3×3 Approach to Create Compelling Community Member Feature Articles

I’ve written feature articles on members of paid communities and masterminds that helped attract new membership using three clear steps. It starts with coordinating an interview with the member, then outlining what you’ve uncovered in the interview, and finally drafting and editing until the content sings.

Often, these member features are one of the perks of being in the community and will include a plug of their product or service. A promo piece is one option, and can be successful in driving new membership. I’ve also found that feature articles that focus on leadership or strategy can be just as compelling.

As such, I’ve put together what I’ve dubbed the 3×3 approach to community member feature article writing.

There are three steps in creating community member features: interview, outline, and draft.

Interview

  • Select someone to interview from a list of approved members. Members can be anywhere in the world. To be mindful of time zones and busy schedules, make it a virtual interview (unless it’s more convenient to conduct the interview in-person, such as at a community event).
  • Book 30-minute interviews, scheduling the meeting on your calendar with a link to your Zoom or Skype account. Make sure you understand how to record with these tools ahead of time.
  • Prepare questions and review them with an editor for feedback at least 48 hours in advance of the interview. Make sure the owner of the community is comfortable with the line of questioning and that it ties back to the value of the membership.
  • Send three to five sample questions to the community member 24 hours in advance and ask if there’s anything that he/she prefers not to discuss. Get those questions off the table to prevent any awkwardness during the call.
  • At time of interview, repeat the structure of the interview before you begin questioning to set the tone for the conversation. Make sure you remind them of the time limit and focus of the interview.
  • When ready, inform community member you are recording, then hit record and conduct the interview.
  • At the end of the interview, thank the community member for their time and let them know a follow-up email will come soon.
  • Send follow-up email within 24 hours to community member to thank them for the interview time. Confirm the date you will plan to send draft for review (if required), and request any product/service assets (images, video, graphics) they would like to be included with the content.

Outline

  • Review interview audio and notes to determine narratives for community member features. Listen for points in the conversation that intrigued you, and moments when the community member seemed to get excited or tap into flow. This is the gold you want to extract for your story.
  • Sketch an outline with the angle/direction you the article should go in. Make sure it flows and feels right with you and what you know of the community.
  • Review the outline with an editor or the owner of the community and get it finalized. 

Draft

  1. Prepare draft and send to your editor 48-72 hours in advance of draft deadline for community member (if required).
  2. Get edits from your editor, review them, and make changes where necessary.
  3. Send the updated version to the editor for final review before sending to community member (if required).
  4. Send the draft to the community member with a reminder of the deadline for their sign-off (24-48 hours in advance of publication).
  5. Get signed-off version and make any final edits requested, verifying correct URLs are being used for driving traffic to their product/service.
  6. Save the final version of article and upload to your content management system as draft with approved title, featured image, and appropriate formatting.
  7. Notify the editor that the content is ready for publication. Once the article goes live, share the article URL with the member so they can promote it to their audience.

There are three different types of community member features that can come from these interviews: product/service, strategy/tactics, and leadership/mindset.

 

Product/service

Think how to get audience interested in product/service to purchase/support.

Examples:

  • What is the product or service the community member’s business is selling?
  • Why are they selling this product or service? What is the market need/gap?
  • What makes the product or service unique?
  • Who is the ideal customer of this product or service? How does the product or service change that ideal customer’s life?
  • How does the customer feel when they use the product/experience the service?
  • Who has endorsed the product? Do you have any testimonials to share?
  • What are the most important benefits of the product or service?
  • What are the features associated with those benefits?
  • Where/how can customers purchase the product/service?

Strategy/tactics

Think sharing product sourcing, regulations, marketing, hiring, etc. with other entrepreneurs.

Examples: 

  • What were the initial steps the community member took in order to start his/her business?
  • Where did they learn about those steps to take? What resources do they recommend?
  • How did he/she market the product or service initially? Describe the channels, processes and results.
  • How has marketing the product or service changed since launching the business? Describe the channels, processes and results?
  • If the business has a team, how did he/she build that team? Describe the processes, roles needed, and how those roles were filled.
  • Does the community member have a set of selection or determination criteria for different aspects of the business, from marketing campaigns to hiring to product innovations?
    • If so, ask about how he/she came up with the criteria, if the criteria evolved, and the impact having this criteria has had on the business.
    • If not, ask another way – are there “non-negotiables” or boundaries the community member has set up to determine what to do/not to do? Dive into those.

Leadership/mindset

Think helping people feel, learn, understand the impact of entrepreneurship.

Examples:

  • Why are you an entrepreneur?
  • What does entrepreneurship mean to you?
  • How have you changed as a person from before you were an entrepreneur to now?
  • How has your mindset changed?
  • What have you learned about leadership through entrepreneurship?
  • How have your goals or dreams for yourself changed since you became an entrepreneur?
  • Which entrepreneurs do you look up to, and why?
  • Do you have mentors?
    • If so, who are they and what is one thing each of them has taught you?
  • Are there any books or other resources on entrepreneurship that you recommend?