Communities: Why They’re Important and How to Build One

From Digital Pubbing:

As an author, your community consists of your readers, your fans, people who support your work. In addition to selling more of your work, or having a successful launch, your community can be a great place to share ideas, engage and connect with fans, and give people with shared interests a space to belong.

You can build your community, whether you’re an author or some other sort of content creator. I’m a podcaster, and one of my favorite parts of podcasting is interacting with our listeners and our community.

. . . .

There are a lot of places where you can build your community and give them a central place to hang out and reach you. One interesting one is Substack, or some sort of newsletter service. Substack has an interesting case study about Caroline Chambers, a writer whose cookbook proposal was rejected, but she turned the proposal into “a thriving reader-support Substack.” As of the time of writing, she had over 11,500 free subscribers and 3,000 paid subscribers, and she started earning money for her work within a year of moving to Substack.

The gist is she posts once per week, easy to follow recipes that people can use when they don’t feel like cooking. She shares her newsletter on social media often, and runs regular promotions. Her call-to-action (CTA) is “Subscribe for $35/year, the price of a cookbook.”

You can choose to make your community free or paid. Sometimes when you have to pay, the community is called membership. The Membership Guide has a lot of resources, mostly related to how journalists can create membership programs. With membership, the idea is your readers are your equals, and you deliver content they value. For membership programs to work, make sure you listen and experiment and offer flexibility.

Link to the rest at Digital Pubbing

PG would be interested in comments about using a Site/Service like Substack vs. a blog + mailing list to build an online community.

2 thoughts on “Communities: Why They’re Important and How to Build One”

  1. Substack has the advantage of joining what is, for all practical purposes, a blog with a “free” email platform.

    Free is mock-quoted because like all things free online, it is not gratis beyond the most superficial meaning of “I don’t have to get out the credit card right now”. Substack in all fairness is at least up front about this. Their business model is not the usual Silicon Valley method of predatory advertising. Substack only takes a percentage off your paid revenue, if any.

    I don’t have much bad to say about them. So far they’ve been a good company, strong on free speech in the face of big pressure to join the deplatforming trend.

    It’s also an all-in-one solution for anyone out there who isn’t “techy”. You get a blog, an email newsletter, paid subscriptions baked in, podcasting capability should you want it, easy export for all content and email subscribers (vital), modest discoverability on their platform (it’s possible to be active in comment threads which is a great traffic source), and you don’t have to futz around with getting those pieces to work together when using standalone platforms.

    Hosting your own blog and using a dedicated ESP can have its own advantages, first on that list being control. But that’s often balanced out by any number of headaches.

    I’d recommend it to anyone who is currently homeless, or looking to start a new venture. If you’re already set in your ways, I don’t know if it would be worth it to move.

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