Free Vs Paid: Choosing the Right Community Type For You

5 min readMay 18, 2023

As a creator, you’ve probably noticed that community building has become an important part of modern business strategies, and you’re eager to get started with your community, but you are stuck deciding if you should create a free community, a paid community, or a combination of the two. This article explores the various community options, their advantages and disadvantages, and the factors you should consider when deciding on the kind of community to create.

Paid Communities.

As the name suggests, this is the type of community where members have to pay a fee to gain access. Typically, paid communities have a specific goal in mind. Paid communities are rapidly becoming a valuable source of recurring revenue for creators. Aside from the revenue from the membership fee paid, a 2020 McKinsey survey found that members of a paid community are 60% more likely to buy from you again, indicating a high lifetime value (LTV).

The access fee requirement makes weeding out spam accounts and lukewarm members easier. Moreover, you get to shift your focus from reaching a large number of people to serving an active few.

The major disadvantage is that attracting paying members may prove difficult if you do not effectively communicate your value and what members should expect and continue consistently delivering that.

Groupify enables you as a creator to create your paid community on WhatsApp and Telegram using Groupify. With groupify, you can track members and subscriptions, accept multiple currencies, automatically add/remove members based on payment status, create a sales page for your community and follow up with leads. GET STARTED NOW.

Free Communities.

Free communities are the most common type of community where people with a common interest come together without paying an access fee. Nowadays, more people are inclined to join a community, with 76% of internet users being part of some kind of community, most of which are free. A creator can build a free community to bring together their audience, give support, and share opinions and ideas about a specific topic or common interest.

Ultimately, if your goal is to generate revenue from your community, a free community is a great place to start. Building a free community with as many potential customers as possible and demonstrating your expertise before charging a fee is helpful.

Free is easier to set up and gives you insight into what your audience needs and how to best deliver it. You can study the quality of conversations taking place, the kinds of questions they come up with, and even specific details like the most active time of day. This information can be helpful if you eventually decide to switch to a paid community or monetize in another way.

The main disadvantage of a free community is that it may attract a large number of spam accounts and fewer active members, especially when hosted on social media platforms.

Groupify enables you as a creator to create your paid community on WhatsApp and Telegram using Groupify. With groupify, you can track members and subscriptions, accept multiple currencies, automatically add/remove members based on payment status, create a sales page for your community and follow up with leads. GET STARTED NOW.

Freemium Communities.

A freemium community is one that combines elements of both free and premium (paid) communities. Most creators who operate this type of community are more specialists than generalists in their profession. They tend to have a specific and well-curated solution to their audience’s problem but still want to enjoy the benefits of a free community.

In a freemium community, creators offer a certain level of access or content for free to attract a broader audience and engage with them. Creators can engage their target audience, share general knowledge on the “whats” and “whys” of the solution they offer, and give them the option to upgrade for additional access or exclusive benefits. This can include more specialized knowledge, advanced resources, one-on-one consultations, exclusive events, or other premium features.

The freemium model allows creators to provide value to a larger audience through free access while also monetizing their expertise by offering additional, higher-value content or services for a fee. It provides a balance between attracting a wide range of community members and generating revenue from those who desire a deeper level of engagement or more specialized support.

What kind of community is right for you?

There are a couple of factors that determine if you should create a paid, free, or freemium community. Some of these factors include:

  1. Your aim for the community. If you want to connect with like-minded people, create a support group for your digital product, or understand your target audience better, a free community might be the best option. On the other hand, if you aim to solve a specific issue for your audience or if building a community is your main product, a paid community can work perfectly.
  2. How valuable the outcome of your community is to the members. This is linked to what you want to achieve with your community. If your target audience will find the outcome of your community highly useful, a paid community might be more suitable. However, if you’re unsure what kind of outcome members will get, a free community works for you.
  3. How much time you are willing to dedicate to the community. Any kind of community building takes time, but you must first determine how much of your time you are willing to commit. Paid community members expect to receive the value they paid for, and you must meet their expectations. This requires a lot more time and calls for a clear path. Delivering less than promised can hurt your business’s reputation and drive away potential clients. So, a free community is your best option if you are unsure of how to deliver and how much time you can commit. This is because it will give you the freedom to develop a working system.

Key Takeaway

When deciding on the type of community to create, it is important to consider your offer as it relates to your audience’s problems. You should also note that people are not paying to simply have access to you; they are paying for what will benefit them the most. This perspective should guide your decision regarding your readiness to charge your audience for membership and their willingness to pay for it.

Many creators like you are building their paid (subscription — based) communities on WhatsApp and Telegram using Groupify. Learn how to create your own community now.




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