Top iTunes Business Podcast

47+ Million Downloads

SPI 697: How to Build a Thriving Community Online with Heather Angel

The transformational power of online communities is no joke — we know this by now. Still, many entrepreneurs overcomplicate things and drag their feet on launching a membership. So what’s the easiest way to get started right now?

Today’s special guest, Heather Lynn Angel, is someone whose trajectory I highly encourage you to replicate. The value she has provided as a member of our SPI Pro community is incredible. We recognized that and couldn’t pass on the opportunity to hire her!

Going into any community you love with a giving mindset is an incredible shortcut to new opportunities. Heather and I discuss that today as we dive deep into building thriving digital spaces.

As a community strategist, Heather is a fantastic resource. In this episode, she shares the baseline requirements for successful membership businesses and walks us through every step, from platform choice to next-level member engagement and retention.

We cover all the bases to save you from procrastination and get you going ASAP. So listen in and take action!

Today’s Guest

Heather Angel

I’m a community strategist who loves to help solopreneurs and coaches build and grow engaged communities. My truth is that I’m a tech and automations nerd. Fun fact: We have been digital nomads for the last two years. My hobbies include anything outdoors, and if you need to find me, you can look at the beach — which is where I go to reset.

You’ll Learn


SPI 697: How to Build a Thriving Community Online with Heather Angel

Heather Angel: You know, a community is fluid. It needs to ebb and flow. It needs to experience change. If you cannot test and pivot and adjust, then you’re really hurting your community.

And so, I think keeping an open mind, not taking everything personal and responding with kindness, it always wins.

Pat Flynn: You know what’s really cool? It’s when you’re a part of a community and you provide so much value in there that you start to get recognized. You start to get some love, not just from the other community members, but even from the team itself, who owns that community. And then they ask you, Hey, would you like to help and you know, manage the community?

Would you like to be a part of the team? And this is a very common story in fact, and it’s one that you could live out yourself. And what’s really cool today we’re speaking with somebody who’s done exactly that, Heather Lynn Angel. And what community was she a part of that she became a rockstar in, started becoming super helpful, providing a ton of value, and then the owners of that community reached out to her to be a part of the team?

Our team, Team SPI. Heather Lynn Angel, has been an incredible asset inside of our communities, inside of Pro and inside of the All Access Pass. So much so that she’s now come on board. And we’re gonna talk about that transition. But I also wanna talk to her about the things that she’s an expert in. And this is partly why we wanted to bring her on board, because not only is she an expert in community, she’s just very much involved in systems, especially with businesses and entrepreneurs. So if you’re excited about creating a business and creating systems to make those things easier, well then this is a conversation for you. If you’re excited about community, this is a conversation for you, and I’m just very, very excited to formally announce, although we’ve announced this in our communities already, That Heather is a part of now Team SPI, and is helping out with a lot of our accelerator groups and helping the people inside of our All Access Pass get the best results possible.

So Heather, I appreciate you just wanted to say that out, out loud, out front here and I’m excited for people to check you out. But stick around cuz she’s got some resources for you as well. And here we are, session 697 of the Smart Passive Income Podcast with Heather Lynn Angel.

Here she is.

Announcer: You’re listening to the Smart Passive Income Podcast, a proud member of the Entrepreneur Podcast Network, a show that’s all about working hard now, so you can sit back and reap the benefits later. And now your host, when it comes to milkshakes, it’s either malted or no milkshake at all. Pat Flynn.

Pat Flynn: Heather, welcome to the Smart Passive Income Podcast. Thank you so much for joining me today.

Heather Angel: Thank you for having me, Pat. I’m so excited to be here.

Pat Flynn: This is a sort of special time for, for both you and I because you know, you’ve been part of the SPI community for a while. You’ve been an SPI Pro and have been a star member there, but now you’re actually on Team SPI.

Yay. Woo. You’re, I don’t, I don’t like you’re very, you, you’re one of the. You might be actually the only person to ever kind of like level up so much that you’re now a part of the team. So congratulations. Thank you for being here. What is your role now with SPI?

Heather Angel: I am on the CX team, so helping the community manager, Jillian, and Ashley, with kind of the behind the scenes things coming in as a member viewpoint to just kind of offer suggestions and things that I’m seeing and have seen, and I’ve got a lot of relationships with the actual members. And so, you know, that’s been one of the benefits of SPI. And so having talked to to people, so I kind of have the inside skip, I guess now on both sides.

Pat Flynn: Yeah, that’s great. I mean, it’s one of the benefits of sort of building a community you can hire from within and there’s no better person to do what it is that you’re doing than than you because you’ve been showing up and you get, you’ve gotten to know people and it, and it helps, supports us. So I think it’s a, it’s a win all around, which is great. And, and the CX team or the community experience team, it’s, that’s really the word that makes it run, which is experience. And I know you have a lot of experience with community and online business in this capacity.

Tell me a little bit, Heather, about your origin story and then we’ll get into later some tips for people who wanna start community or maybe have communities that might seem a little dead right now. And we can liven them up again. But let’s go back to your story. How did this all begin for you?

Heather Angel: It’s kind of a story born from tragedy, but it is a really good ending.

My father was in a really serious accident. He was mia, they had to med back him to a trauma unit and. While he, he was riding a motorcycle and was hit, and so the whole unit was full of trauma patiens. And during that week that he was, he was in there, we were trying, you know, all of the things to save him and figure out what was going on.

I, I was meeting people in the waiting room and getting to know them, and I didn’t realize until after that happened, but looking back on it, how much community meant to me. Like I was the one out of my family, the one keeping in touch with everybody and the one checking on all the other patients in the hospital because I would make friends in the, in the hospital.

I would then go and check on them and, and make sure that, you know, they were being taken care of and that they were okay. And it was a way for me to reach out to other people and we were all kind of in this together. And I think that that was the start of my realizing how much community meant to me in a very unique way.

And so community became my passion, and I at the time was a system strategist. And so I was starting a, a company as a system strategist. And starting to build communities for people as they were becoming more, you know, for my clients, as they were becoming more known and not again, making the connection that community was that piece that I loved about my business. And so once I realized that I worked with a, a business coach and realized that I quickly leaned into solely working on community and the different aspects of that. And so that’s kinda quick version of, of how that happened. It took many years.

Pat Flynn: I think community, I think we all have experienced it before in our lives, not even online. And, and just in our neighborhoods and in our families and in our churches and, and, and all those places. And to bring those sorts of feelings and connections and, and the sense of belonging online can, can definitely be a challenge.

And so you’re saying that you were kind of doing this for other people and then realize that this is what you love so much that you’ve just leaned into it yourself, and I know that you have your own communities that you’re working on. We’ll get into that, but what, what would you say are the most important elements that makes a community successful?

I think a lot of people are trying to create communities. If you remember like a few years back, it was just like, oh, I’m gonna set up a Facebook group and now I have a community. But obviously it’s a little bit more than just setting up the space for it. What are the things that are required for a community to really thrive?

Heather Angel: Yeah, community should, there’s so many things, right? But community should be about the people inside of it and nurturing that connection. We all want connection. We all want to belong to something and be a part of something, and I think in community, because it’s a space where like-minded people come together.

Right? Kind of like a, a, well, I mean, Facebook is an example where you have a bunch of people coming together that are of the same mission, the same mindset, but an actual online community takes it a step farther where you can talk to each other and communicate with each other and you can learn from each other and teach each other, and the relationships that you, you know, you get out of that and, and that are, it’s just beyond anything that you could get one-on-one.

Pat Flynn: For, yeah, for real. I mean, I’m, I’m remembering when I got laid off. You know, I felt very alone and, and I had my fiance to help me through that time. But you know, other than that, there wasn’t really anybody who kind of understood what I was going through or what I was trying to, to do or accomplish. And I ended up joining the Internet Business Mastery Academy.

The IBM this is a old school podcast about internet business. And it was the only one that really felt like the two hosts Jason and Jeremy were actually just like me. You know, regular people who were trying to make it work and, and build a thriving business for their families. And not to, you know, build a, a mansion or, or get a yacht or anything like, like some of the others that were out there at the time and, what ended up happening was they opened up the launch for their Internet Business Mastery Academy, and this was in 2008.

And this is of course, yes, there was education in there and I think communities can, you know, it’s like, people come for the content, but then they stay for the community. I often hear, and I went in there because I wanted to learn how to build a business, but what I got out of that were relationships and a sense of belonging and people who were just like me trying to figure it out and, and it made me feel like I wasn’t alone anymore.

And still to this day, I am friends and in one case, I’m actually in a mastermind group that meets weekly, that one of those people from 2008 is still in with me. I mean, that’s, I. How many years, 15 years we’ve been together as a result of Sterling and Jeremy and Jason putting that group together. So there’s so much power and so many lives can change when somebody steps up to create those safe spaces for people to come together.

And so for the creators out there who are listening, Heather, who are like, yes, community’s great. I’ve tried or, or, I’m really excited about, you know, the, the, the idea of building a space for our people to come together. Oftentimes it, it then gets halted with how do I even go? Like, where do I even begin?

How do I, this seems hard. As an expert in community, how would you recommend a person even begin to fathom the idea of putting people in the same space online? Like where do we even begin with that?

Heather Angel: Yeah, that’s a common question and it’s a tough one. So you need to look at your audience first. Who do you want to serve?

Who do you want to connect together and for what purpose? And then going into what platform do you wanna use? Because depending on who you wanna serve and what you want, the outcome of will depend on the, the actual platform that you use. And then there’s all of the, the tech, you know, the tech stack that you use and everything that goes into that.

And it is, it is overwhelming. I would say and I am, I’m so used to working on everybody else’s. I’m finally launching my own, which, hey, which is exciting. People keep asking if I have one and I’m like, no, I’ve done, you know, 25 for other people, but I don’t, I don’t have my own. So figuring out really your goals and being very clear on that and keeping it extremely simple.

You can complicate it later.

Pat Flynn: Yes. Oh, that hits home.

Heather Angel: Yeah. You just need to get it going. And I am preaching to the choir, but yeah.

Pat Flynn: I mean, the people listening, they wanna join the choir, right? And so let, let’s talk about platform. There’s a lot of options out there. What, from your perspective is, is a good recommendation?

I mean, I, I, I think you said it kind of depends on your audience, right? Like if I had a, for example, a gaming community Discord might make the most sense for, for something like that cuz that community and, and the younger generation kind of is on that. But for more professional communities, maybe for the audience that you know, who listens to SPI and, and often their community is like, where or what platforms would you recommend?

Heather Angel: Circle is my top platformer right now. I know that’s what SPI uses. That’s how I actually got introduced to Circle, was joining SPI at the very beginning. And I fell in love with it then. I love the owners and their mission and that, and that is very important to me. Heartbeat is another one that I’ve, I’ve started to really get into and I really like, again, what they stand for. Those are my top two currently. There’s several others that I have built in and some I don’t at all recommend, but the, and then there’s some that are have great potential. They’re just not quite there yet, but Circle and Heartbeat. Yeah.

Pat Flynn: I’ve not heard of Heartbeat yet. There’s another one that seems to be coming out of the woodwork, which is like I think it’s School is another one, but Circle by far is, is from my opinion and full disclosure, yes, we use it.

I’m an affiliate. I’m an advisor to the company, so you know, even if I wasn’t, I would say these things Circles by far the easiest to set up in, in my opinion. And also, you know what’s really important is the user experience, right? Your your your members experience. And I’ve tried other platforms before where it’s just so confusing.

Circle’s very intuitive. It’s almost like a Slack and Facebook marriage, so it feels familiar even though it’s new. So, okay, Circle, definitely check that out and we’ll have links in the show notes and everything for people who wanna check that out. When you say simple, I mean, you’re right. It’s just so easy to overcomplicate this and to wanna design our communities in a way that have all the bells and whistles and all the fun things that we know can make a community great.

How do we keep it simple? What are the, I, I would say what are the baseline requirements for a community to thrive that would allow for simplicity but still a good experience inside.

Heather Angel: With using Circle, and Heartbeat is the same way, you wanna make sure that the, like you said, the user experience is, is essential.

It also needs to be very easy to use from a setup point of view, but not just setting up managing as well, right? So if customer or if your, your members can’t talk to each other, that’s not gonna be a great user experience. If it’s not easy to find a conversation, if it’s not easy to know where to put a conversation, then that complicates the whole thing.

So I think, you know, one of, like in Circle there are these spaces, right? And so in, you can label each space and then members can put information in the spaces and interact back and forth and, a lot of people want to go in, start their Circle or their community with a lot of information and a lot of spaces for people to be able to go in cause they want people to have choices.

And when you’re first building a community, I think realizing that that’s going to change very quickly, it’s not gonna be at all what you thought it was going to be in six months, right? So, so true. Starting simple and making it very easy to go around. And then of course the onboarding is really critical as well, making sure that people do know how to get around.

Pat Flynn: Let’s talk about onboarding a little bit, and then I want to get into your community and sort of the, the things that are going through your head right now, cuz you’re about to launch, yes, this thing, and by, by the time people listen to this, it will have been a co cohort that would’ve gone through a certain period of time with you and, and, and maybe we can check in with you in the future, or of course if you listener, are a member of SPI Pro. I’m sure Heather’s gonna update us on a lot of what’s happening through real time messages inside of Pro, but onboarding, what is a great onboarding experience like? Like let’s say that I am a member of a new community, how would a great community take me through like the moment I sign up in pay to get access to that community, what ideally should happen next?

Heather Angel: So, that, again, depends on your audience. And the reason I say that is some audiences are very, very short on time. I am currently, one of my clients has a nonprofit. He’s not a nonprofit, but he helps nonprofits, he coaches them and that, and his nonprofit audience does not have time a lot of time. So I love to gamify onboarding, and I’ll explain that in in just a second, but for his audience it would not work because they just wanna get right to it. Right? So you have to know your audience to know how to onboard. Gamifying what I was talking about, and that’s, that’s it. It fits my personality, I love that kind of thing, is when you can take somebody through the onboarding and they’re earning badges for completing things, and they’re, it’s like a scavenger hunt is a possibility. So they’re doing different things in the community, and the purpose is to get them to interact in the community, to feel comfortable in the community, but having a goal or a mission, we’re all competitive, right?

So it gives that competitive edge and then, they get a badge at the end and, and they can say, Hey, I completed this, but it also teaches them along the way. That’s cool. So some of the things that I like to do is to have an onboarding survey so that you can learn about them. And kind of a quick tip that I learned from somebody else was, If you ask them a certain question, like she asked when I joined her community, she asked what was my favorite song.

So I put my favorite song in and when I had a one-on-one with her, she was playing my favorite song. Wow. And it was the cool, it was the coolest thing. Cause I got on and I was like, how do you know this song? And then I remembered and we were like, you know, because it’s not a song that’s very popular or common, and so we were, you know, dancing to it and it got that kickoff started so comfortably and yeah, it was really fun. And so really, really knowing your audience and just honing in on those specific things. But the other thing that I want to kind of caution or make sure that you do is to get them interacting in a way, like a say hello space, that kind of thing.

Nobody wants to be the first one to say something when they come into a new space. You don’t wanna be the first one to say typically, Hey, you know, I’m here. And so introducing them or having them introduce themselves in a common space, that kind of thing. So those are kind of some, some tips too.

Pat Flynn: I like that. That sort of reminds me. So the gamification of, so onboarding’s really important. Cause that’s like the first, it sets the tone, right? It it, it sets the tone of the community if you can essentially train new members to already begin interacting and, and teaching them how to do that. But also like showing how cool It is. Right? And, and how fun it can be to interact the better for, for the long term. It’s like a video game, you know, a lot of video games. Level one is literally just a tutorial level, but you’re still, you have a goal and, and you unlock a couple things and then all of a sudden, You know, you’re spending hours in there because it, it was, you know, gamified for you.

The worst thing that happened, I would imagine would be you onboard and, and a person maybe does take the time and, and chance and risk on their end to, you know, cuz it feels risky sometimes to, to interact in new communities, they post something and then nobody replies. Like nobody, nobody comments back.

It’s just kind of like you’re talking to yourself. How does one ensure. That there is a response or a handshake back, because I know this and you know, this community doesn’t happen in an automated fashion. There, there is some work to be done to, to make people feel like they belong, but how do you make sure that a person is being responded to, especially those, those newcomers.

Heather Angel: So there’s a couple different ways you can, one of those is gonna be just making sure that you’re personally reaching out to them. That’s not always, if you’ve got a community of 3000 people is, you know, and you’ve got a thousand people joining, not a thousand, but several hundred joining a month. Right.

That’s gonna take a lot of time. Yeah. You’re gonna have to automate some of that. However, speaking to people that are just starting out or that are, are trying to get this started. You wanna reach out to them personally, you wanna personalize that first contact as much as possible. The other thing I recommend is hosting as soon as you launch, hosting several so that people have times to choose from, but hosting several onboarding kind of calls where they can be a group call. Like orientation. Exactly, yeah. And so they’re getting to see and meet the other people, maybe playing a game, a very brief like Would you rather, or something like that kind of interactive game in there. Just something to get them comfortable. If they’re comfortable, they’re going to then interact inside the community, even if they’ve only met one person.

The other thing you can do, and I actually learned this from Tom Ross, shout out to Tom Ross. I’m in his community as well, and he will, if you DM him, he will take that. He’ll say, Hey, can you post that in the community? Tag me so that I can answer. And then we’ll get communication, you know, and conversation going.

So he’s helping to bring great questions. Outta the dms and into, that’s really smart.

Pat Flynn: Yeah. Yeah. I like that. That’s cool. Another way to en encourage engagement, and this is beyond the onboarding process. This is as, as maybe a community starts to feel like it’s not as lively as it once used to be. One strategy that works really well instead of SPI and that I recommend for others is to at tag other people who, you know, maybe know the answer to somebody’s question, right?

To kind of just, it’s almost like if you’re in person, right? One of my favorite things is like if you imagine you’re in some party somewhere and you’re having a conversation about something or somebody has a question, you’re like, you know what? I don’t know the answer, but, Hey Jim, come over here. Like, I know you went to Peru recently, like what would you recommend for Janice who’s gonna be visiting there next week?

And Jim is happy because he’s getting some attention. And Jan, I don’t remember the names I used Janice, Janet, I don’t know, is going to Peru and she wants, and now they’re connected and they’re probably gonna bond and, and have time to chat with each other. There’s so much value in being a connector, right?

Some of the most valuable people in the world are connectors. In fact, when they themselves maybe don’t even know all the things, but they know how to bring people together, who, who need each other, and that’s what a, a huge benefit of building community is. Tell me about the community that you’re building right now.

And how you’re, you’re, you’re going about launching it. Who’s it for? Perhaps is where we should start.

Heather Angel: Yeah. Yeah. So it is for community creators. So I am launching a four week cohort, which will be just twice a week for four weeks. So it’s a little intensive, but we’re building a community live. So I was going to be building a community for a client.

And I said, why don’t we do this live? Or what can possibly go wrong? So, so we’re going to build that live with a very small cohort of people that are also building their communities live. So I’m teaching them by showing and doing, and then. The second day of the week, we’ll have a second time that we meet.

We’ll have a like office hours slash coworking session, and so that four weeks will then launch into my community, which the primarily who that is for is solopreneurs and coaches that are creating community. So I’m trying to make it, I’m such a huge tech nerd, and so I love the tech and automation side of things, and so I’m trying to bring that expertise in along with the, just the overwhelm that I’m seeing out there with people have a great goal, a great mission, a great dream, but they don’t know how to get it started. So that’s the purpose of that.

Pat Flynn: That’s awesome. And, and again, by the time people listen to this, that cohort will be finished, the community likely launched. Where should people go to check out what you have going on and you know, even if this is the far distant future, maybe something else is happening where, where should they go from here?

Heather Angel: Yeah, go to

Pat Flynn: Okay, cool. That’s easy. And we’ll have links in the show notes as well.

To go back to, I’m curious, like what’s the purpose of the cohort to start this? Why not just launch the community like right out the get go? What’s the purpose of the four week cohort beforehand?

Heather Angel: Yeah, I think there’s many reasons. One of them is because I’m procrastinator of my own stuff, so I wanted to do something live. I love teaching. It’s my, my passion and I wanted to be able. To do something with a small group of people where they were holding me accountable, I was holding them accountable.

And so it’s kind of a dual, dual purpose, right? And then the fact that I was building this community, and it was around the same time that I was wanting to launch my actual community, I thought, let’s do that first. Bring those people in, work out the kinks of the community cuz we’re gonna do it all in community.

We’re gonna do it all in Circle. And so the course cohort thing will be in Circle and then the community aspect is in Circle, which is one of the beautiful things of a platform like that. You can keep everything in one place. By doing that, I can kinda launch the community aspect. There’s no more delaying it.

There’s no more putting it off.

Pat Flynn: There’s no, yeah, that’s, I mean that’s, it probably feels risky. It probably, you know, you’re probably feeling nervous about it cuz it’s like, but you know what you gotta do? You gotta put some pressure on yourself and like, I love how you know that about yourself. I think that’s a very smart thing to do is to understand how you get in your own way and then essentially just like don’t.

Like put things into place to counter your own tendencies. And, and, and I tend to do that as well. And, and it’s very similar. It’s like, let’s just launch the thing and then as soon as there’s other people involved, like then I’ll do it. Right. Right, right. I mean, that’s a, a really good thought as far as people listening to this, who, who wanna start a community, and have been delaying it and procrastinating getting started. It might even be a similar start. You know, I talk about this thing when launching communities called like an alpha launch. We often hear about a beta launch, but an alpha launch is something like the equivalent of, like if you’re, if you’re launching a restaurant, right?

And, and the restaurant was like the community in this metaphor, an alpha launch might be a, a private invite dinner for 10 of your friends to come to the restaurant. It’s still being constructed like there’s, you know, tarp everywhere and there’s like pain in the other room, but you have a nice table and a setup and you just wanna share a couple of your dishes and just thank people for, for the support and give them early access and, and have conversations with them and just wine and dine and have some fun.

A beta launch would be a, more the likes of like a soft launch, like, hey, just on this day or just for this week, it’s open limited menu, but come in early. You get to experience it and then people can write reviews about it and all that kind of stuff. And then the big public launch is obviously when it’s, when it’s always open.

But like this, again, this idea of simplifying not just the community but the launch of it. Like let’s just get a small group of people in to do something at the start. And I like how you are already using the cohort to sort of like teach something, you’re gonna get people results. And I see this all the time when a group of people go through something together and it ends, there’s always people who are like, oh, I wish we could keep going. I wish we could stay together. I love who I’ve been working with here, and now you’re already planning to do that. I think that’s really great and it’s a, a really smart way to launch. So I wanna wish you the best of luck with that, Heather.

When it comes to communities that have been launched. I know. Not just having spaces or, or channels to chat about certain things, you know, those are required and there’s, you know, you should have a few of those at least to start. But talk about some of the different kinds of live events or, or activations that can happen to help people engage inside of a community?

I mean, there’s probably a million things that one can choose from. What are your maybe go-to experiences that one could offer their fellow members?

Heather Angel: Yeah, I’ve actually got a download of ideas. It’s 30 different ideas for events to do.

Pat Flynn: So this must be a common question.

Heather Angel: It is a common question. One of the things I love is to bring in other members you and have them teach something.

You do this really well in SPI.

Pat Flynn: I mean, you’re here on this podcast right now, teaching.

Heather Angel: Right, right, right. So yeah, podcast community, like yeah, you, you definitely show that in all the, all the ways. But bringing somebody in that is not just you all the time to teach, to show a different perspective.

That is really, really popular. It’s very well received, I guess I should say.

Pat Flynn: Yeah. It’s like, oh, somebody just like me is, is like, they, they’re on the stage and they have, they get, they have the microphone. Like that’s like, that’s one of me up there that like, that would be a proud moment as a member, but it would also inspire me to go, Hey, could I go on stage and teach too?

Like that’s really empowering. I, I love that.

Heather Angel: Yeah. Well, I mean, a great example of that, Pat, is I was talking to a member of SPI and she, she’s an amazing person, and she was, you know, I we’re talking finances and she was like saying something and I said, you really should teach that in SPI. And she’s like, SPI I could, like you think they’d want me to teach.

And I was like, If I have taught, you can teach. So I’ve, you know, I’ve taught several times in SPI. I absolutely you can teach, and it did help her to feel empowered and I didn’t even realize that she wasn’t, because she was not, she was the last person I would’ve thought was surprised that somebody would recommend her to teach on a platform like that.

So that’s, that’s a great example of empowering other people.

Pat Flynn: So she was teaching you individually? Yeah. And like that’s a great sign to actually, this is like my gears are going right now. That’s a great sign that she might have something else to offer the entire community. And on Circle, what’s really nice about, at least I know in Pro we, we set it up this way where Pro members can create their own events.

That other members can then RSVP to. And so I see a bunch of these. I know Brian did one a few weeks back about AI, which was really, really cool. And so if like, it might be a fun thing to encourage your members to, and, and I don’t even think we do this, but maybe just happens, encouraging your own members to say, Hey, if somebody here that you’ve connected with taught you something and you think that that would be a cool thing to teach others like, let team SPI know, and we’ll, we’ll reach out to them and see if they might want to run a workshop or, or do something. And the other cool, like byproduct of this. I mean, there’s a lot of reasons to do this, like I already mentioned, but also it’s like now I don’t have to teach. Like, right, I get time back and the community is, I mean, it’s just is, it’s just a win all around.

Heather Angel: Yeah. And it gives, yeah, it does give a different perspective, which is great. So another, another thing is, of course, office hours having, and, and this is another one that you do, but having office hours that people can come and, you know, whether it’s five people or 50 people, they can come and they can learn off of each other.

And another thing I do in, or suggest to do in, in most of my communities is like a lunch and learn. Where it’s just casual, which is similar to office hours, except that there’s a specific topic being taught. It’s only 30 minutes. It’s a quick in and out. It’s just a casual, quick learn, quick, you know, interaction.

Of course, networking events need to happen just so that people can see each other live and get to know each other, and yeah, I could go on and on. There’s, there’s a list.

Pat Flynn: There’s a lot. And, and you know, you had mentioned the download earlier. I wanna make sure people know where to get that. Is that at the same link,

Heather Angel:

Pat Flynn: Okay, cool. So I love those ideas. As we finish up here, let’s help the audience by talking about some of the big mistakes perhaps that community owners make so that we can avoid them or at least look out for them. What are some common mistakes that community owners make with their members?

Heather Angel: One of them is not onboarding. We’ve already touched on that, but I have actually had clients that have said, no, I’ll onboard later. We just wanna start the community. And their community did not succeed, unfortunately. Yeah. It’s that important. It is that important. So that is a huge one, not having personal interaction with the members and that’s somebody on the team, making them feel welcome and, and wanted. Your membership is going to be better because they are there.

That needs to be felt.

Pat Flynn: I got one, over programming, like having way too many things to choose from and we caught ourselves doing this in the, in the early days as well, which was, I, there’s this challenge and there’s these five things happening this week, and there’s like a live workshop and we have a guest.

It’s like, great, you’re adding all this value, but there’s also the opposite side, which is this is too much. This is overwhelming, right? And a lot of members could potentially feel overwhelmed. Now, one way to combat that, because you obviously still wanna provide value, is to tell everybody and, and set the expectation that you don’t need to do everything in here, right?

If you miss a live thing, don’t worry. There’ll be next ones and you can choose the ones that make sense for you. But I feel like especially, especially the entrepreneurial community, I mean, everybody listening knows this, it’s like we’re at a buffet of learning. We wanna fill our plates with as much as possible, right?

And this is what my next book is about. It’s like, okay, we’re at the buffet, but we gotta control ourselves a little bit. So as a community owner, be cognizant of all the programming that you have and and, and what that might look like. What are the optics of that too? Especially a new member who’s like, what?

I feel like I’m in this expo hall and there’s so many things to choose from. I’m lost. So like you said, sim simplify for not just the creation purposes, but for even the consumption purpose. So that’s, that’s a big mistake I see. And that we’ve lived through.

Heather Angel: Yeah, for sure. That’s a great example. Another one is not being willing to change.

You know, a community is fluid. It needs to ebb and flow. It needs to experience change. If you cannot test and pivot and pivot, I know there’s controversy around that word, but if you cannot adjust, then it’s, and test testing, it’s all about testing. If you can’t do that, you’re really hurting your community.

Pat Flynn: I’ll finish up with another one, which is not collecting feedback, right. I think providing a. You know you’re gonna get feedback, and a lot of times you’ll hear more negative feedback than positive, just because that’s when people speak up is when something negative happens. And I think it’s important to learn how to handle that.

Maybe we could start there. How does one respond to a negative or harsh or, you know, not so happy comment from one of their own members of their community?

Heather Angel: With kindness. Yeah. With trying to look at their point of view, not taking it personal as more than likely it’s not against you or they wouldn’t be in that community.

Where is it stemming from? Is there something you know that you do need to take a look at and, and fix? And so, I think keeping an open mind, not taking everything personal and responding to them with kindness, it always wins.

Pat Flynn: Always a hundred percent. That’s such a huge lesson. Empathy, you know, put yourself in their shoes and then how might you create moments to collect feedback so that you can get both positive and negative feedback and continue to adjust and optimize.

So I know that some people will, at the end of like, if there’s any lessons or any sort of courses inside of a community, they’ll often put a feedback form like at the end. And those, those don’t often get used very often. Are there any other, or, or, or better ways for a creator to collect feedback from their community?

Heather Angel: One way would be to use something like a Bonjoro where that is, you know, a video for those that don’t know a video platform that you can leave a message and then they can respond back to you. Yeah, it’s super easy. Yeah. It’s easy and it’s personal and so it makes them feel like connected. And it’s not just text, which sometimes text is fine, but it makes you want to, to reply back. Another thing would be just quarterly just asking, putting it out there. I think so many of us get caught up in our own communities that we forget to ask and we forget to really, and then looking at the questions that are being asked in the community. Are they being addressed? If there’s frustration, what’s being done about that?

And really taking note of that. So using, that’s not a survey per se, but it is a way to survey the community.

Pat Flynn: That’s great. One thing that we do that is really helpful is our town hall meetings. This is like moments during the year where it’s like, Hey, if you wanna help the community, if you’re a part of it and, and you wanna say like, here’s the space to say it.

And, and I love that Jillian and, and Ashley been doing really good with that and, and David as well. So just something to encourage you, esp that’s really helpful too, if you have a larger community because then you can kind of get everybody in the same room who, who are truly caring about it and sort of manage those questions as, you know, in one spot.

And yeah, it kind of can feel like you’re being put on the spot at times. Like that’s like you’re almost kind of inviting negative feedback at times, but it’s not because they wanna be negative, it’s cuz they want the community to succeed. And, and, and you have to remember that. So Heather, this has been really great.

It, it kind of turned, it started as an interview and then it became like a collaborative effort to, to help the audience. And, you know, that I think speaks to just the power of community, like, different people coming together to help others and, and help each other. And I’m just so grateful that you’re now officially on Team SPI and working for us to, to better serve the community.

I think the SPI Pro and, and the communities in general that we have are, are much better off because of it. So thank you so much for that and for your time today. Where can people go one more time to follow along on your journey, get the downloads and, and continue to learn more about community from here?

Heather Angel: Yeah, absolutely. It’s is the website. for the download. And then I’ll have resources and that, you know, that come in and out of the website periodically. And then all the social media is @HeatherLynnAngel, so it’s just easy. It’s Heather Lynn Angel all across the board.

Pat Flynn: Awesome. Heather, thank you so much. I appreciate you. You are indeed an angel, and I look forward to seeing you in the community.

Heather Angel: Thank you so much, Pat. I appreciate you as well.

Pat Flynn: Right. I hope you enjoy that conversation with Heather. Heather, you are absolutely a rockstar. Thank you so much for not just being a part of our community, but also helping to foster and nurture the community now as a member of Team SPI, and that means so much to us.

Thank you so, so much. I know that I’ve already gotten some positive feedback from people who have worked with you inside of the accelerator. Which one? The community one, which makes sense cuz we just launched that. So thank you Heather. Thank you for listening all the way through. If you wanna check out the resources Heather has, Please be sure to go to

She has specific resources just for you there, and make sure you hit subscribe so you don’t miss out on these upcoming episodes, including episode 700. We’re only a couple episodes away from that now, which is absolutely wild. I cannot believe we are at 700. So thank you so much for being here with me on the ride, and we’re not stopping anytime soon.

So hit subscribe and we’ll see you soon. Cheers, peace out and as always, Team Flynn for the win. Hit up for all the show notes and links in this episode. Cheers.

Thank you so much for listening to the Smart Passive Income podcast at I’m your host, Pat Flynn. Sound editing by Duncan Brown. Our senior producer is David Grabowski, and our executive producer is Matt Gartland. The Smart Passive Income Podcast is a production of SPI Media, and a proud member of the Entrepreneur Podcast Network. Catch you next week!

Share this post

Smart Passive Income Podcast

with Pat Flynn

Weekly interviews, strategy, and advice for building your online business the smart way.

Get Unstuck in just 5 minutes, for free

Our weekly Unstuck newsletter helps online entrepreneurs break through mental blocks, blind spots, and skill gaps. It’s the best 5-minute read you’ll find in your inbox.

Free newsletter. Unsubscribe anytime.

Join 135k+