Connecting people is valuable. We know it, you know it. So why are community builders burning out and not making enough money to get by? Why are they wasting time growing free communities in the hopes that one day they’ll be able to start charging their worth?
Today’s guest, Tatiana Figueiredo, runs businessofcommunity.co. She teaches people how to scale their communities into actual businesses while avoiding burnout, long hours, and sleazy sales tactics. She’s all about helping others create engaging, sustainable communities without the fear of charging for their work.
It was a blast talking to Tatiana and we ended up covering a lot of ground. You’ll learn about the three levels of connection you need in a community and how to balance them out. We put our psychoanalyst hats on and talk about childhood experiences and how they might lead to an interest in bringing people together. We also dissect the freemium model for communities and why, most of the time, it fails.
Tune in to get the scoop on Jillian’s new book… title. The Friendship Funnel, coming to a bookstore near you?
Tatiana Figueiredo is a community business strategist, teacher and founder of The Business of Community, a learning organization helping community founders scale values-driven community businesses.
With varied expertise in sales, software product management and community building, Tatiana has helped a diverse group of community businesses perfect their business models, community experience and grow sustainable businesses.
She is drawn to building community because a lack of belonging is a problem she has experienced and has had to solve for herself, firstly when her family immigrated to the US from Brazil when she was 10.
She loves reading, birdwatching, hosting dinner parties and living in Brooklyn.
In This Episode
- Avoiding burnout while managing online communities
- Why our childhood experiences may lead to an interest in building communities as adults
- The three levels of connection every community needs
- Balancing big group and one-on-one experiences
- The steps of building and encouraging one-on-one connections within a community
- The value of connection and how to price your community
- Why the freemium model doesn’t work for online communities
- Pricing add-ons and making it easier for team members to join a community together
- Communities versus social networks
The CX 043: The Freemium Model Doesn’t Work in Community with Tatiana Figueiredo
Tatiana Figueiredo: I think that connecting people is valuable. My mission in life is to have that work be recognized and be paid for. A lot of people building these kinds of businesses are not charging enough and they're waiting for this future time when their audience is going to be big enough and what's actually happening is a lot of community founders are burning out. They're not making enough money and everyone thinks of community as something that should be free and it's not, it shouldn't, and you should charge what your worth is.
Jillian Benbow: Well, hello and welcome to this episode of The Community Experience podcast. I am your hostess, Jillian Benbow, and today, we are talking to somebody I kind of know, internet-friend-know, of course, because that's how it works now.
Today, I'm talking to Tatiana Figueiredo, whose last name I asked before we started recording, and then as I introduced her in the episode, I say it wrong immediately. Then I say something to be like, "Ugh." So you will hear that. You're in on the joke now because I am not hooked on phonics and I can't pronounce anything. So, apologies, Tatiana. Tatiana is amazing. She runs businessofcommunity.co, and she helps people learn how to make their community an actual business, and I love it. This is basically just two community friends having a conversation about things.
We tried not to derail too far on tangents, but we had a blast. We came up with my next book's title, my next book because I have so many that I've written. So my first book's title that I will never write. Yeah. It was a lot of fun. So I hope you enjoy this. I think anybody doing anything in community will absolutely get some good tidbits, but most especially, something I love about Tatiana is she is very intelligent with understanding and then helping people with how to price a community. So we talk about pricing, membership pricing, and we have opinions. So I hope it is helpful to you. I will see you on the other side of the interview. Here is my conversation with Tatiana.
Jillian Benbow: Welcome back, community family, to this episode of The Community Experience, and I'm so excited because I get to talk to somebody who does very similar things and is super deep in all things community. So buckle in because we are going to nerd out in the best way. Let me introduce you to Tatiana Figueiredo, Figueiredo.
Tatiana Figueiredo: Figueiredo.
Jillian Benbow: Figueiredo. Let me introduce you... We're off to a great start. Excellent. Tatiana, welcome. Tell us about you. Who are you? What do you do?
Tatiana Figueiredo: Yeah. Thank you for having me, Jillian. I'm so excited. I'm a loyal listener of the podcast. So yeah.
Jillian Benbow: Oh, yay!
Tatiana Figueiredo: My name is Tatiana. I'm a community strategist and a business coach, and what I do is I help community founders build profitable businesses on the internet, so anything from membership communities like SPI Pro all the way to cohort-based courses. I teach people and I coach people on how to really bring themselves to their business and build a business that has community at the core of it.
Jillian Benbow: Oh, my gosh. You must be so busy right now just considering that community has become such a buzzword for better or for worse, but I'm sure you are getting all sorts of calls for help, especially, and I'm curious, actually, let me know, do most people come to you at the very beginning or do they come after they've launched and realize like, "Oh, wait. This takes work. I need help"? Who comes to you the most?
Tatiana Figueiredo: Usually the second one. I think that's right, but I think as community people, we've been doing a better job at scaring people from starting new communities lately, just saying, "This is a lot of work. Look at my stressed out face." So I think it's improving a little bit. And I think it's better anyway, someone who has already tried out building a community has some experience and knows what's working and what's not working, they have already formulated their questions. So usually, that's when people reach out to me.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. Okay. That sounds good. Yeah. I can only imagine just because I know in my experience I'm on the soapbox like, "Hey, I know it's a marketing buzz thing right now, especially with the pandemic, but it actually takes a skillset and work. So you will have to put work in it. It's not a set it and forget it," which is, like, the total buzzkill, but it's true.
Tatiana Figueiredo: Yeah, and I'm excited to teach those skill sets and to train more people on how to actually do it in a way that doesn't burn them out.
Jillian Benbow: Absolutely, because even as a full-time community manager, I would often get burned out, and that's why I'm always talking about boundaries and prioritizing your own mental health over because the community never sleeps, right? So if that is my profession and I struggle with it, of course, a business owner is going to have the same and they have so many other things to think about as well. So you have a course, The Build A Community Business course, and then you also work with people one-on-one? What are all the things you do?
Tatiana Figueiredo: I actually started out doing consulting, so working one-on-one with people who, like we were saying, are launching new communities. Before that, I ran a community for women in tech here in New York. That was mostly in-person, and at the same time, I was also working at a startup that was building community within really big companies. So that's where my experience came from, and then I started doing one-on-one consulting with people who were launching new communities, relaunching them.
That business got really big during the pandemic when people were moving in-person communities to online, and then from there, and from all that I had been already thinking about as a little community soul from a very young age, I started to build out some frameworks and some things that seemed very teachable, things that I was saying over and over again to clients one-on-one.
But now, we're expanding the business so that we can do both, so both for people who are earlier on and want to learn all the different pieces of building a community business in a cohort with other people, and also people who just need more of the hands-on help and need more people on their team to get a community off the ground. So we do both now.
Jillian Benbow: Oh, that's amazing. I love it. I'm curious, talking to people who as adults get into community and then talking about childhood interests and personality, it's always just fascinating to me. So tell me, do you feel like you've always been a natural community builder, and then as an adult figured out, "Wait a minute. I can utilize this skillset as a career," or were you bringing people together at a young age?
Tatiana Figueiredo: I was. So I always think that community builders have their little origin stories, and mine was that my family moved from Brazil where I was born to New York when I was 10. So 10 is, I don't know, for me, it was a really formative age. I had a little group of friends that I was leaving to go to a whole other country where I didn't speak the language, and it was that experience of having to pay attention to this whole new culture and get used to this new culture that really, I think, set me up to start thinking about belonging, start thinking about connection, start thinking about what community can be because it was almost like I was manually making friends.
It was so natural up to that point, but then when you get here you're like, "Oh, my God! I really have to figure out what clothes I need to wear and what I need to say, and literally how to speak a whole other language." I think that all of that is relevant when you're an adult and you're building community.
So I think it was from there. I had other jobs that were not in community when I first started working. I was in sales, but I think that the way I approached a sales role was very much community. I was younger than anyone doing that role, and I didn't know what I was doing. So I would host these big dinners. I would ask all these questions. I would get so curious about what people were doing because I had no other choice. I really didn't know what I was doing.
Then when I was in startups and I was in product, I think product and community are really, really connected. It's all about having conversations, being really curious about people, conflict resolution, making sure everyone's on the same page. So I think I was always approaching things from this community lens. What about you?
Jillian Benbow: I love it, and I can relate because we moved a lot when I was a kid, so different but similar. My family's Canadian, so different side of the border coming to the US, but it just depended where we lived at the time. So I was born in Chicago, so I have dual citizenship, but then my brother, who's younger, we actually lived in Trinidad and Tobago, which is closer to Brazil.
Tatiana Figueiredo: Wow.
Jillian Benbow: It's off the coast of Venezuela. So we lived there when my mom was pregnant with my brother. So she actually went to Canada to have him. So he's Canadian. Anyways, so we moved every few years and lived in different countries, all over the US, in Canada. So I feel your pain on just when you get uprooted and then you have to start over in a whole new social dynamic. But you, it's much more because, one, you had 10 years in one place and, really, it was an entire culture, and then to go to the US, also go to New York in the US, it's its own culture, and I can only imagine, and then the language thing, too. So bravo to you. I hope you found your people without too much pain. I know. I always think that my childhood was very lonely. I was definitely very insular and quieter than I am now, I guess, because I was always the new kid.
Tatiana Figueiredo: Yeah. I relate to that. I think that a lot of community people do. I think a lot of people who are drawn to this work, there's some experience in their childhood that they're bringing out in the work that they do. It doesn't have to be moving countries. It could be parents getting divorced or much smaller things, switching schools, being left out when you're getting picked for a sports team or something like that. I think we all had these experiences, and I think they shape more of us than we give them credit for, and I think that part of doing this work is also healing that part of you that was 10 years old and lost in a new country or in Trinidad and Tobago trying to figure out how to behave in a new culture. I think part of this work has such an opportunity to bring out those parts of us. I think it's really nice.
Jillian Benbow: It is. It is, and I think there's something really beautiful about, especially those of us that have those experiences and we recognize it, and so we have empathy, which is such a key thing in community to not everyone in a community is going to get along all the time. It's not all sunshine and roses, and also just being able to look and be like, "That person really does ... I'm going to check in on this person," because they might be perfectly happy, not really, as a lurker, if you will for lack of a better term or as an observer.
Somebody said they use the term observer instead of lurker and I'm like, "That sounds nicer," because some people, they're totally happy in that, but other people, you check in with them and they're like, "Well, actually, I'm super intimidated. I don't know where ..." because it's like school all over. They see all this stuff happening and it's like, "Oh, I want to go do the thing that all the other kids are doing, but can I just join or how does this work?" You get into that, "How do I get into this club that's already going?" So it's so important for us as community builders to be able to see that and understand that in a way to help bring those people into the community.
Tatiana Figueiredo: I totally agree. Belonging is really fragile. So there are these tiny moments where you notice someone, "Oh, they don't have their camera on. Why don't they have their camera on and they usually do? What's going on?" Or you notice that someone used to always show up and they're not showing up. I think it's easy to just brush it off and not do what you're doing, which is reaching out to them and seeing what's going on, but always keeping that in mind, "Everything that I'm saying could be excluding someone here.
How can I always make sure to bring people back into the fold?"
I'll give you an example. I was hosting a lot of, not a lot, but I hosted some public events in the last year or so, and I made a lot of internet friends. So they're people who I know, who I have inside jokes with when I'm hosting or even attending some of these events. I started to notice that that could be excluding the people who I don't know yet and who are just coming to the event.
So now, I try to make a point of when someone is saying something in the chat that I know no one else is going to understand because it was from a course we took together six months ago or something else and they're just talking to me, making sure that, one, I explain what the joke is and call it out so that everyone is in on it and, two, that I say, "I know this person because I met them on an event that's just like this. We're not cousins. We know each other from the internet just like we know each other from the internet."
Jillian Benbow: Totally.
Tatiana Figueiredo: Just making it more accessible so that people see that we're all friends and you're not joining a little click that's already happening.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. Oh, and that's so powerful, too, because you're bringing them in on the joke and saying, "I met this person just like how I'm meeting you and we have this rapport and now we all have it," and just that inclusivity to the new people, but also the nod to the people you have established relationships, that is just excellence at its finest.
As we're talking I'm like, "It's just high school all over again," which is terrifying, but I think as community builders, we are trying very hard to be the kind, reliable person that it's not about popularity. It's about, "Let's all do this," and so who would that be? Student council? I even know.
Tatiana Figueiredo: Like, "Come sit at my table."
Jillian Benbow: Point is, yeah, it's like we're here to hang with everyone and have fun and make it fun. It would be the prom committee. I don't know. I didn't go to a traditional high school so I should not be speculating on this.
Tatiana Figueiredo: I was on the prom committee.
Jillian Benbow: Oh, well, see, you would know. That'll be our temporary term till we think of a better one. I also don't want to all of a sudden turn community into anything to do with high school, but I keep going there. so I'm curious. So you have a course and it's a cohort-based course. So you have a lot of live interaction with different people looking to build community. What's a common thread you see pop up with those people? I guess, what about community do they know the least about? What are you helping them with the most?
Tatiana Figueiredo: That's a good question. There are many answers to this. The course itself, I think, is unique because it focuses on what I call community businesses, so not a big company that is launching a community to support a product or anything like that, but people who are making a business out of connecting people with each other like what you do. So a lot of the challenges that I see are in the intersections of the different parts of building this kind of business.
So how do you market a product that is around connection? How do you do that in an intentional way that prioritizes the people you're speaking with and is not fear-based and is in alignment with the values of your community, for example? Then on the community side, specifically, one thing that I see a lot of people make is not taking enough time to design the experience that they're building.
So I talk about the three levels of connection that you need in a community. So you need the big group connection, which is all of the experiences that involve everyone and where you're reinforcing why you're there and the values that the community has. There are small group experiences, which is about enforcing an identity that you have within the community that you're in, and small groups are usually how people make friends. So ideally, they're meeting each other over and over again. I know that you all have masterminds, for example. That's a great small group structure, but any small group structure will work.
Then the last one is making sure you're encouraging one-on-one connections. So a lot of people join communities, their secret motivation of joining community is to make new friends, and it's almost like a thing we don't advertise as community builders as much because it makes people feel a little bit losery, but it is a real thing that we are all looking for, and when I think about the reasons why I joined communities, that's one of the reasons, and as community builders, finding ways that we can encourage those one-on-one connections in a way that makes people feel comfortable, and yeah, that is, again, in alignment with your values. So I think that it's a combination of those three levels of experience that makes for a really tight community experience for people where they're going to be getting all of their needs met through the community, and a lot of times when people come to the course, they have only big group experiences or they haven't thought about one-on-one at all. So just balancing that out is one of the challenges that people have.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. I mean, absolutely, and I love how you put that because it's so true. I can see the funnel of the big to small, the small being those one-on-one connections, and it can be hard, especially the larger the community. What do you recommend to help people go through that funnel, friendship funnel? Oh, my gosh, the friendship funnel, if you will, from the big group and then, obviously, there's some, like you said, we do masterminds. Other communities might do other types of smaller groups, but especially from that smaller group to the one-on-one. Are you recommending people focus on from that small group, the the people they find there is where they start making the one-on-one connections in the friendship funnel?
Tatiana Figueiredo: I love that, friendship funnel.
Jillian Benbow: Right?
Tatiana Figueiredo: I'm looking forward to your book called The Friendship Funnel. I love that.
Jillian Benbow: Oh, my gosh! We have a title.
Tatiana Figueiredo: Whenever I'm thinking about something in community, I think about real life first, and I think about how something that happens in real life maps to what we're talking about in online communities. This is a slight tangent, but I feel like social media has made interactions really artificial and really has forced us to interact with each other in this way that's not natural because if you post something on Twitter, it's almost like you and I are having a personal conversation, but somehow, literally, anyone in the world could hear what we're saying. That's not a real thing in real life, but I think smaller, online, private communities, they do map really closely to things that happen in real life.
So whenever I get any kind of question about community, my first instinct is to think about how things happen in real life and how we can use that to design an experience that will work online. So small groups, for example, if you think about, you literally think about the way that you became friends with anyone that you're good friends with now, you probably met them through some kind of a small group like you went to school together and you were in the same class or you played a sport together or you worked together on a team.
All the people who we actually become friends with, we go through this period where we're just seeing them casually in a group where it's comfortable and it's not too intimate right away, but we're getting familiar with them, we're understanding a little bit more about them until you're ready to say, "Hey, you and I, let's get coffee," or "You and I, let's go do something together." So there is that phase in the friendship where you're just feeling each other out and that's safer to do within a group. So that's the role that I see that small groups play in leading to the one-on-one connection.
Then I think as the community builder, our role is to design those experiences in a way where you are, if you're thinking about your friendship funnel, you're nudging them along through to the funnel. So if you're connecting people in a small group, can you encourage them to, after the small group meeting, send out everyone's contact information and say, "Hey, follow each other on Instagram," if that's how your community communicates or, "You can DM each other," or give them a way to go deeper into those relationships when they're ready.
Jillian Benbow: I love that. There is something about having a nudge, to be like, "This is okay. You should do this." I'm writing a note to myself because I don't think I do that consistently. So I need to. I want to try. I want to do an experiment now in the friendship funnel, which I think might have to be the title of this episode. You heard it here first. Tatiana and I coined it. Haha. We already talked about people assume that it's going to be really easy to run a community-based business. What other things do people often assume that then during the course get the real info?
Tatiana Figueiredo: The other thing is people who are building these kinds of businesses are not charging enough.
Jillian Benbow: Yes.
Tatiana Figueiredo: I think that connecting people is valuable, and I think my mission in life is to have that work be recognized and be paid for. I think that, yeah, a lot of people building these kinds of businesses are not charging enough, and they're waiting for this future time when their audience is going to be big enough and then they're going to be able to. Yes, they're only charging $10 a month, but they're going to have 2,000 people in their community and maybe that'll be enough.
In my experience, charging $10 for something doesn't lead to eventually charging more for it or to getting more people to join. I think that you should start with something that feels sustainable to you and feels right, and then you can charge less later, but I would start with something that is enough of a value that you feel good charging for it, and then later figure out how to serve more people and how to change that.
Also, that doesn't mean not being inclusive. There are a ton of ideas in the course about how to be inclusive and include other people who belong in your community but can't necessarily afford it for many different reasons, but I think that what's actually happening is a lot of community founders are burning out and they're not making enough money, and then they end up having to shut down their communities because it hasn't been thoughtfully laid out or everyone thinks of community as something that should be free and it's not, it shouldn't, and you should charge what your worth is.
Jillian Benbow: Oh, let's dig in. The entree is here. So anybody listening, we didn't mention this, but I'm going to mention it. Tatiana is, is it called a Circle Expert? What is the actual title?
Tatiana Figueiredo: Yeah. It's Circle Expert.
Jillian Benbow: Okay. Circle Expert. Perfect. Well, I mean, it makes sense. So Tatiana is a Circle Expert, which means in Circle's member community. Well, one, you do programming in there with them, but also you are literally a Circle expert. So you can help people build a Circle community wicked smartly. I am sure you could describe it better than I just hobbled that together, but is there anything I'm missing?
Tatiana Figueiredo: No, that makes sense. I love Circle. When Circle came out, it was the tool that I had been waiting for. So I love their team and, yeah, it's been fun being a Circle expert and seeing how they're growing.
Jillian Benbow: Yay. Okay. So with that, I know you've been doing some pricing workshops and education there, and even some of our events like we recently did the CX Day with Circle and so many people are asking, "Oh, well, should I start it free and then charge a membership later?" and all of us were just like, "No, no, no, no, no, no, no. It's a terrible experience and you're setting yourself up for disaster."
Tatiana Figueiredo: No way.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. Red flag. Talk to me a little bit about, and especially for people listening who are probably juggling the same conflict where it's like, "Well, I want to start this thing, but I want people to join, and so maybe I should make it free, and then once I have more people, then I can add a tier that's paid or all these things." Let's talk about that and why you should not do that.
Tatiana Figueiredo: Well, I hear what you just said a lot, and it's just a flawed assumption. You assume that, "I'll just start this free community. Everyone is going to love it, and then I can later offer something that's paid, and then I'll have a pool of people to convert to paid." That does not work in my experience for many reasons.
One, when someone joins a community, they're already overwhelmed with what's happening in the community. They already can't keep up with the content that's there. So if you are going to offer them more community but they have to pay for it this time, they're not in the right state of mind to buy more community and get more overwhelmed with what you're offering. So it's just for this kind of product, the freemium, I just haven't seen it work for that reason because people are already feeling like they're not going to enough events and not participating as much as they'd like if you have a good free community. People should feel that way when they're in the community. It should be something that they do when they have time, but they might not always have time, and that's a good feeling. So there's that.
The other reason is when you're doing something free, the customer that is going to join when it's free is a different customer that is going to join when it's paid. So you're building two separate communities for potentially two separate customers. it gives you a red herring. So it's the wrong customer that you're building the free community for, but it seems like it's working, so it seems like this is who you should be building your paid community for, and then they might be asking you for certain things for certain events or whatever, certain offers for your community, different things that they want you to do, and you might be believing them, and you might be building a community for those people when they may not actually be your customer. So not only are you building an extra community, but it's taking you off track from the one that you should actually be building.
Jillian Benbow: Oh, my gosh. Can I get an Amen? Oh, yes. Thank you. I get why people go there because it's a lack of confidence in whatever it is they want to provide or they want to start it now but down the road will add this and that and that, and then that's worth charging. Exactly what you're saying, you're making so much more work for yourself. How would you suggest for someone who's in this analysis paralysis? What alternative do you suggest for people to do?
Tatiana Figueiredo: Maybe this person is coming to you and they don't have a big audience, so it's a concern that makes sense. You want to do something, offer something so that people can start to get to know you and eventually buy something from you. So it's a legitimate question, and the freemium model has been out there for a while. So I understand why people do it this way.
Also, communities have a chicken and egg problem. You want to join a community that's already a community. You don't want to join a community where there's nobody there yet. So what I suggest is you think about your ideal member growth journey. So your ideal community, when they come to you to join your community, what is the problem that they have, and then what is the common journey that the people who are in the community have, and what does that look like once they're ready to, let's say, graduate your community, which doesn't have to be at any time soon, but thinking about what is this ideal future that your ideal member sees.
Then what I recommend if you're just getting started, you don't have a big audience, is that you design some fixed offer for them. That's maybe a three to six-month thing that doesn't exactly center community, but it could. It could just be very hosted by you, so you're very involved in the community. So it should be paid and it should be close to or it could even be more than what you eventually want to charge for your community if it's going to be a membership and you're charging per month.
So thinking about what their growth journey is, what do they need, and what can you provide for them in the next three months. Community almost comes as a bonus to whatever else you're providing them because then you're taking the pressure off of already having this thriving community where people are helping each other because you're solving their problem in some other way. So those ways can be like let's say you host a challenge where you're all coming together and you're all holding each other accountable for going running every day, and that could be what you're doing, and you're offering them a place to track what they're doing, you have regular events where you're telling them how to run or whatever it is that you're offering in those 30 days, in that month or whatever. So that's one.
Another way of doing it is doing some virtual retreat or virtual summit where you invite other people to speak. It has to be specifically about this growth journey that your members are on. So it can't just be making a list of people who wanted to see this person speak. It has to be specifically on the growth journey that your community is eventually going to have. That is a good thing to do for multiple reasons. One of which, hopefully, you can get some of those people's audiences to come over to you and to get to know what you're doing in the community.
So that's another way of doing it, but it could also be a course, obviously. A course is another way of doing something like this. I also, again, suggest people get really creative with this kind of stuff. What is something that you can offer to people now in-person is coming back? What does that look like? Is it a real life retreat? Then from there, the community can grow out of something like that and it'll already have some momentum because you'll already be solving that problem for people.
Jillian Benbow: That's so genius. Your course must just be fire. I mean, usually at the end, we do, "Oh, where can people find you?" but let's just pause for a sec. Where is this course located? I need the link.
Tatiana Figueiredo: Okay. Buildacommunitybusiness.com is the course, and everything I've been talking about is in this course, basically. The idea of it is really to come experience community as a way to learn about community and then build it for yourself. So it is a cohort. There's a four-week cohort that you kick off with, but then you get access to the community and everything else for an entire year. So as you're implementing what you learn through the course, you're also in accountability groups and meeting up with people within the community, partnering with other people in there, seeing what other people are doing, getting inspiration from other communities. It's a full year experience to help you as you launch, relaunch, decide to double your price, whatever it is that your goal is. It's really fun. The community is really awesome and, yeah.
Jillian Benbow: Ah, I love this. There's so many things I want to talk about. Say someone goes through the whole year and they want to stay in your community. Do you offer that?
Tatiana Figueiredo: I haven't. So it hasn't been a full year for anyone yet. It's going to be a year in September. I have ideas on what to do. I did a year because I also suggest other people do this. You don't know how it's going to be to run a community. So just give people an end date. I'm not a big fan of lifetime membership or anything like that. I think it's good to have a time when you're reassessing, "Okay. Do I want to be a part of this group?" Otherwise, there can be some awkward moments in there.
So anyway, so that's what I did. I wanted to try it for a year and see how it would go. I do want to have some way for people to stay on past the year because I still think that we're getting value from each other, and we're also adding a ton of content to the course and making a lot of updates. So I think people are still getting value from being in there. Community building is not really something that you just learn and then you're done. So yeah, I do want some way for people to stay on there.
Jillian Benbow: That's awesome. So since you obviously are very skilled in helping people with pricing, it's fun to see your pricing and specifically that you have the option to pay for a person, but then an additional person. It's a lower rate for an additional team member. Is this something you recommend for just community builders in general to have different pricing options, not necessarily payment plans versus paying full, but an, an add-on person or any other a la carte add-ons?
Tatiana Figueiredo: Yeah. So the reason we have that option is because a lot of people were asking if they could ... It was community founders that were taking the course and they were asking if they could invite the community manager or they wanted other people on their team to have access to the content. I also had a lot of community managers reaching out to me and asking me to help convince their boss to get the course. You know what I mean?
I also started feeling like the content was more likely to stick if we had those two people in the room versus one or the other, which is always my priority. Anytime that I can see that someone's implementing the thing that they learned, that's a joyful moment for me. So in order to increase those, I found that I wanted to encourage more people to join as a team, but I didn't think about doing that from the beginning. It was something that I was seeing happening. So we adapted based on what was happening. So I mean, I always recommend to do it that way. See where the demand is and then design around it. Ask a lot of questions around it.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah, for sure. It's amazing. Your community will often tell you, and if you're paying attention, like you said, you started seeing trends, you're like, "I've gotten three emails in this last cohort round about this. "I'm going to pay attention to see if this is something to add?" I'm curious. So I love your model, and I think a lot of people do, too. A lot of people are interested in this kind of cohort to community model, and there's something really special about cohorts, right? You can get a group of people and they become pretty close pretty fast. It's a very fast way to form those relationships. Have you found, especially because you've done a few cohorts now, do they stick together after the course is done but they're in the community? Are there crews, if you will?
Tatiana Figueiredo: They do stick together because they know each other a little bit better because they've been in more, yeah, because of that intensive cohort experience. What I started to do a little bit more intentionally is integrate the cohorts a little bit better. So for the next cohort we're doing, the last event of the cohort is actually going to be open to the whole community, and it's going to be basically planning your next three months in your business. So that's relevant to everyone in the community, and that's where we start splitting up accountability groups based on what people are focused on for their next quarter or next season is how we talk about it.
So yeah. So this time, both the first event of the cohort, we invite the people in the community to come and welcome in the new people, and then the last event, we invite them in again as a way to start meshing with the rest of the group and mixing them up.
Jillian Benbow: I love that. What other, I guess, strategic things, if anything, does your team do to get those cohorts to be so tight, in general? Do they have any identifiers that's like, "We're this cohort," like we do quarterly enrollments, and so those are enrollment cohorts, and we have very unique names such as Q2-22, but everyone has a badge on there that says which cohort they enrolled in, and of course, our founding members have a special founding badge, but even just that, having that visual, and then, of course, they pick an emoji that represents them. So in a Zoom call, a bunch of unicorn heads will go flying because that's the cohort's designated mascot, if you will. Do y'all do anything similar, do they get emojis?
Tatiana Figueiredo: Yeah. We haven't done enough fun names. The accountability groups at first had animal names with the animal emoji. For the cohorts themselves, we call them by the season. So spring cohort, summer cohort, things like that. So yeah. I like the ideas that you have, but I think cohorts are a great opportunity to ... They're their own small group. So like the Q2-22, that can be a small group. I like the idea of thinking about how to continue to build the relationships between the people. The thing that they have in common is that they joined at the same time, and what does that look like when you come to the party at the same time?
Jillian Benbow: I love talking to different community builders about how they do just the little things like that. Our masterminds started as fruits, and then became vegetables because we were naming them ,and we're trying to do stuff that was just totally, you know, "tomato". versus if it was something like Colorado Avalanche, something that I'd be like, "Yeah, hockey," not that I'm a sports person, but someone else would be like, "Ew. I like the Steelers." That's a totally different kind of sport. Everyone can tell how much I just did NHL and NFL. Sports, y'all, sport ball!
I don't know what I'm talking about, but hopefully it makes sense as long as you want to pick names that aren't offensive, but also just aren't, I don't know. It's such a tightrope to walk where it's like, "I want this group to have a cute name, but I also don't want anybody to hate it."
Tatiana Figueiredo: I think it's good. It gives them an identity. So I always say, naming things in communities is always a good idea because these people just met, they can't call each other friends yet because they haven't even spoken. So if you can give them a placeholder like, "Oh, we're all bananas," then they'll become friends and then they'll just be friends and it's fine, but the placeholder, I think, is an important thing.
Jillian Benbow: It's fun. Yeah. Some of them come up with their own names. We recently had a group start and they decided to call themselves the Inchworms, which I think is hilarious because they're inching along with their progress and it's like, "That's cute," and they came up with it. Yeah. It's funny.
I love all those little chances to, whether it's just something silly or just something light, to bring in to a group or just into community, in general, I think just help getting people to let their guard down, especially something like mastermind groups. You think, "Oh, business entrepreneurship, this is my mastermind. It's very serious." It's like, "Actually, it can be fun. Let's frame this as, yeah, it's accountability, it's all these things, but it's fun. We should be having fun, especially in our businesses. What is the point of life if we're that serious?"
Tatiana Figueiredo: Sliding down the friendship funnel.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah, the friendship slide. We'll start a community theme park.
Tatiana Figueiredo: What a great idea. Oh, my God. You're full of them today.
Jillian Benbow: I'm riding the Friendship Train. Yup, full of ideas, not all of them make sense. That's my motto.
Tatiana Figueiredo: Makes sense to me.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah, right? I mean, I'm in. I've got it mapped out in my head. Gosh! We could just go forever and ever. Before we go to a rapid fire of very difficult math questions, is there anything else that we should gab about? Any hot community goss you've heard that you want to share on the pod?
Tatiana Figueiredo: I don't know if I have any hot community goss.
Jillian Benbow: I know. I don't either. Although, well, actually, yes, I do. So at the time of this recording, Elon Musk is still trying to buy Twitter. They've agreed, but the ink isn't dry on the paper, if you will. It's interesting because I think a lot of us are connected on Twitter. There's a lot of community builders on Twitter and we're all in the same conversations, which I love, but with this and whatever people believe, that's fine, but there's been a few people saying, "Hmm, where should we go?" the community crew, right? Some people are like, "Should we go to Telegram? Should we do this? Should we do that?" I'm curious. Well, have you seen those conversations and are you going anywhere? Are you staying on Twitter? What are your thoughts?
Tatiana Figueiredo: Great question. I don't know. I'm going to wait and see Elon Musk wise, but in general, I don't trust social media. I mean, I think the whole thing we're doing is to recreate a different little world that doesn't feel bad, that doesn't have as much FOMO, that moves a little bit slower, that doesn't try to sell you things all time. So I don't know. I think the communities I try to design are the opposite of Twitter, anyway. Regardless of what's going on on Twitter, they should, I don't know, be nerdier and be more cozy and just feel good. Unlike a lot of social media does. I mean, so I don't have a prediction or I'm not sure exactly what's going to happen.
I know that, personally, I go through great lengths to limit my time on social media. I don't have apps on my phone. I deleted Instagram from my phone two years ago, and it changed my whole life in a way I totally didn't expect. So now, I also deleted Twitter from my phone. I didn't delete my account from any of the social medias, but I'm really mindful of how they affect who I am in the world and how my brain works.
So I really try to limit it, but yeah, but as business owners, they are a great platform for you to meet new people, to come to your community, and to interact with you, and also, I meet a ton of friends on Twitter. So I don't know. There's always both sides to things, but yeah, I'm not under any illusions that Twitter is good now or will be good in the future.
Jillian Benbow: ... or was ever.
Tatiana Figueiredo: Exactly.
Jillian Benbow: It's just Twitter. Interesting. Yeah. I want to maintain, and I only use Twitter for the sake of this role, really, and having some social proof to be like, "Yeah, I do actually work in community and have thoughts about it," but I don't use it that often candidly, but I have really enjoyed the connections with other community builders and that piece of it.
I like that other people who maybe aren't in what I consider the core group but are either getting into community or are community manager and they don't have support, they got into the role and they're very much in the silo of their company, but they don't have outside community builders to talk to. I like that it's easy to get in. Of course, we're very welcoming, right? So I don't want that part of it to go away.
Tatiana Figueiredo: I actually really like Twitter, too, for that reason. I feel like I get to see how people think and I get to connect with them based on that. I don't know. To me, it always felt good, but again, I don't have it on my phone. I feel like every time I download it on my phone, I feel like I get sucked in and I don't like that feeling anymore. So yeah, they are doing some stuff to our brains, but I think it's a net positive, at least on Twitter for me.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. I only look at Twitter at work. I'll go check it to see if I have notifications or I'll scroll to see if there's any cool things happening in community, but otherwise, I couldn’t care less.
Tatiana Figueiredo: That's great.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. I wish I could say the same about TikTok.
Tatiana Figueiredo: Oh, see, I can't download TikTok.
Jillian Benbow: I need to take that off my phone. Don't, don't. That algorithm is terrifyingly good. I'm thinking about deleting everything. All right. Well, let's move to rapid fire. I don't want to keep you too much over. I apologize.
Tatiana Figueiredo: No problem.
Jillian Benbow: So Tatiana, when you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Tatiana Figueiredo: So many things. I used to want to be a scientist. I was really into animals and stars. I also collected rocks. So I went through a whole phase where I knew I wanted to do something with science or something with animals.
Jillian Benbow: I love it. How do you define community?
Tatiana Figueiredo: Community is a group of people who come together to nurture their own and one another's growth. To me, growth is a really big part of community.
Jillian Benbow: Absolutely. That question is the hardest easy question out there and that I ask. So you're off to a great start. Tatiana, what is something on your bucket list for life that you have done?
Tatiana Figueiredo: Ooh, I remember this question, and I should have thought about an answer. When I was in sales, I traveled a lot and I made a lot of friends in lots of different countries. I feel really lucky to have gotten the opportunity to do that pretty early on in my career. My territories were Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa, and Latin America. So I was always traveling. When I had more energy to get on planes and travel a lot, I was able to, which I'm really grateful for.
Jillian Benbow: That's amazing. Then the flip side, what is something on your bucket list that you haven't done yet?
Tatiana Figueiredo: Yeah, totally opposite. I want to buy a big farmhouse in the middle of the woods and just live in the middle of the woods with hopefully strong internet so I can still connect with people on the internet and, yeah.
Jillian Benbow: ... and animals and rocks and stars.
Tatiana Figueiredo: Exactly.
Jillian Benbow: I'm like, "Yeah. I'm with you on that." Yeah.
Tatiana Figueiredo: We never give up on our childhood dreams.
Jillian Benbow: I still pick up rocks. I feel it. Yeah. It's like, "O course, it's a pretty rock. It's coming home." What is a top book that you love and think everyone should read?
Tatiana Figueiredo: So my definition of community that I gave you is based on a quote that I read in a Bell Hooks book called All About Love. So that's the definition of love that she uses, and that quote derives from her definition of love. That book is so cozy and so nice to read. I highly recommend it. Bell Hooks passed away, I guess, within the last year, and I reread it after she did. Oh, my God! It’s highly recommended.
Jillian Benbow: All right. We know you've traveled all over. You've lived in amazing places. If you could live anywhere else, and I would say obviously you want your farmhouse in the woods, but location-wise, if you could live anywhere else, where would it be?
Tatiana Figueiredo: Maybe somewhere I haven't been. I don't know, Jillian. I'd love to try to live somewhere cold like you do, where it snows a lot of the year. I've been enjoying winter. I was born in winter, but in Brazil where it's not quite snowy or anything like that. I don't know, I've been enjoying winter more and more in the last few years and the opportunity to slow down and be cold for a little while and be cozy by a fire. So yeah, maybe somewhere snowy.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. Well, come on down. Final question, Tatiana, how do you want to be remembered?
Tatiana Figueiredo: I want to be remembered as someone who went her whole life trying to become more herself. This is what my wish is for the people I work with, and this is what I think about literally every day, "Am I discovering more parts of myself? Am I becoming more of who I'm supposed to be?" That's what I want to be remembered for.
Jillian Benbow: I love it. That's beautiful. Well, Tatiana, this has been so fun. I feel like we went down the best tangents and I think had conversations that a lot of people in community are either thinking about or talking about. So I think this was a great opportunity to bring those discussions out into the public a little more because pricing is scary for a lot of us and all the other things, too, right? Let's do what I asked you to do mid-interview, but where can people find you on the internet?
Tatiana Figueiredo: Yeah, I'm on social media as... After we talked about social media as being evil for so long, I tweet sometimes. My handle is @Tatfig, T-A-T-F-I-G. My course is buildacommunitybusiness.com, and I also write a newsletter that is free and that's at businessofcommunity.co.
Jillian Benbow: We didn't even talk about the newsletter. We'll have to do another episode. That's a whole other juicy topic. This has been wonderful. Thank you so much for being on the show. It's been a delight. I've loved getting to know you outside of this podcast as well. So super delighted to have you here. Thanks so much.
Tatiana Figueiredo: Thank you so much.
Jillian Benbow: That is the interview with Tatiana of Business of Community. Wow. She's so great. Don't you think? I love what she's doing. It's so important right now, and I just want to go do her cohort just to lurk and see because it's just great. Just great.
So let's talk about freemium because in my notes, and I recall our conversation, but in my notes I have, "Freemium is trash." So the end. Kidding. I am sure there are some fringe use cases for it, but yeah. If you are launching, growing a community, especially if you're just starting out, I know there's an urge to, "Oh, I'm going to do it for free and people will see what a great value it is, and then I'll introduce pricing." What Tatiana said about those are two different customers, the ones that'll come in for the free and the ones that'll pay like, "Yes, yes, absolutely."
So at the end of the day, it's your community, do whatever you want, but going to tell you, save yourself some time and follow that advice if you are in that position.
I'm curious, anybody, who's done it successfully? If you have, shout us out on the tweets, the Twitter, @TeamSPI, and loop Tatiana in too, @Tatfig, T-A-T-F-I-G because, yeah, I mean, I'm sure someone's done it successfully. I'd love to talk to you if you have, but I agree with Tatiana that you should always have people put money on the table, even if it's not a ton and even if it's definitely set up to be like, "This is an introductory price and you get this for this long by paying." At least then, if you add something or create a tier or whatever, just the psychological impact of having someone put money on the table for something, it changes down the road when you want them to renew, if there's an opportunity to upsell, and this isn't to take advantage of people. You should be paid for your time, for one thing. We need to all stop expecting each other to do free labor. There's a difference between providing value and the serve first mentality and just giving away the farm. You want to set the expectation.
If your intention is to make money and it's not like, "Oh, because I'm going to go buy a yacht," it's going to be, "Oh, so that I can actually spend time on this, so that I can afford to do this thing," right? Nine times out of 10, that's the reality. So don't think I'm coming from a money grab place. I am absolutely not. That is not a great way to start a community, and that will probably fail because you're not in it for the right reason.
So with that caveat in place, let's continue with you should value the work you do, and yeah, you can have free this or that, but for community in particular, if your ultimate goal is a membership community where people pay, you need to start with that, even if it's five bucks.
Anyways, I will get off my soapbox. What else should we talk about about Tatiana? I love what she was saying about what you can offer and then have the community grow around that or build upon that. So many people are like, "Yeah, community, I want to do that, but I don't really know what it would be or how it should start," et cetera. So again, coming up with a specific amount of time, a cohort, a period that you set from the beginning of, "This is what we're going to do in this community through this time."
I mean, even Tatiana was saying she, very intentionally, with her course and the cohorts and the model, you pay for a year because then if it's just not working out or she finds a different model or whatever that she wants to do, she's not going back on a promise. You pay for your access to her community, and if at the end of that year she's decided to change her business model, you're not going to really have an issue because the expectation was set from day one versus if you give people lifetime access, lifetime, what does that mean? Lifetime of your business, lifetime of their aliveness, right? So certainly something to think about. I know a lot of us give lifetime access to courses, and if that is an evergreen content that sits on a third-party platform that people can purchase and access, I think that's a very different promise than lifetime access to a community.
Also, protect yourself. That's a great way to protect boundaries by saying, "Hey, you get access for this amount of time. At that amount of time, we might have the option to renew or that might be it," because you might need to not do that anymore, and it's okay. So set yourself up for success.
I think those are the big things for me. What about you? Let me know, @TeamSPI on Twitter, and if you enjoyed this episode, other episodes, I would love it if you would give us an outstanding and over the top… No, I'd love a positive review on Apple podcast or wherever you listen to podcasts. We are realizing that we need to ask people for reviews because we haven't had one in a while. So if you're listening to this, I'd love a review. Yeah. With that, this is the episode this week. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you got some value out of it, and I will see you next Tuesday.
Learn more about Tatiana at her website, tatfig.com, T-A-T-F-I-G dot com. There you can subscribe to her newsletter, learn more about the Build A Community course and about her coaching and consulting or head directly to buildacommunitybusiness.com. Go check it out. You can also find Tatiana on the socials. Again, it's @Tatfig. How cute is that? T-A-T-F-I-G.
Your lead host for The Community Experience is me, Jillian Benbow. Our executive producer is Matt Garland. Our senior producer is David Grabowski, and our editor is Ray Sylvester, sound editing by Duncan Brown, theme music by David Grabowski. See you next Tuesday.