Welcome to another insightful episode of the Independent Creator Podcast. Today I'm sharing my comprehensive overview of various online platforms that can be utilized for building creator-focused communities. Strap in, as this episode goes over an hour with my tour of both popular and lesser-known options.
Let me start by tracing my experience with online forums in the early days. Forums originated before widespread Internet as Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) that allowed users to connect over dial-up modems. As the web emerged, forum software like PHPBB and vBulletin powered countless hubs for discussion across diverse topics.
While forums have lost steam compared to fast social platforms, I believe they still provide value for community-building. Forums excel at hosting deep, searchable discussions through a threaded format. This structure allows conversations to be easily followed over time, providing a searchable knowledge base. By collecting members' thoughtful posts in one searchable place, forums facilitate retention and engagement, unlike chat apps.
From forums' heyday, I'll analyze modern platforms commonly used by creators. Discord, the dominant voice and text chat service, receives scrutiny given its reach. While Discord serves creators capably, I've found critical downsides. Chiefly, information shared within Discord servers remains locked away with no search visibility, hindering discovery.
As an alternative, I explore Guilded - a direct Discord competitor. Guilded takes a different monetization path by offering premium Discord perks like animated emojis and persistent forums completely free. Guilded also allows segmenting large communities into customizable topic subgroups better than Discord's single channels.
Privacy-focused individuals prompted me to dive into Matrix, an open-source decentralized chat protocol. Though interface gaps exist, Matrix provides important end-to-end encryption benefits not found elsewhere for direct messaging and encrypted rooms.
Beyond chat, I survey forum-specific software Zenforo and Invision Powerboard for self-hosting communities separately. Factors like pricing, functionality, and balancing control versus costs lead me to feel that InVision Power Board potentially excels for smaller budgets.
My goal isn't declaring any single option "best" - each has pros and cons depending on goals. I aim to provide thoughtful evaluations of strengths, limitations, and tradeoffs to help others make informed decisions for community-building. Let me know if any topics need deeper exploration in future episodes! For now, consider joining my community at anycreatorhub.com to keep collaborating.