How the best online communities monetize

Biggest takeaways from this research:

  1. Layering monetization options makes communities antifragile. If you are too reliant on one source, that source becomes a liability.
  2. “Build distribution, then build whatever you want.” All of the community builders featured here used their followings to attract a community of likeminded people. Build content magnets, then use your community to satisfy the attention demand from your magnet.
  3. Community builder monetization software is a massive market. Companies like Pallet (job board infrastructure), Memberspace (private memberships), Podia(paid courses), beehiiv (premium content), BuiltFirst (software perks and discounts), and AngelList (syndicates and rolling funds) make it easier to capture value created.

Makerpad (Ben Tossell)

Overview: Makerpad is the best community for people upgrading their no-code skillset.

Ways Ben monetizes:

Lenny’s Newsletter (Lenny Ratchisky)

Overview: Lenny runs a private community of operators, builders, and product managers.

Ways Lenny monetizes:

Visualize Value (Jack Butcher)

Overview: Jack builds things to help others build things, and he has built a community of builders around his work.

Ways Jack monetizes:

Trends.vc (Dru Riley)

Overview: Trends.vc condenses market research into five minute reports that people actually enjoy reading.

Ways Dru monetizes:

Nomad List (Pieter Levels):

Overview: Nomad List is the go-to community for digital nomads across the world.

Ways Pieter monetizes:

  • Paid database and community:
    • private database of information on different places to live
    • private community of other nomads
  • Job board:
    • companies pay money to be featured on the job board and have their roles shared in the Slack group (members have to pay to post within the #hiring channel)
  • Ads:
    • companies pay to be featured and promoted to the group (airlines, insurance companies, etc.)

Bankless (Ryan Sean Adams + David Hoffman)

Overview: Bankless is a community that helps people level up their crypto strategy

Ways Ryan and David monetize:

  • Premium newsletter and Discord:
  • Job board:
    • also run a job board and talent collective where businesses can subscribe to get access into their talent pool of readers interested in crypto, Web3, and DeFi.
  • Ads:
    • companies pay to be featured and promoted in their weekly newsletter, podcast, and YouTube videos that go out to tens of thousands of subscribers every day
  • Affiliate links:
    • recommend products in their daily newsletters and get a kick back on business generated
  • DAO:
    • creates and rewards contribution from members through $BANK tokens

➡️ Check out the full list of companies we looked at here. ⬅️