There are many online communities, whether on Facebook groups, Slack channels, or other specialized platforms. Some of these communities are very active and have several thousand members. It is therefore legitimate to ask yourself how to monetize your online community to get a return on investment.
Indeed, creating and animating an online community is a lot of work and it takes time. You may have hired people to help you moderate your community or create content for it for example. Monetizing your audience is then a good way to compensate for the costs of running this community.
In this article, I am going to give you some ideas on how to monetize your community efficiently. But first, it is important to make sure that your online community is ready to be monetized.
When and how to monetize your online community?
Before you embark on monetizing your online community, it is important to ensure that it provides value to your members and that they will therefore be willing to pay for this added value.
Indeed, the size of your community does not matter: whether you have a hundred or thousands of members, what matters is the value that your community brings. There is no point in trying to monetize a large, unengaged, and not valuable community. On the flip side, you can more easily monetize a handful of members who are very active in your community because they find quality content there for example.
Another important point to watch out for is the way in which you will monetize your audience. Indeed, we are all tired of being bombarded with ads and popups of all kinds.
It’s best to avoid overly commercial approaches and focus on relevant content that will really bring value to your members and for which they will be willing to pay.
In this article, I give you 5 ideas to monetize your online community without annoying your members.
1. Organize events
Organizing an event is the ideal way to monetize your audience. You can easily generate revenue by selling tickets for your online or hybrid event.
Depending on the type of platform you use to manage your community, you can sell tickets directly on the platform or use a third-party service such as Eventbrite.
In order to cater to all budgets, I recommend that you offer early bird tickets at a reduced price or a discount for certain members such as students or job seekers.
Some factors will make it possible for you to sell your tickets at a higher price: for example, if you plan a session led by a recognized expert in your industry. Again, the more value you bring to your community through this event, the more your members will be willing to pay to participate.
2. Get sponsors
Another great way to monetize your online community is by charging for sponsorship. Offer partners to pay to be promoted to your members and get new leads. In this case, the size of your community will be important because the more members you have, the more visibility your sponsors will gain.
The interest of sponsorship in this context is to promote a product or a service to a qualified audience. Indeed, if you run a community of scientists, you will have a much better chance of attracting sponsors in this field than a more general community. This should also help you to charge a little more for the partnership as the leads generated will generally be of very high quality.
By the way, if you have followed our first tip, consider offering sponsorship for an event: it’s an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone!
In fact, sponsors can be highlighted in different ways during an online event:
- they can be introduced at the beginning or end of a conference
- their logo can be displayed on different pages
- they can have a virtual booth
3. Charge for membership
This can be complicated to implement depending on your situation. Before asking your members to pay a subscription fee to access your community, you have to ensure that the content you offer is unique and of high quality: you need to provide value to justify a subscription.
The good thing is that this way of monetizing your community is long-lasting if you manage to keep your subscribers hooked on your content
On the contrary, if you are not the type of person who regularly feeds your community but you have relevant content to share with your members in exchange for money, I advise you to go straight to the next tip.
Again, the price and frequency of the subscription can be more or less depending on what you are going to offer your community. If you organize events every month and constantly create content to share with your members, you can easily ask your community to pay a monthly subscription. However, if you only do a round-up with your members every few months, it would be wise to offer them an annual subscription.
If your community site does not allow you to sell subscriptions, you can use a third-party site to manage your members’ payments such as Memberspace or Memberstack.
4. Provide exclusive content
Content is king. And a lot of people make money out of online content nowadays. So why wouldn’t you start doing so too?
There are many types of content that can be paid for. A good example is online courses, which are becoming increasingly trendy, especially since the covid-19 pandemic.
According to a Research and Markets study published in December 2019, online education could be worth US$ 350 Billion by 2025.
My two favorite platforms for creating online courses are Thinkific and Teachable.
Coaching is also becoming more and more popular. If you have the knowledge to help your community achieve their goals, consider offering them one-on-one or small group coaching sessions in exchange for money.
Start monetizing your online community
I hope you’ve enjoyed these monetization ideas and that this article was helpful. Of course, you can combine these strategies and I invite you to choose what fits best with your own type of community.
Tell me how you monetize your online community in the comments!