Paid Communities: It’s Hard

Last year I started with FocusX, my main private Discord group that has now the DNA I really want it to be.

A diverse group of different people, skills, geos and goals for themselves. What’s funny is that most of them sway away from building in public and just do their thing.

However, recently I started a new private Discord channel, which I haven’t really advertised much on X either. But now I recognize the mistakes made how I handled it and how freaking hard it is in the early stages.

FocusX went through a similar trajectory except I cherry picked the people that might be a good fit for the group and that worked well.

Main differences

FocusX vs NanoBets

  • One is subscription based, NB is one-time payment of $49 and lifetime access
  • One is capped at 50 people (currently 25 people) and NB has no cap
  • One is more build driven, NB is more goal driven and info driven
  • One has a clear DNA, NB… not just yet

I have set my sights making NanoBets into a success but I made a big mistake in the early stages (now)

I invited a few people at no cost to it before I set a paywall of $49 and to no surprise those people were very eager to join, but interact… zero.

Zero engagement and zero commitments. Rarely showing up nor sharing their trajectory.

And I guess my biggest mistake was letting too many free tiers in that currently do not add a lot of value.

After all, my goal was to build a private Discord channel with people that are seeking more internal knowledge in the form of a content library, AMAs, info given in chat and help them steer them in the right direction.

Another mistake was that I might have not set the DNA yet and haven’t talked too much about it on X, but I will change that.


Think this requires a new action plan and I went back to the drawing board (in my head) and noted core values of what it supposed to be.

Starting a paid Discord community is HARD. Insanely hard when there are no clear definitions or values projected/communicated to the outside world.

Good news is that I have nothing but time. And my revenue isn’t depending on the $49 OTPs offered. But here is what I plan to do:

  • Cleanup and hygiene check of the non-paid members. Those who never interacted once, will be kicked out.
  • I will post a daily chat/announcement nudging anyone else with a bait or call to action sort of speak. So they can at least interact on that. If they would still not respond ever, I might consider throwing them out too
  • Last but not least, I might onboard a Discord community manager to start, build and engage with conversations. I can deploy that person in all my channels, (luckily FocusX is self-driven nowadays) but still nice to have someone onboard to make the server more alive.

What I do realize is that I need to make work of the content library in private but people that never or barely interact would be picking my brain or thoughts for free. Which I am not sure if I really want that.

Sounds harsh yes. But if I want to make NanoBets into a very active channel at scale, this requires killing off dead weight in the earlier stages.

Think it’s time for me to hunt for people that want to join NanoBets but are somewhat invested into it.

I expected more friction than FocusX, but not this amount of friction to build/boost or create a better Discord server.

Sometimes you have to admit to yourself that you might be equally at fault and this was the case.

The question is: Will I be able to turn it around? Maybe I did draw too early of a conclusion or maybe I am wasn’t ready yet to build a community like this at scale.

I am here to find out. I am going to take up on my own advice and treat it as a startup.