Building Online Communities – Balancing Monetization

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

Categories: Online Communities

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As communities grow larger, monetization starts to become necessary and tricky. You’ll soon realize that small changes, changes as small as a design tweak or navigation rearrangement, will start to unsettle a very vocal minority. These changes, can include monetization.

As you incorporate additional advertising revenue streams, your returning users will appear to become agitated with the changes. You don’t want your community to dissolve, what can you do?

  • Address the community about the website’s financial situation – Be upfront about the website’s financial situation. As for suggestions. If your website’s advertising already covers for hosting, you need to live to! Explain how the website might be your only source of income.
  • Be selective in your advertising – Make sure that you cater to your audience when you select your advertisers. If your community consists of teenage members, advertisements with scantily clad college women might be a little intimidating. Unrelated advertising is a no-no.
  • Consider related affiliate programs – Affiliate programs give the illusion you’re trying to help the reader, and have an opportunity to pocket a little something for yourself. The more relevant, the better.
  • Ask for suggestions – Your community may want to help or get involved. This might include ad placement or marketing techniques. Be very receptive.
  • Think about a subscription service – The subscription would allow for perks THAT ARE NOT ALREADY ACCESSIBLE to users. I’ve seen many community leaders offer increased avatar/signature/mailbox size on forums at a cost of $5/month.

Hope that helps. :)

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One Response to “Building Online Communities – Balancing Monetization”

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