Creating content from communities

Increasingly media owners are realising that their business is not about the production and sale of content; it’s about building a community of interest, using targeted content to attract and retain the right kind of audience.  That community is likely to include people who are experts in their field – leading professionals in a targeted sector, or prosumers in a specialist activity, sport or hobby.  Smart publishers are encouraging this community to contribute to their content, widening the range of voices and viewpoints, and meeting the universal desire to see one’s name in print (or online).  Here are five ideas for creating content from your own community, plus some examples of specialist media owners:

1. Provide a tool for users to contribute blogs

Business Zone from Sift Media, the site for small businesses, offers a simple tool for registered users to add their blogs to the site.  The highly rated blogs can even make it to the home page.  Niche publisher Advanstar have created a ning community ( for their publications in the chromatography market which now has 2000 members.  Members can post blogs, and the best ones are published online to over 140,000 chromatographers worldwide.

2. Start discussions on specialist forums or Linked-in

Get a discussion going on a hot topic on a specialist forum or Linked-in, and that can generate interesting content for the main site.  I’ve seen this work on my own Specialist Media Network, where a lively discussion on virtual events led to a newsletter article.

3. Ask readers to share their news and experiences

K9 media asks its new subscribers to share pictures and stories about their dog.  Photo answers built up a reader gallery of 100,000 images in 6 months, which then drove traffic.  Motorcycle news features readers news stories on its main site.  Your Horse drove its traffic through a simple Q&A function where readers answered each others questions.

4. Invite expert contributors

Arts Professional invites its subscribers, who are practising arts managers, to contribute articles for its print and online editions.  The Media Briefing asks bloggers and media execs to contribute expert blogs to its site on media news and strategy.

5. Make the forums the content

Fish and Fly, a forum-based site for game fishing enthusiasts, asks its users to comment on current fishing conditions on rivers and stillwaters, providing real-time updates for other anglers.

If you have any other experiences of generating quality content from your community, please comment below, or join the Specialist Media Network on Linked-in, and swap ideas, tips and contacts with over 400 other specialist media people.

About the author: Carolyn  Morgan runs Penmaen Media, a consultancy advising media owners on how to profit from digital media and marketing. She is also content director for the Specialist Media Show. If you’d like an informal discussion about how you can develop new revenue sources for your specialist media business please contact Penmaen Media for a chat.