On 31 January 2022, following a few months of running a free group on LinkedIn, I launched the paid Espresso+ community.
Wait, what is Espresso+?
Espresso+ is the community for small business owners and solopreneurs who need ongoing learning, support and accountability in promoting their businesses in an ethical, organic way on LinkedIn and online.
The community is a combination of a discussion space, a video library, a podcast, a mailing list and more.
Here’s what I’ve learned from running Espresso+ for 12 months.
See my celebration event with Espresso+ founder member and queen of Video Easy Peasy, Gillian Whitney:
The community approach doesn’t suit everyone, and it’s natural that some people will leave.
Those who really buy into what you’re doing will stay, and they may become the leaders of the future.
For now, I haven’t made any big decisions about the evolution of our community leadership.
But I can see the case for promoting from within and giving my most trusted members responsibilities to lead activities – if that’s what they want.
A big lesson I’ve learned from Mark Schaefer’s 2023 book Belonging To The Brand is that relationships between members are just as important as relationships between members and the community leader. In fact, they might be more important.
Consequently, my aim for year 2 is to find more ways for the nice people in Espresso+ to get to know each other even better.
We can’t stand still.
I love the setup of the community as it is, but I don’t want to stop innovating.
That could lead to boredom and a likely reduction in engaged members of the community.
I’ve already organised our first ever Espresso+ in-person event in Bristol in March (sold out in 2 days).
There’s also a secret collaborative project I’m going to announce to the community soon.
What I’d change if starting from scratch.
I was overly generous with my rate for founder members.
In hindsight, I would have charged a higher base rate for those founder members or have offered fewer founder member spots. A nice round 100 felt right at the time, but 50 or even fewer would have been the smarter play.
The technical setup of the community is based on a handful of separate systems that don’t integrate smoothly from the admin point of view.
I try to make things as seamless as possible for members, but I might have had fewer headaches if I’d gone for a dedicated setup through a platform such as Circle or Heartbeat.
As it happens, we do have a backup Espresso+ space in Heartbeat, but I intend to use that only if something really bad happens to LinkedIn.
Here are some stats about the makeup of the Espresso community, captured on our first anniversary, 31 January 2023:
Monthly members: 140 (59%)
Yearly members: 99 (41%)
Total members: 239
In the UK: 115 (48%)
Outside UK/US: 64 (27%)
In the US : 60 (25%)
Let’s wrap up.
Espresso+ became my main source of income in 2022, as I completely let go of copywriting work.
I’m now entirely committed to the success of this community as we start year 2 of this venture.
I try not to be too promotional in my content, but Espresso+ is something I really believe is of great value to the huge number of small business owners and self-employed entrepreneurs out there.
If you’re an ethical operator and want to see what we’re all about, try us out for a month for only £42: join now.
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The community for freelancers & small business owners.