I’ve been mentoring independent marketers and creatives lately who are earlier in their careers than me and looking to level up.
Whether that means going from employee to freelancer, or freelancer to agency, or becoming a strategic advisor and educator, which is what I do.
They are somewhere along the Success Path of the Independent Professional. Like all of us, they’re hungry to learn and grow their independent businesses and careers.
After doing this for a few weeks, I’ve decided I want to scale it up and help more people on a similar path. But here’s the thing: I have been getting myself hung up on the technology.
I envision it being a mix of short posts, tools, templates, videos, a private podcast, and direct access to me for questions. It’s like having a mentor your pocket.
Choosing a platform for delivering your client experience
I’m a big believer in building on land you own and not relying on platforms for your income.
However, platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Google, Medium, Substack, and others can be a big advantage in growing an audience and a business. Especially when you’re starting out.
You can build audiences quicker on platforms where people already exist and drive them to an email list where you can actually own the relationship directly.
So here are some options I’ve been comparing:
- A paid newsletter + private podcast subscription (independent)
- A private community built on something like Circle (platform)
- A Patreon group with bite-sized posts in various formats (platform)
- A Slack community with private content on the side (independent + platform)
- Or a hybrid of many of these ideas (independent + platform)
Whether you go independent, platform, or both, there’s always a trade-off.
Going fully independent (i.e. custom build using WordPress, membership plugin, podcast hosting, email tool, etc.) is harder to build and grow from scratch.
But you can fully customize it, you make the rules, and you completely own the experience.
Using a platform, on the other hand, is easier to get started with. But there’s more risk they could change the rules, and there is much less control over the experience.
You’re buying a turn-key experience that is fast to get started and good enough at the expense of control and customization.
There are three competing values at play in the decision: speed, independence, and experience.
On the one hand, I want to fully own the experience and control the rules. Independence is the only way to do things over the long-term.
But to do that, I’d need to work hard to create the level of experience I’d want. And the idea isn’t really fleshed out yet, let alone validated.
The experience of platforms like Circle, Patreon, and Slack are great. I could have them up and running tomorrow. Those tools make it turn-key to get started.
Patreon, for example, allows you to post content easily, they offer self-hosted private podcasts, an app that pushes out new content to members, and a whole lot more. As a consumer, the experience is great.
But they could all change their rules at any time.
So what is the right thing to do?
I’ve decided that speed and experience are the two factors most important factors in getting validation and momentum.
Once I have a proven idea and some momentum, I can worry about bringing things back “in-house” and investing into a custom experience that I own completely.
Here’s the plan:
- I’m going to use Patreon to deliver member content and a private podcast
- I’m going to use Slack to build community and have direct interactions
- I’m going to eventually phase the business into something more permanent and independent on my own site once I have enough traction
Success is an interactive process. I could spend weeks and months building out an idea that may not even fly. That’s not smart.
The key with all new ideas is to validate, learn, adapt, and evolve as you go. You’ll never get it right the first time.
I hope this helps you if you’re in a similar predicament. There’s always a balance of speed, experience, and control that we need to figure out when choosing platforms for our work.
If you’d like to be an early member of the group, join here.