Published 1 week ago

Tips for building a successful community

Building community is a super power: you're creating the opportunity for people to connect. Humans are wired for connection; most of our opportunities come from our networks.


For me personally, starting MegaMaker (a community for indie makers) is one of the most impactful things I've done. Through the community, me and my members have helped each other build and launch countless projects.

If you're an indie creator, startup, business, or non-profit, creating community can be a win-win situation for you and your members.


But, building community isn't easy! The truth is: most communities fizzle out.


After running MegaMaker for 8 years, I've learned a few things about fostering communities that last.


Tips for building a successful community:

You have to love it.

Running a community is different than running an app, interacting with people on Twitter, or writing a blog post.


You'll need to show up, be present, and proactively generate discussion. You can't just leave it and expect that it will grow on its own. It needs daily watering!


Everything rises and falls on your leadership.

Thriving communities are the result of good leadership. For example: Indie Hackers grew as a positive and encouraging forum because Courtland Allen set the tone. The enthusiasm of early Product Hunt members was a reflection of Ryan Hoover's excitement for new products. You have to lead.


Start small; be patient.

To start, invite 5-10 people. Make the space inviting and awesome. The tone you set at the beginning will define how it feels as the community grows.


I’ve been building MegaMaker since 2013. Since then, it’s gone through many iterations, experiments, and phases.


It took 6 years before it felt like we’d hit our stride in terms of “what works.”


Create recurring traditions.

Inside of MegaMaker, we have a regular "Question of the Day" in Slack, we watch livestreams together, and we try to do in-person meetups at conferences.


My favorite tradition is the "exuberant welcome" we give all new members:

For chat, use the app your audience already uses.

Most of the members in my community work in tech, and already open Slack every day.


Whenever we've tried to switch to a built-in chat app, or another option (like Mighty Networks) it hasn't worked.


It makes more sense to go with your member's existing momentum: if they love Discord, use that for chat. If they're already in five other WhatsApp groups, it's probably best to use WhatsApp.


For MegaMaker, we use Meeps for member registration. Once registration is complete, members are invited to join the Slack.


Lifetime membership is better than a subscription

I started my community as a monthly subscription. The challenge with monthly is members often didn't give the community a good chance, and they'd cancel to soon.


Later, I moved to an annual subscription: $199/year. This was better, because it gave members an entire year to get value out of the community. However, folks always bristled at the idea of having to pay every year.


We ended up implementing a one-time payment of $299. This gives members lifetime access to the community. Everyone seems to enjoy this setup a lot more: there's a freedom to be active for awhile, go away, and come back later.


Lifetime access also removes the pressure for members to try to get "immediate value" out of a community; it takes time for members to get in the groove and build relationships.


It's worth doing.

To reiterate: building my community has been one of the most positive experiences of my life.


What we've learned (over the last 8 years) is that what matters most is connection. And connection takes time to foster, mature, to grow.

Cheers,

Justin Jackson


Justin is the co-founder of Transistor.fm, and the founder of the MegaMaker community

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