Whether you have built an online community before or you’re just starting out, you’ll find out that learning how to monetize your community can be challenging. After all, monetizing your community is more than simply asking members for money.
Fortunately, when you take the time to come up with the right pricing model for your community, you’re showing your members the value of your membership and all your hard work.
Ahead, we’re going to break down some approaches to understanding how to monetize your community. But before we do that, let’s unpack why you should monetize your community in the first place.
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Why should you monetize your community?
You should monetize your community because you’re building a network for your members to meet other passionate people who share a common interest or goal. And that is immensely valuable.
We can’t emphasize enough how valuable it is to build a network of people around your brand. If you’re wondering why, think about it this way: Each time someone new joins your community, they bring their own skills, expertise, and perspective. This means each new member provides additional value.
On top of that, at the most basic level, you should monetize your community because what you’re doing is work. Bringing together people around a shared interest is no small task. And you should be compensated for it.
If you’re still not convinced, we’ve got three major benefits that monetizing your community can unlock for you.
Benefits of monetizing your community
Now that we’ve unpacked why you should monetize your community (spoiler: you’re doing work that you should be compensated for!) let’s look at some major benefits of doing it.
By monetizing your community, you’re saying loud and clear that your brand, products, and services are valuable.
It might not be immediately intuitive, but people respond positively when you charge for things. Why? Because you are communicating to them that you’re so good at what you do that you can charge for it. And at the end of the day, people pay attention to what they pay for.
When you monetize your community you bring more legitimacy to your brand and show confidence in what you’re building. This is true even if you’re competing against people who provide their services for free.
We know how hard it is to build a community from scratch, especially when you’re doing it for free. But when you monetize your community you gain more stability through the added revenue you gain.
Learning how to monetize your community gives you more freedom to experiment and focus on your community and brand instead of other jobs or forms of income you might currently have.
More privacy and security
This might not be immediately apparent, but when you monetize your community, you’ll gain greater control over your community’s security and privacy.
When you choose to build an online community on a platform like Facebook, you’re losing a lot of control over the tone, feel, and energy your members bring into your community. Think about it, Facebook Groups are still a part of Facebook. That means that your members will see all the usual posts on their feed (many of which are divisive these days!) and will take that energy into your community.
By having a monetized online community separate from platforms like Facebook, you’ll allow your members to come into your community fresh.
Additionally, by having monetization in place like a paid membership (more on this later) you’ll gain more security from online trolls who might try to enter your community with negative intentions.
How to monetize a community
When you take the time to figure out how to monetize your community you’ll realize there are many different approaches you can take. We’ve compiled a list of ideas that you can experiment with to see what works best for you.
1. Sell paid memberships
Paid memberships are a great way to monetize your community. When you have a membership in place it allows you to give members exclusive benefits like live events, networking opportunities, and exclusive deals or offers. The most important thing is to clearly articulate to members how buying the membership will provide results that you can’t obtain simply by following you for free.
Creating a membership service for your brand is a great way to expand your online community too. Most of the major social media websites—including Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter—are based around building a “following.”
But what that usually means is your members will follow your brand, but never get to know you. The interactions are pretty superficial and oftentimes end up just being updates on your brand or products. When you offer a paid membership space, it will bring in your most dedicated followers and allow you more of a chance to interact with them more deeply. On top of that, this space will allow members to build relationships with each other.
Part of keeping a brand alive is understanding how to sustain the conversation. When you have a paid membership site, you’re bringing together your biggest fans who will then spread your praises around the world.
2. Offer online courses
Offering online courses is a great way to monetize a community. An online course is also a community of people working to accomplish a goal together. Creating an online course is a great way to build a community around your brand, but it also fosters more member interactions.
It doesn’t matter if your brand is about exercising, learning how to paint, starting a small business, or providing support for new parents. When you offer an online course, you can teach people new skills while also keeping them interested in your brand.
Now we know what you’re probably thinking: I’m not a teacher!
If you can share with others your perspective, ideas, or expertise on a talk then you certainly can be a teacher.
The second concern that many people will have is how much work it is to create online course material. We can’t front, it is work to create online course material. But you don’t need to have it all figured out from the jump!
But hold up, have you ever done a presentation, panel, podcast, written a worksheet, or something along those lines? All of those things are great starting points for online material.
Remember, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel when you make an online course. In fact, you can help people learn a simple skill or idea that they couldn’t figure out on their own. At the end of the day, view online course creation as a way to guide people down a road to their goal. You’re providing people with steps to follow to help them on their journey.
3. Host live virtual events
Hosting regular virtual events is another great way to monetize a community. Why? Because it gives you a chance to talk directly to your members. Imagine that, face-to-face communication, who doesn’t love that!
Before you start to worry, hosting a live virtual event doesn’t need to be a big production. Feel free to go above and beyond with it sure, but a virtual event can also be a low-stakes networking meeting.
If you don’t want to charge for a membership to your community, then holding virtual events on different topics is a great way to monetize your community. Some easy ways you can do this are inviting guest speakers, providing live-coaching events, or holding events where members can network for professional development.
All of these experiences allow you to assure others that you’re a real person who is invested in your members’ lives. Putting yourself out there for your members to see you as a human being adds some personality and flair to your persona.
The best place to build a community for your brand is Mighty Networks
So, here we are at the end of the article. Here at Mighty Networks we believe that the best way to build a community around your brand is to choose a platform with powerful community building tools.
Mighty Networks is a leader in the world of online community building and has numerous tools for you to experiment with to monetize a community through paid memberships, and online courses. You also get a powerful website builder that gives you the tools you need to deliver your awesome content.
On top of that, with a Mighty Network, you’ll be able to offer all of these pieces together under your own brand, instantly available on web, iOS, and Android. Don’t underestimate the power of your members being able to access your brand wherever they are.
Figuring out how to monetize your community can be fun, we hope this article helped you out along the way. Now it’s time to get started, we’re excited to see what you do.