Overcoming our attachment to vanity numbers is one of the best things we can do for our communities. In fact, relatively quiet online spaces where a few people come to find support and connection can provide immense value.
But how do you create a digital experience worthy of a high subscription cost? Who are the people most likely to sign up, and how do you find them? What are the common mistakes you should avoid in your first year?
In this episode, Tatiana Figueiredo returns to the show to answer these questions. She shares her blueprint for running thriving communities and generating $100K in revenue within the first year.
At BuildACommunityBusiness.com, Tatiana offers a course and community for people looking to create engaging and profitable memberships while avoiding burnout. If you haven't already, be sure to also listen in on our previous chat with her in episode 43!
Today, we do a deep dive into the 7-step method Tatiana uses to turn an idea into an income-generating community. She and our host Jillian discuss interviewing your target audience, paid beta launches, leveraging community-adjacent content, and much more.
Join us for this insightful conversation, and don't miss out on the strategies that can take your community to the next level!
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 and 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.
- Find out more about The Business of Community
- Access Tatiana's course and community at Build a Community Business
In This Episode
- How your community can generate $100K in the first year
- The common mistakes that stop community businesses from growing
- Refining your sales process through targeted interviews
- Why your income-generating betas should feel like a dive bar
- The value of starting small and charging your worth
- Using community-adjacent content to increase engagement
- Partnering with other communities to reach potential new members
- The specific people most likely to join your community
- Tatiana's step-by-step guide to starting a community
The CX 066: The 7 Steps Tatiana Figueiredo Used to Make $100K Revenue in 12 Months
Tatiana Figueiredo: I think a lot of us pressure ourselves, like, "Ah, there's not enough activity in the community and people aren't posting all the time." And it's, like, "Yeah. Because there are 10 people in here, they have other stuff to do. They're not going to be posting in the community all the time." So we need to normalize quieter communities, especially in the beginning. One way of doing that, you start with something that's more adjacent to community. In my case it was a course. So, thinking about what that structure is that you can put in place where you can get people in the room but there are other distractions until they can connect more with each other.
Jillian Benbow: This week, Tatiana is back, and we are going to talk about how to make six figures in your first year as a paid community. And yeah, it sounds like, ooh, how to have a six figure launch, blah, blah blah. No, no. This is actually something she has done more than once, so she's sharing all sorts of hot goss with us today. So keep listening and listen to the end because then right at the end, Tatiana just does a bullet point list of all the things we talked about. It's a freaking goldmine roadmap. It's a road to treasure, treasure. So stay tuned. And also, figure out why you should think about your beta group as a dive bar. That's right. So you're listening to The Community Experience Podcast. I'm Julian Benbow. Let's follow that treasure map.
I am so extra excited because we have a repeat guest today, and that is Tatiana. Welcome back.
Tatiana Figueiredo: Hi, Jillian.
Jillian Benbow: So excited. So Tatiana and I, the last time we hung out was for the Business of Community Summit. We were on a panel together, which was a delight, talking about fun things like the business of community, to which Tatiana has a company named that. So thank you for letting us use that name as well. But yeah, we were like, "We need to do this again." We had such a good time the first episode, it'll be linked in the show notes for anybody who missed out. Definitely worth it, because we're two seasoned community people who have a lot of opinions and spicy takes. So go enjoy.
Tatiana Figueiredo: Argue with us on the internet.
Jillian Benbow: Do it. Do it. We'll gang up. No, just kidding. Yeah. So we talked about pricing quite a bit and just strategy and that kind of stuff last time, but this time we're going even juicier because we're going to talk about how to make 100K in your first year with community. No big deal. And the reason we're going to talk about it is because Tatiana did it. She has the proof, she has the knowledge and receipts. So Tatiana, let's just jump right in, because I know everyone wants to know all the hot goss about this. Yeah. How'd you do it?
Tatiana Figueiredo: Yeah. I've written a little bit about this, but I want to set the stage of where I started, and this was a little over a year ago now, maybe 18 months ago now. I was consulting and coaching one on one, and I had been doing that for two to three years, I think, with the focus on specifically community businesses. I knew that I wanted to build an example of the thing that I had been coaching and consulting around, but I had not built any kind of list. I had just started writing a newsletter and I had under 100 subscribers, and a lot of those people were probably my friends.I had very little audience, not a big Twitter following or following anywhere.
I didn't know I was doing this, but I think what I ended up doing ended up being a roadmap that anyone can follow. Because I really think that $100,000 in the US in your first year of running this kind of business, it's not something that anyone can guarantee, but I think there are certain things that you can do to raise your chances of making that much in your first year. And there are a lot of common mistakes that I think keep people from being successful from the beginning and from growing enough in the first year to get to a point like that. So that's where I started. I also want to offer the disclaimer that I was able to not take on as much consulting while I was building this out. I had already done it for other people. So these results are definitely not guaranteed, but I do think that there is this roadmap emerging of all of the different steps that you can take to better your chances of doing that.
Jillian Benbow: I love that. And yes, disclaimer to everyone listening, there are no guarantees. This is one person's experience obviously. But what I like about this is just the transparency and honesty about it, because I think we all are really sick of the lifestyle entrepreneur type bros that are like, "Oh, I'll teach you to launch all these things and fame and glory and women," and that's just not reality, and that's not what we're doing here. This is an actual, "This is how I did it." To your point, I have a roadmap that I've created and you're willing to share it, which is amazing. We're just talking. You've done it for other people and then decided to do it for yourself. And I don't want to take over asking questions. You probably have a good way of telling the whole thing. But I'm just curious, at what point were you just confident, "I've figured this out and I'm going to do it for myself." Was it just seeing the same results being repeated and just knowing, "Yeah, I've got a model."
Tatiana Figueiredo: Yeah. I think being inside other people's businesses, you get a sense of what it looks like when it's going well and what it looks like when it's not going well. And from doing the one on one consulting, there are these frameworks and these ideas and these things that I believed in that were just emerging from the work that I was doing. A way for me to explain to my clients how they should approach their marketing that is different if they're building a community versus if they're selling anything else on the internet, a way to simplify what a community experience is and how you can build one that works for your community. So these frameworks were just emerging and I was reusing a lot of the documents that I was making with the one-on-one clients that I was working with. And a lot of them were building courses.
So I saw that path like, "Oh, I think I can build a course." I actually saw the community and a course as a better way for me to deliver a lot of the content that I was building, because it builds a lot more accountability on the side of the client, of the member, of the community because then they have to build it themselves, and that's when they really get it and that's when the organization really retains the information. So I saw it not just as a way for me to scale the business and practice what I was preaching, but also as a better way for them to really learn it and get it for their organizations.
Jillian Benbow: That makes a lot of sense. Tatiana, you are the hostess with the mostest today. You just take us through, how'd you do it?
Tatiana Figueiredo: I have some notes on a path that if you're doing this you should consider, and this is for if you're starting from scratch, but also maybe if you're already running a community or a course or something like that and it's not going as expected, this is a thing that you can restart and do these steps. And the first thing is related to what you just asked because it's about starting one on one in some kind of way so that you have that deep understanding of who your members are and who they can be.
In my case, I was doing paid consulting and coaching, but I also think that I'm a big part of what I teach in the course is how you can interview people who might be your members to get a really good sense of who your people are and how you vibe with them, how you relate to them, and then turning that customer discovery into your sales process, which is the second one that I've talked about, which is, how do you turn these conversations that you're having with people that are very casual and much more about you gathering information, and changing that into a potential sales conversation so that you can get to the third step, which is building some kind of beta for what you're doing?
Jillian Benbow: That makes sense. So I know when you were working for these other companies, you had access to their user bases and whatnot. When you were thinking about your own thing, and like you said, you had 100 people on a newsletter or on your list, who were you reaching out to just to talk? Were you targeting very specific people, how do you go about that?
Tatiana Figueiredo: Yeah. You always start with an assumption and then you try to prove the assumption. In my case, the assumption is that these are solo people who want to start a community business and they're going through some kind of transition. Sometimes they were migrating platforms. Sometimes they were starting all the way from scratch, they were changing a one-on-one coaching practice to a group coaching and a community component. I think those who my people are. Can I find some of those people, talk to them about the problems that they want to solve and see if I'm right about that?
And because I was going to places where I know that these people were going to be hanging out and I was talking about things that were very specific to the thing that I was hoping to build, I started talking to the right people who might've been interested. And then just approaching the conversations very casually and being very honest, like, "I think I'm building some kind of community or course for a person like you, but I just want to ask you questions. I'm not going to sell you anything. I'm eventually going to build this paid thing and you could totally join, but I just want to learn more about you and hear your story." And it was good. I got to make friends with some people
and understand who I didn't want to work with, understand who I did want to work with.
Jillian Benbow: That's almost more important.
Tatiana Figueiredo: Yeah, it is.
Jillian Benbow: Oh, that's our third episode. That's great. So do you have a recommendation as far as volume? How many did you talk to before you felt like, "Okay. I have a solid footing. All these people have this similar thing that I've identified and I'm confident for the next part, the beta."
Tatiana Figueiredo: Yeah. So for me, I don't remember exactly how many people I talked to, but now I recommend that . People aim for five to seven people for each stage of validation. So if you're trying to figure out who you want to target and the problem that they have in common, then do this one round of five to seven people and then go back and look at the patterns and see what you got from there, and then take some action, do some stuff and then you can do another round if it makes sense to do that.
So for very, very early, that's what I recommend, like interviewing people. And then as soon as you have a good idea for what you want to do, then structure a beta and launch a beta as soon as possible before you're ready and see what you get from actually providing the people the value that you promise, and do it in a super scrappy way. And maybe we can talk more about that.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. Definitely. I love a scrappy beta. We're in one right now in the old SPI land just ahead of us launching our courses, moving them to Circle and launching them all there. We have a group going through an accelerator and it's very much, it's like, "You know what? We're going to do this and see where are the pain points, how can we fix it?" So then when we release this on a bigger scale, we've already done all that. Scrappy betas are the place to be.
Tatiana Figueiredo: Yeah.
Jillian Benbow: It's like a dive bar. There's a time and place for it.
Tatiana Figueiredo: Exactly. Dive bar. You have some good names for things. You're a good namer.
Jillian Benbow: Well, thank you. Feel free to take that and add it to your course. My gift to you.
Tatiana Figueiredo: Dive bar. I love that, because that's exactly what it is. It's like, "Come hang out with me at this bar and I'm not going to promise you that your glass is going to be clean, but we're going to have a good time."
Jillian Benbow: It might be a little sticky, but beer is beer.
Tatiana Figueiredo: Exactly. So I think the important thing when you're structuring a beta, especially if you're starting from scratch, you might not have an audience yet, one, you most likely want to make it paid so that you know that you're attracting the people who will eventually join your community. This is assuming you're building a paid community. I always assume that the community's going to be paid.
Jillian Benbow: If we're talking about a six figure community, I think it's a safe assumption that we're going to have a payment.
Tatiana Figueiredo: Exactly. So yeah. So you make the beta paid. And when you're doing a beta, you're testing a few different things. The first thing you're testing, especially if you're starting from scratch, is whether this is a thing that you are going to want to do long term. So I definitely recommend that you don't launch your community as a never-ending membership the first time that you're doing it. So if you're going to do a membership community, can you design some kind of three month community experience that you can make very clear for people, "This is what we're going to do. These are the types of events that we're going to do once a month. This is what we're going to need feedback on. This is what it is." If you're doing a cohort based course, which was what I launched with, I had just a notion page with roughly what the course was going to be about.
I had zero content built. People signed up. There was not even a place where they can go and purchase it. There was no link. I would send them an invoice because I didn't even bother to have a website or build any of that out. That's how people had to join. But yeah, if you're building a cohort-based course, can you do a cohort that's fully live? There's nothing that you're building in advance. You're building it as you get feedback and as you go. If you're building group coaching program, can you do something that is a weekend virtual retreat or something that you can get the data like, "Yes, I know that people are willing to pay to solve a portion of this problem and I can give them something within the weekend." And then that's testing like, "Okay, I've always been a coach that's one on one, but what does it look like when I get multiple clients in the room? What does the connection between them look like and what do I have to design around? What does it look like?"
And it gives you a really good feeling of the different things that you have to work on for when you actually launch an official version that's closer to the community that you're actually building. Definitely recommend building a beta. Before you go into the beta, think about, what's the main thing that you're testing? Are you mainly testing the content? If it's a course that you're building, are you testing your business model? Are you testing the marketing channel that you think is going to be your main marketing channel? Are you right about those? Are you wrong about those? And then don't be afraid to be wrong. There are a lot of people who launch betas and nobody signs up. That happens and that's almost like, okay, that didn't work. Let's break down what didn't work. It's expecting to fail in some way and then finding what that is and fixing that little by little and then continuing to launch little things until you're ready for the bigger thing.
Jillian Benbow: Oh, absolutely. I love that you sent people invoices and didn't do what I would've done, which is get all caught up in the shiny tools and things and spent all this time creating this magical checkout process that doesn't actually matter and wastes time. And also. The people who signed up, you knew they were committed. Because it's like. "Look, here's the information, here's how you sign up. Email me, I'll send you an invoice. That's how we're doing it." I think it proves just viability. People are interested enough to do it that way and not be like, "Whoa, this is a Craigslist scam." Not to imply it was. Of course it wasn't. You had the trust and that was what mattered. And then you didn't get in your own way, I guess. Long-winded way of saying that.
Tatiana Figueiredo: Yeah, exactly. They had to jump through some extra hoops in order to sign up early, but that was indicative of the other hoops they were going to have to jump through because the thing was not polished yet. They were coming into a first version of something.
Jillian Benbow: Set the expectation.
Tatiana Figueiredo: Yeah.
Jillian Benbow: This is a beta. This is what this means. Which I do think as we... Because we use this very tech programmer terminology, and increasingly it's just business jargon. But depending who your community is for, they may have no idea what that is. So it is important to set that expectation of being like, "This is a beta launch and what that means..." Even we will get people into beta launches that are like, "This is not finished." It's like, "We had some beta," and they're like, "I don't know what that means." It's like, "That's good to know. I can see why you're concerned. Let me explain it to you."
Tatiana Figueiredo: That's a great point. We live in a bubble sometimes.
Jillian Benbow: We do.
Tatiana Figueiredo: In this world.
Jillian Benbow: We do. So I'm curious, if you're comfortable sharing, how many people went through your beta of your now excellent cohort-based course that you run?
Tatiana Figueiredo: The beta was $600 to join, and the goal was to get 10 people and I got 10 people in 10 days. There was another incentive to joining the beta, which was you would get... I already knew roughly how much the course was going to be and you got access to it at a lower cost, and then you were in the community for a longer period of time as we build out the course. There was some incentive there to join early. But yeah, we had 10 people join within 10 days.
Jillian Benbow: I think it's so important to point that out, because so many people get caught up in, "Oh my gosh, only 10 people signed up?" Or, "I can't launch a community only, I only know 20 people that would do it." And I was like, "That's the golden number. You're good. You don't want 200 people in your launch." That'll be really hard to do. 10 is an excellent number. Even five is an excellent number.
And so just for anybody out there that feels discouraged by having a low subscriber number or whatever, communities can start very small and they're actually a delight, because those people are your ride or dies. They will join, they get super close, they have a wonderful experience and they will be championing your products. They'll be coming back to do things. It's great. You establish such strong relationships. I wish more people would get over the vanity metrics of like, "Oh, my beta had 1,000 members." I bet they didn't have that good of a time. Did you talk to each of them every week? I doubt it.
Tatiana Figueiredo: That's a great point. I think it's important to set the expectations for yourself and for the people coming into the community. I think a lot of us pressure ourselves to like, "Ah, there's not enough activity in the community and people aren't posting all the time." And it's like, "Yeah. Because there are 10 people in here, they have other stuff to do. They're not going to be posting in the community all the time." So I think we need to normalize quieter communities, especially in the beginning. And I think one way of doing that in the beginning, if you're starting from scratch again, again, as I've said before, you start with something that's a little bit more adjacent to community.
So in my case, it was a course, and people had an excuse to be there even if they weren't posting all the time and connecting with each other in Circle. So Thinking about what that structure is that you can put in place where you can get people in the room and the idea is still for them to connect with each other, but there are other distractions that they can do until they feel more comfortable and it feels more intimate and that they can connect more with each other.
Jillian Benbow: Oh, absolutely. It's funny too because I feel like the more we fixate on people's, "Oh, they haven't posted." So then you go check in with them and they're like, "Oh no, I'm good. I got so and so's number and we've been meeting in real life to talk about this project or whatever." It's like, "Oh, okay." And it's like you did your job as a community builder, you're good. People make connections, they're doing things. They're just not doing it on blast in front of you, and that's okay. I worked for a company that will not be named that had this very strict policy of you weren't allowed to get contact info and take the conversation offsite. Of course, I didn't even follow that rule. No one did. It was so silly. Because it's like we're adults, we're good. But it was like, oh, we need the metrics. It was all about user engagement metrics so that VC daddy would be happy. It's like that's not how humans work. Let people talk to each other how they want to talk to each other.
Tatiana Figueiredo: That's a really good point too. I always like to say your community platform, it's not Circle, your community. Your community are the people, and people are wild. People are going to do what they do. And I think it's good. I think it's good to encourage that. You don't want your community to be this silo where people only go at a certain time for certain things. You want it to integrate into the rest of their life. People meeting in person, that's a huge win for a community builder.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. For once in a while, I'll get just a random picture. Someone will be like, "Oh, I wanted to share, I met up with this person," and it's the two of them. One, I'm like, "Fomo, fomo, fomo." But it's often people that aren't super vocal in the spaces of the community, but they're obviously wheeling and dealing with people because they're meeting in real life and having conversations and collaborating and doing all these things. But that is one of those things where with community it is so hard to prove success and value because metrics cannot capture at all.
Tatiana Figueiredo: I think if you optimize only for the things that you can measure, you are actually ignoring a lot of your potential community members or your current community members, because not everyone likes to write posts. Some people are just in the DMs. Some people just come to every single event and you'll never see them write a post about what they did. Yeah. I think you should consider the different styles of people in the community. The beauty of building a smaller community in a community, like 100K for us for example in our first year, that was less than 100 people for us. So it's not a huge community. The data that we track is very story focused and it's very, these people launched their community and look how much they made and look what they did. It's less like these people click these links.
Jillian Benbow: Well, so that brings up a good point. And back to the 100K idea, I think it's easy to be like, "Oh, I have to go for volume. I'm going to get 1,000 people that pay whatever." When in reality, a very good community people will pay a few hundred bucks or more for and you can get to that 100K with a lot less people. And in a way, then the community is really tight. It's easy to keep track of 100 people. It's very hard to keep track of 1,000 people.
Tatiana Figueiredo: Yeah, I definitely recommend that for most people, starting with the highest touch version of the thing you're building that you can charge more for, because then you start your community from a place of abundance. You're whole because these people just paid to be here and you've freed up enough time to be there for them and to really build the community with them. I always recommend starting with the thing that doesn't scale with community. Because even if you change slightly what you offer later on and maybe you're doing some cohort in the beginning, but then you shipped to it being an evergreen course or just a membership that has some guest speakers, by starting with the thing as more intensive and more high touch, you get the right people in the room who are really committed and your business starts in the green. You're not in the red ever and you're not hoping that 100 people will pay you $20. You're able to really solve the problem for a small number of people.
Jillian Benbow: And it's just a lot easier to manage.
Tatiana Figueiredo: Yeah.
Jillian Benbow: So going back, you did your first beta group, and then how did you structure... Because I know do, unless it's changed, so feel free to correct me, but you do cohorts through your course, correct? And so I'm assuming from a revenue standpoint, maybe it was different the first year, you're bringing in these groups of people at certain points throughout the year and then they get X amount of time in the community. Is that sort of kind of?
Tatiana Figueiredo: Yeah. So from the beginning, this is a good segue from what I was just saying, from the beginning, I knew that I wanted this to be some kind of membership and ongoing support for people, because building a profitable community business is not something that you can figure out in a six week cohort. A lot of the people who take the course, they end up launching four months later or five months later. And then a year later, now they have a community and they still have questions about, "Okay, how do I launch this new engagement project or this new thing that..." We want to be a part of their life cycle and the journey that they're in the community. So the plan was always to have some kind of membership that would be that partner in the journey for people building community businesses.
But strategically, because I didn't have a big audience and I knew that there was this course that I wanted to build out to be a part of the ongoing membership, I started with that part because I knew that I could charge more for a cohort-based course. And starting with it as cohorts, it's also I can go hard for the six weeks and build out this course in six weeks. But there are a lot of other parts of the community that me alone, I wouldn't have to immediately figure out. I wouldn't have to immediately have a detailed CRM of the community members so that I could track everything that they were doing. I didn't have to always be in the community because it was going to be less people and it was going to move a lot slower because a lot of the action was focused in the cohorts and then the community was almost just a bonus.
So it wasn't something that was a promised thing that was going to be super lively. So by starting with the cohort first, I was able to charge more from the beginning and then ease into the membership and build out the community pieces later so that we didn't have to do everything all at one time. And then, the journey that we went through to get to where we are now is we slowly started making... Well, we built up the community after two or three cohorts. The community had the rituals, it had the ongoing events that we do, it had hot seats, it had member hosted events, feedback sessions. All of the different events that we were doing, we were testing out a lot of them and we were figuring out which ones were going to be long-term part of the community.
Again, at that point we didn't call it this, but the community was in beta. People came for the course and they got to stay for a whole year as part of the community. So I could test a bunch of stuff and then if nobody came to an event, then I would know about that. I could ask people things, people could help with things because it felt like a bonus part of a thing that they paid for. So slowly started to build up what the community structure could roughly look like. And then after I think three cohorts, we went evergreen on when people could join. So people could join at any point, and whenever they joined they would opt into the following cohort. If you joined two months before, you were automatically in the cohort that was going to happen in two months. And I did that because a lot of people were reaching out to me in between cohorts because they're building a community right now so they need help now and they need to know the information, and it just didn't make sense to always make people wait for three months.
The evergreen was the thing we started doing little by little, and we started automating different parts of the experience after the third cohort. And then what we're doing now is we're fully moving into the evergreen. We are still going to have two cohorts a year, but the live experience is really going to be throughout the year and it's going to be more of a part of the experience versus it being just an intensive cohort. And instead of us doing these big launches for the cohorts, they're just going to be a part of the experience but you can come into the course in the community at any time.
Jillian Benbow: I like that. That's something we shifted from as well in Pro was we had quarterly enrollments and it was just two weeks each quarter that you could get in, and just came to the conclusion of, if someone wants to join now, why are we stopping them? Why are we making them wait? Because usually they're like, "I need help with this thing. I'm stuck. That's why I want to join." It's like, "Ooh." And so we did have to change our programming a bit because we used to have it all revolve around these big enrollments. Everybody coming in this cohort, here's onboarding programming and stuff, so we changed it. And there's definitely some give and take with that. There's some things I liked better in the cohort enrollment just as far as camaraderie within the cohort and things was easier when it's literally this huge group that all joined in the same two weeks.
But also, it was a lot of work, as anyone who's done any cohort can attest to just the organization and the communication and all of it. So ultimately for the better. But I think that goes back to something you said earlier and just the point of things change. I think you were referring more to sometimes things just utterly don't work, but also sometimes things work okay and you still want to just... Community is constant. That's one of the cardinal rules of community. It's chaos and it's constant. You're always going to be tinkering and changing things based on where you are, the maturity of your community, as far as how long it's existed and just all these things.
Tatiana Figueiredo: Yeah. I agree. And the community usually has the answer for you. If you look at the combination of your member journey and how you can best help them and what you feel like doing and the kind of business you want to run, you can start to see there are always going to be trade-offs, especially around this question around should I do cohorts or should I do open enrollment? And those are the two things to consider. What are my members? What's best for my members? And are they asking for this in between the cohorts? And then also, what kind of business do you want to run? Do you want to do the start and stop of the cohorts and this big excitement? Or do you prefer it to be more even, but work throughout the year. And I think there are trade offs to both of them and I think they're both valid ways of doing it.
Jillian Benbow: Absolutely. And it is. It's funny because people, and I know you get this too, people will ask questions about something about their community. The answer is always, it depends. And I always feel like a jerk to be like, "Well, like I said for your last question, it depends, but it really does." Because depending on what, like you said, your goals are, what you're aiming to do, what your members want. It depends. But there's some freedom in that. You get to just be so creative, which is one of my favorite parts of this work, I think, is why stick with it, it's just whatever you can dream up could possibly be what you do and that's fun.
Tatiana Figueiredo: I totally agree, and I find a lot of times, my job is to just give permission for people to do weird stuff in their community, because they have this weird idea. And they're like, "I don't know if I should do that. Is that weird? Has anyone else ever done that?" And I'm like, "Probably not. You should do it."
Jillian Benbow: Yeah, get weird. Let's get weird. So going back to the elusive 100K, I feel like I see the trajectory here. It's pretty clear about just talking to people and really getting the validation, go to the dive bar and just figure it out as you're doing it. It'll be a little bumpy but that's okay. And then assessing what doesn't work and just tinkering. As we say, get weird. And so for you, it sounds like just following that cohort model, you were able to get enough people to join in that first year to hit that number. I guess is there any other advice or tips that you want to share for anybody that's like, "Okay, I also see how this happened," and just lessons learned or anything?
Tatiana Figueiredo: I think for me, partnerships were really big. So the way I think about it is how can I bring how it feels in the community, a little piece of it, to different places where potential members are hanging out? So in my case, it was teaching little workshops because a lot of the community was based on the course. But if it's more of a membership community, what is the signature event that you have in the community? And can you offer to do that for free in places where your members are hanging out? That can be other communities, that can be meetup groups, that can be in person. Wherever your members are, and if you don't know, literally ask them in those first conversations, that's a good thing to ask your members, wherever they are showing up there, and then not only providing a little piece of what your community is, but also directly inviting them to join your community.
A lot of people forget that part. And they'll speak at a thing or they'll do a workshop for another community. And then at the end, they're like, "And also, you can also join my thing. Okay, bye." They just briefly mention it at the end. And when you present something and when you're presenting a little piece of what your community is, at the end, the people who are listening to you want to know where they can get more of that if they are interested. So it is your job to let them know where they can get more of that, which is your community. So I really think that giving space to what your pitch is, which is really your invitation for people to join the community when you do these workshops for free, getting in front of other people's audiences, and just working on what that invitation looks like for you in a way that it feels good, in a way that is sales but doesn't feel like sales to you because you're just talking about your thing.
Jillian Benbow: That is such good advice, especially because I think a lot of people who build communities, I don't want to do the sales pitch. Some people are very good at it and do it in a way that's not gross. I know I get so distracted by, I don't want to sound like this sleazy sales pitch, and then I just get awkward as one does and probably make it worse. But it is true, I love what you're saying, about let them them share a piece of what it's like, share the vibe, a piece of what it's in your community and make it clear, "This is what we do in this community and here's where it is."
If people want to explore that, let them. Because you're right, there's events, I know, from a potential customer side. I'll go to something and just be like, "Wow, I really like this person." In a way, it's almost like, "Ooh, I want to be friends with them or I want to hang out with them. Where are they at?" And so just creating that opportunity to be like, "Yeah, this is where I am, right here. So come on down."
Tatiana Figueiredo: Yeah, I think we missed that opportunity a lot.
Jillian Benbow: I know. I know. Well, and I think too because I think a lot of us are cognizant of not wanting to be the sleazy digital entrepreneur person that was very abundant a few years ago, so we're all trying to be like, "No, no, no, no. I actually have expertise in know what I'm talking about and I'm not selling a book to teach you how to write a book even though I don't know how and I need you to buy it to fund my life." It's not that whole just BS world that was very prevalent for a while there. I'm curious, so if you could give people tips on, so you've mentioned already, ask your members. Was there any other place you were able to discover in other ways, or I'm just curious how you found these places and then I assume just reaching out and saying, "Hey, I'd like to offer a free service to actually get in the proverbial door."
Tatiana Figueiredo: So people are more likely to join your community when they're going through some kind of transition, and there's probably something that they've joined or something that they're doing if they are going through that transition. So the transition can be they just had a baby or they want to switch jobs or they are starting a community or are starting a business. So whatever that transition is for them, there's probably someone who is building content around that or already has a community that is adjacent to yours but in a different thing. So that's what I would think about. What is that transition and then how can you target those people? What are those people already doing?
And hopefully when you think about that, those places immediately come to mind for you, and then that's where you can start to go on the internet and read everything about it first and then start thinking about the people who you already know who might be adjacent to those places where you can ask them to connect you to people who will chat with you on a very informal, non-sales basis, and that's how you can get a few of your interviews so that you can get direct data from people. So yeah, that's what I recommend for the interviews as well as for your partnerships. Always keeping that in mind so that you have a list of your audience, for example, this is very meta, but going on podcast is a great "partnership," because you're getting in front of your audience, and your audience is very aligned with what I talk about and with people who might want to join the course in the community that I have. So this is a good example of what I'm talking about.
Jillian Benbow: All of us community builders man, get us together. No, that is a very good point. And I could see someone who isn't in the community field, that being very powerful. It really is networking. Community building, in many ways, is just being willing to network in some way, whether it's in person or not. A few years ago, I would've rolled my eyes at that and been like, "I don't want to do that. Ew, humans." But I do think if it's a topic you're very excited about, it's fun. And that's also just a good pulse check with whatever it is you're creating. Are you excited to go talk to people about it? Because if you're not, little red flag there. We all get burnt out, but you should be genuinely excited about what it is.
Tatiana Figueiredo: Yeah, because it's going to be a lot of work.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. We're close to time so I just want to, did we miss anything or is there any other takeaways you want to make sure we share today?
Tatiana Figueiredo: Yeah. Let me reiterate the bullets that I have here on my little list. So one, start one on one. Two, think about how to turn conversations to sales. Three, build a beta. Four, find key partnerships. Five, make sure to charge early. Six, start with more than just community. So that's where I was talking about a course or some kind of retreat or some kind of experience that de-centers just people connecting with each other so it's not awkward. And then the last two are build systems early. So the reason why we were able to hit 100K in a year is because we were doing a lot of the same things and getting better each cohort. Having built the systems in the background allowed me to not be solving the same problems over and over again. So building the systems is the next to last one. And then the last one is, as soon as you can, hire someone to help you.
Jillian Benbow: Yes. How long did it take before you hired someone?
Tatiana Figueiredo: Probably 10 months. So it was like, yeah.
Jillian Benbow: If you could do it again, are you like, "At the six month mark is when I should've," or was 10 months just, was that the right time?
Tatiana Figueiredo: I think if I wasn't doing any consulting, then I think I could've done it on my own for the whole year. I think just one person can do it, again, remembering that I happened to have a lot of these skills needed already, so there was a lot that I didn't need to hire people for. But I think because I was consulting and I was also building this on the side, it was a lot of work for a lot of months. So I probably should have done it a little bit earlier.
Jillian Benbow: I think it's one of those things that's hard, and why I asked just out of curiosity, just because I'm nosy. But I think a lot of people, in hindsight, "I wish I would've hired earlier." It's scary to be like, "Oh, is this sustainable?" Yada yada, yada. But then you do it, and I mean even a contractor, not necessarily a full-time hire, although if you get to that place, excellent. But yeah, it's scary to do. And then often you do it and you're like, "Oh, this is amazing."
Tatiana Figueiredo: And you can start really small too. That's what I should have done because you can start testing it out earlier on with the person as a contractor and then seeing if it works out and going from there. You do want someone who is going to fit with the community, fit with the style that you work in. It's still a very unique job. There's still a lot of moving pieces, so it does take a while to train on all of the different pieces if the person doesn't already have the experience. So yeah, starting early if you can allows you to get up and running earlier. But yeah, I'm very glad to have hired Rachel when we did. She's our ops manager.
Jillian Benbow: That's great. I will say from experience, and I'm sure you share this opinion too, if you're hiring someone to work in your community and you're just like, "I don't know where to start, where do I find someone?" And pro people jokes are like, "Where do I hire a Jillian?" Which I'm like, "You don't want me. I'm more trouble than I'm worth." But the advice I give, and this is for whether it's a couple hours a week or full time, is community management is very much a, I think, almost anyone can do it. It's not rocket science, it's more about personality and willingness to help and just having the right type of attitude that can be transferred to writing a forum post and having the same voice as if on a call.
But the thing I would recommend everyone look for is a problem solver. Because to your point just now, there's a lot of moving parts. Things break. People have different things, special circumstances that are impacted by something that happened. And you really need someone who just has the confidence and agency to figure it out and not constantly be like, "Help." And of course, when someone first starts, you're going to have to help them, and of course you should. But once they're comfortable, and I think it takes at least six months. So be patient, because all the things in your brain that you created into your community, they aren't in your brain too, so it takes a while. But yeah, you want someone that in that after six months, you can trust them to just, they understand not only policies and processes, but you trust them to just be able to make decisions, and they trust themselves. That's what I hire for.
Tatiana Figueiredo: How many people on your team now? You've done this a few times.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. No, we're a pretty small and mighty team considering what we do. So there's myself and then two full-time community managers and then we have part-time help in our inbox, which is also under community. But now, courses, everything's under community now. All of our products, if you will. So all the memberships, all the course content, all of it. It's scrappy. We are the dive bar. We are the bartenders on Friday night with the live music. We make it work, but it definitely requires a lot of autonomy. And I'm fortunate I trust my team to make decisions. They will bring things up if they want second opinion. I do the same. Just like, "Hey, am I reading into this too much?" And just get opinions. But also, when it's needed, we'll support each other. But I also trust both of them to just make decisions, figure things out, keep moving forward.
And it's huge. It's huge. And it's very time consuming when you first hire people, because it's a lot to learn. Even if you're a community professional, there's still a lot to learn as far as systems and then just all the nuances of the type of community it is. Every community I've worked for has been entirely different. And just everything from the little inside jokes that are considered funny or not to the programming that hits and what flops. I tried to bring something over from my last community to Pro and it was like, "Oh no, they don't want to do this. Okay. It worked in this other community, but it does not work here." Yeah.
Well, Tatiana, so obviously you teach this in a much greater depth in the cohort we've been talking about, so let's just give a quick overview. We've talked about it on the show before, but I think it's a fantastic experience for anybody who's listening is like, "Okay, I love this roadmap, I like these seven points, but I have questions. I need more. Just tell us about the course." Plug your stuff. Do your sales pitch, now that we talked about how awkward it is to talk about sales.
Tatiana Figueiredo: I will. So yeah, if what I'm talking about resonated with you, a lot of what we're doing in the community and in the course is building it up so that the whole thing becomes a guide to help you to get to 100K. And like I mentioned, we're moving it to total like evergreen enrollment. At any time that you're listening to this, you can go to our website and apply for the community. We usually get back to you within a couple days. And what it is is you get both the course with a lot of different templates, a lot of resources that you can learn how to do all the details of everything that we talked about here. The course is in five different categories. So we talk a lot about leadership and the kind of leadership that we need to run a community, our own view of connection and loneliness and belonging.
We talk about business models. So what's the best business model for your specific member growth journey and how you validate at every stage that you're in? Community experience, of course. What are all of the different things that you can bring to your community that's going to be a good fit for your member growth journey? Sales and marketing. Again, marketing and sales is very different in the community context. So we teach a way for you to do that in a way that feels good to you and doesn't feel sleazy and where you can invite people into the community in a way that feels good to you and then you reach your revenue goals as well. And then the last one is one that we're investing a lot in for next year, and that's tools and process. This is how to document everything that you're doing, the community automation process and how you can do that no matter what kind of community you run and the different platforms that you use.
So yeah, that one is very focused on operations and automation and all the tech around it. So yeah, it's a course with those five pillars that you can go at your own pace and then the community supports you through that whole journey with all of our events, office hours with me, hot seats. We just did a hot seat today where someone was building their launch sequence for their community where they could invite people in. So I have this conversation a lot about feeling uncomfortable selling. So yeah. So yeah, if it resonates with you, I hope that you'll consider applying on our website. It's buildacommunitybusiness.com.
Jillian Benbow: Excellent. And while you're there, well, just to plug it for you, Tatiana has a wonderful newsletter. I subscribe through it through your main other website, tatfig.com, but I don't know if you have a direct link to it or if that's the best way.
Tatiana Figueiredo: The name of the business overall is businessofcommunity.co, and that's where you can sign up for the newsletter. That's where you'll get linked to all of the different parts.
Jillian Benbow: Ah. So just go to where you told people to go. Got it. Or go to tatfi.com and take a journey.
Tatiana Figueiredo: Think I mentioned two different ones, which is confusing. So there is businessofcommunity.co, which is where you can sign up for the free newsletter. And then from there, you'll be linked to the course in the community, which is buildacommunitybusiness.com, and that's where you can sign.
Jillian Benbow: That's right.
Tatiana Figueiredo: It's my fault.
Jillian Benbow: I confuse easily. Excellent. Well, we know that is where to find you. Also on Twitter. I know you're @Tatfig, for anybody who wants to head over to the Twitter sphere. We're often interacting over there. And yeah, thank you for coming back and being a repeat guest.
Tatiana Figueiredo: I love talking with you.
Jillian Benbow: Yes, we have so much fun. Maybe we'll do a three-peat. Who knows?
Tatiana Figueiredo: Yeah.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. Awesome. Well, thanks again for being here.
Tatiana Figueiredo: Thanks, Jillian.
Jillian Benbow: And that's the episode with Tatiana. She shared all the links, all the knowledge. I hope you enjoyed it. Let's keep this short and sweet. I'm going to see you next Tuesday, but in the meantime, hit me up on Twitter. What did you think? Do you think you could use this model or are you using this model? Yeah, it's the treasure map, so go get weird in your community and I'll see you next Tuesday.
You can find Tatiana at businessofcommunity.co. You can also find her on Twitter at @Tatfig. Your lead host for the community experience is me, Jillian Benbow. Our executive producer is Matt Gartland, our senior producer is David Grabowski, and our editor is Paul Grigoras. Sound editing by Duncan Brown. Theme music by David Grabowski. See you next Tuesday.