Creating a success path for your online community

coaching membership communities May 11, 2022

When I started Platform Launchers, I wanted to create an online community and an online hub where people could learn how to develop a thriving online platform. I have been very encouraged with the progress our members have been making and the content they're creating. It's honestly very impressive.

Several of our members are in the process of developing online communities, and one of our members, Rich Avery who founded MoreThanAPastor.com, asked me to share a few of my opinions about developing a "Success Path" for those who follow your online content.

The first time I remember hearing the phrase "Success Path" was in a webinar I attended that was hosted by Stu McLaren. Stu is known as an expert on the subject of membership communities, so I paid careful attention to what he recommended. One of his big recommendations was to have a step-by-step journey you can lead your members through that will help them succeed at what they're creating.

If you've been following my blog or listening the the Platform Launchers podcast, you may already be familiar with the Success Path I developed for our community. It follows a logical process of platform development, and I tried to phrase the five steps in an easy to remember manner. I call my Success Path, "The 5 D's of Platform Development."

 

1. Discover your message

2. Deliver your content

3. Develop your tribe

4. Deploy your team

5. Derive your income

 

When I interview guests experts on my podcast, I ask them questions about these five steps. When I answer questions from our members, I keep bringing them back to these five steps. When I coach people who reach out to me for coaching, I walk them through what these steps look like in their specific situation.

I like this process because it's logical, it leads to healthy results, and it outlines the exact process I've been using to develop what I'm personally building online.

But I'm not the only person who uses a Success Path to help people make progress. One of the most popular success paths are the steps Dave Ramsey encourages his readers, listeners, and members to take as they try to improve their personal finances. Dave calls them his "Baby Steps." I had the chance to spend three days with Dave and his team last year, seeing the behind-the-scenes work that they're doing, and it was refreshing to know that the public message and public persona is authentic. Dave and his team are actually following the steps they recommend to others.

 

1. Save $1,000

2. Use the debt-snowball method to pay off all consumer debt (except your mortgage)

3. Save up a 3-6 month emergency fund

4. Invest 15% of your household income into retirement

5. Save for your children's college fund

6. Pay off your home early

7. Build long-term wealth and be generous with it

 

Don't worry about the next step...

One of my favorite aspects of a Success Path is that it shows you what to focus on today instead of encouraging you to worry about tomorrow. If you're on Step 3, don't worry about Step 4 until you've completed the step you're on.

Being able to compartmentalize steps is something that most people find very helpful. I certainly do. I found it helpful when developing my platform and I found it helpful when I began walking through Dave Ramsey's Baby Steps.

 

Celebrate progress

When you're following a Success Path, it also allows you to celebrate the progress you're making. If you're following a scattered approach, it's hard to celebrate success because you aren't really sure where you are on the journey.

 

This is the right order if you want to actually see results

Platform development is a gradual process. It gets better in time as you continue to take consistent action. And if you're following a well-developed Success Path, you'll be shown the right order to actually produce results.

I didn't gain real financial traction until I followed Ramsey's Baby Steps. The same can be said with platform development. Until I understood the steps I needed to follow, my progress was slow and scattered. Having a Success Path to follow made the process much smoother and effective.

 

What's your Success Path?

If you're developing an online community, have you outlined a Success Path that's easy to remember and no more than 7 steps? If you can present something like that to your readers/listeners/members, you will enable them to experience success at a much quicker rate. You'll also be able to give them better counsel by using your Success Path to assess their needs and the progress they're making.

-John

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