Want to Build a Thriving Discord Community of 300,000+ Members? | by Scott Stockdale | Aug, 2022

This company has laid out a proven roadmap

Photo by Alexander Shatov on Unsplash

Andrei saw a problem with web development teaching.

“…There’s an overwhelming number of online courses, tutorials, and books… Most of them are outdated and don’t teach proper skills…

“People feel paralyzed… (They) don’t know where to start when learning complex topics…

“Many don’t have $8,000+ to spend on a coding bootcamp.”

Andrei Neagoie

As a self-taught programmer, Andrei set out to make tech skills affordable. He also wanted to teach real-life skills — not some theoretical BS.

This is why he built Zero To Mastery.

Since 2018, over 800,000 students have taken Zero To Mastery (ZTM) courses. Andrei dedicates 100% of his time to the platform, and ZTM alumni work at top-tier companies.

The list includes Apple, Google, Amazon, Tesla, UNIQLO, and Shopify.

What’s more, Andrei and his team have cultivated a thriving Discord community. It’s home to over 300,000 members.

I’ve seen it first hand.

I joined the ZTM team in September 2020 as their SEO instructor. Since then, hundreds of students have taken my SEO course. Many of these students ask me questions on the SEO channel.

Here’s how ZTM has built this Discord community.

All screenshots taken by the author

“When the product is right, you don’t have to be a great marketer.” — Lee Iacocca, American Executive

Zero To Mastery is laser-focused on the quality of its courses.

The philosophy is simple:

“If a course is not going to be 2X better than what’s out there, what’s the point?” — ZTM Faculty Lounge

Course instructors have real-world knowledge. They’re also guided through the process of creating a course from scratch.

This process is documented in the ZTM Faculty Lounge — a Notion document. It contains articles about course planning, recording videos, and more.

The team tests everything.

For example, there’s a 2000-word article about recording test videos. It details the equipment needed, framing shots, and more.

The documents keep teaching standards high. Students trust ZTM, so each course goes through this process.

It’s paying off.

ZTM has a page on its website dedicated to student testimonials:

The quality of its courses isn’t the only thing that makes Zero To Mastery stand out.

The team has put together ZTM Career Paths. These paths link together courses, articles, and resources. Their aim is to help students work towards a particular career.

There are currently 21 paths, including “Become a Blockchain Developer” and “Become a Freelancer”.

Then, of course, there’s the Discord community.

This is the special sauce.

When someone enrolls in a ZTM course, they’re welcomed by two videos. These explain what the course is about and who’s it for.

After this, there are text lessons.

The first lesson encourages students to join the Discord community. It gives instructions on how to get started:

Once students click the link (see above), they’re taken to ZTM’s Discord Server.

After signing up, students can say hello in the #introductions channel. They can also partner up in #accountability-buddies:

As they go through the course, they can ask questions in the course-specific channel.

Zero To Mastery engages with students at every opportunity.

Here’s how:

  • In the announcements channel, the management team shares resources. These are a mix of course updates, blog posts, alumni stories, and live events. Such announcements usually pop up once every few days:
  • In the same announcements channel, there’s a “discussion of the week”. Andrei asks a question. Students answer in the #discussion-of-the-week channel.
  • Instructors host workshops, Q&A sessions, and other events on the ZTM Campus. This campus is a metaverse space hosted on topia.io. Here, attendees can strike up conversations before and after the event.
  • Instructors engage with students on course-specific channels. As an instructor, if I help students, they’re more likely to watch my course. (Instructors get paid for the number of hours watched on their course/s.)

There are countless channels to cater to student needs. What’s more, different members can jump in to answer questions.

Non-course channels include #portfolios-and-resumes, #interview-questions, and #coding-challenge.

Students can also get different badges next to their profiles.

For example, students are awarded the “Alumni” badge if they’ve completed a ZTM course:

Your Discord community is only as strong as the people who moderate it.

In the ZTM community, there are Star Mentors. These experienced members help answer questions in the various channels.

For example, in the SEO channel, I’m helped by the wonderful Laura White. She’s an experienced software engineer who chips in with answers:

I support the answers she gives.

The Star Mentors don’t just answer questions. They also do a phenomenal job of moderating the channels.

For example, if a member posts something inappropriate, they’ll likely get flagged by one of the mentors.

From here, the comments will be removed. The member may also get banned.

It’s not just the Star Mentors who moderate. ZTM has developed two moderation bots: !zeroSpam and AutoMod.

As their names suggest, these bots log spam and promotional messages. They then block them automatically:

In the rare cases where the bots miss something, someone in the ZTM team will spot it.

This is then flagged in the same #moderation-log channel.

Outside of the ZTM Discord server, there’s a separate server for instructors. This is called ZTMA.

This server gives the management team an opportunity to share news that’s relevant to instructors.

For example, instructor payments were recently switched over to another provider. A member of the management team gave us instructions on what we needed to do.

Other news includes:

  • Updates about the ZTM website, such as UX changes and the number of organic keywords it’s ranking for
  • Tips on turning lessons into blog posts
  • Welcoming new instructors to the ZTM team

One of the best ways to bring new members into a community is through word of mouth.

Zero To Mastery excels at this.

Whenever we see students spreading the word about ZTM, we’ll do everything in our power to support them.

For example, this creator shared a video about ZTM:

One of the instructors highlighted this in the ZTMA server, and we jumped into the video comments to say thank you.

It’s not just students who are supported.

When my newly updated SEO course launched, the team tagged me on Twitter and LinkedIn.

We instructors feel part of something special.

So do our students.

Zero To Mastery is going from strength to strength.

It has over 40 courses, and the number of students is growing every day. Many of these students then join the Discord community.

Here’s a summary of how you can build your own thriving Discord community:

  • #1: Create a quality product How will you make yours at least 2X better than what’s already out there?
  • #2: Guide your members through the processOnce they join Discord, what should they do? Which channels should they check out? Give them small tasks to get the ball rolling.
  • #3: Keep members engaged — You can host events, post questions, and share resources. Give it a shot. Your imagination is the only constraint.
  • #4: Moderate the community — This is a full-time job. Consider hiring someone to do this for you.
  • #5: Be transparent with your team —Share news and tips. If you help them, they’ll help you
  • #6: Celebrate your wins outside of Discord — Word of mouth is your friend! 🙂