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Building a community for your newsletter

You should probably consider building a community for your newsletter readers, unless your newsletter is really unique, and you provide content that can’t be found anywhere else online. Even if your content is unique, adding a community really improves your value proposition.

Integrating a community enables you to foster connections, create experiences, and provide your readers with a meaningful sense of belonging. Once your community is thriving, it has the network effect that makes it really hard to copy and reducing the churn of users.

These days it’s easy to add a community layer with different SaaS tools that we will elaborate on in a bit. The difficult part is making your members active on the community. You want them to derive value from the community. It doesn’t mean that everyone should participate, but it sure makes it better when the community is engaged and eager to connect with each other.

We will share some tips and best practices on how to make your community less lurkers and participate more.

Creating a newsletter

If you do not currently have a newsletter, you might consider creating one first. We wrote a complete guide on this. For some people, it might make sense to start with the community, or at least gain subscribers before you start any of those. You can use Presubscribe to let people subscribe even before you have a newsletter ready, or you can just use any other form creation tool (Airtable, Google Forms, or the newsletter tools that are also offering this).

Creating a community for your newsletter

Adding a community layer on top of your newsletter has many benefits. It makes your newsletter sticky, meaning people will find it hard to leave. It lets people be part of something bigger than them, a sense of belonging to a group is something that speaks to almost every person (even more during this pandemic).

community building

So how do you create a community? Here are the tools that can help you:

Community tools for your newsletter

There are many tools you could use to build a community. Start by visioning how this community would look like. Do you want it to be chat based? Forum based? Will some of your content be free to any visitor and some opened only to paying members?

I’ll only mention 3 tools to get you started:

  1. Discord – an invite-only group chat with topic-based rooms.
  2. Slack – a collboration tool that lets you chat, call, and more over topic-based rooms.
  3. circle.so – a modern platform that lets you build an entire environment for your community – including a forum, membership, content, member profiles, and more.

As I said, there are many other tools. If you want to dive deeper into the community tools, check out this list.

Community building best practices

Setting up a community:

  1. Provide real value – it’s not enough to have a community just for the sake of having a community. People need to know what is the value they will get from being part of this community. Think of ways to provide unique value and one that is relevant to your readers.
  2. Set up expectations – align everyone to avoid disappointed. The community will include x, y, z.
  3. Introduce community guidelines – guidelines will help make sure that participants are behaving in the desired way. Guidelines can include the following topics:
    1. Self promotion – is it allowed for participants to promote their service or business? If it is allowed, in what way?
    2. Is the content private or public – can participants take screenshots and share the content publicly or should they avoid and try to keep it private so people could be more open and transparent?
    3. Types of posts or comments that are allowed – and what kind of posts will be deleted.
  4. Avoid spam – if your community is a paid one, it will already reduce the amount of spammers. The guidelines and moderators should also help with reducing the non valuable content. If your community is a free one, maybe try to vat participants. You could do it by not allowing temp emails or by allowing registration only with a social profile. Keep in mind though that this may also affect relevant users that are not willing to share their real details.
  5. Make it organized – sort the messages by topics or channels. It will help participants navigate, read and post relevant content more easily.
community building

Best practices when you have a community:

  1. Moderate the content – appoint a moderator (could be one of the managers of the community or even enthusiastic participants). They should enforce the guidelines and help contribute to the liveliness of the community.
  2. Help create a sense of belonging – celebrate the achievement of participants. Feature participants stories and put the spotlight on them. Try to connect between relevant participants.
  3. Promote active engagement – add a feedback feature such as like, upvote, or points and rewards to help gamify the participation.
  4. Speak with the participants – get their feedback and gain insights from their response. Evolve and improve over time.

For more content about community building read this medium post.

Conclusion – Creating a community for your newsletter

There are so many benefits to building a community around your newsletter. It’s not easy to get to a point where your community is thriving. People want to find value fairly fast. They will be less engaged and add less value to your community if they do not feel they belong and are a vital part of it.

Use the tools and best practices, be positive and add value – and you are set to go!

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