doing those frequently moving forward, I’m not sure how frequent I’ll be doing those, I got to manage it with running my web design club. And also, you know, I’m building up my next course right now I’m managing everything else. So I won’t be able to do a weekly, but I’m gonna do it probably at least once a month right now and then potentially go like every two weeks. That’s kind of the the foreseeable plan. But I’m going to be doing that and it’s all going to be there. So when you join the Student Center, which to join the student center, all you have to do is join one of my courses, and you’re automatically going to be linked in there. So it’s a really great value add to you going through one or more of my courses. But you’ll have access to that all of our upcoming calls and you can’t make a call live? No problem. We’re gonna have the replays there. I’ve also got a section for student perks because I do offer perks for all my students for additional stuff, whether it’s more courses or anything like that. And I’m super excited about it’s also a great way to network and commute and kind of engage with other students because we have a section in there where you can introduce yourself and you’ll be able to say hey to everybody in all courses. So even if you’re just in my SEO course for example, you’ll be able to introduce yourself and make immediate connections with all students across all courses. So the value between that and the networking you can have an engagement I just I know it’s gonna be a win win. It’s already a win win just about a week after launching it because I officially launched launched it in the third week of March.

Josh 15:01
So yeah, the students center I’m just so pumped about again, I just had such a great experience with my web design Club, which was built off circle that I decided, you know what, I’m going to launch my student center. And I’m going to use circle. And I’m actually taking the same approach that going back to Pat Flynn with his brand that he’s doing with his courses, because I saw him do the exact same thing. I actually, I had the idea before they officially launched it, I was always wondering, like, I wonder if I could make some sort of like Student Center out of this. And then they came out with their academy for Smart Passive Income. And it’s the exact same thing as a place where you can introduce yourself and connect with all students. And then there’s a thread for each course that you’re enrolled in. So that’s what’s going on. I’m super excited about now, some questions you might have is what is the biggest difference between the student center and your web design club? Great question. And I want to adjust that here, because I think it’s really important. The Student Center is strictly a support forum that’s organized, like I said, by every course, that is to whatever courses you’re enrolled in it is it does not come with all the bells and whistles that we have in my web design club. And I know pretty much everyone in the web design club listens to the podcast. So you already know this listening to this, but you probably remember me saying right from the get go, I’m launching a student center. But there’s a big old “but” right there. It is not replacing what we have in the web design club, because the web design club is very much a mastermind close knit community where we are leveling up our businesses in so many different ways, through all all the different forums and all different threads in the web design club. And for those of you who don’t know anything about my web design club, it is just that is essentially a community in a mastermind type of place where the best of the best of web design professionals are, we are helping each other out leveling each other’s businesses up from folks who are just starting out. But then folks who are running, you know, really advanced six figure businesses, but we have dedicated forums in the web design club that are not in the Student Center.

Josh 17:04
Again, the student center is simply a place to have an organized form for every course you are role enrolled in. And then you’ll have links to any upcoming calls and be able to introduce yourself. Whereas the club has a lot more bells and whistles, we also have messaging in the club, we can message members, that way, I do not have that activated for the student center, I there are much more limitations in the Student Center. Whereas if you go into the web design club, it’s it’s 100%. Community minded. And there’s messaging, there’s also an app version for the club, which is not the case for the student center. And then one of the biggest draws for the club is our call. So we do weekly calls and monthly trainings in the web design club that is different than the student center. Because while I am going to be answering calls live, every once in a while for the student center, it’s vastly different from the continuous engagement we have in the web design club. So all that say those are the differences. If you’re curious about what’s the difference? Why would somebody join your web design club, when you have a student center, it’s because it’s completely different. It’s it’s at a whole nother level, the web design club is already at a place that at the time of recording this, we have 80 I think 84 85 members, and I’m telling you guys, those who have joined have immediately said Holy crap, this is it’s just the best this community is absolutely top notch, I have not had one member guys come through where I was questionable about or I had to be like, you know, I don’t think you’re a good fit like it is truly brought the most amazing people into this community. And we’ve created such an amazing little community, little nice corner of the internet with the web design club. But the cool thing is the student center is going to be a nice addition to this. And it’s going to be a great value proposition for you when you join a course because no matter what course you’re you’re rolling in rolling in, you’re gonna have access to the student center. So I’m super, super excited about this. 

Josh 18:51
I do want to encourage you if you are running a community, and you’re thinking about Facebook groups, again, I’m not opposed to Facebook, but those are the issues that I had. And I apologize, you might hear my daughter who’s right outside my door right now. Luckily, this episode’s wrapping up so I’m going to finish this up. Bria, baby! I’m going to keep this in. Nathan keep this in because we’re keeping it live on this one.

Josh 19:13
Where was I but what I’m really excited about is this student center and I do want to encourage you if you are considering running a community, check out Circle. See if it’s a good fit for you. I do have an affiliate link if you’re so kind as to check it out. You can go to Josh Hall co slash circle which will take it over there give it a whirl. Check it out. There’s a lot of different ways you can utilize communities. I’ve actually got a lot of my members in my web design club who are considering launching Circle sites for their clients. Whoa, client community and networking. Wow, what are we on to here friends, a lot of cool stuff you can do with it go to Josh Hall co/Circle.

Josh 19:50
Side note if you’re curious about how I’m creating these short links, if you’re wondering how I do that, it’s a it’s a plugin called pretty links pretty links is a free WordPress plugin. There’s a proven but I’m actually still using the the free version. It’s actually what I use for podcasts as well. So when you go like this one will be Episode 105 105. It’s actually using Pretty Links because the the URL is a full name of the episode. But the Pretty Link is just Josh Hall co/105. So that’s how I do my little short links if that helps. Yeah, so check out Pretty Links, great little free plugin.

Josh 20:22
Yeah, if you’re interested in Circle, go to Josh Hall co/Circle, just to test the waters, give it a go see, see if it works for you. I’m also finding that a lot of people are using it internally. Like it’s almost a replacement for Slack and a lot of lot of ways. But you could do all sorts of stuff for like an internal team. I’m actually talking to Eric, my CEO with InTransit Studios, we’re considering almost opening up like a team member type of platform. And I think, I don’t know Circle could absolutely work out for that. So so check it out. And again, this was more of an announcement fun type of casual talk episode with you, about my student center. Student Center is up. So just remember, when you join a course, you will have access to the student center, I guess I should probably tell you, if you don’t want to know how you access the student center. It’s in your courses. So when you’re in a course, go to the extra, there’s always an extra tab in the course. And then you’ll find the link course community and that has a private link that will get you access to the student center and also give you access to whatever courses you’re enrolled in. So if you are enrolled in multiple courses, you can just click on that link that’s in the course that you want to access the forum, excuse me that you want to access and that will get you access there.

Josh 21:32
So there we go guys, hope you enjoyed this one. I do think this is my shortest episode to date. And I’m down with that. Student center is live. I would love to hear your thoughts and your feedback on this particularly those of you who are in the Student Center. Let me know what you think if you running into any problems or if anything’s confusing, let me know you can you can actually just email me Josh@Joshhall.co. I would love to hear from you. And if you’re just curious if you’re not even a student of mine, but you’re just curious about how this works, you can hit me up I’m always down to give you a quick nugget of advice. I’d be happy to do that. So just hit me up there you can also go to Josh hall.co/contact. That’s generally the quickest way to that I can keep all my ducks in a row as far as contact so there we go guys, student centers live, checkout Circle – Joshhall.co/Circle. And I’ll see you guys on the next episode where we’re going to have my man Christian on and you’re going to hear all about white label web designing and it’s gonna be a big benefit to you who are in those shoes who are white label designer. Alright, see on that one. Cheers, everybody.