Circle: My Favourite Community Platform - Tom RossCircle: My Favourite Community Platform - Tom Ross

Circle: My Favourite Community Platform

This article is sponsored by Circle, however, all opinions and experiences expressed are my own.

Circle: My favourite community platform ever

A few years ago, my friend, a respected entrepreneur called Dan sent me a link to a new platform called Circle. “You’re in the community world, I think you’ll like this” he said.

He was right.

It was love at first sight. I just knew in my gut that Circle was the platform I’d been searching for.

For years I’d struggled with platforms that didn’t feel quite right. They were messy, unintuitive and not particularly nice to use. They often lacked features, or weren’t appropriate for the kind of membership communities that I love to build.

When I saw Circle, it just felt… different.

I jumped in, and quickly learned the platform. It was really intuitive and beautifully designed – basically everything I’d been searching for.

Fast forward a few years, and I’m now a very happy ‘Circler’.

I use Circle for my personal community Learn.Community, as well as our community at my main company – Design Cuts.

In fact, I’m such a Circle fan that I’ve recommended the platform to countless community builders, and even hosted dozens of workshops for Circle’s own customer community.

If you’re considering Circle, sign up for a free trial today.

Why I love Circle

There’s a lot to love about Circle, but here are my favourite aspects of the platform:

It’s all-in-one

This is huge. Before Circle I had soooo many platforms in my tech-stack. I would need at least half a dozen platforms to do what I wanted – and none of them connected particularly well.

Circle brings everything under one roof. I can produce courses, host live events, manage a thriving forum community, have paywalls – you name it!

Having everything I need in one place saves me money, but more importantly, it just makes my life easier. It’s also easier for our members, who get a more cohesive experience, rather than being pushed from platform to platform.

Rather than having to juggle the mental load of managing multiple platforms, I can smoothly oversee everything in one place.

It’s for professionals

Whilst you can absolutely run free communities on Circle (and many people do), it’s really aimed at professional community builders. 

In my opinion, it’s the single best platform for hosting a membership community.

Not only does it include all the functionality you need to offer community memberships, but it just feels professional. I would never want to push paying members to a Facebook group, or other free platform. Instead, I want to give our paying members a professional home that I can feel proud of.

There’s a range of white-labeling options, so Learn.Community sits on my own domain, has my own logo, colour scheme etc… All of this leads to a far more respectable brand experience.

Circle ships new features often

Circle has a pretty awesome team – I should know, I’ve met many of them. They roll-out features and improvements like no other company I’ve seen.

Each month, their CEO Sid provides a list of new features that launched that month. The list feels like something it would take other companies a year to achieve!

Some of my favorite recent improvements include:

  • An affiliate program (so members can refer friends)
  • The ability to host public webinars/events (so non-members can view them)
  • Image gallery spaces (something we’re loving using at my company Design Cuts)
  • Polls
  • Drip-fed courses

Whenever I think ‘I’d love Circle to include this new feature’ – sure enough, the feature seems to be released in the months to follow.

It’s this speed of roll-out that gives me confidence in the platform. It feels like as I invest in Circle as a customer, I’m investing in something that is forever improving and evolving. That’s important, as the world of community can move pretty fast. It’s reassuring to feel like my community can stay at the cutting-edge.

Circle is intuitive and beautiful

My entire background is in the world of design. I was a web designer in my formative years, and even worked as a landing page consultant to help pay my way through college. I’ve lived and breathed design most of my life, and now run a community that serves 1 million designers.

All of this to say – I can be pretty particular about what I feel looks good.

I care more about the user-interface and visuals of a community platform than most.

And that’s why Circle is so satisfying for me. It’s clean, it’s minimal, and most importantly it’s so intuitive to use. This means that my members can easily navigate the community once they join. They don’t need training, they just naturally know how to use it. 

There’s no distractions, no annoying widgets going off. It’s just beautifully functional.

It’s really quick and easy to set up ‘spaces’ (the sections of your community). I’ve helped some of our members set up their entire community in under an hour.

It’s powerful and fully featured

There are honestly too many features to list them all here. Circle has also rolled out new features super rapidly in recent years.

Here are some of my absolute favorite Circle features:


Fun fact: I was the first Circle customer to launch a paywall :). 

That paywall has gone on to generate well over $100,000 in membership revenue and genuinely change my life.

Since launching my first Paywall, Circle paywalls have come a long way. They have a dedicated team developing their paywall offering, which now includes things like free trials, coupons, multi-tiers, upgrade/downgrade options and much more.

Paywalls seamlessly integrate with Stripe, and even a tech-noob like me managed to get everything working in minutes.

My paywall for Learn.Community:


I love that Circle wrapped courses into their offering.

After producing my comprehensive, 9-hour long course Build a Thriving Online Community, I knew that I wanted to make it available inside Learn.Community, just for our members.

Not only was the course super easy to set up and publish, but by hosting it natively in my community – I could accompany the course with a series of live lessons and interactive experiences for our members.

This made a HUGE difference when I rolled out modules, as students felt they could actively participate in the course, rather than just passively consume it.

I was genuinely so proud when I rolled out my course. It’s the biggest thing I’ve ever personally released, and was a true labour of love. I know for a fact that I wouldn’t have gotten it completed if Circle wasn’t such a smooth platform to integrate with.

I could upload videos quickly, drag and drop lessons and modules and even benefit from AI generated transcripts! Incredible.

Here’s a look at how the course is structured for members:

Courses also give you fantastic analytics, so you can see how many members are enrolled and the progress they’re making.

Custom profile fields

More recently, I’ve been loving playing with the newly available feature of ‘custom profile fields’. This allows me to gather a wealth of useful information from our new members, that ultimately let’s me better serve and connect them with one another.

When a member joins Learn.Community, they have to fill out several mandatory profile fields, providing key insights about their community and skillset.

This then forms part of their rich community profile.

Here’s an example of one of our members below. Having this kind of standardized data on members is a game-changer in terms of being able to manage the community properly.


I love live events. They’re one of my favourite ways to bring value to my community members.

Circle events work seamlessly.

I schedule events regularly, but also allow our members to schedule their own member-led events.

This provides a rich events calendar, with a variety of exciting live sessions.

The sessions are hosted natively within Circle, so the entire experience feels cohesive and familiar. There’s the added bonus that members just browsing the community see a live notification if an event is happening at the same time.

Once the event is done, in a few clicks I can repost the replay to a space of my choosing. In my case, I’ve organised our replays into a comprehensive video library, which has become a vital resource for our members.

Here’s an example of how some of our upcoming events look:

And here’s a recording of some of our members working through a complex problem together:

Member Directory

This is hands down one of my favourite features.

The member directory let’s you (and your members) find other members easily.

If you set up a good structure for tags and/or custom profile fields, it lets you easily filter members.

This pays dividends in terms of community management!

Here’s some use-cases:

You want to find members who live in a similar area, to organise an IRL meet-up. So you filter by location ‘London’.

A member posts in the community, asking for help with a particular challenge. You go to the member directory and find other members with that skill ‘tag’ and encourage them to help their fellow member. I’ve done this countless times. If a member is struggling with their community’s landing page – I can quickly find members who are pro’s at landing page design, and ask them to help.

Here’s an example of how we’ve structured tags in our community. You can see ‘skill’ tags with the little brain icons. If I want to find skilled marketers in the community, I just filter by that tag and voila!


Great onboarding really matters. If you can ‘activate’ a new member early on, they’re far more likely to stick around.

Circle’s team are community experts, so they’ve been sure to include a range of features to help with onboarding.

You can create an onboarding course, and track member progress.

You can choose exactly what new members see after joining. In my case, I show a pop-up, complete with friendly/silly video, to see a warm tone after they join. They’re then taking to our onboarding space to learn more about the community.

You can also trigger emails to new members to help properly welcome them into the community.

Below you can see how I’ve set up my welcome message/video in a pop-up for new members. I love the little details, like how you can address them by their actual name and make the experience feel more personal:

Your members deserve the best

Many of the members we help inside Learn.Community have recently transitioned to using Circle. Typically, they make the move because they’re starting to treat their community more seriously. They’re starting to act like professionals. 

The results are always so inspiring to me.

When community builders leave behind the limitations of free platforms (like Facebook) and embrace a truly professional solution, their community offering just becomes so much stronger.

Suddenly, ever aspect of the community can operate at a higher level:

  • Onboarding
  • Offerings
  • Member Management
  • Revenue generation
  • Analytics/Data insights
  • Tech-stack

The list goes on…

If you are looking to invest in your community’s success, a proper platform like Circle is vital.

If you’re considering Circle…

I’m sure you can tell from this article, I’m a huge fan of Circle. But I’m also an experienced community professional, who’s been building communities online for the past 20 years.

I honestly haven’t seen any platform come close to Circle in terms of what it can do.

The rich features, the continuous improvements, the all-in-one approach – it’s pretty much a dream for any community builder.

If you’re on the fence about trying Circle, I recommend jumping in.

They have a free trial that’s well worth exploring. Have a play around, and I hope that like me, you experience community love at first sight.

Sign up for Circle today.

Join our private community for community builders

Connect with like-minded community builders and make real progress with your online community. Learn.Community offers an active forum, weekly workshops and a complete learning pathway.

Learn.Community - Community for Community Builders

Learn more about Learn.Community

Get my ultimate guide To niching

Thank you for subscribing!