This week I’ve launched my very own online community, the Bloop Creators Club. The Club went through quite a tremulous launch.
First it was paid, then it became free. What happened there?
In this post I want to tell you about what went behind it all, as well as the story behind the Club in general.
Why did I create this Club?
I thought about creating the Club after using Slack for a while internally with the team behind our animated short Tasteful. I thought it could be an amazing platform for an online community. I’ve been playing around with the idea of having a membership program for Bloop, and that seemed to be a great way of going about it.
I wanted the Club to be a place where serious artists can talk and share ideas. I love the ease of use Slack has and how fun it is to engage with people on it.
What will the Club offer?
That was the first thing I had to figure out. The first benefit is, of course, the chat interaction with other members. It’s a great system, and it has the option of using different channels to direct the conversation to a more focused areas. While this would be the main feature, I also thought about doing webinars, bringing in outside speakers and maybe having a job board.
One of the most important things, to me, was having high quality people in the Club. After all, what’s the point of having a community if the people there are not fun to interact with?
That was a problem I hoped to solve by implementing a paid subscription model. This would screen out the weeds, I thought.
Paying for a membership?
I started off with a pricing option of $19/month, and planned on slowly increasing the price over time. This might sound like a lot, but paid membership communities could be much pricier, and I thought this would bring in the most serious creators. Plus, with more money I could bring in paid speakers, hire community managers and such.
I was pretty confidant in my launch. I had over 400 people signing up for the waiting list and tens of thousands more on the general mailing list.
The response was not as I expected.
I got a lot less members on day one than I thought I would, but worst than that – I received numerous emails from long time followers who said they would have loved to join but couldn’t afford the membership fee.
After getting more and more of this kind of reaction I started thinking – who exactly am I trying to keep out of the Club? It seems like I’m only pushing away the most loyal readers.
This wasn’t at all what I was aiming for with this new initiative.
Make a quick decision – make it free
I quickly realized I went about this all wrong, and decided to make a change. I didn’t think discounting the price was a good idea. First – I hate discounting things. That’s not the way I like to work. Second – it wouldn’t solve the problem, because some people will still not be able to afford it. Discounting is like doing a half measure.
The best thing to do was to make it free. This way I turned the Club into something different from what I envisioned, yes, but it might be for the better.
And the response? Well…
I opened the gate to only 50 people (to take things slow) and reached that amount of people within 20 minutes. In fact, by the time I noticed it I accidentally got 84 people in! That’s ok, though, it’ll be a fun group to start the Club beta with, and I’ll keep you updated on how things go.
That response validated that the Club was something people were interested in, and that’s the most important thing. I’m really excited about this.
Hold on! A quick note before you leave
It’s important to add that though it wasn’t the right fit for my audience, I still believe that paid membership communities are valid. A bit more research into the Bloop audience might have revealed that it wasn’t right for them, but I think that for some communities it could be amazing.