How to Leverage Online Communities to Grow Your Business These three steps can help you use internet communities as a tool for growth.

By Emily Richett

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

At ClickFunnels' annual Funnel Hacking Live conference, Emily Richett interviews Steve Shideler, CEO of Fan Shop HQ, to learn how he transformed two sports-related Facebook pages into an ecommerce company.

The idea for Shideler's business occurred to him after he created two fan pages prior to the 2014 Super Bowl. Once the pages grew significantly, he realized he had an opportunity to monetize them. After starting out with affiliate partnerships, he created Fan Shop HQ, an ecommerce business selling licensed sports merchandise.

Shideler attributes his company's success to three basic strategies:

1. Find or create a niche online community.

See which online communities fit your niche and get involved in the conversations already happening. Shideler says you can then "start repurposing that content and using your voice behind it, and people will start being drawn to that."

Once you get involved or create an online community, you can start providing valuable content to people and getting them interested in what you offer.

2. Find what resonates within your community through trial and error.

Shideler says that getting involved in communities online is a great way to experiment and find what resonates with your audience without spending loads of money on ads.

"By the time you either have confidence to spend some money or you've sold enough to have some money in your pocket," he says, "you have a much better message, you have a better [sales] funnel, you've got more of a fan base from which to do some custom audience targeting."

3. Expect the ups and downs.

Shideler says that at the start of his entrepreneurial journey, he expected smooth sailing once he hit a certain point in his sales. The more growth he experiences, the more he's realized that there will always be hurdles to overcome.

Shideler says, "Whether you have a thousand in sales or a million in sales or ten million in sales … there are still the ups and downs. But those ups and downs are what make it that much more enjoyable and that much more exciting and fulfilling to have [a big] accomplishment," he says.

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Emily Richett

Entrepreneur Network Partner

Emily Richett is the founder of HAPPY PR, a public relations and marketing firm that works with fast-growth businesses and leading B2C brands. She is the host of The Amplify Show, a podcast and video series that features inspiring thought leaders and game changing entrepreneurs. You can connect with her at or

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