The CALM Method has helped me over the course of my community-building journey. I’m going to break down the CALM Method of Clarity, Awareness, Learning, and Motion to help you find calm in the community-building process.
Finding calm has not been easy over the past two years. I’ve learned that adding layers, complexity, and/or several concepts can create more confusion than clarity.
The fastest way to find calm in community building is to keep things simple. (Which isn’t easy) This framework became what is now called the CALM Method that I’ve developed and improved over the years to come up with the best way for me to help myself, clients, and community members in an easy way to find calm in the process of building, launching, and growing an online paid community.
The “C” in CALM stands for CLARITY — Get CLEAR on your Community Structure
It might seem like there are so many steps to getting CLEAR on what you want to experience when you consider what your ideal community will look like once members have arrived.
Gaining Clarity on the community structure means asking a few questions including if you will offer members a monthly membership, a structured course, or a coaching program.
Maybe you already work with clients or customers individually and would like to scale your business by offering a group coaching program, which can offer a lot of benefits besides having access to your expertise, they can collaborate with each other and support others going on the same journey.
Consider how you want to feel and how you think your members will want to experience your online community.
Community is about connecting with others, so identify how you can best connect members with each other and let that be your guide to your community structure.
A few community structures:
- An event-focused community with interactive workshops
- A LIVE course with start and end dates
- A self-study or “digital” course with recorded videos
- A mastermind or accountability goal-focused group
- A networking community with opportunities to collaborate with others
- A community of practice with some structured content but a primary focus on implementing tools and sharing challenges for community support
The “A” in CALM stands for Awareness of your Community Strategy
By becoming aware of your community values, goals, and purpose you can then identify how you’ll go forward cultivating your community strategy.
What is a community strategy? The definition of the word “strategy” is a plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim. Action is in the definition, so in this area, Awareness of your actions is an important step in the community-building process.
The clarity you’ve gained by identifying your community structure can now help you identify your community strategy by becoming aware of the best way you can cultivate connection. Awareness helps you gain perspective for the kind of community culture, community content, and community activities you’ll design.
Here are a few questions to consider:
- Maybe you want to host a weekly LIVE call, does that work in your schedule? Will that be easy to maintain? Do you like connecting with members weekly?
- If you have a course, how do you want the students to interact with each other?
- How much time will each member need to dedicate to the program?
- Is there anything you’d like to become more aware of before moving to the next step?
- What did you discover or become aware of during your ideal member interviews?
The “L” in CALM stands for Learning the tools you need now
Technology is a great tool to use for connecting with others, especially in the past two years when that was the only way to communicate, through virtual calls.
The challenges with technology are steep and as the amazing amount of content, tools, and resources to help community-builders increases, it can be really hard to figure out the right tool and the right time to use new tech tools.
I recommend that you be willing to learn new things while you are building the community together with your members.
Sharing openly with your members that this is a space they can co-create allows them to feel like they are a part of the community.
Decide if you want to incorporate a tool only when you validate that need by either yourself, your team, or your members.
I thought I needed a pretty website, a huge email list, and a ton of social media followers before I could launch a paid community.
The truth is that I didn’t need any of that, but I spent a ton of time investing in Facebook ads, hiring marketing professionals to help build my website, and spent hours learning how to use streaming services, create email campaigns, and so. much. more.
Tips for learning the tech tools you need:
Beginner — I’m a new community host who is currently getting clear on the structure of my community, setting up the network, and beginning to invite new members inside the space. As a new community-builder, you’ll be focused on creating your first launch plan, creating content inside your network, and identifying who you’ll invite into your community.
What you’ll need:
- An email address to invite people you know, potential members, and others to your community with the ability to organize contacts and set reminders.
- Digital storage, online files, the ability to schedule virtual meetings, create forms, create surveys, organize data, and manage your launch and marketing campaigns.
- Marketing/Promotion tool to help with creating branding, graphics for your community, and share with Social Media what your community is all about.
Intermediate — I’m a community host who’s opened the doors and working with a small group of people inside my network. I want to create or improve my community-growth process by customizing a strategy to help me in managing the network.
What you’ll need:
- Project management and task management software to systematize your workflow.
- A contact management system that can keep track of leads, paid members, billing, invoicing, and automating forms.
- A scheduling application that allows you to share your calendar with others for collaborations, onboarding sessions, and networking meetings.
- Video software allows you to share recordings of live events and go live to promote your network, offerings, services, or products.
Advanced — I’m a community host with a high-engaged community full of members who contribute content, create conversations, and invite others to join. I need support with automation, email campaigns, creating a roadmap for content creation, and product development.
What you’ll need:
- A way to organize the many ideas you have for new features and benefits of your community is to design a roadmap for your product/service releases.
- Automation of tasks and communication between you and your members
- Email marketing, email onboarding sequences, and building an email list.
The “M” in CALM stands for Motion of actionable tasks in each step of your journey
All good communities are ones that can take values and turn them into actions with practice, intentional storytelling, and easy-to-understand instructions.
In your journey, there are many places to get “stuck” or feel like giving up as you build, launch, and grow a paid online community.
Your ability to overcome these challenges will be in the actions that you set for yourself. Connect and collaborate with other community-builders, leaders, and facilitators who can help you when you need a sounding board. Reach out to others in your network and ask to chat 1:1 about new ideas, ways to encourage participation, and crafting your community offer.
Set goals, celebrate small successes along the way, and give yourself credit for just showing up in your community! That is a Big Deal! Congratulations!
Deb Schell is the Creator of Find Calm Here LLC — As a community strategist, she helps female entrepreneurs and executives find calm in building, launching, and growing paid online communities. With experience helping over 80 Mighty Network Hosts, Deb’s combined experience as a journalist, copywriter, photographer, artist, and sales professional aligns to offer clients a streamlined, fun experience!
Inside the Find Calm Here Community, she brings together community-builders who feel overwhelmed and offers tools, support, and accountability. Together, members find calm in the process of building their online Mighty Networks, sharing their successes and struggles.
As the Host of The Community Strategy Podcast, Deb shares conversations she has with community-builders who share how they’ve found calm in the process of building, launching, and growing their online paid communities.