News & Updates
After allowing about 10 days for people on the advance notification list to have first dibs at joining Conscious Growth Club for Early Access, I’m opening it up to everyone who wants to join now – no invitation needed.
I’ve also shortened the massive Conscious Growth Club web page (previously 16,819 words) down to about 20% of its previous size, so it’s a lot more concise and readable. It will give you a good understanding of what CGC includes now, including details on members-only courses to be developed.
If you’re ready to join and want the direct signup link, here you go: Join Conscious Growth Club.
CGC is currently up to 62 members, and more people have been joining every day since we opened it for Early Access. Our members are already very active in the private forums, posting more than 2000 messages so far as they share and work on various growth challenges together. It’s turning out to be a super supportive community with members getting good advice, feedback, and resource suggestions. I’m delighted to see that CGC is attracting such conscious, growth-oriented people.
Come join us if you think it’s a good fit, especially if you want to instantly add dozens of supportive friends to your life.
If you know anyone else who’d be a good match for CGC, please tell them about it.
It hasn’t even been 72 hours since I began sending out Early Access invites for Conscious Growth Club, and we’re already up to 35 members (37 if you count Rachelle and me). So it’s wonderful to see so much interest this soon. 🙂
I thought it would take a while to ramp up, but people are diving in, introducing themselves, welcoming each other, and sharing their growth challenges and goals right away. Our new members have already started 63 threads and posted 611 messages in less than 3 days. I can see we’re going to build a lot of momentum just this week.
I’m sure we’ll get more signups throughout the weeks ahead. There’s a natural incentive for people to sign up sooner for Early Access since all this time is a free bonus tacked on to the beginning of the one-year membership, and that year doesn’t start counting down until we do the full launch.
I finished sending invites to the people on the Early Access notification list, so we can gradually open it up to more people now. If you’re interested in Early Access too, just drop me a message via my contact page to let me know, and I’ll be happy to send you an invite with the link to join.
Good news – I just began sending out Early Access invites for Conscious Growth Club to those who’d asked to be on the notification list.
There are currently 145 people on the Early Access list, and I’ll be sending the invites in small batches over the next few days, so Rachelle and I can personally welcome new members into the forums.
I sent 20 invites in the first batch, and within minutes we already had our first few members signing up. So that’s really cool!
If you’re interested in Early Access too, just drop me a message via my contact page, and I’ll be happy to add you to the list.
Just a quick progress update on Conscious Growth Club… I’m now doing the final testing of the signup process, which I should be able to finish on Friday, so I expect to start sending out the Early Access invites pretty soon.
I started testing earlier this week and found a few bugs, but they’re all fixed now.
Everything works great on Chrome already, but I need to check other browsers and mobile devices too.
After the bad experience I had last week with WooCommerce that caused me to delay opening early access for Conscious Growth Club, I decided to drop WooCommerce. I know it’s a hugely popular platform, but I don’t see how I can trust it going forward. I find the platform too fragile to use and poorly designed from a user perspective.
I think the problems I encountered stem from the fact that WooCommerce uses a hub and spoke model with one core plugin and lots of extensions to add functionality. You could easily find yourself needing 6-10 extensions to get all the functionality you need, some free and some paid. These extensions are created by different teams, and they seem to easily fall out of sync and cause conflicts with each other. Even after going back and forth with WooCommerce support multiple times, I wasn’t able to remedy the problems that popped up after version 3.0.0 was released. Those problems might have been fixed eventually, but I was already having doubts about the platform before that incident, and this was enough to conclude that I should switch to something else. I gave myself a week to think it over since I had a conference to attend last week anyway. I revisited this decision when I got back, and after weighing the options, I still felt that dropping WooCommerce was the wisest choice for the long term. Fortunately I was still within the refund period for the WooCommerce extensions I purchased, so I got those refunded.
This week I started fresh with another option, which is to use MemberPress for the CGC membership site. That’s been working out so much better. I still have more work to do on the implementation, but it’s been going smoothly so far. I especially appreciate that the MemberPress team replies to their support emails about 3-5x faster than WooCommerce. I often felt stuck waiting for replies from WooCommerce support, only to receive an email asking for more info instead of offering a solution.
With MemberPress I’m just using one key plugin for all the functionality instead of several (okay two plugins with a simple MemberPress add-on for email list integration). It makes a big difference when all the functionality is designed and implemented by a single team. The unified vision of MemberPress really shines through when compared to the kludgy mess that is WooCommerce.
I do feel that the hub and spoke model can work. After all, it’s what WordPress uses, with tens of thousands of plugins available. But for whatever reason, I don’t feel that WooCommerce has pulled this off well enough to provide a stable platform I can trust. In particular they have a bad habit of releasing backwards-incompatible updates that break previous functionality. Maybe in a few years they’ll have a stable enough platform that this won’t be necessary, but I’d like something that works today.
I’ve been working down a 6-page checklist to configure MemberPress to open up CGC for early access, and this week I’ve completed 4.5 of those pages. All the core functionality is working well now. Most of the remaining work includes configuring the emails and styling the pages, so it’s mostly cosmetic. I also need some time to test the platform after all the setup is done.
Initially I had ruled out using MemberPress since it was missing a key feature I really wanted, which was the ability to offer an 8-month payment plan for a 12-month membership (or longer than 12 months with the early access period). But it turns out that the MemberPress team intends to add this feature, probably this year but possibly next year. And in the meantime, with the help of their support, I was able to work out an alternative solution that can allow us to offer this payment plan, although it requires a little more manual work behind the scenes. All in all this is a minor issue compared to the headaches I had getting WooCommerce configured.
The only real downside to using MemberPress is that we won’t be able to support Bitcoin for payments – just credit cards and PayPal. That’s likely to upset one person, maybe two, who said they wanted to use Bitcoin for CGC. For those people, I’m sorry we can’t offer Bitcoin support since MemberPress doesn’t support it, and I totally understand if you won’t be joining CGC because of that. I doubt most people will care though. We accepted Bitcoin for all four of the 2016 workshops, and not a single person used it, so it was ridiculously unpopular as a payment method. Another issue with Bitcoin is that it doesn’t support recurring payments, so we couldn’t have used it for the payment plan option anyway. And by not offering Bitcoin, the checkout process is a bit simpler, which I think is the better way to go.
I don’t anticipate any major issues getting MemberPress up to speed. If the setup work keeps going smoothly, we might be able to open CGC for early access sometime next week. Don’t hold me to that though since it’s hard to predict how long things will take with a new platform that I’m still learning.
Right now I feel pretty relieved to have found a platform that looks to be a much better fit for our needs going forward. It’s important to choose a solid platform from the beginning since switching platforms down the road would be much more difficult. Lately I’ve been seeing some pleas for help from member site owners who are currently trying to flee the Rainmaker platform, for instance.
My 46th birthday is on Friday, April 14, and I’m going to start the next year of life with a 30-day challenge – creating and posting a new video every day for 30 days. Several entrepreneurial friends are doing this too. We all want to get better at making videos, and this seems like a good way to get up to speed.
I’ll make videos on a variety of personal growth topics, sharing ideas and insights that I think you’ll appreciate.
I haven’t done much video yet, and since I’ll be developing video courses for Conscious Growth Club soon, I want to build more skill and comfort with making videos before I start on the full courses.
If you’d like to get better at making videos too, I invite you to join me in taking on this 30-day challenge. 🙂
Unfortunately I have to delay opening Conscious Growth Club for early access. It’s going to be at least a couple of weeks before we can start inviting people to register.
Initially I’d intended to start sending invites on Friday, March 31. But during testing I encountered a problem with PayPal not referring people back to the correct page on my site. I called PayPal, and their support person was very helpful, verifying that all of the settings on my account were correct. He spent a full 20 minutes on the phone with me checking every possibility. It seemed like a problem on their end, possibly related to a change I asked them to make to my account a week earlier so my account would support certain recurring billing features, which was necessary for the CGC payment plans. The PayPal department that ultimately needed to address the issue wasn’t open till Monday, so I got a call on Monday afternoon from a person on that team, and everything was fixed.
Then I discovered later on Monday that some of the emails (like the receipt email) weren’t sending properly. It was a minor issue, and I got that fixed too. Everything passed testing, and I planned to start sending invites on Tuesday.
On Tuesday I’d be driving to Phoenix from 10am to 3pm. I’m here for the PLF Live conference this week. I pondered whether I should start sending the invite emails in the morning before I left, but I felt it would be best to do it after I arrived in Phoenix. Then I could start sending the invites around 4pm and have the rest of the evening in a quiet hotel room to interact in the new forums with the first people who signed up. While I wouldn’t be as available during the conference, I could still welcome people in the forums in the mornings and at night, and Rachelle would be available the whole time to monitor things throughout the week and to interact with people.
When I got to the hotel room and set up my laptop, I quickly saw that my website was displaying error messages on every page. It turned out that WooCommerce 3.0.0 had been released while I was driving, and my site automatically updated the plugin to the new version. WooCommerce Subscriptions, which I also use, was updated slightly later, and so these two fell out of sync, which was causing the error messages. So I updated that plugin and a few other plugins that needed updating, and the errors went away. I sighed as I realized that due to this major new release, I’d have to retest the CGC registration process just to be on the safe side. I didn’t expect that to take long though.
My testing quickly revealed that this new update broke the ordering process in multiple ways. First, the WooCommerce Stripe plugin, which processes credit card orders, was generating error messages on the checkout page, so it couldn’t even process credit card orders. Second, the update broke some of the page styling, which was making some details of the layout look ugly and misaligned. Third, this update changed some of the base templates used to build the checkout pages, so those would have to be redone. And fourth, it broke the emails, so no receipt or welcome emails were being sent.
On the one hand, I was pretty annoyed. WooCommerce has a history of screwing over their users like this in the past with updates that break previously working features, but I’d thought those days were behind them. After all, this is the most popular ecommerce system out there. Even so, I figured these would be fixable issues that would maybe delay things by a few hours. I fixed the styling issues and updated the templates without much trouble, but even after trying many approaches and contacting WooCommerce support at least three times, the emails and the credit card payments remain broken. I’m sure they can be fixed eventually, but that’s going to take time.
On the other hand, I was also relieved that I hadn’t sent any invites earlier. Otherwise we’d be stuck with a broken checkout process while people were trying to join CGC. The mysterious PayPal issue may have been a blessing in disguise since it slowed me down by a few days, causing these WooCommerce issues to occur only hours before I was about to start sent out invites. So I’m grateful these problems occurred when they did. The timing could have been a lot worse. I feel sad for the WooCommerce users who are finding their online stores broken today after installing the latest update.
Normally having plugins auto-update is fine, but with something like WooCommerce, it’s risky to let it auto-update on a live site as I’ve discovered.
Since I have a conference to attend from today (Wednesday) through Sunday, I’ll have to table working on this till I get back to Vegas next week. This is a big event with more than 1000 people attending, and I need to be present while I’m here. The event is specifically about doing effective launches, so it’s part of my learning process for preparing for the full CGC launch a few months from now.
This situation has encouraged me to pause and consider whether I want to keep using WooCommerce. It’s a popular platform with a lot of features, but getting it to work intelligently from a user’s perspective has taken a lot of customization work. All in all, it’s been a frustrating platform to use, but I have a high tolerance for frustration, so I’ve pushed through a lot of issues to get things working properly. My customizations are pretty commonplace – nothing fancy – such as tweaking the emails that are sent and directing people to a custom thank you page after signing up. This extra effort isn’t an issue by itself, but if the WooCommerce team continues putting out releases that break previous work, I just don’t feel I can trust their direction. I’m looking for a stable platform I can build upon in the years ahead. I’m coming to see that WooCommerce isn’t the right choice. Overall I’ve found this platform disappointing.
Since I have to focus on the conference anyway for the next several days, I’ll take some time to consider next steps regarding the CGC early access signup process. At this point I think it’s likely that I’ll just dump WooCommerce outright and start fresh with something else. Even if I fix the immediate problems with WooCommerce and get it working again next week, I just don’t feel safe using it and building upon it further. I’ve been using it for about a year, including for registrations for last year’s workshops. and based on what I’ve experienced thus far, I think the development team is making some very questionable decisions that are likely to cause me more issues in the long run.
Most of the customizations I made with WooCommerce could be readily applied to a different platform without too much difficulty, but if I switch platforms now, it will delay opening CGC for early access by at least a couple of weeks. I’ll take a fresh look at this next week, but my priority is to lay an intelligent foundation for the years ahead, not to force a square peg into a round hole.
I’m sorry for the delay. I’d really wanted to let people join CGC sooner, especially since many people are excited to be part of the early access. Sometimes you just have to bow to reality, be flexible, and pivot. We’ll get this working one way or another.
One nice feature we’ll have in Conscious Growth Club is a special Progress & Accountability forum section for members to share progress updates on their goals, which is great for accountability. Members will be able to comment on each other’s progress logs too, so they can share feedback, advice, and suggestions.
Today I started my own progress log where I’ll share updates on CGC’s continued development as we build out more features and move towards the inevitable launch. Every early access member will be able to see these updates, so we’ll have clear progress visibility within the group.
A lot of people on the early access list said they wanted help with accountability and taking action, so this is one of many ways we’ll be able to provide that kind of support. I think it will be especially encouraging when members see each other making progress. It’s hard not to feel motivated to get into action when your peers are making good progress on their goals.
Here’s a screenshot of the first two posts from the progress log I just started, so you can see what it looks like.
Imagine how much progress you’ll make in a year by sharing regular updates on your goals with growth-minded people who will hold you accountable – and who are sharing their progress as well. It’s all about moving forward with daily action.
Learning Strategies is streaming their Write Well Mindfest this week (an audio course), which gives you free mentoring to improve your writing skills. It kicked off yesterday, but you can still get access to the whole thing if you sign up for it today. The sessions are pre-recorded, so you can listen whenever you want, but it’s only streaming for free this week.
Get access here: Write Well Mindfest
I’ve made great progress prepping Conscious Growth Club to open for early access, so I expect to start inviting people from the early access list to join starting sometime next week, so by March 31st.
I’ll probably invite the early access people in small batches to start, like 10 at a time, so these invites might extend into early April depending on how quickly I send them out. I’m heading to Phoenix on April 4th to attend the PLF Live conference, so I’d like to get all the early access people invited in before I leave. Rachelle and I will both be active in the forums, so we want to be sure to have time to personally welcome new members as they join.
I’m flintstoning this a bit since I’ll need to manually email invites to members to join the new discussion forum after they join CGC. When we do the full launch a few months later, we’ll likely have a more automated process in place.
So far 98 people have asked to be added to the early access notification list, so I’m really happy about that. I expect we’ll have a very vibrant and active group even well before the full launch.
Today I added a new Progress & Accountability category to the forum, so CGC members can share progress updates on their goals and help hold each other accountable. I added a post there with instructions for creating progress logs, finding accountability partners, and creating mutual accountability groups for people working on similar goals. I’ll likely maintain a progress log there to share updates on my own goals as well, especially CGC-related goals. That way the early access members can keep tabs on how CGC is progressing as we continue to build it out.