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The Truth Behind 5 Myths About Building a Successful Online Community (2024)

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Myths About Community Building

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Have you ever wondered what makes some online communities thrive while others struggle to gain momentum?

The mystery behind building and growing a successful online community has puzzled many, with questions ranging from how they manage large member bases to whether they rely on hefty budgets or free access to attract users.

In this blog post, we’ll dive deep into the findings of a comprehensive study conducted by the team at Circle, who analyzed data from over 10,000 communities and surveyed 682 community professionals, with 10% of them being top-tier “Platinum” communities.

They wanted to uncover the secrets behind thriving communities. (You can check out the full community benchmark report 2024 for all the juicy details.)

Circle Community Benchmark Report

The results might just surprise you. It turns out, successful communities come in all shapes and sizes, but they do share some common traits.

And here’s a hint: it’s got nothing to do with how big their budget is or how many members they have. So, buckle up to bust some myths — we’re about to dive in…

Myth #1: A big team is needed to run a successful community.

Having a big community doesn’t always mean it’s the best. Some of the most successful ones are actually small but have members who really care about what the community is all about.

People often think a community is successful because it has a lot of members. But what truly matters is how close the members are and how active they are, not just having a big crowd.

According to the survey conducted by Circle, the majority of Platinum communities, specifically 76%, have a membership size of 500 or less. This is comparable to the 82% of standard communities that fall into the same category.

Myth 1 Community Size Actual Data
Source: Circle.so Community Benchmark Report 2024

Furthermore, a small percentage (7%) of Platinum communities have over 5,000 members, slightly higher than the 6% seen in standard communities.

So, it’s not about how many people are in the community that makes it great. And let’s be real, managing a huge community like that would be a ton of work.


Myth #2: Without a free community, you will struggle to attract and retain a large number of members.

Did you know that the percentage of Platinum communities that are free is just 7%, whereas it is 21% for standard communities?

Look at the chart below:

Myth 2 Cost
Source: Circle.so Community Benchmark Report 2024

Successful communities typically generate income through one or both of the following methods:

  • They charge the members directly, just like how you pay for a gym membership. When people pay, they’re more likely to get involved and make the most out of it.
  • They offer community access as a bonus when someone buys another product or service. It’s like getting an extra treat for becoming a customer.

There are other ways to make money too, such as offering additional services like personal coaching or special courses, or having different levels of membership with varying benefits.

It might feel a bit weird at first to put a price tag on what your community offers, or to start charging when it used to be free. But in the end, it’s worth it.

The truth is that thriving communities have a cost that aligns with their benefits, and those who are part of them gladly invest in it.

Quick Tip: Providing free goodies like valuable insights and content can actually put you in a stronger position to charge for your community or services later on. Why? Because it builds trust and gives people a preview of what they’ll get when they join. It’s like offering a sneak peek of the awesomeness awaiting them.


Myth #3: Managing a successful community requires a large team.

Can you really handle a community all by yourself?

The answer is — YES.

Circle’s research reveals an interesting trend: close to 60% of individuals, regardless of whether they’re Platinum creators or standard ones, are without full-time support. Moreover, about the same number of people hire two or fewer part-time or freelance employees for community management support.

Myth 3 Managing a Successful Community Requires a Large Team
Source: Circle.so Community Benchmark Report 2024

It’s no easy task to run a community single-handedly, but if you stick to the basics, you can achieve a lot.

The great thing is, you have full control over everything. When your team is small, you can build stronger connections with each member, which helps you understand the community and their needs better in the long run.

If you use Circle.so, you don’t have to do anything manually. For instance,

  • With the help of Circle’s Community AI feature, you can brainstorm new ideas for content, easily convert webinars into written transcripts, and get valuable insights into how engaged your community is.
  • You can set up workflows to automate boring tasks like sending out welcome messages to new members, bulk event invites to existing members, and more.

So, here’s the bottom line…

Don’t be afraid to take on the task of managing a community all by yourself; with the help of AI, workflows, and other helpful tools, it’s actually easier than you might imagine.


Myth #4: You need a bunch of expensive tools to run a successful community.

Absolutely not.

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by using too many complicated tools? It’s like trying to handle a bunch of puzzle pieces that just don’t fit together. You might even find yourself saying “I feel stuck and unable to begin my community due to the overwhelming amount of tools for me to choose from.”

The findings suggest that to run a community efficiently, it is crucial to have the appropriate tools rather than an excessive number of them. The study reveals that most professional creators use three tools or fewer to successfully manage their communities.

Myth 4 You Need a Bunch of Expensive Tools to Run a Successful Community
Source: Circle.so Community Benchmark Report 2024

Having a bunch of tools might seem helpful, but actually, the more you have, the less each one really helps. When you simplify the tech stack you use, you have more time to concentrate on making your community awesome.

So, it’s better to pick tools that can do a bunch of different things at once. This will save you time and money in the long run because you won’t need as many separate tools.


Myth #5: Online workshops and webinars don’t work anymore.

We’ve got an eye-opener of a fact for you here.

Did you know that all Platinum creators organize events? And they don’t just do one type of event, they do lots of different ones.

Myth 5 Online Workshops and Webinars are Dead
Source: Circle.so Community Benchmark Report 2024

Circle’s extensive research shows that hosting live events is incredibly powerful.

Online workshops and webinars are not old-fashioned at all—they’re actually doing really well. And it’s something everyone should definitely give a try in their community.

Here’s a quick rundown of some event ideas you can try out:

  • Educational
  • Summits or conferences
  • Onboarding or orientation
  • Celebrations or milestones
  • Office hours or Q&A sessions
  • Member showcases or success stories
  • Small group discussions or peer support

Hosting live events might seem a bit scary at first, but you don’t have to dive into everything all at once.

We suggest starting with a regular event, like a weekly Q&A session. This gives your members something to look forward to. Then, as you get more comfortable and have more time, you can try out different types of events and themes.

Download The Full Community Benchmark Report by Circle

Quick checklist for building an awesome community

Even if you’re good at building communities, it’s still tough sometimes to know if you’re doing a great job or not. And honestly, figuring out what “great” even means in community building can be confusing. So, I hope this list of myths should help dispel any false beliefs or assumptions you may have had as well.

To sum it all up, here are a few important things to keep in mind as you build or reshape your community plan:

  • Decide how many members you want in your ideal community.
  • Explore different ways to make money from your community and choose the one that fits best.
  • Use automation to simplify and speed up your community management processes.
  • Try out a tactic to get new members that doesn’t cost much or anything at all.
  • Invest in essential tools that offer multiple functionalities, such as Circle (read our review).
  • Experiment with events, starting with a regular event that happens every week or so, like a webinar.

And that’s it.

Final thoughts

Interested in starting your own online community or sprucing up one you already have? Why not give Circle’s 14-day free trial a try? You’ll get to see how it works without any commitment. Plus, you’ll become part of Circle’s awesome community of fellow community builders.

There, you can ask questions, find out how others have succeeded in building their communities, access exclusive resources, join live workshops, and much more.

Ready to see what Circle can offer you? Sign up for your free trial today…

Sanu Kumar Singh

Written by Sanu Singh (Author)

Hi, I'm Sanu, the voice behind MasteryBlogging. I write tutorials on blogging, SEO, and affiliate marketing. Follow me on Twitter and Linkedin.

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