Maintaining an online community means keeping up with a lot of moving parts. Managing subscriptions, publishing new content, and launching engaging initiatives takes skill and focus. It can be difficult to juggle these when using different platforms for each arm of your output. The most simple solution to take control of these tasks is to use your own website. It brings your community under one roof, boosts creative control, and provides flexibility for you and your members. In this week’s #WebsiteWednesday, StudyHall.xyz showcases seven ways to manage a thriving online community through your independent website.
StudyHall.xyz is an independent media outlet and online support network for media professionals. Founded in 2015 by journalists Kyle Chayka and P.E. Moskowitz, StudyHall.xyz‘s goal is to promote community and collaboration in the media industry. They do this by operating StudyHall.xyz as an online community for freelance writers. Memberships range from $2 to $11 per month. StudyHall.xyz’s over 4,500 members can network and share experiences through the platform’s Listservs and Slack groups. StudyHall.xyz also sends a member digest with commentary on current news and resources for aspiring journalists. All these member benefits are managed and maintained via the StudyHall.xyz website.
StudyHall.xyz makes smart use of their independent website to serve as the hub of their community. Follow their example to discover seven key benefits your website provides for managing your own thriving community.
Everything about your website’s appearance, from design and content to layout, feel, and features are fully within your control. This means you have the freedom to share the content you want without worrying about censors, filters, or guidelines that could limit it.
StudyHall.xyz is an independent media source, so being in control of their image online is crucial for standing out to potential members. They take advantage of this freedom by using each page of their site to promote the different features their program provides. The homepage outlines the benefits that members are offered in each subscription tier. They have a newsfeed page featuring subscriber stories and essays. The Community page promotes the benefits of their Listserv and Slack groups. They also preview their platform’s benefits to potential members via the Resources page. These include a transcriber database, media guide, and a form for promoting a writing opportunity on StudyHall.xyz. Because they own their website, they never have to deal with set-in-stone UI templates.
Use your website to take control of your community platform, say what you want, and promote its benefits.
Google and other search engines index the content you publish on your website. That means you can optimize it to appear in results for search terms that potential community members are looking for. Where some platforms limit your published content’s reach to only their users, your website opens your potential reach to a global audience.
StudyHall.xyz publishes free reporting and essays to give potential members a taste of what they offer to full members. These include career perspectives from journalists, advice for starting out, and commentary on the state of journalism. Because this content can be optimized to appear in relevant online searches, more potential members will see it when looking up these topics on their own than if it were only shared on social media. This opens StudyHall.xyz’s content up to a wider audience and helps attract more subscribers by amplifying their voice. They’re also able to link to these pages directly when promoting their membership via email, forums, and social media.
Use the global reach of your independent website to amplify your content through online searches.
Your website is your piece of online real estate for as long as you want to own it. That means you are not limited by the short or long-term success of another platform. You are not likely to be stuck having to move your entire community over to a different technology in order to stay relevant to new members. Keeping your community’s home base to your website means that they are never left scrambling to find a new home due to changes outside of your control.
An independent website offers you longevity and control. As long as you have your domain name as your permanent address online, you are in control of where your community meets and where potential new members can find you. You also completely own all content shared on your website. This is important because some third-party platforms have the power to claim ownership of content published by their users.
With an independent website, StudyHall.xyz don’t have to worry as they own their brand and complete catalog of content. They own all monetization on future usage of their content as well.
Grow your community with the confidence of ownership on your independent website.
Using a website where you control the membership features is a handy benefit. You are not limited in what you are able to offer, and you are in control of how much it costs for you to offer it. If you are gathering your community via social media alone, you may not even have the ability to charge for memberships. Using your website to manage memberships gives you the flexibility to create custom subscriptions however you want. This gives you the flexibility to make it as easy as possible for your members to choose an option that fits their budget.
StudyHall.xyz uses their website to offer different prices for similar membership options which are segmented for certain users. Using highly customized memberships makes the benefits of their community more accessible to all media professionals wherever they are financially.
Enjoy the freedom to truly customize your offerings as you like for your members on your independent website.
Membership platforms make money on their users’ transactions. These fees are an important revenue source membership platforms rely on to continually offer the easiest solutions to small businesses that don’t yet have the ability to create their own. However, if you have the ability to develop your own independent solutions, you can bypass some of these fees. This is often part of growing as an online service. Setting your website up as an e-commerce platform with custom solutions means you can cut down on any “middleman fees.” Doing away with third-party fees can increase the funds that you have to put back into improving your platform.
StudyHall.xyz switched from using a third-party membership platform to accepting payments right on their website. This allows them to collect member fees directly for one smaller transactional fee.
Simplify payment and keep more of the revenue by collecting payments through your website.
Your website can act as the sole address your members need to use to enjoy perks and engage with others in your community. This avoids them having to sign up for many platforms and keep track of different logins to access benefits.
StudyHall.xyz‘s choice to offer access to all membership perks right from their website means they avoid conforming membership offerings to a membership platform layout. They house all content, member resources, and access to groups right on their website by using a single member login. Members only need to type StudyHall.xyz into their browser to connect with the rest of the community. Then, they can interact with all of the features of the website as well as find links to social media accounts, email, and all other platforms where their community has a presence.
Make it easy for your members to enjoy being in your community by offering them one single hub to access all benefits and places to interact with your business via your website.
Tracking the performance and popularity of member perks is a key part of growing your community and attracting new members. Using data-driven strategies to set revenue goals is crucial to your community’s long-term success. You can track these important statistics by collecting data from your website.
StudyHall.xyz can track website data to see what their most popular content is, how long users view certain articles, and how many times content is downloaded from the website.
They can then use this data to improve membership offerings and provide more content their members want to see. In fact, thanks to their independent website, they can collect and track data in as many different ways as they choose. Then, they can utilize that data to find out how to best serve their customers.
Use analytics from your website to learn what your members like, shape future content, and improve benefits.
Using your website as the central hub for your community gives you more freedom to customize offerings and reach a global audience. It can also act as one memorable URL for members and lets you control your brand and have complete ownership of everything you create and offer. Using data tracking on your website can help you improve membership benefits through better data access. Your website is yours as long as you want to keep it, lets you cut out middleman fees, and hands you creative freedom.
StudyHall.xyz is a strong example to follow for how to build a successful independent website for your community. To learn more about StudyHall.xyz’s community or join yourself, visit their central hub on StudyHall.xyz.