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Why Starting a Paid Community Is The Best Way For YouTubers To Turn Their Fame Into a Business That Lasts

YouTube’s Matt Koval joined Mighty Networks to help creators build their own communities. We ask him about how YouTube creators can turn their online audience into a business that lasts.

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by James Mulvey, Director of Mighty Pro Marketing

Apr 30

Matt Koval worked for nearly a decade in senior roles at YouTube helping creators become successful. Now he’s joined Mighty Networks as our SVP of Creators.

Here’s his take on how YouTubers can start unlocking new subscription revenue with their own paid communities.

Matt Koval

At YouTube, you worked as the Head Creator Liaison. What did you learn about high-profile YouTube creators?

MATT: My job was to connect with creators in a more human and high-touch way, to help them understand various aspects of YouTube, while also representing their perspectives, inside the company. As for big creators, they are BUSY and under a lot of pressure. They are essentially having to become the CEOs of their businesses, without any experience.

In 2008, you were an early YouTube star. In 2012, because of your YouTube success, you were hired by YouTube and worked there for nearly a decade. Why leave YouTube for Mighty Networks?

MATT: In observing thousands of creators since I got started with YouTube in 2008, I’ve realized that online popularity doesn’t last very long due to the fleeting nature of fame. Creators who want to turn what they do into a sustainable business need to charge for something, and/or sell something – and not just survive off the pennies from ads. I saw Mighty Networks as a perfect platform to do that. It’s a very effective way to monetize a YouTube audience.

For a YouTuber thinking about starting their own community, why not just use Discord?

MATT: Discord doesn’t make it easy to charge your members for access to the community. You also can’t charge for livestreams, in-person or virtual events, and certainly not online courses. That’s all possible with Mighty Networks, and with our Mighty Pro plan, you also get your own branded iOS and Android apps, so you don’t have members coming in and out while visiting their 10 other Discord servers.

Creators already have platforms like Patreon for earning monthly subscriptions, Teachable, and Thinkific for selling courses, so why use Mighty Networks?

MATT: Because it’s all in one app. It’s a royal pain in the a** to have people on Teachable for your online course, then also in a Facebook Group, with their algorithm deciding who gets to see your posts alongside 50 other random things in their timeline.

A lot of YouTubers are moving from Kajabi into Mighty Networks. Why are they making this switch?

MATT: From what I’ve seen so far it’s A) the community factor, and B) the all-in-one factor. The addition of a community with an online course is like nitrous. I’ve been in some communities where the members say it’s more valuable than the course itself, because the conversation continues, and the members help and encourage each other.

You’ve said that “YouTube fame is fleeting.” This is true with YouTube's popularity and even more so with TikTok stars. How does Mighty Networks help creators hedge against the fleeting fame of big platforms?

MATT: Because it’s not all about you and your celebrity. In a community, you become more of the host of a party, and allow your members to interact with each other and create a “network effect”. That means the members connect with each other and share thoughts (and content), which reduces the burden on you as a creator. This makes your community become more and more sustainable with each new member.

For YouTubers thinking about building their own paid communities and memberships, what types of YouTube channels do you think have a greater chance of success on Mighty Networks?

MATT: Successful communities on Mighty Networks are usually not about bringing in an audience or fanbase just to see you make more videos. What works best is if you and your community have a “Big Purpose” for being together such as losing weight, gaining wealth, accelerating a career jump, or making NFTs, and so on. To that, we often see teachers, leaders, coaches, and experts do well. Beyond that, anyone who wants to bring members together from a specific niche or profession.

Mighty Pro—Mighty Networks’ premium-level plan—includes branded apps for creators. Why would a creator want to bring people into their own app versus reaching them on social media platforms?

MATT: It’s all yours! It’s your app, your community. There are no distractions, no algorithms, no ads, no scams, no trolls, and no drama. An app also simplifies your front door. You don't need to tell people to buy your course on Teachable. To join the community that goes with your course on Facebook Groups. To ask for a payment in one system, email them in another. You can promote the app and people download it from the Apple or Google Play store and access all of your courses, paid memberships, live cohort courses, community, events, and livestreams, right from the app.

What advice would you give to someone who has perfected YouTube and is looking to further make that leap from content creator to building a lasting online business?

MATT: Content creators need to know that there are much more effective ways to monetize fans than just through ad revenue and merch. They’ve done the hard part already, which is getting all those eyeballs and attention. Now it’s about being smart in setting up a sustainable business, by either charging access to a paid community or creating a digital product that you can sell for a higher price point.

For example, if you have 2,000 people paying you $40 per month for membership access (which is the median amount Mighty Network Hosts charge), you're making $80,000 per month in direct income. Then there are courses on top of that. In fact, 77% of Hosts who offer a course inside their community, sell that course. That’s an insane conversion rate. So, overall, there’s huge potential out there for the content creator turned entrepreneur.

If you're a YouTuber and curious about community, learn more about our online community management platform.

You can also ask Matt any questions on Twitter over at @MattKoval. And with our premium-level plan Mighty Pro, you get your own branded iOS and Android apps in as little as four weeks.

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