I’ve been talking a lot about online community lately as it’s more important than ever to be surrounded by a supportive, encouraging and inspiring group of people to help back you in your journey. I’m a part of a few online communities that have been crucial to my journey and am knee deep in lessons learned with recently launching my web design club and just recently, my new student center.

The platform that I chose to go with to house these communities is Circle.so and in this podcast episode, I got the chance to speak with Co-founder Andy Guttormsen who shares tips, tricks and secrets of building a successful online community. 

This call was originally just meant to be an on-boarding session for me but Andy was kind enough to let us make this a public, casual conversation about community and what he’s seen work after working with 1,000+ community creators! Additionally, I turn the mic over to him at the end of the call to ask me questions that he had about my experience with building a high-touch, high-value premium community and a Student Center through Circle.

Hope you enjoy this fun chat!  And if you’re interested in creating an online community of your own, be sure to check out Circle at joshhall.co/circle

In this episode:

00:20 – Josh’s intro
03:40 – Welcome to Andy
06:25 – How Circle started
08:31 – Course creator input
09:32 – Benefits
13:23 – “Eat our own dog food”
15:06 – Versatility
18:50 – Building trust longer
22:39 – Adding emojis
23:44 – Update on messaging
26:23 – Most excited about
30:27 – It’s not end all be all
35:28 – Play nicely with others
37:42 – Josh’s turn to answer
38:27 – How member’s start
44:25 – Why is it self sustaining
47:04 – Founding core help
48:55 – Quality over quantity
51:09 – Bringing insight
54:28 – When it started working
57:00 – Micro meetups
57:31 – Compound effect
1:00:48 – Getting feedback
1:01:54 – Care of members
1:05:09 – Invite for Josh to share

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

Josh’s Affiliate Link to Circle.so

Connect with Andy:

Featured links mentioned:

Episode #108 Full Transcription

Full Transcription

Josh 0:02
Hey, everybody, welcome into the podcast. This is Episode 108. And a very 0different type of episode for you in this one, it’s funny, this was actually supposed to be just kind of an onboarding, casual chat. But I decided to see if my guest in this episode would be opening to making this a public discussion. And he was in for it. This is Andy, and I’m gonna butcher this last name I know already. Andy Guttormsen, who is the co founder of Circle. Circle is you’ve probably heard me talk a lot about this of late. This is the new platform that I use for both my web design club and my student center. And I love it I love Circle the website is Circle.so if you want to check it out. It is an incredible platform for building online community. It’s clean, it’s sleek, the UX is amazing. It’s kind of like a mix between Facebook meets slack meets a little bit of LinkedIn. And I just love the flexibility of this platform. And what was interesting is I upgraded to their enterprise level because I have multiple sites using Circle now. And when you upgrade, you get a chance to have an onboarding call with Andy himself. So I use this opportunity to ask if he’d make it public and he was down for it. And what we do in this episode is just have a very open and kind of fun conversation about what’s working with online communities.

Josh 1:35
For those of you who are interested in setting up a large online community, on any scale, whether it’s, you know, a big online community, whether it’s free, or whether it’s paid, or even if it’s for your clients, I’ve got a lot of web design students who are opening up different types of forums, whether it’s a support forum, or more like an online online networking group, outside of Facebook and outside of social media. There’s so many opportunities to utilize circle and to build some sort of online platform. And I’ve really enjoyed using it. It’s such a flexible tool, and I’ve just had a blast using it. So it was really cool to be able to talk with Andy. What’s interesting about this conversation as well, is that we actually turn it around about midway through and I let Andy asked me some questions. So he kind of picks my brain. And you guys can hear this as he asked me questions about what I’ve learned with building to successful communities so far on Circle. And of course, you know, me, I’m an open book with everything I’ve learned. So I hope, I hope this benefits you. It’s a different type of episode, we just recently recorded this, I was gonna actually put it out later. But it was funny after this call Andy he actually asked me if I would be willing to come into the Circle community and do a live q&a about what I’ve learned with other creators, which I was just honored to do. So I wanted to get this episode out before we do that. So yeah, enjoy this conversation. It was fun. It was really cool. And I what I wanted to mention, as well as if you’re curious about Circle, you can check out the website@circle.so. Or if you would be so kind if you can go through my affiliate link at Josh Hall.co/circle. If you ended up moving forward with a paid plan, I’ll get a kick back. And that would be much appreciated to help me continue to produce free content for you guys. So that’s it on this one, no sponsored course or anything but check out circle Josh Hall.co/circle. And without further ado, here’s Andy, I’m not even going to attempt his last name again. I hopefully I got to close on the first try. But without further ado, here’s Andy and enjoy our fun, casual conversation about online community. And I’m excited to hear how this helps you. Cheers.

Josh 3:40
Andy, welcome to the show. Welcome to the podcast. It’s a real honor for me to have you on man.

Andy 3:46
Yeah, thanks for having me, Josh, I am really excited that we’re doing this.

Josh 3:50
Well, this is super cool. It’s a bit of a different type of episode too. Because Originally, we were just gonna have kind of an onboarding call because I’m a big proponent of Circle, which is the platform I use for both my web design club, and my new Student Center. And you were kind enough to offer an onboarding call, but I let you know, I don’t really need an onboarding call because I’m all set up. So I figured I would take this opportunity to, to just have an open conversation with you about online community and and what you guys are up to at Circle. And I think it would be a great opportunity for my audience to get to know you and circle better because I found that a lot of my students are now using Circle for forums and online communities, which is really cool. So before we dive in and start having some fun, man, do you mind just letting everybody know where you’re based out of and then what you do what your role is, in Circle?

Andy 4:37
Sure. Well, I mean, first of all, I’m really excited that we’re doing this instead of an onboarding call. This is so much more fun. I’m based out of New Jersey, so I’m actually in Hoboken, New Jersey, which is, you know, a few minutes outside of New York. Most of the team is actually remote and distributed. Before the pandemic we were already going to be remote. So you know, that’s the Kind of interesting in my role here is to kind of like lead our growth and sales and marketing and, and just kind of own the revenue number.

Josh 5:12
Gotcha. Gotcha. And you were there from the get go, right. Like from the, from the very beginning.

Andy 5:17
Yeah, one of the co founders, there are three of us now, we have a team of 25 now, and and yeah, we actually all met at a company called Teachable, which is one of the most popular online course platforms. And so we were there two of us were there for five years. And so we became really close during our time there. And that’s kind of like how circle was born out of our time there working with a lot of creators and seeing their needs for community.

Josh 5:46
Well, that actually, that kind of leads into my first question was what was the jettison of Circle like? Would you guys being a Teachable? I hope we can still be friends I use LearnDash. So I don’t use Teachable myself but I have been through plenty of courses through teachable because I’m a student of Pat Flynn’s who I know runs his courses through teachable. What did you guys see there yet? What was like, because there’s a lot of different forums out there. There’s all these different opportunities, particularly for WordPress, most of my students use WordPress and Divi and there’s a bunch of add ons, you can you can create. But what was what did I guess the question is? What was the need for circle? And how is that different from all these other membership type of platforms?

Andy 6:25
Yeah, so something happens when you’re at a company for five years, and you work with so many of these customers, over and over again? And what are the most common things so we had 50,000, course creators at at teachable, and if you really look like, at what the top, let’s say, 1 – 5% of them do the ones who are most successful, they have the most successful students, the happiest students, the ones that don’t just buy the first course they buy the next course. And the course after that, they get some, some success and results, they talk about it all over the place. Those folks they were doing things a little bit differently. So with most course creators, they would always assume like, hey, the content is the most important thing. But what we realized was that actually the top folks, they believe that the community was just as important as the content itself, like the community, the relationships, that people that was the star of the show. And so if you look at a happy to, like rattle a bunch of those folks off, but if you look at them, like they put as much time or more time into the community, what’s the contents done. And so the issue was that there were no real tools doing it well. So we would see all these people, they’d be selling this amazing course it was generating these transformational results for people. And it’d be like a premium course, but then they’d go put the community on a Facebook group, and it would be distractions all over the place, there’d be ads, or, you know, they go to Slack. You know, I love Slack. It’s amazing. We use it every single day, but Slack’s made for work. And it’s really tough to run a lot of types of different communities on Slack. And so you’d be taking people away from the actual content. And then engagement would suffer some times and it would be disorganized. You couldn’t charge premium prices. And so we’re okay, what if you could build a community tool, add it right into the course platform, or just have a standalone community tool. And that’s how we decided to build Circle.

Josh 8:25
I love that. And I’m listening to you talk about the origin. And it just strikes a chord with me because that’s exactly what I found as a course creator. I had groups on Facebook. And it was just like he said, it was distracted. There was just it was it’s distraction central when you have some sort of quote unquote, community on a social media platform that is more and more polarizing, and distracting with ads. And then there’s also not necessarily bad things. But there’s good things that happen on social media that just distract you from what you were supposed to do. Like just last week, I went on to answer a question. At the time of recording this. I’m actually getting the last week of our Facebook groups. I was going to answer a question in there. And then I got distracted. I saw I’m big hockey fan, being in Columbus, saw a news article on my jackets. And then I saw one of my family members posted something and then 15 minutes later, I was like, shoot, I didn’t even get to the question I meant to get to. So there is so much power in having a dedicated forum. And I love that you guys recognize that need, and I love how versatile Circle is, quite honestly because it was a big I was trying to think of some of the reasons I went for initially. And one of the big reasons why was that it is just that it is strictly community. I also love the design, the design, and the UX is incredible. It’s one of the biggest compliments I get when somebody joins my web design Club, which is awesome. And now my student center which is where all my course communities are, like that’s been invaluable. It’s I’m happy to share with you why we’re doing this live on the podcast to tell you what I’ve learned with you know, creating two different types of online communities. With Circle, but I do so I do love that it’s so versatile. And it’s so cool. Like I can literally just for everyone’s reference, if you’re curious about Circle for an online community or just one forum, you can take a thread a space that you set up, and you can embed it on a website and embed it in like a private place that is super cool. Having it standalone thing is super cool. I know the iOS app now. And you guys are or is out now. And you guys are working on the Android version and stuff. So yeah, I love it, man. I think if it makes you feel better, I think I’m a perfect example of how the need that you guys addressed, it has really suited suited me well. And it’s really helped my business since since going with you guys.

Andy 10:39
No, it’s amazing. It’s amazing to hear. And the other reality is like, that’s always our guiding principles like somebody like you should be the perfect customer for Circle. And so when things are going right, that’s great. If they’re going wrong, it’s really helpful to know when like you have an issue. Because if we can sell it for you, we can sell it for a lot of other people. But yeah, you know, and the reality is, I don’t know when this is going to be published but there’s also a lot of stuff we don’t do yet that is painful every single day that we don’t have it that we will be rolling out relatively soon.

Josh 11:22
And I plan I’ll probably get this out in early May. We’re recording this at the end of March. So yeah, probably early May, I’ll get this one out. And that’s one thing that’s been so cool for me using circle is your guys’s updates have been incredible every step of the way. And you’ve been very transparent with what you’re doing. I also To be honest, one of the the big sellers for me as a course creator and as a community creator now is to be in touch with you, Andy and to be able to like be in because when you have a Circle account, you have access to the Circle community of other creators. That is invaluable. And that’s what showed me there is so much power in community now more so than ever. And as a course creator, this The biggest problem that you mentioned and address a little bit ago is exactly what I had. I had these courses, they were getting amazing results. But people were just falling off after they went through the course there was no community to hold them together. And the Facebook groups only went so far, I found that students would be engaged for a little while, and then inevitably, they would drop off. Whereas having a community that’s dedicated to that really just adds so much more legitimacy. And if does really fill that need for ongoing connection with students. And I’ll probably dive into more details on what I’ve learned about it, but it really did solve that need. And for me to be able to talk with you and to have the access, you know, to the boundaries is incredible. So I know for me that was one of the big selling points with circle was you guys are community minded. I feel like more so than perhaps any any other technology company out there. I mean, I come from the world of web design with Divi, which is the Elegant Themes, the creators of Divi, they are very community minded. And that is important to me, like I feel like you guys and Elegant Themes are perhaps the two best examples of a community that actually cares about their customers.

We have our own customer community, right, we need to eat our own dog food, we need to be the best customers of our product. – Andy

Andy 13:11
Well, it’s really great to hear, and we’re investing a lot more in it now. So I mean, if you’re in the circle community, you’ll you’ll notice, and for just context in general, for listeners, like we have our own customer community, right, because, like we need to eat our own dog food, like we need to be the best customers of our product. And so what we’ll do, so we’ve started investing, we just brought on like a new kind of like headed community, her name is Mattel. She’s amazing. And so you’ll start to see like, there were about two events every single week, this this month, and, and we’re really doubling down on that. But what you mentioned was like, Hey, you know, before I would see people drop off with these courses, and things like that, like, people be excited in the beginning and then less excited at the end. And by the way, I think that’s like not almost it’s not impossible to have people stay the same level of engage till the end, like, but we saw, I think a teachable in their early days, at least like the numbers are really low in terms of course completion rate, right. But one of the things we see the most successful course creators do is they really have an amazing onboarding experience for their new students when they first get into the community because all you’re trying to do is like validate for them that they made the right decision in those first couple of interactions, help them like build a relationship or over deliver on some expectation they had or surprise and then get them some cool resource or like something to kind of like break the pattern a little bit and be like have them kind of have this moment of like, oh, wait a second, like this was a good decision. I’m about to get some real results here. Let me invest a little bit more of my time and energy in this community and you kind of like earn that trust in that first, you know, few sessions that they log in Yeah, and then you can kind of keep delivery. But a lot of people skip that first onboarding experience in these communities.

Josh 15:06
Well, and it’s really tough to particularly if you have a lot of courses like I have nine, right now I have nine courses. And I only had Facebook groups. For four, I had four groups for my biggest courses. And again, they serve their purpose, but it was very segmented it was what was a pain for me is if I’d had an announcement, I’d have to use I don’t use co scheduler or one of those apps, but I have to like go through the courses separately. And I had a lot of questions from other students about having a dedicated forum for each course. But I was like, man, I just, I don’t want to run nine Facebook groups, courses, that just sounds like a nightmare. And I could create a SOP and have my VA help out. But I just didn’t, it was just too much. So having circled to be able to centralize everything, but the way I have it set up in my students center is if you’re in one course, you get access to like the student center part, but then also just that thread. So if you’re in my Divi beginners course, you’re not going to get access to the business course thread unless you join the business course. So I love that it’s versatile, like that to where you can segment that. But the cool thing about that I say that is because now I have a centralized place for announcements, q&a, live sessions, all that good stuff that I can continue to build out and add more value to my students, all my students, whether they’re in one course or multiple courses, it is really cool. I think it adds a much more interactive experience when you join a course. And then it’s like, oh, wow, there’s like a community here, that will back me up as well. And I mean, to be honest, just to, you know, pull the curtain behind this whole thing. It’s an upsell like this, I intentionally wanted to have this to be able to increase core sales for more courses that way people are maybe in one thread, they’re like, Well, I do want to, I’d like to connect with people in the business course, you know, and then they might be encouraged to join that or encouraged to join my premium Club, which is where we take things to the next level is like a mastermind type of community. So it is fascinating the different ways you can utilize circle in any online online platform to suit what you’re doing. But I think no matter no matter what the industry is, no matter what type of courses you’re creating, community is key. I mean, have you guys seen not only with just with circle, but what are your thoughts on online community now in 2021? Like, I firmly believe it’s more important than ever, what are your some of your thoughts is just as far as community in general?

Andy 17:22
Well, I think there are a lot of different upsides and like positives and things you can talk about. From our experience and kind of like the way we view it, there are a few of those that are like way more important to us than the others. And so, like a lot of companies like they try and reduce their inbound customer support, right from the community. We don’t really care about that. But what we do care about is like, it’s such a differentiator. And so when you By the way, I don’t know if you know this, there are other community tools out there. So so we have a whole bunch of competitors, like 100 different tools you could use, right, right. And I would venture to say probably now, but at least six months from now, like none of the other tools will have the type of community that we have. And when I say community, which is a big term, what I really mean is like if you go into our community, you’ll start to notice like people are kind of sharing their behind the scenes, like how they set up their community. They’re answering each other’s questions. They like a feature, they’ll tell us about it. They’re really frustrated with something, they’ll tell us about it. And everybody kind of helps each other. People will invest time. That is really a big differentiator for like a product driven company. It’s a big differentiator for a course or a membership. And so to us, we’re kind of trying to build trust. So certainly, there’s a very practical version of this where it’s like people come in, they get their answers solved. They see successful communities, and they kind of realize, like, hey, oh, yeah, this is doable like this, I can’t make any excuses. Like, at the very least I know, people are succeeding doing this. And they get some ideas and all of that. But at the same time, you’re also just building trust longer term, which I think gives people a little bit more patience. So for us, we’re a young company, we’re a young product. We have made some decisions, I think are really good about like how the product can be built. From a feature perspective, there are some features we don’t have yet that we just want to have. We don’t have them. Two big ones are payments. The other one is events. Those are their two biggest priorities right now. They will be probably either out or closed out by the time this goes live. But we don’t have to guess about how to build these. These what to do. First of all, we have to guess about what to build but we also don’t have to guess know how to build them. Either because we get to Launch all of these new features to a group of people that are heavily invested and all like talking with us, you can do the same thing with courses and digital products.

Josh 20:10
It’s exactly what I’ve learned with my communities. Now, my communities between my premium group, my web design club and my students center, is that they are providing me not only with content, because I know like, what the pain points are, and what the most relevant challenges are that people are going through. But it also same same with me like it adds to that patience for the students and the customers. Like I’m sure students want a certain course coming out, well, now I can, you know, get a get a feel for how they’re feeling and what those biggest challenges on I’m sure for you guys, you have a very open support policy. And they’re very quick, like I’ve always had great support with you guys. But to be honest, I didn’t have to rely on your support channel as much when I joined the circle community because I just looked up questions in there. I like I almost I almost emailed support. I was like, wait a minute, let me go check in the forum for Let me check in the Circle community. And sure enough, I searched the question and it was already answered there. And there’s already people going through the different solutions. And my question in particular was using member stack or WooCommerce subscriptions. And it was our there was already a conversation there that helped me. So there is so much power in that I imagine as the course creator as the the creators yourself, they probably limits your support in some way. But there’s just so many pros. Now, what’s interesting about that, though, is I do imagine it makes you feel a little more vulnerable, because you are very transparent about what you’re lacking. And what’s what’s ahead. And that’s one thing I’ve appreciated is you guys have delivered on everything that you said you were going to do. I signed up for circle in October of 2020. The beginning October, maybe late September, did a free trial. I just like being in it, quite honestly, that was one of the draws to Circle, I was using a couple different other platforms at the side. And I just found myself wanting to be in circle and create the spaces and stuff. That was a big thing for me, but the app was not out yet. And I was like man, I really am hesitant to launch without the app, but I let my community know, luckily, my community are talking about like some of those patient online people, they are so patient, and I let them know, Hey, I’m using this new platform called Circle. It’s a new company. So just be patient, they’re gonna add more updates. There might be you know, a couple little buggy things here or there, but they’re quick to fix stuff and you guys always have been and, and I love that it’s it’s meant so much to me to house my communities. And if there has been an issue or something you guys are always on it. I do this reminds me of requests that I get at least once or twice a week for my members. And I’m gonna ask you, Andy publicly, when is the love button coming? Because we have a Like button, but everybody wants a love button?

Andy 22:39
Yeah, so this is a great question. And I asked our engineering team, I there’s like 20 different things that I want from them. And I I will often times make promises that they then have to deliver on, so I’m not gonna make any promise. Any promises. What I will tell you though, is it’s actually not just like a love button, the actual game plan is that we’re rolling out reactions that are like emoji based, kind of actually similar to Slack, right. So it’ll respond to posts and comments and things like that, with like, all sorts of different emoji reactions, whatever is most relevant.

Josh 23:22
Perfect. That’s all Yeah, I did didn’t want to put you on the spot for for your launch date on that or anything. But yeah, I just wanted to know, I figured that was in the works. Because the two biggest features for me personally and for anyone in my club and using circle, it’s it’s the reactions to post and then the messenger as well, the messenger is where I do my coaching. So I’m really excited to see some some upgrades to that if that’s something,

Andy 23:44
Okay, so that’s the other thing. It’ll be out by the time this is published. But like group messaging is about to get a major upgrade where like, you’ll be on you could have smaller. So we have a lot of like learning communities where maybe we have 500 people on this big broader course. But then there’s like smaller like one of our favorite customers, a guy named David Pearl, he has a course called rite of passage, it’s an amazing course students get like, incredible results might be 300 people or something like that 500 people, whatever it is, in each cohort, but then save the community for the broader group, which is really cool. But then they break it down into these smaller like little sub cohorts with like coaches and mentors and different writing groups and stuff like now they can just have their own private little groups, and they can name that group and all that kind of stuff. They can share, like rich content in there. And then the big thing after that is events, right? Because like, certainly, asynchronous discussions are really valuable. But part of the community is like talking with real human beings and stuff like that. And so you will be able to, you know, hop on a call with folks and kind of self organize and all of that kind of stuff right inside of circles so that you can balance the asynchronous stuff. With the more synchronous

Josh 25:00
stuff, that’s awesome, it reminds me of I was in a b2b like, you know, business to business networking group here in Columbus. And we had what we dubbed a core group. So we had our networking group, which was like 30, some people, all different businesses, but you find out when you’re in any type of community, you’re gonna gel with a few different types of people, or maybe just a few different people, and they become become kind of your core group. And for like, in the networking world, for me, it was a videographer and SEO guy. And we had some social media people in there every once in a while. And for me, as a web designer, they were naturally a perfect fit for referrals. Because we were constantly, like, I can’t refer too much to a realtor, unless somebody is in my personal professional network. But as a web designer, am I gonna have people who need SEO help and digital marketing? Absolutely. So I think that’s, that’s what I envisioned with circle there is kind of like that core group within, you know, the master group, which is really cool. I love that. And I’m definitely excited for more, hopefully, some more features on the messenger itself, because that’s, that’s where I’m at with my students, you know, on the reg, and I know, you guys have a nice list of, you know, things you’re you’re working on and what you’re up to, I actually, this might be a good opportunity to ask you, Andy, what are you most excited about? You know, in the near future here with circle? Is it a certain functionality that you think is you’re most excited about? Or is it the growth that you see now, what do you think on that?

Andy 26:23
So there are a lot of things, but I, most of them are pretty product focused, right? So like, you just mentioned that you’d like to do more in the group, like in the messenger experience, right? So I, this might be something like, at this point, four weeks away, be live by the time this this is published. But in the new group messaging that we’re rolling out, like, you know, how in circle right now, do a little backslash. And then like, all the different options come down really powerful. You can add air table, databases and type forms, YouTube livestream, like all this different stuff. Like that’ll be native right inside of the messenger, or one messages, group messages, you can have these really rich interactions, if you’re like.

Josh 27:09
Oh, man, I’m so excited. I’m so excited.

Andy 27:13
Yeah, so that’s like, weeks away at this point. And, you know, the other thing is, just for the richer Connections is events, event is gonna be really cool. But it’s not just events. So the other thing we’re working on right now is payments. And this is there’s actual innovation that we’re doing from a payments perspective, it’s not just like all the membership tools that you see out there, like, Oh, yeah, I have a couple different products, I can accept payments for it. We’re basically developing, it’s like this concept of paywalls, where you’re gonna be able to have your community Imagine you have all the different spaces, different space groups, and sections and all that kind of stuff. And you’ll be able to sell like, a one off access to a big event. So you could have all your community members that might just get it as part of their membership, but then maybe other people can come and just pay for it as a one off. And they’ll go to, you know, a landing page, and there’s going to be an app upsells and payments and things like that. So if I’m in the community, I like to see like, they’re calling it the sales drawer, it’s on the right hand side, and there’s little like, buttons to buy, like, Oh, I can add this to my community. And so people can kind of like, unlock different parts of the community and content and stuff like that. But it’s very integrated in a way that feels fluid, like you’re taking your students or your customers or your members on like a path through your catalog of, of community and products and things like that.

Josh 28:51
That’s awesome. That’s super exciting. Oh my gosh, I can’t wait for some of those additions particularly to the messenger in the group messaging, I think it’s going to be key and then events as well. I mean, I do I just have an upcoming calls thread where I have, you know, our zoom webinars scheduled out and stuff, but I kind of figured I’m not, you know, I’m not setting up my whole system on that side yet, because I knew some of this stuff was going to be in the works. So that’s exciting. And what I love about what you guys are up to is it really and this is kind of what I say and the landing page for my club is that the platform is kind of like a mix of all the best things of Facebook and LinkedIn and Slack It really is. It’s like the best functionality with all that stuff without the fluff and without the stuff you don’t need. Obviously Facebook is a whole different animal because there’s everything on on top of Facebook. Like we already talked about with ads and polarizing stuff and distractions and LinkedIn I’m not active on LinkedIn right now I know the value of it but it’s definitely very stiff and very corporatey and in Slack as you mentioned, it’s it’s a it’s a great tool, I think particularly for for team management projects and, and that kind of stuff, but it’s it’s hard. I’ve never really been in a good slack community per se like it, there really is something special about I think what you guys have merged together, you’ve created this little like, lovely Frankenstein community thing. You know, it’s awesome.

But it’s not like the end all be all, like perfect solution for every single use case. – Andy

Andy 30:10
Oh, you know, I appreciate you saying that. And at the same time, one of the things? And I tell people this, I think in the last year, I’m doing less of them now. But I did probably about 1000 one on one demos, not even exaggerating, right? So a lot of these one on one demos, times are gone. And I always tell people the same thing, which is like, we love Circle, we built it, because we saw a need and, and a lot of people do like circle. But it’s not like the end all be all, like perfect solution for every single use case. Like there’s so many different types of use cases. And you know, as an example, like you said, before, you know, Facebook group, like, good things do happen on Facebook. Like, like, there are good interactions that can happen there. So for instance, if you’re going to go out and try and like acquire a lot of traffic and leads very top funnel stuff, like, you wouldn’t get traffic from Circle like that you drive all your own traffic to a circle community, it’s more like mid funnel, deeper funnel, right? Right. If you have a purely professional network, where it’s just, let’s say, it’s really tied closely to work like, so maybe it’s a group of product managers of community for that. And they really are on slack all day. Like, then maybe slack is good for like that professional, like purely professional network. So there are like, it is nuanced. And we don’t just blanketly tell people like, Hey, you should definitely use Circle. But we do try and like, kind of walk people through the different by the way. Another thing is like, there’s also Discord, which is good for like a real time chat. It’s much more like in the moment, right? And so there’s all these different kind of like pros and cons with all the different tools. And I think the best thing anybody can do is or thinking about starting up a community is figure out like, like, what are the things that are important to me? Like, do I want this to feel more asynchronous? Do I need to like be able to, like, hop on spur the moment with people in real time? Like, what are those things? Do I needed to like, integrate really well with the rest of my experience? And like feel like my brand? Or it’s actually that’s just not really as important as like this other thing over here?

Josh 32:19
Well, I love that answer. And honestly, that goes back to one of the reasons I felt comfortable with moving forward with you guys is because you are very open about how many companies you work with and partner up with. And there’s a term more recently that I’ve come to really like and it’s Co Op petition, you cooperate with your competition, and you guy you just set it like there are times where Facebook is a great option for something and LinkedIn and Slack and everything and you’re not, I know that your game is, you know, the plan isn’t to replace LinkedIn, Slack and Facebook, but you guys are just a tool that is really versatile. I think that potentially works with all other tools better than anything like I haven’t used the tool that works as well with everything then circle does, like it really does. It’s it’s the it’s kind of the ultimate Integrator for so many different things, which is really cool.

Andy 33:08
Well, I’m gonna steal that phrase, Co Op, co op petition is what it is. Yeah.

Josh 33:13
Feel free. I stole it from one of my buddies, so there you go.

Andy 33:16
That was early on something we realized is like, a lot of the people that are using circles because they want Circle they want to choose like the best community platform, but then have like, the best email service provider, maybe the best course platform, like they want the best of everything. Like that’s what the consumer wants today. Like they don’t want necessarily the all on one tool. Maybe the most beginner sometimes do. Yeah. But like you don’t really want like the B version of everything. And so, you know, a lot of people they ask us, like, hey, like they see all the people that we partner with the companies that we partner with and like we’re really friend like Gumroad is an investor in in the CTO from gumroad is investor OnCore was the founder of CEO and CEO of Teachable like, lead our seed round with Notation Capital, like, then there’s ConvertKit, like Nathan is an investor. There’s a lot of these tools that members space member stack outset, like all like those tools that enable payments and authentication, we partner with all of them. Like, we don’t view them as competition, like there’s a lot of room where people would not be able to get value from circle without those other tools in the same way. So instead of like viewing everybody as a competitor, what we just said is like, let’s go the exact opposite direction. Let’s make it like super easy for people to work with all of us together and make them kind of like fit.

Josh 34:41
That’s awesome. I mean, literally, that was was a breath of fresh air for me, because that’s exactly what I discovered because I was looking at a couple different platforms. Like I mentioned, one was an all all in one solution. And it was just what you said I felt like in a way it would be Nice to have everything all the emails, all the webinars, everything combined in one but at the same time. For me, I already had an established brand. I already have my website already, I’ve got my courses on LearnDash in my WordPress website, I’ve already got my email list, I use MailChimp, but I’m considering Convert Kit actually, side note. So I already got like all my tools in place, and I just wanted a kick ass community platform. That’s all I wanted. Now, there was a lot to that, obviously, and circle has provided that but I wanted to play nicely with all my other stuff. And that’s why, personally, I’m so glad I went with it. So I it’s funny, as I heard you say that it was literally like you were you were talking like that was the sales piece that I needed to hear to link me to serve, I think I think you even mentioned that and one of the initial walkthroughs like once you start a trial with circle, you have like your tour. And I think you said that at some point, like you guys intentionally play nicely with everybody to try to make this work wherever you need it to work, which I think that’s just a great business lesson nowadays more than ever, like, you don’t necessarily have to look at all your competitors. Like they’re archenemies you can, it’s all about coopetition, you can actually stick in your lane and work with people. And I love that man, that’s that’s a great approach that makes me feel even better. You know, have it being such a Circle promoter. Now, I love that approach. And I imagine Is that something at the core that you guys are taking forward as well as you continue to map out and plan the next phases for for the product?

Andy 36:23
Yeah, it is. I mean, I think there’s some things that are just kind of like core to the product that we need, that we do need to do, right. And like, eventually, like we have to have payments. And we are like that’s a big priority for us. We do need to have events. It’s not serving our customers well, like if they always have to go and use other tools and like, do weird stuff took up zoom and all that kind of stuff.

Josh 36:44
Live video is live video a part of the events?

Andy 36:48
It will be. Yeah. Okay. So you won’t even need a third party tool. But at the same time, you’ll have the flexibility to just do it through zoom if you want, or to integrate it with like a YouTube live stream, but you can already do or so there’s a lot of things like, we’re gonna offer the native version. But then also, if you like your other tool, you’ll just integrate that instead. So you get to be the one deciding versus us kind of like boxing you in.

Josh 37:16
Gotcha. Wow, that’s so cool. Man. That’s exciting. I, I want to be respectful your time. I think we got about 20 minutes here. So I wanted to turn it over to you, Andy and wanted to see if you had any questions about what I’ve learned with having a couple different tiers of community. I know we talked about it a little bit. But I do want to, you know being that this is kind of an open conversation, you curious about what I’ve experienced what I’ve found that what has worked well or not so well with the different communities?

Andy 37:42
I am so curious. And I guess my first question for you would be like, if you were to look at the general. Like how you bring people into the community, and like there’s the onboarding experience that you give them. that a lot of people think of that as like kind of the first step, what do you do and like the step before that to like set expectations in terms of what they should expect, how they should participate, not just like, what they’ll get, but also like how they’ll give like, like how are you kind of like priming them before they get into the community so that they actually succeed?

Josh 38:27
That’s a great question. So is definitely different between the two communities that I have in circle right now because, again, my web design club is my premium mastermind styled community. And for that, I have a whole landing page. It’s a WooCommerce product and it’s built with subscriptions which links up perfectly with circle so I have that landing page very like crafted very clear to where they know what they’re in for when they join. It’s very clear that this is not a course it’s where I have content and trainings in there but it is much more a community it’s for support and and for you to give and also receive so when they join and I also have the price point at $99 a month or 999 a year so it’s weeding out some of the quote unquote product questionable people who would be the typical takers which you find.

Andy 39:16
That’s a good quality member $99 A month that’s like your sweet spot like a good member.

Josh 39:21
That’s a great tip. That’s great to hear. I’m sure you’ve had a lot of experience with different pricing Yeah, it’s it’s exactly where I wanted to be because it is a little more of a quality you know type of group. So with that there I already know they’re they’re likely a qualified you know, quality type of business owner web designer. And then I have very simply that to get started I have a good starting video Get Started video that just has three tips to help them get started which is review the guidelines it’ll answer a lot of questions. I have a take a tour video, which I’ll continue to update as the updates come out with Circle that gives them a good feeling for the for the community and they get to know you know a little bit of how it’s all working. And set up. And then I have an introduction thread. And I tell them Introduce yourself, it’s a great way to meet some new people. And that usually inspires them and fires them up. And then as of right now, because that group, at the time of recording this, my community is 84 members. So it’s very manageable for me to do things one on one with that. So I will personally send them a welcome video when I see their order come through. And I’ll say, Hey, you know, I got a bunch of…

Andy 40:27
How do you do that?

Josh 40:28
I do through Loom, I just, I do a little I do a little video through loom I do with my courses as well. The courses are a little trickier to keep up with because I do have a lot more orders now coming through, which is great. But usually a couple times a week, I’ll look at what courses they join. And then I’ll say, Hey, you know, welcome to the course, it’s great to have you here some next steps. It’s easier with the membership, because I can let them know, you know, I’ve got the next steps for you make sure to watch that. And then I always say once you’re settled in, send me a private message in the club, and then we’ll get the conversation started. And that’s usually where I can pinpoint where they’re at, do they have an immediate challenge? Or are they just curious about the community, and in which case, I would say, check out this thread, like this thread might have some stuff that’s really beneficial for you. Or if they say, like, I’m in South Africa. And, you know, I do these kind of websites, I’m like, well, actually perfect. I know a couple members are in South Africa, you can connect with them. And it’s usually a great way to kind of personally kind of match some people up now, I can’t do that in scale. But with that price point, and with the membership being that lay that amount of people, I can keep up with that. So that’s what’s worked pretty well for me with the community Luckily, already. I mean, we’re recording this at the end of March, I launched the community officially in November, I kind of soft launch to the founding members. It’s very self sustaining now, which is awesome. Like, we have an incredible core group of members of founding members. And they’ve set the tone like they’re welcoming people, they are really starting conversations I I’m obviously very active in it, but I don’t I’m not doing everything like I don’t have to jump on every single post now and, and be the leader in every forum. Like they’re all kind of work. They’re there. They’re taking it and running with and there’s ownership in that, which is really cool. Now on a different topic in the Student Center. I just launched it at the time of recording this.

Andy 42:15
Actually, can we pause because I want to dive into a couple of things. And I’m literally taking notes over here. So the So you started somebody gets an email, you’re gonna send them a Loom, it’s a personalized Loom. So like they get it, they see your face, they’re like you’re talking to that, they get that over email, then you are or your sending giving them next steps, like actual next steps in that first touch, like that first interaction.

Josh 42:42
Yep, I have incircle I have a little new get started. And it’s a quick video. My video is just like a I think it’s a minute and a half. And it’s just like, Hey, welcome to the club. I used to say like, there’s a lot to take in here. So let me just give you a few steps to help you get started. Because I don’t want to bombard them with like, let’s go through all the all your notifications and everything in detail. There’s a lot you can get overwhelmed. So initially,

Andy 43:05
The Loom video is personalized, though?

Josh 43:06
Yes, the loom video is separate the live video is is generally I found that to be more of like, Hey, I just wanted to, it’s almost like a follow up. Because when they join the club, they’re gonna immediately see my Get Started video. So that’s immediate, but I can’t you know, like, I’m not gonna be around, it might be a few days before I get to the welcome video. So generally, the welcome video is more of a follow up, like, Hey, I just wanted to make sure you got set up, sometimes I do the welcome video, and they’ve already introduced themselves, and they’re already engaging. So the welcome video is then like, hey, it’s awesome to see engaged, I didn’t even have to tell you. So then it would be just kind of customized to where you know, they are where what the challenges are. So yeah, that’s how that’s all worked out. And I found that to work out pretty well so far.

We can’t just skip over the fact that you have 84 paid members who are engaged, and your community is pretty self sustaining, because that’s what everybody dreams of is having this core group of people who are opting in. – Andy

Andy 43:52
And we can’t just skip over the fact that you have 84 paid members who are engaged, and your community is like pretty self sustaining, because that’s like, what everybody dreams of is having this core group of people who are opting in they’re. They’re paying to be there, they’re getting value, they’re continuing to come back and participate. That’s, that’s really hard to do sometimes. So like, what do you attribute that to? Like, why is it self sustaining? Like, why are people coming back? Like what has happened? That they have decided, like, Hey, this is this is worth it. Because only a fraction of communities that start actually get to that point, the ones that do do really well, the others just kind of drop off and

Josh 44:37
still work? A couple things? That’s a great question. I think for me and with my audience. Web designers are typically pretty engaged in forums like we’re, we’re tech savvy so we can figure stuff out. And my particular audience of web designers particularly Divi web designers, that is a very active community. There’s a lot of Facebook groups. So I think they’re already prone to being more giving, and they’re excited, and they want to learn there, that’s also it’s an industry where we want to learn, like one and learn how to get better clients and want to improve their systems and all the stuff we’re talking about. Additionally, a lot of people are fed up with social media. So this was like, I have so many people, they’re like, Oh, my gosh, I just love logging into the club, because I don’t have to worry about getting distracted or everything that’s going on, I can just focus on like, like minded people, that’s probably a third thing is it’s like minded people. And what’s interesting with my community is, I know a lot of communities are like broad entrepreneurialship, which is great. But you still, there’s a lot of different types of people in a broad industry like that Well, with web designers, and typically web designers who are using Divi or just a handful of themes. We’re all very like minded. So there’s much more of a kinship, it’s like, right away, you’re with your tribe, you’re with your people. So I think that’s all contributed to that. And quite frankly, I promoted it. And I built it up. I mean, I started a founding core group, I’ve been talking about it on podcast that the need, I knew there was a need, there was so many people, I had people starting Facebook accounts, Andy, just to join my Facebook groups. And I was like, What have I told you, I’m gonna have a forum here, pretty soon off of Facebook, they were like, what, sign me up right now take my take my credit card.

Josh 46:21
So I knew there was a big need. And I think that all contributed to having a good core group. Now are 84 members on there every day. No, but I think you’ve talked about this, there are the different levels and types of members to where we do have people there every day, that’s they love it, they want to hang out there, you know, four or five hours a day, then there’s people who come in a couple times a week, and then there’s people who come in once a week, or maybe just once a month just to check in or just to talk to me. So it is a mix of all of them that that makes it work together pretty well. And then being able to just tag somebody and remind them to jump in or like I know this one person who worked on this project, and maybe they didn’t log in for a couple weeks, but they’re like, Oh, yeah, I do want to jump into kind of reinvigorates them.

Josh 47:04
The other thing that really helped me, when I first started, I brought in my team. So those were my team are not pay, I didn’t make them, you know, pay I brought in brought in my team. And then I opened it up to and I gave a really good discount for founding members, I did a founding member discount that brought like the core group of people who were immediately in like they were in they were in. So they helped me build it from the get go. I mean, it was less than two weeks where I was like holy crap, people are like answering questions, I don’t even need to get into that thread. They’ve already answered it. And additionally, I am starting to have some of my close colleagues in the membership, do monthly presentations and monthly trainings. So that’s been a really great way to take some of that stress and not stress and pressure, but the load off of my shoulders, and have somebody who’s an expert in their field. Like last month, I had my SEO guru expert, she did the monthly training on keyword research in the club. And I got to just watch it and kind of host it. And I’m having the next few months, I’ve got a lot of my expert colleagues lined up to do presentation. So all of that combined, I think is really helps kick this thing off. And I think a lot of people are scared or they’re they’re worried about starting a membership because like how am I getting a 500 members, you don’t need 500 members, particularly at that price point. You know, I was I would love to have had 100 members by this point. But it’s much more about quality over quantity. And I know if like if I can really focus on you know, this group, I know it’s going to organically spread. And I’m learning so much as well. And yeah, kind of a long winded answer. But those are probably all the things that contributed to the growth right away.

Andy 48:46
No, I mean, that’s amazing context. And if you look, by the way it’s Circle, including the free communities, which is a whole different ballgame, like most of the really successful communities, the people that are happiest running these communities, like their communities are 30 people or 300 people. I know for a fact if you include the communities that are like 10s of 1000s of people, the average community is still about like 300 people that’s free. Your Community is is kind of in a different league, which is like you have this really tight knit high value community of people that are super invested very high value to like, versus like being for the masses, which is like the best, fun, most fun kind of community.

Josh 49:27
And that yeah, it is it’s it’s what’s really interesting is I have the three levels I have that I have the club, probably a good time to segue to my students center because I did want to have something for the students who are a great person, but maybe they just have zero budget like they don’t I mean, that’s 99 bucks a month. It can be a lot for a new web designer who’s making 10 grand or something. So I wanted to have something for them as a value add for the course that they enroll in. And that’s why I started my students and which I’m learning a lot about now. I didn’t even mention this to you but I do have a free Facebook group that is a Divi support form that is 23,000 people. So I’m never done that. Now, when I started that I started that back in 2016, I loved it at first, and then it became very difficult to manage, because we had hundreds of people than 1000s. And once you get to 1000s of people, you’ve got to have moderators in place, you got to have the systems and the processes. So I’m pretty hands off on that. Now that kind of runs itself, I have moderators that take care of it all, I’ll occasionally post some stuff in there and interact. But I’m in my club now and in my student center. So I it’s interesting for me to be kind of have my hands on all three. The free Facebook group of 23,000 people is a great place for quick support. Like if you’re working on a Divi site and something breaks go there, you’ll likely get some good answers pretty quick, you’ll likely get one bad answer, but just ignore them. And in my student center is the perfect kind of wedge between the two, it’s, it’s also going to be again, I think, a great place to get them familiar with Circle, and then make them want that next level of community, which is where I hope to, to say like, you know, what, if you’d like student centered, just wait to join the club? Because that’s a It’s a whole new level.

Andy 51:09
Yeah, I guess, you get these, this really interesting insight and kind of angle, which is you get to build a couple of different formats and styles of community all at the same time. And kind of probably, like, adjust course and take what works, use it over here. And yeah, I still I just have to mention and reiterate that you started out with literally like a handful of founding members, you you still send a one on one videos to folks like you do this really high touch stuff. And I think a lot of people, they think they’re gonna start a community and not have to do that. That’s the whole point that communities everybody will help themselves and like it’s going to be sustainable. But you you literally couldn’t have gotten there without doing the completely unsustainable things early on that might not have made a lot of sense to some onlooker looking on, trying to explain away.

Josh 52:11
On the books, it was very costly, the first few months of the membership, very costly. Now, it’s already starting to turn the corner because I have a lot of people paying that that rate. And I’ve got a committed core group of people who are also now selling it for me, like I’ve had some new members. And they were like, yeah, this other person, you know, really convinced me to try it out. It is costly in the beginning, but it goes so far man and nobody wants to join a community, particularly because mine’s a personal brand. Like, it’s called the Josh Hall web design club. So, you know, it’d be different if I structured the community in a way that it was like its own brand, but it’s it’s me, it’s my students, and it’s my crew, my tribe. So being hands on made a lot of sense. And I love it too. I mean, I, I just, it’s just the best, like entrepreneurialship. And freelancing is very lonely. So to have a community where it’s like the like minded people that you know, you’re going to get quality engagement from and, yeah, it’s just awesome, it was technically costly in the beginning, but I knew it was going to be like that I knew the the hard one on work, one on one work that I did would pay off, and it’s going to continue to pay off, especially now that I have the systems in place.

Josh 53:16
And what’s interesting about circle, and to be quite honest with you, one apprehension I had with starting my student center, was I didn’t want it to conflict with my club. And I didn’t want people to say why have a, you know, why pay 99 bucks a month for this mastermind club, when I could join this free Student Center. If I’m a part of the course, well, I just I limited what you can do in the Student Center. So I have messaging enabled for the club. As of right now, messaging is not enabled for the student center. The Student Center does not have the amount of forums and categories that we have, you just have the access to the form that you’re in with the with the course group, and then access to call so and I don’t do near as many calls there as I do in the club. So I did have to differentiate the two which is again, I think, worthwhile for anyone who’s a course creator or community creator, and want to have different tiers of a community.

Andy 54:08
What was the moment when, with the first community, you kind of knew, like, oh, wait a second, like I think this might I think this might be working a little bit like there might be something here. And this could go the plan, kind of?

Josh 54:28
it was pretty early on. I think, for me the coolest thing in the first couple weeks was because I had some Facebook groups. And because I some of my students had already kind of seen each other on different forums. Once they discovered each other there it was like an instant connection. And I saw people like oh my gosh, I’m so excited to see you here. You know, like now like they felt like this was personal to them. It was like their own little tribe that suddenly like oh, I saw you on the outskirts is so cool to see you here.

Andy 54:58
You know what that That reminds me of what our friends that pat j do in the SPI community now. So they were Matt was telling me something brilliant, he’s like, now what we do is we actually have like a little cohort of people that come into the community together, so that when they get into the community, they already feel like they know what they have for other friends. And they’re so like, they’re starting with a group of friends and kind of reminds me of like, if you go to like a college orientation or something before school starts. That’s, that’s so smart. It makes it feel better when you get into the community. And you already know people there recognize faces names.

Josh 55:39
And it is really cool. Because how are you on time? By the way, I know we’re at 330 are you? Do you have to stop for the next call?

Andy 55:45
I have to wrap up. I have a call at 345. So I just have to wrap up soon.

Josh 55:49
Okay, cool, cool. So the really cool thing about that was like, if you join a course, one of my courses, for example, you know, there’s several 100 other students or whatever. And if you get access to the forum, you can talk to them. But again, there’s going to be some people who are like really quality. But there might be somebody who’s just not exactly like minded, or maybe they just wanted to get the information in the course and disappear. They don’t want that community aspect, where the club really comes into play is like when somebody joins that they know they’re serious. And they know not only do they want to take what they likely want to give and help. So I think that’s what has really made people gel and really made it just a whole different experience. And what’s really cool now is because it’s a global community, I have people all over, like, I just had a guy joined yesterday from Australia, he thought he was the only Australian in the group. And come to find out we’ve actually got like, I think five other Australians in the group. So you can just search you know, Australia or search location search bar, and then you can find out the suit, there’s members in my area, we’ve had some really cool connections like that, where somebody will join in like, Oh my gosh, you’re only like two hours from me. And these little micro meetups, whether virtual or in person or happening out of that. So it’s really, really cool. It’s really I’m ecstatic. Because, again, technically, on the books, it was costly at first, but anytime you do a subscription style product or service it that’s just how it starts. And I’m sure you guys, you know, even launching circle like yeah, you’re not gonna I’m not gonna make up your revenue right away. It’s it’s much different. It’s a slow build. And with anything like this, what I’m finding is it kind of compounds on itself.

Andy 57:31
And it’s exactly right. There’s a compound effect 100%. And that’s what we did. So like, we always tell people like, hey, with the community, if you get, like, how do you get your first 30 members is not going to be how you get your next 330 members. But that’ll be the foundation that you need. And by the way, that’s what we did at circle to get our own customers is we did a one on one call with literally every single new customer we had for the first 500 customers that came through the door. But then those 500 customers were such a stronger foundation because of that, that it’ll allow us to grow much faster over the longer term later than I would have had we kind of like shortcut it and not done that.

Josh 58:16
Yeah, and that’s, you know what, that’s the approach that again, I tried to keep my expectations very realistic. I did not want a high number of members if the churn was going to be really bad. And that’s the term that as a as a membership, or course, anything that’s recurring churn is what you have to avoid meaning people come in, they stay for a month, and they leave. So I would much rather have a group of you know, like, even at the start of it was, I think, I think when I officially launched in November 4, I had my team, I had my trusted colleagues, and then I open it up to the first wave of founding members. I think we had 30 some in the first way. Yeah, to be honest, I was like, oh, man, I was kinda hoping for, like, you know, 75, but that’s okay. What I realized is I’m so glad that was the case. Because they all I think maybe one of one or two have left from that first group, which is amazing, like, I’ll share with you and I’m happy to share this publicly. I think I’ve had six people leave the club in six months.

Andy 59:22
That’s bonkers. That’s really low.

Josh 59:23
So at the universe, like, really, isn’t that wild? Like I talked my bit my business coach is James Schramko he is the author of work less make more?

Andy 59:31

Josh 59:32
And I asked him what’s what’s the churn rate percentage, like, what do I What’s good? What’s bad? He said, 2% is amazing. 5% is good. 10% there’s some work to do. 20% is bad. I mean, if you got 100 members and 20 people are leaving every month. That’s bad. I think I’m at about 2% right now, which is really, really cool. So I say all that not boastfully, but to say what I’ve done and what is in place is working. And I’d much rather start that then have 500 remembers but then half of them are gone in a month because I didn’t do it right. You know and, and I think that’s a way every business should really in every entrepreneur should really think about any sort of community or course or anything, they’re doing quality over quantity 100% because it sets you up for the long haul to make a sustainable to, like, I don’t feel burned out, I was a lot of work, it was a lot of work getting that all set up, but I don’t like dread logging into circle and the that’s something you want to avoid, you know, like, six months later, I it’s the first thing I log into before Facebook now, which is amazing. I was gonna circle first and then maybe my social media. So

Andy 1:00:35
That’s amazing. And, you know, if only 2% of people turn like that energy, instead of going out and trying to acquire your next members, it just goes into serving the members you already have. It’s a lot it’s a lot easier.

Josh 1:00:48
Yes. And I’ve got some really good feedback, too. I reached out personally to everyone who left and I just asked him you know, like, what was it something that could have been done better? What I think that’s really important to get a pulse on to. One guy said he thought it was gonna be more content. He’d liked it, but he just wasn’t he didn’t have a need for it right. Then I said, Oh, well my courses are perfect. The courses are were all you know, the the the content is raw stuff. One person there was a couple that just said they couldn’t afford it after a little while too early in their business. I said no problem, you can always come back, left the door open no hard feelings. And I also from the very getgo I told myself, I will not be offended or hurt if somebody leaves. It’s it is what it is like I’ve I’ve joined and left memberships. I understand there’s a time and a place. There’s also a there’s people who are in different places their career to where they’re really engaged. And I’ve had some members like disappear for the past couple months. And I’ve circled back around because they’re still paying for the club, Mike, hey, I haven’t seen you in a while. What’s up, like, I’m just so freakin busy right now. And that’s great, though, because then they can come back when they’re more settled in and they can share what they’ve learned. So yeah,

Andy 1:01:54
That’s a really like that, right there is, is a sign of somebody who really cares about their members. There are a lot of folks in that run, like paid memberships, where if you forget about that, that you’re getting paid, like they’re not reaching out to you to like, just check in and see if you’re still getting value. They’re kind of like assuming that you’re not getting value and kind of hoping that you just go away like like they’re if you have 2% churn, it’s it’s extremely low for a membership site. I don’t I heard of a really popular membership the other day, they’re getting 5% churn and and that’s really low into the like, that blew my mind. there’s kind of two types of churn to right? There’s like, Oh, actually, we even had this in our business for software’s that preventable churn. And then there’s like the non preventable churn. And so like the preventable non preventable churn might be something like somebody’s like, life situation changes. She’s not relevant anymore. And like, you shouldn’t really make any changes based off of that. But then there’s a preventable churn like, you know, if Circle was down for two days, like a bunch of people like, yeah, that’s avoidable.

Josh 1:03:12

Andy 1:03:13
So I wonder in your membership, I just think it’s good to like, differentiate between the two. But honestly, like, 2%, I’ve literally never heard of a membership that has that low term.

Josh 1:03:26
It’s pretty awesome. I mean, I I am blown away, I do think it is the quality of the people. And just like everything I mentioned before, what has led them up to this, I have had a personal brand for a while too. I think a lot of people have followed me since I first started doing tutorials and getting my name out there. So I think a lot of people have felt that trust for years since I started this in 2017, I started this personal brand. So I think a lot of people followed me for that long. So they knew when they were gonna get involved that, you know, it wasn’t like they just heard of me, there are people who just recently heard of me and joined but the people who have known me and been in the community in my courses for a while there, they’re there. I love that idea of what you just said, though, to keep an eye on the feedback with the people who do leave for whatever reason, because I think it’s great lead again, there was nobody who said anything that made me want to change anything, it was just because they just you know, they didn’t have the time to invest in which I totally understand. I’ll let them know you can always come back. Some It was a price point thing. And one was just a little bit of a misunderstanding with with what it was all about. What’s just made me want to accent on the landing page. what’s included, but this is like make it very clear this these are not courses. What’s in the club is community. It’s not course. So yeah, it’ll it’ll help and my, what I’m going to do here, probably in the next couple of weeks is circle back around with everybody who left and just check in because there’s only six of them. It’s very easy.

Andy 1:04:47
Everybody, everybody who left. What that means though. If you’ve 2% churn, it means 98% of people are like, yeah, this is working. This is working for me.

Josh 1:04:56
So that’s pretty cool. And I think that’s where the quality over quantity Definitely, definitely paid off. So, so yeah, man, I know we only got about five more minutes. Any final question for me otherwise, we’ve got one final one for you. Before we wrap this up?

Andy 1:05:09
Well, I’m going to put you on the spot. My last question will be. Can we convince you to come in and do some teaching for the circle customer community at some point?

Josh 1:05:21
I’m glad that I didn’t have to ask you to do that. Absolutely. I would love to do that. Yeah. I’m all about it. I think I told you when we emailed, I’d be happy to do a video testimonial for you. Yeah, I would, I would. And I would be happy, even if you want to do some sort of like case study to see what’s worked for my different tiers of community. I’m more than happy to share that, you know, to help any other communities. Yeah, absolutely. I’d be happy to.

Andy 1:05:44
Amazing. Yeah, our folks will, will love this. Like, just like, don’t really like well, we can get a whole bunch of questions from the audience. Like we can do a little bit of like, like, Hey, here’s Josh. Here’s like, how he’s running his, you know, community, all that kind of stuff. Get a whole bunch of questions from everybody in a circle customer community just come in and like have a conversation about it. Let people ask questions, we can promote it.

Josh 1:06:06
Oh, dude, I would love to like, what inspires what fires me up to talk about now more than anything, even web design is community stuff. And podcasting, those are the two things that I just love talking about right now. So yeah, I’d be happy to man. Absolutely. Last question for you. What is the one of all the things we’ve talked about? What’s the, you know, what, actually, let me give you a better question. Because I was gonna ask you, what is your number one favorite feature you’re excited about? But I feel like we we got a pretty good grasp of that. What is been the most gratifying thing since you started circle? Like, what has there been a moment where you’re like, well, I’m so like, what’s been the most gratifying experience you’ve had with circle so far? Other than this interview, of course,

Andy 1:06:50
Yeah. As I say, other than the interview? Well, it’s probably when x actual customers who took a chance on us early when we were missing a lot of features, like very early product, like they put their business on the line. And they said, Hey, we’re gonna use ya. And then they went out, and they’ve gotten some good results. And they let us know, hey, like, we’re getting good results when they give us positive feedback and recognize some of like, the product improvements and things like that, that we’re making. Like, yeah, I see. Like, that’s the most gratifying thing when we get those testimonials. And they’re like, hey, like, our community is like really loving this and some that that the testimonials never get old. Every single one of them we share with the team as just a constant reminder, like, oh, there’s a lot of good stuff here happening to like, let’s not just look at like our product roadmap and the bug list and all like the heads down work every day. Like let’s come up for air sometimes.

Josh 1:07:58
I love that one of my close colleagues, James rose, who is the founder of contest snare, which is a tool that gets clicks content from customers, he realized that he’s like, you know what, my development team, they get all the support issues. He’s like, I want to start sharing the wins with them so they know what their work is going through. So I love that. That’s awesome, Andy, man, thanks so much for your time. We could probably chat for three hours about this, but I know you got another call here. So definitely let me know when you want me to come in to do that for you guys. I’d be happy to and I’m excited to continue on here with you man.

Andy 1:08:26
I could have gone another hour. So thank you so much for for making this happen. Best onboarding call I’ve ever had and and we’ll follow up and I’m excited to bring you into the circle community to should be really fun.

Josh 1:08:39
Deal Thanks, man.

Andy 1:08:40
Thanks, Josh.


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