Love feeling like you’re a part of something? Join the
That feeling is hard to beat.
It’s why we seek out like-minded groups, where we can connect over our mutual passions and interests.
You have your own passion and you’re looking to build an online community where you can share it with others.
So, where do you start?
We recently hosted a live Twitter Q&A with 5 expert creators, where we asked them to share their insights on online communities (in 280 characters or less).
The results: 10 tried-and-tested tips for building a successful online community in 2022.
For your convenience, we’ve got the Q’s queued up.
Simply click on any of the links below to skip straight to straight to the topic you’d like to learn about.
10 Tips for Getting Started With Your Online Community:
- Define Your Goals and Value
- Find Your Unique Value Proposition
- Convert New Members
- Price Your Online Community
- Monetize Your Following
- Market to An Owned Audience
- Build Your Email List
- Create Community Loyalty
- Use Discounts and Special Offers
- Find Your Version of Success
Strapped in for all 10 tips? Let’s get into them…
1. Tell Me Why: Define Your Goals and Value
Why do you want to build a community, and why will people join?
These two questions are important first steps in the journey to building your online community.
First, decide the value you can offer, wrap it in a nice value prop.
Second, set personal goals based on what you want out of your efforts.
Third, make content that targets the interests of the audience you can provide value to, and target them with topics they are likely to respond to.Nick Nimmin, Creator.
The most common outcomes that creators seek from their online communities are…
- To make a direct impact on the lives of others.
- To build a reliable stream of income.
- To connect with others, at scale, over a shared passion.
Once you know what you want, you can move on to determining what you can deliver.
We’ll cover this in more detail in the next tip, but it essentially comes down to what sort of unique value your members will get out of your online community.
Audiences often convert to paying community members because they want…
- To receive a solution to their problem(s).
- To access exclusive content around a specific topic.
- To connect with like-minded people.
- To support their favorite creator.
When you know what you want, and what your audience wants, you can pinpoint where these overlap and use that as a guide to build your community and content.
2. UVP Is The MVP: Find Your Unique Value Proposition
What makes your online community worth joining?
Great content and exclusive perks are strong selling points, but your audience wants to know the big-picture outcome before they purchase a membership.
Ultimately, defining your unique value proposition comes down to making sure you understand the problem you are trying to solve, and the people you are trying to solve it for.
A formula for figuring out your UVP is:
My community will help [specific type of people you’re trying to attract] with achieving/finding [2 or 3 benefits/positive results].Jaimie Myers, Director of Marketing, Uscreen.
Your UVP essentially communicates to your audience how their lives will improve by being a part of your online community.
Your audience, like any of us, are much more likely to convert if they can visualize this improvement.
I like to refer to this type of decision as an ‘aspirational purchase’.
For example: did I join my (frankly overpriced) gym for the weird, curvy treadmills?
No, we actually have yet to get acquainted.
I joined because I could picture the outcome of the membership: a fitter, more knowledgeable version of myself, thanks to the tools and guidance I would have access to.
Your audience and potential members are on the same train of thought.
You need to determine…
- who exactly your target audience is
- what their biggest problems or pain-points are
- how you can solve 2 or 3 of them
…and plug these into Jaimie’s formula for developing your unique value proposition.
3. Get to Yes: Convert New Members
There’s a segment of your audience that already engages with your content regularly.
So, how can you give them that extra push to join your online community?
It is increasingly difficult to do but here’s why:
1. You truly (or finally) help to solve their problem.
2. Someone else they trust is already involved (never forget the power of word of mouth.)
3. FOMO – it’s still real.
4. They see their future selves in you, the creator.Finley Robinson, Brand Manager, B•TRIBAL•FIT.
Communicate that you can solve their problem.
We’ve already touched on how you can determine your unique value proposition (UVP).
Once you understand who your community can help, and how, it’s time to wrap up that UVP in a way you can easily market to your engaged audience.
For example, a cooking community might communicate their UVP to their audience as…
“This community helps time-strapped members to go from microwaving ready-made-meals, to impressing their friends and family with restaurant-grade dishes.”
One sentence can let your audience know:
- This community was made for people like them.
- What they’ll ultimately learn by joining.
- The big-picture impact on their lives.
Leverage testimonials and word-of-mouth.
Feedback from your community members is crucial for understanding what works, and what still needs work.
Beyond using it to better your online community, you can also take the positive feedback you receive and turn it into testimonials.
88% of consumers trust these bite-sized endorsements as much as they do personal recommendations, so it’s worth your time to put them in the spotlight.
Share sneak-peeks of your community.
FOMO is more than just a fun acronym, it’s a huge driver for conversions.
If your audience can see that they’re missing out on the value that your community delivers, they’ll be one step closer to signing up.
Maybe your community members get early access to your content, or invites to live video calls where they can chat with you directly.
Whatever your exclusive perks are, there’s going to be some people in your engaged audience who want to be a part of that.
Showcase the triple-threat of your UVP, testimonials, and sneak-peeks…
- on your website or landing page
- in your social media posts
- in your email marketing
… and just watch those new members roll in.
4. Keep The Change: Price Your Online Community
Pricing your online community membership can be tricky, but luckily there are a few easy ways to figure it out.
Make it relative to your offer.
If you’re going to dedicate time to providing extra value through your membership, there is a big difference between an extra hour a week and an extra 10 hours per week.
If you’re spending an hour, price for it. If you’re spending 10, price for it.
It’s also important to consider any additional value.
For example, are you available for your members to reach out to? Do you give them free things they can use? Do you hook them up with discounts to things they need? etc.Nick Nimmin, Creator.
Let’s break this down into steps…
Step 1: Start with the input.
- Determine how much time you will spend on your community each week.
- Then establish what your startup and ongoing costs will be.
- Finish up that math by adding on the estimated value of the resources you’re offering.
Step 2: Do some research.
- Take note of what your competitors are charging.
- Find out what your members are able and willing to pay.
- Determine which pricing models work well for your niche.
Step 3: Define your revenue goals.
It’s as simple as establishing how much money you want to make each month from your online community.
With all of these factors in mind, you’ll be in the best position possible to price your community membership.
If you’d like to learn more about how to work out your pricing, check out the article below.
It even has a nifty calculator that does the work for you!
How to Price Your Subscription Service in 5 Simple Steps
5. Does Size Matter: Monetize Your Small Audience
It’s the question on every creator’s mind when they’re first starting out…
Do I have to grow my audience to a certain size before I can monetize it?
There’s riches in the niches.
100 fans, if they are true fans, are as good as any number of followers.
As long as you have loyal fans, they’ll be willing to subscribe and be a part of your community.PJ Taei, Founder and CEO, Uscreen.
You heard it here first, folks.
This year has already been dubbed as the year of the micro-influencer, since creators with fewer than 25,000 followers currently have the highest engagement rates.
If you have a small following, as long as you’re providing value, you’ll be able to reliably monetize it through an online community.
6. Own It: Market to An Owned Audience
If you’re considering building an online community, then you’re probably already aware of the concept of ‘owning’ your audience.
It essentially means that you have access to your audience, independent from any social platform.
Whether you should market to an owned or unowned following depends on the audience and what you’re selling.
However, it’s essential for any creator to build an email list and own their audience!
That way you are always connected to your audience and can further nurture them.Amir Shahzeidi, Head of Search, Uscreen.
Since social media platforms and their algorithms are notoriously volatile, a lot of creators are exploring different ways to own their audience, with email lists being one of the easiest ways to do so.
While it’s up to you whether you want to market your community your owned or unowned audience (or both), it’s still important to build those email lists.
Building a newsletter can even be seen as an extension of your online community.
You can share…
- updates and announcements
- blog posts
- special offers
… with your subscribers.
This helps to nurture your relationship with a segment of your audience, who could likely end up converting to paying members.
7. Freebie Frenzy: Build Your Email List
We’ve established that an email list is important.
Now, how do you go about building one?
For me, I offer a lead magnet in my YouTube description in exchange for their email.
Lead magnets can vary, from a free PDF guide to presets for videos or photos.
Lead magnets can be valuable and have the potential to build your email list.Sidney Diongzon, Creator.
Freebies. Or, if you want to get fancy, lead magnets.
These are helpful resources that you offer to your audience for free, in exchange for their email address.
Some examples of lead magnets are…
- Online courses.
- Photo presets.
For example, a fitness creator might offer a free meal plan as a digital download.
Whoever enters their email address to receive this free meal plan is clearly interested in nutrition and fitness.
This means that when the fitness creator sends out a newsletter to these new subscribers, they know that they’re reaching people whose interests’ align with their content.
8. These Subs Are Loyal: Create Community Loyalty
When it comes to building loyalty within your community, the name of the game is ‘showing up’.
It might seem like a simple to-do, but your commitment to your members will determine their commitment to you.
You have to be there! No one wants to be the first one to a party.
If you show up, they show up. Also, give them a reason to want to show up.
Maybe they can get access to you one-on-one to start, or maybe early-access to your content.
A community, like any relationship, takes time!Andrew Kan, Creator.
If you want to build loyalty, you need to show up, front and center.
That being said, it’s important to establish expectations for your online community.
If you’re the kind of creator who loves being present for their community members 24/7, that’s great! (Also, kudos to you).
However, if you know that you might need time in the week to work on other content or projects – or just enjoy some down-time – make sure to schedule your engagement with your community.
For example, you might opt to be available all-day, every Monday and Thursday.
Alternatively, you might prefer to engage with your community every week-night.
Find what works for you, and show up consistently.
9. What’s The Big Deal: Use Discounts and Special Offers
Discounts and special offers are one of the most effective ways to attract new members to your community.
There are a few different types of offers that you can leverage, and these will depend on your niche, the time of year, and the stage that your community is in.
Early birds discounts work amazingly well since they’re limited in time and quantity.
It also entices the audience to buy your subscription at a lower cost than other folks.Amir Shahzeidi, Head of Search, Uscreen.
During holidays, be sure to use gift cards & coupons.PJ Taei, Founder and CEO, Uscreen.
Every industry will be different – in fitness, for example, free trials and challenges are BIG in attracting new members, especially if timed perfectly.Jaimie Myers, Director of Marketing, Uscreen.
Early bird discounts are incredibly effective.
They evoke that powerful sense of FOMO in your audience, who are scared to miss out on a limited-time discount.
This strategy is great for when you’re still in the stage of launching your online community.
If those jingle bells are a-ringing, then it might be time for a festive gift card and coupon strategy.
By offering gift cards for your online community, you’ll allow your existing members to convert their friends and family with the gift that keeps on giving.
You can also offer upsell deals, discounted bundles, exclusive merch… the world is truly your oyster during the holiday season.
Lastly, but not least-ly, free trials and challenges are a great way to reach those commitment-phobes in your audience.
This strategy works great all year ‘round, for every niche, and for any stage of your community.
10. Say Yes To Success: Find Your Version of Success
If you’re just starting out with building your online community, the thought has probably crossed your mind…
What steps can I take to make my online community as successful as possible?
Having been involved in large scale community IRL and online, I think it’s important to accept that people join & leave over time.
A community breathes. It doesn’t just increase forever. People make choices and changes with their lives.
1. Welcome with intentionality.
2. Have “new” activities to be involved in at a reasonable pace.
3. Involve others and give away meaningful leadership.
4. Are willing to rethink their purposes over time.
5. Makes a big group feel small in some way.Finley Robinson, Brand Manager, B•TRIBAL•FIT.
Before we get into what makes a community successful, it’s important to define what success looks like for your community.
Will your community’s success be defined by…
- Its size.
- The positive impact it has on others.
- Its profitability.
- Its longevity.
Once you have a idea of what ‘success’ means for your community, it’ll be easier to consistently work towards it.
Start by giving your new members a warm welcome. Perhaps its a shoutout in your community feed, or a personalized ‘hello’ message.
Either way, it’s a great practice to make your members feel seen and welcome.
From there, keep engagement up by regularly introducing new challenges and activities. For example, this could be a month-long follow-along activity that you host every second or third month.
Another way to keep your members engaged is to bring new faces into your content. Invite another expert in your niche to collaborate with you on a few pieces of content for your community.
A new POV is a great way to keep things fresh!
Your online community can also inch closer to success if you remain open-minded to its development.
Maybe you started out with an idea of what your community would grow into, but it’s taken a slightly different path instead.
As long as it aligns with your purpose and fulfils your members, an unexpected trajectory can be a wonderful thing.
Lastly, a successful online community feels like a community.
The key to growing a loyal group of members is to make them feel seen and their feedback feel heard.
Wrapping This Up…
While it can feel like there are a lot of moving parts when you’re just getting started, your online community can ultimately be incredibly rewarding for you, and for your members.
Here are 10 tips for getting started with your online community in 2022:
- Define your goals and value.
Decide what you and your members will get out of your online community.
- Determine your UVP.
Work out your community’s unique value proposition.
- Get busy sharing.
Share your value proposition, testimonials, and sneak-peeks in your marketing.
- Set a price.
Research your competitors and customers to determine a price for your community membership.
- Monetize at any size.
Be prepared to monetize your audience, whether it’s big or small.
- Build your email list.
Transition into owning your audience through an email list.
- Leverage freebies as lead magnets.
Provide freebies such as PDF guides as a way to capture email addresses from interested followers.
- Build loyalty by showing up.
Set expectations for your community, and consistently show up to engage with your members.
- Give a good deal.
Offer gift cards, discounts, bundles and challenges to attract new community members.
- Define ‘success’.
Determine what ‘success’ looks like for your community, and work towards that goal.