What do Neil Patel, Seth Godin, Gary Vee, and Nathan Latka have in common?
Yeah, they’re all exceptional entrepreneurs… But what else? Well, they’ve all been on the Mixergy podcast, along with nearly 2,000 other successful entrepreneurs.
In case you didn’t know, Mixergy is a renowned business podcast that provides a unique perspective from the lenses of top people in the industry.
But what’s most interesting is the cult following/community and membership that Mixergy gathered over the years.
This allowed Andrew Warner (the wounder) to fulfill his passion while maintaining a high-quality lifestyle in the process.
So what can we learn from Mixergy’s online community building strategy? Can you replicate that model and achieve similar success?
Let’s find out what it takes.
How Mixergy Came to Be
Before we delve into Mixergy’s success, we need to get familiar with some key moments from Andrew Warner’s life.
This helps paint the picture of how he became so well connected, an authority in the entrepreneurship space, and a successful podcaster.
Warner’s “Quarter-Life Burnout”
You hear successful business people talking about their journey all the time. Often you hear about sacrifice and determination to reach those six or seven figures.
However, they rarely mention the consequences of said "hustle."
Warner's first entrepreneurial success came reasonably early. He managed to fund his first business by exploiting a loophole in his favorite fashion brand's refund policy.
Then, along with his brother, he built one of the hottest online properties in 2000—a sharable ecard company with small ads that would generate business revenue.
So, while others were just learning about that new global network's potential, Warner was already thriving.
He was making $30 million a year! But the "rush" didn't last for long.
"In 2003, I was burned out", he says, "I used to think that only wimps took breaks, so I foolishly worked nonstop until I couldn't keep going. Michael and I sold the business's properties".
LEARNING - Balance is everything, do something you love, spend time with people you love and good things will happen!
Finding a Passion
Warner teaches us an important lesson here. You can only commit your entire life to something that’s simultaneously your passion project.
Otherwise, you’ll always keep an eye out for an exit strategy.
For Warner, it was mentorship and building communities. He claims that he “wished to be like mentors who infected him with a passion for business.”
And thus started his speaking career.
He has appeared as a guest speaker at smaller venues and even offered private sessions. It was something that he wanted to do his whole life but admitted it was small, unfulfilling, and slow.
However, he knew it was something that he wanted to continue doing. He only needed to implement some tweaks here and there.
And so the experiments started…
A rollercoaster of Business Models
A successful business consists of two segments – idea and execution. The mentorship was an idea, but how to execute it to provide value and fulfill your dreams but profit at the same time?
Speaking events weren’t as fulfilling as he’d hoped for, so he needed to make a switch.
He got his inspiration from a presidential candidate Howard Dean – an “under the radar” character that has unbelievable community-building skills.
He had watched Dean build a targeted community group of followers thanks to local meetups where he could transmit his ideas – so he followed along.
Warner started organizing meetups and community gatherings for business people – a “mixer” of sorts that will emit the necessary entrepreneurial “energy.”
These industry event and local community building activities were a huge hit.
Despite that, Warner made a huge mistake.
He started throwing money into an endless pit of distractions such as “proper invitations.” For a second time, his business model didn’t bear fruit.
But he didn’t stop there.
Establishing Himself as Top Entrepreneurship Podcast & Community
Warner had already built one business on a digital foundation, so he understood the potential of upcoming platforms.
He laid the groundwork already – successful people were already coming to his events. He loved talking to them and learning from them.
So the next step was straightforward. Instead of inviting people to come to his event, he can utilize the world wide web's power and bring his events to other people's homes.
That was the start of the Mixergy podcast.
Pretty soon, the podcast gained traction. People loved the show's format and the high-profile guests who shared pretty honest and raw stories about their climb to the top.
Today, Mixergy is more than a podcast. It has its membership, a cult following, and it's a prime example of building a successful online community.
So, let's dive into the secrets of their success.
Online Community Building Secrets by Mixergy
Mixergy’s rapid growth didn’t come out of anywhere. It was a combination of Warner’s experience and straightforward “rules” that kept drawing people towards the podcast.
Here’s what’s behind Mixergy success story and some best practices if you’re looking to replicate his success.
1. Reputation Before Cash
Many unsuccessful brands fall into the same trap: They sacrifice their long-term reputation for a quick buck.
When the business starts booming, you’ll need a stable cash flow to keep it scaling. However, that doesn’t mean that you should accept any offer that comes your way.
If you’re an entrepreneurial podcast, you’d want to advertise only those well-known, relevant brands that actually fit into your sphere of interests.
Warner recalls his disappointment in a massive number of ad agencies that placed profit over ad quality:
“I have to live with what I create for the rest of my life. They just want to jack up the prices, and who cares what happens in the future. Who cares if the people pay and don’t get the value that they wanted? I just couldn’t do that.”
When you want to build a community, your social proof is the most significant building block. Work on cooperating only with those that share the same values.
It will protect your brand in the long run, even if you suffer financially at the start.
This is also where community management comes into play. A lot of brands/people miss the mark when it comes to filtering out the bad actors in their communities.
Not only did Warner hold off on the ads but he also kept his community members on topic, away from sales pitches.
If you struggle to do this yourself, then you can use community managers. A lot of the time these can just be your highest engaging members and you can off to pay or give them free access.
2. Working with Knowledgeable People in the Industry
Remember, you’re the second most important person in your podcast. Your guests are those that provide value, share insight, and make people tune in.
Therefore, you have to build up a reputation of providing the utmost value so people would actually take their time and listen.
Warner didn’t just wake up one day and said – Okay, I’m going to start a podcast about entrepreneurship.
Before launching the show, he had already built a formidable network of businesspeople that would later become his first guests and deliver huge amounts of value to his community.
And after the first few successful shows, everything becomes easier.
LEARNING - Momentum is everything, use your past achievements to generate opportunities for your future achievements. Warner did this really well when attracting guests and sponsors to contribute to his community. The bigger the names he attracted, the more desirable becoming a Mixergy member became.
3. Sticking with a Niche (Consistently)
In addition to talking with industry leaders, Warner also had an entrepreneurial experience of his own.
That made it easier for him as showrunner to juggle between questions and steer the conversation in a direction that would be both entertaining and valuable.
It’s pretty essential to distinguish yourself from the “jack-of-all-trades” podcast in the current saturated climate. Build one that will attract a specific group of aficionados and deliver on value.
On top of that, you need to deliver consistently. If you look at Mixergy’s website, you’ll notice that there’s a new interview every 3 to 4 days.
Soon the podcast will have over 2000 shows on various business topics, all carefully categorized to fit a wide range of entrepreneurial interests.
This level of curation and organization make community management much easier as he could segment and direct people to the content they most needed.
You will even see this on the Mixergy homepage where category and topic filtering is front and center so visitors or customers can find what they need quickly.
This way, all community members can get their slice of the value pie.
4. Making Your Community Members a Part of the Bigger Picture
An online community is not just a group of people gathered around the same interest or idea.
If you want community members to thrive, you got to involve them in your brand one way or the other.
Think about it – you’ve spent so much time building an online community. For what? First of all, to provide value and engage with like-minded people.
For that reason, your community members need to engage with you and one another. They crave a plethora of different ideas, discussions, and feedback.
Thanks to social platforms, you can quickly turn a group of unknown people into active community members.
By forming groups on social media, you can actively participate in discussions while having a finger on your community’s pulse. Thus, you’ll know what’s working and what’s not.
On top of that, an active online community is also an endless stream of ideas and recommendations. Remember – you got to talk to your customer/community member to understand your next steps.
5. Holding Yourself Accountable
An idea built on weak foundations is very likely to fail. Thus, consistency is key whenever you want to dive into a long-term community-building project.
For that reason, Andrew thought of several “pillars” of his brand that he obeys at all times. This makes him accountable for maintaining the brand’s consistency, quality, and reputation.
As a result, he can retain his online community members who always know that they can accept the highest of qualities.
Warner calls these laws of accountability, “The Mixergy Mission.”
So, if you plan on building an online community, you need to think of a way to hold yourself accountable.
This way, you can keep moving your brand and your community forward even when you don’t feel like it.
6. Social Media as a Traffic Source
The value of social media is undeniable but at the same time a brand does not want to rely on them as the core of their “business”. Warner understands that his Facebook page or Twitter account was not his ticket to wealth.
They are fantastic community building platforms (e.g. Facebook groups etc) and have a huge amount of community engagement but it can be a double-edged sword as you do not own the community.
You are simply renting it from Facebook or whatever other social media platform you build your community following on.
Followers and subscribers can be taken away, have limited reach and the popularity of a platform can change.
So when you are building your business, thing about how you can collect contact points to own that community. Collect a phone number, email address, messenger contact etc.
This will help you own your audience as opposed to simply renting it from the social networks.
Warner did a fantastic job at this to keep the quality of his community at a high level and slowly funneled his social media followers into his own brand community and ecosystem.
Mixergy Revenue Streams
Mixergy has a pretty efficient monetization system with three highly-profitable revenue streams. It’s something that content creators should aim to replicate.
Premium Community Memberships
Mixergy's initial community-building efforts paid out pretty early. This is the wind in all aspiring community-builders' sails regardless of the platform (it doesn't have to be a podcast!).
The key takeaway here is that people will pay for value.
In the case of Mixergy, beginner entrepreneurs will gladly become members or subscribers if they feel they pay for their own improvement. And that's what Mixergy offers in abundance.
Mixergy already offers a part of its community content for free, along with all the most recent podcast episodes.
However, their Premium Memberships takes it up a notch.
With a Premium Account, both new and seasoned business people gain access to the entrepreneurial vault of Mixergy.
This includes over 200 masterclass courses from top businessmen of the industry, such as Jimmy Wales (founder of Wikipedia), Noah Kagan (founder of AppSumo), Gary Vee, and many others.
Warner’s key selling point is that you get an exceptional amount of knowledge for only $49 a month or $399 a year. Instead of spending $3k+ on an individual drawn-out course, you get hundreds of different takes – short, precise, and on-point.
His community platform delivers way more value than the average course which is why it stands out.
On top of that, you get instant access to 2000 interviews, all segmented by their business vertical. So if you’re looking for, let’s say, experts on customer acquisition, you can find them with a few simple clicks.
And most importantly, you become a part of the premium membership group. It’s the place to exchange ideas, communicate directly to Warner and other Mixergy employees, as well as get in touch with previous guests.
Podcasters are aware that they can’t get a lot of commission from hosting platforms such as Apple and Google, so they turn to advertising.
In fact, in-podcast advertisements are major revenue sources of top podcasts. However, you always got your reputation to consider.
Warner never wanted to advertise a brand that he thought doesn’t share the same standards. He admits that he lost out huge cash in the beginning due to this philosophy. However, it paid out in the long run.
By carefully choosing the companies he’d advertise in his shows, he built up credibility and managed to rack up the prices.
Over time, he advertised digital marketing heavyweights such as Active Campaign, Toptal, Drip, and many others.
According to the agency that arranges ads for Mixergy (Platforms Media), the podcast gets over half a million dollars (and rising) annually just from in-podcast ads.
Likewise, Mixergy has a terrific affiliate marketing campaign. Each podcast interview opens on a separate page that lists that episode’s sponsors at the bottom.
The anchor text is Mixergy’s unique affiliate link.
This way, Warner can choose which sponsors fit a particular episode’s schedule and easily link them.
Affiliate links are a great source of passive income. The bigger your online community, the higher the number of affiliate clicks!
What makes an online community successful?
It’s no easy feat building a community of raving fans and members. A few of these are the stand out best practices for building a profitable online community that we have studied from guys like Warner, Parker Walbeck, Russell Brunson, and others.
The Promotion Strategies of Mixergy
Mixergy marketing strategy relies on good free quality content first and foremost. Be it a podcast interview, a live online event, or a blog post.
Warner utilizes these content pieces as lead magnets to build an online community. Once the potential new members subscribe, he leads them through the funnel, eventually converting them to premium members in his community.
Here’s how it works.
Posting Valuable Content for Free
Mixergy is a “freemium” podcast, which means that you can enjoy its perks for free up to a certain point.
However, if you’d like to hear the most recent interview, there’s no need to pay. It’s on the website for free!
That’s how Warner “draws in” most of its users.
And you may ask – so how does he monetize the exclusive content?
That’s the entire catch. Warner is creating evergreen content that can go up in value as time goes by. And when it does, that’s when you get hit by the paywall.
Most of the time, the most recent podcast episode is the hook that draws new users to the website.
On top of that, Warner will occasionally host live events on his social media page that also act as lead magnets.
Also, his team sometimes turns hour-long podcasts into short-form articles that he promotes on social media and drives traffic to their website.
However, when they land on the website, they suddenly get struck by tons of valuable courses and interviews that are behind the paywall. Hard to say no to that!
Old Content as Lead Magnet
Unlike the most recent interviews, most of the older stuff is not as easily accessible. Instead, the Mixergy team uses evergreen content as lead magnets into the multiple-step sales funnel.
Here’s how it goes:
1. The user lands on a Mixergy webpage.
2. They find an old podcast episode that they’d like to watch.
3. Mixergy offers to send the podcast episode to their email (lead generation).
4. However, you gain access to around 60% of the full episode, with the invitation to the premium membership.
5. The link leads to the Premium membership page that outlines all the benefits of becoming a member with a call to action at the bottom.
Leveraging Social Proof
There’s hardly a better promotion strategy than social validation. Something that can convince your potential subscribers that you’re the “real deal.”
Warner took advantage of his experience and network, and his first episodes already featured industry giants. It was far easier for a random fan to get into the podcast at the very beginning.
However, Mixergy also made its way into some prominent business-related media outlets. Forbes listed the podcast in their list of best business shows online, while Shopify published an interview Warner did with their CPO, Harley Finkelstein.
As a result, Warner could use these “featured in” logos to back up his credibility in the niche further.
Remember: there’s no better promotion strategy than social validation and word to mouth.
Short-Term Trial at Affordable Prices
Despite all the above promotion strategies and validation, sometimes users want to dip their fingers in the water.
However, they are not always ready to pay the full price of the product or service. And that’s why Mixergy offers a 14-day trial of their Premium membership for $1.
According to Warner himself, the “trial-for-a-buck strategy became an integral method of onboarding new subscribers to the membership program.”
Community Sponsors & Partnerships
This can be a make or break for a community. Having the right partners and sponsors can add value or take it away from your online community.
For example Mixergy made sure to partner with brands that could offer special deals or value to people in his target market (the entrepreneur and tech crowed).
So instead of sponsors being a negative thing for his community he was able to position it as a positive.
For example: Sign up to get discounts on apps like Drip for email marketing, Bench Bookkeeping, Brand bucket for finding domains, and Pipedrive for sales CRM.
To the average person, these aren’t perks at all. But to the Mixergy audience, this can be $1000’s of savings year which will pay for their membership 10x.
So think about the brands that your community could partner with and how you can make unique offers with them to give your members that will add value.
How can I start my own online community?
So… You’ve got a great idea, and you’re passionate enough to build your community around it?
What are the next steps?
The idea of building a membership website might overwhelm you. But it’s really just like a paid blog if you boil it down.
A blogger is actually creating a community every time they publish content. The only difference between them and Warner, Joe Rogan, The New York Times etc is that those brands and entrepreneurs are monetizing their newsletters, blogs, podcasts etc.
Most people already know how to build a community or membership, they are just missing the tool to help them monetize it.
That’s where Hyax comes in.
You may think it takes coding and web design knowledge and a lot of financial investment.
But it doesn’t! All you need is a high-quality membership website builder, and you’re all set!
And fortunately, we got just the one for you to build your own community online.
Meet Hyax – a website builder that will help you design your membership website and set up everything from the first stage of the funnel to the checkout.
How to Create a Membership Website
Here’s what you need to do. Head over to Hyax.com and sign up for a new account.
Then, log into your account and choose “New Project” from the Dashboard.
Hover over the “Membership/Blog” option on the sidebar to the left to start planning out the payment plans and content that will make up your online membership community.
From here, you can easily manage your subscription plans, design pages, add content via posts, and more.
Pricing Your Online Community
Pricing your members for is tough as you need to understand the perceived value of your community. For example Nathan Latka charges $499 plus a month while most online communities are more in the $5-100/m range.
This is because he is collecting and sharing data that is highly valuable to investors. So his target community member turns that information into millions of dollars as it helps them make a good investment.
Most online communities do not have this amount of value so you need to start at a price that fits your target market and aligns with the value you are providing.
Latka is looking for a smaller number of people to join his community at a higher price point while Warner is looking for a larger number of community members at a lower price point.
Usually, entertainment is around $5-25/m while educational communities can be a little higher $25-100/m.
In short, the more you can differentiate and have unique content, the higher you can charge for access. What is something you can do or produce that no one else can?
Another tactic to consider is charging annually instead of monthly so you get community members to commit for a longer period of time and pay more upfront.
Once you have your online community built out, you can also expand into other digital revenue streams that Hyax offers.
Take it to the Next Level
Add courses, build and design sales funnels, or a store to sell physical or digital products… building and monetizing is a piece of cake with Hyax templates, codeless designing, and built-in marketing features to maximize conversion and profit.
If you have a killer digital product you want to bring to the market, it was never a better time. And Hyax will turn you into a successful digital entrepreneur!
Tapping into multiple streams of revenue, developing and monetizing communities through memberships and groups will add stability and predictability to your business.
Get started and set up your community today as the early movers will reap the rewards like we can see with Mixergy’s case study. They were a very early adopter of community platforms and monetization of an audience.
If you love case studies like this, go check out more at hyax.com/blog.
Checklist to Get Your Online Community Going