The creator economy is alive and well. We’re living in a time when creative people have almost unlimited options to make amazing content and get it out to the world. Whether you're an established creator or thinking about becoming one, there are so many places to build.
But one of the hardest parts about being a creator can be making the leap to doing it for a living. It can be hard to know how to monetize your audience. There are so many opinions out there. So many influencers telling you how to do it. But unfortunately, sometimes it feels like you are the one monetizing them, and not the other way around.
The other challenge to monetizing your audience is that many of the common options don't give you control. Affiliate marketing sounds great, but what happens when the brand you are earning from decides to change its payment structure? You lose that revenue, and you get no say in it at all. Monetizing with ads sounds nice, but you are really at the mercy of the advertiser. And most creators trying to monetize with YouTube or Facebook ads only make pennies.
In this article, we want to give you some realistic ideas for how to monetize your audience. There's a ton of advice out there, as you know. So we're going to keep it simple. And as we go, we'll focus on monetization strategies that actually put you in an ownership position, removing the huge risk of shifting whims of advertisers and affiliates. Here are some monetization methods that really work for 2023.
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In this article…
1. Start a community
We love communities so that's where we're going to start. Unlike so many other monetization options, a community does just about everything right. Online communities combine something that humans want to do naturally – gathering and making friends – with the ability to charge a membership fee and create a valuable business you can start... this weekend.
Unlike the many other ways that people talk about monetizing an audience, communities aren't even close to being at their saturation point. They’re just getting started. People are still joining communities, starting communities, and looking for communities.
The other big advantage to a community is that you don't need to do a ton of work upfront. You can get started quickly by choosing a great community platform and inviting your first members. We've seen communities start from here and grow to multimillion-dollar businesses.
While you can read about some of these in our Stories of Awesome, let's just highlight a few. Ashley Fox was on the fast track to Wall Street success. But when she realized she was unhappy she decided to leave and spend her time empowering the 99% of people with the financial advice they wouldn’t get otherwise.
ArtSnacksMix was created by brothers and sisters Lee and Sarah Rubenstein, who were selling art supplies from their Instagram channel. When they realized that people also wanted to know how to put the art together, a community was born.
Communities can be all shapes and sizes and dedicated to just about anything. Check out these 15 membership site ideas.
2. Teach a course
Next up, teach a course. You've heard this before. In fact, teaching a course has become a pretty common answer to monetizing your audience.
Teaching a course can still be fantastic, no matter how popular it is. But let's talk about a trend that we are seeing. Cohort courses, AKA courses that are instructed live, have been exploding in popularity. While people know that they can go watch a course on Skillshare, a lot of people are missing the human connection that traditional learning offers.
Teaching a cohort course lets your students get a seat in a live-virtual classroom, where they can make friends with other students, get their questions answered in real-time, and stay connected once the course is done.
By the way, you can still post a recording of your awesome cohort course unless people want to go through it on their own time. In the battle of asynchronous vs. synchronous courses, you don’t really have to choose. You can do both.
3. Host an event
Let's talk about events.
There was a huge uptick in virtual events because of the pandemic, and they're not going away. If you can master the science of running a great virtual event, it can be an awesome way to monetize an audience. Charging something for the event actually makes it way more likely people will show up and engage. In return, you can provide your attendees a ton of value.
While a cohort course can actually feel a bit like an event, you could also do things like virtual summits, networking sessions, or mastermind groups.
At a loss on where to start? Here are 21 virtual event ideas to inspire you.
4. Try coaching or consulting
If you are building an audience by sharing knowledge, that means you are positioning yourself as an expert in that field. And one of the easiest ways for experts to monetize anything is with coaching or consulting.
Coaching is a one-to-one practice. There are coaches for just about everything, from life to business to fitness to relationships. Coaching lets you work with an individual or group and help people transform something about their life.
Another option is consulting. Consulting can feel a bit like coaching, often you are bringing your expertise to a business instead of an individual. But usually, you are paid to create some clear deliverables and offer a set of value propositions for the business. One of the best things about consulting is that you can be paid a premium rate - businesses are willing to spend good money on qualified consultants. And if you built your audience, you probably have half of your business development done anyways. It might be as simple as posting that you’re available.
5. Speaking gigs
Last but not least… speaking! Of course, this isn't much different than events. But instead of posting an event, can you use your street cred and background to shift into speaking income?
A lot of speakers are in high demand. Whether it's a live event or a virtual event, bringing your expertise to the stage might be just the ticket. Also, if you've done the work to build an audience, it's even more attractive for event organizers to pay you to speak, because they know people will show up.
Ready to start?
Hopefully, these tips have given you some good ideas for audience monetization. Remember, not everything works the first time. Most creators who have successfully monetized their audience have tried a few things that didn't. Don't let failure hold you back. Step back up to the plate and keep swinging until you find the thing that works for you.
And if you're looking for a great platform to build on, come give Mighty Networks a try! It's an all-in-one community platform that will let you do most of the things we talked about above: from hosting amazing live events, to live streaming, to teaching a cohort course, to building a traditional course with our amazing LMS.
Mighty Networks has everything you could need. And collecting payments is really easy too. You can build packages and bundles that you can sell to your members. It's literally the only platform you need to monetize your audience.
So if you're ready, come check it out for free and take a look around. No credit card is required.