If you’re a creator or entrepreneur who’s been thinking about starting an online community, but you haven’t yet taken the plunge, 2023 is your year.
At Kajabi, we believe in the power of online community because we see the incredible ways it transforms Kajabi Heroes’ businesses and lives (watch the video above and see for yourself)!
With 41% of US creators running websites or blogs to reach their audiences outside of social media, private online communities are a great next step to differentiate yourself, make a bigger impact, and diversify your revenue.
For creators and coaches, online communities are key to diversifying and securing your revenue while giving you greater control over your content and customer interactions.
Plus, large businesses are increasingly realizing the benefits of taking a community-led approach to growth, helping them improve customer engagement, become more adaptable, and overcome challenges more easily.
Twenty twenty-three will see this trend continue and grow, which will mean tons more options for people to choose from. So the sooner you start building your own community, the better!
In this article, we’ll explore why online communities have become so popular and how you can harness their undeniable benefits for your business.
The rise of online communities
“To truly build a brand requires a community. And once you have that community, you have a customer for life because they are forming relationships and building support structures.” - Dexx Williams, Best-Selling Author and Sales Funnel Investigator
Businesses and organizations of all shapes and sizes recognize the value of building stronger connections with customers and supporters—and the best way to do that is through online communities.
As of 2021, 86% of organizations agreed that community is critical to their mission, and 69% were planning to increase their budget to maximize their community-building strategy. In 2022, between 79% and 95% of companies (depending on growth stage) had a dedicated community team.
But this is old news for creative entrepreneurs, many of whom have built their entire business around an online community, whether that be a Facebook Group, a Slack channel, or a private community through a platform like Kajabi.
As of 2022, the creator economy grew to 50 million active creators with a market size estimated at $104.2 billion, more than double its value since 2019. And the number keeps growing. Following this growth, online communities are poised to keep increasing their popularity in 2023.
Bottom line: Online communities are on the rise. Organizations are including them as part of their business strategy to create meaningful connections with customers. Coaches and content creators also use them to take control of their content and monetize their audience more effectively.
Why are online communities important?
“Community is the glue that holds my business together. And I love Kajabi Communities because it allows me to have full control in my website without having to rely on social media.” - Chelsie Kenyon, Marketing Expert and Certified Coach
With dedicated communities, coaches and creators can connect with their audience and monetize their work in a meaningful way—with full ownership. They’re also a great way to increase brand awareness and customer loyalty, maximize growth opportunities, and even scale customer support.
Private online communities also offer a better alternative to social media platforms that make life hard for creators through continual algorithm changes and complex, inconsistent rules.
As a creator, algorithm changes can heavily impact your reach and engagement, translating into lost revenue. In fact, 40% of creators estimate yearly impacts of $10,000 or more due to constant changes to social media algorithms, which puts both their online presence and income at risk.
Many creators have also faced having their accounts banned incorrectly or unintentionally, limiting their ability to connect with their audience and generate revenue. Take it from Avery Smith who lost access to his LinkedIn audience of 65,000 members over night.
Another issue is that social platforms can go through major upheaval, we’re looking at you Twitter, or worse, they can even crumble and collapse, like Vine. Setting up your own community helps you avoid the risk of losing the content and connections you’ve worked so hard to build.
Social media also brings distractions for users, and people get tired of frequently being bombarded with ads. Ultimately, people look for real connection over just being sold to. This is why online communities are thriving—they’re a way of establishing solid, truthful relationships between creators and members.
Bottom line: Organizations of all types and sizes realize the positive impact online communities have on their revenue, reputation, and impact. Online communities are also a safe option for creators, helping them avoid the complex, ever-changing rules and algorithm-related issues of social media that translate into revenue loss.
6 benefits of online communities
Online communities bring a wealth of benefits beyond connecting and engaging with your audience. Here are six of the most important advantages.
- Create multiple income streams. Apart from connecting with your audience and learning how to serve them better, you can monetize your online community by selling memberships, courses, or any other digital product, which creates alternative streams of income.
- Own and manage your community and your data. Social media scandals, such as Facebook Cambridge Analytica and the rise of YouTube demonetization, show that large social platforms aren’t as safe as we thought. Your account or community can be taken down at any point, and the platform owns your community data. Building a community you own means you’re in control of your business and you can look out for the best interests of your members (like keeping their information private). Check out how Kajabi Hero Dominique Broadway did this and built an 8-figure business.
- Discover more effective ways to engage with your community. Online communities bring you better insight into your audience than any other marketing strategy, with 86% of brand managers reporting they have experienced “deeper/richer insight into customer needs.” Eighty-two percent also say they have gained the “ability to listen/uncover new questions,” which ultimately helps you leverage your offerings and improve your overall relationship with your members.
- Set yourself apart from the competition. Not everybody uses online community platforms to engage with their audience, so you’ll be one step ahead of the game if you set up a place for your members to hang out, collaborate, and interact with you and each other.
- Increase brand loyalty. Above all, communities are about connection, engagement, and support. When you create a community around your brand, customer engagement and participation improve, making your members trust you. This boosts their sense of loyalty to your brand, meaning they’ll be more likely to stay with you and even refer others to you. Speaking of which…
- Attract new members. Thriving communities possess energy and vitality that members want to share with others. When people are having a positive experience, finding connections, and getting results, they’ll be more likely to recommend your community to others and help your business grow.
Bottom Line: Building an online community is a great way to serve your audience and grow your business. It lets you take ownership of your content and your customer connections, as well as engage with your audience in a deeper and more meaningful way.
Why Kajabi Communities is key to your business
Online community platforms are a great tool to monetize your audience and engage with your people.
Kajabi has long been a leader in online community solutions, and we’ve just launched a new and improved Kajabi Communities following our acquisition of Vibely.
Our enhanced community features help you connect and collaborate with your members like never before. You can host and record live events and coaching calls, provide networking opportunities, run challenges and gamify your offerings, offer real-time chat, and more. How do the updated features work? Check out Tina Tower’s walk through of the new community experience below!
With Kajabi, you can take control of your community, events, communications, and coaching programs, in one place, without having to rely on social media or using a complicated tech stack.
"The things that help people connect with each other are built right in. It's easy, it's engaging, and when you combine that with all the ways we can help people together in one place, it just seems designed to help us have the greatest possible impact on the people we serve." - David Levin, Author & Founder of Raise Your Inner Game
Start creating your own unique and impactful online community today. Need a little inspiration? We've got four thriving communities built right here on Kajabi for you to explore.