The future of business is about community and connection. It's why I wrote Superfans—to help you develop your fanbase into a community. And it's not just you talking to them and them talking to you; it's them talking to each other and the magic that can happen when it does. Whether you have a personal brand or run a bigger company, you're able to facilitate these connections through community building online. And, it's more than just creating Facebook or LinkedIn groups—now your entire business can be run like a membership site.
That's exactly what we're going to be talking about today with Jillian Benbow, the manager of our membership community, SPI Pro, which has been going strong since mid-2020. Jillian and I cover what it takes to create a thriving community where members feel welcomed and excited to engage and grow together. She's a pro at fostering connection and managing all the different facets of running a community of diverse people with all kinds of businesses and goals. We talk meetups, networking, AMAs, gamification, and much more—it's a wealth of information on how to manage a community, so don't miss it.
Jillian is a seasoned community professional who has been at the forefront of digital community growth for the last decade. She is passionate about helping people build supportive and meaningful community experiences. When Jillian isn't busy growing communities, she loves to spend time in the outdoors with her family and rescue pups.
- Why being a community manager is, as Jillian says, “the best job ever”
- How and where to find “your own Jillian”—an amazing manager to run your own community
- How the Disney cruise experience can inform the way you welcome new members to your community
- How to drive community engagement through AMAs and meetups
- The value of gamification and regular challenges in your community
- Why it can be hard to look at your community with fresh eyes sometimes—and what to do about it
Resources Mentioned in this Podcast
SPI 495: How to Run a Successful Community (and What to Put Inside)
To me, the future of business is about community. This is why I wrote my book Superfans. I knew this was coming. I wanted to help you develop your fans in such a way that you can build a community around it. And it's not just you talking to them and them talking to you; it's them talking to each other and the magic that can happen when it does. The future of business is connection, and you as a business leader, whether you a personal brand or a bigger company, you're able to facilitate these connections through community building online. And, it's more than just about creating little Facebook Group or LinkedIn Group now, now your entire business can be run similarly to a membership site. And, that's exactly what we're going to be talking about today. And I have a very special guest. Her name is Jill Benbow, and she's actually somebody who we recently hired because we built a platform called SPI Pro to bring community together in mid 2020.
It was actually a project that we at Team SPI had wanted to do for a while. In fact, it was on the docket for late 2021/2022. But, when FlynnCon wasn't going to happen anymore, when we saw how much people craved connection during the pandemic, we said, "You know what? We're going to bring this forward." And now, it's become almost the hub and center of our entire business. The people that we've been able to attract in there, and the communities, and the connections and the conversations that are happening are unmatched, completely unmatched. And yes, we have our online courses still. Yes, we have our free content, obviously you're listening to this podcast. There's the blog, there's the YouTube channels, etc., but the connections, the true connections that are happening, the partnerships, the feedback, the honesty, the safe space to make all that happen is unmatched.
And I'm so proud to bring on this episode today Jill Benbow, who is our community experience manager. And wow, she has been managing the experience in there for sure. So, what's going to be the takeaway from today's episode? You're going to be able to hear a conversation between Jill and I, about how we cultivate this community we call the SPI Pro. We're going to talk about how we make it different. We're going to talk about how we keep people engaged. We're going to talk about how we bring people back after signing on and getting excited in the beginning, how do we keep a nurture that community and make people feel like they belong? Because you, when you create your community, or if you already have a community, you want to do those things. Now, you don't have to do them the exact way we do, the principles will of course apply, but you can do it in your own way. But I hope you enjoyed this episode, let's cue the intro. Let's do this.
Welcome to the Smart Passive Income Podcast, where it's all about working hard now, so you can sit back and reap the benefits later. And now your host, also known as the Pat of all trades, master of fun, Pat Flynn.
What's up everybody? Pat Flynn here and welcome to session 495 of the Smart Passive Income Podcast. I'm joined today with Jill Benbow, the community experience manager within SPI Pro. We literally hired her for this position and she's crushing it, like I said. And you'll hear from her right now. Let's welcome her in. Here we go. Jillian, welcome to the Smart Passive Income Podcast. Thank you so much for joining us today. How are you?
I am excellent, Pat. Thank you so much. How are you?
I'm doing excellent. And, I've already introduced you to the audience in the intro, but I'd love to have you talk a little bit more about what you do for Team SPI and specifically SPI Pro. And then, we're going to talk about all the things we can do in our businesses to keep our community happy, engaged, excited. And if we can do that, that's going to mean they're going to stay around longer, it's going to be a better experience for everybody on the inside. That's the goal here, but how would you describe your role with Team SPI?
That is very easy. I have the best job ever. And, that is because I am the community experience manager for SPI Pro, our exclusive community in SPI. And, it's just the best. It's just the best as a community manager.
Why do you like it so much?
Well, I'm glad you asked, Pat. As a community manager for digital community like this, a big part of my role is I'm the first person you see at the party that welcomes you in and kinds of like, "Oh, have you met this person?" So, I'm kind of the connector, matchmaker, to make sure everybody who is in our community feels a part of it, knows where to go, knows where the drink station is, know where the bathroom is. So, I'm kind of the ultimate hostess, which I love. That's probably the easiest way to describe it. And I get to build connection with people myself every day. And we've curated an amazing group. And because you apply to get in, you come in, it's all very exciting and you pay. It's a paid community, so the dynamic in there. This is the first community I've managed over my decade of community management, that it’s just such a perfect group. I don't even know how to describe it. It's just safe, and the connections are so authentic and there's like real collaboration happening and that just blows my mind. So, it's the best job ever.
Thank you. I like that way of describing your role because that's an important role, for sure. And I think one of the challenges that we have when we're creating communities online, as opposed to offline, offline, like you said, you could literally shake a person's hand, introduce them in person and kind of show them around, you get the smile, you get the whole experience. But online, it's digital, it's a membership form of some kind, or a circle platform, or even a Facebook Group. How do you get those feelings of those cool things that happen in-person in a digital space? How do we do that? Like, what are the kinds of things we do in SPI Pro?
Yeah, that's a great question. It can be challenging and on paper, it sounds easy. It's like, "Oh, I'll just create a community and voila." But in reality, there is a lot of hands-on time and that's actually just a great tip in general, just out the gate for anyone, either considering starting an online community or who has one, but feels like it's not working, is you need to be prepared to spend a lot of time. How we do that, I mean A, as I'm sure everybody already knows and you've probably said, we use Circle as our platform for Pro. Part of it is what's happening on that platform. An online platform, whichever one you use is, let's just call it like a forum-based communication for simplicity’s sake, there's that asynchronous talking, chatting. And so, we work really hard on that piece, having people come in and immediately post an introduction. And our community is set up in such a way that you are very much celebrated when you post an introduction.
So, other community members who've been here since the beginning, or been here since yesterday know to come and respond and say hello and maybe engage on something you said. So if you are a dog trainer and you have an online course, other people might come in and be like, "Oh my gosh, I have a dog and they do this." Or they might be like, "Hey, I have a training course about X, Y, Z, let's talk about Z." So we have that piece of it, where as soon as you come in, we want you to feel super welcome. And I think that's a big part of people feeling immediately comfortable. Like, "Yes, this is my space." And then of course, we do all sorts of live events, as you know, as well as asynchronous forum events. We actually just had a ask an expert earlier today, and it's just this really cool opportunity.
We use Zoom, we're experimenting with a few other tools to get people face-to-face. And that, I think has been just such a game changer for digital community. It hasn't always been that way, you think about Facebook and things like that. Things can happen very fast, but you're never actually face-to-face with another human in that live situation. And, I think adding that to online community is just such a game changer, because there's something about looking someone in the eye and having a conversation that just brings you together in a way that we didn't have previously online.
We'll talk more about what kind of events that we do and things that maybe you listening might be able to do yourself too. I want to go back to when a person signs up, the experience that they have, the welcoming committee, if you will. I know it's the team that's kind of all hands on deck, helping people feel welcome, but it's also people from within the community. I think that's so important because it actually reminds me of when I went on a Disney cruise for the first time with my family a number of years back. You walk in, and hope this doesn't spoil it for anybody, but when you walk in, they actually ask you what your family name is before you walk through the doors inside the cruise ship. And then as you're walking in, music is playing and they welcome you by name.
And the staff is there, they're clapping as you come in. It's just like, what a cool first experience to have and that kind of sets the tone. And then, doing this online is even more important because there's less stuff to look around. Mickey's not hanging out over there and you can't take pictures with him. This idea of a welcome committee is great. How do you encourage members of the community to welcome new members of the community? I mean, we're not paying them to do that. How do we get them fired up about that?
A lot of it is modeling. So, modeling the behavior you want to see in your community is so important. And that goes down to all sorts of things, like how quickly you respond, how you respond if you don't know the answer, your tone and just your kind of vibe, if you will. If anybody is in Pro, just listening to this, they know that I am incredibly bubbly and over the top in Pro. Because that's my role, I'm the cruise ship director, I'm Mickey.
You are Mickey-
Ah, Mickey Mouse.
... or Minnie.
Yeah. I love it. Sorry, I had to think about that for a little while. Just being Mickey, was kind of like, wow, that happened.
Yeah. That's okay. It's been a while since I've been at Disneyland. But okay. So modeling, getting people to see what you do and hopefully try to do the same thing.
Yeah. I mean, that's the biggest part, is you want to model it and then people will kind of follow in suit. Because in many ways in your community, they are looking to you, whoever's leading your community, to see how things work. So, you want to be very overly enthusiastic about how you do things, so that people are like, "Oh, this is friendly and you say, hello, cool." It's also just exciting, like you see someone post and their business is fascinating. So, it's kind of that group think mentality. You see other people commenting and welcoming people, you feel more encouraged to do the same. You realize, "Oh, this is what we do here."
So yeah, a lot of it's modeling, a lot of it's also just encouraging, like if someone were to post and they're not getting a lot of response, I will find somebody in the community and I will go and look through our directory if I need to. Usually, I hopefully just know immediately someone that I will tag in a comment and be like, "You should connect with this person because they do something similar," and now they're tagged, so they see that and then that helps with engagement. I just want to point out it's for me and I think for everyone, your priority shouldn't be engagement, your priorities should be connection. I want people who would be.... Like, I want to matchmake people together to become friends, to become collaborators, whatever it is the community is serving.
If I were to ask you on a scale of one to 10, how passive is this work that you're doing, one being, you're doing very little work, it's working on autopilot and 10 is like, this is an all the time thing. What would be the number on the scale there?
Well, I mean, I think the fact that you hired someone to a 100% focus on this is a good indicator, but I would say to the business owner out there that's like, "I cannot afford to hire a community professional to run my community and this sounds like a lot of work." I mean, I would give it a seven at the lowest. You do need to spend time in your community. Do you need to be there all day, every day and immediately respond? No, you can set boundaries and you can set expectations on responses from you, but expect to spend time, whatever the days are that you choose to work. You want to have a presence in there. Because if you don't want to be there, why would your community want to be there?
Exactly. Exactly. I was just setting up the idea that, we often hear that membership websites and communities are like the holy grail of passive income, because the business model is really excellent. We have paying members who pay monthly or annually, there's a predictable amount of income, and then we can work on top of funnel and helping people get in, which then increases our annual or monthly revenue. And it's great, where there's a little bit of predictability. As opposed to a course, where if we stopped launching the course, then we stop making money. It's a very attractive business model. But it's probably the least passive thing in the world, and I just wanted to bring that up because I think a lot of us get excited about the money part of it potentially. And we might even have it audience who might be excited about a membership, but unless you are providing those touch points, those moments, those experiences, those connections, then it's not going to turn out very well.
People are going to leave and that's why retention rates are very low in most communities, where it's two to three months, perhaps max, because they get that bill the next month. And they're like, "Well, I don't even know why I'm still paying for this, I'm out."
So, one of the things I know we do to continually get people excited about coming back, and then getting involved every single month and hopefully more often, are the events that we have that are beyond just the way the forum is structured and stuff. We'll get into that and how to keep it less overwhelming for people, because that's another big thing that often is a struggle for new members anywhere is just like, "Wow, there's so much here, what do I do?" Let's talk about some of the events we have. And, a lot of these events were events that you came up with them, I came up with them, the whole team's involved, it's really fun. Maybe we can just do a laundry list of like, what are some of the things that happen in real-time to get face-to-face, or even if it's not face-to-face, but let's have some people take some of these ideas and use them.
Yeah. Absolutely. And, I appreciate what you're saying about community is very hot right now. So everyone's like, "Oh, you got a launch of community," and it's not an evergreen product. It is not, but it is super valuable. If you have people who want to join your community, especially that next level, like a paid community, there's something very special there. But yeah, it takes time and love to keep it going, for sure. So anyone trying to sell you something saying, "Oh, you can launch a six-figure, or whatever community and it'll do all the work." They are not being honest in my opinion. I have very strong feelings about that, but we can save that for another time. So switching gears to what you actually asked about, events. Yeah. We do a variety of events and I think the biggest thing to consider when you're talking about events is do what you can reasonably do, don't burn yourself out with events.
But also shake it up, try different things. We've been doing that since day one. And, you see what sticks and that is community. Community is really throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks and asking your existing members what they want. That is like the top tip of the day. But for us, let's start with the most popular event I would say, which is probably the AMA with Pat once a month, we do in the forum. That's a hugely successful event. And, it's a great way for someone like you who's so busy to be really involved and have that one-on-one touch point, without it turning into, "I can't record my podcast anymore, because I'm in the Pro community all day, every day." Because of course, we'd love you to do that, but we know it's not realistic.
Right. And part of the reason I'm able to still do the other things is because of you. And, we're going to talk a little bit later about how do we find our own version of a Jillian for our own communities, so we'll talk about that in a minute. As far as the AMA, and this is an easy way for the audience to ask questions that I can then answer. And, I've been experimenting with different ways to answer those questions. The nice thing about Circle is it integrates with a whole bunch of different tools for while doing video, answers, which were different, but then they took a lot longer because they had to process. And then, I wasn't able to get to questions as quickly. And, it's essentially a two hour window where the community members can ask literally anything, and I'll just, that's in my schedule, sit down, that's literally all I'm focused on. I will say that you have to make sure that you're there the entire time.
And, the reason I mentioned this is because there was one time where I was literally getting no questions for 30 minutes. And I was like, "Okay, well I got 15 minutes left, it's over." "I'm going to go to lunch now." And then, I didn't realize that I missed a question that came in at the very end. So if I say, 10 to 12, make sure you're always refreshing until 10 to 12, if you're going to have sort of an asynchronous semi real-time situation like that. I'm learning too. And I make mistakes, but you can still learn and move forward. But, the AMA's are great, we have AMAs with other experts that are happening too, that we just had one with Caleb who is my videographer and our videographer, and people had a lot of questions about YouTube and video. So, we kept it topic specific. So topic specific AMAs, expert AMAs, what other things are we doing?
We have several topic meetups. They were every Friday. We'd have podcasting. It'd be by whatever online courses, membership communities. And then, whoever was interested in that could show up and it was a very collaborative, we'd have at least one person from our team who knew a lot about that. So for example, if we're doing a podcast team meetup, so many people on our team have podcasts, whether Jay showed up with creative elements, or SJ and David with your podcasts, we would have people who knew a lot. And then anybody interested, whether they were an expert podcaster, or just thinking about it could come in and just ask questions, and collaborate and talk. And, they're really fun. Last month we tried just having one giant meeting, because many of you will relate that there's so many Zoom meetings now. It's one, burnout, two, we also have our lives. So, how do you pick which one?
So, we decided to do it like a mega extravaganza of topic events. So you showed up, and then we just talked about all of them and it was a pretty intimate group. We just decided to talk together. We were having so much fun. We have visions of doing it again, and then having breakout rooms per topic, and you can stay for half an hour and then switch to a different topic. We've been playing around a lot with topic-based things. Something else we love to do is networking. We kind of joke, it's kind of like speed dating. We all get together, say, "Hello, how are you doing?" And then just breakout rooms, one-on-one for a few minutes and then switch. And, it's so much fun. I think it's just kind of where we're going in the world. Let's do a networking event online. If you would've said that five years ago, I would have been like, "No, that sounds weird." But now it's like, "Yeah, let's do it, it's fun.
Right, we're embracing it, and that's really cool. I know Karen also has been doing a good job with the book club. The book club is super fun. I had a book club once, people might remember this. But it wasn't really a book club, it was like subscribe to this part of the email list and I'm going to tell you the book I'm reading this month. And there was no collaboration, there was no communication. It was just a one-way conversation and the book. But now that we have this community, we're in there and books are assigned every month, you read through a certain number of chapters and then we get together. And, Karen's been doing a good job leading those conversations. And then every once in a while, I think we did recently with Michael Bungay Stanier, he's the author of the Coaching Habit and the Advice Monster. He's in the community actually, which is really cool. He's a member of the community. And he came on to talk about his book, and be there to answer questions and support the readings.
And, I know Mike Michalowicz is coming very soon for Profit First and that sort of stuff. It's just like, "Wow, this is really cool." Now, we have like a actual asset where authors might want to come on as special guests, which benefits our audience, but also benefits them. So, it's a win-win situation and that's been really neat to see. We have several hundred members of SPI Pro, we don't get hundreds of people showing up to them. But you don't have to and I think that's the other thing. Like you said, some of these things are much more intimate, some people aren't going to be interested in some of the topics, but as long as you kind of have an understanding what's coming next, that's kind of what I feel the secret is. We need to come up with a plan for what's coming up in the road, so that people who, maybe they're not into the things that are happening right now, but they now have something to look forward to.
And, that's a great way to keep people on board. So, talk about the planning of these events and how often the CX team or the customer experience team has meetings to make sure things are sort of planned ahead of time.
I think this circles back to the whole ask your community. We do all these events, by the way, we'll have replays of the live event because we realize, we have a global community, which is fantastic, but being a U.S. based company, our time zones can not always play friendly, especially with Singapore in particular. We have a lot of people in Australia, hello Australia. By the way, you have a solid fan base in Australia. And then, we have a bunch of people in the UK. So finding a time, there's literally no time where U.S. time zone, the Oceania, New Zealand time zone and Europe time zone, it just does not exist in the world. We try to do things, where at least one global time zone hopefully it's convenient for. But point being, that is part of why we have replays, so people can still consume the content.
I've actually talked to a few people that prefer, they intentionally do not come to the live events. And then, they listened to the replay, much like a podcast while they're doing something else. And I was like, "Oh, that's cool." Part of how the planning goes is one, talking to the community. What events do you want? What are you working on? What do you need help with? We're constantly asking that in the community. And then based on the responses, we might be people to other people, or we might be creating events about it. Mindy, our solutions expert, my goodness, like absolute expert, she posted earlier this week, "If people wanted to meet up and kind of workshop deadline funnels." It's new to me, I'm like, "Yeah, let's do it." Because she was saying for SPI, when we first started it, it's challenging. There's a learning curve to really doing them well.
And so, she wanted to offer her expertise of troubleshooting all of ours over the years to the community. So, it's a lot of asking the community. I mean, I'm going to just keep saying that today, because you got to ask people what they want. So, there's that. And then, we just kind of talk about what do we want to see? So, we noticed people love networking. It can sometimes be a challenge, asynchronously on a big platform. So, let's do a networking event. So, we have this group of people that have just joined with our enrollment. And we know from talking to people, it's a little overwhelming when you first join, because there's so many things going on. I just had someone today earlier in an event say, "I'm a little overwhelmed, I didn't realize this much was happening," which good feedback and that's in my head to talk to him some more later about like, "What can I answer for you now, but then also implement into our onboarding to alleviate this pain point?"
So we have all these people coming, so we're like, "Let's do a special event this week that wasn't already planned." And, we're going to do networking speed dating essentially. You need to be in your community, because when you're paying attention to what's happening and what's not happening, you come up with the event planning. We also, so at the end of the month, I'm building out a May calendar and I'm considering how things did this month, and what we talked about and that will help inform what we're going to do next month. I do it on a month-to-month basis. I like to try to get other people involved as much as possible, but also be considered of time. I own it, but I will reach out to different people to be like, "Hey, do you want to host a topic, meet up or..." And, it seems to be going pretty good.
Yeah, it's going very well and we're always continually improving and making incremental changes, sometimes big changes. Another thing we do in the community is our COTMs, our challenges of month. And, that's something that I really love. COTM is sort of an acronym. It kind of reminds me of how in CrossFit, there's like the workout of the day, WOD or whatever it's called. I wanted to create something similar and it's been nearly a year now of doing these. And it's really cool, because some people do every single challenge and they get a little badge, other people that just kind of come and pick and choose the ones they want to do. And, it's been fun you and I collaborating, as well as Mindy on what those challenges might be and how to implement them. And, we've had some really successful ones.
You might remember, we had a guest on, she runs a gardening channel and podcast. And, Maria is amazing. She won our 60 second pitch contest that we had inside of the SPI Pro community. And, that was super fun. We've had other challenges related to building email lists, we've had other challenges related to collecting a 100 questions from your audience. There's just so many fun things. And again, getting people results from the community together, gets people very excited and I think that's great. You talked a little bit about onboarding, I want to talk about that just a tad bit more before we tell people how to clone you. Onboarding very, very key. It's like the most important thing. It sets the tone for everything like you said, things can be very overwhelming. So, what can we do to reduce the overwhelm for new members who come in?
It's interesting because every time in some of my own students and people I coach, they have communities too and they feel the number one complaint is just, there's so much stuff. How do I absorb it all? And I think people still have, in the world of consumption online, we often feel like we have to have it all in order for it to do what it was supposed to do, but a community is not supposed to be like that. And, I wouldn't encourage everybody to go into every post and read every single thing, for example. How do we train essentially or set those expectations up front, so a person is okay not absorbing everything, but can find the things they need?
Absolutely. And, it's common in a lot of communities. And frankly, you will lose a lot of people who walk in the door and it's like [Ikia] and they're like, "This is humongous, what do I do?" So, you want to set up the guardrails for people. And how we do it, one, through email. So when you join, obviously you get put in a new member, like kind of drip campaign where every few days, we send you more information. And frankly, a lot of people don't engage with that. I think it gets lost or whatever. In addition to that, now what we have is a new member challenge, so we have a whole space dedicated in Circle, in SPI Pro that says start here. Pretty obvious and so you go there. And in there, you'll see here is how to get started.
We have it mapped out for people. I created a new member challenge that has, I think it's nine tasks on it. And each one, it's very clear what to do. And in doing that, I'm educating people. So it's like go and post here and say hello, this is how other people will see you and you can start meeting people. And then, join at least two topic spaces. So, these are spaces anybody can join. We have people set up when they come in, so that they're only in a minimal amount of the spaces within the big community.
Because otherwise, it's terrifying. Like you're just like, "What?" "There's so many places." So, they come in and they're just part of that top community group space, I always want to call it a space place. And then they have to manually go and say, "Hey, I want to join the video space, because that's interesting to me." And, that helps with the people who have FOMO to be like, "Hey, no, no, no, you know what?" "Don't worry." And we say over and over again, "Pick two spaces, what's something you're working on that aligns with one of these spaces?" "Pick that one and just live there for a little bit." Like, "You don't need to be in the podcasting space if you don't have a podcast, it's fine, you'll be fine."
That's so funny, because when I demo SPI Pro for people and I show them my screen, because I'm one of the admins, it's literally 40 different things on the left-hand side. They're like, "Oh my gosh, that's too much." And I'm like, "Don't worry because you're only going to see just a few and you get to pick and choose where you want to go." "You're in the U.S., you don't need to see that UK club." It's so smart the way that's done
I'm in every single mastermind group. And we have, I think we're around a 100. Like, I don't even know, we have so many. And so, if I have the mastermind tab open, just like, there's no scrolling happening, I have to close it to get to the topic spaces. Yeah, so I feel you. Yeah, it can be super overwhelming. So we have the onboarding set up, so that you see a minimal amount of what we think you should. And then if you go to the new member challenge, it takes you through steps that when you're done, you get a badge, yay, that's very motivating to some people. I am a fan of gamification, so I appreciate it. I'm like, "Give me that badge." It helps educate, so once they've done all those tasks, all of those tasks were very intentional, it's not just for funsies. Like, each thing is teaching them how to do something on the platform.
So, we do that. And then, we also have cohorts now with enrollment. Each cohort has a private space, so our Q2 21s, which is very clever, quarter two of the year 21, that group that just joined, they have a space where it's just them and a few of the team. In there, I'm like, "What are your questions?" "What are you confused about?" And so, that's kind of the space where it's safe to be like, "Where are the workshops that are included in my membership?" "How do I subscribe to the premium podcast?" And so, I can troubleshoot with people in there, but then everyone else is also learning from the questions that happen. I'm very happy to help people one-on-one and I do, but I really like having that kind of open community troubleshooting. Because if one person has the question, someone else does. And I would say, if you're listening to this and you're like, "I..." "What?" "How do I do this?"
To figure out your onboarding, you really just need, again, said I'd say this a lot, talk to the members you have, the people that you bring in, your beta testers, have conversations with them about what's missing, what's confusing, what would you like to know?
What are the blocks? And, that's how you build your onboarding. For me, because you had already launched Pro before I was hired. I was hired after it had been launched and going. It was great for me, because I just came in to an existing system, and kind of just got to sit back and look and be like, "Okay, I see a block there, this over here." And granted, I have a lot of experience with this, so I have an unfair advantage. It all really just boils down to paying attention. And it can be hard when you built the thing, to look at it and see it with the fresh eyes. So if you need to add somebody and say, "Hey, join and give me your thoughts." And then, maybe they get like a free month, if it's a paid community. If it's free, have a trusted friend or someone you know that will be brutally honest and like, "No, this is great," like you don't need that friend, you need the friend that's like, "Well, actually..."
Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And, that's a perfect transition into our final talking point here, which is hiring help and getting some help on the inside, especially if you are the busy entrepreneur and, or how to train somebody on your team to become the Jillian or the community manager. What are the qualifications that one would need to do this really, really well that you think?
I think you have to be the kind of person, or you need to look for the kind of person who is a go-getter in the sense that if I don't know the answer, I can figure it out and I will figure it out. Like, that's a very helpful thing. Because you are a problem solver, and so many people get community management confused with moderator, don't get me started on that, or customer service. And really, what don't we do, we are public relations, we're marketing, we're customer support. We're HR. We do so many things. And, the person you have to run your community, it's someone who should be just friendly or can come off as friendly, even when they might not be feeling that way. You need to be able to deescalate situations. That's a big part of it that people aren't prepared for. People fight. And if it's your community, you have to be willing to get in the middle of that fight, break it up and make everyone friends again. You're very much a connector.
A lot of it is just talking to people, helping them when they need help, letting them vent to you when they need to vent, you're there, you're reliable, you're trustworthy and you're fair, is a big part of it. A big part of your job is programming, so you're looking at what is the community doing? How can I make it better? You're the social committee in many, many ways. So, we launched the whole clubhouse thing, not to be confused with the app, although that is also fun. But in our SPI community, we have clubhouses and this is an idea of, hey, all the gamers, all the people who are into the tabletop gaming, but like virtual tabletop gaming, I am admittedly, this is all new to me, it's fascinating. But, there's a whole crew in there that's into that. So, they have a clubhouse that I helped facilitate the creation of the clubhouse, and now they're like on Discord. I don't even understand it fully. It's just a for fun thing. But, I'd have my ear to the ground to know that there was a need for that.
I'm so grateful for you. And just this conversation makes you fall in love with SPI Pro even more, and the amazing people we have in there and team we have behind it, just so many great things. It's not just a place where people can talk business, it's a place for people to form real relationships. And I'm really excited for the day where we can, again, do larger live events and we can meet each other in-person, and have fun little smaller meetups like Scott Dinsmore, rest in peace.
He had a brand, and his wife has taken over that ever since he passed, but it was called Live Your Legend. He had set up a way for people all around the world to, on the same day of the week, get together in their own little communities and connect with one another locally. There's no reason that can't happen now, other than it's not safe right now. But, we're getting there and the bigger, larger events, I mean, there's so many fun things that we can do. And, we're already doing a lot of those things more virtually, which is so fun. So, I'm excited. Where can people find a Jillian?
Find their own Jillian? Well...
Yeah. I mean, you could find Jillian in SPI Pro, if you want to apply and join. But, where can people find their own version of you?
And, I love to talk to people about their communities in Pro because so many of our pros have communities. So I'm always like, "Let's talk, let's set up a time." So how I got started in it, I had no experience and I mean, it was like a tech startup, so I joined a company that had an existing structure of community. And, I had just learned along the way. And I much prefer this kind of environment personally, but I realized that a lot of people listening probably have a very small team ,if any team, and they might be looking for a contractor. And, a lot of people get started that way in community and that's fine. One thing you can look at is hiring somebody who is just a superstar in your community already, that maybe is a volunteer in some capacity.
Like, maybe you have a moderator that's just outstanding in your Facebook Group and you're like, "You know what?" "I want them to be the community manager." That's absolutely, probably a great way. I really believe in, you can teach anyone to do anything, but you can't change someone's personality.
So if there's just a genuinely awesome person you know that you trust would be good at it, you've seen them in communities, you know they kind of get it, they have the right vibe, that's a great place to start. If you are listening and you have kind of a bigger company like Pat, for example, I found this role through the CMX Job Board. And then, CMX is a professional community development organization. And so, I knew about it because I'm a professional in community, that's where I found that this was even happening and I knew who pat was. So I was like, "Oh my gosh, no way." And, the rest is history. You can do job boards and things. You just want to be really clear with your description, if you're doing like an actual job opening. I find if you're fine with it being someone who maybe doesn't have the level of community experience that like I have, but they're just good, and they can keep an eye on the community and whatnot, that's probably your best way to go, if you're just starting out.
Perfect. That's... Wow. This is a packed episode, I can't wait to share it with SPI Pro, because as you said, a lot of people there are building communities. And hopefully, you listening to this are excited about building your own, or taking the one you have and improving it and making it even better, thanks to Jillian. So Jillian, this has been awesome. I typically ask people to share a link about where they should go. I'm still going to do that, but if people are interested in SPI Pro, for example, where should they go to apply?
Well, Pat, excellent question. They should go to the SmartPassiveIncome.com/pro and they will see a little sneak peek into the community, they'll see some testimonials. It is the best. I mean, we have so much fun. I would say, if you have an existing company, you're making some money, you're figuring it out, you don't have to be necessarily on a like gazillions of dollars level, but you have something or you have a side hustle that produces something and it's going. And, you're ready to grow, like you're established and you're ready to grow, that's kind of the sweet spot of who, I think it's the most value from Pro. So, I would definitely encourage you to apply, love to see you in Pro. And I was just telling Pat, before we started recording, our new crew, every quarter we just get, ah, I just love seeing all the different businesses and just the people. It's just so wonderful. We have such a great group.
It's awesome. Some people have always told me that I seem to attract the right kind of people, ever since I started. I don't know if it's just because I'm always authentic and I'm attracting other authentic people, but now we have a place for them to connect with each other. And, that's the coolest thing in the world. I'm so grateful for you, Jillian, for not just coming on here today and sharing this info, but for being there in the community, and showing up and truly being the face of SPI Pro really, and the connector for everybody. Hopefully, we can see all of you in there at some point. For those of you listening, SmartPassiveIncome.com/pro. And Jillian, I know you got a lot more people that chat and say hello to you as we have more members coming in, literally as we are talking. I'll let you go and we'll talk again soon.
Woo. Yes, I am so excited about community moving forward. And, if you'd like to join or apply at least to SPI Pro, because we have an application process, you can go to SmartPassiveIncome.com/pro. Again, SmartPassiveIncome.com/pro. We open up doors once a quarter. We just have a new cohort come in and we just have so much fun, welcoming everybody. The committee that's in there and everybody who's just... It's so incredible. It's so incredible. And, I hope that you will experience it one day. So again, SmartPassiveIncome.com/pro. All right. Now, Jill, you're amazing, I know you're probably listening to this. Just keep doing what you're doing, because you are a part of what makes SPI Pro special. And also, we love you.
And finally, for those of you who are in Pro, give Jill a shout out if you heard this episode and let her know what you thought. And finally, I appreciate you. Thanks for listening all the way through. We are just a couple episodes away from episode 500... That's, that's incredible. That's incredible. I'm very thankful, very grateful, feel very blessed to have this amazing team, including Jill and everybody else just, wow. Thank you for listening. I appreciate you. I look forward to serving you next week and hopefully with an SPI Pro. SmartPassiveIncome.com/pro. I'll see you then. Peace out. Team Flynn for the win.
Thanks for listening to the Smart Passive Income Podcast at SmartPassiveIncome.com. I'm your host, Pat Flynn. Our senior producer is Sara Jane Hess. Our series producer is David Grabowski and our executive producer is Matt Gartland. The Smart Passive Income Podcast is a production of SPI Media. We'll catch you in the next session.