There are certain organizations and causes that run on communities’ power. Without a proper, maintained and consistent community, those ventures would cease to exist. Creating a platform for the community, for mutual interaction, is a prominent pillar in its sustenance. And, if you think a Facebook page or a WhatsApp group is enough, you’re wrong.

What we need now is a social website! That is exactly why platforms such as Ning.com exist. The last week, we not only tested Ning.com thoroughly but also created a website for one cause-based community in the neighborhood. And, today, we have a brief review of Ning.com and things you must know before using it.

Ning.com and How It Works

Ning.com is basically a platform where you can create social networks from scratch. The major point here is that you don’t need technical expertise or coding knowledge. Furthermore, NING packs enough features to help you create a social network that is suitable for communities. All you need is an account on Ning.com as well as the basic computing knowledge.

Apart from the intuitive Drag-and-Drop builder, Ning.com features an awesome collection of themes. You’ll be able to choose from categories such as Professional, Craft, Blog, Portfolio, Education, Charity, Music etc. Once selected, you can customize the design and content to convey your message. You can even add HTML, CSS code by yourself. What’s more, Ning.com lets you create mobile app too.

Coming to in-site components, Ning.com is quite rich. You can add a bunch of elements such as Activity Feed, Blog, Forum, Customized Group System, Events, Posts, Analytics, Message Broadcast etc. In addition to all these, as the website admin, you have better control over Privacy, Content Moderation, Anti-Spam Security and Multiple Admin system.

But, what makes Ning.com unique from others is its social media integration and monetization support.

Monetizing Your Social Network

When you run a community-based social network, there are a few ways to monetize it. Thankfully, Ning.com lets you convert the website into a monetization platform as well. You may be a Blogger, business owner or an activist; NING lets you choose the best choice for you.

  • Paid Content

This is a great way to monetize your content within registered users. You can restrict access to the entire website, or some parts, only to paid users. As a blogger or a course instructor, it will make sure that you’re seamlessly paid.

  • Paid Membership

In this method, you charge a certain amount for the membership on your website. It can be a one-time payment or a subscription system. If you’re running an exclusive community — one that people love to join — this is an effective monetizing system.

  • Donations

You can use this method when you have a cause-based community website. This one lets you collect donations hassle-free, via multiple methods. You can also try some methods to enhance the amount of donations, thanks to analytics.

Regardless the method you choose, monetization of Ning-based social network is safe and effective. It offers support for almost all payment methods, including PayPal and Credit Cards. Since all transactions are secure, you don’t have to worry about that either.

Here’s the thing: any of the above mentioned methods are better than advertising. If you have a value-based community or content to offer, these methods should offer you sufficient revenue in the long run. Another awesome part is that you just have to pay a transaction fee of 5%, instead of huge yearly amounts.

In addition to these monetization methods, Ning.com lets you run ads as well. Pretty awesome, isn’t it?

Social Media Integration

We also loved how effectively Ning.com has integrated social media elements. First things first, users will be able to sign up using Facebook, Google or Twitter accounts. Also, each post and update can be liked, shared and interacted via other platforms. Also, since YouTube and Vimeo are integrated, users can include video content in their updates.

Along with this, Ning.com has focused on the Search Engine Optimization part as well. You can choose either Facebook or Disqus as the commenting system. What we love here is that the website offers flexibility and choice instead of being rigid.

Pricing

Ning.com offers a flexible pricing structure, based on the availability of features. The Basic, Performance and Ultimate plans are available for $25/month, $49/month and $99/month respectively. As you move to higher plans, you get more resources like Bandwidth and better support, but core features remain the same. So, it basically gives you enough choices to make.

The Bottom Line

In light of our experience with it, Ning.com is the best way to create a community-oriented social network! In addition to the easiness of website creation and complete control, Ning provides one of the best ways to monetize the website without annoying users with ads. Considering all these features, the pricing seems so reasonable as well. At the end of the day, we’d recommend this for everyone who needs not only an easier way to create website but also a monetization platform.