Why Running a Membership Site is a Good Idea
It seems that more and more online marketers are running their website as a membership site.
In this article we will take a look at the reasons for this and you can then decide if you should proceed in the same way.
If you research top marketers such as Yaro Stark and Mike Filsame you will notice that they run membership sites.
They are running coaching type sites were members can get more personalized feedback and attention from them.
Many marketers will set up a free membership site where they offer advice and instructional material.
Then during the course of the membership there will be an offer to upgrade for coaching, access to products etc.
This is a great way to offer value, allows people to get to know, like and trust you.
Then when an offer is made they are more willing to accept it.
There are other reasons why running a membership site is something for you to consider.
First most membership sites are easy to set up, it is even possible to set them up for free.
You can use WordPress to set up your site, they have free membership type themes that you can choose from.
Plus you have the option of using plugins which set up your membership options and pages for you. What could be simpler than that?
Plus once your site is set up it is fairly easy to maintain.
Offering a membership site is a fantastic way to add value or add a service to something which you already own. For example you may offer a writing service.
By offering a membership you can teach members how to sell their content, how and where to find images for covers.
Plus you can teach them how to market their work effectively.
The ideas for membership sites are almost unlimited. If you have a hobby that you enjoy you can use your knowledge and turn it into a membership site.
What a great way to earn income month after month.
If your goal is to brand your authority on a certain topic then running a membership site is a good platform to use.
Especially if you have a chat room or forum on your site. You can answer questions and offer advice and more.
This is the perfect way to build trust and a good relationship with your members.
If you haven’t yet added a membership site to your marketing arsenal, maybe now is the time to start one?
What Type of Content Can You Offer?
For anyone interested in running a membership site you need to offer lots of value to your members.
After all they are paying you a monthly fee, and if you want that recurring income, you need to earn it.
Let’s take a look at some options you have when it comes to creating content.
This includes things like articles, reports, eBooks, product reviews and autoresponder messages.
This is really popular but the downside to it is that it can take a long time to create this type of content.
If you are considering this type of membership site then working and planning ahead of time is key.
Otherwise you may run into issues such as your new content is not ready when it comes time to add new content each month.
You may wish to outsource some of the writing or limit the amount of content you release in this form each month.
For example you could offer 10 articles and one short report. Then as a bonus you simply take the articles and turn them into slides.
So you are over delivering and keeping your members happy.
This type of content includes things such as royalty free images, ecovers, headers and banners.
Don’t forget about creating images for using on social sites as well as infographics.
These are extremely popular right now and if you can deliver ready to publish images your site will be in demand.
Within this group we can include webinars, coaching calls, podcasting material and any type of content that can be listened to.
You may want to run a membership that offer videos on certain topics that people can use as their own.
This includes creating product review videos, how to videos and more.
Of course there is nothing to prevent you from creating a mixture of content for your members.
You may wish to offer reports as text and pdf files along with a video, MP4 video and include an ecover.
The main thing to remember when offering content is that whether you have 5 members or 500 you have to create the same amount of content each month.
It may be wise to start off with a lower base amount of content, and as your membership site attracts more members, offer more content.
This provides your longer members with a great bonus and gives them true value for money.
The Need For a Membership Site
A common business practice today is running a membership site.
You may notice that when you purchase a product you may have to log into a site to download your documents.
So how do you know when to open a membership based site?
One of your main considerations should be based upon the purpose of your business.
If you are selling downloadable products, it can be difficult for customers to download huge files at one time.
Plus if you offer videos they can eat up a ton of bandwidth and may prevent people from watching.
From this viewpoint it just makes sense to host all the files and videos on a membership site. Now why a membership site and not a regular site?
Well, obviously you just want only your customers to have access to your products. So locking the content away behind closed doors is the best option available.
From a customer’s viewpoint a membership site can be both a good thing and a pain! The pain usually comes due to not remembering their user name and password.
A simple solution to this is to simply use some form of Password software. If you use Google Chrome of Firefox there is an option to have your passwords remembered.
Other choices are to use a software such as Roboform or Lastpass.
A membership site is the perfect way for customers to store their content without losing files.
They can still download them but can easily find them again if their computer crashes.
A membership site also allows you to update content and add bonuses and new material as you wish. You don’t have to worry about sending it to your customers.
You can easily email your list and let them know that there is new content available in the member’s area.
Another benefit of a membership site is that it allows you to add either a forum or to add tutorials.
This is especially helpful if the product you are offering is a new software or has a learning curve to it.
Adding tutorials inside your membership allows members with different experience levels to learn how to use your product easily.
Using a membership site is a great way to protect your content and build a community with your buyers.
You can even offer access to a private Facebook group from within your membership site.
So if you have been thinking about whether or not to use a membership site you now have information as a customer and as a business owner.
Tips for Setting Up a Membership Site
One of the benefits of setting up a membership site is that it provides you with a recurring monthly income.
Many marketers run successful membership sites, but before you head off to create one, there are certain things you should take into consideration.
- Setting up a membership takes planning, it is not something that you want to suddenly advertise. When members join they want to see content available in their member’s area.
- Use a notepad or calendar and schedule out what you want to Are you running a tutorial type site, a how to site or are you offering reports and articles on a certain niche or topic?
- It is advisable to have 3 months of content ready before you launch your site. This way you aren’t scrambling each month trying to get all the content You will free up time so that you can concentrate on attracting members.
- If you currently belong to a membership site, study it and see what you like and what you don’t like. Can you improve yours or use some of the same things in a similar way?
- Consider how you want to display your content. Will it be dripped fed depending upon the date someone joined? Will you just add content on a certain day each month, regardless of someone’s join date? Will you remove older content or leave it on the site?
- There is literally a ton of membership software that you could use. This is often the hardest thing to decide upon. Take the time to research what software is available and look at the benefits and features as well as the price.
- Decide if you want to run an introductory special. This could be a ridiculously low price for new members or you may want to run a lifetime option. If people purchase a lifetime option you should commit to having the site up and running for at least two years. Otherwise people may want a refund.
- As you run your membership always ask members for their input. Then be willing to change what you offer based upon their answers. You may find your members want to have monthly webinars or a coaching type of
As you can see there really is a lot to think about when it comes to opening up a membership site.
Consider all your options carefully and don’t forget to plan and then plan some more.
Understanding Membership Software
One of the main problems about setting up a membership site is the software.
If you have done any research on this you will know that you have more than enough choices.
So just how do you choose the right membership software for your business?
You definitely don’t want to rush into buying the first membership software that you see. You need to think about what functions you want your software to have.
Some membership software is very basic and it essentially allows you to give your members access to a basic site.
It is used to help set up your recurring membership payment system and then customers log into a word press account.
This type of software may be suitable if you want to use your site as a protected download area for your customers.
It is more of a one purchase type system which allows them to return to the site to view their content, or to download it.
Then we get to more advanced membership software that allows you to have more of a members area.
This can include having the ability to install a forum or chat room area.
You may wish to have different membership levels such as Bronze, Silver and Gold. This incorporates a different pricing level for each member.
Not all software can do this, so think about if this is a viable option for you or not.
Other membership software can be used for selling products and bundles of products.
These are normally displayed in a listing format and not always as an eCommerce type of site.
Then we have software that is perfect for creating a membership site along with a built in affiliate program.
This is a fantastic way to recruit members and allows current members to recommend your products to their friends and get paid.
They could technically get their membership for free each month. Your benefit is that it gives you new members without doing any extra work.
Let’s do a quick recap of some of the features and benefits that you want from your membership software.
- Variable pricing structure
- Allows for recurring payments
- Can sell products via the software
- Offers tiered membership levels – gold, silver etc
- Does it come with an affiliate program
As you can see buying a membership software takes time, consideration and careful planning. It is definitely not something that you want to rush into at all.
Is Over Delivering on Membership Sites Important?
Once you have set up your membership and have your first few members, you start to worry about whether they will renew their membership the following month.
So how do you prevent this?
Well statistics show that people often commit to staying with a membership on average for about 3 months. So losing members is a natural part of the process.
But, there is a way that you can keep your members for a longer time period.
This is simply by over delivering on what you had promised in the first place. When you advertise your membership your sales page will display what you are offering.
This may look something like this:
Your membership includes:
- 10 niche articles
- 5,000 word report with ecover
- Slide versions of the articles
That’s fine and you set your price accordingly. Now how would you feel when you went to your members area that additional content was available.
You would feel happy and feel that you had gotten more value for your investment.
To over deliver you would simply add more content. This could be additional keyword lists, royalty free images, one or two more ecovers or banners.
How about adding some autoresponder messages for your members?
Another bonus to offer would be a webinar or a tutorial type of video. Maybe on the topic of how to easily change an ecover or how to add audio to a video?
To really keep your customers happy then offer a new type of additional content each month, this keeps them guessing and wondering. Some
months it could be images or graphics and other months maybe an audio file or just more articles or product reviews.
When you first set up your membership site you obviously outlined your content.
What we suggest you do is to take out one or two things, then still add them, but as an unannounced bonus.
So in essence, you are not really doing any more work than you had originally planned.
If you are not sure about what to offer as extra content, see if you can find another marketer who doesn’t mind sharing one of their products.
Or they may be open to running a webinar or coaching call with you.
You really should consider about over delivering with your membership site. As you can see it really isn’t that hard to do.
Growing Your Membership Site
One of the hardest things after setting up your membership site is attracting and retaining your members.
For some reason many people think that people will automatically find their site and join. Sadly this is not the case, attracting members can be hard work.
But the payoffs can be huge, are you prepared to do this?
One of your biggest considerations will be pricing.
While you want your price to be low enough, at first, you need to be making enough money to cover your own time and your expenses.
A good way to get around this is to offer a low introductory special when you first open your membership site. Early Bird pricing really works well at first.
Set your price depending upon how much content you are going to offer.
At first you may want to offer a little less content and as your membership grows give out bonuses.
You may wish to consider offering a two or three tier pricing level.
The lower level gives members access to basic information, the next level gives them more content and so on.
So of course, your next question is how and where to find members. Let’s address this.
You want to be advertising your membership site everywhere you go.
This includes adding a link to your site in your emails, in any forum signatures and on your social sites. This will give you a good amount of exposure.
Another way to find members is to blog about your site and what you offer.
Then share your blog posts to all of the social sharing sites such as Reddit, and Stumbleupon. All of this helps to expand your reach.
If you consistently launch products you can offer a special pricing as an upsell to your main product. This model works extremely well.
You can offer a lower price or give them a 7 day free trial to checkout your membership site.
Another way to attract members is by setting up an affiliate program for it. Yes this will net you a lower amount of cash, but your membership numbers will increase.
You can set up an affiliate program easily by using something like JV Zoo. Or you may wish to use a dedicated affiliate software.
Using a tiered pricing level works extremely well for this purpose. As members upgrade you will automatically earn more.
The key to attracting members is by offering current members fantastic quality content and value for money.
They will gladly recommend your site to all their friends, and you know how word of mouth can travel.
Best Practices for Membership Sites
Membership sites are a fantastic way to add an new income stream to your current business.
While the concept sounds easy enough, we want to go over some best practices that you should include in your own site.
- Decide on your membership software in advance. Think about if you want to offer a tiered pricing structure or a free trial. Not all membership software is capable of this. So try to think in advance of where and how you want your membership site to Changing your structure later on is not always easy!
- Plan your content in advance, recommended about 3 months ahead. This allows you to make changes if necessary and ensures you don’t have to work all night to make your
- Including video’s as tutorials is a great way to show your members how to use certain items. Even something as simple as setting up a new site. Your members will have varying levels of experience and you will need to cater to this.
- Be open to listening to your members and making certain changes if they are extremely For example your members may wish to have a forum where they can ask questions. Or they may wish to have access to a Facebook group.
- Launch your membership site using the Early Bird Be open to offering a lifetime membership or even a 6 month one at a discounted price. Consider tiered pricing with varying levels of content.
- Always over deliver, this is a fantastic way to retain members for a longer time
- Be open to adding an affiliate program to your site. Yes, you may personally earn less money but the advantages include getting more exposure and branding. Word of mouth is huge and can really help increase the number of your
- Take time to actively promote your site, this helps you increase your members. Plus if you lose a couple of members your new members keep you earning
- Blog about your membership site Give sneak peeks inside your membership site and be open to answering questions. Create videos about your site which deal with frequently asked questions and concerns from your current members.
- It takes time for a membership to gain exposure and lots of members. Don’t launch your site and close it within a couple of months. Make a plan to spend at least one year actively working on your
Remember membership sites are a wonderful business model but they can take longer to take hold and gain traction.
Best Places to Advertise Your Membership Site
Congratulations! You finally have your membership set up and running. But why isn’t it filled to capacity?
While building your site is one thing getting members to join is another. It is not simply a matter of build it and they will come.
Your task now is to actively work on finding new members for your site on a regular basis. You do have lots of options for this including paid and non- paid ones.
If you wish to pay for advertising to find members you can use things such as Facebook and LinkedIn ads.
You can run advertisements on Adsense or place notices in magazines and newsletters.
Of course you want to research the best places for your topic and advertise where your members already hang out.
Most people prefer to use free methods for finding members. You probably have a small budget until you start to fill your membership site.
If this is the case then use the following options for advertising your site.
Forums are a great place to start. You want to join forums where your potential members are hanging out.
If the forum allows you to use a signature you can add a link to your site here. Now you don’t want to actively start promoting your site inside the forum.
A better way to attract people to you is by offering advice and information.
This way they will start to view you as someone who knows the topic and always has answers.
Social Media sites are extremely popular and just about everyone, regardless of your niche, uses them.
Use sites such as Facebook to post information and tips on your topic. Give away free advice and then now and again pop in a reference to your membership site.
If you run a Facebook Group you can link your timeline cover to your membership site.
When people click on the cover, and they do, they will see your site address there.
Blogging regularly is another way to attract people to you and find potential new members.
Post articles and talk about what you know, showcase your expertise and knowledge. In the side bar of your blog you can have a link to your membership site.
Yet another way to advertise the fact that you have a membership site is by blog commenting.
With this method you simply find related blogs, those that your potential members would be reading, and start leaving comments on them.
When you leave a comment you are normally allowed to include your website link, link back to your blog where your membership site is advertised.
If you use the above tips on a regular basis you will find that you are reaching more would-be new members.
Over time you will notice that more people are joining your site on a regular basis.
Being There for Your Members
For the majority of marketers running a membership site is a way to brand yourself online.
You provide your members with lots of valuable content and in return they help spread the word about what a great site you run!
While this makes common sense some people open up a membership site and then expect it to run itself.
The worst mistake you can make is to not visit the site and be active on it.
Whether this includes leaving messages and chatting with members or just uploading new content and bonuses.
When you set up your membership site you need to have a clear purpose in mind for it. Is the purpose to use the site just to allow your customers to download their purchase?
Or do you want to use it to provide them with a learning experience or to deliver them fresh new content each month?
If your membership is for delivering content or a learning experience then you need to be seen on the site.
You want to make yourself available to your members so they can ask for help or for advice.
Not all membership software has the ability to install a forum. If this is not possible then just create a closed Facebook group or invitation only community.
It is still private and accessible to only your members.
You should also set up a help or support center as well. This allows members who are having download or technical difficulties to get support.
Plus it keeps any issues out of the main members area. Your hosting company has help desks that you can easily install on your site.
Another way to be there for your members and give them encouragement and support is to create some type of reward system.
This can be as simple as giving them a badge that appears after they complete certain tasks. Or after they have posted X number of messages in the forum.
One of the main purposes of your membership site should be to brand yourself as an expert. So being visible to your current members is extremely important.
Encourage your members to refer their friends by setting up a reward or affiliate program for them.
This way they can refer a few friends each month and have their membership paid for.
A fantastic way to retain members as well as getting a constant flow of new members for your site.