Rebel Book Club - online book club membership site

Rebel Book Club

Portrait of the maker

Ben Keene


Starter Stack
hours to build

Start a community with no-code tools

What is it:

Rebel Book Club - online book club membership site

What did I learn:

1. Product Strategy: Build small, start with simple lower learning curve tools. Validate what you need. Then invest in tools that scale, automate and customize.

So often I see Makers start with bigger tools that require more time investment, money and learning curve to build their idea. This can be a fatal mistake.

Part of the problem is many folks don't know where to start. If you're just getting into no-code you don't hear about the smaller tools that aren't as popular as bigger ones. This is what this database is designed to show you that depending on the type of thing you want to build, you can filter for it in the database, then see the different types of products using tools with skill level "starter-stack" then "mid-level stack" and "expert level stack".

This product by Ben Keene is a great case study. Check out below the tools used when they first launched, then a couple years after initial launch they invested into tools to grow into the business and community they were becoming, AFTER they validated what they needed. They also chose tools to automate manual tasks to help them handle their community. For example, they did not start out using MightNetworks or Sheep CRM to manage their community. Only once the demand and community size expanded did Ben and his team grow into using these tools.

original stack:
strikingly: 2 hrs
typeform: 1 hour
Gocardless: 1 hour

updated stack:
Wordpress: 30 hours
GoCardless: 5 hours
Stripe: 5 hours
Typeform: 20 hours
Zapier: 5 hours
Sheep CRM: 50 hours
Hopin: 20 hours
whatsapp: 20 hours
mightynetworks: 15 hours

2. No-code tool feature: Community - Mightynetworks is used to create a community for your product/service. This is a good service to use but is expensive. A competitor that is similar that you may want to check out is Circle starts off cheaper than Mightnetworks.

My recommendation is to first evaluate what stage of your community building are you in now? Use that as guide to determine how much you should spend on a community app.

The reason for this is community takes a long time to grow. Even if you do grow it you using one of these free options is usually good enough. However, you may not have as much flexibility to store community information and it may feel like a long chat. But usually when your community starts out small a chat like experience is better because it feels closer together and not as empty.

For example, if you are just starting out, a popular app to use is Slack or Telegram. I've seen Facebook groups as another strong community app used because they are free and effective. Depending on where your audience is, and how large this is a great starting point.

From there other community apps, that I see as popular that offer you more customization and flexibility but are pricier are At this point I wouldn't consider paying for this unless community is a key part of the value prop of your app. Will people be using it regularly? How often? Daily? there are a lot of other great features built within Circle that help you add value to your product and service that is hard to replicate by competitors. But it comes with a price tag, and unless you are monetizing, this can eat up a lot of your tool budget.

Thirdly, there is Mightnetworks which sits at the higher end of community building in terms of price and features.

Ben Keene uses it for his product here. And we can easily see why. He has established a community of thousands of people who are paying money for their experience and community IS what his product is about. Using a higher end app like this is a differentiator especially against other book clubs that may want to get started, because the better you make the community experience the larger the moat you create for your business. Ben Keene made a great investment here to have a fantastic community.

3. Product Strategy: User Sign Up Flow - I thought it was really interesting the way Ben handled this.

1. He is using wordpress as his landing page and website. He using using good URL subfolder link structure to help with SEO which is probably a big part of his user acquisition strategy. This is why I would recommend Wordpress in this situation and is why I use Wordpress. Wordpress is going to give you the best reliability and SEO setup because it has been around for so long and it has the tools to set you up to take advantage of it. (example:

It covers the basics in making sure the Google excerpts are easy to change and display properly. When I first built Side Project Stack, I used Squarespace and it failed. The reason why is because it had bugs in it's ability to accurately display site preview text in google search. I lost trust in the tool and moved to Wordpress.

2. When a user signs up, a a typeform page displays to ask a couple questions so that they can better qualify the new user. What is interesting is that from there, is no payment request to join the community. I thought this was a different approach. I did not sign up, so I am not sure how that is done. But based on the list of tools Ben uses, he is using GoCardLess and Stripe to accept payment.

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