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What is an online community? (Definition and examples)

Learn what an online community is, the benefits of building an online community, and examples of online communities built by creators like you.

What is an online community?

An online community is a space for people with shared interests, hobbies, or goals to come together on the internet. These communities provide members with a place to connect, collaborate, and learn from each other.

Online communities can be hosted on forums, social media, membership websites like Patreon , online chat rooms, and creator platforms like Podia .

Why should creators build online communities?

Building an online community can help creators grow their businesses. Communities let a creator's fans connect with their work and each other in an exclusive, dedicated online space. Members can discuss your work, share advice, and help each other make the most of your content.

Discussions in your community also let you build relationships with your audience. When you get to know your target audience, you can create products and content they’ll love.

Finally, online communities with paid tiers can generate recurring income for creators (like the Patreon membership model). Paid community memberships let your audience support your work regularly and earn access to exclusive content.

Online community examples


Casey Richardson founded BLAZE Group  — Building Leaders & Accepting Zero Excuses — to provide knowledge, mentorship, and community to the historically underserved community of Black women entrepreneurs.

Her online community, the Blaze Women’s Network , gives members a friendly and supportive place to connect with other founders.

Casey initially ran the Blaze Women’s Network on Facebook , but she didn’t like how customers had to log into different places to access their courses and products. When Podia launched its community feature, she moved her community over.

Now, it’s on the same platform as her courses, webinars, and digital downloads, making it easy for her audience to access all of her content — and go from free members to paying customers — in one place.

“People can join the Blaze Women’s Network absolutely free,” Casey explains. We do virtual coworking sessions, I host webinars, and then that funnels people into the paid courses.”

Read more about Casey's creator journey , and discover how Casey and other creators run thriving online communities.

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 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 .

Learn more about online communities

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