Case Study: How Piano With Jonny Reached 10,000 Members
This is a 90-minute video chat with Jonny May and Yannick Lambrecht, co-founders of Piano With Jonny (PWJ). PWJ is one of our most successful clients and we’re honored to share their story. We cover a variety of topics from how they got started to systems, content production, work/life balance and much more.
Here’s a summary of the case study –
Piano With Jonny started back in 2012 with 3 courses and a few YouTube videos. Fast forward to today – they currently offer a hybrid membership site with hundreds of online piano lessons, courses, live shows and more.
- The business was started as a side project. Yannick approached Jonny after hearing him play, and urged him to consider recording his piano lessons. Yannick had video editing skills and thought he could help Jonny share his teaching with more people online.
- Timing was important – they entered the market as online music learning was starting to heat up.
The PWJ business currently has:
- 10,000+ active members
- 162,000+ YouTube subscribers
- 7-figure business
What’s different today from back in 2012?
- Recording / production processes
- More robust website
- Great team
In the beginning they didn’t have much money or resources. They put a lot of personal time into learning things that needed to get done. They also focused on striving for “good enough” instead of obsessing over perfection. This allowed them to overcome excuses not to start. They launched things quickly and created close relationships with early customers to gather feedback.
Not until 2018 did they heavily invest in a larger, more robust website with member(dev) that helped them evolve their offering. At this point they also started to hire and build out a team to accommodate new processes and methodologies.
- Prioritize learning new things.
- Put something out that’s good enough.
- Don’t get too focused on the numbers early on. They can discourage you. Instead, focus on producing things.
- Listen to your members and iterate on feedback.
- Invest in higher quality after you’ve outgrown your early iterations.
- Create an engaging user experience that helps your members become successful with what you’re offering. This should continue to evolve.
- Remember the value of building a community, not just asking people to buy your products.
- Hire from within, if possible. This provides a cultural filter since your members are generally already aligned with your culture.
PWJ executed a large re-design project with us [MemberDev] back in 2018. This project resulted in massive success, but it took longer than expected and had some interesting learning.
- Took 6 months longer than original timeline.
- Lots of content to rework and update for the new site.
- Required a lot of strategic thinking and empathy to think about the new user experience.
- Appreciated MemberDev’s help prioritizing and managing scope.
* PWJ explored multiple options for building their new website, and after determining that Memberdev was the best fit for their needs, they got a small business loan to fund their project.
“Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.”
A big part of their project involved managing complexity. There were a lot of awesome features they wanted to implement, however, we had to control this to manage the scope, budget and timeline of their project.
“There’s always a simpler way.”
PWJ still deals with this today in their business! They believe it’s important to distill information in a simple and easy way. This applies to the content they produce and the way they make decisions as a team.
They’ve come a long way since their inception. Here are some of the takeaways from what they’ve learned over the years.
PWJ Problem Solving Process
Here’s how PWJ looks at solving problems:
- Start with research to clearly understand the problem
- Assess different options / solutions
- Don’t repeat similar solutions just because you’ve “always done it that way”
- Ask yourself, “Is there a simpler way?”
- Surround yourself with smart people and get their perspective
- Be persuadable
Systems & Processes
Systems and processes are a big part of their business, but in the beginning the work was solely split up between Jonny and Yannick. As the business started growing, they learned that in order to get things done efficiently, they needed to implement the following:
- Hire and delegate to team members. They hired video editors, customer support, a community & content manager, and an advertising manager.
- Hire people when it doesn’t make sense to learn something. They hired us (MemberDev) because they didn’t want to figure out how to code a better website.
- Organize weekly meetings and daily check-ins
- Use SOPs (standard operating procedure) and checklists
- Use ClickUp for task management
Something they did early on was to put out consistent content. They prioritized this and made sure new content was posted weekly.
- Focus on delivering high quality content since that’s what matters most.
- Create a schedule and put all content on a calendar.
- Create a work environment and flow that makes it easy to record and publish content.
- Stay committed – Even on the days when Jonny didn’t feel like recording, those days have yielded some of the most successful content.
- Ride the waves of inspiration when they come. Maximize that inspiration by taking action in the moment.
- Track your KPIs but don’t get too focused on goals. They aren’t always indicative of your quality or progress.
Something else they prioritized early on was building a strong community. They were deliberate about this and still believe that the community is a huge part of their membership offering.
- Create a positive environment where people feel comfortable sharing and asking questions.
- Leverage FB groups and private forums.
- Support customers with in-person engagement – live shows, Q&As, etc.
Organic friendships have formed, and they think of their community as a family. People initially come for the content, but they often stay for the community.
“If you want to go fast go alone; if you want to go far go together.”
Balancing Family Life with Business
Jonny and Yannick are both parents. Balancing family life with business is extremely important. Here are some of the things they had to share.
- They’ve learned how to turn work life off and make family time non-negotiable
- They’ve become more efficient and driven by creating clear boundaries. Having a separate office space helped with this.
- Putting in extra long hours usually leads to diminishing returns.
- Get the family involved! There are times when talking to your spouse and kids can bring a unique perspective to business challenges.
Jonny had some final thoughts around early entrepreneurs who often feel stuck or paralyzed around how to get started. His advice is simple –
“Focus and tackle one thing.”
The lesson here is to keep moving and avoid overthinking. Pick something and go. Then repeat and do another thing.
We hope you enjoyed this case study. If you’ve like to learn more about PWJ you can visit their site at: https://pianowithjonny.com
Ali is the founder of MemberDev. He's a serial entrepreneur and software engineer with over 15 years of experience building technology. Ali's spent the last decade focusing on membership websites and the subscription business model. He enjoys helping small businesses with early stage development and growth.