Monetizing Your Community

Hostway Marketing - May 12, 2009

Even if you started your online community as a hobby, you may consider monetizing your content as your membership and administrative duties grow. Online communities usually follow one of two business models: ad supported or subscription-based.

Advertising Model

In an advertising model, a company pays you to post its message and link on your Web site. This is how most online communities make their money. Users like this model because it’s free for them. And advertisers like being able to reach a targeted audience.

Users expect:

  • Unobtrusive ads
  • The ability to post comments that are critical to the advertisers

Advertisers will expect:

  • A targeted community of viewers
  • An environment that positively reflects on their brands

Subscription Model

The subscription model is riskier because most people expect to use Web sites for free. To support this model, you need a loyal following and a high-value offering. Here are some ways you can make your site worth the price:

  • Prescreen your membership
  • Do not include advertising
  • Make the Web site profitable for visitors (networking opportunities)
  • Connect with a very specific and in-demand niche

Many Web sites owners have turned their online communities into profitable businesses that generate extra income and offer members a valuable way to connect.