Dornubari Vizor October 28, 2022

The Ultimate Guide to Circle.so and the Best Alternatives to Circle Community

Have you considered using Circle to build a strong online community around your product, service, or content? While there are a couple of features that make Circle a community platform worth considering, you should beware of its disadvantages.

We are here to tell you all you need to know about Circle before you trust it with your most valuable asset — your loyal online community. And if you realize that this is not the best option for you, there’s no need to despair. We will also point you to the best Circle alternative and share with you how to create a free community.

What Is Circle.so?

Circle is a community platform designed for creators who want to gather their community members around their content, engage them in discussions, and turn them into paying members. In addition to discussions, members can communicate via direct messaging too.

With Circle, creators have a chance to build different types of online communities. These include membership, course, product, and coaching communities. The platform also allows for newsletter and podcast communities.

When it comes to discussions, it is possible to organize them in public or private space groups, depending on their nature.

Whenever you create a space group, you can choose different settings to customize it the way you want. For instance, you get to choose whether you allow community members to create spaces, too or not. When you create private spaces, you can decide whether you’re going to hide them from non-space members. To name a few options.

What Are the Most Common Use Cases for Circle.so?

Are you still wondering whether Circle is the best solution out there for you? There is no single answer to that question. It depends on what exactly it is that you do and what you expect from a community platform.

Here are some of the most common use cases for Circle. Learning more about them should help you decide whether you should stick around or not. If this is not the right community platform for you, it’s time to move on to explore Circle alternatives and competitors. Let’s dig in:

  • You want highly-engaged community members who are in touch with each other via direct messaging or participate in various discussions.
  • You’re planning to build coaching communities or mastermind groups.
  • You are a content creator who wants to connect with the audience and help them connect with each other.
  • Your primary goal is to promote your product or a brand and gather your online community around it.

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What Are the Top Features of Circle.so?

Using Circle to build your community can be a good decision. That is if you take into consideration some of its best features. These primarily include the following:

Integration with your own website

Do you already have a website? If so, you’ll find it convenient to simply integrate your community into your existing site. The Circle platform makes this possible.

Integration with online course platforms

Are you using online course platforms such as Kajabi or Teachable? Circle makes it possible to share your content created on other community platforms with your Circle community. And only with a single sign-on.

Integration with multiple tools

Besides integration with web pages and different community platforms, Circle allows you to integrate multiple handy tools with your community through a Single Sign-on and track important analytics, such as the most active members, the number of new members, trends, and many more.

Customization to match your branding

You choose your brand colors and add a custom domain that matches your own brand. Your community members don’t even have to notice that they’re on Circle.so and not your own platform.

Once the Circle community is set up, you can add members, set notification settings, and create your own community rules and guidelines.

Moreover, Circle offers a range of formatting options for community posts and discussions, along with media and emojis, so you can really jazz up your content and make it engaging.

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Create spaces – private and public

Circle is a social media platform that allows for the creation of multiple public and private spaces within one community. This feature is beneficial for coaching communities and communities with various interests or needs. For example, private space can be used for organized discussions among members who wish to keep their conversations confidential. In contrast, public space can be used for announcements or general discussions.

Moreover, you can customize each space group differently, giving members in each space group the ability to see different content, post different types of content, and receive different notifications. This makes it easy to segment your Circle community based on interests, needs, or other criteria.

Create courses

Aside from posts, chats, and events, Circle also allows you to create courses. As a creator, you decide who will have access to the course. Available options are:

  • Open – which means anyone from the community can see and join this course.
  • Private – only members you invited or members who purchased a gated paywall can access the course. Other members will see the lock screen.
  • Secret – similar to private courses, but non-members will not be aware that this course exists.

You create your course on Circle by organizing lessons and uploading the following materials. Your course will be saved as a draft while you work on it. When you are ready to launch, simply change it to public.

As a creator, you can decide if your students will be able to download the content or not. You can also turn on or off comments on lessons.

Connect with your members through live streams, chats, and events

Circle allows you to host live streams and reach hundreds of coaching clients at once. You can also invite a co-host or members to join you in live group coaching, lessons, and discussions.

In recent updates, Circle added a new option similar to live streams—Live Rooms.

Live Rooms are spaces for smaller groups of members to talk and connect. They’re ideal for one-on-one coaching, feedback sessions, and similar touchpoints. Everyone in the live room can turn on their cameras and unmute their microphones, making it simple to connect even in a virtual environment.

In addition, Circle allows you to add events to the platform and send invitations to members. When they RSVP, the event will be added to their calendars automatically.

Group chats are another way to encourage interaction among Circle members, and if you want to work on developing a more personal connection, you can contact members directly.

You can even reach members outside the group through the weekly email digest, in which you can highlight key events, discussions, and comments from the last week.

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Searchable member database within your Circle community

Members can easily find each other in private spaces and online communities through member tags. Moreover, Circle offers a variety of search filters, as well as custom profile fields.

Access to the Private Circle Community for creators

Circle offers multiple benefits to course creators. First, you will have access to group coaching, weekly training, and education. You will also learn how to create a thriving community, set up an onboarding process, and take part in workshops.

Circle also has office hours, where every content creator gets an inside look at successful Circle communities, a chance to ask questions, and many useful tips and tricks.

If this is not enough, you can also participate in different space groups and daily discussions and connect with the creators of other Circle communities.

You can own your Circle Community

Perhaps one of the best things about the Circle platform is that it allows you to own your Circle community. This saves you from elbowing your way to your audience. All you need to do is make your content worth sticking around for.

Multiple monetization options

Different types of online communities require different subscriptions. With Circle, you can set up monthly, quarterly, or yearly payments, depending on the content you are creating and selling.

You can also set up a free trial for new members or special deals to get the attention of people who might want to join.

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Drawbacks of Circle Platform

While Circle has some great features for online communities, it does have some drawbacks and may not be the best solution for you. Here are the main disadvantages:

  • PricingCircle communities provide many benefits to content creators, but they are quite expensive when compared to their alternatives. Even if you pay more for more expensive plans, you won’t notice much of a difference. The Professional plan, like the cheaper plans, allows you to create only one community. With a limited set of features, you’ll need to purchase a significant number of add-ons, which can quickly become expensive.
  • Transaction fees – Circle charges transaction fees on top of the expensive pricing regardless of which plan you choose. We’ll explain in more detail later how much the plans cost and what extra fees to expect.
  • Not ideal for course creators – You can create courses with Circle but can’t sell them easily. Instead of a dedicated checkout page, you have to use a confusing, clunky paywall feature that will hurt your conversions. In addition, the option for creating a course is only available for Professional and Enterprise plans. That means you must pay at least $99 per month to be able to create courses and still can’t turn them that easily into revenue streams.
  • Course Space Limit: Another disadvantage of Circle is that courses can easily use up your space limits. So, if you have more than ten online courses, you will have to pay $399 monthly. Again, it is clear that Circle is overpriced.

You should also know that Circle courses are more like to-do lists than genuine courses. Within each course, there is a list of modules and lessons, but there is no interaction or two-way communication.

Circle does not support embedding quizzes, forms, and other content into courses. Even though you can add videos and text to your course, you can’t upload audio files, worksheets, or PDFs.

You can’t use or embed videos from YouTube or any other site.

If you’re looking for an alternative, GroupApp might be a better solution. GroupApp is a learning community platform that connects your courses and community to boost the success of your online courses.

With GroupApp, you can create an unlimited number of courses and enroll an unlimited number of students. Most importantly, you get paid for your expertise.

  • No option to drip course content – Drip-feeding is a tactic that is commonly used by course creators to ensure their students absorb and process the information they learn. Course creators release content gradually over time to improve student retention and engagement. This allows students to build upon their existing knowledge, and it also gives them a chance to ask questions and get clarification if needed. Unfortunately, Circle doesn’t provide an option to drip content.
  • No option for scheduling posts – Another feature that Circle lacks is an option to schedule posts and emails. Constant communication with your community is key, but that doesn’t mean that you have to be active 24/7. Instead, you can plan your content in advance and schedule posts to be published in the desired time frame. Even though Circle lacks this feature, you can still use it by signing up for GroupApp. GroupApp allows you to schedule posts and broadcast them so your members never miss any information, and you free up your calendar for activities that will bring you and your members more value.
  • Not many unique features – Circle doesn’t offer anything new. Events, space groups, and online communities aren’t unique features, especially when you can get them on another platform for an affordable price. GroupApp provides the same tools, as well as a few extras, at affordable cost and without extra fees.
  • You can’t sell community events or library content – the lack of this option limits your way of monetizing your expertise. Selling digital downloadables allows you to tap into additional revenue streams, and Circle doesn’t have features to support this side of your business.

How Much Does Circle Cost?

When deciding what community platform to choose, one of the big questions to address is, of course, the price of it. So, if you’re still considering the Circle platform, you should also take its pricing scheme into account.

For those who just want to try it out, Circle offers a free trial period of 14 days. However, when that period expires, you have to pay to use this community platform—there is no free plan. Here are your options:

Basic Plan

This is the most affordable option and costs $39 a month. This plan provides you with the essentials needed to get started with your community. You can have just 1,000 monthly active members and 10 spaces. This plan also lets you use a custom domain, get notifications inside the app, create member profiles and a directory, and connect to Zapier. But you can’t host courses or live events.

Professional Plan

If you want the Circle’s most popular plan, you have to pay $99 monthly. Your community is limited to 10,000 community members and up to 10 spaces. In the Professional plan, you get advanced analytics and live streaming, but extensions cost extra. You’ll also have email support.

Enterprise Plan

The biggest plan costs $399 per month and allows 100,000 active members and 100 spaces. This plan is designed for large businesses and provides features like API access, advanced security, and priority email support.

Here’s an overview of Circle.so pricing plans.

As you can see, Circle is quite expensive, and compared to other alternatives, it doesn’t provide good value for money.

The Basic Plan is insufficient for a learning community because it lacks course and live video streaming features. It means you’ll have to either pay for additional platforms or use a free one. Nonetheless, some members may find the constant switching between platforms unprofessional.

Circle Add-ons

Considering the fact that Circle plans offer limited features and capacity, you’ll need to purchase add-ons pretty soon, and they are quite pricey. For example, if you want to add extra moderators, it will cost you $20 per month for every 10 moderators.

And if you want to add more members or spaces, you’ll have to pay $20 per month for 20 spaces and another $20 per month for every 10,000 members. You can see how Circle’s fees rise as your membership grows without even factoring in the transaction fees.

Transaction Fees

Furthermore, all Circle plans include additional transaction fees, only varying in percentages:

  • Every transaction on the Basic Plan is charged 4%.
  • The professional plan has a 1% fee.
  • Enterprise plan charges a 0.5% transaction fee.

Here is how it looks when percentages turn into dollars.

Suppose you’re paying for a Basic plan and have a community of 1,000 members. Your membership subscription is $60/month.

A transaction fee of 4% means you lose $2.4 for every subscription. When you multiply $2.4 by 1,000 (the number of members), it comes to $2,400. In other words, you lose $2,400 every month on transaction fees – that’s almost $30k per year!

Luckily, there’s an alternative.

GroupApp – The Best Alternative to Circle

What if we told you that you could build your online community and sell your expertise through online courses without having to pay the crazy cost of Circle?

Well, let us introduce you to GroupApp, the learning community platform that allows you to bring your courses and community together.

Finally, you have all the tools you need to build a community around your expertise and all that on one platform that you can afford.

GroupApp makes it possible to:

  • Host your online courses and digital content inside your community
  • Get paid through subscriptions and course sales
  • Create a unified community experience that your members love.

circle.so alternatives

Here’s what you should know.

A Unified Place for Your Online Courses and Community

GroupApp was intentionally designed for online course creators. Instead of creating courses on one platform and managing your community on another, you can have both in the same space.

Using GroupApp, you can improve the success of your online courses and make learning more fun by putting your online course and community on the same platform. Participants in a course should be able to get feedback, guidance, and help from the community easily and when they need it, without having to log in to multiple software tools.

Moreover, transformative learning and online communities benefit students just as much as content creators. On GroupApp, the students can help each other by answering questions in the chat and motivating each other to do better.

Variety of Course Features

With GroupApp, you have every tool you possibly need to create and host courses and much more.

circle.so alternatives

For example, the Custom Outline Page allows you to provide more information about your course and use it as a mini landing page to sell it without having to set up a landing page. Customize it with all the important details and materials that will sell students what they need to jumpstart their new career path!

Within each course, you can easily link videos, images, PDFs, and forms or embed any other material that students can benefit from. Furthermore, you can track your members’ progress and reach out if you see anybody struggling.

GroupApp offers a Drip Course feature, so participants can gradually gain access to courses.

circle.so alternatives

Easily Organize Learning Materials

All of your courses will be stored in the Library, and you can organize them as you wish with the Drag and Drop builder. Use the community library to host resources for your students and membership community all in one place.

circle.so alternatives

Create Channels

While Circle offers space groups, GroupApp offers channels that can be both private and public. As a course creator, you get complete control over the look of the channel, its purpose, and who can access it.

So, within one community, you can organize multiple smaller communities and invite members to share ideas in the activity feed.

Include Your Team in Course Management

Make your students or community members feel engaged and valued by making them admins or moderators. As admins and moderators, they can help you deliver content and get more people involved in the community.

You Can Monetize Through Membership Subscriptions and Online Course Sales

Membership site platforms are an excellent way to earn money for your hard work and build your own brand. That’s why GroupApp gives you a chance to monetize through membership subscriptions (monthly or annual). To make things even better, it also allows you to sell your online courses, making another great source of revenue.

Discover how Wealth Nation generated $29,268 in membership subscriptions in 3 weeks

Let’s do the math. If you have 250 members, each of whom pays a subscription fee of $15, you can earn $3,750 a month just from subscriptions. Then, if each of those members (or any other 250 people for that matter) buys a course that costs $25, you get another $6,250 per course.

circle.so alternatives

 

A Familiar and Easy-to-Use Platform

GroupApp is designed to look similar to Facebook groups, which means that there is no relearning required.

The platform will feel familiar to the people in your community, which will make it easy to use and navigate. All that without the many disadvantages that make businesses move away from Facebook groups.

Affordable Pricing

GroupApp offers four different plans that you can pay for either monthly or yearly. Here are the options:

Free Plan

You can start your community for $0 per month. You won’t be limited to how much time you want to enjoy the free plan. Your community can have up to 100 members and three different channels. You will have the necessary features to set up the community even without a monthly subscription.

With a Free plan, you can use group chat, direct messaging, content library, analytics, embed videos and content, and much more. There is more than enough for an excellent start. Yet, if you’d like to create and sell online courses, you’ll need to step up the game.

Basic Plan

The Basic plan is $39 per month and includes everything from the Free plan as well as additional features. The Basic Plan and all of the more expensive plans let you create and enroll as many people as you want in your course. You can have a 1,000-member community with ten different channels, and it gives you 2 GB of storage space to upload your files.

Pro Plan

This is the best option for aspiring creators and entrepreneurs, and it costs $99 per month. You have more control and management options with the Pro plan with a drip schedule, segments, Single Sign-on, and other useful features. You can also schedule posts and emails, which is a huge benefit. With the Pro plan, there can be up to 10,000 people and 30 channels in your community.

Premium Plan

The top-geared plan costs $499 a month and is optimal for advanced users, such as brands and large organizations. The Premium Plan includes a 100,000-member community and 100 channels. This plan comes with a custom API integration, an account manager, and the ability to work directly with professionals for onboarding.

circle.so alternatives
circle.so alternatives

Unlike Circle, GroupApp doesn’t charge transaction fees. You get to keep every dollar you earn.

So, GroupApp saves you money in two ways: you only pay one monthly fee for everything you need, and you don’t have to pay any transaction fees.

As you can see, GroupApp provides far more features for the price. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced community owner, you’ll find a plan that suits you and your community. As your community grows, you can switch to a different plan.

Build Your Own Community

Whether you’re just starting out and learning about community building or you’re looking for a new community platform, you can see that Circle.so is a good choice in only a few cases.

For a more versatile solution, the best option out there is GroupApp, the all-in-one platform that helps you build and grow a community around your course and earn money at the same time.

Why would you host your courses on one platform and have your community on another one when you can keep them together? Why choose a platform that’s tricky to navigate when your community members can have a familiar-looking and easy-to-use platform and enjoy every second spent using it?

Running a business as an online creator can be challenging enough. Do yourself a favor and make it run seamlessly by relying on a community platform such as GroupApp. Join GroupApp and start creating your community for free!

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