So you want to be a community creator — but first, what's your community product?
Understanding what works as a community, and a paid community at that, and choosing what your community vision is can be a make or break for a community creator.
Leaning into product development + understanding your product development process is something you may or may not have encountered but not actively thought of as essential before.
As you start out on your own community creator journey, it's important to identify what your vision is, how you'll test it that vision, and what does your community discovery process look like? Lastly, and one of the most difficult things you'll have to do throughout this process, is determining what your product is worth and the value it provides the members of your community.
Thinking about communities like a product.
This feels weird — especially since so much of community building is focused on authentic, non-transactional relationships, but in order to have sustainable financial success as a community creator — you have to start thinking about communities as if they were a product. At the end of the day — someone is paying something in order to gain access to the resources or connections within your community.
Membership Puzzle Project any tangible or intangible item or service that is a result of a process and that is intended for delivery to a customer or end-user. In journalism, a product can be anything a news organization creators to solve a problem or meet a need.
As a community creator, your community and the related assets, resources, content that you benefit from your community — will be your end product. This product, hopefully, if you've done your community discovery process accordingly — is an item that you are creating that serves to solve a problem or meet a need. Let's dive into what makes a good community product and how you can use product thinking to get you started on the right foot.
The community discovery process
You'll need to conduct in-depth research to not only identify a problem that you'll be working on solving, but understanding how you can best solve it within your scope as a community creator. It's unlikely that you're going to solve every problem within an industry — but how can you work together with other creators in order to achieve these great things?
This section will guide you through the various considerations you will need to have before getting started or thinking through the business side of things as a community creator. We'll work together to help you establish your vision as a community creator, what you will, and won't put a paywall up to cover, and how this can turn into a sustainable source of revenue — without exploiting the community.
Community x Creator x Product Fit
For community creators — you have to think of a variety of different inputs and outputs, I'll call this Community x Creator x Product Fit. Not only will you have to work through the Community Discovery process in order to make sure that the community + you as a creator is a good fit, but is there enough market or product demand for you to be willing to charge for this product?
Take, for example, Rosieland. Rosie built a community of community builders before it was even a thing, and now has identified herself as a leader in the industry and a creator that is consistent and willing, and able to ship consistently. Once you've got these two things established, it's time to measure product fit. A simple metric? Will someone give up the price of a coffee for your product? Over a year later — Rosie has proven this to be the case.
Before you start putting those paywalls up, it's okay to do some preliminary testing in order to figure out a better price for your product.
It has often been said that a good product saves a user time, energy, effort or money. But how do you know what the user needs?
Borrowing from the researcher, Don Norman, he highlights one of the biggest problems of how many people go about solving problems;
A brilliant solution to the wrong problem can be worse than no solution at all: solve the correct problem
Is there a need for this community to exist within the larger community of things? I'd argue that for many streamers, YouTubers, or even Twitter creators — we're too quick to see dollar signs and too impatient to do the work and tackle community discovery.
This article is part of a larger Community Creator Economy Guide — read the full guide here!