How to start a Discord community from scratch

May 6, 2022

How to start a Discord community from scratch

Over the past couple of years, Discord has grown out of being a gamers-only platform into a communication space for diverse communities.

And some brands are already taking advantage of this. 

What’s crucial, though, is that the true value of Discord is not the platform itself but the communities it brings together and hosts.

In this article, you’ll learn:

What is Discord?

Discord is a chat app with a following of millions of users. It's simple to use and can be accessed on any device. People are particularly drawn to it because it allows them to participate in the so-called communities that bring together like-minded individuals as well as businesses who want to keep close to their user base.

Discord offers a new level of engaged marketing for businesses. Companies can use Discord to build communities around brands and help them grow by building awareness and receiving feedback. Even more so, as Discord users are very active.

150 million monthly active users

19 million active servers per week

4 billion server conversation minutes daily

At a glance, Discord may bear a lot of resemblance to apps like Slack or forum software like Discourse. But the closer you look, you’ll notice certain advantages that Discord has over the other solutions.

Discord is a VoIP app, while Slack and Discourse are not.

VoIP stands for Voice over IP, and it refers to the technology that allows you to make voice calls over the internet. Discord uses this technology to let you make voice and video calls with other users, which makes it superior in this respect to Discourse or Slack, the latter of which offers VoIP as a premium feature.  

Discord comes packed with a multitude of free features.

Although Discord, Slack and Discourse all have free versions, Discord’s free offering leaves the other two far behind. For instance, Slack’s free version only archives 10,000 recent messages and Discourse lacks voice chat support. In short, with Discord you get more for free.

Discord is highly customizable and geared toward communities.

Discord is flexible and lets you change the server settings to fit your needs. For example, you can change the server name, icon, and region. But most importantly, Discord lets you appoint moderators, and make your communities either private or publicly visible.

How to set up a Discord community?

Setting up a Discord community involves five basic steps:

  1. Choose a name for your community.
  2. Create a new server on Discord.
  3. Invite people to join your server.
  4. Set up channels for different topics.
  5. Encourage people to interact and engage with each other.

Let’s look at them in more detail.

But before we do—

Let’s establish what a community is. In general, there are two types of online communities:

Choose a name for your community

A name is needed for a Discord community to help identify the purpose and focus of the group. It also helps to create a sense of community and belonging for members.

While it may seem easy, coming up with a name for your community might turn into a real head-scratcher.

To make your life easier, you may want to try one of the free community name generators to get some inspiration.

Create a new server on Discord

If you want to set up your own community, you must create a server first. It’s super easy and literally requires only a couple of clicks.

  1. Click the Plus button on the left-hand side of the app.
  2. Next, create a server.

You can create your own server from scratch or use one of the three templates: for gaming, a school club, or a study group. The difference between your own server and a template is that the latter comes with more channels pre-configured from the start.

  1. Customize your server. Give it a name and upload an image if you wish.

Your first server is ready. Now you can invite people, create text and voice channels, and overall personalize it.

Remember—

By default, your servers are not discoverable. If you want people to find your server on Discord, you need to apply for server discovery. To start the process, go to server settings on the left and scroll down to the Enable Community section, and click the Get Started button.

Turning a private server into a public server for a community 

You can make your Discord server private or public.

Communities on private servers are only accessible to people who get an invitation. Public server communities are open for all.

Here are the steps to turn your private server into a public one:

1. Open your Discord app and in the left-hand menu bar click on the server you want to make public. Click on the arrow next to your server name in the panel to the right of the menu bar.

2. Go to Server Settings.

3. In the menu on the left, find the Enable Community section and click the Get Started button.

4. Check the boxes next to "Verified email required" and "Scan media content from all members," click "Next."

5. Choose the channel where you want to post your server guidelines, rules, and updates, then click "Next."

6. Check the boxes next to "Default notifications to Mentions Only," "Remove moderation permissions from @everyone," and "I agree and understand."

7. Click "Finish setup." Done. Now you can apply for discovery—it means you’ll make your community visible on Discord server listings.

To make your server discoverable, you must meet certain requirements, though. One of them is the minimum number of members. The server discovery option will only be available once your community hits 1,000 members.

Invite people to join your server

Getting new community members is crucial initially. But even if your community is public and discoverable, don’t count on people simply finding you—there are over 6.5 million Discord servers. Finding your community may be a bit like finding a needle in a haystack.

That said, there are many ways in which you can make people join your Discord server. Here’s a list of ideas you may want to try:

Set up channels for different topics

Discord channels are used for creating spaces for guided discussions—they can be private, devoted to specific topics, or targeted at specialists in a given area. Text or voice channels can facilitate work on projects, sharing feedback, getting support, etc.

It’s vital for community members to know which topic each channel is dedicated to.

To set up a channel simply click on the Plus button next to the text or voice channel heading in the sidebar on the left side of the screen.

This will bring up a pop-up window where you can enter the name and topic of the new channel.

Once you have entered the name and topic, simply click on the Create Channel button and the new channel will be created.

You can now invite people to join the channel by clicking on the Invite button and entering their Discord username.

Encourage people to interact and engage with each other

There are a few things you can do to encourage people to interact and engage with each other on Discord:

If you follow these guidelines, you’re on a good way to keep your community active and engaged. For more tips and best practices, check out Best Practices For Starting A Great Community On Discord

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