40 Ways To Make Money From Your Online Community

April 29, 2009 Comments Off

Back in September I suggested 10 ideas to make money from your online community. Now we’re going to go for 50. As a rule, you should only try to sell things that your community wants to buy, items and services that mean something to your community

  1. Adverts. If you’re lazy, use Google Ads. If you’re smarter approach proper advertisers.
  2. Hosting events. Arrange events, sell for tickets. Charge for sponsorship of the event too.
  3. Hire a photographer. Hire a photographer at the event, sell framed images of the events.
  4. Sell community bracelets. Imagine wearing a bracelet that only fellow members would recognise. That’s cool…for some people.
  5. Sell t-shirts. How cool is your community? Cool enough for me to wear a T-shirt? Then let me sell some.
  6. Build communities for a living. Works for me.
  7. Tell others how to build online communities for a living. Good work, if you can get it.
  8. Offer custom forums for individuals. Want to have your own forum on the site? Pay up.
  9. Charge for membership. Make your community valuable and charge for membership.
  10. Charge to remove members. Want a member removed, that will cost $25. Try not to use this too often.
  11. Yearbooks. Create a hard copy yearbook every year, charge $20 for a copy.
  12. Ask for donations. Works for some communities.
  13. Limited edition products. Offer limited/customised products from your client only to your community – at a premium.
  14. Sell market research opportunities. Invite market research firms to conduct research in your community.
  15. Write a community ebook. Sell the eBook to non-members.
  16. Sell adverts in the eBook. If all your members are going to read it, get a good deal.
  17. Offer profile customisations. Want a special customisation, charge a reasonable price.
  18. Negotiate bulk discounts. Buy books/products your community is likely to buy in bulk, and sell copies on the cheap. Agree discount codes, magazines do it all the time.
  19. Sell shares in your community. Turn your community into it’s own business and sell shares to its members.
  20. Secure speaking opportunities for members. Charge a % of the fee.
  21. Job boards. Still advertising, but more useful advertising.
  22. Partner with head-hunters/major recruiters. Give head-hunters/major recruiters access to your community.
  23. Become a head-hunting/recruitment business. Who knows your industry better than you? Surely you can fill vacancies in your industry?
  24. Sell the community site. Not very nice, but you could just sell the community and move on.
  25. Create a weekly TV show. Sell for access to watch it.
  26. Charge to let banned members return. Let banned members pay a fee to rejoin the community.
  27. Charge a listen-only fee. For lurkers that just want access, charge a fee. The more a member participates the less they pay.
  28. Open-source opportunities. You have a group of people enthusiastic about the industry, let companies open-source elements of their work to your community. For a fee.
  29. Custom eBay. Help members sell products to each other, and charge a small % of the fee.
  30. Sell training/coaching. Where appropriate build a mini-business where your top members can sell training/coaching to each other.
  31. Ask members to help design their dream products. Then create them and sell the products to the community.
  32. Invite VIPs/Experts to give online lectures/sessions. Sell either advertising within them or access to watch them.
  33. Affiliate marketing. Timeless classic, take a % of products members buy through your community. Rate and screen for quality.
  34. Virtual gifts. They’re annoying, but a lot of people like them. Charge a tiny fee to send virtual gifts to each other.
  35. Create a currency. Create a scale whereby members can convert their ratings/scores into an online currency which can buy other items on this list. They can also buy/sell this currency to each other.
  36. Idea-storms. Let a business throw a problem out to the community, and the community try to generate as many solutions as possible.
  37. Start official communities. If a business is having trouble starting their own community, offer to promote it in your community for a fee.
  38. Gambling. Illegal for most communities. Start a predictions service where members can make predictions on the future of your industry.
  39. Design and sell posters. Design and sell posters that have a special meaning and significance to your community.
  40. Charge for a new site design. The Ryanair approach, charge members for the things they want changed in the community. Take a cut for your effort.

When you try an idea, let me know. Above you have some good, bad and rather whacky ideas. Good luck.

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