Don’t Pop-Up Overnight!

Have you ever had a fellow digital marketer send you a launch email about a new product or community out of the blue?

It’s like when a new restaurant pops up in your neighborhood overnight. No announcements, no warnings, no explanation of what Poké even is! How did they know about the neighborhood’s taste or price point? Maybe you will try it out, but probably not right away because you already have plans, right?

That’s a bit how a lot of membership sites launch.

When I built my community, Freelance Writers Den, I’d been a freelance writer for a long time. Not only that, but I had percolated on the idea for my community for almost as long, before I was pushed to get started.

That doesn’t mean I went straight into my launch. I actually spent about 90 days in the “pre-launch” phase, learning exactly what my market would want to see from my membership site.
 

Offer A Survey

Creating a community is a very special thing. You’re inviting people to invest in you with their trust, time, and money. I wanted to make sure my community offered tons of value and had the features freelance writers wanted most.

My ideas alone weren’t going to be enough to create the community I envisioned. So I put together a survey that asked my audience what they were looking for.

This was a key step in the formation of the Freelance Writers Den community, and it all began way before the site launched.

I asked them about what types of content they wanted to see inside, whether they wanted live events, and how often. I asked them about pricing, too, because I knew that was a big pain point for my audience of starving freelance writers.

Part of the deal was that everyone who filled out the survey actually received a discounted “Den pioneer” price when we did launch. This generated incredible buy-in and got my core crowd involved in the community from the beginning.
 

Allow The Community To Be Co-Creators

Another strategy I used in the pre-launch phase was welcoming my audience to co-create aspects of the community with me.

I wanted the community’s input on what our name should be, especially, because we’re writers!

It led to some spirited discussion about apostrophes, headlines, and grammar rules. Ultimately, this led to more initial connection to the community that we were now creating together. Asking questions that get people’s passions stirred is a crucial step to forming a paid community from your audience.
 
People feel really special and included when you let them in on what’s happening “behind-the-scenes.” It’s not salesy and builds excitement.
 
Then, when you’re ready to open the community, you have people who have been following the creation process from the beginning.
 

Stuff The Room Early

It helps to bring in some friendly faces early on. If you’ve been connecting with your market for a while, consider offering a free membership to close contacts. For example, I had done a lot of 1-on-1 coaching before I launched the community, so I decided to offer a free lifetime membership to that core group of students.

It’s a great way to give back to customers who’ve helped build your business along the way, and allows you to grow these relationships into an even tighter bond.

With a paid community, you can stay in touch with your most loyal readers all in one place, and facilitate their connecting to each other.

Bottom line: don’t dive into a launch with your eyes closed. It’s a waste of time and energy that you can’t afford. After all, you have a community to serve!
 

Action Steps

  1. Create a survey for your audience.
  2. Ask them what they want to see in your paid membership community.
  3. Include questions about content, format, pain points, and pricing.
  4. Ask your audience questions to engage them in your launch process.
  5. Give a lifetime membership to your most ardent supporters, to get friendly faces into your community.

 

Result You Will Get

A tightly connected community in the pre-launch phase.
 

Mentor: Carol Tice

Owner at Freelance Writers Den, a membership community (1200 members) at Make a Living Writing.

 
This article is based on an EHQ interview with the mentor.