You’re not an overnight success. You’ve cultivated relationships and opportunities that have brought you success - maybe even more than expected.
You’ve created a body of work that you’re proud of, and you understand what bringing people together and empowering them to help each other makes possible.
You’re ready to take the leap and level up your current community into something more powerful and self-sufficient. But finding that sweet spot is trickier than it seems.
When you sit down to turn your big vision for the community into concrete plans for the next quarter, you find yourself thinking:
I’m doing everything in my community, and I’m exhausted
I’m not sure how to build a community that makes an impact and makes business sense
Building a community that really helps people is a lot of work - I want help doing this right
We’re not growing, engagement is low, and I’m not sure what to change
My work has evolved since we launched, and I want to figure out what version 2.0 of the community looks like
The community has grown much faster than I expected, and I need help
You’re ready to break out of online group guesswork so you can gather, connect, and empower your people in a bigger way.
You know you won’t impact anyone’s life by winging it or creating your version of someone else’s paid community.
But conventional wisdom creates low-impact, low-return online communities at an alarming rate. It has also led to a landslide of abandoned communities, closed by group owners who felt "on-call" 24/7. It's required leaders to pour money into labor-intensive communities without a return on investment.
From the outside, it’s hard to understand why, but I’ve been watching online communities for over 20 years. When you can see the big picture, a clear cycle emerges.
Let’s start with a basic recipe for conventional community creation:
- Pick a platform
- Decide on pricing and member perks
- Schedule content
- Hire a community manager (optional)
This front-loaded, content-first plan starts with a surge of excitement and interest around the initial launch - and it kicks off the community burnout cycle.
This online community burnout cycle can last for years; consuming salary, time, energy, and profit until the business reaches a breaking point.
The simple truth is that paid communities only help members reach their goals and sustainably support a business when they’re designed to.
BUILDING ONLINE COMMUNITIES THAT LAUNCH CAREERS
Michelle Fifis of Pattern Observer improved her monthly member growth by 83% and more than tripled her member numbers.
Michelle and the team at Pattern Observer partnered with Cliqueworthy for over 12 months to resolve member acquisition and attrition challenges.
The community has now helped over 2,700 members on their journey to become professional surface pattern designers. The community is a highly engaged source of artistic growth and inspiration, which has led to several high-value partnerships as revenue opportunities.
Curating an impactful experience that both supports your community members while providing ROI for your business can be a tricky balancing act. Here's how I lead clients to the rewards on the other side.
Your core purpose is the big picture vision driving you to create this community.
We’ll find the common thread between all of your offers, and define the impact you want to make in the world. Then we’ll discern what work in the community will be the most powerful and impactful for you as a business leader.
It matters because it:
- Simplifies strategic choices
- Keeps your community on track
- Risks building the wrong type of community
- Lowers return on investment
This is where we create a high-level, strategic framework that allows your community to land in the sustainable sweet spot.
The space between what your business needs, and what your members value. We get there by marrying your business requirements with detailed custom audience research into what members *say* they want, and what they really need.
It matters because it:
- Provides data that makes fork-in-the-road choices easier
- Intentionally designs for impact and profit
- Creates long-term bottlenecks and dependency
- Requires leaders to be involved in all decisions
- Forces you to rely on guesswork and intuition at any time the business and community have competing interests
This is how we map out exactly what your community will offer, and how it serves your members.
We keep the focus on delivering high-value content, programming, and events to keep members coming back for more. We infuse everything with your unique skillset.
It matters because it:
- Makes your community irreplaceable and high-value
- Focuses your time and energy on features and content the community will use and recommend to others
- Wastes time and energy on content and events that members ignore
- Lowers growth, retention, and return on investment
This is how we operationalize the vision.
We’ll choose your tech stack, talk email systems, platforms, and processes. We align the strengths of your internal team with the community workload and select a community manager.
It matters because it:
- Eliminates repetitive manual work, to protect against overwhelm and burnout
- Frees up your time to rest, work on the business, grow the community, and impact more people
- Decreases member satisfaction and renewals when members can't access content, get frustrated by tricky tech, or slip through the cracks
- Steals focus from enhancing, growing, or enjoying what you’ve built since there’s always a fire to put out or a crisis to react to
Business communities that last don’t leave their future up to chance.
They’re designed to scale sustainably, offer irreplaceable support to members, and have a clear strategic framework to make choices for the future.
I’m Sophie Bujold, online community consultant and strategist.
For over 20 years I’ve helped leaders launch, improve, and enhance one-of-a-kind communities that change the world for the better.
I specialize in designing high-engagement communities that are built to scale, while the workloads that run them don’t.
I’ve spent years behind-the-scenes leading teams, advising, and improving community experiences for start-ups, creative business owners, teachers, artists, non-profits and more. I’ve distilled that down to a bespoke process that designs compelling member experiences, with a sustainable business model and team management.
If you know that community is the best way to amplify your impact but aren't sure what to do next? I'd love to share my vision for how you can help more people than you thought possible.
THE ONLINE COMMUNITY ACCELERATOR
Create, optimize, grow and launch an outstanding, sustainable paid community
You know that community is the best way to make the impact you want in the world - but how do you deeply help others, keep it profitable, and avoid being weighed down by the work?
The Online Community Accelerator is a twelve-month, custom 1:1 strategic partnership, for businesses that are ready to:
Take your community from idea to launch
Build with the confidence that it won’t burn you out
Increase engagement, retention, and ROI in your community
Find and leverage strengths in your existing community
Evolve your community to keep up with your business OR enhance the experience
Keep current members happy
In 12 months, you could:
Have a profitable, launched community that’s actively helping others
Have a clear map for the future that won’t burn out you or your team
Know that your tech stack, platform, systems, processes, and team is handled
Relax as your team and community become less dependent on you
Watch marketing costs drop as membership and member referrals grow
how it WORKS
I work closely with business leaders to lay a strategic foundation that creates energizing communities and impressive results for international community leaders. Here’s how we’ll do it together.
01: PLAN FOR IMPACT
As we start our work together, you’ll reflect and share your thoughts on the vision, mission, and purpose of the community you want to build. This will help us both get crystal clear about why your community needs to exist and will act as our North Star as we dive deeper into our work.
Key outcomes: Community mission, vision, purpose
02: DEFINE THE VALUE
For your community to stand out and have the impact you want it to have, it needs to offer specific value – for both you and your membership. We’ll identify the business and/or personal goals your community needs to support. Then we'll focus on customer research, which could include stakeholder interviews, surveying, and more. We define exactly who your community will serve, and what value it needs to create.
Key outcomes: Customer research, community value proposition
03: MAP OUT THE EXPERIENCE
Based on what we learn in our research phase, we’ll map out your community’s member journey and structure programming. By the end of this phase, you’ll have a full map of the experience you’ll be offering to your members.
Key outcomes: Programming and content map
04: PLAN SYSTEMS & SUPPORT
Once we know what we need to create, it’s time to map out how we make it come to life sustainably. We’ll work through elements like community profitability, team needs, platform selection, and/or any other operational needs together.
Key outcomes: Platform(s) selection and operational plan
05: PREPARE TO LAUNCH
With the community experience mapped out and your operational plan in place, it’s time to set things up. I’ll be the strategic advisor and experienced community leader by your side as you get to work on hiring and aligning your team, creating the member onboarding experience, setting up your platform, building out programs, and getting ready to launch
Key outcomes: Strategic consulting as your community prepares to launch
06: LAUNCH & LEAD
Your community is launched! I’ll be ready to cheer with you and celebrate as your community takes its first steps into the world. You’ll step into community leadership, and the members will explore. You’ll have strategic guidance through any surprises, and you’ll have support as you and your team relax into the rhythm of leadership.
Key outcomes: Launched community, strategic guidance on live community and leadership
Everything we do comes together to launch a sustainable, profitable, and impactful online community that’s perfectly tailored to you and your members
The Accelerator may be the right fit for you if:
This isn’t your first rodeo. You’re established in your field and have deep knowledge of the community you want to serve
You want a collaborative partner who can help you create a paid online community from scratch or take your current community to the next-level
Your heart speeds up when you think about creating a community that offers massive value to the people you serve, where members can support and learn from each other
You and your team are ready to act, but you need a strategic partner to co-create a plan that’s right for your business
You see the value in slowing down and being strategic in the short term, so your community doesn’t leave member impact, long-term growth, or return on investment to chance
You’re open to doing self reflection exercises, and would look forward to being part of an active co-creation process
The Accelerator may not be right for you if:
You’re a founder who expects to launch and manage the day-to-day of the community on your own
You want help managing the day-to-day workload of your community, and to interact with members
You feel like having a community could be an added bonus for your business, but don’t want to build a business centered around community
You’re in a hurry to add a community, forum, or membership to an existing learning experience
You want someone to tell you what to create, and are hoping that this requires minimal input from you
You’re borderline overbooked, and have been canceling meetings with consultants or your team to complete what’s essential
Create a high-impact community that helps others & builds your business
Two things are true: My best clients care more about people than profits, and their businesses require a strong community business model to have lasting success.
It can be hard to find examples of thriving community businesses, or to know what success can look like, so here’s a timeline of what some of my real clients experience after they launch a new community, or make our changes live.
What’s happened for some clients after our changes go live:
- Have a community that’s immediately profitable
- Bring in membership fees for 20-100+ people
- Generate membership revenue that covers the platform costs, plus some profit
- Generate membership revenue that covers platform costs, core team, plus profit
- Received and landed multiple five-figure pitches to create sponsored content inside their own community
- Built a partnership with an industry conferences, bringing in over $20k for mutually beneficial cross-promotions
- Build momentum as membership grows beyond 150 people
- See word-of-mouth referrals increase
- Have replaced 62% of income with revenue from the community
Consider the stable, growing community revenue to be a cornerstone of their business
- Generate membership revenue that covers platform costs, core team, profit, and expanding the supporting team
- Don’t have to drive community engagement, which has become self-sustaining
- Receive and cultivate ongoing sponsorship and partnership opportunities
- Start to explore additional revenue opportunities related to the community, like: retreats, conferences, writing books, adding additional paid courses, and merchandise
These examples demonstrate what some of my clients have experienced, and like in other areas of life, and not predictive or a guarantee of future outcomes.
Do you already know you want a community designed to last?
The Online Community Accelerator includes:
A community-first business model that’s unique to your business
We’ll define membership fees, length, and features that stir desire in your members, and additional monetization opportunities to create sustainable profitability for your business
A compelling experience designed to keep people coming back and accomplishing goals
We’ll create an experience designed to help members accomplish their goals, experience ongoing wins, and have lots to come back for
Workload balance for a happy team
Happy teams change the world, so we’ll keep yours out of overwhelm by proactively deciding how the day-to-day work is distributed, and build an ops plan to keep it manageable at scale
A high-impact community that’s launched and helping others
At the end of the accelerator, your new community experience will be live, welcoming members and changing their lives. You’ll be a community leader, stepping into the new phase of your business
Done-for-you member and stakeholder research
Stop the guesswork for good, with invaluable research into exactly what your members want and need most
RSVP-worthy events and programming
Using member research, we’ll lay out exactly what content, events, educational content, and programming that members will love, attend, and talk about - and that won’t leave your team swamped
Perfect-fit platform and tech stack
You’ll need a new way to procrastinate, because comparing community platforms is off your to-do list. You’ll choose from custom platform recommendations, and know how the tech will work with your current systems
A team and community that’s less dependant on you
You never wanted to be involved in every decision, event, and piece of content - so we’ll build you the off-ramp you crave. You’ll remain the visionary and curator, but can step out of the spotlight to focus on running the business, and connecting with members
BUILDING ONLINE COMMUNITIES THAT LAUNCH CAREERS
Christine Thatcher’s community grew from 0 to 1,800 members in less than 6 months. It generated over $126,000 in course sales - a 15x increase – in less than 9 months.
Christine Thatcher wanted to create a free community to help isolated designers find business owner friends for connection and support. Intentionally designing her community allowed her to spend less energy and money on marketing, and more time on premium content creation and connection.
how it happens
My approach is highly strategic, collaborative, and substantive. Here’s how we'll work together to build your community.
Two 90-minute strategy sessions per month over twelve months
We'll strategize, plan, and find the best path forward as we sort through possibilities, ideas, and questions together
Detailed Community Playbook
We’ll keep track of key decisions, agreed upon action plans, and overall concepts through the community creation process
Ideas, Examples & Inspiration
Pulled straight from my toolbox to inspire your creativity as we develop your unique platform
Monday-to-Friday virtual collaboration
We’ll use email, Slack, Loom and/or Voxer in to help you clarify questions, refine details, and get feedback on your ideas
A custom virtual workspace
Where we’ll brainstorm, collaborate, and stay organized as we work through the creation of your community experience
Insightful questions & reflections
To help us dig deeper, build purposefully, and to align your community and business in the right direction