Are Online Communities Worth The Hype? Get a Paying Audience Fast (Best No-Code Examples)

Mariam Ispiryan • Apr 14, 2022 • 12 min read

Are online communities actually worth the hype? As an entrepreneur or creator, you understand the benefits of creating a positive online space for your online members’ community to gather and engage with your work.


But then again, hiring a dedicated software developer is expensive, and creating the platform yourself requires a massive amount of tech knowledge. 


So does this mean you should just rely on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn to build and nurture your community for you? 


These platforms can only do so much. Luckily, there’s a simple solution: no-code online community software.


Imagine not having to struggle with learning how to code, dedicate a large budget to hiring developers, or spend days trying to conquer the steep learning curve of complicated community-building software.


In this article, we’ll go over the basics of online communities and give you some actionable tips for creating your own in just a matter of minutes. (Literally, minutes.)



You’ll learn:


Ready to build your no-code online community?

Create content, manage your community, and bring value to your members all in one place.

What is an online community?


Online communities, or members’ communities, are social networks that let a group of people with similar interests communicate and interact online through messaging features or tagging. Community members can ask questions, discuss topics, share content, or work together toward a similar goal. 


Don’t have many followers? Don’t let that stop you from creating your members’ community! If Communities can be small and have only a few dedicated users, just like they can have millions of members all over the world. If anything, creating an online community can help you scale and involve more people as your business grows.

Common types of members’ communities


Each community is unique and has different needs. If you’re looking to bring a group of people together around your business or activity, you need to decide what type of community to foster.


Before building your community platform, take a look at these common types.



Branded communities


These communities are created by brands so they can connect and interact with their customers directly, without being limited by social media platforms and their algorithms. 


Brands can use their communities to foster brand loyalty and stand out from the competition by providing an optimal customer experience.



Professional communities


Professional communities serve as spaces for professionals within a specific industry to gather and network, receive or offer mentorship, and collaborate.


Kaphal Studio, a members’ community for designers and design enthusiasts, is the perfect example of the type of community creatives and professionals can create using Softr.io. But more on that later.



Marketplace communities


Marketplace communities are perfect for creators and entrepreneurs who want to market their products or services while creating a loyal community of customers or fans. They allow you to highlight your customer’s stories, provide customer support, answer questions, and facilitate conversation.



Learning communities


Learning communities are centered around the study of specific topics. Community builders can provide bespoke learning experiences, courses, quizzes, and competitions.

What are the benefits of building a members’ community for your business?


In 2019, 76% of internet users were part of at least one online community or forum, according to this industry study. The rising popularity of online communities isn’t too surprising, seeing as successful communities give their users a sense of belonging and a shared purpose. 


When building an online community platform for an existing business, entrepreneurs and creators can: 


  • Connect and engage with members: providing a place for your customers to come together and develop relationships with you and with each other fosters loyalty and trust, and increases customer retention. Community members can ask questions, provide answers, and feel involved in the growth of your business.
  • Sell online courses using your brand: marketing your courses on social media platforms like LinkedIn or Instagram, essentially means chasing after customers. But when it comes to online communities, your job’s already done. People who love what you do are already gathered in one place, making selling online courses easier.
  • Add value to your community: members of an online community have access to a valuable sea of knowledge that they’re not able to find elsewhere. It’s peer-to-peer interaction that makes 75% of online users derive value from online communities.
  • Increase revenue: members’ communities challenge the traditional interaction between businesses and their customers. By breaking down this one-way exchange, you’re giving your business a competitive edge. Additionally, you can take advantage of in-platform advertising and sales.
  • Gate selected content: you can choose to gate selected content that’s only available to paying members of your community. Gated content serves as another revenue stream, while you get to know your customers better and increase loyalty.
  • Complement customer support with self-service: in addition to increasing your business’s revenue, online communities can help you cut costs by serving as a self-service alternative to customer support. Members can answer each other's questions and offer advice before you or your community managers even need to get involved. This frees up your time so you can focus on growing your business.


Ready to build your no-code online community?

Create content, manage your community, and bring value to your members all in one place

5 best examples of no-code online communities built with Softr


Now that we have the definition and the benefits down, let’s take a look at some of the best examples of no-code online communities. (Psst! The no-code approach is perfect for those who have limited budgets and want a solution that’s easy and fast to implement.)



1. FoundersDoor: A startup community of learners


FoundersDoor is a program managed by Your Startup,Your Story (YSYS,) a startup community that connects talented entrepreneurs to forward-thinking tech companies.


Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the program’s founders established the online educational platform and made a significant amount of valuable educational content available to a wider audience. The team chose Softr to help them with this migration. 

founders door library homepage

Founders can easily create online learning communities and bypass technical complexity using Softr.

Source: FoundersDoor



They were able to bypass technical complexity and the need to hire an engineer. This helped them achieve their goal of becoming a hub for the YSYS community as well as creating a funnel for future growth. They were also able to: 

 

  • Use Softr’s built-in template for online courses
  • Customize and brand their platform
  • Create an aesthetically-pleasing user interface
  • Upload educational videos
  • Filter and search the video content 
  • Give users the ability to create user accounts

 

A week after its launch, the platform already had 110 newly-registered users on top of the existing 125 community members who had received access from the very beginning. 

2. Humble Help: Connecting students to small businesses


Humble Help is an online marketplace and academy that provides online training and mentorship to students and helps them land paid internships. By doing so, the platform also supports small businesses in their marketing and growth activities.

humble help homepage

Humble Help was able to bring its website and academy under one roof using Softr.

Source: Humble Help



The Humble Help team had experimented with numerous platforms but found that they were either too technical or offered very limited features. 


However, with Softr, Humble Help’s co-founder, Vick Antonyan, was able to build the entire platform in under 15 minutes. 


For Humble Help, the ability to build, run, and manage its website and academy under one roof and with one CMS, Airtable, was crucial. Currently, the platform is expanding the academy and is planning to integrate Google Analytics and a live chat feature using custom code blocks.

3. NextCohort: Making cohort-based courses accessible


NextCohort is an expanding library of cohort-based courses from all over the world. The program’s co-founders, Chez Spigelman and Viktor Vecsei connected through OnDeck and realized cohort-based courses are the best way to learn online. 


Not having a technical background, Chez needed to find the right no-code online community software that would help him and Viktor implement their vision.

next cohort homepage

Softr’s easy-to-set-up search and filtering capabilities allow learning community founders to customize their platform.

Source: NextCohort 



Softr’s ability to handle really large Airtable databases, present them through a nice user interface, and incorporate easy-to-setup search and filtering capabilities allowed Chez and Viktor to customize NextCohort to meet their needs.

4. Nanny Network: A community platform


Nanny Network is an online platform for parents to source childcare with all the security and quality of an agency. This online marketplace allows parents to post jobs and candidates to create profiles and apply for open positions. A growing library of guides for parents and nannies is also available.

nanny network homepage

Marketplace founders can use Softr to build a platform that expands as their business grows.

Source: Nanny Network.



Nanny Network was looking for a solution that could grow with them and also offered great value for investment. 


Softr's rapid growth allows the platform to expand as well. The marketplace can also take advantage of Softr’s SEO capabilities and the various integrations that are available to the users. The Nanny Network platform is using both built-in integrations (e.g. live chat) and custom ones (e.g. Calendly via custom code block).

5. 100DaysofNoCode: A no-code online learning community


100DaysofNoCode started when founder Max Haining decided that he wasn’t going to let his technical knowledge gap keep him from his entrepreneurial goals. This community allows people with non-technical backgrounds to learn how to create software using no-code tools.

100daysofnocode homepage

Use Softr to easily create landing pages, host courses, and organize learning material the way you need it.

Source: 100DaysOfNoCode.



The first version of 100DaysOfNoCode was implemented on a different platform at first. But, when the no-code community started growing, it became apparent that there was a need for a more advanced tool with extra features like a blog, tiered memberships, and video courses. 

 

That's when Softr came onto the scene, and Max decided to move the existing content and start expanding.

 

He was able to quickly create a landing page, host their beginner’s course, and organize the learning materials and curriculum the way they needed it. The Custom Code block feature also allows the community to integrate interactive quizzes and additional learning resources.

4 ways to monetize a successful online community


When it comes to monetizing your internet community, your options range from traditional advertising to selling courses and new products. 


Just remember that for community monetization to be successful, you need to be consistently improving community engagement and providing value.



1. Charge for memberships


Creating a paid membership level for your community is a great way to drive revenue while still providing value to your members. Max, founder at 100DaysofNoCode, uses this method and the community currently has more than 250 paying members. 


You can offer your members the option to support you and your business by paying a monthly or yearly fee to get access to exclusive or gated content and resources. With this monetization strategy, you have to make sure you’re providing enough value to be worth the cost and offer something they can’t get elsewhere.

patreon pricing and plans

Patreon offers 3 membership tiers in exchange for exclusive tools to help build a thriving membership business.

Source: Patreon



2. Utilize traditional advertising


Traditional advertising is the easiest way to monetize your community but, if done wrong, it’s also the easiest way to lose community members. These ads are highly targeted to your members and so can generate a lot of revenue.


You can run these ads on your newsletter, discussion pages, and blog posts. Just make sure to place them on the sidebars or top banners to avoid irritating your community.



3. Sell products and services


Another easy way to monetize your community is to sell products and services. This could include podcast merchandise, e-books, courses, digital art prints, consulting sessions, and more. 


Thanks to the flexible and personalized nature of online communities, you can sell almost any product or service under the sun, as long as you know they will provide value to your members and encourage them to support you.



4. Charge for sponsored content


Incorporating sponsored content into your monetization strategy can definitely be a win-win. Brands would give an arm and a leg to have the chance to reach your specific audience. 


On the other hand, if you’re publishing sponsored content that’s truly valuable and useful to your members, you’re also actively improving your community’s quality, and getting paid to do it.


To have a thriving community, the focal point should be your members. Focus on consistently providing them with value and be careful not to get too pushy when it comes to your monetization strategy. Communities are about connection and common interests, not sales.

Bring your community online with Softr: the all-in-one solution


Bringing your community online and consistently delivering value and engagement can seem daunting at first. If you don’t have a tech background, how do you know where to start?


But that’s exactly why you need a no-code solution.


Even without coding experience, you can easily create an online community using Softr, which allows you to configure gated content, set up memberships and payments, and more.


Whether you want to share gated content, sell resources like online courses, or just give your members somewhere to gather and network, you can use Softr to create a totally custom interface with free or paid membership.


So, start by working out which type of members’ community is right for you based on the examples we’ve discussed here. Now, you’re ready to build your no-code members community and start providing a dynamic, supportive space to engage your audience—and even grow your business.

Ready to build your no-code online community?

Create content, manage your community, and bring value to your members all in one place

Frequently asked questions about online communities

An online community is a social or professional network where a group of people with common interests can communicate and interact. Members of a virtual community can ask and answer questions in real-time, discuss topics, share content, access resources, and work together to achieve shared goals.

Online communities offer members a way to connect and share with other like-minded people and get help with challenges. They also give members a sense of belonging and shared purpose. Depending on the purpose, community management may use online spaces to - Improve the customer experience, build brand loyalty and brand awareness, drive referrals, and boost customer retention and revenue. - Market products, courses, etc. to a receptive audience. - Add value for their users through resources and peer-to-peer knowledge. - Generate revenue streams from gated content. - Cut customer support costs by complementing the in-house support team with a peer-to-peer support community.

Some successful professional and social communities include: - FoundersDoor - NextCohort - HumbleHelp - Nanny Network - 100DaysofNoCode

The main difference between an online community, a forum, and a blog has to do with the amount of interaction and engagement. A blog’s an informative piece of content published online, which may or may not have a comments section. A discussion forum allows people to ask and answer questions, learn, and get peer-to-peer support, but lacks additional features to facilitate engagement. An online community is a group of people with shared interests. It may include blogs and forums, plus other sections like job postings or resource libraries. Online communities take longer to set up but offer an all-in-one solution to add value and keep their members engaged.

About Softr


Softr is an easy-to-use no-code platform that turns Airtable bases into powerful web apps, member-only websites, and client portals. Softr offers a way for you to authenticate your end-users, control access to your content and data based on conditional rules like roles, logged-in status, subscription plans, etc. If you're using Airtable as a product catalog you can use a Softr template to build your e-commerce website. Or maybe you'd like to build a custom website for your travel journal, there's a template for that too!

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