Jonathan Callinan, How to Build a Community Around Your Online Business – InnovaBuzz 460

Jonathan Callinan

Jonathan Callinan, Course Commander

In this episode, I’m really excited to have as my guest, Jonathan Callinan of Online Business Accelerator, an Auckland-based marketing company dedicated to helping entrepreneurs and business owners rapidly grow their businesses through the power of online marketing. He is also the founder of Course Commander, an all-inclusive website, landing page, and course builder to save coaches, consultants, authors, and infopreneurs time and remove the typical tech-aches from creating and delivering courses, programs, and memberships.

Jonathan is a serial entrepreneur, marketer, and big subscription advocate; having generated over 7 figures for both himself and his clients from membership models across various niches, including the natural health and digital marketing spaces. He previously appeared on episode 406 of the InnovaBuzz podcast.

In our discussion, Jonathan talked to me about:

  • Building a community and why you should have it on your own system (rather than social media)
  • How to test a subscription idea before building it
  • Transitioning to an online subscription model

Listen to the podcast to find out more.

Listen to the Podcast

Small businesses should be growing fast but also scaling smart. Jonathan Callinan on #InnovaBuzz podcast Share on X

Show Notes from this episode with Jonathan Callinan of Course Commander

Key points and takeaways from this episode include:

  • Course Commander is an all-in-one website, sales funnel, course and community building system. 
  • Your marketing software should allow you to do what you want to do.
  • Consumer habits are changing. We’re living in a micro-attention economy where you only have 3 seconds to impress people and another 3 seconds to keep their attention.
  • Small businesses should be growing fast but also scaling smart.
  • A software should work for you, not the other way around. 
  • Train a user on the process, not the system. Help them discover the process first rather than the system.
  • Date the tactic and marry the strategy.
  • If you want to get a course online, you have to do it quickly and efficiently.
  • You can turn you existing courses into a membership. Use them to leverage your high paying services. 
  • A membership model is a quick, easy, and ready-to-go model that will allow you to bring more customers into your premium services.
  • Community building is so important. 
  • We’re living in a micro-influencer paradigm. People are now flocking from influencers to micro-influencers, that really understand and connect with them on a human level. 
  • Build your community on your own platform so that you can own the intellectual property and the way you want to run your community.
  • Course Commander allows you to run and sell courses, memberships, and masterminds whilst building your community on the same platform.
  • Less than 5% of people are engaged on a Facebook group. That 5% represents your better prospects.
  • Encourage your audience to join your new platform outside of Facebook. Let them know what you’re doing and that you’d love them to be a part of it. Offer something of reasonable value as a form of thank you. 
  • There’s a lot of benefits to having people in your own community. People want to be part of a close-knit group. They want to be part of something where they can be acknowledged and listened to, and having your own platform makes you more credible.
  • Watch your strategy. Figure out exactly what you are willing to offer people to join your community. Be clear on your marketing strategy first.
  • Don’t underestimate the amount of good information that you’ve shared in your Facebook group. Hire a VA to go into your group and pull out all your posts. You have some absolute gems in there that you can repurpose in your community. 
  • Creating a course or membership all comes down to knowing your business model and your client base.
  • Stop guessing what your audience wants. Go out to your past and existing client base and let them know what you’re thinking of doing. Create quick surveys to find out what they would interested in. Look for validation if they’d be interested in paying a small subscription fee to have that information on a monthly basis.
  • Your audience is always willing to help. They want to be part of your business. Don’t be afraid to ask them these questions, especially if they are your customers. 
  • Get validation if there’s enough people that are willing to pay and then start creating your charter program. It doesn’t matter whether you have 5, 10, or 20 members. Just start with and create whatever model you think would work best for your audience.
  • Great marketing will always focus on people who are in real pain, people who really need a solution that may have been in that pain for some time.
  • Know your target audience very intimately. Never compromise on that because the broader you go, the more diluted your message becomes.
  • Drawing people in is a lot different from keeping people. You have to provide something new and engaging each month for your audience to keep them.
  • Let your evergreen content work for you. Put them into your membership. Your evergreen content is what creates high-perceived value for people.
  • It is the strength of a community that keeps people paying every month.
  • The value of your network is your net worth.
  • You have to create a valuable community. Think about what type of business you want inside your community. The more valuable your community is, the more retention you are going have because people are going to build connections that have a higher perceived value than any resource, document, or live training.
  • Be very inclusive and open-minded with how you build your community. Empower your members to help one another, educate one another, and provide value to each other.
  • You build a community because you want to create a successful subscription-based business. Don’t just create a community for the sake of building one. 
  • Subscription-based business have 3-5x the value of a brick-and-mortar business. 
  • A subscription-based model is highly leverageable. 
  • If you already have partners or healthy relationships with other business owners that love adding value and education others, bring them in so that they can bring their own tribes and community as well. 
  • Go out to your audience and find out if they’d be willing to pay for a low-ticket subscription. Don’t just assume that your subscription model will fly in the same way that you shouldn’t assume your audience won’t pay for a subscription, because there will always be a segment of your audience that it will definitely serve. 
A membership model is a quick, easy, and ready-to-go model that will allow you to bring more customers into your premium services. Jonathan Callinan on #InnovaBuzz podcast Share on X

To Be a Leader

Believe in what you have right now. If you are a service provider, believe that there is a segment of your audience now that would happily pay for a splinted version of what you offer to your high-paying clients. The subscription economy is a massively exploding economy, there is an opportunity for all serviced-based businesses to jump on that wagon. 

Reach Out

You can reach out and thank Jonathan through their website.

Suggested Guest

Jonathan suggested we have a conversation with e-learning expert, Samantha Riley, and sales expert, Steve Brosman. So Samantha and Riley, keep an eye on your inboxes for an invitation from us to the InnovaBuzz Podcast, courtesy of Jonathan Callinan.


Become the commander of your next course, membership, or program! Start a FREE 14-Day Test Drive of Course Commander and discover what it can do for your business.  

Cool Things About Jonathan

  • He has launched and managed several successful online ventures over the past 9 years, including The Wellness Directory; one of NZ’s most popular health sites.
  • He holds a degree in Mathematics from the University of Hull.
  • He used to be a fitness coach. 
Be very inclusive and open-minded with how you build your community. Empower your members to help one another, educate one another, and provide value to each other. Jonathan Callinan on #InnovaBuzz podcast Share on X

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Jürgen Strauss

Dr. Jürgen Strauss is The World's Best Human-Centred Podcasting Coach and the only Podcast Innovator with the signature bright yellow headphones, who masterfully crafts human connection for high-impact achievers in a vibrant community. You can find Jürgen on LinkedIn, The InnovaBuzz Podcast, The Flywheel Nation Community as well as on Innovabiz' InstagramTwitter, Facebook pages and his personal Photography website.  

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