General questionsThese questions are the most asked as everyone goes through them when starting a community from scratch.
Starting a community is relatively simple technically, and there is no special knowledge you require quite from the beginning. Except of choosing a niche and a name.
The first steps are:
- recognizing that you should have at least intermediate knowledge in the niche
- ensuring that you have long-term interest for the subject
- learning the difference between a social media group and own community
- buying a domain and signing up with community platform of your choice
- configuring the platform the way is suits your needs
- setting up legal pages
- installing add-ons and analytics you need
- inviting first community members to participate
- getting tips and tutorials on how to make money with community
Once you actually start your community and promote it on social media, that's where it gets a little tricky, but you learn as you go!
Yes, of course! The most communities, forums, discussions, message or bulletin boards have been started and managed by normal internet users. That being said, creating a community is not something you go to university for and get a kind of degree.
I, personally, have studied computer science. However, during years of my study, I have not learned how to create communities.
I can guarantee that most people who start forums or communities start it without any experience at all. You gain experience while you create and manage your community.
In my humble opinion, the best community/forum platform is Invision Community.
- file sharing,
- CMS (content management system),
Invision Community includes a module - Pages - that allows you to create any type of collections: videos, products, companies, ideas, testimonials, tutorials, courses and even more. I do not know any other community platform that has such a mighty tool.
Your niche should be basically a mix of something you are passionate about and something you are good at. You should have long-term interest in the subject and want to become an expert in.
But do not let this point stop you! If you are not sure about the right niche, just start. Pick it, register a free account, launch and figure it out as you go. You will recognize shortly whether you like to build an own community or just join an existing one (if there is one that suit you).
A lot of community starters have this problem of pondering about the niche, that holds them back for even starting a community at all. My best advice, try the niche out, skip if not appropriate and try the next one.
There are plenty of ways to monetize a community. Just to mention some of them:
- ad revenue
- affiliate marketing
- files sharing
- membership site
Ad revenue come from joining an ad network like Google AdSense. With simple copy/paste code into your community, you get money every time the members see or click on the ads.
Affiliate marketing is getting a commission from sellers every time you sell their products or services to one of your members or visitors. Selling means putting affiliate links and not a personal sale conversation.
Files sharing allows your members to upload files into your community and charge for them. If the files (also images, videos) are bought by other members, you get a commission as community owner. The amount of the commission is set by you.
Ecommerce is selling products, also digital products, to your members and visitors.
Membership site can charge for using it. Like creating paid courses or access to exclusive content.