Jo Franco on building a community for her journaling club members

Jo Franco on building a community for her journaling club members

You may recognize Jo Franco from the Netflix show “World’s Most Amazing Vacation Rentals” exploring beautiful vacation rentals and sharing her travels with the world. But, she wasn’t always staying in a unique rental all over the globe with a camera crew in tow.

As a long-time content creator, world traveler, polyglot, and journal keeper, Jo Franco has a lot to share with her audience. She started her content creation journey over a decade ago on YouTube, sharing her adventures traveling with the world and learning through those experiences. And that’s exactly what helped her land a show on Netflix. However, it all came to a grinding halt in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic began.

At first, she was at a loss for what to do and how to create content without travel. So, she turned to her Instagram audience to talk through her feelings of anxiety and fear. “Throughout my travels, I had been journaling in secrecy,” she said. “And journaling was such a big piece of my life that I had never shared.”

During the pandemic out of sheer desperation and anxiety, Jo posted some of her journal entries and thoughts to her followers, without thinking much of it. “I posted because I was like, ‘Yo the world’s ending. Here’s how I really feel’,” she told Teachable. That’s where her online community and membership, Jo Club, started.

Learn about Jo’s journey in her own words:

Using journaling to find her new calling

For Jo, journaling was a consistent hobby she had in her life. Even throughout the years of YouTube creation, and a Netflix series, she was always journaling. So, with the encouragement of her audience, she started a 30-day journaling challenge, providing them with prompts, sharing responses, and building a community. That 30-day challenge ended up lasting 90 days.

“And then I asked myself, what would happen if I put everybody in a Zoom room and just had a dope global conversation?” she said. “And this is when Jo Club was born, where you could sign up for the membership, and you would get access to a live journaling call,” she explained. Initially, 12 people joined the call. But, in the three years since, the concept has remained while the community has grown to include not only individuals, but universities and corporate clients too.

Making the pivot

“It is not easy to make a pivot, but I feel like journaling is actually ironically connected to how I discovered that I didn’t want to keep doing just travel content,” Jo said. But she found that she had created golden handcuffs for herself. She was traveling in luxury and seeing the world, but she was missing family events, birthdays, and she wanted to make a change.

Jo Club, and eventually Teachable, is what gave her the opportunity to break free from the need to travel to make her content. “It was a bit of a mixing and matching of what is important to me. How can I make money? And how can I make the world a better place?” she said.

Hosting content and community in one place

The number one thing Jo wanted to provide to people was value—something that could help make a difference in their lives and was different from what was already out there. The journaling prompts and content in Jo Club are only part of the value members get from being a part of the membership. They also get to draw from the community, live journaling calls, and journaling parties. People from all over the world come together to share what they learned while completing the journaling prompts or the challenge they signed up for.

“For the first two years of Jo club, I was just mastering the format of what it is to run a live journaling call,” she said. After she perfected that, she took her content to Teachable and created 21-day challenges for her community. “I recorded 21 videos, plus five onboarding videos.” Every week, Jo had live journaling calls. She also utilized the drip feature to host the challenge experience. Lastly, she would host journaling parties for her community. By the end of the year, she’ll have six different challenges her audience can choose from.

Building a community

“From the very inception of Jo Club, my motto was always: You are building this with me. I build things for you,” Jo said. She has found success in working with her community members to build what they’re looking for. In fact, she recognizes that she’s not in the business of selling a journaling course.

“I’m selling transformation,” she said. “You come into Jo Club because you want to evolve,” she said. Jo’s team has identified archetypes for her members so they can serve them in the best way possible.

It’s this work that helps keep her community strong and helps make it more diverse and inclusive of every experience and need there could be.

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