I'm Rosie, I've built a 7 fig business, led community at IH, now building a community @Orbit. AMA ๐Ÿ”ฅ

Rosie Sherry
85 replies
Hey everyone! I'm Rosie Sherry and I love building communities. I started about 15 years ago with meetups, I then started Ministry of Testing and boostrapped that to $1.5M annual revenue over 10 years. I still (co)own, but don't run the business day to day. I led the community over at Indie Hackers for a couple of years. More recently I started Rosieland, a community for community builders. This has evolved over the past couple of years, from a newsletter, to a paid newsletter and now to a community with a 'community garden' approach. Rosieland is still my side-gig as I recently joined Orbit to lead up their community efforts. AMA!

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Cofounder, Design at Magical
What was most exciting to you about the role with Orbit?
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I build, study and research communities
@zachpiepmeyer Great question! With my indie roots, it was a tough decision to take up a permie role. Mostly it came down to a few things: - the founders (hi @patrickjwoods and @dzello) are super genuine - the product is new and has huge potential to be a change maker - the culture of shipping, product, and content wise, with care, depth and thoughtfulness is one that aligns with my heart - I get to think, write, teach and innovate on community building, every day of the week. ๐Ÿ˜ Ultimately, my personal goal is to create genuine and meaningful impact for the community building world, Orbit aligns with that and they are supporting me in many of my crazy ideas and ways of being. ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿฝ I guess the most exciting part is how the stars of Orbit align with me.
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Cofounder, Design at Magical
How do you measure community health/success? And whatโ€™s the knobs/levers youโ€™ve found most impactful?
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I build, study and research communities
@zachpiepmeyer I left this to question to the end to answer, it's always a bit tough. I think as an industry we need to get better at this. I've definitely struggled over the years, both in trying to quantify it for myself, but also as a way to justify it to stakeholders. I guess the ideal future scenario of this is to measure some things, but to also be able and willing to tune into many aspects of community that simply aren't measurable. For example, recently people have been saying community is the new marketing. (It is not!) But from that I'm trying to encourage people to think about how community builds trust that marketing is then able to leverage better. When there is trust, people will naturally want to open your emails, whether it has the perfect headline or not. I'm not really sure if this can be measured in a quantifiable way. Partly it's important to keep an eye on things like traffic, members, posts, comments. But it needs to go deeper than that. - how are people growing within your community? - are they getting value? - are they sticking around? - how successful is your community at bringing people to the center stage? - is your community or company making progress towards their overall vision? - are people excited to come back? - how are people talking about you? - how are people supporting you? The Orbit Model is a great way to start getting a baseline understanding on what is going on in your community. There some info here www.orbitmodel.com @patrickjwoods wrote this on the concept of Go-To-Community, I'm thinking and would love to explore this idea more. There's some good starter questions there - https://future.a16z.com/communit...
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Cofounder, Design at Magical
What tips do you have for hiring a community manager?
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I build, study and research communities
@zachpiepmeyer Most of my success in hiring has been from within the community. Erin who joined our team at Orbit was very much an active member and fan of the product. We had also been having much fun creating stuff together over at Rosieland. When I was building Ministry of Testing, virtually everyone we hired were community members. It's not always possible, but I do think it's a great way to hire. Apart from myself, no one has actually left a permanent role at Ministry of Testing yet. A big part of what keeps them is the love for the community and how it aligns with who they are. With direct relation to community skills, I feel it's easier to teach people about how to build community over finding someone who is truly passionate about the community they need to serve. We can even look @5harath who is now doing community things here at PH, he was very much in love with PH before joining. If you can't hire from within the community, then look for ways to find out whether they are truly passionate believers in what the community is about.
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Visionary of Automatio.co
What was the top 3 most interested IndieHackers to you?
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I build, study and research communities
@stefan_smiljkovic I love what @anthilemoon @theannagat and @arvidkahl stand for, and love seeing them continuously grow and give. And these are all community minded people too. ๐Ÿ˜ป
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Radeeff.com Founder
Hi Rosie. Thanks for your time. My question is how I market my paid community effectively? Some context: I don't want to attract as many as members as possible. Instead I want to attract the highest quality of members as possible even if I ended up with a few of them. My paid community is an online peaceful noise-free space for those who want to level up their skills, get things done, and buddying up with some of the most talented and interesting people in MENA region.
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I build, study and research communities
@younestalkdz It's easy to think paid communities are an easy path, but they are not. There are two angles that I'd recommend considering: Make your current members so happy that they have no choice but to go and tell their friends about it. Find ways to share stories that are happening on the inside to the outside world, all with permission of course. Screenshots. Tweets. Podcasts. Videos. Wins and successes. Of yourself, or with your people. Building in public as much as you can is great fun too.
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Radeeff.com Founder
@rosiesherry thanks ๐Ÿ˜Š
Founder, Patron Hunt #CreatorEconomy
Hi, Rosie! There's so much talk now about community being the game changer for successful vs unsuccessful companies going forward. What are your thoughts on that? Does every startup need a community now? Is community now a growth strategy?
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I build, study and research communities
@mspseudolus Yeah, there's all the talk. But who is walking the walk? The trouble is that people now look at really successful products and companies without fully understanding the time and pain that it has taken people to get there. I do believe that community should be at the heart of most businesses, but one cannot just slap on community. It's a cultural thing. And it's something that takes time to build in and that often you won't see the result for a long time to come. I have a pet hate for the term that is flying around atm 'community is the new marketing'. I'd like marketing to stick to what they do well, and let community do what we do well, so that we can help build the trust that marketing can then leverage in other parts of the business. Naturally, I wrote a few words on this too: https://rosie.land/posts/calling...
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Whatโ€™s your best approach to starting a community?
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I build, study and research communities
@akangudaniel there's a phrase I keep going back to. "study your people" Just because you want a community, it doesn't mean you should start one. Take time truly getting an understand of the world you are about to commit to for years to come. Who are the people that care and share about it? How can you build up relationships? What are they talking about? Then, where can you or your community fit into all of this? If you still want to start a community after spending weeks or months doing this, then start small. A Twitter account, a blog, an email list. Any tool that allows you to communicate with people is a community building tool. Don't fall into the trap of jumping to using a branded 'community tool' at the beginning. I have a few articles here on starting communities - https://rosie.land/posts?topic=s...
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Finance specialist
@akangudaniel @rosiesherry it was useful answer for me too! thanks
SaaS founder experimenting growth hacks.
Hi Rosie, What is the biggest challenge in building a community? Is it common for every niche?
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I build, study and research communities
@imtiyaz922 There are two main challenges...probably... Starting & Scaling They are both hard, and not really comparable. Starting is more about validating and finding community market fit. Is there a need? Do people want this? What are the shared experiences we are going to create? How will we structure the community? What is the tech that we actually need. Scaling is about working upon the foundation of a recipe that kinda works, but then you need to figure out how to replicate it, multiple times, over and over. It's hard because it is not something that can be fully automated. Sure you can create community flywheels and processes to support it all, but there is still the relationship and culture that needs careful consideration.
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SaaS founder experimenting growth hacks.
@rosiesherry Thanks for the clarity. Can you share your experience or a link to the case study? Or how exactly you are tackling/dealing with these two challenges with @Orbit?
I optimize collaboration in teams
Hi Rosie, 1. When should you not start a community? What are the wrong reasons to do so (kind of similar to what @mspseudolus asks) 2. What data (if any) is most helpful to understand what is going on in your community?
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I build, study and research communities
@mspseudolus @katerinabohlec When not to start a community: we can get pedantic with terms, lots of audiences these days are branded as communities. Mostly, if you want an audience, fine, go do that. Nothing wrong with it. And audience is not a community though. Mostly what this comes down to, IMHRO (in my humble rosie opinion), is that when you build a community there needs to be something that you are striving to change or do that is greater than yourself. When things are greater than yourself, you need to invest in those around you, give back as much as you possibly can and make that as part of the culture. So, don't start a community if you are not willing to do that? ๐Ÿ˜น๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ
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I build, study and research communities
@katerinabohlec What data (if any) is most helpful to understand what is going on in your community? I struggle with this a lot. I think there is a lot of data that is worth keep an eye on. Traffic. Number of posts. Number of comments. I don't think they can measure a community. They can give you signs that of how things are going, they are just signs, they are not the map. Part of the challenge that we need to explore is why do we need all this data? And what kind of data is actually useful? For example, within the Orbit Model (www.orbitmodel.com), there are 5 defined levels: Orbit 4 - Observers Orbit 3 - Participants Orbit 2 - Contributors Orbit 1 - Advocates Orbit 0 - Team To me, it makes better sense to try to understand how the community is moving up and down between these levels. Whether they are getting value. Whether they are contributing. And sure, some of this can be captured in an automated way, but not all. How can we measure relationships? And conversations? Do we even need to? Or are just better off enjoying the process and trying to find ways to pull people into our communities with the best possible intentions? If I had to point to data, I'd probably point to specific conversations, within that feedback would likely be included. We should pay close attention to the conversations happening and create a habit of taking notes and data points on them. And really, we should do this in more ways than expecting people to participate in forums or answer unhelpful surveys.
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Growth Marketing Manager at Storyly โšก๏ธ
For a startup, is it better to build a community around CEO or company? For example, in social media
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I build, study and research communities
@nataliekarakina Building a community around a CEO is not a community, that's more of an audience of in some cases it becomes 'cult like'. I'd be weary around building a community around a company too, I think people get more on board with a shared vision, so you can you on a journey together, in support of one another.
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Founder peapods.com
How do you encourage members of the community to make introductions to each other and increase the number of connections?
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I build, study and research communities
@mikestaub Do it yourself and others will copy you, if they like how you are doing it.
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Zen & the Art of Getting Sh*t Done ๐Ÿš€
Hi Rosie, congrats! (and Orbit looks awesome!) Have you experience or can you point me to successes in community building for non-profit / environmental projects? I've just submitted https://GreenHabit.app in the PH makers festival Earth Edition but looking at the best way to grow a community around it. There are a lot of passionate people wanting to make a change. I want to enable them through the platform but it will only succeed to make a difference if there is mass adoption of that platform and I think you'd agree that that means community. I imagine it's hard to 'shortcut' community building but any 80/20 thoughts, actions or tips would be appreciated.
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I build, study and research communities
@emotf Talk to these people you say that want to make a change, do that for a long time and for the lifetime of the app, then the more you get to know them, the more you will understand and find opportunities to create community for them. Greta is probably the person I think of when it comes to the environment, I'd start there and try to understand how and what communities formed as a result of her work.
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Zen & the Art of Getting Sh*t Done ๐Ÿš€
@rosiesherry thanks for the insights. Reading back through your replies on other questions in this AMA you have given a lot of great tips. I'll be bookmarking this thread ๐Ÿ˜‰.
I build, study and research communities
@emotf Thanks!
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๐Ÿบ Wolf | Head Honcho
The community caught my eye. Today we put our product in ProductHunt, which incidentally has a community builder platform for merchants. This service allows each company to have its own community (on a custom domain). This is a live version of the community built with the Selldone community builder platform: https://selldone.com/community/ (We just started)
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Making 12 Products in 12 Months
Hey Rosie๐Ÿ‘‹ I am building a community for technological progressives through a daily newsletter and have currently 10+ members, I want to know how can I scale it to a larger number?
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I build, study and research communities
@sagar_devkate a big part of growth is consistency, the best thing you can do it to keep showing up and build up trust. You could also try starting conversations with your current subscribers. Reach out to them. Encourage them to hop on a call. Make it clear that they can respond to the email and you will get back to them.
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Helping Video Creators Earn Real Income
Any words of advice for those overwhelmed with first steps of building a nascent community around a new niche or technology? Any encouraging sources of inspiration you recommend? Cheers
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I build, study and research communities
@mrgregzen I find things are overwhelming because of lack of understanding and knowledge of the space people are in. Therefore, the best way to get over that is to work towards becoming a real expert in the niche you are trying to serve. Be that persons who knows everything and everyone, this will really help you become a connector and a central part of conversations that will naturally occur.
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All about the blockchain
How do you get users to take action
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I build, study and research communities
@repreneur Understand their inner motivations. Easier said than done!
Hey Rosie, I'll meet Guillaume from Orbit today. I am super curious about Orbit's vision. Funny question, what should I ask him?
I build, study and research communities
@ben_cotte1 Where does he envision Orbit to be in 5 years time? Then tell me what he says, because I don't know the answer to that ๐Ÿ˜ป
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@ben_cotte1 @rosiesherry haha ๐Ÿ˜‚ Yup I asked. But I canโ€™t reveal it entirely. A few hints, though: it is big, bold, and bright!
Thanh Nguyen
Whatโ€™s your best approach to starting a community?
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I build, study and research communities
@thanh_nguyen13 there's a phrase I keep going back to. "study your people" Just because you want a community, it doesn't mean you should start one. Take time truly getting an understand of the world you are about to commit to for years to come. Who are the people that care and share about it? How can you build up relationships? What are they talking about? Then, where can you or your community fit into all of this? If you still want to start a community after spending weeks or months doing this, then start small. A Twitter account, a blog, an email list. Any tool that allows you to communicate with people is a community building tool. Don't fall into the trap of jumping to using a branded 'community tool' at the beginning. I have a few resources on starting communities here - https://rosie.land/posts?topic=s...
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Productivity Optimization Startup
What tips do you have for building the right mindset?
I build, study and research communities
@labor_all honestly, there are two crucial things for community. The willingness to give and co-create together. Then also the understanding that community takes a long time to build. So, any mindset that aligns with those two things will give you a greater chance of success.
Chef, now building apps!
Hey Rosie! Big fan, my question is kind of simple I guess, any plans to make a book on all that you know about community? I'd definitely pre order it!
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I build, study and research communities
@aaronoleary Haha, yes. I don't know when, or how I will find the time.
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