In 2017, Tori and I launched Sobriety Engine.
Sobriety Engine is a membership community of people who want help, resources and fellowship to help them stay clean and sober one day at a time.
For the first year, we kept the community free. A big part of getting sober is belonging to a group of people who want the best for you, so we decided to first grow a community while continuing to improve upon the experience, until eventually we felt comfortable charging for access.
About 6 months ago, we decided to up the paywall. At the time we had about 2000 free members. Some of them were paying monthly via “donation” but access to the community remained completely free.
As per usual, I started second guessing myself. I would decide to put a paywall up, then I would change my mind and say “we should have free access and then try to monetize by selling products.” Then I would change my mind again and say “we give away so much free content already, we need to charge.”
Back and forth and back and forth I go.
After driving ourselves crazy for another few weeks, Tori and I debated and wrestled with the different options to monetize.
Finally we asked ourselves “what’s the simplest way to do it that can help the most people that makes the most amount of money?”
Tori said “give away a 7 day free trial and then charge for access after that.”
She was right.
So we made a pact to never change our minds again. We put up the paywall and we started focusing more on providing the best possible resources and creating the best possible product that we could.
Since that moment, something remarkable has happened.
It started working. Not only did it get better for us, but it got better for the community because now the people who are paying for membership are even more motivated to interact and help each other.
What is happening in Sobriety Engine is truly inspiring.
Every day, the people are running recovery meetings on their own. Last time I looked, there were 17 people running a recovery group on zoom. They did it themselves. It’s not a webinar or a presentation, it’s simply a group of people that come together to talk about their struggles and successes and help each other stay sober a day at a time.
I discovered that they are starting text message groups on their own and sending each other morning mediations.
I discovered that the Wednesday coaching sessions (run my Omar Pinto) continues to see the same 30+ people showing up week after week and that each week, more people show up.
We’ve launched a series called “Saturday speakers” where every Saturday morning, someone gets in front of the entire group and shares their story of “what it was like, what happened and what it’s like now.”
The engagement and the interaction is incredible. We have daily meetings, high open rates on the newsletter, high download numbers on our podcast and most importantly, a group of people who wants to see each other succeed.
This is exciting stuff. It leaves me feeling very humbled and hopeful.
The success of the community is a bi product of the people. I can’t take total credit for that outside of the willingness to put up the money while Tori put her heart and soul into building the product.
We can however, take credit for the choices that we made.
I don’t have any good advice on this, because sometimes the ability to truly “go all in” is dependent on months and experimentation and frustration. Sometimes, you need to fail over and over again before you’re in a place where you say “I’ve had enough of this” and you say “fuck it let’s give it a go.”
But I do know that when you stick with a problem long enough, when you continue to obsess over it and make a deal with yourself that you will not quit until you see the success you are looking for, good things will happen.
If you can’t decide on your path you can still decide that you will give it your best effort.
You can decide to make the most of yourself. Everything else will follow suit.