Membership communities are channels that boost interaction between members. It gives people a sense that they belong to a certain group of individuals that share the same ideals or cause. This helps them build relationships, impart ideas or concepts, connect to resources, and other activities that would promote growth for their business or careers.
In the episode (EP 45) of The Root of All Business, we’ve discussed lessons and insights of a 10-year career growth from running a training business to building a community.
Sharon Gaskin is the founder of The Trainer’s Training Company and Trainer’s Talk which is the UK’s leading community for freelance trainers to grow their business and feel connected. In this episode, Sharon discusses how to start and grow a membership community, wherein she started when there were only limited resources to rely on for freelance trainers in building a business.
Sharon’s Journey to the Trainer’s Training Company
Sharon had been a freelance trainer for about seven years and started her business in 2002. Business was good for her with lots of corporate clients and everything changed when she decided that she would start “The Trainer’s Training Company” where freelance trainers could consult for business advice. In business, if you want to get into something new, you’ll eventually have to take risks and navigate through challenges. Getting people to join was Sharon’s biggest challenge but she was able to address this by having two types of membership wherein trainers can choose. It was also important to be realistic about starting the membership, especially on deciding whether it’s favorable to have it as a paid membership right away. For Sharon, it started mostly as a free Facebook group and then upgraded it to a paid membership. As observed, people are scared of commitment but they joined for some reason and as they continue achieving their purpose of being there (ex. Getting leads or getting ideas), eventually they’ll become a part of the community. Members can help and support each other as they continue exchanging ideas. They build relationships and trust. Being a part of the community that has diverse business experiences from members, will enable you to start seeing your problem from a different perspective. Aside from that, you as well can contribute to others by helping them get to a certain level and for you to have the vision of what’s next.
How to Start the Membership Community
1. Look for a Unique Target Community. Finding your target community is a predetermined task before even starting the project. It is important to identify this as soon as possible because this is where your members will be from. A unique target community can also be found within your network or somewhere no one has tried to venture into.
2. Set up a platform. You’ll need a space in the digital field to gather your members and have discussions. Choose the platform that’s easy to navigate and people will eventually be familiar with in a short time. It can be a website, a social media site or digital forums.
3. Let them know about your community. There’s going to be marketing involved here. Since it’s something new, you need to reach out to your prospective members. Reaching out would include lead generation through ads, partnerships and content.
4. Check your progress. Make a checklist. Evaluate the status of your community whether there’s potential growth within through your members and goers.
5. Be realistic. Together with checking your progress, you have to consider the feasibility of your envisioned community. Take a moment to go through with your long term targets such as membership tenure, recurring revenues and other essential factors that will determine your growth.
“You can’t create a community without commitment
because when people are committed, they keep coming
How to Grow the Membership Community
1. Start at a small scale. When starting a membership community, it’s a good start to have more than two people. This way you’ll have enough members to manage and at the same time create a “network” for more members to join.
2. Establish recurring revenues. With recurring revenue, you can ensure that your community will have resources for future use. Not only is it going to give you profit in the long run, but it will really help your community to grow especially when you’re just starting.
3. Identify challenges and innovate. The first challenge in growing a membership community is getting people to join. To overcome this you must:
- Build up your niche – make sure that your approach is for a specific group of people.
- Be realistic – this refers to the innovations you apply as you navigate the challenge.
4. Continue learning. There’s always something new to learn and to improve when starting a community. It is important to keep an open and teachable attitude towards the things that you already know and the things you need to unlearn.
“Learn from people who already either run an established course or your fellow trainer.”
5. Develop the membership. In relation to establishing a recurring revenue, you need to specify and define the membership. How can someone qualify as a member? Do they need to pay right away? Remember, people usually are drawn into the community that helps them the most. Presentation of your membership style will be important because this can be an avenue to attract people.
- Require commitment- many are afraid to commit but if they understand the benefits of being in the community they won’t hesitate into joining and being there.
6. Encourage support systems. As mentioned above, a community that has more impact gets more attraction. If you were able to get your members to be a “support system” for one another. It will not only hold your community together but add more members as well.
“ It is generally that willingness to help and support each other”
There will be challenges such as getting people to join and the difficulty with placing commitment. So, it’s advisable to focus on these and prevent your community from becoming a network. Remember that with a community that is focused strongly on business, it is about building relationships and having a system that works behind the scenes.