Communities Cost Money

Let's cut to the chase: launching and running an online community isn't just a passion project—it's a full-on investment. Here's how to ask for money without feeling like you're just another bill in their inbox.

Communities Cost Money

Let's cut to the chase: launching and running an online community isn't just a passion project—it's a full-on investment.

Even if joining is free, you and I both know that the behind-the-scenes work certainly isn't.

Asking for a fair exchange for your hard work? Totally reasonable.

Here's how to do it without feeling like you're just another bill in their inbox.

Understand Your Investment

First off, acknowledge all the resources you're pouring into your community.

Whether it's the hours you spend moderating discussions, the cash you drop on hosting services, or the energy you invest in creating content, it adds up.

Recognize this as your investment in creating something valuable. If you don't no one else will!

Action Step: Write down a list of all the resources (time, money, effort) you spend on your community. This will help you understand your investment and the value you're providing.
  1. Time Tracking: You discover you're spending 10 hours a week creating unique content and engaging with your community. This realization helps you quantify the value of your time and the exclusive content you provide.
  2. Cost Breakdown: Upon reviewing your expenses, you find that platform fees, software subscriptions, and web hosting cost you $200 a month. Highlighting these figures can help members appreciate the financial commitments behind the scenes.
  3. Acknowledge the Effort: Recognizing the emotional and mental effort you put into moderating discussions and keeping the community positive. This often-overlooked aspect can be a powerful part of your value proposition.

Show Your Value

Next, make it crystal clear what members get out of your community.

Is it exclusive content? A network of like-minded people? Whatever your USP (Unique Selling Proposition), highlight it.

This sets the stage for why your community is worth supporting financially.

Action Step: Create a "value list" of what your community offers and share it in your welcome email or a pinned post on your platform.

After identifying your community's unique offerings, here’s how to showcase them:

  1. Exclusive Content: Highlight a series of in-depth guides or tutorials only available to your community. This underscores the unique learning opportunities members have.
  2. Networking Success Story: Share a testimonial from a member who landed a job or collaboration through your community. This real-life success story illustrates the networking value.
  3. Unique Events: Point out your monthly expert Q&A sessions or virtual meetups that offer direct access to industry leaders. These events are a unique draw for your community.

Monetize Wisely

Now, onto the money talk. 💰 There are plenty of ways to monetize that feel natural and not pushy.

Think of memberships, exclusive content, or even merch. And that's just the most obvious.

My advice. Choose methods that align with your community's vibe.

Action Step: Pick one monetization strategy and implement it. For example, start with a basic membership tier offering an opportunity to connect with your 1x a week.
  1. Premium Membership: Offer a tier that includes exclusive webinars, a private forum, and early access to content. This directly ties financial support to exclusive benefits.
  2. Merchandise Line: Launch branded merchandise like T-shirts or mugs. This not only provides a revenue stream but also builds a sense of belonging among members.
  3. Affiliate Partnerships: Curate a list of products or services that align with your community's interests. Through affiliate links, members get discounts, and you earn a commission.

Master the Ask

Here's where many hit the brakes: asking for financial support.

But it's all about how you frame it. Make it part of the value exchange.

"Support our community to keep getting great content like this..." feels a lot less like self-serving and a lot more like a mutual benefit.

Action Step: Draft an ask that ties financial support to direct benefits for the community. Share it in an email, a post, or during an event.

Crafting your ask with care can make all the difference. Here are examples of how to do it:

  1. Direct Benefit Ask: "Support us to keep bringing you exclusive weekly market analysis that can help you stay ahead in your investments."
  2. Community Project Funding: "Join our premium membership to fund our upcoming community app, designed to enhance your experience and connectivity."
  3. Matching Contributions: Announce that for every dollar contributed, a sponsor will match it to fund community improvements, doubling the impact of their support.

Use Your Success Stories

Even if you don't have a full-on community yet, you have stories. It could be your story on the come-up, or maybe how you helped a client or dealt with a prickly situation.

Your community has these stories too. And with them, you'll create even more. Use them to show potential supporters what their contributions could lead to.

Action Step: Identify a recent success in your community. Share this story as a case study in your next "ask" to illustrate the impact of support.

Leveraging success stories can powerfully motivate potential supporters:

  1. Community Launch Inspiration: Share the journey of how a personal challenge or gap in the market inspired the creation of your community. This origin story can resonate deeply with members' own experiences.
  2. Early Member Success: An early member could have used the community to grow their startup significantly, thanks to the advice and connections made within. This story showcases the tangible benefits of being part of your community.
  3. Cross-Industry Inspiration: Look to a successful Patreon creator who has built a thriving community around their art or content. Highlight how direct support has allowed them to produce more of what their audience loves, drawing parallels to your own community's potential.

Keep the Conversation Going

Remember, a one-off ask isn't enough. Keep the conversation about support ongoing.

Regular updates on what participants have achieved or the bigger goals you're aiming for will help keep everyone engaged and willing to contribute.

Action Step: Schedule monthly updates to share how contributions are being used and future plans for the community.

The Final Word

By adopting these strategies, you're not just asking for money; you're inviting your members to invest in the value they receive.

It's a partnership, a mutual exchange that benefits everyone involved.

There's nothing awkward about it. It's just smart, sustainable community building.

nderstand Your Investment

After jotting down your investment, you'll have a clearer picture of the value you're creating. Here are three scenarios that could emerge:

Show Your Value

Monetize Wisely

Choosing the right monetization strategy is crucial. Here are examples to consider:

Master the Ask

Use Your Success Stories