The community entrepreneur vs. the creator
I’ve been working with community leaders for a few years now, advising and mentoring them about their community and how to build, sustain, and monetize it.
I’ve come to realize that when it comes to monetizing a community or a network, I can clearly divide these leaders into two general types:
The creators and the community entrepreneurs.
Let’s talk about creators:
Creators are opinion leaders or influencers, with a devoted audience of fans, readers, or followers, who are willing to pay them for content they create, share, or teach.
Creator economy is exploding, and sometimes it seems as if every kid has a profitable YouTube channel with a million subscribers, and that every other person just sold his GIF as an NFT for something like $15,000.
There are hundreds of platforms that allow creators to connect with their fanbase and translate this connection into cash. Patreon, which started as a kind of “tip jar” for artists became one of the leading digital platforms, recently valued at $4B.
Creators and influencers can now profit from an audience of any type or size, but—and there is a but—audience has to be there specifically for them. They must be interested in what they have to offer. It needs to be an audience that wants to connect with the creators, consume their content, learn from them, or be part of their specific network.
As a creator, there are almost endless ways to monetize an audience, most of which end up with the follower paying the creator a monthly subscription fee.
There’s a great hub where you can find all sorts of opportunities for creators: https://sidehustlestack.co/
But what happens if someone has a great audience, but they’re not exactly opinion leaders?
What can a community leader who doesn’t shine like a rockstar do when they know they can still provide great value for their community and profit from it? That’s when the community entrepreneur steps in.
The community entrepreneur
Community entrepreneurs identify the needs of their community members and the business opportunities that present themselves in that particular audience. They develop solutions that benefit the community while they profit from them—a win-win situation.
Community entrepreneurs think of their community as a trusting, devoted audience, whose needs they are fulfilling by building a startup.
Some inspiring examples are NomadList, which brings together a community of 25K nomads and gives them tools to network and work remote easily (I just love this site!); Community-Driven Founder Resources Guide, where Lolita Taub helps community entrepreneurs find resources; “Freelancing Females” community, which recently launched a job board and a directory site; BIG Festival community of game developers, which launched a career site, and many more.
I want to summarize with a message to community leaders: You don’t have to be the “guru type” to do something amazing for your community.
All you need to do is to open up your mind and seek a solution outside the "creator" product pool.
Take a good look at your community; see what they need and what they look for and what they’ll be willing to pay for. Then find a product that enables you to give them just that.
If you’re considering building a job board with an index of your community members, feel free to reach out and meet us for a short one-on-one online consulting meeting.