Six months ago, we launched the Guild Beta. Our goal was -- and is -- to produce people who are impressive in everyday life. We are interested in real-life effectiveness, not armchair philosophy. This attitude is why, when people join the Guild and embark on our Rank Advancement program, we have them make a list of problems they encounter in their day-to-day lives. These problems serve as a guidepost for their Guild endeavors and help keep them anchored to reality.
In that spirit, one of the Council's chief concerns is feedback and iteration. We want to help, and we want to stay tightly bound to reality. Articulation improves clarity of thought, so we strive to be transparent in our activities. This article is a look back on the past six months of the Guild Beta and a look forward at what we want to do with the next six months.
Lessons Learned Over the Past Six Months
Give Concrete Examples
Our greatest challenge has been creating high-quality course content. Ideally, we would validate the ideas in each course through research and experimentation. This would also allow us to provide concrete examples in the course material and better guide our students. Unfortunately, this is infeasible without proper funding.
Although we encourage members to run courses, the reality is that the Council has made the bulk of the Guild's content. Since we all have jobs outside the Guild and spend most of our time on administrative duties, instructors rarely have the time to flesh out their courses as much as we would prefer.
Scheduling is Hard
Our members span the globe and almost every time zone. To accommodate this, we have two class sessions per week. However, this doesn't account for the individually variable schedules of the members. Rather than grouping people by time zone, we should have asked everyone for their availability and sorted them based on that. We will rectify this mistake in the coming weeks with the Cohort Reshuffle.
Build First, Scale Later
YCombinator, a prestigious startup incubator, advised us to focus on making a product before worrying about how to scale it up. This advice spurred us to launch the Practitioner's Path (our rank advancement system). Even though the Path is still quite rough, launching early has allowed us to start gathering data and refining the process. Enlightenment requires empiricism.
We have three primary metrics for engagement: class attendance, rolling website pageviews, and unique website users.
This metric tracks the rolling average of the last four weeks of attendance. It's our most important metric and represents the overall engagement of our members.
Over the past three months, our attendance has slowly declined by about one user per month. However, this doesn't tell the whole story, as our other two primary engagement metrics have remained strong. While the Council is concerned about attendance, we believe that the Guild is still healthy and active.
This metric tracks how many times someone loaded a page on our website. It generally shows the overall activity and interest level, both from existing members and from external users.
Our pageviews stagnated until New Year's, when we started posting regular articles. Our views increased steadily over the next two months as we transitioned to hosting our course sessions on the site. They plateaued after that until the Mnosis launch.
This metric tracks the unique daily users and is a strong indicator of growth and interest. Our unique user count is only a little lower than our pageviews -- this means that most users view a page once per day. This is unsurprising since our user flow is as follows:
- We post an article
- A user reads it
- The user leaves and waits for us to post again
As you can see below, our unique user count has trended upwards, indicating a slow but steady growth.
The big spikes are from social media, guest posts, and new content drops:
- December 6. We were featured on the r/sneerclub subreddit.
- January 22. We posted the Structure of the Guild article.
- January 28. Councilor Matt left a comment on an ACX Classifieds post.
- February 5. We posted the Retrospective: Practical Decision-Making article.
- February 20. David Youssef and Evenflair posted the Practitioner: Novice inspirational short story.
- March 1. Raven accidentally disabled all analytics for the website.
- March 19. We posted the Retrospective: Context and Communication article.
- April 2. We posted the Retrospective: Practical Social Networking article.
- April 16. We launched Mnosis.
- April 22. Councilor Matt briefly mentioned us on The Bayesian Conspiracy: Episode 16 -- GAI Is Imminent
In addition to the three primary metrics, we also track two others.
Registrations. We've had 40 new account registrations and twelve new subscriptions (excluding existing members). Most of the new subscriptions have been Seedlings registering in the past two weeks since the Mnosis launch.
FAQ clicks. We track whenever a user clicks on a FAQ question. Perhaps unsurprisingly, our most popular questions have centered on pricing and time commitment. In response, we updated our homepage to state our prices earlier and describe what a typical week in the Guild involves.
|What's the typical time commitment for the Guild?||103|
|How much does the Guild cost?||101|
|What's a cohort?||84|
|Does the Guild have in-person meetups?||72|
|How can I apply as an instructor?||66|
|What are Guild Events?||60|
|What is the Practitioner's Path?||40|
Note. We added the Path question after the others, so it hasn't had as much time to accumulate clicks.
Six Month Roadmap
Acquire Seed Funding
We plan to seek startup venture capital from investors or, potentially, grants. Getting funds would allow us to hire expert teachers, expand our marketing efforts, and create more high-quality content for our users.
Objective: Fund the Guild's operating expenses for the next two years and bring at least three people on as full-time employees.
Increase our International Reach
We plan to launch a third EU course section and reshuffle our cohorts to match people based on their availability. Additionally, we may begin running ads for non-US audiences.
Objective: Add a third EU course section with at least six weekly attendees.
Iterate on the Practitioner's Path
This is one of the best ways for the Guild to quantify our success as a self-improvement organization, so we will continue emphasizing the Path. We also plan to integrate it into the website, eventually adding progress tracking to each user's profile and allowing them to submit Path updates through the site.
Objective: Integrate the Path system into the website.
Objective: Have at least six practitioners level up to rank 2.
Improve Our Marketing
Our marketing has been very off-the-cuff. We've sent a few newsletters, crossposted some articles, and tried out a small-scale advertising campaign. It's time for us to step up our efforts in this arena. To that end, Consul Alex will make marketing his primary focus moving forward.
Sunday, May 8 at 11:00 CST, we will have a casual mixer for all our Seedling-level members. This event will allow our newest members to meet the Council and the Guild.
Objective: Have at least 2% of our ad traffic subscribe to one of our membership tiers.
Objective: Streamline the onboarding process to make it easier for new subscribers to become community members.
Objective: Send at least one weekly update to our newsletter audience.