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What is a community platform? (Definition and examples)

Learn what a community platform is, which features to look for in a community platform, and how creators like you use community platforms for their businesses.

What is a community platform?

A community platform is a tool creators can use to build and host their online communities. These communities bring together people with shared interests to connect, collaborate, and learn from the creator's content. Community platforms can include forums, social media groups like Facebook Groups , membership sites like Patreon , online chat rooms, and creator platforms like Podia .

Building an online community can help creators grow their businesses. Communities let a creator's target audience connect with their work and each other in an exclusive, dedicated online space. Online communities with paid tiers can also generate recurring income for creators.

Community platform features

Here are some of the most important features for creators to look for when choosing an online community platform:

  • Custom topics: Setting up topics keeps discussions organized. Private topics work well for cohort courses and mastermind groups.

  • Multimedia conversations: Platforms that support text, images, videos, and more let members have more engaging conversations.

  • Easy to interact: Community is all about connection, so your platform should make it easy for people to interact with you and other members.

  • One platform for all of your creator work: Having one platform for your online community, digital products, website, and services makes it easy for your audience to access your work.

  • Search features: Search features make your community easier to navigate, so conversations don’t get lost or repetitive.

  • Moderation tools: The best communities are safe and enjoyable for everyone.

  • Free and paid tiers: Your platform should make it easy to offer both free and paid community memberships.

How creators use community platforms

Sketchnote Academy

Emily Mills is a professional illustrator and the founder of Sketchnote Academy , where she teaches students sketchnoting (visual notetaking) online.

Emily uses Podia as the community platform for her online community. Sketchnote Academy Community is free to join and offers a place for sketchnoters to connect, collaborate, request and offer feedback, and interact with Emily.

Because Emily's community is on the same platform as all of her digital products, it's an excellent resource for her audience without jumping between platforms.

"It's more of a passive place for questions, feedback, and very specific course groups," Emily describes. "So for cohort groups, they'll have their own private topic… so that they can get to know each other and feel like they're going to a private class together."

Emily also uses her community to get input from her audience. Members can vote on upcoming workshop topics and activities through surveys and discussion threads.

Learn more about Emily's creator business in this product and website tour .

Tiny Shiny Home

Ashley and Jonathan Longnecker of Tiny Shiny Home are building an off-grid homestead oasis in the desert with their four kids. They also have a YouTube channel with over 100K subscribers, a blog, online courses , digital downloads , and an online community where fans can follow along with their latest projects. 

In addition to digital products and YouTube ad revenue, Tiny Shiny Home earns money through a Patreon-style membership community hosted on Podia called Tiny Shiny Homies .

“While the community has a few perks, it’s really just a way for people to support our family,” Jonathan explains.

Fans can sign up for membership tiers that range from $3 to $50/month and come with different perks, like a members-only content feed.

Learn more about the Longneckers' creator journey, including their advice for fellow creators .

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