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5 Lessons Learned from Our Recent Community Overhaul

Close to a year after launching Freelance Founders, we finally had the data and resources we needed to create a better space for our thriving, growing community.

Our overhaul project kicked off in earnest this past June and now, we’re finally at the point of relaunching!

It was an ambitious project that included an update for our website, a new jobs board, and a whole host of new member resources. It’s definitely been a process, but it's amazing to look back and see how far we've come in a few short months.

Our events and other initiatives have taken a backseat while we prep for this relaunch. Thankfully, we're pretty lucky when it comes to our members — our community is super excited about this relaunch and their support has really blown me away.

Still, the overhaul has been one of the most challenging projects I've undertaken in my career, not in the least because this is my first community role — read about my journey to community here. Still, I'm grateful for the experience — it's taught me so much about the field, and best practices for handling a project like this.

I’d love to share my learnings with any community teams who may be going through something similar, in the hope that even one of these tips might make this time of chaos just a little more manageable.

1. Be patient — and flexible

When going through a complete overhaul, one thing that you are going to need plenty of is patience. Patience in working with a host of new stakeholders, items taking longer than anticipated to be completed, timelines getting shifted, you name it...

While we’re on the subject of shifting timelines: flexibility is your friend. You can plan as much as you would like, but rarely do plans go off without a hitch. There are going to be deadlines that get pushed back, and that's OK. If at all possible, build in some buffer time to keep you sane.

For example, both our founder and myself got married while working on the overhaul, so that made timelines a little tricky. While we originally thought that items would move along fairly quickly, we realized that wasn’t the case. Because we built some buffer time into our schedules, we were able to be more flexible with the timeline of the relaunch.

2. One task at a time

With an overhaul, there are going to be a million things happening at once. A lesson that I learned fairly quickly was to just focus on the most important task for any given day, before moving on to the next. If you spend all of your time task-switching, nothing ever gets your full attention – so you’ll likely end up not completing things properly, if at all, creating more work for yourself in the long run.

My advice is to create a list of priority tasks every day, in order of importance, and keep that list in your line of sight. Those tasks are your main focus for the day. Anything extra is a bonus.

3. Take a break

I can't stress the importance of taking time out enough. A community overhaul is a huge process with a lot of moving parts — simultaneously going through burnout will not help move the needle.

I live by my schedule, so one thing that really worked for me was scheduling breaks for myself as a reminder to step away. That could mean anything from a walk outside to 15 minutes to play with my pups, Scotch and Hoagie. The point is that we all need to regroup and it’s important to remind ourselves of this.

4. Reflect on the hard days

There are going to be hard days. Days when things don’t go your way. Whenever I had a tough one, I spent some time after work writing out what happened, what went wrong, and what could go differently the next time — and most importantly, never blaming myself for mishaps.

Being able to spend time reflecting and refocusing for the next day is a mental health game-changer.

5. Reward yourself and your community

Yes, you deserve a pat on the back! This process is not an easy one and being able to celebrate yourself (whether that means treating yourself to your favorite dinner, or taking a day off) is going to be a big motivator for continuing to do great work.

Also, your community has been patiently waiting throughout this overhaul so rewarding them with new perks, resources, events, etc. is going to go get your community excited about these changes, and feeling good that they were also part of the process!


For anyone else going through this process or will be in the near future, just remind yourself that even if the work is tough, your community will benefit from the changes — it makes it all worth it in the end!


For more guidance on how to ease your members into a big change, head over here: How to Handle Change in Your Community: 5 Lessons from a Change Manager

Discussion (1)

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Jenny Weigle

I'm so glad you said to reward yourself! That's something often forgotten amongst community professionals.