Can everyone afford your community?
2 min read

Can everyone afford your community?

Can everyone afford your community?

Pricing community is hard. What you charge communicates a lot including how much people should value what you do, who your community is for and who it's not for.

When you price low, you risk bringing in people who aren't invested and don't value the community. And when you price high, you risk excluding those who can't afford it, potentially making your community less diverse economically and geographically.

Communities have the opportunity to be a small microcosm of the world you want to live in. So it's worth it to find ways to balance both being compensated fairly and bringing in the right, values-aligned members.

Here are some ideas on how to do that.

Parity Bar

Parity Bar is a free tool you can add to your website that detects the country each person is accessing your site from and offers them a discount code, proportionate to the buying power of that country. As an example, Marie Poulin's course Notion Mastery uses Parity Bar.

This is great for:

  • Larger communities or courses where the more the merrier.
  • If you've priced your community based on a US (or equivalent) audience but want to make it accessible to other parts of the world.

Limitations:

  • Your community includes coaching or other hands-on services that you can't heavily discount.
  • It doesn't account for economic disparities within the same country. For example, not everyone with a US IP address has the same buying power.

Sliding Scale

A sliding scale model is a way to allow members to pay what they're able to afford, instead of setting a fixed price. This model is commonly used in things like yoga studios to make sure everyone who is interested can contribute at the right level for them. Imby, a community for folks creating a just and equitable future is my go-to example for implementing a sliding scale model. More info here.

This is great for:

  • Communities that would benefit from a diversity of income levels participating.
  • Communities where the values of equity and accessibility are front and center.

Limitations:

  • It can add some friction and hesitation to your checkout process as people decide what to pay.
  • People can take advantage and choose to pay less than they can actually afford.

Scholarships

This is the model I decided to go with for my own course. Scholarships are meant to cover the full or partial cost to join your community, but they don't need to be based on financial need. You can offer scholarships based on who you'd like your community to be more accessible or even attractive to. The more specific you get in the application, the better.

This is great for:

  • Smaller or earlier stage communities where you can evaluate each application and send thoughtful responses.
  • If you want to encourage different types of diversity besides economic. You can set up scholarships that speak to any group you want to attract.

Limitations:

  • Filling out an application is asking people to do additional work, many times just to get access to an equivalent price for their location or situation.
  • It risks setting up a dynamic where you as the community leader can expect more from the scholarship recipients, which means they're not actually getting the same product as others who paid full price.

There's no exact perfect way to make your community equitable and fair to everyone. All options will have limitations. But it's worth it to try and find a system that aligns with your values.

And of course, financial assistance is not the only way to promote an inclusive community culture but it's a great place to start.

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