I’m finally getting serious about building a paid community. I have a 15 k facebook group, a 5 k IP Board forum that grew with my website.
While everything was great up until 2015 / 2016. Ever since the engagement went down. Much less new subscribers. Also I have the gut feeling, that most smart people left.
The last weeks I tried circle, might networks and tribe.
Right now, mighty networks is in the lead, although I miss some flexibility. I like the activity streams, course functionality, and the possibility for building groups and topic sections. I can imagine it gets really vibrant with a few active members. Furthermore, MN has an app which is well rated in the app stores. Unfortunately, the app is not individually branded as long as you don’t pay 25000 $ a year for “mighty pro”.
Circle and Tribe have been a bit disappointing. They are more or less a slack like chat channel. It’s all nice if I would use it as a free tool for my subscribers. But I feel for a paid community, it does not provide enough value.
Do you know any other community tools that are worth looking into?
Wow that’s a steep price!
What about Discourse? (Which is what this place uses). I feel most comfortable with it because it’s been around a while and it’s open source.
Also maybe Invision? (cc @MattM)
Also, mind sharing a bit more about your community? Is it free/paid? Do you want it to be open? What kind of features are you looking for?
I would choose Discourse if I would like to have a modern ‘old’ forum. Right now, I’m using Invision Board (⇒ https://forum.science-fitness.de/) already, which is ok. But it’s mostly used by 5 very old members + an occasional question from new members here and there. By the way, it’s free right now.
But I think these tools do not provide the feeling of community. They don’t allow the users to grow together. It’s not “living”. And certainly no one would pay for being part of it.
So what I need is a place, where people really like to be part of and find a lot of value. It will be a paid community, since I want to change my business model from selling e-books to something else.
As I said, mighty networks is in the lead right now. An alternative tool should provide similar features like:
- activity streams
- courses (with drip content)
- mobile apps
- weekly e-mail digests
So basically, what MN provides. But I don’t like their design / UI … it’s too confusing. In my opinion, not thoroughly thought through. Additionally, it’s not possible to use a different language.
Happy to help. I hear you had an Invision Community forum back in 2015, do you still have that or the data?
Thx Matt, please see the link above. The forum is still running.
Ah sorry, I missed your more recent post.
I don’t think a platform really does that much to shape the impact of the community. That’s really down to how you structure it and lead it.
It’s worth noting that Invision Community now has clubs functionality (example: Clubs - Invision Community) which can be a good way to host sub-communities and male them feel more secure. It’s based on member permissions, so you can add a paywall in front of a club if you wanted to.
I would also restructure your community to have a landing page in front of it that showcases feature user content and any of your own content. Here’s an example using Invision Community. The community itself can do with a custom header to focus on search and/or show your communities purpose. Also the announcement/rules is a little hostile so I’d rework that to be more guidance and nurturing.
Also the newer versions have full PWA capabilities.
I can go into more detail if you wanted to go this route.
Thank you, Matt. Appreciate your efforts. But I disagree with the notion that the platform does not that much to shape the community. I think the look and feel is critical.
Imo it’s all about how it feels to be in the community environment. Circle feels different than Slack. Mighty Networks feels different from Invision Board or Discourse.
Funny sidenote: My classic forum is dominated by men. The facebook group members are mostly female.
I have been using Invision Board since many years. I see it’s not working anymore for me. So, I want to try something else.
That’s totally fair. If you need a hand migrating, or making sense of the data - let me know!
Does Invision handle the paywall part?
Back to my original question: Do any other platforms come to mind for my purpose?
If courses are important, check out https://www.cahootlearning.com/ . They are based in Australia and they started as an LMS and that’s their “thing” but, they were in the process of introducing a nice community platform that sounds like it’d work for you. (Disclosure: I haven’t seen it since the beginning of the year because I left the company that was using the platform.)
I run a paid community, but I’ve chosen to keep this forum completely free.
I use Ghost for the paid part and have a private page to people access to a Slack for more instant discussions.
There’s a Discourse + Patreon integration which I would seriously consider if I were starting from scratch.
There are other tools like Memberful that help integrate different tools.
I’ve never liked Mighty Networks, mostly for their UX.
Paid communities are a pain and I’m approaching mine as a mixture of free, paid and one off payments for certain things.
What you choose very much depends on where you see yourself going and doing together.
“Paid communities are a pain” ← so true.
Thx Rosie, I weren’t aware of Memberful. Will have a look into it. Also discourse + Patreon.
Right now I still experiment with MN. Some features are nice. But I also think the UX is messy. Additionally it’s not very flexible. + If I process my membership payments with MN I am basically stuck in their system for ever. Thats not good.
I tried to work around it with Sendowl payments (subscription) and Zapier … but it gets complicated quickly (invite links, account sync) and doesnt work smoothly.
I ve tried already paywalling some content with wordpress and member plugins. So I have some experience doing everything manually. It’s definitely the most flexible way but also very time consuming.
I love Ghost for paywalled content. Substack works too.
There’s also Memberspace, which is similar to Memberful. I can never remember which one is which, or what the differences are.
Outseta might be worth a look at too.
Have you heard of Outverse? They haven’t launched officially but I really like the direction they’re going. Modern UI similar to Slack that is for forum-style posting. Also supports video.
It looks interesting, but I would never touch a new tool, it feels too risky. I’ve seen many new tools pivot or go in a direction that doesn’t align…or just lose momentum and not develop new features.
that’s a good point. i guess i feel like there aren’t a lot of good options out there my community is better suited to long-form communication imo, but the popular tools that fit that description aren’t my favorite.
how hard is it to transition users to a different platform? is it a death sentence to a community or better described as a difficult process?
E.g. Going from a forum to Discord is going to have more drop-off than going from Invision to Discourse.
In any case, best chances of success come from:
- Announcing the migration early and keeping members in the loop.
- Transferring all users + data, 301 redirects, etc… (especially for forums).
- Onboarding super users/moderators/regulars first to help find & fix issues.
Then, making sure the UX is smooth and intuitive before bringing the rest of the members in.
Bottom line? You want this to be a milestone for the community, something that members are looking forward to and excited about, not a burden or something to get up in arms over.
I’m surprised by that. I find Circle and Tribe to be a middle ground between the familiar UX of Facebook Groups and the SEO-friendly threaded discussions of Discourse.
In fact, from what you’re describing of your audience + intentions to monetize through premium content, Circle seems like it’d be right up your alley.