How We Built a $100,000 Membership Community In One Year
In this article, I will take you on a journey of how we built Wealth Nation’s Money School into a 6 figure online membership community in 1 year while building GroupApp as a platform.
Check out the video below, to see everything that went into creating an online community that felt just as amazing – if not better – than a real-life one.
It should go without saying that this was no easy task.
Building and launching our community required a significant amount of effort, time, trial and error – and most importantly, dedication. It continues to be so to this day.
When Carmen and Darius reached out to me, I was in the idea stage of creating GroupApp, and I wanted to help them build their community and make it as easy as possible for them to run and manage it at the same time.
I wanted to build a platform where creators could:
- Engage with their audience
- Share their knowledge
- Get paid for their work
Working with Wealth Nation, I built their community called Wealth Nation Money School using GroupApp, and our work together shaped GroupApp into the most reliable and creator-friendly platform for unifying online courses and learning communities.
I partnered up with Wealth Nation to help them build a financial education community designed to help their students learn advanced financial strategies centered around the concept called infinite banking – and later potentially buy a whole life insurance policy through Wealth Nation.
At the time, Wealth Nation was hosting their online courses on Thinkific, had their membership on Patreon, and experimented with a Facebook group. So the experience felt disjointed and all over the place.
Wealth Nation was looking for a community platform that would make it possible for them to bring together their community and online courses and create a more unified online learning experience for their students. This aligned with my goal with GroupApp and would allow me to test my idea in practice.
What else motivated me to do it?
With years of experience in digital marketing and building my other software company LeadQuizzes, I knew that the challenge that they had was something that other creators faced.
The majority of online creators had their communities and courses on separate platforms and the learning experience wasn’t that great for the members.
What I almost always experienced was a course that felt something like this:
- Here’s a bunch of videos
- Read a few stylish PDFs
- That’s it – that’s all the content and the course you paid for
Really? THAT’S all there is? It just didn’t feel right.
The creators that DID offer online communities with their courses were often doing this through Facebook groups – which was a disaster for me.
I am not that disciplined and it is very easy for me to be distracted on Facebook with everything else that is going on.
We were striving to create an engaged, active community instead of a barely interested, passive one – a truly valuable online-learning environment that, in terms of engagement, much more resembled a campus than a library.
I wanted to encourage Money School students to engage in discussions, connect with one another and actually expand on the knowledge available on the course even further.
However, to achieve this you have to…
For at least one entire year. This has to happen before starting an online community, and you need to be ready for challenges that can arise in many forms.
A nurturing spirit is a must-have because building a community to a high standard really isn’t a cakewalk.
Starting and growing a community can be really demanding. You have to be ready to maybe even start over, throw away a few months of work, and start from ZERO if necessary – but with patience, you will likely gain new profound insights.
What you should remember here is that if at first, it feels kind of slow, that doesn’t necessarily have to mean you’re failing, but that you’re getting there slowly but steadily. With determination, it’s bound to get better.
At the time, I didn’t have anyone else to share an insight like this with me.
What helped me get through the initial hardships was knowing that I was building a platform that would help creators serve their communities better and help their members get much more out of their online education.
I always remembered the frustration of using different pieces of software for online learning and feeling like I’m not advancing a single bit because of the poor learning experience I already described.
Needless to say, nothing happened overnight:
- We piecemealed a lot of things
- We had much more tiny accomplishments than big breaks
- It was a slow and elaborate process
- We even had to start from scratch at one point
After finally building the first version of Money School, we felt we were all set, ready to go live and help others prosper.
And so finally, we arrive at our first big mistake – we made our community free.
Even though it may seem counterintuitive, people won’t really appreciate a free community as much as a paid one. I learned this the hard way.
Our first goal was to build a financial education community, but I wanted to build the biggest and most awesome one at that.
(The downfalls of being a bit too ambitious 😵)
After launching the community with a couple of weeks of careful preparations, we hoped that the people who got a taste of our well-designed community would end up paying for our paid membership option and become clients of Wealth Nation.
(It didn’t result in that)
However, in just two months we’ve had more than 900 people join the Money School – and I wasn’t surprised. It made sense – people love free content, right?
Well, yes and no. Even though 900 members in two months seems impressive, our community had:
- Very little engagement
- Our members didn’t take action
- We weren’t providing value to our members
And most importantly – we didn’t get paid for the service we provided, so it was practically impossible for us to make it sustainable and meaningful for everyone.
The lesson learned here is simple, although not very easily assumed:
If you are an online creator looking to monetize and run a community as a business, you should charge for your membership appropriately from the start, and steer the growth of your community in the precise direction you want it to go.
We decided that we wanted committed students who appreciated the community and constantly moved the conversation forward.
After deciding this, we had to start over, bring in a whole new group of people. This time, a group of interested individuals with enthusiasm.
We realized that the best way to start over was to completely DELETE the original 900 users from Wealth Nation Money School and relaunch.
It was difficult for us and kind of daunting, but we made the call and went through with it.
If you have sufficient reason to believe that you’re stuck in a dead-end, starting over isn’t the worst thing in the world.
Since we decided to go for it and delete the entire community, we defined what we had to achieve:
- Provide our members with a massive amount of value
- Gather new, committed members
- Build a solid foundation for a sustainable membership community
We concluded that it was far better to have 20 paying people who also paid close attention to what we taught, than 900 people that were completely inactive.
Setting our goals more accurately helped us build a better community. We focused on what we did best:
- Sharing information around finance
- Engaging with our audience – because that’s what our members told us they wanted
We relaunched our community – and boy, it felt scary. What if we never hit those numbers again?
To build a community of dedicated individuals, you need to place your primary focus on quality – not quantity and recruit members who needed what we had to teach about personal finance.
Focusing on quantity can get you short-term results at best, which is what we’ve learned from our first launch.
We took the opposite direction than the first time and decided to charge $997 for the membership and look for committed members.
When I proposed this, Carmen and Darius were completely baffled. Before this, Wealth Nation was charging $10/month on Patreon and they thought that NO ONE on Earth would pay $997/year to be a part of something similar on GroupApp.
I can distinctly remember Carmen’s: “Wooooah!” when I suggested the annual membership of $997 on GroupApp.
However, this is exactly what Wealth Nation needed. They needed to take this leap, PRECISELY because of the type of engagement they wanted to get from their audience.
Looking back to this time, Carmen told me: “You opened our minds to it. People who pay, pay attention.”
How did we get the people to sign up and pay? By hooking our founding members with real value. Here’s how we approached it:
Our plan was to showcase what Wealth Nation Money School taught through a free-to-attend crash course webinar that would hook our members with value.
We spent the first 45 minutes of our 1-hour Webinar providing value to the attendees on our free-to-attend Webinar. For the remaining 15 minutes, we pitched and answered questions about our 4-week online workshop that would be taking place inside our relaunched Wealth Nation Money School.
We also created a 7-day email marketing campaign that promoted the 4-week workshop inside the community. The emails led people to the Wealth Nation Money School landing page, where we outlined what they would be getting in the 4-week workshop and the future benefits they would be receiving by becoming founding members of Wealth Nation Money School.
Because they were going to be founding members of our community, we also offered an exclusive opportunity for lifetime access to Wealth Nation Money School for a single payment of $2997, and a couple of attendants were happy to take this deal.
The webinar went really well, and many who attended were hooked with value, wanted to stay for the long haul, continue their education by signing up for the 4-week workshop.
Our primary goals with the workshop were to provide massive out of value to our founding members, connect them with peers on the same journey as them, and gradually train them to be leaders inside our community.
As the final day of the 4-week workshop got near, Carmen & Darius decided to extend it to an 8-week workshop – because we saw that our members were learning so much and having so much fun.
The result of the workshop was that 47 people paid to join Wealth Nation Money School as founding members.
That relaunch ended up earning Wealth Nation $29,268, but our main excitement was more about the complete transformation in the engagement itself.
Our members enjoyed what they were learning, and our community was finally taking shape.
*Out of 47 founding members, some were offered discounts from the $997/ year membership, because they had already purchased their whole life policies through Wealth Nation. They joined the community to learn the method of how to utilize their policies properly.
After the workshop ended, our job was just beginning. We needed to emphasize how we imagined our community would evolve, and the value that people would get for their annual membership.
After the workshop, all of the members who paid $997 for the 8-week Workshop had annual access to the community as part of their membership. The community contained no new courses – just the video of all 8 weekly meetings from the workshop, and a place on GroupApp where they could continue the conversation started during the workshop.
That’s exactly what our members did.
We committed to nothing more than an outline: a syllabus based on the email list feedback that people have been giving us so far.
We introduced our members to all of our pre-made content gradually and created an ongoing community coaching program around it. – which saved us a lot of energy as creators, and provided more value for our members.
Although our first instinct was to provide them with all of the content we had made AT ONCE – We could have easily overwhelmed them by dumping everything on them – and the value of the community wouldn’t have been as transparent.
By taking a step back and letting our founding members engage in discussions and finalize their knowledge from the workshop, and then introducing a community coaching program, they got accustomed to the environment and were ready for new materials.
Because we encouraged them to communicate with each other directly, our founding members became more than just “profile pictures with names” to one another – they got accustomed to behaving in a virtual environment just like they would at a live event.
The first 47 people – our “founding members” – are, even today, our biggest accomplishment. People joining today are directly influenced by the excitement of our founding members as well as their active presence and experiences as Wealth Nation’s Money School members.
We reached out to our founding members about what their specific needs were, and slowly built a community that goes miles beyond a typical subscription community and online course setup.
In the end, as Carmen put it: “We served our clients a completely different plate than we were planning on serving.“
We had created a community worth spending time and learning on. The different opinions on things people are passionate about are what made Wealth Nation Money School a community on GroupApp – not just the classes.
The best pearls of wisdom that we gained from Wealth Nation’s relaunch are:
- Don’t over-optimize
- Skip the expensive launches
- Don’t overcomplicate the setup
- Focus on moving quickly
- Ask people what they want to learn
We had built a minimum viable community – which was a sample of how we wanted Wealth Nation Money School to look like – but with a smaller number of members first.
By relaunching Money School right, the engagement turned into this wonderful thing where Carmen and Darius didn’t even have to “host the show” anymore at one point – which was exactly what we wanted.
Keep in mind that no one joins a community because it’s big – but because it’s good. The community has to be interesting enough for a small number of members to first if you want it to grow big.
We learned that the best way to nurture your members is by:
- Following up on everything
- Creating content consistently
- Creating additional courses, bonus workshops, mini-courses, various video/written materials, etc.
Here’s what this meant for us in practice:
- When initially setting up Wealth Nation’s Money School, we knew that we wanted people to buy our core product which has a starting price of $10,000 a year (whole life insurance policy).
- For people to make that investment wisely, we knew that they had to provide a lot of education, so they would know what to do once they got their whole life insurance policy with us.
We continued surveying our clients regularly, and we found out that some of them preferred the old-fashioned “pay-to-watch” type of education – which isn’t something we intended to create from the get-go.
We learned that you should always be ready to hear your members out, recognize recurring needs, and create membership tiers (aka value ladders) for different types of members and their preferences.
We offered two membership tiers for our members:
- All Of Our Recorded Classes And Content So Far – for a single charge of $129 (Watch On-Demand)
- A Live Coaching Program – $119/ month (available through annual $997 Money School subscription)
This gave us an opportunity to better organize ourselves – but we didn’t come up with this out of thin air. We got to this idea by surveying our members on what they exactly wanted.
This new model kept all of our members happy:
The ones that wanted to take their time to absorb the content at their own pace usually took the first option, and the ones that learned more easily through participation in the discussion often opted for the second option.
The majority of people who wanted a one-time deal where they could teach themselves were happy with the offer – and the select few who wanted a live coaching program weren’t hesitant on paying the $997 subscription.
“Looking at your own books” is just as important as giving your audience what they want, and you find that through a lot of surveying, testing, and updating IN PRACTICE.
Don’t hesitate to experiment – just make sure to always include your members in the process.
We achieved this through a community email welcome sequence.
Our welcome sequence included video walk-throughs of our community, prompts that encourage members to share their financial goals and little about themselves inside of the community and resources for getting immediate value from their subscription.
Our new member’s welcome sequence lets them know they are in the right place and gets them engaging in the community right away.
Keep your community engaged by keeping it interactive. Wealth Nation’s Money School was conceptualized as a LIVE online school from the beginning, but if you haven’t had a live session still – don’t hesitate to do it.
Make sure to stimulate discussions about a topic relevant to their daily and weekly needs and ask your members for advice.
Launch mini crash courses on topics via Zoom and invite members to be a part of it. This is a great way to connect to your members, and a great way to recruit new founding members.
As we’ve already established: Follow up on everything! Always keep the conversation going inside of your community. Here’s an example of that:
Since we launched Money School in February 2021. this is what we achieved:
- 433 active members in Wealth Nation’s Money School
- 62% of all community members are enrolled in one or more of our self-pace online courses hosted inside of our community
- We have generated over $100,000 in membership subscriptions
- We have also made well over $100,000 from upselling community members into one of our insurance and financial products.
If you want to avoid all the pitfalls, get direct guidance and coaching on how to create your community, how to price everything, and deliver the right value – you’re here just in time.
For a limited amount of time, I’m offering 4 people an exclusive opportunity to receive direct coaching from me and to become our next case study.
If you would like to work with me to help you build your own membership community to $100,000 in one year, you just need to fill out the application here.
After you fill out your application, I will personally coach you on your journey of getting your community to a six-figure revenue in a year with GroupApp.
Let’s build the next $100,000 membership community together! 😎