10 Steps To Building An Online Community In Your Spare Time

November 11, 2009Comments Off

If you’re out of work, or have lots of spare time, why not set about creating an online community? You will learn a new skill, make lots of great friends and potentially develop a successful income stream (if not network your way to some job opportunities).

You don’t need any real technological knowledge and it only takes a few hours a day.

Here is how you start.

  1. Spot an opportunity. Find something people care about. It either has to stoke very strong emotions or be a major part of your target audiences lives (animal cruelty being an example of the former, work communities being an example of the latter).
  2. Build relationships. Follow what is already out there for your target group. Begin interacting with members. Build relationships with 40 to 50 people in the industry. If they’re the right 40/50 people those are all you need.
  3. Forge a small group. E-mail the 5 to 10 members your closest too about launching an online community in the field. Get their feedback. Engage them in the process of creating and growing the online community.
  4. Increase the group to 20. Add another 10 members to the mailing list. Focus on keeping everyone active. Update members on process. Allow some side-conversations and let the engagement grow naturally.
  5. Launch. After a few weeks launch your online community. It might be a Ning site, a Facebook group or something bespoke for you. Give everyone on your list opportunities to help. Someone might try and get you coverage in key magazines, others will invite people from existing forums/groups etc.
  6. Create community content. Develop some content about your community. Don’t do this all personally. Try to get other members interviewing each other for the community. Have a central news page for the latest info.
  7. Approach relevant blogs/trade press. Once your community is going, drop a note to relevant media and invite them to cover the community. Your community might grow quickly, stand by to harvest the attention.
  8. Recruit a few more helpers. Get a few more people involved in helping. Give them positions of real responsibility and power to resolve disputes and make some changes. Let them take on some of the work load.
  9. Host events. Begin arranging regular events. Try some online VIP guest chats or regular polls/quizzes/real-time conversations. Perhaps even book a venue and sell tickets to a meet-up.
  10. Money & Fun. Careful balance here. Try finding some advertisers for your community or selling souvenirs to members. Be sure to keep the community fun (or you become MySpace).

At the least, adding running a successful online community isn’t a bad addition to your résumé, at best it should greatly help you network with professionals in a field you’re very passionate about.

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