Why the Mastery Failed…

the-mastery 300The Mastery was a failed venture that I worked on with a couple friends who happened to be in a mastermind group with me. The other co-founders were Dave Schneider from Self Made BusinessmanNinja Outreach (affiliate link) and Lewis Ogden from Cloud Income.

The goal of the Mastery was to help people find a mastermind group.

What is a mastermind group?

If you haven’t heard of a mastermind group yet, check out some of the references at the end of this post.

In general, a mastermind group is a collection of driven people that meet on a regular basis to help each other, push each other, and accomplish more than they could have on their own.

The Mastery and why it closed…

I was thinking about posting about how (and why) the Mastery closed for a little while but never got around to it. Last week I listened to the Empire Podcast (EFP 132) where Dave was interviewed. Check it out if you have not listened to it yet. That episode reminded me how everything went down.

In the end, we had a nice forum with about 200 members. They all knew about mastermind groups and were interested in joining them.

The main problem was that the three founders had low interest in running a forum.

That was the bottom line. We didn’t want a forum.

The Origin

I can’t remember who pitched the idea first, but it wasn’t me so it had to be Dave or Lewis. We all got a lot out of our mastermind meetings and we knew that other people were finding success out of their meetings. We hear Pat Flynn and Nick Loper and others talk about masterminds on their podcasts or write about them.

Since the three of us have active blogs, we regularly hear from readers asking about where to find a mastermind group. That proved that people need a better way to find a mastermind group. Plus, we researched the comments of all the blog posts that we could find about mastermind groups and that reinforced the need.

We decided that we would start the Mastery.

The Monetization Strategy

The idea was that we could have a membership site that charged a monthly fee. And, the secondary monetization would be through related affiliate offers like hosting.

There are countless other people with those specific business models doing very, very well.

What went well?

Working with a team is WAY better than working alone. Working alone is hard and requires a certain kind of motivation to reach success. The major advantage is that each person brings a very diverse set of skills to the table. It was okay that I did not have a WordPress developer working with me…Dave and Lewis were already working with a VA. I was studying copywriting at the time so I took a stab at the copy.

Leveraging our existing audiences to drive the initial interest. Each of our audiences were receptive to our new venture. It helped us get a solid start and the first 100 or so members.

Learning how to run a webinar with Google Hangouts.  We held a couple of webinars for the initial members. That forced us to learn how to work with the platform and how to present information under pressure.

What didn’t go well?

The primary issue was that the Mastery was a side effort for all of us. Lewis and I also had full-time jobs and a primary side gig (Cloud Income & Niche Site Project), while Dave was working on Ninja Outreach. We all agreed that we had a certain amount of time to contribute each week. However, a project like the Mastery needs to have a champion that can give 100%. None of us have the bandwidth or the desire to run the Mastery, especially as a forum.

We should have validated the monetizing strategy sooner. We had a great amount of interest from each of our email lists. I can’t recall the exact number of applications that we received, but it was over 50. The problem was that a very low percentage of the accepted applicants paid to join. We all thought that it was very clear that the Mastery was a paid membership. The conversion rate was so low that either the value proposition was not high enough or that the applicants did not know that they would have to pay money to join.

We should have implemented fewer “features” initially in a systematic way and just done things manually as they were needed. There were some search features that were critical for day 1, but there were other features, like a platform to conduct the actual mastermind meetings, that were not needed. And, some of those features didn’t even really work that well in practice.


At the end of the day, we had a nice group of great members, about 200 of them. That would have been a good start for someone that wanted to start a forum – that just wasn’t us. We talked about it a lot and arrived at the fact that the Mastery was still a side project for us all.

The lesson that I learned is that side projects can seem like a great idea but really be a distraction. Opportunities will always be available and it is okay if you say “no” to most all of them.


Have you been part of a side project that failed? I would love to hear about it.

Let me know in the comments below.


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9 comments… add one
  • Yep I agree with all of the above. I think everyone’s first inclination is when something doesn’t work out it was a bad idea. Next was that the execution was poor.

    In this case I don’t know if it was either. It could have been, of course, maybe it was a bad idea or not great execution, but I still think the idea had legs and the execution was fine.

    I think our expectations were too high – we were expecting a much quicker turn around in terms of revenue. When that didn’t happen, I think we all agreed we weren’t interested enough to dedicate the 1-2 years full time that would have been necessary to get over the hump with it, especially because it was turning into a forum, and we all had other priorities we were more interested in.

  • hows your amazon affiliate sites Doug ? are you still into it ? or are you moving forward with authority sites too ?

    • Yes, I am still doing amazon sites and have a couple other (bigger) sites that I’m working on, too.

      • great to hear that Doug, i missed those days when i read your income report.. especially the $6000 in December 2013 .. wow its 2015 now.. years gone by so fast.. here i am on my second amazon site…

  • Tao Schencks

    I did have a similar idea, of creating a resource where people could share their profile and start or join mastermind groups. I even looked to see if a domain was available.. 🙂

    However, I decided not to do it as I could not see the monetization path and also, maintenance would have been a hassle.

    • Hey Tao, the monetization path for a mastermind group resource is tough. I think someone with a big audience could make it work… I.E. Pat Flynn could make it work.

      That’s not to say others can’t do it but it would take longer & would probably be more resource intensive.

  • wkhojoseph

    I tried running a Mastermind group before, however I feel that is hard to get everyone to commit. I decided to drop because is taking too much of my time.

  • Ross

    Hello Doug,

    When is the next income report?



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