How to Unlock the Power of Online Communities with Jordan Mix

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Everyone wants to build a community.

But no one wants to start a community for it to go dead in the first few weeks.

Jordan Mix is the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Late Checkout, a design firm that funds community-based businesses. He currently leads the community and newsletter for one of their projects, You Probably Need A Robot, which has over 30,000 members. In this episode of Creators on Air Jordan discusses developing online communities, keeping members engaged, and using automation to build meaningful connections.

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Episode Transcript

Akta: [00:00:00] As a creator, you might have thought about building a community, but engaging and nurturing the community is more than just posting content.

Jordan: Communities are people, and so you have to view them as people really like have that empathy. They're not just assets. It is an immensely valuable asset to have, but at the end of the day, it's a value exchange.

What people mainly get wrong is like trying to build that value so fast and then extract that value almost immediately.

Akta: Jordan leads the AI newsletter and community. You probably need a robot and it's thriving, and in this episode, it creates an air. He shares everything about communities from starting one promoting engagement, so doesn't die out in a week, and how to balance monetization with free content.

Jordan: Late checkout is a holding company. That builds community-based businesses. It started more than three years ago around digital innovation and product innovation for community-based products. Um, and we've since [00:01:00] built, been building out a portfolio of products and companies, productized service companies around community-based products.

So we've got several across the portfolio you probably need, A robot is focused on ai. We've got dispatch, which is design and boring marketing, which is SS e o, and AI enabled, um, services for boring

Akta: profits. That's amazing. And what made you decide to add, you probably need a robot to your portfolio and start that off.

Jordan: Yeah, for sure. We had AI kind of in the cross hairs for a while, but with chat G B T, um, coming out last November, It was just a really good time. Like we had the, you probably need a robot name for quite some time, but we were waiting on the right time to launch, uh, around, uh, community, around AI as a whole.

We were on our product innovation side. We've been doing some AI development projects for a long time, so we had some technical [00:02:00] expertise in how to integrate AI into products. So we had a little bit of a leg up when chat G B T and the AI hype all happened. Um, and so that really spurred us to really launch a community and put all of these AI enthusiasts that were on the early stage of the adoption curve into one place so they could mm-hmm.

Um, communicate and learn together. And we could provide value that way. 'cause at the core late checkout, that's what we do is community-based products. And so we kind of have to run our own playbook on that.

Akta: Yeah. No, I love that and I, I really love the name. I think it's so original because I feel like most of the AI newsletters and communities have AI in it, but I like how yours has robot instead.

So how did you actually start off the community? Was it with the newsletter or like how did you attract people? I.

Jordan: Yeah, so it started with a tweet really. Um, so the c e o of Late Checkout and founder is Greg Eisenberg on Twitter. He has a, a pretty big following on Twitter, so, um, [00:03:00] his audience definitely helps launch some of the projects that we start.

Um, so we usually start with a tweet from Greg and see how the, the attraction. Comes. Um, and this one, obviously AI was very hot and so everyone was like really learning and wanting to learn about it. So we just sp we spun up the brand around the premise of like, robots are friends. They're not gonna take our jobs.

They're, they're not gonna replace us, but they can be companions. Um, and so like we wanted to build a very friendly and approachable brand around adding AI into your life and into products. Because at the end of the day, AI is going to be unnoticeable. In a lot of ways. Um, so that's, that's how we kickstarted it with a tweet.

Um, what really added fuel to the fire was, um, I don't know if you saw this, but Jackson McFall did a tweet. I. Um, on how he was going to build a side hustle with a hundred dollars, like following everything that chat G p T told him. [00:04:00] Um, and he, he blew up like a hundred thousand followers in a matter of days.

Like, wow. The, the tweets were like, one of the most viral things I've seen on Twitter happen, and Greg bought an ad placement basically when the robot told, like when chat G B T told Jackson to buy an ad placement for his product. He put it out on Twitter. Greg bought it for $65 and that's really what like blew the gates off.

We got thousands of subscribers to the newsletter, thousands into the discord. Our discord was. Um, before we, we, we trimmed it, it was, uh, over 30,000 people in the Discord. Um, and it was, it was pretty crazy from that. So that, that's really how we launched it. Yeah. It was just an opportunistic time to have a product stood up, have a community already moving, and then when Jackson put that out, Greg jumped on it and, uh, the rest is history.

Akta: And so when starting out, how did you decide [00:05:00] what you wanted your community to look like? Like how did you know what sort of value you wanted to provide to these AI enthusiasts?

Jordan: Yeah, for sure. Um, community is at our core, and so we have a really strong methodology for how we want to provide community.

And a lot of it is putting people in places where they can interact and make it their own. You know, like we want the community to thrive without us necessarily, but we give that, that marketplace or that plaza for people to come hang out and learn and just connect with people. Um, so that's kind of at the core of light checkout is building community-based products.

Um, and we have a. We have a methodology that we follow, um, that we actually teach a course on called Community College. And it's all about how to set up those communities, how to on-ramp a lurker, how to get them welcomed and into a sequence and how to get them engaged and turn into an active [00:06:00] member of the community.

Um, and it's really just about providing that value, um, and listening to the community, what they're asking, what they're wanting. And so it's a very iterative process. Mm-hmm. And that's, How we use community to help know what to build, help know what products that we should offer, um, what, what is the market temperature based on everything that people are asking.

So, um, a lot of people were asking questions in there. So then we made industry chats. So it's like solopreneurs, e-comm, industry professionals, like lawyers, um, doctors, et cetera. So from there, those questions, we started piecing it and building out the channels as we went. I feel

Akta: like you, um, raised a really good point by mentioning lurkers because I feel like I've been part of quite a few communities and a lot of them end up being quite dead after a while.

So how do you encourage that conversation and community engagement within members, so it's not just you guys running the show?

Jordan: I. Totally. [00:07:00] Yeah. There's a rule, um, that I think we can look up, but it's like the 99 1 rule. So 90% of people will just lurk, 9% will do some activity and 1% of people will actually be the energy.

Um, and like the hype behind the community that can really self sustain it once you get it going. Um, so you can't like, make everyone not a lurker. What you can try to do is engineer minimal viable engagement as much as possible. Um, and so we did that by adding, uh, GM bot, um, to our discord. And basically it's a very simple bot.

Um, that was made actually by one of my friends. Um, And, uh, it basically is just like ans answers you back every morning. So people can go in there, say gm, and you get a streak and your streak gives you a roll. So there's like a micro gamification there of all you have to do is say gm [00:08:00] and it's like, I'm alive, I'm here.

I checked in and. That over time you do it 25 times, 3,101 discord where we created GM bot. Like people are up over a year in a streak without missing. Um, and so that's a little bit of a way to do that. Minimal, uh, like engineer minimal viable engagement. Um, but at the end of the day you're gonna have the 99 1 rule and they're getting lurkers do get value from that.

Um, us as like community owners are like, you know, we're trying to get those metrics and, and, and check in on how good is this doing, right. Like, uh, how, how, how good is our retention? But at the end of the day, like lurkers can lurk and still be valuable and get value.

Akta: That's true. And have there been, I mean, so obviously you've been involved with many communities, not just this one.

Are there any common challenges or obstacles that you find when setting up a community and how do you overcome them?

Jordan: Yeah, for sure. [00:09:00] Um, the way to overcome those challenges is to try to engineer it in a medium that the community members already live in. So not trying to do, get them to do an additional action to download a different app.

So for example, like if I was building a tech work, uh, like a, a community for tech workers, I chose Discord as the place they're probably already living every day in Slack for their work and life. Why wouldn't I just do that in Slack? So there, there's a, there's ways to do. To do that, um, in like a thoughtful way when you're setting these things up to help reduce the churn, because building communities are is, it is like, as mentioned before, like an iterative process.

You're, you're building a community to listen to an audience. There's like an audience that's free floating in the air and getting those in a vessel is the community, um, to use an analogy. And so you wanna like hear what that, that vessel is saying and [00:10:00] iterate from there. So, The, the first misstep that I see a lot of people do is try to force something because of features.

You know, like if I was gonna build a course, like I'm gonna pick circle because they send a weekly, um, email when it's like, maybe you don't need a weekly email of engagement metrics for everybody, or Here's what happened. And so it's just about like your goals and, and metrics of what you're trying to do for, for a community.

I think that really like will set you up for success on like, The whole goal, right, is to not have the community die within a week or a month or three months. Right. And like flourish and take on new life. Yeah,

Akta: definitely. So if you haven't already set up that community, how do you get that feedback to know, okay, this is the kind of platform they want to be on.

This is what they, they want, like how, how did you gauge that beforehand?

Jordan: Yeah, for sure. So we have a methodology called a C p. That's audience, community, and then product. So everything [00:11:00] starts with, um, an experiment in the audience, like a tweet or going on Reddit. Um, and hearing what people are asking. Um, listening to in Quora can be another place like where people are asking questions.

Um, So you listen to different signals in the audience and then try to collect those into a community. Um, so we're actually gonna be putting out, um, uh, some free material as well as like a, uh, an async, uh, low ticket course called a c p coming soon, where we, we took our cohort community college course and basically distilled it down into how do you hack distribution.

If you don't have an idea or if you do have an idea, how do you get your first a hundred users? How do you get market insights? And it's really all around this like a c p process about like finding where your people hang out, listening to what they want. I. And really [00:12:00] trying to fine tune your offering to meet those people that aligns with your passion and your expertise.

So that's how I would start from, from day one is like a c p and Greg's Twitter is a really good place to like learn a lot of this stuff as well. Um, He's putting out frameworks all the time, like his three D framework and the A C E P SS framework, which is audience, community, product, education, SaaS. So that's like a life cycle of um, like different business and products that you can build based on community.

Akta: I love that. I feel like most people love frameworks. That's always nice to see. Um, yeah, you guys can

Jordan: edit the, like acp, like Yeah, exactly. The alphabet I just

Akta: said. I love that. Um, and then you also mentioned that you reiterate with feedback from your community, but I feel like, I mean, with any audience, you get good feedback, you get bad feedback.

Some people just, you know, like to complain and might not necessarily have positive things to say or things that might actually help the [00:13:00] community. So how do you. Filter through all the feedback that you're getting and improve your content offerings and know that, you know, you're taking the right feedback to do that.


Jordan: it's, it's a little bit of an art. It's like reading between the lines where there's always gonna be someone that this isn't the place for them and they may complain or ask questions, but like, With enough time and reading between the lines and also doing like a considerable amount of, of probing as well, like putting daily questions in there, putting the GM bot in there, trying to set up like even auto dms when people land in the community to just see, like get to know them and what they're interested in.

So we've got a lot of like automation set up in the communities too that just like, Trigger an initial connection point on an individual basis because a lot of people, I think with communities, they look at like the hole as like the watering hole, but there's individuals in there as [00:14:00] well. And a lot of really good engagement, um, comes from just like individual.

One-on-one conversations. And so a lot of our community managers and just members of our community jump into conversations individually and just connect with people on what they're building. Um, and that builds affinity over time. Some people will be more honest behind, I. In DMS than they would be in a group setting.

Um, so blending those two things, like if someone objects in a, in on the big channel, like maybe you go in DMM and say like, what are you actually asking? Or what, like, what's your actual viewpoint on this? Where are you coming from? Just to get a little bit more context. Um, it's never gonna be perfect. Um, but reading between the lines I think is, and just like listening to the overall pulse over.

One week a month, three months can really give you a lot of, of iteration. And these things do take time to marinate, right? Yeah. It's not a one, one [00:15:00] week thing, it's, it's a multiple month, multiple year type

Akta: thing. Definitely. But how do you, I mean, your community's like really big, so how do you offer that almost personalized experience where you can, you know, identify someone's left this message and then you go personally dmm them?

Like how do you manage that, that large size of an audience?

Jordan: This one particularly got quite large and it breaks some of the, like it reached scale so fast that, um, some of our like methodologies did crumble on, on that. So we try to do, it's almost like the, the, you probably need a robot community turned into like kind of, uh, where people can share and.

Meet people and then they take a lot of things offline. So it's almost like a step down from social, uh, in a way. Um, since then we've launched a, uh, school community. I. Um, which is a really cool [00:16:00] platform as well. And we're running our course and like private education and, um, new content in a smaller community that is, is paywall through our course.

Um, we offer a free course called Five Tools, five Days. Um, it goes through five tools over five days via email just to make you a better person with ai. So like, Really like adding to your AI productivity tool belt. Um, and then we go deeper into the paid version, uh, of that and really go into deeper lessons and individualized content.

So we've kind of gotten multiple step downs for the community and the school community is a lot more. Um, hands-on combat because it's much smaller. How do

Akta: you go about pricing your, you know, either community or the offerings that you're delivering? How do you go about that? Is there a process for that?

Jordan: Yeah, it, um, really [00:17:00] looking at what's available in the market, what we think the outcome could be, and the transformation that. That is available as well as the future offerings that we, um, plan to provide in the community. So right now, robot Master the, the paid course is 1 99, um, but it's starting to come with a lot of free content that's going to be behind.

Um, the school access as well as we're working on some other partnership products, that'll be pretty exciting. Um, that will blow the, the 1 99 value kind of out of the water. Um, we think the course is valuable at that point, but, um, there's gonna be additional value that you'll either get heavily discounted by being a, a paid member of the community or get free access to.

Hmm. So we try to give as much information and value away for free as possible. Like, We just, we did ran, you probably need a robot for [00:18:00] completely free. Um, even with minimal ads, um, we, we've tried to really just like provide the, the valuable content and do, we've done a couple ad partnerships where, where it makes sense and where we believe, like the ethos is overlapped, but that's how we think about pricing is just like, how can we provide immense value?


Akta: And what, how do you actually decide. So how often are you kind of looking at your community to see kind of what's working, what's not working, and figuring out, okay, should I add another offering, should I add another service

Jordan: here? Yeah. It's really, um, really like a cadence thing, and we always want to be moving.

So as long as we're not like I. Under the gun and just swamped with work. We're always gonna be trying to be like innovating and doing partnerships. Um, we've got a couple of really cool partnerships coming down the, down the pipeline of exclusive content that we're gonna probably put into the, to the school community.

Um, and. Really not sure what that is gonna be like as far [00:19:00] as like pricing, but we got that, that was inbound by someone who took the course, liked what they were doing, and is kind of a generative AI expert that taught a more advanced course on actually building applications. So that was a natural step of here's how to use these five tools, here's how to go deeper and add them to your life to save time and money.

And now like here you can build these tools. So we're working on partnership. In that capacity as well, which is not a huge amount of effort for us. It does require, uh, a decent amount of work, but, um, uh, partnerships is a really good way to add value to, to the community and move fast.

Akta: So how do partnerships work for you then?

So is it like they're providing content to the community or like the, in the newsletter? Like how does that relationship work for you guys? Totally.

Jordan: It's, uh, unique on each case. Um, so like, it just depends on the resources that's available. Like if we're gonna [00:20:00] be doing a lot of design work, we'll do, um, like a, a more like 50 50 partnership.

Um, if there's like a paid element to it. Um, it really just depends on the level of work in involved. But if someone wants access to our audience and it adds value to our audience, that's already. Been in the paid version of our community. It, it just makes sense to, to kind of give it away for free a lot of times.

Um, and just like give access to a bunch of eyeballs to our partners and give value to our community. It's an asset that we've, that we've already built. And, um, you know, we wanna continue to add value. So if we're not doing a ton of, if it doesn't cost a ton, we wanna try to give that away as much as possible.

Akta: And how do you balance that, you know, providing free value to your audience with content versus monetization?

Jordan: Yeah, it's, it's a great question. [00:21:00] Um, it just kind of has a, you just have a feeling about whether this is a paid resource or free resource and just like doing the right thing. Is kind of how we think about it.

There's no real process that goes into it other than, other than that if we feel like we should just give it away for free. Mm-hmm. And as a part or as a bundled piece of something that someone's already paid for. It kind of just makes sense to do that. Um, so it's really like a fluid, kind of do the right thing case by case basis.

And if we wanna make sure that we're adding goodwill to the community, like if we look at our goodwill Apple, we want to build that goodwill apple up, up, up. And then every sale or chance to monetize is taking a bite out of that apple. Mm-hmm. So we wanna make sure that we're not taking too many bites, um, out of our apple.

Akta: Absolutely. And what about managing your time? So, I mean, obviously you've got the newsletter, you are [00:22:00] managing the community, you are, you know, coming up with courses and things like that. How do you effectively manage all of that?

Jordan: I've got a killer team for sure. Um, so we've got a really strong ecosystem at late checkout, like our designers are all dispatch designers.

Um, so I have a dispatch subscription with you probably need a robot and I'll put in a design request. Um, sometimes in the evening and get a, an amazing design in the morning when I wake up. And, um, so it's a really, or may, sometimes it's like a day or two with iterations, but that's really strong where I can like, get all fresh thumbnails or Twitter assets or course assets overnight.

Um, there's really, really strong, uh, offering for dispatch. Um, Other than that, I've got a really strong team of writers that, that help, um, put out content, uh, as well [00:23:00] as, um, some, some help on the, the strategy and business execution side of things. Mm-hmm. Um, so yeah, it's a collective effort and that's part of the, the model that we've built at late Checkout is like this whole co thing, is these experiments can run a lot more lean.

And become companies a lot more quickly when we have shared resources and and shared assets across the org and the HoldCo.

Akta: Absolutely. So if there was a creator who has built a community just on their own and they kind of want to scale and they want to start building a team, where do you think they should prioritize in terms of hiring?

Jordan: Totally. Great question. I would need a lot more context, uh, for, for their specific situation. But, um, to be valuable, I sa I'll say it really depends on the prioritization. Like there's a, like the Eisenhower matrix where the, the, the four quadrants of immediate, [00:24:00] urgent delegate, et cetera. I would say like, turn that into a hate love matrix of like, what are you good at?

What do you love? Don't hire for that. What do you hate? What are you bad at? Definitely hire for that. Um, and then what on the backbone of that is going to add the most value from a monetary standpoint? Like, these things do need to make money. Um, and like that's how you hire and scale and like hire for all those buckets.

So I would say building that hate, love matrix, and I think I, I saw that from a guy named Kane Callaway on Twitter. Um, he had this like matrix that was really well designed and he was saying like the things that he loved to do, he was gonna keep doing, um, and the things that he wasn't good at and didn't like he was gonna hire for.

So. Mm-hmm. Um, that's a really cool framework, I think, for hiring. And he's a solo creator right now, so I think that's super relevant. So I'd definitely go check, check that out.

Akta: Definitely. And I mean [00:25:00] you've come across, I'm sure, so many communities in your line of work. So what do you think most people get wrong about communities as kind of

Jordan: the product?

Yeah. Web three did a, took a toll on communities. Um, for sure. I think a lot of people got taken advantage of when it was community as the product. Um, I view like communities are people and so you have to view them as people and really like have that empathy and they're not just assets. It, it is an immensely valuable asset to have.

A community around. But at the end of the day it's, it's a value exchange. And I think people, what people mainly get wrong is like trying to build that value so fast and then extract that value almost immediately. It feels very transaction. People are not transactional. They wanna be fostered to catered, to hugged, loved, like, People [00:26:00] just like use community as a way to get their numbers up or something to sell to.

And I think if you want to be building community, it's a long-term game with long-term people and you should have like a 10 year gaze instead of a a day gaze.

Akta: I love that. I think that's a, a great answer to end the podcast on. But we're gonna jump into a quick fire round now. So I'm gonna ask you five questions I ask every creator that comes on air, starting with what's your favorite thing about being a creator?

Jordan: I think just the ability to push ideas through a filter and see what sticks and see what people, uh, track to and iterate quickly. Mm.

Akta: What gives you the most inspiration for what you do?

Jordan: Yeah, it's just like having your like ideas be published into the world is something that I think is such a unique experience.

Experience in the internet age, that your brain can be published everywhere and you can see other people's [00:27:00] brains published, and so like just seeing really cool people. Their brain in real time is a really fascinating piece, uh, that like is inspirational.

Akta: Yeah, I love that. And is there a tool that has been the most helpful for your business?


Jordan: I love Figma, um, honestly, uh, and uh, another one is my mind. Um, it's an AI tool that I love and it's really, really seamless way to bookmark and save things. Kind of like a second brain. Um, oh, cool. Yeah. So that one is, I've not heard of that. Yeah, that one's really, really cool. Um, it's kind of undercover, but I think it's only like five bucks a month for the premium too, and it's, it's really cool.

Akta: Oh, cool. I'll check that out. And what's something that helps you with your career to work-life? Balance

Jordan: walks are always good. Um, and, uh, really like walking, listening to podcasts and, and calling, calling friends. And I. Cold [00:28:00] dms also. Um, I, I love just DMing people and just seeing what they're up to and, and giving a chance to connect and getting out of your own like bubble is, uh, an interesting way to, to get inspiration and, and have inspiration for what you're doing.

Love that.

Akta: And what's one piece of advice that you would give to other creators?

Jordan: Keep going. If you don't publish, then no one sees your ideas. Uh, I made the mistake in the past of having all my ideas in a notebook, and if you don't publish 'em, then no one's seeing them.

Akta: So true. I love that. Thank you so much, Jordan.

This has been such a great conversation. I feel like I've learned so much about community building, so thank you.

Jordan: Awesome. Well, thank you guys for having me on. Uh, I really enjoyed it and love what you guys are doing at Passion Fruit, and it's an amazing asset for creators. If you are

Akta: a creator working with sponsors, then check out Passionfroot.

We help you to streamline your entire workflow. I'll see you in the next one.[00:29:00]