Why Imzy doesn’t have ads—and what we’re doing instead

Tumblr recently started auto-playing audio ads, even if you had an adblocker on. Interestingly, we over at Imzy have started getting some more attention and questions as a result.

So we decided to explain our business model to all of you. Because here’s the thing: we believe we can make money in a way that actually benefits our users, without using ads at all.

Why no ads?

In order for advertising to work, sites are forced to GROW at all costs. We created Imzy with a focus on healthy communities, and growth at all costs doesn’t create that. Communities need the tools and policies in place to scale with them, and they need the right people to set and maintain their community’s standards as it grows. Communities take time to do it right.

When advertising is the only revenue, it also creates an unhealthy dynamic where one group of people benefits and the other group of people is used. Advertising forces the people who run the site into a terrible position where they have to choose between being “successful” and what is best for their users. This is not acceptable. There should be a business model that allows everyone to benefit, and we believe we’ve found that.

Getting the payment infrastructure in place

Most of you know you can tip posts, comments, and communities on Imzy. It was important to us that we include our payments platform in some way from day one, and this was the simplest way to do it. You can give any community, post, or comment a reward for great content that you really appreciate. But that is just the tiniest little seed of what’s to come.

Giving communities and users the tools they need

In real life, communities need money to interact, and that’s the same online as well. You shouldn’t have to go to another platform to do that. Here are examples of all the things we see becoming available in the future:

  • Crowdfunding posts: Want to raise money for a cause, or even for another member of your community? Do it in your community.
  • Paid RSVPs: Let’s say your community wants to go to or hold an event, and it’s going to cost money. You shouldn’t have to discuss and plan it on one site, create the event invitation and gather RSVPs on one site, and then collect payment from them on another. Communities should be able to easily do this all in one place.
  • Classifieds and online marketplaces: Have a community where you’re obsessed with Doctor Who and you also want to buy and sell Doctor Who merch along with your discussions and theories? We want to make it possible for people to do that too.
  • Community merch: Want to create community branded merch because you’re so close knit? There should be a way for you to create stickers, shirts, and more without having to go to another place that does that.
  • Subscription communities and paid content: Maybe you’re an artist, writer, or some other kind of creative who has a large following, and you want to do a private Q&A with your biggest supporters. You should have the ability to post content that is only visible to community subscribers or for a fee.
  • Bounties on posts: Lose your final paper to a computer glitch the night before it was due? Maybe you’ll want to attach a monetary incentive to your help post in a computer community to the best answer so you can make sure you get the help you need. Or maybe you want to hold a competition and give the best photoshop, gif, joke, advice, etc. a reward!

As always, the way any community functions is up to the community leader, so none of these features will ever be forced on anyone unless they choose to be a part of a community that works that way. Community doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all solution, and you should be able to create and join communities that fit your needs.

Expanding exponentially

But even that list above is still just a small beginning. In addition to the flexibility and tools we’ve already built and still want to add, we have a developer platform that will be launching soon so that others can build even more features for Imzy. This is one of the biggest concepts at the core of why we built Imzy, and I can’t wait until we release this, because when that happens, Imzy, even more than it hopefully is already — really and truly becomes yours to make it what you will.

By giving all of YOU access to our developer platform and payments platform, we know you’ll combine those two in brilliant ways that we could never dream of, and do so at a pace that will allow you to get these tools even faster than we would be able to build them. That’s what we’re most excited about, and why we built Imzy — because communities become true communities when it’s the people who come together and decide what they should be and how they should work.

We want to grow in the way that makes the most sense for our communities, and that means a business model that our users benefit from and contribute to, not one that uses them.

What is Imzy?

We’re a community platform where you can join groups based on your interests, hobbies, lifestyle, fandoms, and more, to connect with people all over the world, created by former employees of Reddit and Twitter. We’re giving communities and individual users all the tools and flexibility they need for the ways they interact and identify. We’re still in beta, working hard to create a place where you can find where you truly belong, and we’re making it better every single day. Learn more about what we believe, and request an invite to join us.

This post was originally shared on Imzy by Kaela.