Customer Stories

How Tom Ross built a $50K membership community as a side hustle

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Membership community

“I teach community because it’s the thing I care about the most. I’m definitely not a tech CEO—I’m very untechnical—which is why I love Circle, because it’s so easy to use. But I’m all about the people, so any entrepreneurial venture I’ve done, it’s all been predicated on bringing people together.”

Tom Ross Founder, Learn.Community


Tom Ross started a side hustle sharing his extensive community-building knowledge with others for free. But as he quickly amassed a following and life introduced more demands on his time, he needed to figure out a way to monetize his expertise.


Tom turned to Circle—the intuitive all-in-one community platform—which enabled him to build, monetize, and scale a membership community for community builders. Today, Tom’s community serves nearly 200 members and provides him with consistent (side hustle) income.

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Meet Tom Ross

Tom Ross is passionate about helping others build and scale successful online communities. He runs Learn.Community, a community for nearly 200 community builders, and is also the founder and CEO of Design Cuts. Learn more from Tom by checking out his blog or reading his free Community Manual.

The challenge

Towards the end of 2021, Tom Ross was navigating an especially-packed schedule. During the day, he was working as founder and CEO at Design Cuts, a design marketplace and community for over one million creatives.


At night, he was creating content about community building. He knew that community was what set Design Cuts apart, and he was keen to share his knowledge on a subject that he felt so passionate about. So, around his full-time gig, he started publishing blog posts, newsletters, social content, and a free ebook—attracting thousands of subscribers and followers in the process.

“If you’re not familiar with me, I’m a massive community geek.”

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Tom Ross

Founder, Learn.Community

On top of all that, Tom and his wife, Maxine, were awaiting the arrival of their first child. Tom knew that once his daughter was born, he’d have less time to devote to his side hustle. He was also aware that he was giving away a lot of valuable knowledge for free, and that—to make it worth his time and effort to continue—he’d have to find a way to monetize his side hustle.

The solution

Tom already had a captive audience, so he decided to pose a question to them: Would you be interested in joining a membership community that will support you in your own community building journey? He instructed anyone interested in joining the community as a founding member to fill out a quick Google form, and he got nearly 400 responses!


With his idea validated, he turned to Circle. There, he created Learn.Community, a membership for community builders looking to launch and scale their own online communities.


Tom built Learn.Community over a weekend, which he spent building the community’s spaces, designing graphics, writing copy, and plotting out the onboarding process. Once everything was set up, he emailed his waitlist and hosted a virtual launch party to demo Learn.Community, answer questions, drum up excitement, and encourage attendees to join the community in real-time.


Now, just over two years later, Learn.Community serves nearly 200 community members, enabling Tom to share his passion for community and support others while also bringing in consistent, reliable revenue.


Learn.Community is priced at $49 per month (or $490 on the annual subscription) and gives members access to:

  • Weekly community events, like office hours and community showcase sessions
  • Tom’s flagship community course
  • A community building knowledge base
  • Support with questions and challenges
  • Access to like-minded peers

According to one Learn.Community member and superfan, “Learn.Community is more than just a place to learn community. It is a thriving community in itself. From its engaged members to the over-delivering leader, this is the place to be if you’re wanting to build a community that cares.”

Create a community you would be proud to be a member of

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