Build Community First, Monetize Last
A video of a Stanford presentation by two of the founders of Threadless got me challenging my assumptions for community marketing this morning.
Based on watching this I recognize that what I wrote about here: The Community Correspondent: a Guide to Creating Link Worthy Content Through Forum Participation is more about skimming off the top of a community rather than building community.
Further, because I’ve not created incentive for community building in this particular project I will have to continually work outside of the system to keep generating content myself. It’s hard work writing massive articles – it’s going the long way around to generate community-oriented content (but still a great place to start learning…).
The Threadless founders focused on having fun and building applications that they would want to use and that resonated with their friends.
This feels alien to me, as someone who’s always looked for ways to help others monetize their own projects, but it brings back a recurring dream of mine – the idea of creating hundreds of little seeds and spreading them to the winds just to see what happens. The idea of a concept a day for a year – concepts folded quickly and launched like paper airplanes.
When I interviewed Garrett Camp of Stumble Upon for SEJ (SU Defined and Marketing with SU) I found a similar approach – they built for their community first and STILL don’t give a big crap about monetization. They funded themselves for a good bit and paid bills through donations in the early stages.
If your site/business can motivate people to DONATE to you then you’re probably on the right track.
This video is 45 minutes long. I got a nice kick in the pants from it and I hope you do too.
Thanks to exploding-boy I learned how to turn of the obnoxious visual editor and embed this video directly for you – Turn Off WordPress 2.0 Visual Editor
I spotted this video on Karl Long’s TCritic.