111 minutes | Dec 1st 2020

157: Running a Successful Membership that is ALL about the COMMUNITY (Featuring Zac Small & Craig James)

Today we’re doing a few things differently, so get ready: we have two guests and zero “traditional” online courses involved. But don’t worry, because my discussion with Craig and Zach of Fraternity of Excellence is still super-relevant to many aspects of having a more typical online course business or membership model.

“Don’t let the fear of not being perfect when you launch keep you from launching.”

– Craig James

“Inside a membership community, it’s all about relationships.”

– Zach Small

In This Episode, We Talked About:
    • (0:40) Dr. K is back: where was he and what do lizards have to do with it?
    • (6:18) Our Asheville, NC recommendations + David’s ideal Instagrammer
    • (8:47) Getting recognized “in the wild”
    • (10:27) An update on my quest for the ultimate course platform
    • (11:37) Creating course content with other teachers and how I’ve set up compensation
    • (14:25) Setting the stage for today’s interview
    • (17:09) Why and how Craig and Zach partnered to create their membership site
    • (21:06) The 4-Hour Workweek mindset versus the community-based membership model
    • (21:35) Bootstrapping and their early business models
    • (24:35) Figuring out pricing with nothing to compare to
    • (27:38) The challenge of communicating value in exclusivity
    • (28:56) How Craig and Zach would change their approach to pricing if they were starting over
    • (30:27) Who their audience is and how they provide value to their niche
    • (33:18) How Craig and Zach’s offer has evolved
    • (36:25) A favorite story of how their group impacted one of their members
    • (39:11) How Zach quit his day job as their membership grew
    • (42:53) Getting started with their site and figuring out best tools and software
    • (46:21) Slack, “babies,” and focusing on the end goal
    • (50:47) Is the paid version of Slack worth it?
    • (53:00) How Craig and Zach make sure their membership never gets too big for its own good?
    • (55:32) The pen name dilemma
    • (1:03:41) Live events: how important are they?
    • (1:07:19) What Craig and Zach do to prevent member churn and encourage community-building
    • (1:10:35) Dealing with trolls and naysayers
    • (1:15:40) Making partnerships work
    • (1:18:43) Advice for new and aspiring course or membership creators
    • (1:22:19) David’s questions about the appeal of membership to me
    • (1:24:08) App development stories (plus an AI interruption)
    • (1:31:25) A not-so-shocking reveal
    • (1:34:36) Thinking about the challenges inherent to partnerships
    • (1:38:26) How I handle trolling plus how David avoided impersonating Michael Scott
    • (1:48:46) Finding the line between trolling and constructive criticism
    • (1:50:14) Wrapping up

That’s all for now, folks! See you on the next episode of The Online Course Show.


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