To date I've focused on the site providing value via posts, interviews with high stature guests, videos, books... All free. I've spoken 1-2-1 with 20-30 subscribers directly over email to validate the idea of building a community with maybe 95% positive response. I'm interested to understand if anyone has been at this point and what the next move is. It would be a paid community so perhaps the challenges I should watch out for in shifting gears between free resources and paid community. Thanks in advance :) Liam
Identify why freelancers would be willing to join a paid community when there are so many free communities already available to them. In order to get people to join and stay they must know what value you can bring that they can't get elsewhere without paying.
It is difficult to keep people active even in free communities. Charging them for the privilege is a tougher challenge. Either way, it is typically the leader(s) who keep things going. In every group I've ever joined or started when I stopped driving the bus the groups faded and died.
You may be, hire, or partner with strong leaders who become a major attraction. Freelancing is very broad, so unless you bring on other experts you might consider narrowing your focus to a specific type of freelancing skill or at least start out in a particular industry.
If people are saying they would pay then ask them to. The question is what are you offering in the paid version that they can't get for free and is it worth paying for. You don't want it too look like a cash grab. You also want to make sure you're not asking people to be the first at the party so make sure you have some key members signed up and active first. Consider giving them free access if it means others will buy in
You'll want to get the right names in there first to make it more compelling to people. Offer free membership to influencers that your potential customers want access to or look up to. You may also want to offer a steep discount or free membership to existing members and just start charging future members. This way your existing members feel special, they'll keep the community active and future members will get more value for their money since there's already an active community going on. There are a lot of other little tricks and things you can do to get the community started on the right foot, but those are two simple things you can consider starting with.