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How Niche Communities Are Changing Online Conversations

Social media is a noisy place.

When you log onto Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok, ready to enjoy some content, you’re bombarded with ads and thousands of posts about all sorts of things—much of which you might not care about.

It’s overwhelming at best, and at worst, it makes us feel lonely. For the most part, we aren’t having meaningful discussions or engaging conversations around our biggest passions.

Instead, we are mindlessly tapping away or not feeling safe to express ourselves online because of trolls.

As a result, people are moving away from crowded online spaces and seeking more curated experiences within niche communities. These platforms bring together people who share interests or experiences—without all the ads and other distractions.

What does this mean for the future of social media and digital marketing?

In this post, we take a deep dive into niche internet communities, where you can find them, and how marketers can use the rise of these sites to boost conversion rates, thought leadership, and brand loyalty.

What Are Niche Communities?

A niche community is a group of people brought together by a common interest, value, or goal.

For example, if you love books, you might join a book club. A massive online book club equivalent is Goodreads, where you can find new books to read, leave reviews, and join community groups and have discussions with other readers.

As an author, it pays to be active on a site like Goodreads. It’s where your core audience hangs out, and their attention isn’t fragmented like it often is on larger social media sites.

For publishers, the site lets people see at a glance what books and topics are resonating with readers. This is a gold mine of market research, and it’s completely free.

What Are Niche Communities Used For?

Niche communities give us the exclusivity and sense of belonging we crave. More than ever, people want to connect with a community, such as a group of people who are equally obsessed with anime or Game of Thrones plot theories.

In a niche community, you don’t need to scroll past dozens of irrelevant posts to find people who want to talk about the things that excite or intrigue you. With a community that shares your interests, all you need to do is log on, and you can instantly connect with like-minded people.

Niche communities do what Facebook can’t. They cut through the digital noise and create safe spaces to discuss specific topics without judgment, trolling, and unrelated content getting in the way.

What I love about these sites is that people get to tap into a hive of shared knowledge. Let’s say you’re starting your digital marketing career and you have dozens of questions, but no one in your life can answer them.

Instead of staying in an isolated state and trying to figure out things by yourself, you can log onto a niche community like a HubSpot User Group (HUG) to connect with other digital marketers. You can get your questions answered by industry professionals and join insightful discussions.

It’s a source of incredible concentrated value you can’t find on your Instagram feed. You get to grow professionally, network, and eventually, give back to the community by helping someone else.

Where to Find Niche Communities

Not sure where to start? Here are some of the best niche communities you can use to connect with your audience or people who share similar interests.

Reddit

One of the biggest niche community platforms is Reddit. Since its creation in June 2005, it’s grown to over 100,000 threads called “subreddits.” You can find a thread on almost everything, but Reddit is a hard nut to crack for marketers. Redditors hate self-promotion. You can’t drop a link and leave. You need to spend time creating value as an active community member and occasionally posting content.

Reddit niche communities example

Goodreads

The Amazon-owned site connects readers with authors and creates an engaged community around books. You can get recommendations based on your past reads, discuss how much you love or hate Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses series, leave book ratings, and get your burning questions answered by your favorite authors. When used correctly, it’s an invaluable way for authors to build relationships with fans.

Stack Overflow

Not only is Stack Overflow the hub for all things IT, but you might land your next full-time or freelance developer gig with its job board. The site allows you to get your coding questions answered by millions of users, collaborate on open-source projects, answer questions and gain insights from developers worldwide.

Behance

Are you a professional creative? Behance might be the niche community for you. Created by Adobe, it has more than 10 million members worldwide. You can upload your portfolio, search for jobs, share projects, and get feedback from the community.

Quora

If you want to build your brand and establish yourself as a thought leader, Quora may be able to help. The site has millions of monthly users asking and answering questions on hundreds of different topics. Besides answering your audience’s most pressing concerns, you can use it to see what people are struggling with or find your next product idea.

Instructables

Instructables is an online community for do-it-yourself projects. You can upload your latest craft creation or musical masterpiece and connect with other creators. The community is also a place for people who need help with a DIY task.

Simply create a post around your problem, and you’ll likely get solutions from people who are even handier than you. You can also watch tutorials and collaborate on projects with other users.

BlogHer

What started as a conference in 2005 has turned into one of the largest online niche communities. BlogHer is a platform for female creators to discuss digital marketing, blogging, and business. There’s a job board for female creatives, yearly conferences, and women-led community support and feedback.

Houzz

Is your weekend hobby or full-time career architecture or interior design? Sign up to Houzz. The social media platform lets you browse designs by other members, connect with professional and amateur builders, and discuss industry trends with its 40 million homeowners worldwide.

Disciple

Want to build a niche community? You can do precisely that with Disciple. The private community platform is customizable to match your brand and lets you sell courses, charge subscriptions, and more.

4 Ways Niche Communities Are Changing Online Conversations

Are you tired of bland online chats and posts? You’re not alone.

Here are some of the ways niche communities are changing the way we communicate online for the better.

1. Niche Communities Encourage Meaningful Conversations

Niche Communities - Wisdo Community Chat App

In a study on online communities by the Global Web Index, 45 percent of respondents said they were frustrated with the offensive language and bullying on traditional social media sites. Additionally, 36 percent felt they didn’t have a genuine connection with other users.

Community chat apps like Wisdo give users the ability to find meaningful conversations that aren’t the norm on other public forums.

Topics on the app range from mental health challenges like anxiety and depression to identity forums around gender transition, racism, and coming out.

It’s a way for you to share your story, find a support system, and have conversations you might be too scared to have in real life.

2. Niche Communities Are More Personal Than Social Media

With these communities closed off from the rest of social media, they generally become safe places for people to share their thoughts, feelings, and interests.

You’re connecting with people who get what you’re going through and why you feel a certain way. This fosters a culture of acceptance, which may be hard to find on traditional social media sites.

A study by Plan International discovered that 39 percent of girls had suffered harassment on Facebook. Twelve percent changed the way they expressed themselves as a result.

3. Niche Communities Allow You to Meet New People With Shared Interests

Niche Communities - Capture, an app that brings niche communities together

Sometimes it feels like you’re the only person in your life who cares about the Impressionist art movement or backpacking across Africa.

Niche internet communities give us a way to stop feeling isolated in our interests and find a community of people who are passionate about the same things.

Capture is another group-chat app bringing niche communities together. The app uses artificial intelligence to suggest group chats and topics to users based on similar interests or locations.

4. Niche Communities Offer a Sense of Belonging

As humans, we are hard-wired to find communities, and as much as we may hate to admit it, we crave group acceptance.

Niche communities give us a sense of belonging we might not have access to outside of the digital world.

Social media can be a way to create meaningful social spaces, but it’s not always possible on larger sites. As a result, people crave more authentic online connections and places where they “fit in” by connecting with others who share their fascination with SEO, hiking, or preparing for the zombie apocalypse.

What Benefits Can Marketers Expect From Niche Communities?

While Instagram and Facebook have billions of users, it doesn’t mean those platforms are the best options for building a loyal and engaged audience.

Here are some of the advantages you can expect from adding niche communities to your marketing strategy.

Access to Highly Targeted Audiences

One of the most significant advantages of niche communities is that it gives marketers access to highly targeted audiences.

Just like micro-influencers see better engagement and conversion rates, the same is true for niche communities. You can connect with a much smaller audience, who is your ideal customer.

You’re not shouting into an endless massive online void: You’re zeroing in on a group of people who care about the same things as your brand.

Plus, people are actively engaging in these communities. Without the digital noise on other platforms, users are not mindlessly scrolling past your posts or ignoring your ads.

Form Meaningful Relationships With Your Audience

Over the years, we have seen more brands step away from boring, corporate, professional online personas. Instead, brands are creating engaging personalities that act and feel like people more than businesses.

An excellent example of this is Wendy’s, which is known for its witty Twitter comebacks.

Users also expect brands to take a stance on important social issues to use their platforms for the greater good. Silence on such matters can quickly get you “canceled” because people want to know what their money is supporting.

This shows that people want to have authentic relationships with brands.

Niche communities may allow you to develop these relationships and engage with your audience on a personable level by stepping away from mass marketing. This, in turn, can help create brand loyalty and show your customers you share the same values.

Conclusion

Niche communities are a trend all marketers need to watch. As users become distrustful of social media giants and those platforms become increasingly crowded, it’s more important than ever to find the online spaces for your niche and connect.

Whether you’re an eco-friendly e-commerce brand or a business coach, a niche community will give you better access to your community, an opportunity to grow as a thought leader, and possibly see an increase in conversion rates.

Are you going to add niche communities to your marketing strategy?

The post How Niche Communities Are Changing Online Conversations appeared first on Neil Patel.

New comment by azdv in "Ask HN: Who wants to be hired? (November 2020)"

Location: EU

Willing to relocate: Maybe

Technologies:

* Cloud technologies (AWS/Azure/GCP) – a lot of Terraform work as of late. Recently automated GPU-based infrastructure for a MedTech startup (fun times).

* NodeJS/Meteor/SailsJS

* Serverless (going heavy on that one)

* Crypto/Blockchain – building Crypto infrastructure (multiple Blockchains), customized libraries and APIs, as well as front-end (MetaMask) solutions.

* WordPress/CodeIgniter/Yii/Drupal (Components, Hacks, Themes) – less motivated, unless truly cutting edge (or WP VIP projects)

* CI & Unit testing – Jenkins, Mocha & Karma for JS, Toast for PHP, as well as Selenium

* Django (general Python too) – to a lesser extent

Resume: Upon request

Email: dev (at) azdv.co

Looking for Challenging projects. Most recently worked extensively with Serverless & AWS APIs, building cloud-related prototypes, before that worked as a cloud automation specialist.

The post New comment by azdv in "Ask HN: Who wants to be hired? (November 2020)" appeared first on ROI Credit Builders.

Loans, Grants, and Other Funding, Oh My! Women Owned Business Grants and Other Funding Options for Women Business Owners

There are a ton of options available to women for business funding.  Some are female specific, like women owned business grants. Others are not regulated to women specifically, though they may work better for women than some other options.  The key is to quilt together the options that work best for you and your needs. 

Top Options for Female Business Owners, Including Women Owned Business Grants

You can look around for women owned business grants and other funding options specific to women.  They do exist, but there are not that many of them. The best bet is to combine those that you can find along with options that work well for women in business, though not specifically designed for women exclusively. 

 

Demolish your funding problems with 27 killer ways to get cash for your business

Business Loans for Women

Hands down, business loans are the most easily accessible and sure-fire option for funding a business.  This is true whether you are a woman, a minority, a veteran, have a disability, or even if you do not fit into any of these categories.  It may be hard to believe, because loans cost money, right? Free money is better, and if those options are out there, they have to be better, right?  

While these free money opportunities are great, they are few and far between.  Not only that, but they are typically highly competitive. Definitely pursue them, but realistically you need to understand that loans are pretty necessary when it comes to running a business.  Especially in the early phases. In general, the best place to start for virtually all small business owners, whether a female or not, is The Small Business Administration. 

Small Business Loans from The Small Business Administration

While many start out looking for women owned business grants, you can just know that you will probably need loans at some point as well.  Though not specifically for women alone, the SBA offers government backed loan programs.  Many of these are perfect for women business owners, even though they are not for women exclusively.

7(a) Loans

This program offers federally funded term loans up to $5 million. The funds can be used for expansion, purchasing equipment, working capital and more. Banks, credit unions, and other specialized institutions in partnership with the SBA process these loans and disburse the funds. 

To qualify, a business owner has to have a credit score of at least 680.  There is also a required down payment of at least 10% for the purchase of a business, commercial real estate, or equipment. The minimum time in business is 2 years. If a business is a startup, business experience equal to two years is enough. 

This is by far the most popular of the SBA loan programs.  Funds are available for a broad range of projects, from working capital to refinancing debt, and even buying a new business or real estate. 

504 Loans 

These loans are also available up to $5 million.  They can buy machinery, facilities, or land. Generally, they are used for expansion.  Private sector lenders or nonprofits process and disburse the funds, and they work especially well for commercial real estate purchases. 

Terms for 504 loans range from 10 to 20 years.  Funding can take from 30 to 90 days. The minimum credit score requirement is 680, and collateral is the asset being financed. There is also a down payment requirement of 10%.  However, this can increase to 15% for a new business. 

Furthermore, there is a requirement that you be in business for at least 2 years, or that management has equivalent experience if the business is a startup

Microloans 

Microloans are available in amounts up to $50,000. They work for starting a business, purchasing equipment, buying inventory, or for working capital. Community based nonprofits handle microloan programs as intermediaries.  Unlike other SBA programs, financing comes directly from the Small Business Administration. 

Interest rates on these loans are 7.75% to 8% above the lender’s cost to fund, and the terms go up to 6 years. They can take up to 90 days to fund. There is a 640 minimum credit score requirement.  However, the collateral and down payment requirements vary by lender. 

 Demolish your funding problems with 27 killer ways to get cash for your business

SBA Express loans 

Express loans top out at $350,000 and have a maximum interest rate of 11.50%. Terms range from 5 to 25 years, and the SBA guarantee is less than with their other loan programs at 50%. To qualify, your credit score must be above 680.  In addition, you must have a debt to service ratio of 1.1 or higher. If the loan is greater than $25,000, collateral may be necessary depending on the lender. 

The turnaround for express loans is faster, too.  The SBA takes up to 36 hours to give a decision. Necessary paperwork for application is also less, making express loans a great option for working capital, among other things, if you qualify. 

SBA CAPLine 

There are 4 distinct CAPLine programs that differ mostly in the expenses they can fund. Each of them carries a maximum amount of $5 million and an interest rate that ranges from 7% to 10%. Funding can take 45 to 90 days. 

The four different programs are: 

  • Seasonal CAPLines -Financing for businesses preparing for a seasonal increase in sales.
  • Contract CAPLines -Financing for businesses that need funding to fill a contract.
  • Builder’s CAPLines -Financing for businesses taking on a real estate or construction project.
  • Working capital CAPLines -Financing for businesses that are struggling with a short-term slump in sales.

You must have a credit score of 680 or above to qualify for these. There is no minimum time in business requirement unless you are getting a seasonal CAPline. That one carries a one year in business requirement. 

SBA Community Advantage Loans 

This pilot program is set to expire or extend in 2020. It’s meant to promote economic growth in underserved areas and markets.  Lenders can be less strict when it comes to poor credit or low revenue if the business has the potential to stimulate the economy or create jobs in underserved areas. 

Loan amounts range from $50,000 to $250,000 with a maximum interest rate of 11%.  Terms range up to 25 years.

CrowdFunding

If you want to reduce the amount of loans you need to start and run your business, crowdfunding is a viable option.  Crowdfunding gives today’s business owners a new way to build a successful business. Don’t be fooled. Not everyone with a campaign on a crowdfunding site is successful.  Funding a business with crowdfunding doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, it often doesn’t happen at all. To succeed at crowdfunding, you have to research what works, what doesn’t, and then cross your fingers because truthfully it may work, and it may not.

Find which crowdfunding platform is best to use for your business. Kickstarter and Indiegogo are two of the most popular crowdfunding platforms to use. Some work better for specific types of businesses than others.  Also, some may have higher success rates for women than others. Do your research.

Women Owned Business Grants

All grant programs are highly competitive.  However, they are still worth the effort to apply.  There really isn’t anything to lose except time.  It’s free money. Women owned business grants are rarely enough to fully fund a business, but they can supplement other funding types. Here are some examples of women owned business grants. 

SBA Women’s Business Centers

In addition to helping with loans, the SBA Women’s Business Centers also help women entrepreneurs get access to other types of funding. Some lend money or award grants directly, while others help connect women entrepreneurs with financial institutions.  Take a look at their website to find out more on how to apply for women owned business grants through this network.

Eileen Fisher Women Owned Business Grants

The clothing brand Eileen Fisher hands out $100,000 per year to 10 women-owned businesses. To qualify, a woman must have at least 51% ownership, and the business must be in operation for at least three years. Also, it must bring in less than $1 million per year in revenue and have a focus on environmental or social change.  

Amber Grant 

The Amber Grant awards $500 to $1,000 per month to a woman-owned business. One of the recipients also receives an additional $10,000 grant at the end of the year. Applicants only need to tell their story and turn it in with a $15 application fee.   

#GIRLBOSS Foundation Grant 

Specifically for woman-owned businesses in fashion, music, and art, the #GIRLBOSS small business grant awards $15,000.  They also offer exposure via the Girlboss website and social media platforms. Judges rate those applying on creativity, business savvy, planning, innovation in the field, need, and where they plan to work. 

Demolish your funding problems with 27 killer ways to get cash for your business

Cartier Women’s Initiative Award 

The Cartier Women’s Initiative Award is $100,000 for first place and $30,000 for second place.  They award the grant to 18 female business owners from around the world each year.  Women business owners who are just getting started may qualify.  Look over the complete application for more information.

All of the finalists get to attend the INSEAD Social Entrepreneurship 6-Day Executive Program (ISEP). They will also have the opportunity to participate in workshops on entrepreneurship and business coaching seminars, as well as be exposed to networking opportunities.  

Other Funding Options Beyond Women Owned Business GrantsFemale Owner Biz Grants Credit Suite

While programs like those that provide women owned business grants and those offered by The Small Business Administration often work to meet the special challenges women business owners face, sometimes it just isn’t enough.  If your credit score does not allow you to qualify for SBA loans, there are other  options available as well. They tend to work well, though not specifically designed for women. 

Lending Club

LendingClub functions as a peer-to-peer lender that offers mostly fixed-term small business loans. Borrowers that get loans from LendingClub generally use loan funds to buy equipment, finance growth or expansion projects, consolidate other debt, or hire new employees.

One benefit LendingClub offers with their small business loans that many others do not is access to a client advisor. This is someone to help you figure out how to best use your business loan funds, as well as how to budget loan payments.

The minimum loan amount at LendingClub is $5,000 and the maximum is $300,000.  There is a minimum time in business requirement of 12 months to qualify.  In addition, you must have at least $50,000 in annual sales.  There can be no tax liens or bankruptcies, and you must have at least 20% ownership.  They will work with a credit score that is fair or higher.  A fair credit score ranges from 620 to 659. 

Lendio

Lendio offers a loan-connection service that dramatically cuts the time it takes for small business owners to find the perfect loan.  They do the legwork by vetting a network of competing small business lenders. Funding is fast, sometimes in as little as 24 hours.  

Potential borrowers submit one application and then see offers from lenders in the network.  The minimum loan amount is $500 while the maximum is $5,000,000.  The business must be U.S. or Canada based and must have a business bank account.  There is a minimum personal credit score requirement of 560.  

Blue Vine

BlueVine offers two options for small business financing.  They include lines of credit and invoice factoring.  They also offer the ability to talk with a financial advisor. Their application process takes place exclusively online.  The minimum loan amount is $5,000 and their maximum is $100,000.  Furthermore, to be eligible you must be in business for at least 6 months, have revenue of $120,000 per year or more, and have a credit score of at least 600.  

Kiva

Kiva has a unique lending model. They offer loans to businesses, but their platform is far different from that of traditional or even other non-traditional lenders.  It is sort of a cross between crowdfunding and lending.  They offer loans with a 0% interest rate.  That means, even though you have to pay it back, it is actually free money. In addition, they do not run a credit check. The only requirement is that you have to get at least 5 family members or friends to donate money for your business.  Also, you have to give at least a $25 loan to another business on the platform yourself. 

Grameen

Grameen is one of the few lenders that offers microloans specifically for women.  The loan amounts range from $2,000 to $15,000, and they also offer financial training and support.   

As a bonus, they report payments to Equifax and Experian.  The result is, these loans help borrowers build credit. 

Choose Your Funding Options Wisely for Women Owned Business Grants and More

For many, business funding will be similar to a quilt.  Just as a quilt weaves various colors and types of fabric into a beautify, functional work of art, so can business funding work.  There are various types available, and if you combine the ones that work best for you, they can work together to ensure your business not only stays running, but also growing and thriving. This includes women owned business grants. 

The post Loans, Grants, and Other Funding, Oh My! Women Owned Business Grants and Other Funding Options for Women Business Owners appeared first on Credit Suite.

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