How to monetize a community

Selling membership subscription or ads are not the only options. This is what else you can do to turn a community into a profitable business.

Ana Bibikova
5 min readJun 6, 2022
Photo by Mathieu Stern on Unsplash

Why did you build a community

Chosing the right business model for the community is based on your answer to the million-dollar question: why did you decide to build it in the first place? There are two reasons why building a community makes sense for a founder:

1. Community as a Product

You want to build a community and monetize it. Instead of building a SaaS, a marketplace or a logo generator, you’ll create a community that people want to pay to join.

In this scenario, building a community is a lot like building any other product:

  1. validate an idea ⇒ build an MVP ⇒ gather beta users ⇒ iterate ⇒ monetize
  2. Monetization.

Examples include, The Hustle, professional groups like Rotary Clubs, The Masons, even certain religious groups could be considered communities of this type (you join to celebrate your religion together and the organization is funded via member-donations).

2. Community as a Marketing Channel