6 effective ways to monetise your fan community

Written by Ben Barbersmith

You are an authoritative and respected leader in your field and you've gained a sizeable following because many people are interested in what you have to say.

You built your fanbase online mainly through social channels, which have been a brilliant way to build the following while generating revenue via the ads models and partner programmes that the social platforms support. The ad-supported model can be massively lucrative for plenty of creators particularly with platforms supported by Google/YouTube, Facebook/Instagram, Twitch and TikTok. Also those platforms helped you get discovered and grow your fan base - they do discovery amazingly well.

Now, though, you are at the stage where you have built a significant volume of followers and some of those followers are your super fans! Your superfans are your most engaged and most loyal followers - they love what you do so much they are prepared to spend money on your - um - stuff.

Now is the time for you to start building a direct relationship with your superfans - rather than have that relationship mediated by Google and Facebook. Levellr can help you with that, just like we help clients from Fall Out Boy to Starbucks.

And now is the time to diversify your revenue streams to include revenue that comes directly from your superfans - rather than have all your revenue streams mediated by Google and Facebook.

The benefits are clear:

  • By focussing on advertising revenue only and choosing not to explore fan direct revenue streams - you don’t know how much additional revenue potential you are leaving on the table.
  • Fan direct revenue (for example via a subscription model) can, over time, become a more reliably regular source of revenue than advertising. No more seasonal revenue dips which can be so disappointing!
  • Fan direct revenue can be a far more sustainable revenue model than advertising when considering the long term.
  • Fan direct revenue gives you all the control over how and how much revenue can be generated.
  • By building a direct relationship with your super fans - you can really begin to know who they are and communicate directly with them on your own terms.

Are you a creator or a community leader with a large following who are passionate about what you have to say?

If yes, then you should consider your options for building a direct revenue stream from your fans. Check out our 6 recommendations on how to build fan revenue.

1) Build a Pay-to-Access Private Messaging Group

There is no better format to bring your community together than in a private messaging group. Messaging apps have become a huge part of all of our day to day lives. Adults in the US spent an average of 24 minutes per day with mobile messaging apps in 2020 (Source: Statista Research Department, Sep 16 2021). So creators and their fans are very familiar with the format and we all find it both super compelling and easy to use.

In addition - people are increasingly comfortable with setting up recurring payments via subscriptions to access content. In fact, according to Deloitte’s Media Trends Survey, 15th edition, 2021, adults in the US are loading up on digital media subscriptions with an average of 9 subscriptions per household.

People are increasingly willing to pay a certain amount to access content or experiences that they find valuable - whether it's access to stream the latest box set or access to participate in private messaging groups with folks they admire and share a common interest with.

With this context in mind it makes sense to consider the benefits of launching a pay-to-access private messaging group for your super fan community.

The benefits are clear:

  • Can you think of a more compelling and up-to-date format to bring your super fan community together to interact with you and each other?
  • With a ongoing monthly subscription or cohort based payment model (eg. a 6 month long educational course with a fixed number learners per cohort) - you have the opportunity to earn a meaningful income from fans who subscribe to your community - you could earn upwards of $10k+ per month.
  • The pricing structure is fully flexible to suit you and the requirements of your fans - for example you can set up subscription or cohort models with multiple price plans and include free options. You can configure chat groups and payment plans exactly as you want them.
  • You get to know who your superfans really are and build a direct relationship with them.
  • Your community becomes your readymade focus group that can be leveraged for on-going research and feedback.
  • You can upsell products, courses or events to this community of superfans.
  • Unlike social channels your private messaging group is a safe space where you have the power to remove trolls or bad actors easily.
  • It’s quick and simple to get started! Enter your email address here and the Levellr team will contact you directly to set up your community.

Lots of creators are already having huge success with pay-to-access messaging groups. Here’s what the folks behind the NotTheTop20 Podcast had to say about launching their pay-to-access private messaging group with Levellr:

Levellr was exactly what we were looking for. We have created a real community, a genuine conversation with our fans and we now have a new revenue stream coming in each month.

2) Sell Tickets for Events

Everyone loves a special event to look forward to and enjoy in the moment. Events allow people to come together for a notable reason and to mark a moment in time. Whether you plan for an IRL or virtual event the idea of a special event works because people love to gather, forge new connections and build networks.

It's important to recognize that because the nature of an event leads to this crescendo moment in time - impeccable planning is absolutely critical to make certain that you don't miss the moment!

Virtual events, of course, aren’t bound by geographic, travel or budget restrictions and are therefore more accessible for both fans and speakers or performers and the virtual format can lend itself to innovative and creative event ideas.

You may want to consider getting the support of an events management platform such as Hopin, Eventbrite or Splash who can provide a one stop shop for a lot of the underlying tools such as the ticketing, payment processing, network connection guarantees etc.

IRL events take a huge amount of effort to get it right - but it can be so special to bring people together. To make it worthwhile you really need to find a format that maximizes the ‘IRL-ness’ of it. Remember it's going to be more effort for people to attend IRL so the content needs to be compelling enough to get people to buy a ticket and generally you will need to work harder on marketing and sales to ensure you make an IRL event make sense from a financial point of view.

Planning should begin about 1 year in advance as you will need to secure a venue, vendors, equipment, insurance, staff, catering - the list goes on!

If you do decide to do an IRL event then consider a hybrid format that streams your event to an audience who might otherwise be out of reach.

Whichever route you take - always ask your guests for feedback straight after the event has finished while it’s still fresh in their minds. Feedback is a gift.

Now you just need to pick a date and commit!

Street art that reads 'Together We Create'

3) Sell Digital Products

It’s much cheaper, quicker and easier to get started selling digital products than physical products. You don't need to occupy physical space, or manage the transport side of things and you only need to create the product once while being able to sell it indefinitely.

Selling digital products can be a profitable business due to lower up front costs and optimal sales capacity. Digital products have also become popular and ubiquitous - everyone uses them - think music, e-books, online courses etc etc.

Selling products online has never been easier and there has never been more demand from consumers who, according to 2019 Shopify Plus, are expected to drive $4.5 trillion in global B2C e-commerce sales by 2021. So while people are increasingly shifting their shopping habits online it makes sense to consider selling digital products to your superfans.

There are four factors that you need to consider to make a success of selling digital products:

  • The product itself. Is it a good quality product? What problem does it solve? Do my fans need it?
  • The price of the product. Can I make a profit? Is it a fair price? Can my superfans afford it?
  • Distribution channels via which to sell the product and make it available to fans. What's the optimal way to deliver your e-book or stream your movie? Will you need to develop a personal website or would it be better to partner with an e-commerce platform or image bank?
  • Marketing the product to fans. How to inform fans what the product is and how to purchase it? How to position the product against similar products on the market? How to sell the benefits? How to best leverage social and other channels to maximise potential sales?

It can be very useful to poll or ask your fans directly for feedback on your ideas before committing to investing too many resources in something that they would tell you they dont want if you asked them. Consider setting up a private messaging group for your fan community to form your readymade focus group that can be leveraged for on-going research and feedback. And don't forget that you can upsell products or courses or events to this community of fans - they will be your number one customers!

It’s quick and simple to get started! Enter your email address here and the Levellr team will contact you directly.

4) Start a Paid Newsletter

If you have enough to say then write it down and share it with your people!

While a paid newsletter is fairly easy to get started - it takes a real commitment to sustain it. Make sure that you can commit to and deliver on a regular delivery cadence before you make any promises to your fans.

There are a number of useful platforms to make setting up a paid for newsletter super simple:

5) Ask for Donations

Donations can be a nice way to ask your fans to support what you do but where the payment is not tied to any particular product. With a donations models there are two possible routes to take:

  • Project-Based crowdfunding where you could use Kickstarter, Indigogo or GoFundMe to raise funds to publish one-off items.
  • Subscription-Based funding where fans pay a donation each month to support your on-going endeavours - check out Patreon.

6) Optimize Your Existing Channels

While it’s going to be important for you to build out fan direct revenue streams over the long term - maintaining your ad supported social channels they will remain an important piece of the overall revenue mix for creators and community leaders like you for a while to come. The ads market for the creator economy is one of the fastest growing business sectors and expected to grow to $15bn by 2022 (Source: Mediakix). As such it remains important for you to maximise your earning potential while the market remains strong, and to support you while growing your fan direct revenue streams for the longer term. Also, your social channels remain the best way for your fans to discover you - they are your funnel for any fan direct model you decide to deploy.

Managing impactful social channels can be a lot of work over time and on an on-going basis - so make your time work hard and nail those best practices! The core platforms provide resources to help you succeed based on learnings from millions of creators that have gone before and it is incredibly useful to get a platform endorsed benchmark for the optimizations you can make. It’s worth checking out these websites:

Can you manage all the channels brilliantly? Ruthlessly prioritize and focus on channels that are sustainable for you.

Overall Recommendation: Build a Pay-to-Access Private Messaging Group

Here is a reminder of the benefits:

  • Habitual: We use messaging apps everyday, they are the future of fan interaction
  • Monthly recurring revenue: Join other creators who are making $10k+ a month by building pay-to-access messaging groups with Levellr
  • Flexibility: The pricing structure is fully flexible to suit you and the requirements of your fans.
  • Data ownership: You get to know who your superfans really are and build a direct relationship with them.
  • Fan feedback: Your community becomes your readymade focus group that can be leveraged for on-going research and feedback.
  • Upsell: You can upsell products or courses or events to this community of superfans.
  • Safe: Unlike social channels your private messaging group is a safe space where you have the power to remove trolls or bad actors easily.

It’s quick and simple to get started! Contact Levellr today to find out how you can build a community which works for your brand.

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