The great ones make it look easy. Jono Petrohilos provides easy, simple, powerful tips on starting a community, growing it, keeping it engaged, and if you want to build courses based on the information you've learned from your community.

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Who is Jono Petrohilos?
Jono is the co-founder and director of Fitness Education Online, one of Australia's largest online course providers for Personal Trainers. He sells over $1,000,000 worth of online courses yearly and has been awarded the Australian Fitness Industry Educator of the Year multiple times. He now also helps other professionals create and sell online courses with his free Facebook Group and Podcast – the Course Creator Community.

Wheat you Learn Today:

School of PodcastingWhen to start a community (Jono uses Facebook)

Why No Promotions Without Permissions is the best rule for Facebook/Communities

How to Keep Your Sanity and Nurture Engagement Using the Redirect Strategy

How Jono's podcast Course Creator Community helped him find speakers for his event.

How Jono made 100K from a course, he didn't create.

How to tell if your course will sell

Why New Zenler is currently the best course platform that you can try for free

Is an “All in one” platform the best to go for an online course?

Launching a Successful Community

Starting a successful Facebook group requires careful planning and preparation. It is essential to have a clear goal and a plan of how to reach it. One of the most important steps is to have at least 100 people in the group when it launches. Without a base of people, it is impossible to create a thriving community.

The first step to having 100+ people in the group is to identify who the target audience is. This can be done by researching the topic, understanding the demographics of the audience, and finding out what they are interested in. Once the target audience is identified, it is essential to create a plan to reach them. This can include using podcasts, social media, and other forms of advertising. Additionally, it is essential to build relationships with potential members by engaging with them and offering value.

Once the target audience is identified, and the plan is in place, it is time to start inviting people to the group. This can be done by sending out invitations and messages through social media, email, and other methods. Additionally, it is crucial to ensure the group is visible and accessible to potential members. This can be done by optimizing the group for search engines, creating a website for the group, and creating content to attract members.

Finally, once the group has launched, it is vital to keep the momentum going. This can be done by engaging with members and providing value. Additionally, it is vital to create rules, regulations, and guidelines to ensure the group stays on track and provides a safe and positive environment for members. Dont let people push you around. It's your community and this means you may find yourself in a awkward situation. Remember the goal of the community, and do what is best for everyone.

No promotion without permission.

One of the most important steps in creating a successful Facebook group or community is setting promotion rules. As I previously mentioned, if you don’t set the rules, the group can quickly become overrun with people promoting their products and services. This can be off-putting to members and can lead to a decrease in engagement.

The most effective way to ensure that the group remains focused on providing value to members is to have a “no promotion without permission” policy. This means that members must contact the group admin before promoting anything. This allows the admin to approve the promotion and ensure that it is relevant to the group. It also allows the admin to provide feedback and advice on how to make the promotion more effective.

A “no promotion without permission” policy also helps ensure that the group remains focused on providing value to members. Limiting the number of promotions, it encourages members to focus on providing value to each other rather than just promoting their own products and services. This can lead to increased engagement and a more positive atmosphere.

 Introduce yourself in the group

One of the most important aspects of creating a successful and thriving community is introducing yourself. When a new member joins the group, it is vital to reach out and welcome them. This can be done through a direct message or by posting a welcome message in the group. It is also important to ask them a few questions about their interests and experiences to get to know them better. This helps to create a sense of community and encourages members to engage with each other.

Giving members an incentive to post and engage with the group is also important. This can be done by offering a freebie or discount to those who post or by recognizing those who post often. This helps to create an atmosphere of engagement and encourages members to stay active in the group.

Avoiding Your Community Looking Like A Ghost Town

Jono redirects people to his community when someone asks questions. This way, he can answer that question once and let everyone share their opinion. When a new person sees activity in the group and that the group is “idiot-free,” they are more likely to contribute to the community.

The Old Radio Trick

If you are having a hard time getting any interaction, invite a friend into the group to ask a question. Radio has done this in the past. They made it sound like all you had to do was call in, and they would play your favorite song. I did and requested Judas Priest. The DJ suggested I request the band Loverboy, and as soon as he did, he energetically agreed. It was a sham, but that sham got me to call. So while your cousin asking a question is somewhat misleading, make sure the question and answer deliver value. Some people call this “priming the pump.”

Using Your Community for a Focus Group

When it comes to creating content, it is crucial to test demand before investing time and money into it. This can help avoid wasting resources and ensure that the content will generate interest (and people will pay for it). One way to test demand is by leveraging a podcast. Jono would ask questions in his community and what questions got the most interaction. Then he would add that topic to a course.

Finding Speaker For Your Course For a Virtual Summit

Additionally, you can use the podcast to screen potential speakers. By having potential speakers on the podcast, you can get an idea of their speaking style and expertise. This will help you ensure you get the best speakers for your virtual summit or course.

Finally, by testing demand with a podcast, you can also use it as a marketing tool. By posting the podcast episodes on your Facebook group, you can create interest in the topics and give potential customers an idea of what to expect from the content. This can help to boost sales and make sure that the content is something that people actually want to purchase.

So the podcast promotes the community. The community helps decide which topics resonate. The podcast can then be used to find an expert on that topic.

Choose the right platform.

When it comes to choosing the right platform for your online course, there are many factors to consider. New Zendler is a great choice for people just starting out, as it has the best free version out there. It is also the best bang for your buck, as it is only $70 a month. Kajabi is also a great choice, but it is more expensive at $400 a month. The advantage of Kajabi is that it looks better and has better customer support.

Ultimately, the platform you choose should depend on your needs and budget. It is important to consider each platform's features, pricing, and customer support before making a decision. Ultimately, the platform you choose should be one that meets your needs and budget.

Popular Facebook Group Alternatives



Mighty Network



Invite people before launching.

When it comes to launching a course, it is essential to remember that it is not just about the platform you choose but also the value the course delivers.  Inviting people before launching is important for a few reasons.

First, it allows you to get feedback on your course before it is officially released. This is important because it allows you to make any necessary changes or improvements before it is too late. Additionally, it helps to build anticipation and excitement for the course before it is released. This can help to create a sense of community and a buzz around the course before it is officially launched.

Second, it allows you to create a sense of accountability. Having people know that you are working on a course and expecting it to be released can help to motivate you to get it done. Additionally, having people who are invested in the course can help provide moral support and encouragement as you work on it.

Finally, having people invested in the course can help create a sense of community. This can be especially helpful if you are launching a course that is focused on a specific topic or niche. Having a group of people interested in the same topic can help create an environment of collaboration and support.

Mentioned In This Episode

Jono's Course Creator Community.

Jono Petrohilos' Course Creator Community Podcast.

New Zenler







Grow Your Community Show (Podcast)


This month's question is from Jacob from the Old Men – New Games. When a host has English as a second language and may occasionally mess up a word or two, Is that a no go? Do you listen, or immediately back out?

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About the Author
Owner of the School of Podcasting. Also produces the "Ask the Podcast Coach." He is also the author of the book "More Podcast Money" and is a regular speaker at podcasting and media conventions.
3 comments on “Starting and Growing and ENGAGED Community That You Can Monetize with Jono Petrohilos
  1. New Zenler looks great. So many options available. I didn’t see Digital Access Pass on your list of potential course platforms. Have you checked it out recently?
    DAP with Smart Quiz Builder is great. I haven’t tried their Smart Pay Cart plug-in but it looks powerful. And they have a podcast player too.

  2. As I have a love hate relationship with WordPress, DAP is a great tool, but I’ve seen the white screen of death too many times to trust it.

  3. Long time listener… first time caller.

    Great episode. Jono makes it sound easy. Not sure if I agree with his view on needing 100 ppl to stat a group thing, but hey…. he’s making $$$ and I’m just a dumb dairy farmer in Minnesota, waiting for the next snowstorm. So… what it’s worth, he might right. The thing is… I was member #1 on two of my groups – one is big… the other is really big.

    Anyway… I wasn’t sure if this episode was going to be right for me, but when you two were talking about the types of groups [with promo rules] out there, you had me for another episode… again.

    I have a new’ish homesteading podcast I produce. We are growing by 50% each month, so there is potential I’d mention the name of it, but it has the word “podcast” in the name… I’ve listened long enough to know that ain’t how you like things. I also have a community (FB group) of 187,000 members. My wife and her friend are the podcast “talent’ – the subject matter is the same as my group.

    I even signed up for New Zenler about an hr ago.

    Now I’m lost. This online course thing is… well… there are a lot of moving parts. I’m worried about the quality. What is the baseline? How many hrs should it be? Where to start.

    I’d love to hear more episodes on this concept… or maybe hear your take.


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