Building an Online Community

build an online community

Building an online community is one of the best ways to make money online in terms of how much money you can make, but it also requires a significant amount of time to manage the community. If you are looking for a passive income, this is not the best choice.

Running a website that provides information and earns a passive income from affiliate sales or advertising banners is one thing – but having a community of followers who look up to you and take your advice is a different thing all together.

One thing you need to keep in mind, loyal followers are loyal because they believe you care about them. If you lose that trust, then you will lose that following. The quickest way to loose trust is to ignore or neglect them by taking time off from your community.

When you take time off questions go unanswered, or worse spammers jump online and try to hijack your community and start promoting their own products and services in place of yours. (And worse, some of those products and services won’t be legal or comply with the terms and conditions of your hosting company which could end with you losing your online presence or worse, face legal challenges.

If you really love your subject and can’t imagine any way you’d rather spend your time than interacting with your community, then this could be the ultimate way to “do what you love” and make a great living. If you want to create an online community you may want to check out a framework called ELGG that allows you to set up a website like Facebook in minutes.

Keep in mind the website doesn’t create the community. The community creates the website.

Before you invest in building a website, figure out what your community needs. Try to be realistic. What is your community struggling with that your website can help fix?

  • poor communication?
  • lack of time/scheduling?
  • disorganized record-keeping?
  • shy members struggling to express themselves?
  • outgoing members who help lead the community suddenly vanishing?

A community website can help with these kinds of problems. And if you to THAT well, then maybe you can sell some cool mugs or t-shirts with your community logo on them.

But will people flock to your website and buy stuff just because you have a forum or group blog? Probably not.

There are plenty of advantages to an online community.

  • you can post your events online cheaper than sending out mailers – save money and save the environment
  • you can have a suggestion box and capture great feedback to help build your brand and make your members feel appreciated
  • you can set up a forum so your members can interact with each other no matter what timezone or work schedule they have.

This is a way for churches or schools to keep their group together because of the pandemic, or because the world is just a very busy place.

You may also want to offer coaching or online courses and can use the online community as a membership site…

This needs more examples of what an online community can do for your.

About the author


Karen Freeman-Smith currently makes a full-time living from a small portfolio of websites. She has 25+ years of experience in programming and web development for companies like Lockheed Martin, PBS, Daimler and many others. She has a BS in IT with a minor in Business Systems Analysis. Karen lives near Portland, OR with her partner, two grown children (in and out of the basement), and a cats: Havoc and Shiva.

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