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Are Paid Online Communities A Sustainable Business Model?

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Because of blogging, online communities and a plethora (ya, I just wrote plethora) of additional online content being created every day, there are all kinds of emerging trends and goodies going on right now when it comes to content and community creators establishing their business model (how they make money).

There are all kinds of options (and today’s guest is trying many of them). Some of the ways include advertising, sponsorships (like we do), selling your own products and selling other people’s products, selling yourself (as a consultant or speaker perhaps).

One of the big trends (and honestly an experiment) right now is paid online communities.

A paid online community is a simple concept.

To the user:

-You pay to be part of it (a monthly membership fee of some kind…perhaps $47 a month or $147 or who knows what).

-You get access to whatever is offered. It might be some online classes, videos, networking in forums, Q&A, etc.

To the content creator:

-This creates revenue and a business model which allows them to continue to work on offering value to the community.

What is interesting about this, is the Internet has paved the way for hyper-niche communities on really whatever you are interested in and passionate about. Meaning, a paid community probably wouldn’t work if the subject is broad like “Business” but might work better if it is super specific like “Tech Business Owners In California” (that might be too specific..or is it?).

Today’s guest Mario Braz De Matos and he has created an online community and social network of chefs called Cookwork. A very unique niche. Right now it is free, but there are future plans to make it paid or at least offer paid options. And he is trying all kinds of ways to monetize. In this interview, we talk about the start. Where he came up with the idea. Why he thinks it will work. How they are building it. And all the ins and outs of experimenting. My hope is, like with everything, this will spark your imagination and get your business creativity going.

And Mario is not the only one by any means experimenting.

Chris Brogan, Darren Rowse, Brian Clark and others have started 3rd Tribe (delicious affiliate link. Yum) which is a paid online marketing community. There are forums, lessons, live calls, teaching sessions and more.  I’m a new member of it.

Andrew Warner at has moved to a paid model for his interviews with tech entrepreneurs. You pay to become a premium member and access the archives.

Lewis Howes has created an incredible paid community of sports executives looking to brush up on social media and online marketing aptly named Sports Executives Association.

There are definitely upsides and downsides to this model like every business model. What is your take?

Find Out More About Today’s Guest:

Cookwork’s Website

On Twitter

On Facebook

Which begs the question(s):

Are you a member of any paid online communities? Would you in the future perhaps? Do you like this business model?

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8 Steps to Turning What You Already Know into a Successful Online Course

The 8 step process to the successful with online courses + free gifts for attending!

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