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Episode 94: Onboarding Automations for Course Creators that scale your community with Drew Dillion

by Deb Schell
November 13th 2022

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Episode 94: Onboarding Automations for Course Creators that scale your c... More

Hi there and welcome back to the community strategy podcast. My name is Deb Shell. I'm a creator turned community builder. After launching my online community in 2020 I have a passion for online events and bringing people together, I now consult business owners and leaders just like yourself who have a message their life's work or a vision for helping others transform through their online courses cohorts or memberships on this interview style podcast. You'll hear conversations with community leaders, passion for bringing people together online. Our goal is to provide you with interesting conversations to inspire you to build launch and grow an online community with energy, confidence and purpose. Let's get started. Welcome back to the Community strategy podcast. My name is Deb Shell, I'm the host here and we talk all things community strategies. So welcome to the community strategy podcast through. So glad to have you.

I've read a lot about verb, which is the company you're here to talk about today and how it helps people build relationships. So I'm excited for you to share a little bit about you with us. Awesome. Yeah, thanks so much for having me Deb and thanks to all the listeners and viewers out there. Yes, awesome. So tell us a little bit about where did this all start for you? How did you enter into what is called the community space? Yeah, I would say you know, going way way back, you know, as a director of product and employee number 68 Yammer yammer for us internally, we always thought about is like a productivity tool. It's where we talked about um projects, where we talked about the work that we're doing, but always when we were implementing it within companies, we got this like feature list that never really made any sense to us about like understanding, engaging and frequently selling to the corporate communications teams. Um so fast forward a number of years then, you know, and really in lockdown, I was in the on deck founders fellowship with Danielle McGill, community guru, you know, build a community team and etc.

And bark box before Airbnb and Lyft. Um and Danielle really helped me kind of re conceptualize that experience and show me, hey you were actually building a community tool for inside companies and the feature list isn't, wasn't weird, you just were thinking about your product in the wrong way. So if you just like change your mindset a little bit that, that, that feature set is actually really applicable and really useful and you know, when we're working with companies the size of Deloitte, like, you know, massive scale of bringing people into those networks, how do we communicate with them? How do we build community? Um and then really from there from on deck, then we're looking for applications of that. Like, okay, now I have this idea and this concept of what people need as they build community. Um you know, where the different, most interesting places to apply that and where we found kind of the most interesting trend for us was this concept of creators, these educational creators who are building, uh, you know, they've got a Youtube channel, they've got 1500 viewers of their Youtube channel, not a massive audience, but you know, they're teaching something that's really, really valuable.

And these folks would, you know, they, they're not gonna make a ton of money off ad revenue, but their fans would be willing more than willing to pay them for their expertise in a, in a smaller environment. They have access, pay to get one on one mentorship. Um, and those folks, whether they know it or not, I think the more advanced folks realize it, but they're building communities the earlier on folks, you know, they're just like, well, it's five people and what's that group. So really, how do we help, how do we help this audience that are realize that they're building communities, scale their efforts, build community and then keep building these kind of sustainable businesses. I love that, you know, helping them realize that they are building communities at such a great point because I think not everybody thinks about and, you know, if you think about it, I don't know what your thought is on this, but I have the experience of, I've got lots of books and I can read a lot of books or I can take a course and I've taken lots of courses the challenges are, I think there's like lots of statistics out there that say we don't always finish them, um we might show up and start strong but not finish strong on um courses that we take online and um I think that goes to say that when we do it together with other people, we have a better experience and so helping cultivate that um connection of people who are learning something and and how they can learn together, it sounds like that's kind of what your tool is is supportive in doing right?

Yeah, 100%. I think the industry success rate for asynchronous courses is something in the range of like 3 to 5% I'm somewhat contrarian in that because like sometimes maybe you got what you needed out of that 3 to 5% but at the same time like if your goal is transformation, if it's to go from one place to another and especially something that we saw during, you know, kind of peak pandemic, it was re skilling, changing jobs and careers completely, then, you know, I think the fastest way and the best way to get there is with other people, it's you know, building community, helping those folks kind of along their journey, matching them up to people who are in that same point in their lives and uh and can actually, you know go from point A to point b and your platform is called burb yeah, you know based on the idea of, you know, these sort of smaller communities that I've lived in a couple, I've lived in a couple of herbs, I've lived in Pittsburgh, I've lived in Berg's with Jesus, but I keep thinking of, so I've lived in Pittsburgh and I've lived in Harrisburg, but but it reminded me of a local newspaper that we have here called The Berg and um in pennsylvania where I'm based and and um it's a great little paper, but it shows you that there's so much local, local stuff happening that people don't know about, and thankfully there's this little monthly magazine that's published that tells you about, you know, here's the interesting things are happening in in Harrisburg and I think that, you know what you're talking about is we don't need to have these large spaces and sometimes it's really cool with the magic that can happen in um with a couple of people with some people and and also, yes, and in the improv world, yes, and of saying, and we also struggles creators right?

There's just so many statistics right now about creators and the creator economy and how people are really taking this idea of, I want to have an idea and I want to create something and then monetize it. Um and I think teachable and platforms like this have been really successful at helping entrepreneurs and um business owners and creatives do that, but there's a missing link, right, there's, there's like people who are like, yeah, this is great, I can teach all of these amazing things I've learned. Um, but then what happens next is the question, I think, Yeah, fun fact, my mom's actually from McKeesport, so maybe I have some of that that berg D N A as well, that's that's the inspiration. Yeah. What we saw was like, there were so many people doing this, like I've got content. I'm dropping into a slack channel, I've got teachable and I've hooked it up to circle and now I've gotta convert kit thing and we're like, what is the missing piece here? Is the how it's not the like tool necessarily. It's the orchestration of all these things together that produced the result for the member.

Um, and so, you know, eventually, you know, you look at folks who have done this at scale have been really successful programs like a notion mastery or an S. P. I. Or you know, building a second brain or something like that. These these folks eventually figured it out. They built teams, they figure everything out on zap here. They, you know, they just kind of, you know, through intuition and hard work, you know, made it from, you know, that that early stage to the later stage and the thought for us was like, how do we just make that easier? How do we lower that bar to success? And really a lot of it, what it does look like is just like a zap here that knows what you're doing and it says okay, you're, you're trying to do this, you're trying to create connection between your members. Like here's a template to go do that rather than like going and reinventing the wheel every time and then eventually the system learns from all the different people connecting to it and the templates get smarter and smarter and better and better and it just gets easier and easier to run these programs. And then really the specialness comes from you, the creator, your content, your teaching ability, and we help with the connection and and kind of all the day to day operations.

Yeah. So let's talk a little bit about the um the use cases like how would somebody use um use this in an example for like a course, creator who has a um either of course I know that you're part, it looks like some partners are teachable in circle um and slack, I think those are the three that I saw on the website, I don't know if you work with any other partners or integrations, but um those are the three that I saw. Yeah, yeah, we think about it, you know, kind of the full life cycle of of the member coming into a, you know, a membership community. One of these computer community powered courses that might be an annual membership, you just keep paying as long as you keep growing with the community, others like a cohort based course, which is super time boxed, but we think about the moments um that your member has in relationship to your to your community, like first is for us, it's always onboarding and that's always kind of the tip of the spear for a lot of our clients, like bring the person in and make sure they've got a great initial experience, I'm obsessed with this uh sociological study read a long time ago that said, if you want people to talk in a meeting, get them to introduce themselves.

And that part of the justification of the concept behind that is like when you hear your voice in a room, you get used to hearing your voice in a room and you're gonna be more likely to use it later. Um so by just like providing a really solid on board and getting people to introduce themselves, getting them oriented to the space, you create space for that person to then go and continue to use their voice and to engage and keep following on with other pieces. So that that's kind of the first step is onboarding and we do a lot, there will integrate with type forms if you have like an onboarding survey that says like who are you to tell us about yourself, your goals and stuff like that. You can then use that to then customize their experience, taylor tag the member, use that to segment messages later on, then we think about, you know, check ins like in a cohort based course, that's, you know, that's quick, it's, you know, a month or two max, um you want to have check ins kind of in a public channel and a private channel just every few weeks, make sure you're checking in with the person, are you getting what you wanted? Um you know, is this experience meeting your expectations to make sure that you've got that that point of feedback, you know, so often what you'll see in a cohort based courses, they're a bunch of people who sign up and just realized they didn't have time and they'll figure that out in the first two weeks, it's one of the best things you can do as a cohort based course, creator is to let them move on to the next cohort, you know?

Okay, cool, we're growing this again in six months, like let's get you in there um and that that builds just an endless amount of positive affinity from the member, they're gonna love you and rave about your course and your support forever. But it's one of those things just so easy to just miss if you don't you don't check in with people. Oh my goodness, yes, so, so valuable. You pulled out, I'm just going to point out a few things, but you just onboarding is the biggest thing that I think a lot of people struggle with and and um you know, it is the biggest thing that I feel like makes the community successful, like if you have a really good on morning implementation strategy then um community members will feel like they can say say hi and introduce themselves and and um if they're encouraged to do so and and also uh comment later, so I think those are great points just to say yeah, and then after that it's kind of the long term then if you've got, you know, a longer term community one that sticks around for a year, it's a membership, then you want to check in with people kind of over over time.

And I think that's where, you know, it starts to actually look a lot more like a sad subscription business than it does, you know, when you think about, you know, their individual moments of connection and community that are gonna come from zoom meetings are gonna come from content and jam sessions and stuff like that, you can layer all those in, um but you'll want to check in, you know, on a regular basis, see how people are doing and you know, their likelihood of renewing whether they're getting what they wanted. And I was just talking about this today with the, with Rosie Sherry is like, you know, I think it's super healthy, especially in educational community to graduate people like when they've met their goals, like cheer them out the door, that's, you know, they've gotten what they needed, what they wanted. I think we probably don't do enough of that in the community, We probably try and hold onto people as much as possible. Good points, good points. Yeah, celebrations along the journey are really important. I think um from beginning, middle and end, I, I definitely know that feeling of, I just see like signed up for three different programs in the same two week span and realized that I'm like, oh I'm doing all of these now, so how am I fitting this into my life?

And I think the things that I've recently just really learned from other hosts or other, you know, community builders is that they assume people, we all have 24 24 hours of the day and we only can do so many things with those hours and part of those hours is spent sleeping and spending time with our friends or family and then the rest of it is our work life. And so if you're talking about an eight hour or 10 hour work day, You're not working more than 10 or 12, like 10 hours or more, but like that really limits you to like, what time you do have to dedicate to learning and education and upscaling or, you know, all of these different things. And so the opportunity that you just mentioned earlier about having them be able to join a different cohort is a big deal. I think that that's an opportunity for somebody to say, you know, as a creator, if you're like selling A Times membership and people are like, this sounds great and they sign up and then they have that, you know, two days later, they're like, oh my goodness, I've just overcommitted myself incredibly bad and now what am I going to do?

Um having that opportunity to say, you know what if, if you feel like super overwhelmed right now, we have another cohort that starts in three months or whatever and you can we can apply you to that one instead and then you have some time to build it into your into your life. And I think those opportunities and having that um giving more flexibility to people is certainly going to help them. There's there's things said for like it starts today and you have to sign up by certain times for sales tactics and that's all, you know, those are, those are placed directions to go, but I think after the last couple of years everybody's had a lot of stuff happening like heavy so stuff and so whatever can make it easier, whatever can make it more fun and whatever can make it like low lift. I think those are the key things that we're looking at, you know, in the next year and talking about 2023 you know, excited to see, you know how all of these tools are going to work together, but it's not about the tools you talked about moments and I love that idea of it's about moments.

Um what other moments do you feel like your, your tool really supports Besides the that one, you know, I think their celebrations of progress, um and progress can look like a lot of different things, it can look like, you know, individual success in their own businesses, it can look like progress within, you know, a course structure with impeachable. Um, it can look, you know, like, you know, people having a, you know, kind of a breakthrough within their own work, posting their work, talking about their work. Um, so you know, celebrating progress and, and success, you know, it is a huge part of it. There's also, you know, the, the flip side of it, you know, especially over the past few years, checking in with people. Um, if you, you know, it's something that's way too obvious and, and comment that will happen and you know, if you're building a community is like, oh, I haven't seen bob around in a while, like what happened to bob. Um, so we, you know, build a lot around, you know, template sizing check ins on, on that basis.

Um, so one of our most popular features actually will go outside of the outside of the community and if somebody hasn't been around that, they haven't logged into circle slack teachable, discord, whatever in awhile sends them an email just like and it comes from the creators email inbox and just checks it and like I haven't seen you around in a while And the response rate to that email is massive. It's like 60, and what you'll almost always here and like I could probably just write this whole email exchange for them is something something came up. Like it's, I've had a personal issue, I haven't been able to engage. But like if you write that, you know, if that check in has a ton of empathy, you know, recognizes that that person, you know, likely has life events that are keeping them away. Like you've, you've now built such a strong bond with that person. Um, you know, you're, you're able to care for them. You know, imagine, you know, somebody has a life event and you send them a gift basket or send them some flowers or something like that. Like imagine that was a conversation that never would have happened before and now you've just turned that into, you know, such a positive experience for that person.

Um, that like, you know, you just keep building, you know, building that relationship connecting them back to uh, you know, the overall community Yeah. And celebrations and, and, and life events happen. Right. Um, so I think I just recently talked to jazz june, I don't know if you're familiar with jazz june, they're in beta right now. It's another platform for community builders that are doing course creation and he was talking about, one of the things that they said was they have certifications and they have quizzes, which is really nice like in the platform. Um I think those functions and features are really nice to like give students like to validate that they're learning and also to say um and to celebrate with the certification at the end of saying, hey, you're certified now for this or you're, you know, you have, you know, certification of completion or whatever, especially if it's like learning for jobs or um, profession because that there's another thing you can add to your linkedin profile or your resume or whatnot.

Right? I think those are great points, dad. Yeah. Yeah. If you're familiar with the dan pink and drive, you know, his kind of three things of motivation, autonomy, mastery and purpose, like the person's already coming in with a lot of autonomy. Like they've made the decision to come in and do this master if you can show them, hey, you're, you are progressing in this thing and, and sometimes, you know, that, that progress doesn't necessarily even feel like progress, you know, they're, they're learning stuff, but they don't, they have a hard time because they're not experts in the field, like recognizing their own progress. If you help them celebrate that progress, like show them, hey, here's what you did that week. Like it just, there's a, there's a kind of mental switch there and then purpose ultimately comes back to the, you know, the alignment around the value of, you know, the the individual's values and the values of of the membership and the course itself and really, you know, that the things that you're teaching, the values that you're uh you know, your membership espouses are the things that that they believe in are the, you know, kind of the common goals that pull them all together, right?

Yeah. And it's so powerful to just have the ability to utilize these tech tools like yours and have it be an intentional way of connecting. I I really, really like the the the story you just shared earlier about, you know, people go through life challenges and and deaths in the family and whatever, like all kinds of things, right? And just having somebody reach out and just say, hey, we missed you. It might be a really big thing to that person. And so I think using that as a low lift way for the creator to reach out can actually be a really impetuous thing. Um Sometimes automation seems very clunky and it's not very um friendly or warm and fuzzy. Warm and fuzzy aren't the first things I would think when I think of automation or hugs, you know, but you know, if I could send you a virtual hug and you know, not it might not be appropriate for business depending on what kind of courses you're teaching, but what, you know what I mean?

But just having the ability to share a little compassion there um and checking back in on them, I think those are ways we can intentionally use tools and not spamming people about marketing, but actually have a meaningful purpose to connecting them, connecting with them, such as we've missed you and you know, is there anything we can do to make sure you succeed here or or you know, maybe you just need more time and then you can join our next cohort, maybe that's the offer, you know, maybe that's the conversation is if something came up we want to make sure that you get the best out of this course and so we can happily invite you to the next cohort or whatnot. So I think those are ways to like bring all of that together as we were talking about the different elements. Yeah, yeah. The way we think about it is like there's a certain set of things that like, you know, you should be doing, but especially, you know, Community builders can only scale so much when you get to a community of 50 people and your communication now needs to be 1-50, you know, it's it's really, really hard, like the, if you've ever seen like n squared graph of all the telephones pointing to each other, the number of like nodes you need to communicate with grows exponentially so your ability to like meaningfully interact with all these folks just becomes harder and harder and harder, the bigger the community grows and even adding more people necessarily resolve that challenge?

Because you know it's an exponential problem. So to community leaders isn't necessarily gonna help significantly when it's you know and squared um number of members. So the way we think about it is like the automation is the beginning, like we take care of all the stuff you know you should be doing but just don't have time to get done uh kind of adding additional capability to you and then everything after that just allows you the opportunity to be more human to spend that time That you would have spent going and sending 500 gs to like then follow up and that follow up, you know we've been talking about is just like 10 times more valuable than the initial outreach which you just haven't had time to do. Yeah. And talk about burnout of like going sending direct messages to like 500 people. That does not sound like a fun Thursday afternoon for me. Oh the horror stories I've heard. We uh some of them involving um we we pay a team of 100 people to go download all the messages and facebook groups and sort them by who sent them.

And the sentiment and stuff like that company spends thousands of dollars. Another one was we spend uh like a full work day three of us every single week just like downloading uh slack and then analyzing the data behind the slack message. And it's like this is what are you getting out of that? How can I, you know, how can I get you to insights faster and then even beyond that, how can I get you from insights to action faster than you know those crazy manual processes of data gathering and number crunching that ultimately it's even harder to connect them to action. It's a good point about metrics though. Business owners are looking for metrics. They want numbers and they like numbers and it's hard to, you know, put numbers on what community the power of community is hard to put into numbers. What do you see as your, you know is helping address some of those concerns Maybe some people have around analytics.

I would say I'm a bit of a contrarian on this one because I my 10 years as a startup executive. You know I think the average tenure of a CMO is like 18 months. And when I think about why cmos get fired so often it's because of their numbers. Like their their whole role is to try and justify their jobs based on their spend because marketing is one of the most expensive parts of any company. Um and so there's this huge operation within marketing to say, Okay this dollar equals this, you know this dollar on the outcome. But all of it is correlation like there's no absolute way and any marketer where the assault is going to tell you that like we can't tell you exactly where that lead came from because we touch that lead 15 different times. The salesperson called when they saw an ad, they signed up for a newsletter like which of those got them to buy. We don't know we and I think ultimately at the lack of attribution is the thing that gets CMos fired and the inability to like draw hard lines because it's really easy for a CFO or a data smart person and be like, well that doesn't work.

That's, you know, that's not a real number. Like it's just too easy and it's too squishy. So I think if you take a step back and look at brands that are trying to be community led, um, and help, you know, community led, I think you're now talking a set of metrics that's even squishy er than uh, official term squishy will be the headline of this squishy data and activation, squishy community strategy. And so we've always thought about like we don't want burp to be optional. And I don't like building tools that, you know, a CFO can come in and just be like, well that doesn't make sense and strike that line at them. One of the reasons we didn't focus initially on brands, although we've increasingly had brands coming and chatting with us. We wanted to focus on businesses that were not just community led, but community first. Like the community was their product. It's the thing that they were selling that everybody wanted to get out of them. Um, and that led us, I think two courses led us to memberships and such that like data is important now for our members and informing how to better operate a community first business, but it isn't like, we've got x, y, z number of leads in there and those leads converted to blah blah blah raid.

Therefore communities. Okay. And we get to hire more people like, no, that's gross. Um, I don't like that and I think it's just too brittle to easily doubted by a CFO, even if it is 100% true and accurate, it's just too easy for somebody to come and pick those numbers apart. So yeah, we really focused, that's why we've really zeroed in on community first, businesses who get it, they're going to keep investing in it. Like the numbers don't justify the expense. They tell you how to do it better. Is there any clients that really, um, that you feel like really succeeded in that of, you know, using your tool reaching out. Um, and, and growing community and, and how did that go? Maybe if there's an example you could share. Yeah, yeah. We just have a testimonial coming out with a company called notch. Um, they have kind of a, uh, it's a brand community, they, but it's a community of practice practitioners around the product and it was a quiet community had gone somewhat dormant all on, on slack, they have sort of luminaries in there, they've got other practitioners in there, they started using burb for onboarding, for reengagement, for kind of bulk messaging, used kind of all these different templates, and they basically doubled the number of active members over during the, like, free trial period of using burbs, so it was just really, really easy for them, you know, at that point it was kind of a no brainer that they wouldn't, you know, continue using for.

So that was, that was really cool. Others, I think we tend to work with in sort of a proto state, I think the place where we succeed the best is often from, like when people are going when they're about to go for that 50 person cohort, when their community is really growing rapidly and maybe they're gonna layer on a membership on top of something else that they already had, helping them figure out all the different operational piece is kind of the, what's next? Okay, cool. I was able to do this really easily at 10 people now, how do I do it easily at 50? How do I do it, 100? How do I, like, you know, scale relationship up to 1000. Right? I think that's and, and thank you for adding that up to 1000. I think that's good to just say like you know, there's so many great tools out there, but like, what makes yours different, it sounds like is that you're really focused on, like, somebody who's got some really great momentum um with something, and now they're like, okay, this has worked, but now how do we make this bigger or better, or, you know, involved, you know, involving more people, bringing more people in and working with more.

So I love the the one too many is a great space, um because I think we're so text on time that as a creator, it sounds really um really appealing. I think the challenges lie within, you know, validation, and that's, you know, that's up to the creator to really get valuation for their community concept and um putting their community strategy together, and and those beginner stage, you know, community builders um Are probably gonna have to, you know, do it themselves quite a bit to really understand, like what is gonna fit best for them and their model, but like, once you get to the next stage, then it's a great sounds like your tool would be a great fit for a lot of people that might be listening, so, thank you for sharing that. Um what's next for next year, what are you excited about for 20, as any community trends that you want to shout out or uh call out that you're excited about. Yeah, I think, you know, the biggest thing that we continue to be excited about ultimately is the idea of, you know, creators building membership communities, and I think that's been the trend that we've been leading into, and it just seems to keep growing and getting more, you know, more popular, whether that's, you know, I think it's been buzzword bingo over the past two years of cohort based courses, community powered courses, whatever.

Like to me, it's humans learning stuff putting them together. I think that's, and then driven by creators of some kind of, like, real expertise, um, you know, it continues to be kind of really exciting for us, and I think what we're seeing in our user base is these becoming multifaceted sustainable businesses, um, you know, I started with a cohort and now I'm adding a membership, I started with, um, you know, membership and I'm evolving it into, and then I'm layering on additional educational content, and I think that's um, for me, most of the really exciting stuff happening in communities actually happening in these, like, smaller sort of memberships, and, and I think you can see products like circle evolving in that direction. They're they're helping people build these sort of multifaceted things and we can continue to be sort of, the layer that helps people orchestrate that work and not every community needs to be 100 people or 1000 people, in fact, some really amazing community stuff happens when groups of five or 10 or 15 people get together.

Um so I think it's it's lovely to, it's refreshing, I would say to hear somebody talking about the small, the small group leaders, like people who are doing, you know, even people who are doing meet ups, you know, that's what makes me think of as like these people who just, I've talked to a lot of people that started with meetups and then now that, you know, there they're growing, but like it takes time to grow and so you need two spaces and to keep conversations going between events and and those, those kinds of things. So I think it's hard to do that in any way to make it an easy lift and easy access is super helpful and creators are like booming this year, uh, the last couple of years just seeing such a trend for, for all of this. Um, the space for creators just challenges, but lots of opportunity I think to Yeah, yeah, yeah, stuff we're really excited about. Like, I think about these and kind of like three different phases in the early phase, you know, you've got a coaching business, you've got an additional, you know, original idea.

Like you're saying it's like that that discovery period, what do people care about? What are they interested in in coming together to talk about? Like there's a whole like research phase here and so many of these folks are, you know, uh, you know, don't think of themselves as a community. It's like I run a coaching business and they put those five people in a WhatsApp group like that to me, You know, that person doesn't necessarily name that thing community, but like okay, that that they're building, they're building community in some level next is like, you know, folks who have gotten bigger, they're growing, they're hitting growing pains there, reaching kind of the ends of their own um you know, their own capacity and they're like, you know, verging on burnout. That's when I, like if I could like jump in and help people, that's right before they hit burnout is when I want to help them and then there are the, you know, the kind of big, super successful program. So I think we tend to fit in that middle zone of helping them get from the middle to the successful program. And I think what we really want to focus on over the next year is like these, these early folks, we can't necessarily help with validation, we can train, we can teach.

Um That was one of the first things I nerd out about is that community validation looks a lot like product validation. I was like, oh I get this, I know these tools, I know how to talk to people like this, but there's a lot of like early stage stuff like they get stuck hung up on tools really, really easily. Oh and I need a landing page. I'm going to go to Wordpress. Wordpress doesn't have this thing, I'm gonna go over to squarespace and I don't need that thing. Like then I figure out my billing product like that, that is the thing I think we can help with is just getting people kind of off that that tool merry go round and that's that's an area we're probably looking into pretty soon. Oh, I love that. Because yeah, the biggest thing that I see that hangs people up is the tools and the technology, I think, you know what I really love working with people and so if you're stuck in that um Ideation Hood, that's what I do. I do work with strategy of like, getting clear in your community concept, what does that look like? Okay, great. We know the community concept, we know who we're bringing together, we know why. Great. Now, what does that look like?

How are we, how are we inviting people? Are we, you know, bringing them in the door this way and all of that stuff, But that's where some people get. So and I think sometimes technology platforms make it even more confusing with the layer ring of stuff and so if you are like, your platform is super easy to understand and like, not hard to figure out, it seems, and there's templates. I mean, I'm not a customer, but it sounds like from my research. Pretty easy, pretty easy. And you're not going to get stuck in a lot of loops of like That whole system of okay, I'm gonna do a wordpress website now I do this now, I need to plug in for this. Now, I'm 17 layers into wordpress and I'm on the phone with blue host for three hours to figure out my challenges around this now and I still have haven't talked to anybody. And like, I see that all the time and it sucks to be in that in that space. And what I typically tell people is let's eliminate all of those barriers.

And let's just talk because what you said earlier is we want to talk to people. This is a community, we're talking to people. So let's just talk to people. We don't need a 17 layer system to talk to people. We just need to have the concept, you know, to have your idea and to to know how you want to share it with somebody and to get them on board with your idea. And that's just talking to people. And that's when I talk about validation, that's really doing these ideal member interviews and that I do a lot of work there because I think it's the first thing people skip, they jump right to what's the platform and what's the text solution. And um what really is helpful is is to know your members. But like using your tool now when, you know, your members, you can actually, you know, use it intuitively to say, all right, I know, you know, X and X is happening. And so now I can like build systems around it, right to, to be able to have like a more intentional and um, strategic plan for your content creation and for your, um, member on boarding and engagement strategies.

Yeah, yeah. I mean, all these, you know, creator communities of folks are building memberships and courses as you can imagine. And you know, the it's, they'll be talking about Their tech stack for six months and like, cool, when are you launching? Like when is when is the thing going to be available? And could you have done that with paypal? Like is there, could you have just lowered the bar and then a lot of them, will will think that I think they will then feel defeated by the technology where I a person who's been working in technology for almost 20 years and like that's a pretty technical deep dive you did on that product, like it's, you've, you've really looked at like the features, that's one by one, but it was not not required. You didn't have to do that. You could have just, you know, here's a simpler, here's a straightforward things that's, yeah, we're uh, we'll be building something kind of for that, that launched moment to really get people out of that, that, you know, getting stuck on the tools and like, cool, use this, get unstuck move on, build your thing.

And like we we probably won't even put the word community on it because that might scare them even early on and probably really be related to, you know, memberships coaching and really just launch, get the thing going. Yeah, it's so funny thing. I had experience with this with Wordpress and blue hose because that was, that was the rabbit hole. I went down and I was on a call with the blue host guy, you know, whatever like to call them and ask them about this one thing that I was stuck on and even he was like, oh, you've done this is like really advanced, like, I don't know. And I'm like, I called you because you're supposed to know the answer and, and it's just, it's just, yeah, it gets, it feels very, I think I resonate with what you're saying there, it feels very defeating as a creator who, you know, just wants to do this thing. But like it seems like that thing is like impossible to get to because there's seven layers between me and that thing. And how do we cut the, cut the cord basically. I'm just saying we don't need all of these, these shiny objects basically.

And um, how do we get to, what's the goal and what, how can we get there faster? And I think anything that has that kind of connotation around it is going to be interesting and attractive to people, especially in the creator space in in the next year because there's only so much time of being with, we have, there's so much, almost, there's so much that we can do and I think the less, at least for me, the less involved I have to be around building those tech systems in the back end and the more time I get to spend with people um it's gonna make me happier, so I appreciate that, and even now you're making me feel like good because I'm like, you know what, maybe I'm overthinking what I'm trying to do right now with my business. So it's like, it just reminded me about like, I was just earlier day on my website, like I hate my whole website, it really needs to hold an entire redesign and I'm like, does that, is that really what it needs? Like, do I really need to do all of that work? I don't know, I mean, Yeah, I'm a product person, so I feel that I'm like, we just had this thing like slightly better, but kind of the big product philosophy and thankfully our CTO brings me down to Earth a lot is, you know, if the core concept is good, people are gonna put up with a little bit of bank to get what they need.

Um And so it's the same for product, it's the same for websites, like if if the copy stands out, if the thing works, you know, they're going to put up with bugs, they're going to put up with, you know, not everything being super smooth from one to the other because, you know, there's so much value that they're seeing out of the thing and um, so it's something I have to remind myself about and I'm sure it's not true for everybody else. The message, the message is what's important, not the method. Um, you know, necessarily we want to make sure that their, if their message is attracting them, then that's what's gonna keep them this day, even if it's a little, um, you know, jagged in the beginning, if the experience isn't super streamlined, that's okay. Because guess what if you're just starting out and you're doing your first two cohorts, are you just starting out, guess what? That's actually how it works. That's kind of how you like, learn what you like and what you don't like, it's, people want the shiny, perfect thing. But the answer is, life isn't shiny or perfect. Humans are certainly not shiny or perfect. And so our websites are probably not going to be shiny and perfect either all the time.

Yeah, I joke that I'm both the best and worst person to run support because I take every bug, like a personal failing. So it will fight really hard to like get bugs fixed for customers, but also the worst because I'm just like, like that wasn't perfect their experience and yeah, that's a good point to say that, you know, as community builders. Community builders are really those nurturing people, that's why in the community profession it's like dominated by women. It's like the only industry besides like nurses and those kinds of professions that, that I know of like in the like, I don't know of any other tech field that's dominated by women other than community and it's, and they're not to say that there's anything wrong men, but I'm just saying the sediment of what you talked about was really being compassionate and caring and no matter if it's a business or if it's a personal conversation you care and that shows in in your dedication to wanting people to succeed and that's a valuable trait to have and not everyone has that.

So community builders have that kind of innately within them typically of like they want people to like get the thing or like solve the problem. And I was just having a conversation. You can't, you can't and I was just having this conversation also as a coach, you have to step back and be like, I can't want it more than they do, you know, got to want to do the thing, like I can't want it and magically they're going to do it. It's like they have to want to do it. I love what I'm responding to a customer support ticket and I write like a paragraph of stuff and I'm like, oh, I'm so sorry that such a terrible thing and they're like, cool, like, okay, let me know what it's like, all right, Maybe it's not that big a deal, but maybe somebody really appreciated that. So it's also good to have empathy. I think no matter what empathy is always a good thing to show, we're sorry for your struggle. We hear you were getting it resolved, you know, like, yeah, that's my, my father in law is a media trainer for crisis events and I think his media training is a little bit different from a lot of other folks that he's like, apologize.

Like that's the first thing at the gate, say sorry. Um, and that you're going to try and do better is like if you stonewall too much. If you doubt people, like throw up too many walls like you, you don't give them the ability to interact with you, you're trying to deflect and that just makes them angrier and it just gets worse and worse. But if you start with, I'm sorry. It just gives you a ton of latitude to go and take the time to go fix that thing. Some lawyers might disagree with you is that it's an acknowledgment of guilt. Yeah. I would have been watching a lot of court trauma on my, on my, on my off days, but I would say, yeah, of course, um, I think when mistakes are happening, that, you know, you own up to this is important, but I also feel like, you know, just empathizing by saying, I'm sorry, you're feeling that way, even if it's not anything to do with me, but you're feeling a certain way, you can always say I'm sorry, you're feeling that way I'm hearing, I'm hearing you, you know, I think a lot of times, especially myself, like I know we're wrapping up but we like to jump into like, you know, here's the solution and not everyone wants a solution.

Some people and one of the biggest magical things about community. Um just because I like to talk about community, I'll share this is that people love to be heard and seen. And so if you have an opportunity to be able to do that as a community builder and tools, help you do that. Use the tools that use them intentionally is what I always say, like a big part of vulnerability gives people the space to step into. Um it gives them the opportunity to that and say, okay, well, you know, if you say, you know something I believe in a lot about as being a leader, like admitting mistakes, admitting what you don't know, talking about what you don't know, because then other people get the opportunity. Well, hey, I do know that thing, I can help you out and that leads to better outcome leads to stronger teams, leads to stronger communities, I'm just a firm believer that, you know vulnerability brings everyone up a level and gives people the opportunity to kind of be better together. Yeah. In community in general, when you're talking about like building these relationships inside the community, you know, asking for help is hard when you don't know people.

So like, you know, when you're talking about like having better relationships and these tools that help connect the members inside to build better relationships, then they'll feel more um comfortable with with raising their hand and saying, hey, I'm stuck on this thing with Wordpress and I was about to call Blue Host, but um does anybody want to chat with me about it? Because, you know, I'm like gonna jump off a cliff because I'm so this is so stressful. Yeah, I mean jake losses, creator lab and the cool thing is, he's like, there are a lot of creators in there who do education for other creators on specific aspects of being a creator. Um so if you have a question about video, there's like three video people, I think there are four lawyers in there. If you wanna talk I. P. Issues and stuff, you want to strike influencer deals. There are people in there who can help you negotiate influencer deals. So it's like, it's just this massive multi beneficial community and you can just really be free to say, okay, here's, here's what I'm working on, here's what I know, here's what I don't know and you're going to get this like, just response after response from people who've done this before have expertise and people who teach it just a really really powerful kind of that and that's the magic of of community um in in in the respect of an ecosystem like um you know, building an ecosystem is really saying you the school and I have a skill and you know, if I need support and I know you know that I'm going to reach out to you will be like Drew, I need some help here, otherwise um and you do the same, you'd be like, hey, you know, this is where we're at, you know, I know you do this thing, so um I think that's the power of communities that we each have this amazing unique life experience that we bring when we meet, whether it's in person, in an in person actual event space or whatnot or a virtual one I think um there's ways to leverage that as a community leader and cultivate that when you're in and growing a community, so thanks so much.

True for sharing all of this awesome insights about burb and about how you work with people. Um for anybody who is curious about learning more about you, what's the best place, where is the best place for them to go? Yeah, so you can go to learn about more about bir bird dot co you can find me on twitter, that's usually the place where I'm spending way too much time until until Ellen kills it. Um at Drew deal D. I. L. D. R. E. W. D. I. L. As my handle. And yeah, I'm happy to chat with folks as well. Cool. All right, well thank you again so much for joining us on the community podcast. Everybody listening. Thanks for joining in. Um if you like this episode, please share it with a friend um work fellow community builder or creator until the next time. I hope you're finding calm in this day evening afternoon today it's Wednesday at 5 22 PM but find calm until the next time. Take care and we'll talk to you soon. Bye.

Hi this is Deb Shell and I'm super excited to let you know that I'm writing a book. Yes, it might be not be a big deal for you, but it is a big deal for me. Um as I work through writing the creator to community builder book, I've decided to launch a crowdfunding campaign and I'm super excited to share with you that this is where I'm asking you for your help. I need to reach $5000. And at this moment we've raised about 100 $1,110. So thank you so much for all of the people who have um supported this project to this point. I wanted to let you know with updating you today that I'm extending this campaign to the end of the year. So by December 31. My goal is to raise $5,000 for this book. The estimates are about um $10,000 of cost of public publishing printing a limited, you know, amount of copies and um paying for a designer.

So I just uh I just started um reconnecting with our book designer. He's going to be getting me some proposals next week, and I'm going to start with a new cover designed for you hopefully before the end of the year. So um that's my update for today. Thank you for supporting me so far. If you haven't supported this project yet, please go to the show notes and check out the I Fund Woman crowdfunding campaign for the new book creator to community builder. I'm super excited, Thanks so much for all who have supported.

Episode 94: Onboarding Automations for Course Creators that scale your community with Drew Dillion
Episode 94: Onboarding Automations for Course Creators that scale your community with Drew Dillion
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