Online, we all want to be part of a bigger community. Perhaps you are part of the large groups that exist on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube, or you are in a small group with much fewer members that focuses on a specific niche.
In both cases, you are participating in a community sharing ideas. Many of these have a leader, specifically if this is through a website outside of the big social networks. These sites that focus more on a specific niche are often referred to as membership websites. Membership websites help to build a stronger community of individuals not only focused on a specific topic, but who also share ideas outside of this as well.
There are many ways a membership website can be set up. One model is having all the content ready and available and people can get what they need and not really interact with others. Many online training courses are established this way in which the developer sets up a series of trainings and members can view as desired. Another common model is where content is still made available, though this time there is an open forum or blog format involved with the site where all members can comment on the trainings and develop relationships.
The later example here is the model that seems to be more common as people want to be able to learn from others and share their own knowledge as well instead of only getting content from the developer. The relationships that have developed through this open format has gone beyond the typical online course content where many members go out of their way to meet up with other members at conferences. It is not always about the content here, but instead about developing a sense of community.
Some membership websites have weekly phone calls or online webinars where community members and the course developer will discuss a major topic from the course or will expand upon a topic that has often been voted upon by the members beforehand. These are times where they will collectively share ideas for an hour or more and often record the conference to be able to view again in their member area for those who were unable to make it that night, so they can still check it out on their own time and be able to comment on the session at a later time.
If you decide you want to start your own membership website there are many ways about this and software that can easily integrate the WordPress platform. You can decide to require fees or provide a free community and be able to promote other products later on. Any way you look at most people who are running one are looking towards monetizing it through ads, affiliate offers or promoting their own products.
Even if you do not have your own product ready to go, you can still get going on putting your membership website together. You might even surprise yourself when you realize how much material you can gain from your members that you can put into a new product to offer your current members. With a little time and effort, you might develop your own niche related community. All you have to do is commit yourself to spreading your message. I am sure there are others out there who want to listed and talk back to you as well.