Circle is a community platform that creators and brands can use to offer a thriving community to their audiences, followers and fans.
It is also one of the most popular platforms in this space. Circle is a great alternative to Facebook groups and other social media community offerings where as a creator, you have limited control over things like distractions and algorithms.
Circle offers core community features such as discussions, live streaming, group chats, direct messaging, events and paid memberships. It also doubles as a course platform so you can monetize your audience and help them with personal growth.
Getting started with Circle is easy as there aren’t any sign up barriers. There is a 14-day free trial available with no billing requirements (no credit card).
During your free 14 days, you’ll have a guided set-up process to help you properly set up your community business plus all the help and support you need.
In this article, I’ll show you how easy it is to get started with Circle’s 14-day free trial and a look at what they offer. I’ll also cover some important pricing details and a few alternatives just in case Circle isn’t for you.
Starting Your Circle Free Trial
Getting started with Circle is very easy as you do not need to enter your billing information to try out any of their paid plans.
To sign up, you can click on the “Get Started” button in the header navigation of the site or on any “Start your 14-day free trial button” on the site.
This will initiate your 14-day free trial as detailed below. There aren’t many steps to sign up and you wouldn’t encounter any billing pages.
1. Enter name, email and choose password
The first step is to enter your name and email address and choose a password for the purposes of logging in.
2. Create your community
After you’ve finished entering your name and email, it’s time to create your community. You’ll have to provide a name for the community and a subdomain of circle.so so visitors can find your landing page.
There are also other settings you can tinker with here. You can toggle on the button to make your community private. Or leave it as is.
Keep in mind that you can change all this information in your settings afterwards so it doesn’t have to be all perfect at this moment.
3. Tell Circle about yourself
After you’re done setting up the general details of your community, Circle wants to know a bit about yourself so that you can have the best onboarding experience.
They ask some questions and provide a few answer options to get to know more about you and your business.
Examples of the type of questions asked in the survey are:
- What do you want to achieve with Circle?
- How much do you know about Circle?
Choose the most relevant answer to you and then click the “Next” button to continue.
4. Pick a template for the community you’re starting
This is the last step before you get to your dashboard and it is optional. You can choose to skip it but there is really no harm in just picking one of the options.
Here you’ll be able to pick a community template to start with. This will give you a default set of spaces to start with which you can customize afterwards.
You can choose between basic, coaching, course, podcast and product templates or you can select none to set up your spaces later.
5. You’re in! Check out the Circle Dashboard
That’s it. The free trial sign up process is done and you’re now looking at your Circle dashboard which as a new member, shows you how to get started.
You can begin immediately doing tasks from the checklist and checking them off as you go. Or you can browse around to get familiar with the features available in your free trial.
Pricing After Circle Free Trial
There are three plans to choose from after your Circle free trial period ends. You’re not automatically billed since no credit card information was asked for at the beginning of the trial.
The three plans include the Professional plan which I believe is the plan you’re using when you activate the free trial. This trial includes courses and live streaming which are not available on the lower tiered Basic plan. You get all these features on your free trial.
There is a higher tier called the Enterprise plan which includes everything on the Professional plan plus exclusive features for large businesses and brands with a lot of followers and traffic.
Here’s a breakdown of the plans being offered.
- Basic – $39/month ($35/month when you choose annual billing)
- Professional – $99/month ($89 when you choose annual billing)
- Enterprise – $399/month ($360 when you choose annual billing)
On the Basic plan, you get the core community features which includes discussions, group chats, rich member profiles, unlimited events and more.
The Professional plan adds courses and live streaming video so this is where you start if you’re interested in more than just community. You can also fully white label your community.
Pricing on Circle is built for scaling and there are some plan limits. These include:
- Members – Basic is limited to 1000 and you get 10,000 on the Professional plan, and up to 100,000 on Enterprise
- Admin – 1 admin on Basic, 3 on Professional and up to 10 on Enterprise
- Moderators – 1 on Basic, 10 on Professional and up to 100 on Enterprise
- Spaces – 10 on Basic, 20 on Professional and up to 100 on Enterprise
- Live Streams – 100 attendees on Professional and 1000+ on Enterprise
- Hours – 20 streaming hours on Pro and 50 hours on Enterprise
On the Basic plan, if you need to go beyond your limit, you’ll need to upgrade to the next plan. However, you can just pay for extras if you’re on any of the other plans. For example, if you need more than the 3 allowed admins on the Professional plan, this will cost $10/month for each new admin member. You can also pay $20/month for every 10,000 additional members over your plan limit.
Each plan also comes with transaction fees. These are higher the lower the plan. So Basic plan subscribers will pay 4%, Professional will pay 1% and Enterprise subscribers pay 0.5% transaction fees.
So when you look at the monthly cost of Circle, you’ll need to factor in more than just that fee depending on your business needs and setup.
What You Get on Circle Free Trial
The Circle free trial gives you all the features that you’ll get on the Professional plan (which costs $99/month).
This means you’ll get access to all the core features offered by Circle to start building your community. The 14-day free trial allows you to get a head start before paying any subscription fees.
As a creator on Circle, you can build your community and give your members a great experience with:
- rich member profiles
- engaging discussions
- live streaming video
- private messaging and group chats
- unlimited events
- access via Circle iOS app
- custom domain
- Zapier integration
- paid memberships
You also get guidance on building your community the right way and access to the Circle community for creators. This can help you to learn how to use the platform the right way and increase your chance of success with Circle communities.
For whatever reason, circle may not be the right choice for you when it comes to building communities. They have a very strong community building platform and is one of the most popular options available but things like plan limits may not be for everyone.
Here are some other great alternatives you can look into if you want to build a community business. The good thing is that they all come with a free trial.
Circle’s biggest competitor is probably Mighty Networks which also has both community and course features.
On Mighty Networks, your community can have live streaming (on all plans), member profiles, discussions, events, group chats, messaging and all of the other features available on Circle.
There are some differences though. With pricing, things like members, admin and moderators are unlimited and not capped on each plan. The pricing is slightly higher on Mighty Networks but not that much.
While Circle provides a native app for iOS, Mighty Networks provides for both iOS and Android and there is also a plan where you can get your own branded app for both mobile platforms.
Mighty Networks also has a 14-day free trial and you could get a 14-day extension if you like.
Thinkific is one of the top course platforms available on the internet in 2022. They certainly have a better course product than Circle but this is because that is their main focus as a platform.
Thinkific also has Thinkific communities which (with along with courses) makes it a powerful alternative to Circle.
Features available include rich member profiles and @ mentions, live events that turn your community into a classroom with coaching, workshops and more, reactions, threaded conversations and lots more.
You can get started on Thinkific with either a free plan or a full 30-day free trial of one of their paid plans.
With a primary focus on courses, Kajabi is an all-in-one platform that also allows you to build communities. You can offer access to customers of your courses or other Kajabi products or it can be a standalone, paid membership or subscription.
Communities on Kajabi aren’t as feature-rich as Circle and the pricing is about 4 times more expensive to get started. However, if you’re more focused on doing courses, podcasts or coaching then Kajabi might be an option to check out.
There is a 14-day free trial available to join Kajabi and check things out but no free account to fall back on when the trial is over.
Another option to Circle is Uuki, which creators and brands can use to build engaging communities around their products and offerings.
Uuki is a great alternative if you want a cheaper option as plans start at $19/month. Posts and discussions, member profiles with private messaging and group chat and paid membership are some of the core features available. It is not as feature-rich as Circle and you can’t do courses or live streams.
Uuki offers a 14-day free trial without credit card to get started.
Should You Use Circle?
Circle is one of the top community platforms and is definitely worth a try if you’re looking to add and control community engagement for your brand.
All of the most important community features are available on the entry plan which costs $39/month and you can add courses and live streaming on the mid-level plan.
The only thing I personally don’t like is the pricing which goes up as your business outgrows the plan limits. This should really not be a problem if your business is experiencing growth but considering that other platforms offer unlimited members, admin and moderators, my preference is for the latter.
If you’re thinking about adding community or migrating your current Facebook group to a platform where you have more control then Circle is a good option.
You can start with a 14-day free trial to check out all the features and then choose a plan that’s relevant to where your business wants to go.