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10 tried and true community management tips for authors and leaders

Are you leading an online community? Maybe it’s through social media or through your own website.

Here’s the thing: whether you realize it or not, you are leading an online community. 

Let’s be honest, managing an online community is tough. How do you keep up with all of the changes? From how to engage folks to what’s the best time of day to post, it’s a crazy role that changes, literally, daily. 

There’s two ways to go wrong in thinking about community management:

1) Be the person who overthinks it. 
2) Be the person who trivializes it.

I think there’s a sweet spot somewhere in the middle where we can truly engage our people and create fans who truly connect, share, and help folks. Managing a community well doesn’t just happen without intention. If only you had a list of things to focus on? 

Here are 10 community management tips for authors and leaders:

1 Know your audience.

The easiest way to do this is through a survey. Create a survey. Keep it simple. Make it between one to three questions. Ask things like “what do you need most from this community?” or “what’s the biggest problem you’re facing?” 

One digital community I worked with shifted their event survey from asking about opinions on various pieces of the event to asking people how it helped them achieve their goals and what pain points attendees had. People naturally want to talk about their problems. My client also had greater success printing the survey out on paper and collecting responses in person. In this case, it meant a lot of paper. But, they increased survey feedback from 200 replies to over 10,000 replies.

2 Know the data.

The simplest way to know your data is through analytics. For example, do you know what pages visitors are clicking on your website? Study your page views to see what folks are looking at. Once you know the top-performing pages and you understand the content on those pages, guess what? Write more about those topics.

3 Set a clear value proposition. 

Do you clearly state what value you offer your community? Here’s a great test: Can your community state clearly what they get from being part of your community? They can if you’ve clearly stated it. If you haven't already done this, create a list of how followers might benefit from being part of your community. I saw one group post on their event site a section called "Here's what you get". Isn't that what people are asking? Make it clear. Just tell people what they’re getting.

4 Set clear expectations.

Have you ever been in a relationship where expectations are not clearly stated from the start? If you have, then you know, it becomes a horrible relationship pretty quick. Take a moment to write out what your community should expect from you and what you can expect from them. Yes, it’s okay to state what you expect from them as well. You might mention things like contribution and being helpful to the rest of the community, as one example.

5 Assign moderators.

You don’t have to do all of this on your own. Create a team approach by asking others to help you moderate your community, answer questions, and help take the load off of your shoulders. You might find your team members through this who contribute the most and help others in your community. I loved watching as one community engaged specific experts in each of their core content areas and trained them up as the moderators of each of those areas. This took a lot of stress off the main team and allowed for additional expert voices in the community to engage.

6 Encourage content and connections.

Often, we might just wait to see what people are going to do in our community before we engage much. Don’t do this. Take the lead and encourage content, shoulder tap subject matter experts you know, engage in content yourself, and help make connections with others in your community. This will be helpful to your followers.

7 Shoulder tap catalysts.

My guess is, you already have certain people in your community who you can shoulder tap to help engage others. Start by making a list of who can help you intentionally engage. Then, take your list of folks and consider what they are best at—or what they’re most passionate about. Ask them to help you with a specific content topic. 

8 Stay consistent. 

This is so important. It matters much less what your post frequency is. But, whatever frequency you decide, it’s important you stay consistent. Look for a rhythm that fits you. Whether you post daily, once per week, twice a month, let your analytics speak to you as you go.

9 Provide meaningful content.

Content isn’t worth much if it isn’t useful. You live and breath this because you realize how to monetize a blog. Make sure you have tapped in to your community for what they are interested in and what questions they have. Once you have that information, it’s time to talk about those topics. One community has an annual gathering of some of their key experts, partners, and advocates to help them design their content strategy. That group sits down for an entire day of brainstorming and planning. After that meeting, they walk out with an entire year of action plans.

10 Remove bandits. 

Sadly, there’s always a follower or two in any community who end up being malicious. Don’t sweat it. Consider your community and make sure you are intentional about addressing these types of followers. It’s your role to take care of any negative situation. There are times when you need to remove followers from your group. When that happens, see it as a teaching opportunity. Your true followers will thank you and be encouraged to engage even more because they will feel comfortable knowing you have their backs. 

These are the ten (10) tried and true ideas I’ve found helpful to think through related to community management tips for authors and leaders. What would you add? 


5 ways to monetize your community

Need more help taking your community digital?

You want to have a dynamic and multi-dimensional community which thrives. In order to do that, you need a strategy of both online and offline engagement. This guide will help you think through your approach to engaging a virtual community. Download the free eBook: How to Take Your Community Digital.


About the author: Will Rogers is the Founder and CEO of CauseMachine. Will’s career has been spent leading organizations and helping to mobilize communities to shared vision. He has served in various leadership roles to build community engagement and movements teaching him valuable hands on skills and experience. Will has developed business and community engagement strategies for dozens of organizations in nearly 50 countries. He and his wife have two sons and now live in Kentucky after two decades in Colorado.

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7 real-life ideas for how to monetize a blog that actually work

If you’ve been blogging for any real length of time, you know there’s a bunch of bad ideas out there for how to make money from blogging. You know the ones. It’s the same folks who’ll tell you it’s quick and easy to blog and make a fortune. 

Well, there’s another ditch to run face-first into as well: the it’s-too-tough-to-make money from blogging. Here’s the deal: not long ago, it used to be super difficult to make any money from blogging. Remember all of the disjointed tools? Then there was the cost of all of those disjointed tools. And, you pretty much needed an advanced degree to actually use the expensive, disjointed tools.

Nowadays, many folks make money from blogging. And, honestly, lots of people don’t. How much money can you make from blogging? Answer: it depends. I’ve heard stories of bloggers who report making millions of dollars per year—or better yet—while they sleep. While other bloggers make, actually almost 90 percent of bloggers, make an average of less than $10,000 per year. 

I have no idea where you are on this scale or where you want to be. But, you’re here, which means you’ve probably been blogging for a while and figure it’s time to go pro. Another guess is you have a decent amount of page views. But, you also get that a lot of barriers exist - you’re crunched for time, you don’t have a ton of money to throw at this whole thing, and you probably don’t have the technical expertise that’s necessary for running all of the different systems it takes to be even a little bit successful (see my rant above about disjointed tools). 

Anyway, you’re here. You’re looking for help. You understand the challenge is not can you monetize, but how? Maybe you already know some folks who are making money blogging. So you aren’t questioning that. But, you have no idea where to start related to how to monetize a blog. Which approach is right for you? When should you start said approach—right this second or wait until you have one billion followers? And, let’s say you start within the hour and you make a few bucks. What now? At what point will you know if this whole thing is actually working?

There are a bunch of methods you could use to monetize a blog. I’m not pretending this post is exhaustive by any measure. But, my hope is the following list will either remind you to try one of these ways—or—jumpstart your thinking and try one or more of them out for your blog. 

Here are seven (7) real-life ideas for how to monetize a blog that actually work:

1. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is the process of earning a commission by promoting other people’s (or company’s) products. There are many different affiliate marketing networks to use. One of the biggest affiliate marketing networks Amazon. Point is: you find a product you like, promote it to others, and earn a small percentage of the profit for each sale you make.

2. Advertising

This can happen a lot of ways. One great way is selling advertising to businesses because your blog has a good number of page views.

3. Selling digital products 

Selling digital products on your blog might mean selling anything from eBooks as short as a few pages. As long as it’s helpful, there’s often a market for quick and helpful eBooks. But, it’s not limited to this. You can also sell any resource that’s helpful to your audience. It could be any content you can put into a PDF. Write it down and sell it!

4. Selling courses

Depending on your audience and the content you create, you should consider creating courses to walk your followers through step-by-step on how to do something or get better at something else. You might not think you are online course material but you might be surprised. We often ask people what they find themselves explaining to others all of the time. There you have it! That's your course.

5. Selling Services

Consider what questions your readers are asking you all of the time. Can you package some consulting services and sell them? What about your teaching or facilitation? What if you trained others in how to do something in person or online? One of our clients offers services to onboard new clients and has packaged these services to be simple, understandable, and yes, even desirable.

6. Sponsorships

This idea is not often thought about. But, consider selling sponsorship placement on your blog. This could mean selling sponsors on any of the above mentioned ideas or on certain pages of your blog. As long as the brand or sponsor fits yours and they want your audience to see their business, you have an opportunity to sell sponsorships. That actually is you “making money while you sleep”! : )

7. Membership

I’m not going to lie. This isn’t easy. But, if you have the traffic and you’ve written lots of content, then it might just be time to consider creating a space and content that your readers have to pay to access by membership. We've seen many learn to how to take their communities digital and grow their memberships or tribes launch a membership program - both with great success. One community has built a community of tens of thousands of individuals which turned in to over 800 groups around the world. This is when membership has some real teeth.

Now that you have seven ideas you’ve either been reminded of or thinking about for the first time. What now? How in the world will you decide which one to do? And when? Well, I mentioned that I’m here to help!

So, here are three questions you can ask yourself right now to help you pick the right method for you:

1. Which monetization method is reasonable to achieve today (and not sometime out in the future)?

2. Which method gets you the most excited?

3. Do people trust you as a guide?

Now, here’s the biggest secret: Don’t overcomplicate things.Your natural tendency, because this is your passion—will be to overthink it. Don’t! At this stage, it’s way more important to just get started. Just start. Pick one of these ideas and run. You’ll figure it out on the way. I’ll be right here to help as you learn. Remember, to try and fail is to learn. Try some one idea. Even if you only make a few dollars, that’s better than nothing. You never know what might happen after that. Who knows, one of these ideas might actually work in your real life.

5 ways to monetize your community

Need more help monetizing your community?

You want to have a significant impact on the world AND generate revenue. In order to do that you need valuable resources and a means to deliver those great resources. Download the free eBook: 5 ways to monetize your community.


About the author: Will Rogers is the Founder and CEO of CauseMachine. Will’s career has been spent leading organizations and helping to mobilize communities to shared vision. He has served in various leadership roles to build community engagement and movements teaching him valuable hands on skills and experience. Will has developed business and community engagement strategies for dozens of organizations in nearly 50 countries. He and his wife have two sons and now live in Kentucky after two decades in Colorado.

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