Online Community Monetization: Unlocking New Revenue Streams With An Ecommerce Marketplace

Released on 
Jun 14, 2023
Written by

Online communities may unlock new revenue streams with their own online Dropshipping Marketplace selling quality products from tens of domestic brands. Other options include Ads and Paid Posts, Premium Memberships and Subscriptions, Crowdfunding and Donations, Affiliate Marketing, Consulting and Freelancing Services, Events and Workshops, Digital Products and Services, Selling Own Merchandise. 

81% uptick in online community engagement since Covid-19 pandemic
Source: https://www.amity.co/blog/40-statistics-you-should-know-about-online-communities

Creating and leading a successful online community requires significant time, effort, and resources. Often fueled by passion, founders may face burnout or struggle to balance community responsibilities with work to make ends meet.

Monetizing online communities offers a solution. It unlocks new revenue streams, benefiting both founders and members. Financial support allows founders to dedicate more time to community growth while members enjoy an enhanced experience and potential rewards.

Online marketplaces unlock a host of benefits for both community founders and members. By curating products that precisely match the community's needs, founders can monetize their platform and generate revenue to fuel its growth. Simultaneously, community members reap the rewards of time savings and convenience, as they can easily discover and purchase curated products recommended by trusted founders. This harmonious relationship fosters convenience, trust, and a thriving ecosystem that benefits all involved.

24% of consumers have actively participated in an online community
Source: https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/online-communities

What are online communities, and where can they be found

Communities are the heart and soul of human connection, bringing together individuals who share common interests, aspirations, and passions. In the digital age, online communities have become a powerful force, creating spaces where people can connect, collaborate, and thrive together. Let's explore some of the key platforms where these vibrant communities thrive:

  • Influencer-Led Communities: Nowadays, people form communities around their favorite content creators, including bloggers, YouTubers, Instagrammers, TikTokers, and podcasters. These influential individuals often cultivate dedicated communities around their content, allowing like-minded followers to connect, engage, and support each other.
  • Social Media Groups: Social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn host a myriad of groups where individuals with shared interests can come together. Communities like "Girls Love Travel" or "Small Business Startup Community" provide spaces for members to connect, share insights, and support each other.
1.8 billion people use Groups every month
Source: https://www.amity.co/blog/40-statistics-you-should-know-about-online-communities
  • Subreddits on Reddit: Reddit's vast collection of subreddits covers virtually every niche imaginable. From "r/Science" for scientific discussions to "r/Photography" for sharing tips and showcasing work, these communities offer a wealth of knowledge and engagement.
  • Forum Websites: Platforms like Quora and Stack Exchange facilitate Q&A-style communities, where individuals seek advice, share expertise, and engage in thoughtful conversations. Communities like "We talk about books" or "Fitness Tips" connect like-minded individuals in specific fields.
  • Local Meetup Groups: While predominantly online, communities can also take physical form. Meetup.com, for instance, enables individuals to create and join local groups centered around shared interests, hobbies, or activities. "Hudson Valley Hikers" or "Paris Multi Language Meetup" are just a few examples of the myriad of possibilities.
  • Pinterest: While not traditionally viewed as a community platform, Pinterest does have a strong sense of community-driven content. Users can explore and follow specific boards or topics of interest, creating curated collections and connecting with others with similar aesthetic or interest preferences. While not as interactive as other platforms, Pinterest does offer a unique space for visual inspiration and shared interests.
  • Newsletters: Dedicated platforms, such as Substack and Revue, have emerged as popular tools for creating and distributing newsletters. These platforms enable individuals to build their own subscriber base, curate exclusive content, and engage with their community through regular updates, deep dives into topics of interest, and interactive discussions. A good example is Stratechery, a popular subscription-based newsletter that focuses on the intersection of technology and business strategy. Subscribers gain access to exclusive articles, podcasts, and a member-only forum where they can engage in discussions and exchange ideas.
  • Communities on Medium: Medium, a popular content creation and consumption platform, also fosters communities through its publication and membership features. Writers and publications on Medium can create dedicated spaces where readers can engage, comment, and connect with like-minded individuals. By joining Medium's membership program, readers can support their favorite publications and gain access to exclusive content and discussions within the community.

These platforms and spaces serve as catalysts for creating and nurturing online communities, providing opportunities for individuals to connect, collaborate, and find support within their respective ecosystems.

Most common strategies for monetizing online communities

Building and sustaining a successful and engaged online community requires dedication and effort. Community founders have recognized the potential to generate revenue by leveraging their communities, allowing them to devote more time and attention to nurturing their platforms. Let's explore some of the most commonly used strategies for monetizing online communities:

  • Premium Memberships and Subscriptions: Introducing premium memberships or subscription tiers with exclusive benefits may limit community growth by excluding those who cannot afford or choose not to pay for access. This can hinder the expansion of the community and compromise its goal of inclusivity and broad participation.
  • Membership Upgrades and Add-ons: In addition to premium memberships, founders can offer additional upgrades or add-ons for community members to enhance their experience. These may include access to private forums, premium content libraries, one-on-one coaching sessions, or exclusive community features. Introducing additional upgrades can lead to a fragmented community experience, with certain features or resources only accessible to those who can afford them, potentially alienating members who cannot or choose not to upgrade.
  • Crowdfunding and Donations: Relying solely on crowdfunding or donations can be unpredictable, as it relies on the goodwill and financial capacity of community members. It may not provide a stable and consistent revenue stream for sustained community growth.
  • Sponsored Content and Partnerships: Collaborations with brands and businesses can compromise the community's authenticity and trust if the sponsored content or partnerships are not aligned with the community's values or interests. It requires careful selection and transparent communication to maintain credibility.
  • Affiliate Marketing: Engaging in affiliate marketing may pose challenges due to privacy concerns and evolving digital advertising practices. As the use of cookies is being phased out, this traditional method of monetization becomes less effective. Moreover, there is a potential conflict of interest for community founders who prioritize financial gain over their members' genuine needs and preferences when promoting products.
  • Advertisements and Display Ads: Platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit, Quora, etc, do not allow community founders to place ads directly within their groups or forums. So this method of community monetization is not available to a vast number of community founders. What is more, displaying ads can disrupt the user experience and potentially drive members away if the ads are intrusive or irrelevant.
  • Consulting and Freelancing Services: Community founders with specialized knowledge or skills can offer consulting services or freelance work to community members. However, this can become time-consuming for founders, limiting their ability to dedicate sufficient attention to community engagement and growth. It may also create a dependency on individual expertise, which can be challenging to sustain in the long run.
  • Events and Workshops: Organizing virtual or in-person events, conferences, workshops, or webinars can be a profitable monetization strategy. Charging registration fees or selling tickets to community-exclusive events allows founders to generate revenue while providing members with valuable networking and educational opportunities. However, event organization requires significant planning, resources, and potential financial risk. Attendance and revenue generation may fluctuate, making it challenging to achieve consistent monetization.
  • Digital Products and Services: Developing and selling digital products and services tailored to the community's needs can be a profitable monetization strategy. This could include e-books, online courses, webinars, or virtual workshops.
  • Merchandise: Community founders can create and sell branded merchandise, such as apparel, accessories, or merchandise featuring community-specific designs or slogans. While selling branded merchandise can strengthen the community's brand identity, it involves inventory management, production costs, and shipping logistics. It may require founders to invest upfront without guaranteed sales, posing financial risks.

While the aforementioned strategies offer valuable avenues for monetizing online communities, it is important to acknowledge their limitations. Community founders may choose to implement a combination of these strategies, but it often requires significant time and effort to achieve desired results. However, a promising solution addresses many of these challenges - an online dropshipping marketplace. By leveraging the power of an ecommerce platform tailored to their community's needs, founders can streamline operations, save time, and potentially drive high revenue.

E-commerce is among primary reasons why people join online communities

For the various reasons why people join online communities, e-commerce stands out as one of the primary ones: According to a study, 27.3% of customers use online communities in their internet buying decision-making while considering a product or service.

Benefits of a dropshipping marketplace platform for online community founders

  1. Curated Product Selection: With a dropshipping marketplace, founders can curate a selection of products specifically tailored to their community's interests and needs. By understanding their members' preferences, founders can handpick products that resonate with the community, ensuring a higher likelihood of conversion and customer satisfaction.
  2. Streamlined Order Fulfillment: One of the key advantages of a dropshipping model is that founders do not need to worry about inventory management or order fulfillment. The marketplace handles product storage, packaging, and shipping logistics on behalf of the founders. This frees up valuable time and resources for founders to focus on community engagement and growth.
  3. Revenue Sharing: Community founders can establish revenue-sharing agreements through partnerships with dropshipping suppliers. When a community member purchases a product from the marketplace, the founder receives a percentage of the sale as commission. This creates a win-win situation where both the founder and the supplier benefit from each transaction.
  4. Cross-Promotion Opportunities: A dropshipping marketplace can provide opportunities for cross-promotion between community founders and suppliers. By featuring and promoting products from suppliers within the community, founders can generate revenue and strengthen relationships with suppliers and potentially negotiate exclusive deals or discounts for community members.
  5. Scalability and Growth Potential: As the community grows and attracts more members, the revenue potential of a dropshipping marketplace expands as well. With a larger customer base and increased product demand, founders have the opportunity to scale their revenue and establish a sustainable income stream from the marketplace.
  6. Consolidation of Brand Identity: Integrating a dropshipping marketplace allows community founders to consolidate their brand identity by offering a unified platform for their merchandise, digital products, and recommended products of other brands. Having all these offerings in one place allows founders to create a consistent and cohesive brand experience for their community members. This strengthens the community's identity and enhances trust and credibility, as members can rely on the marketplace as a trusted source for products aligned with the community's values and recommendations.

Create a marketplace for your community in minutes with Vendo

Create a marketplace for your community in minutes with Vendo, an all-in-one solution designed to streamline your dropshipping business and maximize revenue. With Vendo, you can enjoy the following features and benefits:

  • All-in-One Solution for B2C Marketplaces: Vendo offers an all-in-one solution, empowering you to automate all your marketplace processes, including seller onboarding, product management, order management, and payment processing, allowing you to scale your marketplace effortlessly.
  • Quality Products from Domestic Brands: Start your online store by selling quality products from trusted domestic brands, ensuring a diverse and reliable product selection for your community.
  • Automated Dropshipping Processes: Vendo automates your entire dropshipping business, from vendor onboarding to keeping products in sync, accepting payments in over 135 currencies, and handling seller payouts, reporting, and invoicing.
  • Customizable Storefront and Transactional Emails: Showcase your curated products and maintain a consistent brand experience with Vendo's customizable storefront and transactional emails, ensuring a seamless and on-brand buying journey for your community members.
  • Excellent Buyer Experience: Vendo prioritizes a smooth buyer experience, providing features such as seamless product discovery and search, multiple payment methods, and optimal shipping cost calculation, ensuring customer satisfaction and repeat purchases.
  • Easy Supplier Onboarding and Payouts: Vendo keeps suppliers happy with easy onboarding, automated product sync using their preferred methods, and streamlined payouts, making it convenient for them to collaborate with your marketplace.
  • Customization and Flexibility: Customize the built-in storefront according to your branding needs. You have control over which products are visible on the storefront, including physical and digital items such as gift cards, vouchers, and downloads.

With Vendo, you can quickly set up your own community marketplace, automate essential processes, and provide a seamless buying experience for your community members.

Start monetizing your community with ease and efficiency using Vendo's comprehensive platform.

No items found.

Try out our fully functional free trial for 14 days.

Get started

Get the latest to your inbox

Thank you! Your submission has been received.
Oh no! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Start A free trial

Start your own marketplace. Or start selling through Creator-led marketplaces.

Vendo lets anyone start an online store in under one hour with products from third party eCommerce brands fulfilling the customers' orders in a dropshipping model.
Get started
Get started
Request a Demo