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We just returned from a conference and we’re feeling that conference high. You know, where you’re super inspired and fired up from spending time with incredible people and you feel like you’re ready to take on the world.
I remember I used to feel this feeling once or twice a year when returning from a conference. But then it would slowly dissipate. The coals of my inspirational fire would cool and I yearned once again for the engaging discussions with likeminded people.
The Community is like the conference experience you love, but it’s with you every day and right in your pocket.
Cory Miller joined the Community on May 8th, 2014. Over the course of a year, I got to know Cory really well. He completely turned his life around. He went from gaming every single day to growing his own apparel brand.
I loved what he was doing so much that I ended up hiring him to become the full time Product Director at seanwes. I got to hang out with Cory at the conference and he also drove down to the studio to join us for this episode while he was in Texas.
This past week, we were fortunate enough to hang out with 19 of our Community members who attended the conference. What incredibly genuine people they were! It was remarkably un-weird how normal it felt to meet them in person.
While I was there, Colin (pictured bottom left) told me he wished I’d done an episode of the podcast dedicated exclusively to the Community. He just joined a few weeks ago and he said he’s kicking himself for not joining sooner. He faults me for not pushing him over the edge and I accept the blame—so now we dedicated an entire episode to the Community.
We take you behind the scenes of the Community and show you what goes on inside and what it’s like. Other members also share their experience and what kind of a positive impact it’s had on their lives.
Highlights, Takeaways, & Quick Wins:
- The Community is about building relationships with real people who just happen to be online.
- You don’t have to make an impression here—we’re here for you.
- The kind of connections you make in the Community aren’t just chat buddies, people are taking this offline and they’re meeting in their own cities, getting on Skype, and keeping each other accountable.
- All of the shows coming onto the network are 100% sponsor free and supported by the Community.
- Community members are a part of what’s making it possible for us to do these shows. It’s how we can provide this free value to everyone.
- The Community is a living thing that we’re not trying to shape, we’re trying to facilitate its growth.
- The Community is attracting people of a certain mindset—a mindset of values, professionalism, and encouragement.
- In the Community, you can actually grow instead of having to spend all your energy trying to catch your friends up on your mindset. The people here already get it and they want to help you take a step forward.
- 08:38 Sean: We’re coming off of a conference high right now. We just got back from Creative South in Columbus, GA, where 19 Community members were able to meet up. Conferences are life-changing experiences for me. When you get around people that have the same challenges, struggles, and often the same mindsets as you, it’s comforting. It’s good to know you’re not alone in the things you’re struggling with, especially as creative people trying to grow their own business or freelance. Most people don’t do that, most people work jobs, so it’s hard to find people that you can relate to and I’ve always been able to find that at conferences. When the conferences are over, you come down off the camp high and try to package up that inspiration and hope that it lasts you for the next year. I try to stay in touch with people and more often than not, I end up not staying in touch as much as I would like, but now that we have the Community, it’s like having the conference at home with you every single day.
- 10:02 Ben: I remember going to camps and conferences and because of my personality, the emotion I’m feeling in that moment, I make promises about keeping in touch. I mean it sincerely but it ends up tapering off. That’s what I loved about this conference experience, we were already experiencing conversations and sharing struggles with each other daily. I didn’t have to make empty promises.
- 11:04 Sean: Colin Tierney is a Community member that was at Creative South and he had only been a Community member for two weeks, but I feel like we’d been friends for a year. He had listened to all 164 episodes of this podcast twice, but still hadn’t signed up for the Community until two weeks ago. He encouraged me to do this episode and to talk about what goes on inside the Community. He said if I had done an episode about the Community telling how incredible it is, it would have pushed him over the edge. He said, “I wish I had been here sooner. I knew eventually I would do it but for some reason I was waiting. Don’t wait. I wish there had been an episode specifically about the Community because that would have convinced me.” He even said he wished there was a 10 year membership because he would put a payment down now.
Features and Benefits of the seanwes Community
- 15:05 The hub of the Community is the chat system, which Justin Michael, our full-time developer, has been pouring his life into. The features we have in the chat are incredible—infinite backlog, favoriting messages, mention other members, different chat rooms, etc. Some features that will be coming out are direct messaging, different conversations, search, hashtags, and favorite lists.
- 16:03 We’ve got 54 people listening to the live stream right now. We’ve got live audio and live video! All of the live broadcasts are archived, which include the pre-show and the after-after show, so when you join the Community, you get to watch them. Sometimes we do live music jam sessions, it’s crazy! We’re also going to have a brand new mobile app coming out soon, which will have push notifications for individual shows—Lambo Goal, seanwes podcast, The Podcast Dude, In the Boat With Ben, Cory Miller’s podcast that’s coming out soon, Invisible Details, etc. The ability to get on your phone anywhere and in seconds, get feedback on any issue. If you’re not feeling motivated, having trouble with a client, or working on a sketch you want feedback on—you’ll have that ability.
- 18:13 Ben: Think about the impact of that real-time interaction and how that can affect your bottom line and your career. It’s phenomenal. Sean, people know how successful you are and the things you’ve done for yourself but you’re even in there, asking questions and getting feedback on the shows.
- 18:48 Sean: I certainly use it for my own benefit. It’s very valuable to me and I get a lot out of it but I’m also there for other people. I prioritize the Community. I can’t get through all my emails along with producing this content, doing this show, and other shows, so:
Sometimes I have to prioritize and I always prioritize the Community.
- 19:27 Sometimes Community members will send me emails and I try to get to it, but sometimes it takes a while. People will say, “I sent you an email,” and I usually tell them, “I’m here. I want to help you out right here.” I care about the people in the Community and I want to prioritize them.
- 19:49 Ben: Just the other day, someone in the chat room mentioned they had emailed you and you responded with, “I’m sorry, I have a hard time getting to emails sometimes,” so they posted the body of their email right there in the chat and you were able to respond to them in real time.
- 20:06 Sean: Real-time stuff goes on in the chat and it’s not just while the live shows are going on, it’s anytime. There are people in all time zones across the world in there. We also have video hangouts every month, so we get to see people in person. Video hangouts are where I got to know Cory Miller better and I ended up meeting him last year while on our West Coast trip. I felt like I already knew him then because of the hangouts. Cory Miller joined the Community and he started participating regularly, he was helping people, and eventually it turned into my hiring him full-time to work for seanwes. These are the kinds of connections that happen in the Community. It’s not just some chat room, these are deep connections.
- 22:23 Ben: The people in the Community are quality people and you know that going in. You can see their work but you can also interact with them. You get to know their personalities and what their values are.
- 22:38 Sean: I’ve hired Justin Michaels from the Community, first as a contractor, then as a full-time employee. I’ve hired Cory Miller full-time this month from the Community. I get a bunch of other people that hear I’m starting a network or platform and they want to get their show or course on my platform but they aren’t in the Community. I don’t know them. I don’t even know my friends that listen to this podcast as well as I know the Community members, because I talk to them every day. If I talk to you once a week or less, it’s not the same. I have a different level of connection with these people, I know them intimately, and I know their values because I’ve spent time with them. That kind of trust is what allows me to bring people on.
- 23:44 Aaron Dowd was the original cohost of this podcast but there was a period where he stepped down and I was the one editing the podcast. I was editing for a good while before I felt comfortable enough to let go of it and let someone else handle it. We weren’t talking every day but then Aaron joined the Community because he wanted to be there. Now he edits the podcast and will be editing all of the shows on the seanwes network. He’ll probably come on full-time later this year. We’ve been able to have that closer connection because he’s in the Community. If you’re trying to get in on the seanwes network, don’t just hit me up about it. You should join, invest a little bit, help others, and share some of yourself. Get to know me a little better and allow me to get to know you, your values, and what you stand for.
- 24:53 Ben: As cool as it sounds to be on the seanwes platform, there are so many people in the Community doing cool things so you might start investing and find you’re making connections with people that will lead you to amazing things. Go into it with an open mind also. I want you to join because you see the value, not just in what Sean provides, but in what the people in the Community provide. There’s so much value.
- 25:33 Cory Miller: One of the coolest things about the Community is that it’s not just about making connections with people and growing your own network. We’ve had people come into the Community and their first question is, “I need help here.” They want us to give, give, give, but the most successful relationships that happen is when people come in and say, “Hey, this is who I am.” If I had come into this just for me, instead of wanting to create relationships with these people, I wouldn’t be here right now.
The Community is about building relationships with real people who just happen to be online.
- 26:28 Sean: I like what you said about people coming in saying, “Hey, this is me,” because I’ve had people email me saying they signed up months ago and they wanted to make a good impression there. They wanted to link to their website, but before they could link to their website, they had to finish their projects or case studies and they never ended up doing it. They said every time a newsletter from me came in, it was like a thorn in their side. I don’t want that! I want you to just come in. The forums are a great tool and resource for longer-form discussion with time in between, but the chat is a great place to just jump in. People look in the chat and see a lot of conversations happening so they don’t want to interrupt but it’s here for you. You can chime in at any point and people are willing to engage with you, listen to your story, and help you. You don’t have to make an impression here. We’re here for you, not here waiting to be impressed by you.
- 27:56 Cory Miller: We welcome people in the chat room because we want it to be real and we want them to know it’s a safe place.
- 28:08 Ben: If you’re a new member watching conversations or even hearing about Community members through the podcast, it may see like these people have it all together but when I talk about quality people, I don’t mean they have it all figured out and are doing all the right things. What I mean by quality people is, after getting to know them, you see how good they are and how wonderful it is to grow together. There are people who are far along in their journey and people who are just starting out in their journey, and everyone in between. Don’t come into this feeling like you have to have it figured out because everyone else does. Everyone does not have it figured out and the point of this is to say, “Hey, I have this idea but I don’t have a website yet and this is who I am.”
- 29:16 Sean: There was a really great conversation in the chat with Laci, my wife, just the other week. She was struggling with some stuff—getting started with writing and even cooking—trying to figure out what she wants to pursue and she felt stuck. She also felt like she had to have it all together because she’s my wife and I give off that kind of a vibe. I certainly don’t have it all figured out. I’m figuring out a lot of things and I share the things that I have figured out. I told her she didn’t have to make any kind of impression and she said, “I feel like I have to represent the brand.”
- 30:01 I told her we’re just people here and what ensued was a great conversation where everyone was helping her out, encouraging her to explore and try things out. She has a lot of ideas but I think she often does that thing where you imagine something through to the conclusion and when the conclusion you imagine isn’t want you want, you don’t ever try it. You rob yourself of a lot of opportunities and experiences that way. Things often don’t end up the way you imagined they would and that’s why we like to say you’ve got to just try something out.
The Community is incredible because the kind of connections you make aren’t just chat buddies, people are taking this offline and they’re meeting in their own cities, getting on Skype, and keeping each other accountable.
- 30:58 Some people have to put their membership on hold for one reason or another and they’re still keeping in touch! They’re still friends and good connections were made there. Maybe you join the Community and you find someone like that—someone who you have a connection with—and you end up partnering with them to collaborate on something. Have you guys met anyone you’ve been able to have a collaboration or relationship outside of the Community with?
- 31:57 Cory Miller: I road tripped from Texas to Georgia for Creative South with a bunch of Community members I had never met in person. We have this joke about meeting someone you haven’t met before, “Be careful, they might take your liver,” but they didn’t and that was great. I actually had my wife come meet all of these people, who she calls my “fake internet friends,” but it didn’t feel weird. We traveled together over 30 hours during the week and we wondered if we would still be friends after that, but it’s those kinds of connections that are so incredible. It’s cool to live in this time, where we can connect with people from half way around the world or in another state and road trip with them. One of the guys who road tripped with us isn’t actively part of the Community anymore so he could focus on school but we still keep in contact because that relationship was so important to us.
- 34:25 Ben: Back when I was doing websites specifically focused on communication and marketing for churches, I learned through the chat about Cory Miller’s background and wanted to do some Google hangouts with him. I wanted to use it as a content marketing tool to demonstrate my expertise in that area, which ended up not being something I did much with, but Cory and I got into some really valuable conversations about the role of communication in church. That was a cool connection and had I gone in that direction, it would have really been a valuable thing.
- 35:36 Sean: Obviously, I’ve had the connections where it turned into people coming on to the team, but I really enjoyed meeting Kyle Adams, watching his journey, and seeing him evolve. It’s been cool to watch. He’s done such a great job curating and teaching what he knows. I associate him so closely with icon design and visa versa. So much has changed for him in the past year.
- 36:26 Ben: I’ve actually met with him for coffee. He’s here in San Antonio too so it’s inexcusable not to get together. It was a treat to sit down with him and see his sketch book.
The Community Supports Our Ad-Free Content
- 37:50 Sean: It’s not just “fake internet friends,” this is real life! It’s not just the text communication we have, it’s the video communication and meeting in person in your own city. Everything has changed in the past year for seanwes and the Community is a big part of that. The Community is the place to be. It’s grown into this magical thing and that’s how we’re able to do what we do. All of the shows coming onto the network are going to be 100% sponsor free and will be supported by the Community.
- 40:16 Going sponsor free isn’t easy, it’s expensive. Just this show alone costs thousands a month to do and I’m not quite to the point where the Community is covering all of the costs. I’m investing a lot of my own money in building systems and hiring people. I’m working extremely hard to make enough money to fundy all of this and I’ve put everything I have back into it. It’s not easy at all. You have to think really long-term in order to do this. I’m not doing this for profitability. I think we’re doing things smart to where it will be profitable in a few years but that’s not the reason I’m doing it. There’s this expectation in the podcast world that once you have sponsors, you’ve made it. That makes you a legitimate show and it’s almost a badge of honor. I decided to do it differently.
I would rather provide value to people and give them the choice of whether or not to compensate me.
- 41:30 We have people who for one reason or another, have limited time available and they’re not actively participating in the Community, but the maintain their membership because they appreciate everything we’re putting out and they want to support it. I think that’s really cool.
- 41:54 Cory Miller: That really shows that the people who are in the Community are people that want to give back and not just take. Getting into the mindset of contributing, not just taking, is even important with bettering your own business or brand. This show doesn’t happen without those people.
Community members are a part of what’s making it possible for us to do this show. It’s how we can provide this free value to everyone.
- 42:51 Sean: In the chat room, Samantha has a good question I want to bring in, “What about YouTubers who earn their living through sponsored ads?” A lot of them do but some don’t, believe it or not. One of my favorite YouTubers is Casey Neistat. He’s the best story teller I’ve ever seen and an incredible filmmaker. He’s had some viral videos and he recently started doing a daily vlog. Those can be kind of boring but his are the only ones I watch. He lives in New York City and he runs around Manhattan to get exercise and he brings three cameras with him.
- 44:03 I don’t know how he’s making and editing these five to eight minute videos every single day. He’s got between half a million and a million subscribers and he doesn’t monetize. Can you imagine the bank he would make? Thousands, if not tens of thousands, of dollars a month if he flipped a little switch. You know what he said? “Those ads get between the viewer and the story I want to tell. I don’t want to disrupt that experience.” It’s a personal value for him and I respect that so much. He could make so much money but he doesn’t do it. He works jobs and makes his money other ways, but this is a passion thing for him.
- 45:09 He does it because he wants to tell a story and he wants to share that story with people. Ads are an obstruction to that, they get in the way. I didn’t want to do it either. I didn’t want to interrupt the experience. Right now if I stopped the show and put a sponsor read right here, you could argue that we could pick up where we left off but there’s something that’s lost. There’s magic that’s lost and people that tune out. We have a different mindset. People say to prerecord them and you can argue semantics, but the point remains:
Ads are an obstruction to the listening and viewing experience.
- 46:03 To me, that’s not worth it. I want to think creatively and start with my values. I want to figure out a way to do this that doesn’t cause that problem.
- 46:12 Ben: The question comes up then, if you don’t monetize through sponsorships, how do you make money?
- 46:21 Sean: It’s indirect. With this podcast, we’re teaching everything we know, we’re inspiring people, motivating people, and we’re teaching them about business. We’re getting emails every single day from people saying this show has changed their lives. Someone sent me an email with some questions and I responded to them super fast and she said she never responded, but she remembers that having a really big impact on her. She said, “First of all, thank you for responding so quickly. It left a big impression and also, I can’t believe this email conversation was only a few months ago. I came to tell you just how much everything has changed in my life. I’ve now quit my job, I’m working on my own, and making money doing that. I’m loving what I do.”
- 48:00 It’s incredible to hear things like that. We’re making a difference for people and we’re attracting people of a certain mindset. I was having these conversations with people and imagine if you got to see this exchange happen in the chat—that has a positive impact on you too. People weren’t able to read it when it was just in emails, so the Community was a response to the reaction that we got from the show. It wasn’t a big plan all along.
- 48:36 My plan was that I was going to work hard doing what I love to do and I want to do this show because I have things to share. I was going to figure out a way to make it happen and we ended up attracting a certain kind of person. If you’re getting a lot out of this show, there are thousands of others like you and this show is acting as a magnet to attract those kinds of people together. The Community is the way we facilitate those connections.
- 49:12 Ben: I haven’t experienced anything like it.
- 49:18 Sean: I don’t think anyone has. I’m not taking the credit for this, it’s just something magical that’s happened. I was talking to Justin Michaels the other day and he describes himself as unemployable. He said there were only a couple of exceptions to this—employment at Apple would be a great life experience for him. Otherwise, he thinks of himself as unemployable but there are exceptions to every rule, and for him, that was working for seanwes. He said there’s something special and unique about this and he wanted to be a part of it. He could go build a community on his own but we have something here. We have something that’s alive and growing.
The Community is a living thing that we’re not trying to shape, we’re trying to facilitate its growth.
- 50:48 It’s as if we have this plant. We’re not training it to go a certain way, we’re building the construct around wherever it wants to go and keeping it healthy. Some of the chat features we’re looking at adding are just too cool—they don’t exist anywhere else. When Justin first started to build this, he originally was looking for an existing solution. He said, “I’m a professional and I’m not here to take your money. If something solves this problem, let’s implement it.” It was only after he realized the problems and challenges we have weren’t solved by existing solutions that he decided to build something custom. This is unlike Slack, Facebook Messenger, or Twitter but it has common elements of all these different things.
- 51:57 It’s hard for me to explain exactly what’s happening in there but the chat is a hybrid between real-time chat and long-time archivable discussion. It happens in real-time but it’s saved forever. We’re coming up with new ideas for group conversations and topics as well. If you’re a systems person, you like challenges, and you like seeing how things are made, this is a weird value but if you join, you get to see that happening in real time. You get to watch this thing find it’s shape as it’s happening. Justin is doing a server refresh almost every day, where he updates with new features to be tested. It’s really cool to be a part of that. Iterate in public—that’s what we’re doing here.
- 53:01 Ben: I love the buttons on the side: Schedule, Help & Feedback, and Reload. The Help & Feedback section is so great. There’s also a What’s New button so you can see what’s being added, updated, and fixed every day.
What makes the Community so unique is being able to connect with like-minded individuals in real-time all across the world.
- 54:28 Sean: If you like this podcast, these people are just like you, and you’re going to get stuff out of it that you can’t even imagine.
Real seanwes Community Testimonials
- 54:43 Cory Miller: I’m so overwhelmed thinking about what the Community has been to be. The importance of community in our lives in general is astronomical. We can’t do life alone. Before I joined the Community, I was doing creative things for my job but it wasn’t something I was super excited to do. The creative output I was producing was draining me. I actually ran a gaming channel on YouTube and I wasn’t feeling passionate about it either. I joined the Community and within a couple of months, the impact it made on my life was so amazing. I sold my gaming equipment and recording gear and invested it into a business I ended up launching later on that year. These are the kinds of things that happen in the Community!
- 56:34 There are so many people out there working from home and the people that are around them in their physical community might not be in the same mindset as them. There’s a sense of isolation that can happen with that, but when you have community and people that are pushing you on, that feeling becomes pivotal in your life. I remember talking with Sean and Justin and reaching that pivotal moment in my life. I realized I had to do something and I had to do something real that I care about. That’s when I knew I needed to get rid of all that stuff and do something that makes my heart come alive. Aaron Dowd always likes to say it’s life-changing in there and it totally is. Those people are on a different trajectory.
- 57:27 Sean: Why were you thinking about joining the Community and what made you join?
- 57:31 Cory Miller: The truth is I really wanted to listen live.
- 57:36 Sean: You didn’t didn’t even know all the magic that happens! If you’re not in the Community, you don’t get to hear the pre-show or the after-after show and you don’t know what you’re missing.
- 57:44 Cory Miller: I felt left out and I wanted to be in on the inside jokes. I felt like I knew Ben and Sean already and seeing that something was missing from my life—not being able talk with other designers or creatives. It seemed like a worthwhile investment to join the Community and talk with these people.
- 59:35 Sean: Earlier, Kyle Adams in the chat room said, “Even Sean figures things out here,” when we were talking about nobody has things figured out. I don’t have things figured out and I figure it out in “public.” I figure it out in the Community.
- 59:55 Cory Miller: There’s some cool times when Sean comes in there and says, “I’ve had a long day and I’ve got to put this newsletter out tomorrow. I’m struggling with the featured image. Here’s what I have.” He asks for feedback and we wrestle the problem with him. You end up feeling like a part of the finished product. When your heroes or people who put out great consistent work show what’s going on behind the scenes, it reminds us that they’re people too. We’re all learning, we’re all growing, and it’s about doing it together—that’s the best part of all of it. Last night I was struggling with the featured image for my newsletter and I jumped in there for help. I iterated, they gave me feedback, and it turned out amazing.
- 1:02:08 Ben: I subscribe to some of the Community members’ newsletters and it’s awesome to get to be a part of those conversations and help make it happen. Something you participated in making is in your inbox that not only went to you, but to all the other people this person is reaching.
- 1:02:32 Sean: That’s even more value—we have a list of Community member newsletters you can subscribe to. If you’re thinking about sending out a newsletter yourself, you can check out these other newsletters from people doing it right. We’ve curated it all for you! Little things like that that save you time and help you out are so valuable. Brent says, “Sean encouraged me to try out the Community when it was in beta. I never did anything with it so I got the boot when it went live. I continued to listen to the podcast and he kept mentioning how the Community was growing. I had to rejoin and I’m so happy I did.”
- 1:03:18 Sarah says, “I subscribed because I wanted to see the live shows and I felt the awesomeness. A show that cool had to be backed with an awesome community. I wanted to be able to discuss what was being said live with people in the Community, instead of just talking to myself while listening.” How many of you listen to this podcast and you end up talking to yourself about this or trying to talk to someone else, and they don’t get it? Like if you’re trying to make a case for something based on the fact you only do Full Price Or Free, but someone else doesn’t get that. Here, everything is a given so we can go deeper on that stuff.
In the Community, you can actually grow instead of having to spend all your energy trying to catch your friends up on your mindset. The people here already get it and they want to help you take a step forward.
- 1:04:21 Terrance says, “Before the Community, I thought I had my dream job because it wasn’t a job I hated. I enjoyed the people and it was as solid of a job as I ever could ask for with a good amount of creative freedom. My career was figured out. The Community made me realize that those pipe dreams in the back of my mind were actually attainable things.” I love that. So many people keep their dreams within the constraints of their current reality—that’s not where you want to dream.
- 1:04:55 Ben: People have these dreams in the back of their mind that they think will never happen.
- 1:05:16 Sean: Matt says, “I have amazing people in my life who know nothing about what I do. It’s great to have a second set of friends who understand what I do.” Brookes says, “I subscribed to support the podcast because of how it changed my life. The value past the threshold has been overwhelming.” Justin says, “This place is positive feedback loops, piled high on top of other positive feedback loops. Encouragement, learning, behind the scenes access—the value is mind boggling.“