If you want to build a community online, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve come across Discord. It markets itself as a free community platform, and it’s a popular choice.
But while Discord remains a fantastic platform for all types of casual conversation (especially for gaming), it has some real limitations. The biggest one? No built-in monetization features.
That’s why if you’re looking to bring people together to take them on a journey (through your online course) and create a thriving community, while also getting paid, looking at the best Discord alternatives is a step in the right direction.
A good community platform should allow you to customize and build a beautiful place for your members to meet, while also allowing you to make money as a creator.
Whether you’re creating a community of wellness enthusiasts, financially literate young professionals, or even a course for the B2B market, we’ll give you 6 great alternatives to Discord to consider.
If you want more support in building your online community, come join OUR Mighty Community for free and meet other new and established community owners! We’d love to meet you. Join for free!
In this article…
Why look for a Discord alternative?
Yes, you can bring a group of strangers together on Discord by creating fun hangouts, but there is so much you can’t do on this platform. Discord was built as a live chat room first, and while it has added numerous other features over the years, that remains its focus. Your community, on the other hand, needs so much more than chatting.
Here are some reasons why looking for good Discord alternatives might be the best choice for your community.
It’s difficult to configure
Discord lets you customize the permissions of your members through roles, which control what channels your members can chat in (or view) and numerous other features in your community. This feature is very flexible — too flexible, sometimes.
If you’ve never set up a Discord community before, it can be overwhelming, trying to decide which permissions your members need to thrive in your community.
Limited event management
Discord lets you schedule events and lets your community know about it in advance, since they’ll be notified. When it comes to creating, starting, modifying and deleting events, permissions differ depending on where you’re hosting an event (Stage Channel vs. Voice Chat channel).
The downside to Discord’s event management is that there’s no integration with third-party calendars like Google or iCalendar, so calendar-specific reminders aren’t created automatically. There’s also no support for repeated events, like weekly meetings.
It’s difficult to stay organized
As a creator, you want to be on top of your game. That means staying organized. With Discord, this may be extra challenging. Admins do have the ability to group different conversation channels into categories, but that’s pretty much the extent of it. Channels tend to have a lot of chatter and this can be difficult to keep up with. On top of that, managing notifications can be an absolute nightmare.
Limited customization for you and your users
Discord favors larger communities. The ability to add custom banners and create custom invite links, for example, are given to the largest communities on this platform. If your members do want some customization (like changing their profile picture across communities), it requires them to essentially “boost” the server using Nitro (money that goes into Discord’s pocket, not yours). Not being able to change your profile pic may not sound like a big deal, but if it’s not appropriate for every community, members are either forced to use the same one or create a completely separate account.
No integrated monetization
The biggest downside for creators using Discord? The lack of monetization. Discord wants your users to pay them for Nitro features, not pay you. They basically want to take credit for your work! There are some third-party workarounds (like using bots) but they can be a headache to create and unreliable at best — why not use a platform that actually wants you, the creator, to make money?
What to look for in a Discord alternative
Discord does allow its members to live stream, voice chat, and discuss topics on forums with one another.
But if you want to build a thriving community based on a course, skill, or expertise that you offer, you need so much more. You need better organization features, subgroups that are easy to manage, ways to integrate content from your course if you have one, and most importantly, analytics! You need to see, in real-time, which parts of your community members value and which things you should reorganize or redesign.
As a creator you want to be able to show off your brand. Yet, as mentioned above, Discord doesn’t allow you to create your own brand or customize features. When you’re searching for a good alternative to host your community, look for one that lets you customize to your heart’s content.
Monetization shouldn’t be complicated, and unfortunately on Discord it is. Often, you’re stuck squeezing in third-party platforms and services, which can be confusing for you and your members. You want to look for an alternative that lets you easily create membership tiers, subgroups, and charge for courses — hassle-free.
Discord has a good app (desktop and mobile), so any community platform should have this feature as well. We want to be able to access our information anywhere, at any time, so having an app should be a given for any good alternatives to Discord (especially considering how much time we spend on our phones).
6 Discord alternatives
1. Mighty Networks
Mighty Networks is an online community platform for brands, businesses, and creators. Here’s what makes Mighty Networks one of the best alternatives to Discord and an overall powerful platform:
The structure of a Mighty Network makes it easy for people who don’t know each other to find the most relevant topics, content, and people. The interface your members see is designed with them in mind. Each member has a custom Activity Feed, suggesting topics, groups and online courses they should follow or join. On top of that, Hosts can make new members feel included and important by setting up a “Welcome Section” for them, a “Featured Section” for returning members, and a “Search and Discovery” page to spotlight what’s happening in their community
Unlike Discord, you can build community with a ton of features, from live streaming to polls to subgroups to group chats... everything you need to create a thriving space.
With Mighty Networks, your community is delivered under the banner of your brand. You get to use your unique brand and domain for a Mighty Network (similar to how you’d set up your own website on another platform). A Mighty Network on the Business Plan also has a full online course platform built in. If you ever want to include courses, workshops, or a resource center, it’s easy to add these, and you won’t be paying for another platform.
Simply put, Mighty Networks is designed to be a space for learning and growth within your community—guided by you and your members’ goals.
You can easily monetize your Mighty Network. You have the freedom to create membership tiers when you offer courses and/or groups. And you can sell courses, access to the main community or subgroups, in different bundles of your choosing, all in multiple currencies to serve members around the world. There's no need to struggle with integrations, bots, and other limits that Discord places on monetization.
Every Mighty Network comes with access to an intuitive app on their mobile device. If you have room in your budget and truly want to customize your members’ experience, you also have the option to upgrade to get your own totally-custom mobile apps.
There are endless opportunities to create a thriving community on Mighty Networks. Not only that, but engagement rates on the platform are extremely high—and unlike Discord, you’ll have access to the detailed analytics to prove it.
Chances are you’ve probably used Slack for work. If you have, you know that it’s fairly easy to pick up and become familiar with. Based on our criteria, here’s what you need to know about Slack as an alternative to Discord:
A Slack team includes member accounts, permissions, and light profiles that assume people work on the same team and are already familiar with one another. Members also have the capacity to message one another individually, as groups, and through channels.
This is where Slack shines, for hosting conversations and organizing them. It's a fantastic forum-type solution.
The downside is, Slack wasn’t designed to find new people or content easily — it’s not ideal for building a community of strangers. Member profiles are condensed and intended for people who are already connected/know each other, which limits engagement.
Admins have the ability to create “channels” for sub-topics where members can contribute. Unfortunately, when it comes to offering content to your community, you're out of luck when it comes to this platform. There are no polls, questions, or events to engage your community (this is crucial for bringing together a group of strangers). This means that you need to redirect members to your website, blog or other place to access your content.
Direct monetization isn’t a possibility for Slack. Once again, you’ll be directing your members to yet another platform, risking a drop in engagement and lower conversion rates.
Slack does have a great native app so that members can easily access messages with mobile notifications.
While Slack isn’t an ideal platform to bring together a group of strangers, or to find new content, it can pull in data/activity from other services. Like Discord, you can also easily engage with your members by setting up an automated bot to interact with them.
So, in short, Slack is a great 1 for 1 alternative to Discord, doing many of the same things, but this means that it comes with some of the same limitations. Slack is best for what it was designed to do, bringing together groups that know each other to organize common work.
One of the main reasons why people choose to use WhatsApp is because of its encryption. Moreover, if your target audience is outside of North America, they will likely already be familiar with this platform—a big plus for attracting new members. WhatsApp is huge, really the default messaging platform, in some parts of the world.
WhatsApp is fantastic if your community’s primary goal is chatting and communicating using text, pictures, and videos. It is, after all, a chat platform! So that's what it does really well. It's really intuitive to use and set up, and works best for 1:1 conversations.
The biggest drawback is that it’s not designed for people who don’t know one another. Creating large groups and organizing them can also be difficult.
Unfortunately, you can’t use your own branding with WhatsApp. There’s no way to create subgroups or any other organizational features. WhatsApp is reportedly working on a “communities” feature, but there’s no telling when it will materialize.
As with Slack, there’s also no means of direct monetization with this platform. You'd have to use a third-party app to monetize.
WhatsApp has an easy-to-use and intuitive app. As we mentioned above, it's awesome for chatting 1:1.
This app is great for people who know one another but if you want to build a community of strangers who are coming together for a purpose, it might be a bit trickier. It’s also owned by Meta (formerly Facebook), which may give some members pause about privacy concerns
4. Facebook Groups
As with WhatsApp, and depending on your audience, Facebook Groups will be a familiar and comfortable tool for many of your members. The types of Facebook Groups that individuals are creating range from career tips to recreational tennis players. Let’s look at where Facebook Groups excel and what some of the challenges are:
Because a good majority of people have Facebook, it’s easy to add members (whether you’re connected with them or not). Adding posts is as breeze, and so it uploading video. Your members probably already have a profile, so it's probably an easy thing to get them signed up and into the group.
For all it's community strengths, Facebook has a two major weaknesses to community-building: notifications and distractions. Even though your members may get notified of new activity in your group, you’re still competing with a ton of updates from other groups they’ve joined and their friends (like goat videos, and their friend’s most recent vacay pics).
Sure, running groups is easy on this platform, but your group will always be under Facebook’s brand because they don’t allow for customization. At the end of the day, you want to promote your brand and bring people together but you will always be promoting Facebook using their platform. PLUS, if you want to offer online courses, this platform isn’t for you, since they don’t offer this option. Facebook Groups also doesn’t offer the capability to create subgroups.
Facebook Groups unfortunately doesn’t let you monetize or run a paid membership site. They actually do the opposite and ask creators to spend money on advertising.
Facebook’s app is extremely easy to use and accessible, which is great! There's a good chance your audience already has it.
A lot of people are already on this platform and the app is nicely laid out, but creators are constantly fighting for their members’ attention with the ever-changing algorithm on Facebook Groups. Not only that, there are a lot of issues when it comes to privacy so more and more people are avoiding Facebook Groups.
For all these reasons, Facebook is a Discord alternative, but definitely not the best one.
5. Microsoft Teams
Ever since the pandemic, organizations have looked to communication tools for their (pardon this pun) teams. Similar to Slack, Microsoft Teams has grown in popularity in leaps in bounds.
With Teams you can interact with your members through group chat, online meetings, calls, and web conferencing. You can also easily collaborate on files. It's a fantastic place to host discussions, and especially to work on a project with other people.
You can invite external members to your Teams, but you need their email address, and depending on how your Teams is configured, they might have limited access to its features.
While you can tweak a few things within Teams (e.g. dark theme, adding apps, and your status message), you certainly can’t customize it to your liking, which makes this platform limited in terms of promoting your brand/company. It's also a bit corporate-looking as a Discord alternative, which might not be a dealbreaker, but is worth thinking about.
You can’t directly monetize on Teams unless it’s with your own app. If you do sell an app on this platform, you can also sell subscription plans.
Teams includes 28 native apps that are available for integration, like OneNote, and Wikipedia. Teams is also available as a desktop app, web browser and as a mobile app. So it's definitely accessible as an app.
Unlike Facebook Groups, with Teams you have more security with end-to-end encryption and compliance, making it a more secure Discord alternative.
Telegram is a messaging app that is fast and easy-to-use. Telegram is a combination of SMS and email (you use your phone contacts to find people within the app). It’s one of the most downloaded apps in the world. Let’s see why and whether that makes it a better Discord alternative for building your community.
With Telegram, users can send one another photos, videos, and files, as well as voice and video call other participants. You can create large groups (up to 200,000 people) or channels for broadcasting to unlimited audiences.
With Telegram channels, admins can create themed groups and broadcast their content to subscribers. The downside of this app is that only the admin can publish their content. Subscribers can engage with it by participating in polls and clicking links, but ultimately it’s a one-way broadcasting tool.
Telegram groups allow users to chat with one another and anyone can join a group, but there is limited capability to broadcast like you would with a channel.
Compared to the other alternatives explored here, Telegram comes out in the middle of the pack on customization. You can do things like add your logo to your group, but the overall interface will remain Telegram’s. There isn’t too much you can do to make your group stand out from other ones, or adjust it to meet the needs of your specific community.
Unlike many of the platforms listed, you can monetize your Telegram channel. You can set up paid subscriptions and sell them, with the help of a third-party service.
Telegram can easily be used on desktop or mobile devices.
While Telegram isn't really the place to host a forum or build a course business, it is a messenger app that has room to reach a lot of people, making it a good alternative to Discord.
If you’re looking for a great Discord alternative where you can grow your online community, why not try Mighty Networks?
It gives you a ton of great features and possibilities — from easily welcoming new members to a community, creating a customized feed for members, to having the ability to monetize through memberships, courses, and groups.
You get to bring people (who don’t know each other) together who share the same passion, interests, or goals and see them thrive, making it one of the top alternatives to Discord.
Ready to launch your community?