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EXECUTION Building Industry-Specific Community -- Progress Thread

Discussion in 'Progress/Execution Threads' started by Rabby, Sep 2, 2018.

  1. Rabby
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    Rabby Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    I've never done a progress thread in a forum, but now that I know it's a thing, I find I can not resist. This is early progress... but I'll post as things develop.

    Let me get this out there so you can either beat me up or laugh at me... a core component of my new project is a forum. However, it is not a "be an entrepreneur" or millionaire forum. It is for a specific industry. If that's still a no-no here let me know (I'll respectfully delete this), but I don't think it competes with thefastlaneforum at all.

    I chose the format because I'm already familiar with it through my online classes, and I think it works for the industry-specific community I want to draw. I'm playing with some non-forum features to add as well, such as directories, job boards (which I have one of already, and I can perhaps leverage it), and other resources to make these people's lives better.

    Phew. Ok, so I set up a Discourse forum, which I chose because it looks nice and modern, supports some cool features like wiki posts, and I like the Ruby programming language. I probably will not do much/any programming myself though.

    The forum and other features TBD are for small-medium business owners in the specific industry, one that is so pervasive that the potential audience is quite large. I am ridiculously familiar with that industry. Looking at other attempts to build community for it, I am not impressed.

    I got the technical part done a week or so ago. After some procrastination and hem-hawing I finally wrote rules and guidelines, and an intro post, and had some Indian VAs finish a directory page for me (they did a good job!). My friend and programmer who I employ in my other business will help with technicals, and he also has some valuable things to post there.

    To get more initial posts, of course I will go through my contacts in the business and ask people to join. But not all at once. I want the ones who will help me with no reservations to post first, to add a sort of growing medium for new conversations. The agar. I have at least 10 people like this with valuable industry experience and strong enough ties that they'll do it just to help out.

    But, for some variety, I went to Upwork and made offers to (so far) 5 freelancers who have relevant experience. Some I've worked with before (had them help write/edit course material). One turned me down. Two have said yes and started posting.

    But Rabby, what's your revenue model? Well, I have products I can sell through such a community, and I am pretty good at developing products/courses for the industry. In the past I've never sold them outside my home state, so I'm broadening my horizons a little.

    Aside from that, I can sell advertising. And the site itself could become valuable enough that an industry publisher wants to buy it. Having no set in stone revenue model may sound lame (and Silicon Valley Startup-y), but there are enough potential revenue sources that I'm actually less worried about that part than I am about just getting the thing going. What I want to do first is provide value to the (soon to be) community of people using the site. Only then does it make sense, to me anyway, to try to monetize it.

    Since I'm starting this thread super early in the process, my goals will start off super unimpressive. I would like to attract 100 users. I hope I can do that in a few weeks once the agar sets, so to speak. Then I'll post the next goal, which will probably be 1000 users and baby revenue streams.

    So, here's the tiny amount of progress so far:
    • Site up
    • 8 whole users, counting me and a VA (haha)
    • 3 posters posting so far, with 3 more promised
    • 10+ who I think shall promise, once I ask them
    See, tiny. But when it grows I'll post here. And if it somehow flops, I'll post here admitting that my imagination got ahead of my ability to execute. Either way, we'll learn something ;)
     
    jon.a likes this.
  2. Rabby
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    Rabby Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    While not doing beach stuff, I invited another person who is unlikely to say "no" or care that initial content is lite. I know, just one. It's like I'm dipping my toe in water. I'll jump in, I promise.

    Worked on my "invite message" a bit to get that genuine "hey I think this is a cool thing you'll get a lot out of" sound.

    Wrote what I think is a quite good post, if I say so myself. One of my freelancers also started a good thread. That's it... project still in its infancy.
     
  3. Rabby
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    Rabby Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    After some refinements to my email "invite template" and signup instructions, I sent a couple more invitations.

    A new freelancer with relevant experience agreed to come on.

    Two of my others are venturing into new post topics, slowly.

    One of them, I have realized, is an incredible writer with a lot of interesting experience. I might hire him to write articles, or a column or something, for another part of the site. It's something I came all around doing for my autopilot business, just for the marketing value of content, but screening writers is hard. I've suddenly realized the value of a forum for screening writers...

    That's all for now.
     
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  4. Rabby
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    Rabby Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Feeling more comfortable with the little bit of forum content so far. I sent 16 personalized email invitations today. I don't think any of them will turn me down. One has his business on autopilot and deactivated his email address... I'll have to go duck hunting to talk to him, lol.

    Several already wrote me back with an enthusiastic "yes." More enthusiasm than I expected actually.

    It was also nice to have a chance to re-connect with people who I might otherwise lose touch with over time. Some of these were my former students, and I got updates on how well they're doing. They're doing really well for the most part! Yay!

    Looking forward to how the content develops. Keeping my eyes peeled for other potential article writers in the forum too :)
     
  5. Rabby
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    Rabby Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    I went to the grocery store and one of my email invites plus my super-writer guy both posted new threads. And they're talking to each other! How cool is that? I know, it's only 2 more, but yesterday in that amount of time nothing would have happened. We'll get traction ;)
     
  6. Rabby
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    Rabby Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    I thought I should document some process here. This is what I have for now:

    Daily:
    • Write or post significant comments for at least 1 thread. (too low?)
    • Poke other users so that I get at least two new posts from others
    Weekly:
    • Send invites until I've recruited 10 members, while posts < 30
    • If we've broken the 30 post mark, create at least one ad, announcement, or promotion of the site
    • Evaluate growth/progress and look for opportunities to update daily or weekly work
    • Look for lateral opportunities - good authors in forum, products to promote there, revenue development, etc.
     
  7. Rabby
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    Rabby Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Well, I thought we would just barely make activity quotas for today. I'm on a non-profit board, and it ate my whole day (why... whyyy?). But I posted, and a really cool business manager who happens to be my niece posted (three times!) and my programmer who happens to be a secret weapon in this industry posted, so we got some activity by and by. Also, another business owner in the field committed to posting. Better than I thought for one day.
     
  8. Rabby
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    Rabby Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Activity is picking up, and more users are starting to explore forum features. Still small though. Most of content is A+ though... I'm really stunned by this. The forum could be a trade publication. I paid a bonus to one of the freelance writers who is sharing his industry experience there... I felt like I had to balance compensation with value provided. I think he's likely to stay when I'm not paying anyone to prime the forum content anymore. I hope he will... seems to be having fun. Unpaid posters are writing really good stuff too.

    I've reworked my daily and weekly process, now that I've had a week to see how it looks. I thought of some things that I wanted to improve while I work on it. Here is what I'm doing:

    Daily:
    • Write at least 1k words in posts or comments.
    • Share 1-3 posts/pages on the site to at least 3 places in the Internet. Only places where they are welcome and provide useful information.
    • Study 3 headlines form any media that gained readership, understand why.
    • Write 3 headlines for my topic bin.
    • Study 3 humorous stories, standup routines, jokes or articles for humor material.
    • Write 3 laugh mechanisms for "laugh bin" (I have a theory of humor that works pretty well... enough to win a Toastmasters "humorous speech contest" anyway).
    Weekly:
    • Wednesday --> Send 40 targeted email invitations. (I have 50 already for next Wednesday).
    • Run 1 ad or promo, somewhere, and observe results, evaluate.
    Monthly:
    • 1st Day - Run one contest within the forum.
    Probably sounds like a lot, or maybe it doesn't, but this is pretty close to my normal morning routines anyway. Well, depending on what I'm working on.
     
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  9. Sadik
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    Sadik Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    Are there other forums on similar topics elsewhere? If yes, one strategy which works for a new forum is this.

    Go to the other forums and see if you can sort their threads by views. For example here at TMF forum, for this Execution category -> Progress/Execution Threads

    As you see, "Diary of opening a new Business" is the most viewed (and in fact most replied to) non sticky thread. So look at the most viewed threads in each categories on other forums relevant to yours. Next start these very same topics in your own forum. These threads will almost always get popular.
     
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  10. Rabby
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    Rabby Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    @Sadik That's a good idea - thank you!
     
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  11. Rabby
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    Rabby Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    So remember when I said this:

    Apparently my estimation engine was broken down at that moment. There was only one day last week where I managed to check everything off of my list, because after that I was fried. So I'm scaling back a bit. I think the issue was that I could *only* write on a particular set of topics (those relevant to the project), and as a result the load felt much greater.

    I did manage to send more targeted invitations than I needed, and I had some people join, and some even call me to talk about things. Activity is building slowly... "critical mass" will not be the sudden explosion of activity as Oprah notices my hard work :rofl: but I'm getting hints about direction and what's required. I did prove that headlines are really important... "3 whatevers that will really whatever your whatever" is like 10x more popular than "Whatever widgets."
     
  12. Rabby
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    Rabby Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Today I talked to someone with a lot of community management experience. Used clarity.fm, which is a pretty neat thing itself. Anyway, in 20 minutes I had better ideas than I started with. Didn't cost much, and may save me a lot of time and effort. Will try some things this week and see what works.
     

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