Community Building February 14, 2020

Is starting a small online community a side project/being an Indie Hacker?

Justin_Girard

I am looking to solve a problem I have been having trying to play more tennis with new people/locals in my community. (building a small community starting on Facebook, I guess?) I am not sure if there is a better option, but really not trying to start on meetup (not being negative but seems super cliche) BUT I am having my doubts if that is a side project or qualify me as even an Indie Hacker.

I just want to play more tennis. If I can eventually monetize it that is just a bonus, but any tips on how to start small and build an online community? Thanks

  1. 6

    Starting a small community is definitely being an indie hacker. Most communities start small, we all have to start from somewhere. Then hopefully (or maybe) in time they could turn into something that makes money.

    Fun fact: that's how I started by 'previous' company.

    If I was starting a meetup group, I'd want to do my best to avoid Meetup too. Once you get in there you feel stuck, and I just don't feel it is the future. Their platform hasn't really changed in years.

    Who do you want to play tennis with? Figure out your audience then try to understand where they hang out.

    Facebook is probably a good bet to find people, but I always find it can be hard to keep people up to date. You could try Facebook and then direct them to other places, an email list, whatsapp group or Instagram.

    This is a great and relevant to you example of how you could use Instagram to communicate and showcase a community - https://www.instagram.com/downtowngirlsbball/

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      Can you explain how exactly did you monetize your audience?

      You mention "sponsorings" and "making events" in other places, but i still very much confuses me what those mean exactly.

      I created 1800 people data science community in Poland and I just stopped, because amount of work was insane and I had no idea how to monetize it even in more distant future.

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        Events/conferences = people pay to attend events

        Sponsors = people pay to sponsor our events or our online activities (online ads, ads in newsletters, etc)

        Online learning platform/content = pay to access on an annual subscription

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          Thanks a lot!

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      Wow thank you for the thoughtful answer and will definitely follow your outline as I progress

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    There are a ton of "Find a tennis partner" websites, have you tried using those to find people to play with? Do they all suck? Starting a community seems like overkill if you're just trying to find people to play. But FB groups does make it super easy.

    This is older but it might be useful http://www.communitybuildingguide.com/

    1. 1

      Yeah, I have searched online and the closest I came to finding one in my city was a meetup group that was really unresponsive then all the sudden was put behind a paywall (maybe the founder wanted to start monetizing) I am a member of a respectable tennis club in my adjacent city, but I don't always want to play just there and want to meet people who are willing to go other places, I guess. Maybe it is overkill and if I waste time on it, well, hopefully, I will learn from it too.

  3. 2

    Awesome! I'd suggest starting a meet-up group - https://www.meetup.com/. That's a type of group I'd expect to see on that channel. 🎾

    1. 1

      I am actually trying to start this not on meetup.com since it is super cliche. I am not counting it out, but yeah maybe a facebook community instead

  4. 1

    Glad to hear you're trying to turn a hobby into a side hustle @Justin_Girard - however, if you're thinking to monetize a community in the first place, you're in a dangerous zone.

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      TBH that is the last thing on my mind. I just want to play more tennis haha and if it leads to something more, cool, if not but I get to play more and meet more people that is a win-win for me!

  5. 1

    I started https://bananas.app/ because similar reason, I just wanted to play more soccer, and I didn’t care with whom. I started with a Whastapp Group, it worked, but imagine the noise and the difficulties to organize a match.

    Have a look at let me know if you think bananas.app will help you with that, and maybe we can partner up :)

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      Awesome, thank you for your reply. I will take a look at it and get back to you. Glad to meet someone with a similar situation :)

  6. 1

    I currently run 3 communities with 3000+ members each.

    It is definitely a thing an IndieHacker would do.

    The venture has been profitable since day 1 and I have been able to sell courses, recruit for startups and run events with them.

    I'd suggest getting started on a facebook group and ultimately bring them into a mailing list.

    Meetup.com is good but I do not think they are ideal for someone who wants to build a relationship with the members.

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      Thank you for the validation with Facebook as much as I dislike a lot of their practices this was my first idea to get started

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        But give priority to your mailing list. That's the best way to reach and engage your audience. Facebook is not a good choice for anything where you want a genuine connection with your community.

  7. 1

    This seems kind of neat:

    https://www.discourse.org/

    1. 1

      Thanks will take a look later today :)