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I only made $20 January 2016. That’s it. Only $20 that couldn’t even cover one bill that month. This January? I’m making 80 times more ($1600+ to be a little more exact). I’m contributing this growth to two things:

One: I niched down my services (and got more serious about my offering).
Two: The mastermind I was a part of.

Obviously, as the title suggests, this blog post is going to dig a little deeper into how my mastermind helped me grow my income and how starting one can help you, too.

In case you don’t know what a mastermind is: A mastermind is a small group (whether free or paid) you join or start with like minded individuals and/or people who are at the same stage or a few steps ahead of you in business or with their blogs (obviously they can be started in other fields as well, but this is the kind of mastermind we’re going to be talking about today).

 

3 Reasons Why You Need A Mastermind

1. A mastermind can help you grow your business or blog to unimaginable heights

In a mastermind everyone helps each other out, whether that’s by giving out advice or by sharing each other’s stuff consistently. Masterminds also help give a unique perspective of the behind the scenes of how others run their businesses. Then there are also the collaborations you can set up with your other masterminders like guest posting on each others blogs or doing a giveaway. All of this together is a recipe for growth unlike any you could create on your own. 

2. A mastermind can help you feel less isolated

Let’s be honest with each other here: Being a small business owner, creative and/or blogger is isolating in a world that is still adjusting to the fact that people make money online in non-shady ways. People outside of our world just don’t really get it. Sure, they may celebrate your wins with you and show empathy about your losses, but they’ll never know what it feels like when you see money you completely earned by yourself in your account for the first time. Nor will they know what it feels like when you’ve been trying SO hard to find clients in Facebook groups, only to come up empty-handed once again after your pitch was drowned out by the crowd.

A mastermind can help lift that isolation, because you’re with a group of people who are all going through the same thing as you. They know how awesome it is to have your favourite blogger follow you back on Instagram or how hard it is to come up with new blog subjects. Having someone to talk to who gets it is seriously the best feeling ever and it may just be what you need to feel a little less lonely.

 

3. A mastermind can open up possibilities that you had no idea were even an option

This February Rosie Morley (from Hedera House) and I are launching our new venture together, called The Plus Collaborative. TPC will be a subscription service where every month you can find a bunch of amazing themed info products contributed by awesome infopreneurs, bloggers and small business owners + a monthly magazine about that theme. It’s incredible and I can’t wait to tell you more about it when we launch, but if I hadn’t invited Rosie to my mastermind at the start of 2016 The Plus Collaborative would have never existed.

The same can happen for you: You could end up thinking of a completely new and exciting project to work together on with someone in your mastermind. Or, maybe they are friends someone big in your industry that they can introduce you to and you’re suddenly featured on one of the biggest blogs in your industry. You never know!

How To Start Your Own Mastermind

I’m going to start this of with a warning: masterminds aren’t for everyone. They require time and effort, not just from you, but from the people you ask to join as well. My mastermind that helped catapult my business (and those of others) into growth? No one has posted anything in there since last October. This is because of two reasons:

– We are all too busy with our own businesses now and have grown apart as we have different goals now. When we started the mastermind we all had pretty much the same goals and were heading in similar directions. Now we all have a different focus. This isn’t a bad thing, though. Sometimes you just outgrow things. (And I’m still in contact with most people even now the mastermind is dead!)

– After the original six I added three more people, two of whom barely ever posted apart from a few quick posts in the promo thread. This sucked, because the mastermind, which had been mutual beneficial until that point, felt less authentic and colder, and as a result became less active until eventually it died out.

I loved the mastermind experience even though our mastermind isn’t active anymore and my business wouldn’t be what it is today if I hadn’t started that mastermind. That’s why I really recommend you start one using the steps below (and learn from our mistakes!).

 

The 5 Step System To Starting Your Own Mastermind

Step 1: Choose your platform

You have three options when creating a mastermind:

Option 1: A group call every week/every two weeks or every month
The downside of group calls is that you have to do it at a time everyone is available (which can get a little crazy when people on several continents and different time zones are involved). The upside is that you can see each other while talking and it’s pretty easy to hold a group call using Skype or another platform that offers conference calls.

Option 2: A platform where people can contribute to the conversation on their own schedule
This definitely makes it easier for people to talk to each other when it best works for them, but it does come with a higher chance of lurkers (people who read, but don’t engage). If you want to go for this option I recommend going with something like Slack. A Facebook group is an option, too, but things quickly get lost over there and members might lose out on important conversations or updates.

Option 3: Real life meeting
You could set up a local mastermind as well. That way you build up connections close by. You might actually be surprised how many small business owners, bloggers and creatives there are near you. All you need to do is organise a meeting somewhere. You could rent a space at a local co-working space, set up a meeting in a coffeeshop or you could even get a space for free at the library (this isn’t an option everywhere, but it is at some places!).

Step 2: Set the rules

When you create your mastermind you need to think about the following:
– How much time and energy do you want to put into it? Like I said before, a mastermind takes time and energy to make it worthwhile. You need to figure out for yourself how much you want and can realistically put into yours
– How many people do you want to join? We started out with only six people, because having a small number like that meant it was easier to talk and connect. The bigger the group, the harder this gets.
– Will it be free? Ours was, because I didn’t really feel like making people pay for something I wasn’t even sure was going to work. This is completely up to you, though, and might depend on the circumstances. If you’re doing real life meetings you might want to rent a space or get a bite to eat and that costs money.

If you’re going with option 1 or 3:
– How many times will you come together?
– Will there be themes? Like for example prompts to be talked about during a call or just in the group on certain days.

If you’re going with option 2:
– How much involvement do you expect from others in the group? Do you want people to check in every day? Every week? Do they have to engage every time they come in or can they lurk around? These are all important questions you should think about.
– Can people promote their stuff to the group? You don’t want your group to feel too promo-y, but having everyone in the group share each others stuff can help give you all a growth spurt. Whatever you decide to do with this, make sure to communicate it well to your people so they know what to expect.

Step 3: Decide who to invite

You want people who are at the same point or only a few steps ahead of you, because this will make it easier to connect and learn from each other. Invite people who are too many steps ahead or behind of you and it will result in unbalance in knowledge. This is helpful to no one. So take a look around you and think of a few prerequisites the people you invite need to have like:
– The same industry
– A list of the same size
– The same audience
– The same goals
– The same direction
– Something that makes them different enough from you to learn of each other
– The same location (especially handy for real life meetings!)
– Whatever else you can think of

Step 4: Send out invites

Got a few people you think would be a fit for your mastermind group? Write your invite and send it over. In your invitation you should add the following:
– What kind of mastermind it is and why you’re starting it
– Why you think they would be a great fit (people love compliments!)
– How much involvement you expect from the people inside (Important!!!!)
– Where and when if applicable
– How many people you think will be joining
– Any costs involved if applicable

Can’t think of people to invite? When I started my mastermind I sent the invites to people I had talked to on Twitter of all places. Think about who you have engaged with on social media or via emails. Are there any people you think would want to join your group? You can also try Facebook groups. I actually started one recently with Rosie (from Hedera House). You can find that here. Not sure what to post? Just copy, paste and adjust the following message in a Facebook group you’re a part of:

“Hey!

I’m searching for people in [your industry/town/whatever] who would be up for starting a mastermind group together where we support each other. We [will communicate in whatever way you chose]. Interested? Let me know below and let’s see if we’re a good fit! I can’t wait to get to know you all!”

If you’re doing real life mastermind meetings you could also go to area Facebook groups, create flyers and leave them at the library, co-working spaces and coffeeshops or by putting an ad in the local newspaper.

Step 5: Get active

As the creator of the mastermind you have to set the example and get active. Talk to everyone, think of things to ask and discuss, ask for advice and whatever else you can think of to make sure that people stay active and engaged.

A few more tips:
– Don’t take it personally if your mastermind group doesn’t work out. It happens, but just take the experience with you and try again with others.
– It’s okay to kick people out for being rude, shady or if they’re just not engaging. You don’t have to feel guilty for it, especially not if you’ve been clear about what you expected from people from the get go.
– Be careful with adding people some time after you started the group, especially if the group is active. Adding people when friendships are already forged can make it hard for new people to fit in.

So… Are you starting your own mastermind? Let us know in the comments!