the Power of Diversification

    • 378 posts
    August 20, 2018 12:52 PM EDT

    Multiple revenue stream to achieve your goals.

    For the past decade we have built our community to allow us to reach our financial goals and lifestyle goals. It was very apparent early on that in order for us to do so we could not rely on one or even two sources of income.

    So I thought I would share what I have seen and what we do and maybe it can help some of you as you move towards, or improve, your revenue generation online.


    This is our main revenue generator and allows us to have a residual income source that once the initial cost of acquisition is realized it is pretty much pure profit. We focus our attention here but also realize that this is just a piece of our overall plan. We are still developing this to be as seamless as possible for our members and so that when they see that small monthly charge to their credit card they do not see it as something they can do without (by always showing value)

    Ad Space

    This is becoming less and less of a source of income. We have found that a subscribing member does not want to see ads unless they are directly of benefit to them (IE. a travel experience or events in their desire niche) We fully stopped serving 3rd party ads such as from google or affiliate programs with exception of one that is niche specific to us.

    Niche Specific Items

    We expanded outside of our community by offering products that are niche specific to our members. This is a growing segment for us as we reach outside of our membership via social media for sales opportunities too.


    This is a fast growing segment for us. Historically we did not feel we were an event company but now that we have a significant warm market we have found selling experiences (events) to be a great source or revenue. As an example we just sold out a Limo Bus Wine Tour in less than a week using SES' advanced ticket sales plugin internally on our site. Using the internal plugin allowed us to retain a higher profit margin and an in-community experience by not having to use a site such as Eventbrite. This also helps to retain subscriptions and build community conversation as well.


    We are still exploring this as it is really hit or miss depending on who is on the other side of the table when you are creating a partnership. We have seen some success here but are not fully invested in it becoming a solid revenue stream


    I hope some of these ideas percolate some thoughts in your revenue generation - feel free so post below or shoot me a PM if you want to chat about it.



    • Moderator
    • 6923 posts
    August 20, 2018 1:37 PM EDT

    Great post! Thank you for this valuable thread. I'm sure it'll spark some great discussions and tips from other SE users. 

  • gs
    • 857 posts
    August 20, 2018 6:20 PM EDT


    Thanks so much - good to see how a mix of rev sources is working.

    • 378 posts
    August 20, 2018 8:28 PM EDT

    Thanks GS & Donna

    Mixed revenue streams are imperative on all businesses, not just online ones!

    • 629 posts
    August 21, 2018 9:29 AM EDT

    I personally can attest to subscriptions being the main reason for people to subscribe. People need a reason to continue getting member benefits and perks, so here's my top 5 sources of continuous income. Back when I was making the most off a social networking space.

    1. Notifications. No, the functionality doesn't exist yet. But wouldn't it be cool to charge your members to receive notifications? After they make a certain amount of posts, they're charged to have lots of notifications sent to their email. It's a win win for everyone. the server admin gets to feel better about emails continuously being sent to certain users. While gaining a profit. Members know they want to come back to the site to see their notifications. So they pay a fee to access that. Making setting changes is of course free, but doing something with it is community funded.

    2. Contributions. this is particularly useful for events. someone wants to pay to access an event. But did you know, that in Social engine, you could post to events two? Charging to contribute to how an event is organized, essentially paying for the ability to shape an event, will give members a reason to want to get involved. In exchange for paying ahead of time, once to join, and once to participate, all event related costs are free to them. While other regular attendees, pay for the cost. So if you're having a physical event, everyone's on board with a venue for food and drinks. Those who contributed, don't pay anything to access its merchandise or can access it at a discounted rate while others who just pay for an admission cost pay regular price.

    3. Invites. If you wish to invite someone to a network, pay an incentive for that person to accept the invitation. This works as a reverse transaction. You'll gain your money through your business interests, depending on how profitable it is anyways. So why not give a little, to receive a lot? Charge up to a certain commission fee for every successful invitation. Have the person who has been invited confirm their email to receive their first reward. then continue to produce awards for every successful contribution processed via that original member's idea. This way, everybody is earning rewards through community participation. This automatically gets your site ranking higher in search engines, via organically driven content.

    4. Provide a means to support offline payments. Not everyone who can access your site, can use pay pal or other sources such as Ideal, Stripe etc. To work around this, provide and set up a post box specifically for site transactions. This way, you can accept checks and cash hassle free. converting it is as easy as going to any bank on a regular business trip to do so. Provide events specifically to members at a discounted rate who can't pay online regularly, so that they can use their cash to add to your networking funds. Make your members forget the hassle of another bill, by providing a fun experience they are willing to repeat again. Use incentives to cater to those who have troubles in life, disability, elderly, children, among others. Provide different incentives for those who can pay normally, cash back, after hours parties free, parking spaces. If you run an online event, provide extra time for guest speakers who have contributed more, or who would otherwise never get heard. Make your community a unique participant to an event hosted by interest and effort alone. All the while making a killing off the commission you charge to access it. The idea is, the first event pays in part for the second. Each time, decreasing in out of pocket expenses the more events you run.

    5. Offer physical interactions opportunities as well as online meet ups. Create petitions, drive community resources and set up automatic rewards for doing so as you encourage people to participate more. Don't just charge to run a service, run a service so it can be charged to keep succeeding.

    Those are my ideas. This is a really great thread. in order to drive initial participation in a new idea, use social media to update people on the highlights, instead of the daily grind of your community. Accent important issues, but make it to where your community comes back for the pulse, instead of just the benefits.

    • 378 posts
    August 21, 2018 10:53 AM EDT

    Interesting list Elshara

    #1&2 might be hard from a monetization at scale model and #3 we use idevaffiliate and payout a percentage of purchase to people who share our network.

    #4 we did for awhile and found that the volume (and manual processing headache) was not worth the cost of a PO box or our time.

    #5 is what we are exploring with our events. We plan to hold one ever 6 weeks +/- and are already planning our next two. As we grow this revenue stream we will grow the event size so that it is self sustaining and our original investment into it needs not be replenished. I am a big fan of business that sustains itself and does not need constant capital to keep going.

    We use the above on social media only for promotion of our community and the benefits of being a part of it. We do not use mainstream social for updates as that is part of the benefit of being on our site.

  • gs
    • 857 posts
    August 21, 2018 12:20 PM EDT


    Thanks for the useful input.



    How does iDevaffilliate work for you?  More specifically, how does it work (PM me if you wish so as to not derail your Topic)?  I noticed 2 years ago that they have an SE integration, but didn't know exactly what (subsriptions, marketplace, 3PD Plugins, etc.) could be controlled (i.e. some receive an affiliate fee, other items/purchasing does not)?


    RE:#04  I prefer to never accept cash through the mail (no accountability/proof, and even tracking only proves an envelope arrived - it doesn't mean anything was in it).  As far as checks go, they can simply emal their routing + account number or email an image if paper checks aren't desired (depending on what your bank and/or payment processor allows).  My plan (since I'm not live yet) is to only allow checks for Business Subscriptions (because they often require it and/or require an invoice prior to purchase), but offering this only on annual payment plans, not montly subscriptions (i.e. invoicing/processing 1 check instead of 12 per year is manageable).  One thing to note: for one primary piece of the puzzle on my site I allow the User to optionally allow this (accepting cash or checks, basically offline payments) when they list an item (it's requests/needs/donation based, so for example, a teacher may request 25 notebooks and some parents prefer to send in cash or a check - i.e. not mailed). 



    This post was edited by gs at August 21, 2018 12:30 PM EDT
    • 378 posts
    August 21, 2018 1:31 PM EDT

    Happy to chat here so all can learn

    I use iDev for member referrals and pay a percentage of their initial subscription value and then a residual for the lifetime of the subscription. Its a robust program and allows for lots of control and I am very happy with it. I do not use marketplace and have not looked at using it elsewhere. For events I use SES' advanced events with their ticket plugin and charge a percentage of each ticket sale via that.


  • gs
    • 857 posts
    August 21, 2018 2:31 PM EDT


    Thanks.  So using iDev you're able to track/pay referral fees on subscriptions, but not on other things (like events)?  As long as there's a way to control 'what sale' is tracked independently from others, that's great.  I just don't want to run the risk of tracking referral fees based on things I wish excluded (like you said, other Plugins offer monetization features).

    • 378 posts
    August 21, 2018 2:34 PM EDT

    I only use it for member referrals and percentage payouts of subscriptions. I do not think it goes further than that but have not dug deeper either as its not something I need.

    Take their admin demo for a spin and see perhaps 

    • 18 posts
    August 22, 2018 12:47 AM EDT

    @ITLJames @Elshara Silverheart: Great and helpful info/suggestions.  Thanks.