Develop your online community for long term success

by Martin Reed on 4 April 2008 in Articles

Plan for the long term

It can take a long time to develop a successful online community – attracting and retaining members can be a challenge, and even when you have the ‘critical mass’ that allows you to take more of a back seat, you still need to ensure you have a plan for your community’s long term success.

The road ahead will be bumpy

Things may look great now – you may be pulling in impressive visitor numbers and be receiving fantastic income, but rest assured something will change in the future. Your site may drop out of the search engines, an advertiser may decide to go elsewhere, your community may turn against you.

It is important that you always have a contingency plan – write down everything that your site relies upon for its success, and come up with a workable solution should anything you currently rely on disappear.

Short term pain for long term gain

Sometimes it is worth forfeiting short term results for long term success. If you use affiliate links to generate income, always try to negotiate recurring commission. Try to avoid long term advertising deals – if someone offers you a certain amount to advertise on your site for 12 consecutive months, think before accepting. Sure, the immediate short term income would be great, but what if your site doubles in popularity in a couple of months’ time? You may have ended up massively undervaluing your advertising space.

Remember to keep your members happy forever

Your members may be happy now, but what about tomorrow? Your site may have fantastic features at the moment, but that doesn’t mean it will in the future unless you are always on the look out for the next big thing. If you snooze, you lose. Just because you are successful now, it doesn’t mean you will be this time next year.

Have a plan

You should always have a plan for your community. Where do you see it in a month’s time? Where do you see it in six months’ time? What about in a year’s time? Having written plans and written goals will help ensure you are always planning ahead and aiming for long term success.

Remember – it may take you months, if not years to make a success of your community. Do not determine your success by how well you are doing today – determine your success by how well you will be doing in the future.

Your thoughts

What are your plans and goals? Do you think for the long term, or do you make decisions only for today? Share your thoughts and opinions by leaving a comment below.

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Content Pays April 4, 2008 at 11:06 pm

Martin you are absolutely right and you have certainly made me think, this is one aspect that I must admit, I have never thought about.

Webtacs April 5, 2008 at 12:47 am

I am probably thinking short term about 90% if the time. But, I always see it as, if I do good now then it will help me out in the long run. I know that selling 12 month links really stinks. :(

Asia'h Epperson April 5, 2008 at 2:49 am

Those short term pains are really har to overcome and most give up way too soon

Daniel April 7, 2008 at 4:40 am

ur post certainly made me stop and think. although its hard to bear the short term pains but in today’s world, the time and cash crunch leads to people givin up on their efforts. though the other points r awesome.

Martin Reed - Blog Author April 8, 2008 at 11:01 pm

Content – Many people fail to think for the long term; even the biggest businesses make this mistake.

Webtacs – Ensuring you have a positive foundation today will help you achieve success in the future. There is nothing wrong with taking a short term approach every now and then but I think adopting a short term strategy 90% of the time is a bad idea.

Asia’h – I agree; it can be difficult to give up short term incentives and I am not saying this should always be the case. Short term successes are great, but you need to ensure you always keep one eye on the future.

Daniel – Thanks for your comment. If you are always looking to the future, you are far more likely to succeed – just look at the mess many banks are in now as they failed to predict or plan for the current credit crunch, preferring instead to capitalise on short term windfalls.

Eva White April 10, 2008 at 5:01 am

Martin your post says it all correct. But it is so difficult to keep patience for the long term gains. It’s like sometimes I feel if I am putting so much effort now, why don’t I get my results or gains now and why to wait………But your post gives me motivation to cross the bumpy road with courage.

Chat April 11, 2008 at 2:47 am

“It can take a long time to develop a successful online community” I like that opening statement because it couldn’t be truer. Along with the rest of the article.

Recently I have hit a rough patch, I totally re designed my homepage and shortly after my homepage got dropped by Google.

After a few days i decided to use this opportunity to correct a mistake i made when i first started the website. I used to have a long homepage url so i shortened it. Now I am reindexed by i lost all of my homepages trust rank and i know its going to take awhile to get back. Ever since i made the change i rank well in google for every language but English. Weired eh?


Nicole Price April 11, 2008 at 8:11 pm

When I started to read your blog, I used to wonder how much there could be to write about online communities. Yet you never cease to amaze me with one informative post after another.

kevin in bellingham April 12, 2008 at 3:07 am

It is a very good idea to build for long term success. I am in that early bumpy stages, trying to climb the ladder on the google charts, trying to build up my community of visitors. It does take a long time and lots of hours of work.

Mike W. April 14, 2008 at 4:50 pm

Thanks for the post, it has some very useful information.

I have a relatively new blog that I’m struggling to get off the ground. I feel like I have some good stuff on there, but I can’t seem to get people onto the site to read it. But I think this post gives me some great ideas in terms of what I should be thinking about for the future.


Martin Reed - Blog Author April 15, 2008 at 11:23 am

Eva – It can be really tough to focus on the long term, especially when you look for short term results to keep you motivated. Perhaps every now and then you should reward yourself with a short term deal to give you a boost, but maintain an overall long term strategy.

Cody – Ha, I guess there are less online communities once you remove those made in the English language! Perhaps you should learn a new language and cater to a new audience!! ;)

Nicole – I could talk about online communities all day! I am glad you are still enjoying the blog.

Kevin – You are spot on. It takes time and a lot of work, but success is hugely rewarding.

Mike – Find other blogs in your niche and get involved in them; leave constructive, valuable comments or offer to guest write. You will soon get noticed. Networking is important if you are to develop a successful blog. Get involved in the blogosphere and you will soon attract attention.

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