Welcome to our new Rosieland Community Interview series. We sat down with Femke, a product designer, educator, mentor and founder of the Femke.design community, to learn how she used her expertise to build community. Femke.design is a community of 200+ designers focused on growth and personal development in the design world. We dive into how Femke found herself in community, what it takes to run the community and lessons to share with future community professionals.
Getting to know the founder, Femke
What’s your background and how you found yourself in community
I’m a product designer working in tech that’s been teaching design on the side of my full-time career for the last seven years. I began by sharing my knowledge through blogging and podcasting, before eventually moving towards an email newsletter and YouTube channel. Now I run a 200+ community of designers offering live events and coaching.
Community for me came about because I wanted to connect with my audience on a more personal level. It’s hard to engage and connect with comments on a YouTube video, and I found that community was where I could offer more practical and tailored advice. It’s also humbling to get to introduce people to one another and facilitate more connections in the industry.
What do you wish you knew before embarking on your community journey?
That communities can evolve! I felt paralyzed beginning my community journey as I wanted everything to be perfect. I think part of that stems from being a designer – the desire to create a good experience. However my community has grown and evolved over time, flexing to meet new needs of members. In a way that’s what makes it special!
Getting to know the community model for Femke Design
Tell us about the community, why it exists and the community ‘superpower’.
We have around 200 designers with most of them being a few years into their career. Many of them are isolated within their companies – either the company does not have strong design maturity, or they’re on a team of 1. The community is a place for them to get feedback on their work, ask for guidance and share their own learnings and experiences while being inspired by others.
Describe your business model and how you came to that decision.
Members can choose between a monthly or annual subscription. I began with just a monthly subscription and introduced an annual plan a year later when I was confident that I’d continue running the community long-term. Due to the size of my audience across my platforms, I worried that if I created a free community I’d have an overwhelming number of people join.
I’d been a member of several communities with hundreds if not thousands of members and felt that at this scale it makes it challenging to connect with others and be vulnerable and authentic. By charging a subscription, I knew this would keep my member number low and also attract folks with enough career experience that the conversations and challenges would be interesting.
What is your community tech stack and what led you to the tools you’ve chosen to use?
I run my community almost exclusively through Superpeer – it’s a fantastic platform that allows me to configure my community settings and integrate with other platforms like Discord (where we have our daily conversations) and ConvertKit (where I send email comms). I chose Superpeer because I’d already been a customer for years prior and I love their focus on creators, so it was a natural fit.
Understanding community growth
What did you find worked well for bringing growth to the community?
I’m a big advocate for building in public and the slow-burn of generating demand. I talked about this community publicly for months before launching it and think that helped build the excitement and hype I saw on launch day. I don’t believe people notice announcements, so by building in public I got access to early feedback while building demand for launch.
What types of community generated content worked well?
One of my favourite rituals we have is Design Crit – it’s a monthly live event where members can sign up to bring their work for a design review and gain feedback from myself and their peers in the community. This has worked great for getting members to share their work and facilitate feedback.
I’ve also started to invite community members to join me on live streams to share a topic they’re interested in or a story that could help others. For example we recently had a community member share his story on how he got hired at one of the biggest tech companies.
What moved the needle for community growth?
It’s a slow needle mover but sprinkling touch points to my community across all my content and platforms creates a funnel where new members trickle in regularly. I link to my community everywhere; my onboarding email, website, YouTube description, Instagram. Building out those touch points in a way is like marketing it on auto-pilot.
Biggest lessons and thoughts to share with others
What’s one failure you’ve had in the community?
I’ve tried a few different tools and rituals that haven’t stuck. We initially launched the community on Luma as I didn’t want the community to rely on a chat tool. However I quickly learned that members wanted to chat to one another, so we eventually pivoted to Discord.
If you could start over, what would you do differently?
I’d start earlier! I had the idea of starting a community for 1-2 years before I started. I remember taking the Rosieland community building course in April – yet it wasn’t until November of that year I actually launched my community! That wasn’t because of the work required per-say, but because of all the doubts and fears I had getting started.
What does the future hold for the Femke.design Community?
We are continuing to grow! I’m trying to encourage more cross-pollination of knowledge sharing within the community. That includes giving members the opportunity themselves to share experience with other members. Maybe we’ll have a conference or meetup in the future, who knows!
Share your thoughts!
We hope you enjoyed this interview with Femke and her community journey. We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!