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Ask Me Anything Growing a Web Design School and FB Group (3500+ Members atm)

Discussion in 'Lessons from Success/Failure' started by Fox, Sep 11, 2017.

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  1. Fox
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    Fox Legendary Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    Good morning fellow Fastlaners, as some of you already know I host a Facebook group about web design along with also having a school for people who want to learn. I wanted to create a thread to cover both topics - this will be both an AMA on what has already been done as well as progress reports as it grows even further. There is quite a lot to share with both so it might take a few posts but I will try get as much done in this one as possible...

    So first the FB group....

    At the moment it is at around 3,500 members and growing 10+ a day. This might not sound like a lot BUT I screen heavy to make sure people are a good fit and I am strict on banning too. I get around 100 requests a day and avoid letting in people with:
    - newer accounts
    - already in 100s of other groups
    - shady or suspicious profiles
    It is easy to let everyone in and grow a group very fast (Facebook recommend my group for free on peoples timelines since the engagement is so high) BUT then the quality sucks and the group dies over time.

    There are also three questions which are great for filtering out who you want to let in...
    Screen Shot 2017-09-11 at 10.20.16 AM.png

    So with that in mind here are some stats. These are from the FB group insights tab which you have access to when you are an admin.


    Screen Shot 2017-09-11 at 9.51.59 AM.png

    There is a ton of engagement and most questions get 10-50 responses within a short amount of time. I started the group with about 20 members in November last year (from a post in my web design thread) and continued to grow it from there. I have never promoted the group by ads, posting on other groups, or some other spammish way. I have done only a few things that have compounded growth over time.

    - Super high quality content. It isn't unusual to see posts with massive detailed responses and really in-depth advice. In the beginning it was mostly just me but over time other excellent contributors have joined and other members who are still learning are jumping in too. I lead by a example and worked hard to build a place which would attract these sorts of people (taken from watching how this forum works).

    - No one gets left behind policy. I try to make sure every comment gets some response. While I don't comment on everything if someone doesn't get ANY response I will write up something and try connect them to people who would be able to help them.

    - Avoided a lot of common "hacks". There is very little fluff going on. I don't get people to engage in nonsense talk just to boost engagement, I don't create drama, I don't go live everyday with the same content - it is all new content and it is always for a reason. If you want a solid FB group it has to be highly practical, informative advice. We do have some fun (enter trolls!) but we keep it on point.

    - Deals and connections. I have tried really hard to keep my top posters and members well looked after. Any kind of deal or way of helping them and I will work to make it happen. I have spent over $20,000 working with people from the group (direct wages from me paid out at excellent rates) and helped others get their own deals worth many times that. If someone takes time to add to my community I go to bat for them when needed. The group isn't about finding people to work for me but when I have projects that I need to outsource I of course look to those who have helped already. Others have followed that example and now there is an amazing network of guys helping each other.

    - Fast ban hammer. I have a good eye for spam and shady characters and they are nearly always removed before they get any traction. A large group attracts these types of folks and you have to learn how to spot them and cut them out. It has been months since the last one.

    - Student success. Most important thing is the people on the group get real results. There have been some really cool success stories and quite a few full time businesses opened up.

    Screen Shot 2017-09-11 at 10.15.55 AM.png


    - Everyday attention. I do at least an hour on the group per day keeping it in order and making sure everyone is being helped. Lately I have had to cut back on PMs since they are really getting out of control so the future of the group will be figuring out how to keep the same value as it gets bigger and bigger.

    There are a few 100 people from here already on the group as well as @MJ DeMarco, @Andy Black @IceCreamKid and @SinisterLex so it has been cool to host these guys. I am trying to get more interested FB group members join over here (quite a few have already) since the forum gives a great overall education on business. The group is highly focused on web design so we don't get to cover a lot of the great topics that are on these forums which I know they will all benefit greatly from.

    This is the general overview but if you want have more questions on any of this (or anything I left out) just let me know.

    Also this post isn't to promote the group (but you are welcome to join if you are interested in web design) - I am hoping that some of you might start groups of your own. If you are highly focused in a particular business area that can benefit from a FB group a highly recommend starting one. There is a lot of work on the front end but with correct management the value starts to compound quite fast over time.

    I think I am close to maxing out the available space on this message so I will post more on the school later. They are quite linked but not in the way that it might appear. I will explain more later ;)

    P.S. This might also serve as an intro thread for new members joining from the group as I will be posting this over there and letting them know. These are a bunch of great people so I hope some of them do join up.

    P.P.S - this is hard work. While it is also a lot of fun there is no overnight tricks to having a community. Ic an show you how to grow it as fast as possible but it has to be based on solid ethics and a core purpose.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2017
  2. Explorer
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    Explorer New Contributor

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    Thanks again for the very useful webdev Facebook group, it is another awesome resource we have to use, I am yet to find another like it due to its no-nonsense, quality posts, which, as you said always get a heap of constructive interaction.
     
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  3. roguehillbilly
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    roguehillbilly New Contributor

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    I actually found your group via reddit and then this forum and MJ DeMarco's books from the group. Very helpful advice all around and a great group! I run a few other groups based on the IT industry
     
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  4. MJ DeMarco
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    MJ DeMarco Raving Lunatic Staff Member Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR Summit Attendee

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    Admin Post
    For anyone who might think this business niche isn't "Fastlane", it is how I got my start. It paid bills, gave me experience, and got me a taste of success. Even years later, the opportunity to redevelop websites stuck in 1999 are a plenty.
     
  5. carlos_
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    carlos_ Not at the table Carlos Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER

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    Jan: started coding
    Sep: the AMA thread
    Nov: the group.
    Now we're in 2017 Sep. Man you are putting in some serious effort!

    Mostly I want to say thank you for creating what you've created.

    How have your personal coding and business skills developed since November - what have you doubled down on, what have you branched out to incorporate into your skill set.
     
  6. Fox
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    Fox Legendary Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    Hey Carlos, good question.

    I have been working on a lot of other skills sets to add as much value as I can. I have kinda stopped learning code since I got other people who can do that for me now but from a design perspective I still focus on learning a lot about layouts, copy, and what gets the best results.

    Aside from design I have been spending a lot of time on learning how best to sell. I have taken some high end coaching of my own, read a lot of detailed sales books, and taken some courses also. I love the art of selling and it is such an expansive area. Plus it keeps giving back - learning sales and the systems of selling doesn't have a point of diminishing returns.

    My business model has moved nearly entirely to referrals and warm leads. Most of my sales calls are seeing if we are a good fit and then if so discussing budget. I have gotten quite skilled at these calls so it doesn't take many to land a new client. The past few months though most of my focus has been on the Fox Web School and the FB group so I have slowed down a little on the coding stuff. I am looking to take on some bigger jobs this winter though, I got one 17/20k job that should be starting next month.
     
  7. Aaron T
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    Aaron T Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    This. This is so true. My friend with his perfectly Fastlane lifestyle business does nothing but this kind of work remotely. More people are needed for these kind of opportunities. I believe I stated in another thread, that if I had nothing left in this life and started over, this is what I would do. The knowledge to do this kind of work can never be removed from your head once learned and there are a lot of free, public ways to get access to a computer to do it. The first bit of money can get one a super cheap computer, like a Raspberry Pi to keep doing this work. This is to me pure Bootstrap Fastlane.

    @Fox I need to be in your FB Group. Not sure I would be a good fit being the Developer I am, but I am game.
     
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  8. Fox
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    Fox Legendary Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    So the other half of this is the Fox Web school.

    What started out as 5 1-on-1 students quickly turned into a bigger group, which turned into group coaching, which has now turned into the Fox Web School.

    At the moment I am coming up on 70 students and it is growing fast. There is an inside group for the school too but not everyone joins (people not wanting to be on FB is the main reason).

    So to go back over what has been done so far:

    The first series of teaching was 1-on-1 calls. (October 2016 - $500)
    These were a lot of fun and consisted of one call a week talking about whatever the student was stuck on. There wouldn't be any set format - I would just give advice on whatever came up. While this did give a lot of great value there was some flaws > people had to do work every week or there would not be much to go over. Also they only had 5 weeks to get to a certain point because then the coaching would stop. Web design does take a while to gain momentum so 5 weeks is quite short. I also had some issues with people who signed up and didn't take it serious, I guess the low price meant some people were not that invested.
    This lead to...

    Coaching Group Number 2 (December - $2500)
    So the first thing you will probably notice is the price went up a lot. I did this for multiple reasons:
    - People who did the work on the first course were getting great results
    - The first course was super low priced cause I had never ran a course before
    - I wanted people who were going to take this serious, the few on the first course who did nothing was quite frustrating

    This was originally meant to be 5 weeks but ended up going on for over two months. I gave everyone full access to me via FB and/or Skype so I would answer any questions they might have during the week. Since I launched right before christmas people asked for different weeks off here and there and it went way overtime. I love helping people so I just kept letting it go (!) but eventually I had to wrap it up. This group did really really well. The higher price attracted more motivated people and lots of them are still killing it. I also gave people in this course free access to anything I did in the future.

    A big draw back though was this course took up a LOT of time. I would spend hours helping everyone and it went well over the agreed upon time. This wasn't their fault as much as mine so I decided to go the next course as a group to reduce work load and hopefully add even more value...


    Group Coaching Course (March 2017 - $2500)

    This was a group coaching program originally 8 weeks long. Again I went overboard and instead of making the once a week video (as planned) I asked everyone if they minded if I spent a lot more time and made a full series of videos. Everyone was happy with this so I spent a few months making over 20 hours of videos that went from complete beginner to advanced sales. There would also be some LIVE calls and this is when I started the inside FB group too so people could ask questions. This took a lot of effort and each video took days to complete. I learned a lot teaching this course because I was getting direct feedback after each video from over a dozen people and then using that to create the next video.


    Where things currently are...

    At the moment I have all the content from the above courses and also access to the inside FB group (and free access to all future courses) for $795. I wanted to make the course more accessible to everyone so I have kept the price super low. I know people starting web design usually don't have much to invest so I want to keep the price low and instead make it back with scale. The end goal here is to make a course that feels like it could easily be worth $10,000 available for a cery reasonable price.

    The big areas I am working on is reducing the overall content time and also breaking it up into easily consumable sections. Web design is a highly detailed subject with so many different areas to cover. I want to focus on creating several separate courses that will be easier for people to learn with clear goals and expectations. I have a few overall goals with this:

    - Provide a free course/video so people can decide if web design is for them and just get a good overall picture of how it works
    - Have a very cheap (like $1) course so people can then start learning the firsts stages

    So for basically one dollar people can get more info then they would on a lot of other "full" courses. They will now know the basics and will be in a good place to decide if they want more help or if they want to continue by themselves. I will have built a lot of trust and hopefully shown them I have some great content that will be get them even more results.

    - After this I will have a full beginner course for a very reasonable price that takes them all the way up to making their first few sales.

    I have identified three separate stages in learning web design and want to teach it as such. This first course will cover that first stage perfectly without confusing people with more advanced material. This is the course I am working on right now and it is going to be on a level that I haven't seen any other courses out there achieve. I have been focused on how to best teach web design for a long time and I think I can really make this course super high value. I am very excited for this one to launch.

    I got a lot more to go over with this stuff but I don't like writing too much at once. I will continue this again soon.

    In summary:

    To create a great teaching product takes a lot of time. I am nearly a year in and I still feel there is a lot I can do to make this better. Maybe I am too much of a perfectionist but I look back on every course and wonder how I could have gotten students better results in a shorter time (with way higher ROI). I definitely do think there is a system that I can create that guarantees results if people put in the work.

    Going forwards my main goals are to make this course very accessible and to provide a lot of free value up front so I can build trust and show that it works. I think there is another year in this (if not more) but I am working hard to create a system that I hope can serve thousands of people. Time will tell ;)

    Side note - coaching programs in general have such a bad reputation since a lot of instructors just hype up some generic course, sign as many people up as possible, and then bounce. I hope this thread shows the process behind what a real course looks like. I have made decent money with this but my focus have been on creating something that is worth way more than what was paid. I got started with just a few great mini courses so I really want to create something even better for the next group of web developers. I feel like there is a huge need for a great overall course and that something done the right way can add a lot of value. I welcome any questions on this since my policy is to be as open as possible.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2017
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  9. Fox
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    Fox Legendary Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    Thanks, the link is in my footer thing below this post. Just mention you are from the forum when you apply and I will make sure you get in.
     
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  10. Andy Black
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    Andy Black Any colour, as long as it's red. Staff Member Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    Great summary. Steeped with "process". It's obvious this didn't happen overnight, and without a lot of elbow grease.

    My own experience with my one little course is similar. Lots of free content dropped into TFLF and other places over *years*. Feedback allowed me to hone the content. Lots of PMs requesting more help that I replied to the best I could. Hundreds of hours of calls with people trying to help them (not just with AdWords, but also sales, marketing, and getting unstuck). Finally, out pops a one hour course - that I could have probably created years ago, but that I proved there was a real NEED for.

    The best bit? The "audience"/market for the course was built trying to serve people. They then happily purchased because it's what they wanted.
     
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