001 - Online Communities

001 - Online Communities

Fewer, truer fans.

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The Great Unbundling.

Systems are in a continuous flux of bundling and unbundling. Software is no different. Like AirBnB was a spinoff of Craigslist, the unbundling of Reddit, Pinterest and other platforms is happening fast.

From Broadcasts to Networks.

Communities are a shift away from broadcasts – with one dominant sender (email lists, thought leader accounts) –  to networks. Networks provide equality of interaction, and stronger lock-in effects.

The Passion Economy

The future of work is passion-driven. Communities are where passion interacts. Modern-day tools let creators build platforms for such high-quality members, that one does not need many of them to run a profitable business.

People are looking to build a less transactional, more interactive relationship with brands & people.


via Li Jin

Outgrowing existing platforms

Needing additional product features specific to their community.

Lack of monetization options

Creators are looking for viable business models that existing ad-driven social platforms do not provide

Keeping out low quality members

Gating a community can help preserve the quality of interaction and keep out trolls and spammers.


Lack of brand interaction

Modern consumers don't want to buy the brand, they want to become the brand.

Lack of access to like-minded people

Despite the internet itself, many people still lack access to (curated) network.

Curation of expertise and content

Users crave a high-signal environment with high-quality content.

To facilitate a place for like-minded people to meet, share and learn, together.

Key Features

via Li Jin

Standalone Platform

Members seek out the community as a final destination, not just as part of a broader platform's content.


Organic formation of ties and initiation of interactions between members

Crowdsourcing (UGC)

Members actively contribute new and original content vs. just engaging with what's broadcasted by the brand.


to either content, network or both. Possibly gated.


of either content, members or both. Possibly gated.

"The goals for each community will vary, but generally, you are aiming for conversations, collaboration, connections, and personal growth or education of your people." – Rosie Sherry


Very Low
Can be built using free tools. Content can be created for free.
Easy to launch. Hard to scale.
Different for each niche. Most communities exist in some form.

USPs 🧲

Create a shared identity

People have a need for belonging. They gather around common interests, values, struggles → Identity.

Solve high-priority problems

Someone paying you $19/month out of fandom might be driven by reciprocity. Someone spending $1000/year is driven by personal gain & results. Help people to change and improve something substantial.

Use Exclusivity

By raising the bar for who you allow as a member, you raise the quality of the community.

1 more in the Pro Report.

Moats 🛡

Your niche is your moat

You niche is as defensible as your specific knowledge. With communities, personal and business moats overlap.

Type: Cornered Resource

Create quality content

Exceptional practice does not equate to exceptional teaching. The better you are able to translate specific knowledge into content, the more people will gravitate towards it.

Type: Process Power

Own your platform

Platform risk is real. If you can own your channels, do so. A public platform's goals are rarely aligned with yours. They are competition masked as allies.

Type: Economies of Scale

2 more in the Pro Report.

"Escape competition through authenticity." –  Naval Ravikant


Models 💲

How to make money?


Give free access to part of your content to draw people in, then charge them for the full experience.

Subscription Model

Communities are perfect for subscription models – though lump sum lifetime offerings do happen (like at Makerpad).


Communities are hyper-targeted in a way advertising cannot copy. Advertisers will pay for an audience with your community.

3 more in the Pro Report.

Leverage 📈

How to scale money?

Product leverage Build once, sell forever.

Network Leverage Word of mouth.


Go-to-Market Strategy 🛫

How to find and attract users?

Define your Why

Clearly communicate what problem your community solves together. Members need something they can rally behind.

Build authority on existing platforms.

Find the 'dusty attics' of the web where your users play D&D. Give value. Over time, funnel users to your own platform.

Come for the content. Stay for the community.

Attract your first users by creating a steady stream of quality content (using your specific knowledge).

3 more in the Pro Report.

Cheat Codes 🎮

How to accelerate the Go-to-Market?

Leverage Scarcity

People want what they can't have. Limiting the no. of invites triggers scarcity. Just look at the buzz around Clubhouse.

Steal with pride

Successful subreddits are a great source of inspiration. So are popular 'broadcasters.'

Crowdsourcing & Co-creation

Get to know your audience. Find out their goals, motivations and obstacles. Involve them in improving the community.

3 more in the Pro Report.

Find your 100 True Fans.



Agreat example of content → community. People loved the content, but the buzz around Lenny's Slack community converted many to paid.

Deliberately kept raising the price on the NomadList community, to keep out 'low quality' users, such as spammers and trolls

Broke down how he built an MVP community using NoCode tools

An exclusive community for Discord advocates only.

Shows any niche can become interesting and successful if done right.

Has created an extremely successful NoCode community in Makerpad.co, leveraging other experts, and a high price of admission: $600.

Built Visualize Value content first. Daily content for 6 months. Then he built a product. Then he launched the community.

Spun out of a publication on Medium to take control over their distribution.

Mastermind sprint is a great example of productized service.

👋 That's all, peeps!

See you next time.

Buy the Pro Report for even more Online Community Startup Insights.

What you get:

  • Validation: How to test interest your community low-risk.
  • MVPs: How to build & launch your community in <24 hours.
  • Key Metrics: How to measure community performance.
  • Dream Team: What your ideal startup team looks like.
  • Risks: How to avoid failure with your community.
  • Responsibility: How to run an responsible community.
  • BONUS: +3 Business Models, +3 Cheat Codes, +3 G2M Strategies, +2 Moats & +1 USPs.

⚡️ Need help launching your Online Community startup? Check-out our startup coaching (DM), and venture building offering.


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