Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash

Quick Thought: Want to Grow Your Business? Build an Online Community

And no, I don’t mean another Facebook Group

Whether you walk dogs on weekends, or help people with their taxes, or have a full-fledged marketing agency, you can grow your business with an online community.

Before you heckle me with Oh great, another “How-to-get-rich-with-Facebook-Groups-post”, hear me out, I’m not talking about Facebook Groups. I’m talking about good ol’ online niche communities (guess what, they aren’t going away any time soon).

Facebook seems like the logical choice when it comes to building an online community. But for whatever reason, people like the safety (and security) of ugly forum sites. Although a notch above the average forum site, Reddit is still a popular option for billions of people:

Source here

Building on your own territory (Instead of giving away valuable data and insights to Facebook) means you are building an asset to your business. It’s something you own and you alone.

Yes, the simplicity and convenience of using a familiar social network is appealing, but in the long run, the goal isn't to build a following of thousands and thousands of fans, but rather a small and devoted group of followers who are passionate about your niche.

Allow me to use an example to demonstrate.

You’re a professional dog walker. There are plenty of dog walkers in your area. It’s hard to distinguish your services from everyone elses.

So you create a website specifically for dog walkers in your area, let’s say Pittsburgh. You post the best walking routes, you create a forum for dog walkers to connect with other dog walkers to find new clients, you give, give, give, value to this community of Pittsburgh Dog Walkers.

After awhile you have a small but passionate group, 150 people. Enough to stay connected with everyone on a somewhat personal level but big enough to get traction in the forums.

You then add membership level access to your site. All 150 people get in for free, everyone else has to pay $7 a month. With a membership level, dog owners are able to connect with the dog walkers. You’ve now created a marketplace for your community. You add on other features like digital products, online courses, etc which are accessible at the premium membership level, $17 a month.

After a few months, when people in Pittsburgh think of dog walkers, who pops into their head?

You.

You don’t need thousands of fans, you only need to dominate your niche.

If your niche is too big, break it down. “Dogs with disabilities walkers of Pittsburgh”.

If your goal is to generate more business, build a community. It’s never too late to start.

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Hi, I’m Declan and I build subscription/membership websites for a living. If you want a step by step guide on how to build and launch your own, check out my website to download a copy of my latest eBook: The Ultimate Subscription Site Playbook for Service-Based Professionals.