I joined a screenwriter club

Hey yall. I realized that I have not updated on community building for a while. But I have been involved with a couple of different communities in the past month. I was involved with a collective of hustlers, a young founder network in San Francisco called Codex Builders, and a screenwriter community called YSWC. And today I want to chat a bit about this screenwriter community.

YSWC was not founded by me at all. It was founded by one of my friends, his name is Spencer Tsang. Spencer is a passionate filmmaker who is currently trying to get into the entertainment industry. He loves films so much that he started Young Screen Writer Club (YSWC).

Before I go further, I want to emphasize that this is not a community that I will build myself. I am just simply putting it out there that there is such a community out there. This community is still very early stage, so inevitably, it will break many things I talked about in my community building courses and blogs. Take it as a grain of salt.

So what is YSWC?

YSWC is a safe space for young screenwriters who does not have a supportive community to interact with each other. YSWC is envisioned to serve as a jump board for young screenwriters who might not have the resources to squeeze into the entertainment industry in the US.

I described it this way. Even tho Spencer might disagree with the way I describe it. But I can only tell you what I observe it to be. Now let me give some more context here.

The problem space:

  • The film industry is dirty, filled with politics. It's hard to get in if you don't know anyone
  • Young screenwriters are not all in a supportive community
  • Many young screenwriters suffer from a lack of resources (no money)

Targeted members:

  • 18-25
  • People who are extremely passionate about screenwriting
  • Lack of resources or community support

The solution (at least what spencer is trying to do)

  • Instagram group chat
  • weeks screenwriting project
  • weekly meet up

Team

So Spencer founded YSWC. I joined along with two other people, Yolanda and Nick.

Yolanda is a great community builder who has founded a couple of communities in San Francisco. She is a designer. She used to sell jewelry and made her fortune. She is a living legend IMO. She gave me so much help on community building that I actually asked her to join Codex Builders when I had that idea in my mind. She was also the developer of all the website-related components.

Nick is a student at the University of San Francisco who is about to graduate soon. He and Spencer met in their hustler frat at University.

So four of us joined a short sprint of this project.

Timeline

When I joined the project, it was towards the end of the 6-week beta testing of the solution. So now Spencer is planning on running a new session sometime this summer or fall. I was lucky to join the last meeting. My friend Spencer is a gifted speaker IMO. He is great at motivating people and get people connected. In that meeting, every member was very sad because the program was ending. People were extremely bonded in the group, even though they have never met in person.

Despite that I mentioned that take this blog as a grain of salt. YSWC is a great example of validate before you build anything.

Spencer sent an invite in a24 fan Facebook group (a24 is a media company). Here is what he sent:

Yes! just that simple! A google form and this paragraph, you don't need anything else for your MVP. If you doing more, you are probably doing it wrong.

What he got back were 82 applications! That was more than what he could host.

Great, now he decided to run beta sessions. He picked the 10 best candidates out and ran the sessions with zoom.

By the time I join, he already tested his solution, and he believes that it is working. He made a couple of iterations to the solution and went planning for the 6-week session.

Website (do a landing page instead if you haven't validate your problem space)

Meanwhile, Yolanda was developing everything related to the website. We had a website: https://xarts.usfca.edu/~yfaye/yswc/index.html

Is it our time to massively marketing the club? hell no! Don't trip.

The product (the solution) was not very scalable yet, and most importantly not perfect yet. Keep iterating!

That's exactly what we did. We put most of the effort into iterating the solution to better solve the problem. We added more platforms for people to interact with each other, which was our biggest complaint from beta sessions.

Metrics

For YSWC, there was no need for complex web analysis before we can build a robust solution. But there are a couple of metrics we should track for sure.

  • The first one was the application number. We had 82 the first time, which is more than what we can host at the moment.
  • Then it comes to the churn rate. Did anyone drop in the duration of these 6 weeks?
  • NPS: Will they take it again? will they recommend it? (Low retention indicates one thing, fix your product) In this case, many members wish to come back and become mentors for newer batches.

That should be it for YSWC for now. Simple to track but useful.

Key takeaways (also good stuff that I relearned)

  • Validate your problem space before you build anything. Spencer used google form and a paragraph of text to validate the problem space. It was a very lean one IMO. It's awesome. (I charged people $30 a month at Pubb builder, all I had was a landing page. People bought it!)
  • Fix your solution before you worry about marketing. Spencer spent more time on the product than marketing. His marketing is basically sending invites in Facebook groups.
  • Track your metrics! If you don't have a measurement for success, how do you know if it's working? You can't.

My opinions

I think spencer is a very passionate person. He is clearly solving a true need. 82 application was a great start. The only problem I see in YSWC is that I don't think it was a very unique community. It's solving a niche problem with low supply in my opinion. There are many screenwriting communities for college students out there.

Here is what he shown us: Β 

Here is what I think:

  • true, but other communities has it too
  • False or vague. I found many ones by searching: the best screenwriter clubs
  • False or vague. There are screenwriter clubs that was made to accelerate your career.
  • True, but this is not the only platform that solves their problem.

But I still think spencer is onto something great:

  • Young screenwriters who are lacking support communities are out there.
  • YSWC should run more tests on those populations since the beta was all college students. College students are mostly privileged enough to go to school. They are not the most desperate ones.
  • Spencer is a great motivator. I really support what he is doing with YSWC. I built communities differently, but I think it's great that he had a goal to help the unprivileged. I believe he will achieve it eventually.

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