By Vlad Dobrynin
Membership fees and commission charges are nothing new for individuals using one of the countless online platforms in today’s sharing economy. In fact, users often expect to pay some kind of fee for signing up, selling a service and even making a purchase on these sites—and these expectations are spot on. TaskRabbit, a freelancing site, takes commission from every sale, while food delivery services like GrubHub and Postmates charge a service fee on all transactions.
Although many people consider these fees unavoidable, this is no longer the case. Today, a no-fee business model can be a win-win for online platforms and users alike—here’s how.
Advertisements are the most common way online platforms can remain free to users. Prime examples of companies that have mastered this strategy include Facebook and Google—two high-revenue-generating businesses. One key advantage of ads is that they can be presented in several different ways, including photo ads on website homepages, sponsored posts on social media and coupons or ad material sent with purchased products—allowing them to reach a broad range of users.
Why you should do it: Most sites, even those with fees or charges, feature some kind of advertising. Users expect to see ads on sites they visit —and businesses should take advantage of them to keep services free and attract more customers.
It’s more than likely your service or product aligns well with another service or product. It’s also likely your mission complements the mission of another company or organization. Tapping into these commonalities can provide an opportunity for partnerships and sponsorships, which can ultimately enable you to keep your service free for all users. For example, a strong partnership could be leveraged for funding opportunities.
Why you should do it: In the business world, creating strong relationships across industries is invaluable beyond the potential financial benefits. Making connections sets you up for long-term success and gets your product or service in front of additional audiences.
Creating premium features or resources is one way to make money without charging fees for your core service. One example of a company implementing this strategy is LinkedIn, the popular professional networking platform. LinkedIn is free to users, yet it offers several premium accounts: Career, Business, Sales and Hiring—all of which all offer enhanced tools and resources for job seekers, companies, sales teams and hiring managers.
Why you should do it: Offering premium features outside of your free service helps build funding streams for your business. Additionally, these features have the potential to appeal to and reach new audiences.
New approaches to a successful business model are changing the way online talent platforms operate and generate revenue. As a result, users will soon no longer expect—or tolerate—the pricey fees and hidden costs associated with the sites in the sharing economy. By leveraging a combination of strategic approaches, Humans.net became the first online platform that is completely free to all users – no fees means its members enjoy more affordable services and more earning potential. Not only will this way of thinking open up online platforms to more customers, it will also generate more success in the long run for companies that rely on customer retention and satisfaction.