How to start a meetup group for free? Really!
For many people, the idea of starting a group might not be that appealing. After all, it can take a lot of time and effort to set up each meeting — not to mention the time spent running around organising things at the event itself. But don’t worry! In this article, I’ll show you how you can start your own meetup group free for a lifetime.
If you ever want to start a new meetup group, then there are multiple factors you have to consider before even starting to put a group vision together.
In my opinion we have to pay attention to some smaller but crucial details, because without the small details, the bigger things don’t work.
You can explain as clearly as you want about what’s going to happen at your meetup.
But really, people are always going to be stepping into the unknown.
So you’ve got to do whatever you can to make them feel comfortable and welcomed. Right from the start.
If you need to get a good friend of yours to stand at the door and make sure that all attendees are welcomed as they enter, then do so.
Hosting more than dozens of events every year, I’ve seen with a lot of groups, people will describe what the meetup is about.
And, that’s all the information they will provide your.
But you need to give them an indication of
- What they might be learning.
- What outcomes there might be from coming to that meetup.
- What types of people, they might be meeting.
- What numbers of people they might be expecting to see there.
Be very specific with directions, not everybody is as comfortable as using things like Google Maps as you might be.
You’ve really got to answer all of those questions.
Add a bit of colour to your page by adding some pictures to it. It’s known to everyone in this tech world that we need to be more expressive. Because people don’t have much time nowadays, their attention span is as low as 6 seconds.
That scares me…
But being in tech for more than a decade now, I understand that the best way to communicate your message is by using pictures.
What is a Meetup Group?
So when I say meetup-group, I’m talking about meetup.com
It’s a website where you can host your own events, or join events, and they usually bring like-minded people together.
So being new in the city, I thought let me try this platform and see what happens.
I started going to meetups, I think my first one was about real estate investment. I still go to real estate investment ones, but I’ve branched out in the past.
Furthermore, I went to some gaming ones because I’m passionate about games and I wanted to meet people who are similar to me.
After attending few meetups, I realised that I wanted to meet some more like-minded people when it comes to online business and entrepreneurship.
I wanted to make a group like that with a goal to just make new friends. For example local meetup or support group in my county etc.
And hopefully we could help each other, and bring everyone together towards our visions and goals.
Why Start A Meetup Group?
A great way to build your brand online is by hosting events with your community, being able to connect with people on a personal level, is always a concern of any business.
Although it’s difficult when you’re a business which has many customers,
How do you hold events with customers all over the world and still offer a high level of personalization, you do it using technology.
It brings people together over the internet. That means people from all over the globe can attend your meetings, and you don’t have to go anywhere.
I’ve created a step-by-step video series, which will teach you everything you need to launch your own event.
But first, let me help you accelerate your success today.
Meetup is designed for individuals to start groups around specific activities and interests.
What’s different about meetup than most information based activities, is that all the activity on Meetup is designed to take place, offline, and in person.
Meetup states that groups should offer a growth opportunity of some kind.
It also states that individuals should be looking to create real human connections between others. Now, the stated position of Meetup is that connecting online is not the same as connecting in real life.
And that meetups need to meet locally and in person and not solely for webinars and online meetings.
Additionally, this design for you the host to be present at the events, and they’re all intentions and activities should be upfront.
Specifically, any membership requirements. And of course, there are specific prohibited groups and activities for meetups, using the meetup website. And these are things that you should be reading through before you choose to start a meetup.
Now, although, the company operates online. Its location is in New York City. And currently, according to meetup. There are 14 million members on the platform, and over, 320,000 groups.
What are the biggest obstacles to starting a meetup group?
If you’ve been thinking about taking over an existing Meetup group, I want to talk to you today about the three things that I think are particularly wrong with that platform, and why you may want to rethink.
Let’s talk about the biggest obstacle, you will face when you start a meetup.
1. Cost (meetup fees 2022)
The first and the most irritating is the cost: It’s about $16.79 per month. (meetup pricing 2022), and $24.50 for pro plan. (monthly)
Yes! That’s the cheapest subscription plan from meetup.
If you subscribe for 6 monthly plans then it will be around $11.54 for Standard and $21.00 (meetup fees 2022) for Pro.
So let’s say you have created a meetup group, and you are planning to host your first event.
You just put the date time and where you’re going to have it on a paper.
Tip 1# If you just do a search "Meetup Groups Near Me" and see what kind of events are happening in the meetup around your location. That will give you a better idea of; what people are interested in. Basically its a hack which gives you idea about what kind of events are more sucessfull in your area.
I started my first meetup group back in what was back in 2009 I think back then my monthly fee for being an organizer was probably only around $14, or $15, per month.
Okay, so in 2021 I took over an existing group here in London and at that time, the monthly fee for organizing the group was only $23, per month for a pro account.
In July or August, I got an email from meetup, saying that my fee for organizing the group was going to go up again.
I’m not a total cheapskate. I totally understand how businesses work.
So at that time I had to make a decision. Okay, am I going to continue on with this Meetup group where I really hadn’t had as much engagement as I wanted and as much participation.
But I had been able to form some really mutually beneficial relationships, as a result of being the organizer, after I looked at all the pros and the cons and I weighed all of my options.
I decided that it just wasn’t worth it, for example:
You don’t have any access to any of your group’s metrics at that base price tier.
Yes, you do have a dashboard where you can go in and see a basic little graph that shows you the number of people who joined your group, and the number of people, or the percentage of people who have left the group, there’s really no hard data that you can look at to gauge how you’re doing.
You can’t track interest and engagement, outside live participation, meaning you can’t see the people who are actually opening up and reading the emails that you’re sending out as an organizer, you don’t see any data, other than the people who decide to RSVP, yes or no to your group.
If you’re going up on the price, I need to be able to have access to some kind of information or some kind of data so that I can actually see what’s going on as far as the activity within the group. Meetup.com does not allow you to do that at all.
So to give you an example, with my email service provider that I use, I can actually go back there and see who’s actually opening up the emails,
- How many people opened, how many people it bounced.
- How many people clicked on the links that I sent.
None of that data is available to you as a paid meetup organizer, a huge, huge turn off for me as I was weighing the options whether I should go for it or not.
3. Maintenance & Sponsorship
The third issue that I had is when I first started my group back in 2009. At that time, you can actually have sponsors at that price here.
I think I used to make about $225 back then, just from different companies, reaching out to me saying hey, we would like to sponsor your group. And what I did with that money is that I use that money to go toward my monthly membership fee as an organizer.
Fast-forward to 2021. You don’t get that benefit any more. At the $23 the bottom price here, you do not get to show any kind of sponsors, over on your sidebar, so I had to work around that.
When I got my first sponsor, which was a huge sponsor it was a local co-working space, reached out to me saying hey you can come over here and host your events for free.
But I wasn’t even able to put them as sponsors on our page, and highlight them as a sponsor.
Do you have to pay to start a meetup group?
The plain and simple answer to this question is YES, you do need to pay meetup.
How much does it cost to start a Meetup group?
It’s 100% free! Anyone with an email address can register with Meetup.com and start joining groups immediately. Meetup will even suggest groups based on your interests, or you can do a search right on their platform to find groups.
And, as new groups are started based on your location and interests, Meetup will notify you in case you want to join.
Of course, as it’s pointed out above, you’ll have to pay dues in order to become a group Organizer.
Is there a free equivalent of Meetup.com? Which I can use to start a meetup group for free?
Currently, in the market, there are multiple alternatives of meetup. But most of them will need a lot of education in terms of how you operate them, or they have a similar subscription model.
The only platform which is truly amazing from a usability perspective and have literally £1/PCM fee is bylde. You can easily migrate your group from meetup to bylde.
- Fee: only £12 Annually.
- Integration with all social networks.
- You can charge a monthly fee to your group members to join your group.
- You can sell your event tickets for low commission fee.
- Automated marketing integrated into your event ticketing.
Learn more about it on bylde.
Native iOS and Android App for your group members.
You can read more about Alternatives to meetup and see 9 alternatives you could use.
How To Create a Free Meetup Group?
To start a Meetup group for free, you need to first go to bylde.com and search for a group in your city.
If you don’t find a group in your city on bylde. Then create a ticket with their support department and tell them you would like to create the first group in your city.
Tell them what you are planning to do with that group and how you are going to promote it with your friends and family.
Bylde will then provide you with a lifetime coupon code so that you can create your group for free.
Now if you want to know how you can make some money with your meetup group then please do comment below and I will create a blog post for it.
How to create a meetup group — step by step instructions:
Now in order to start a meet up. You have to click link that says Start a new group.
Once you get to the new group, you’re going to determine where you want that new group to be, then you’re going to click Next.
Now, obviously you’ll want to write in as much information as you can because this will make your groups searchable on Google.
Also meetup suggests you ideal descriptions and you’ll be able to see those descriptions in the example sections.
So once you’ve completed your description you’ll then click the Next button.
Remember you need to read and understand meetup requirements.
They are fairly simple though:
For example your meetings for the most part will be in person. Once again this does not prohibit you from doing online meetings, however, the focus and the goal of the meetup should be in person conversations.
Once you do that you’ll then click Agree and continue now, you can either have an unlimited plan or a basic plan.
Now one thing you’ll want to keep in mind is that as an organizer, you will be able to create up to three meetup groups with an organizer subscription plan.
And you can either pay on a monthly basis, or you can pay less, if you choose to pay for six months.
If you choose to pay less, you can take the basic plan. And this is going to be limited to 50 members, and 4 organizers in a particular group.
Once you confirm your subscription. You’ll then have a paid meetup. You’ll then be ready to get started.
Now lets talk about your profile on meetup.
There are two important aspects of your profile.
One of those aspects is your bio.
Now you’re going to want to take note that this by a will be searchable in search engines as well as in meetup.
So you want to be very specific about what you want people to see about you on your profile.
You have 250 characters to play with. So you don’t have a lot of space to write here, you just want to make sure that it’s accurate, and that it is keyword focused.
The other thing that you may not be interested in others knowing about in terms of you being the meetup organizer and your interest.
If that’s the case, what you’re going to do is you’re going to select the option, which says Hide interest on profile.
Once you’ve done that, you won’t see it inside of your edit screen, but you will have it so that individuals will not be able to see your interest in meetup.
Now the same thing is true if you don’t want others to know all of the meetups that you’re involved in as an organizer.
If you do that what you can do is you can click this link that says Hide meetup groups on profile.
What this now means is that individuals will not be able to see the other groups that you’re going to be a part of, on your profile.
If you were in the group, they’ll know you’re part of the group. However, they will not be able to find out any of the other groups that you are a part of.
Now lets talk about your Profile Picture.
The most important aspect of your profile, is that the image that you’re going to upload which defines you.
It is going to be the one that everyone is going to see when you’re going to:
- Make comments,
- Apply to be part of other meetups
- Or when people are going to apply to your Meetup
You want to make sure that your photo is reflective of what you want people to see.
Now in terms of the kinds of meetups that you are going to see being created in your local area, that will be determined primarily by setting your interest.
Meetups will show you those groups that you’re going to be most interested in.
You can also do is determine how far you want meetup to look, you can bring the radius in is closest to miles, or go as far out as 100 miles, but you have to bear in mind that this is an offline activity.
So the closer you have results, the better you can decide whether you want to be shown to individuals on Facebook, and you want to tick this box, and what you can do is you can connect your Facebook account to this Meetup account.