It is a profitable fact that many successful online business owners know, membership sites are one of the best online business models that you can use!
When it comes to setting up your own membership site there are many different options available, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t make them a part of your Internet marketing strategy.
Reselling information to your market on a monthly basis has many benefits including:
A monthly recurring income.
This is one of the most popular benefits of starting a membership site.
When you build a membership site you’ll have 100, 200 or even 500 members paying you on a monthly basis for your information. Imagine the possibilities!
With a $15 monthly membership fee, you could be looking at a $7500 a month just for one site.
If you provide more content and charge a higher price for your membership site, you could be earning well over six figures a year for your site.
Having affiliates promote for you.
Affiliates love membership sites.
If they have a choice between recurring monthly income and a one-time eBook sale in the same niche, they are going to spend their time promoting the membership site.
They are looking for the same type of recurring income that you are.
You can easily set up your affiliate program through Clickbank, 2checkout or Paydotcom.
Promote your affiliate program to your members and super affiliates to get more sales.
Dominating your niche.
No other platform allows you to have widespread coverage on a niche the way that a membership site does.
Within the gates of your membership site, you can offer a wide variety of content.
In addition to articles and short reports, you can do teleconferences, videos and interviews.
The more content you put into your membership site and the more members you have, the more your content and your recommendations will be respected within the niche.
There’s no faster way to brand yourself as an expert within your niche than by creating a membership site.
All your future content and products in the niche will have a lot more clout.
Plenty of backend sales opportunities.
The income from a membership site doesn’t stop with the monthly membership fees. There are plenty of opportunities to make additional income from your site.
You can sell private tutoring, advanced products and platinum memberships.
You can also repackage part of the content used in your membership site and sell it as an independent product.
You can sell advertising as well to boost the profitability of your membership site.
Easier than you may think!
It has never been easier to run a membership site, especially if you don’t have any technical expertise.
It used to be that you would need the help of a web programmer to get a membership site set up properly.
Thanks to easy to use content management systems like WordPress and membership site scripts that will make security easy, you can have your membership site set up within a matter of hours.
There’s no reason why you shouldn’t start one right away!
Starting a membership site is easier than you think. Although there are a lot of requirements involved, you can breeze through them all with this simple checklist.
Once you get through this list you’ll be in prime position to launch your own membership site and start gathering a consistent monthly income from your site.
– A domain name
Your first step is to get a domain name. Use the most popular keywords in your niche and add a community-oriented suffix like club, group or team.
For example, your classic car membership site could be hosted at www.classiccarclub.com.
– A website
Your website design will have a big impact on how your members use your website and how often they come back.
You’ll need a welcome page, a blog, a downloads page and perhaps a forum, depending on the nature of your membership site.
If you want the best look for your membership site, consider hiring a professional designer who can give you a consistent look from start to finish.
– A sales letter
Your sales letter should convince visitors why they should join your membership site.
Some would consider it to be the most important part of your site because it gets people in through the door.
The sales letter needs to emphasize the benefits of your membership site as well as mentioning the features.
Build desire to become part of the “in crowd” within the membership site and you’ll make the decision easy for them.
– A payment processor
You won’t make any money with your membership site unless you have this set up properly.
While many people use PayPal to process their monthly subscriptions, you can also use Clickbank, Paydotcom or Ejunkie to process payments.
These three options are your best choices if you want to have an affiliate program for your membership site.
– A membership site script
A membership site script will keep your website secure.
The script will build a registration form into your site, which will allow paying members to sign up and access the site.
It will also keep visitors from accessing your content without paying. Thanks to membership site scripts you don’t have to hire a coder to set up a custom script for you.
– An autoresponder program
You’ll want to keep in touch with your members and let them know what is going on inside of the site.
Using an autoresponder e-mail list is a great way to keep people active in the site.
You can send out a new message each time there is a content update, or you can e-mail a weekly newsletter.
Place an opt in box on the welcome page that members get to after they’ve successfully subscribed.
-Some good content
Before you launch your site, you should have several articles, reports and other forms of content available for your members to enjoy.
If you plan on having a certain amount of updates per month, you should have at least twice as much content when you start.
This way the members know that they’ll be getting quality from you in the future. Write the content yourself or have a ghostwriter do it for you.
-An editorial schedule
Just like traditional newspapers, your membership site needs an editorial calendar. You don’t want to scramble around each month trying to get your content together.
Plan ahead at least a few months of content and get it prepared before you need to post it.
By following these steps, you’ll be ready to promote your membership site and start earning monthly income.
A membership site script will help make running a membership site very easy.
Most scripts allow you to securely set up a website so that non-members can’t access your private content.
There are many different membership site scripts available.
Before you purchase a membership script, look for answers to the following questions on the script’s website:
– Does the membership script have a satisfaction guarantee?
Study the sales page for the membership script carefully to find a satisfaction guarantee.
When a creator of a script includes this, you can buy the script confidently knowing that if you have trouble later you can file a refund request.
If the script doesn’t function the way the creator promised, you’ll be able to get your money back.
Reputable product creators understand this and will display this clearly on their sales page.
– Does the script come with an instant use website template?
Your membership site building process will go a lot easier if your script comes with a website template.
The website template will allow you to set up the script and the basis for your website within just a matter of hours.
You can normally edit the template with your own custom header and icon.
– Does the membership script offer automatic activation for paid accounts?
Once someone pays for their membership to your website, they’ll want to login right away.
That’s why it’s so important that your membership site script offers automatic processing for member sign ups.
This way the new members are automatically transferred to the login page, allowed to login and automatically activated to gain access to the site.
– Does the script immediately send a welcome e-mail to new members?
Many scripts offer this helpful option that allows you to build rapport with your new members immediately.
A welcome e-mail will help make your new members confident about their purchase and introduce them to the major features of the website.
This should be a standard feature on the membership script that you purchase.
– Does the script allow for an affiliate program structure within the site?
A lot of membership scripts will let you easily set up a multi-tier affiliate program within the site so you don’t have to use a third party affiliate program.
If you’re planning on implementing an affiliate commission structure (and you should be!) this is an important feature to look for.
Using a built in affiliate commissions structure will make your affiliate processing super simple.
– Does the memberships script integrate with popular payment sites?
You’ll save a lot of time and energy by finding a membership script that works with PayPal or other major payment processors.
If you find a membership script that does this, you’ll be able to get started all the more quickly.
– Do the script creators offer ongoing support?
A membership script is totally worthless unless it is working properly.
When you make an investment in a script, make sure that you can get the support you need so that your site can make you money.
Look for promises of ongoing support on the sales page or reviews from current customers that prove the membership script creators follow through with those who purchase their product.
With the wide variety of options available to you, if you have trouble finding the answers you need on the scripts that you are considering then is may be best to mark them off your list and move on.
Membership sites are a great way to make recurring income online.
If you’re thinking of starting your own site or you already have one going, here are a few quick tips for success with your membership site.
They will help you simplify your content creation process, get affiliates to promote your site and get new members.
– Outsource content creation.
Your membership site’s success depends on the new content that you deliver each month, every month.
If you want to cut down on your content creation time, consider hiring a ghostwriter to provide your site with articles, reports and blog posts.
When you use a ghostwriter you’ll be able to concentrate on your strengths (like promotion) rather than struggling with the writing.
When you outsource, you don’t have to worry about being a good writer or knowing a lot about your topic.
You can have professional content that gives the site value without writing it yourself.
– Get professional graphics.
Studies have been shown that outstanding graphics can compensate for average content. Of course, this isn’t an excuse to produce lackluster content.
But if your site looks good, people will want to be part of it! Your site’s graphics don’t have to be overly fancy, but they do need to look good.
If you’re not a pro at graphics, you should find a website designer to give you the professional look that you need to draw in customers.
You may be able to barter with a designer for free graphics by offering a free membership to your site.
– Have two or more levels of membership.
Creating two levels of membership or more can help you draw in a wider customer base.
You can help people join the site who might not be able to if the price is higher, but you still have the opportunity to get a higher monthly fee from those who want the added benefits of being in the top tier.
To encourage more sign ups, you can have a free membership level, a silver level and a gold level.
– Use a blog to promote your membership site.
Create and maintain a blog outside of the gates of your membership site in order to build traffic and increase your presence within the niche.
You can maintain your blog as part of your main website or create it on a completely different domain.
Blog about popular topics in the membership site’s forum and give teasers about the content that members are receiving.
When you give quality content and mix in references to your membership site, you’ll create credibility and get new members for your sites.
– Add video to your membership site for major impact.
Video marketing is the next revolutionary step on the Internet. You can be part of this growing movement by adding video to your membership site.
Most anything that can be expressed in writing can be made into a video.
Whether you use traditional video where you talk in front of the camera or screen capture video technology like Camtasia, you can offer top quality content for your members through this new media.
Once you get your membership site up and running, you’ll need to stay on a weekly maintenance schedule to add new content to your website, promote it and promote the affiliate program.
Fortunately, there are just a few simple steps that you need to take on a weekly basis to keep your membership site moving along.
– Respond to customer support questions.
This should be your top priority because it helps you hold onto your existing customers.
One dissatisfied customer can make you lose out on a whole bunch of future customers.
Try to get to this at least twice a week so you can respond promptly to their inquiries.
– Remove cancellations.
Most membership scripts will require you to manually remove canceled members from the database.
Take care of this quickly each week so that you won’t have people getting into the site for free.
– Post new content.
This is a given. Your members are paying for fresh content delivered each month.
Rather than have them wait all month for a new update, split up your monthly delivery into four different parts.
This way there is fresh content for the members to see each and every week. An editorial calendar will help you stay on track and keep your customers satisfied.
If you have a forum as part of your membership site, be sure to check in several times a week to stay on top of important threads and respond to questions from members.
Be present and your members will see that you are dedicated to helping them.
– Poll your subscribers.
Your membership site’s success depends on giving the members exactly what they want. You can keep your finger on the pulse of the market by offering a weekly poll.
Ask them about their favorite parts of the site, what they’d like to see next, and their worst problems with the topic or any other information that you’d like to know.
If you do this on a weekly basis, the members will look forward to participating and give you tons of valuable feedback.
– Send out a “wrap up” e-mail newsletter.
Toward the end of the week you should send a short e-mail newsletter to your subscribers to let them know what happened in the site.
Many times people will sign up for a membership site, forget why they did it and then unsubscribe a few months later.
With an e-mail newsletter, you can remind members of what is going on within the site and encourage them to come back, see the new content and get involved.
– Write and distribute an article on your membership site’s topic.
Your membership site won’t grow unless you promote it. Article marketing is a powerful way to drive traffic to your site and brand yourself as an expert in your niche.
At the beginning of every month, brainstorm a list of four to six different topics that you’ll write about that month.
Write one to two articles per week and then distribute the articles to a few key article directories.
The whole process won’t take more than an hour per week and it will be well worth it.
– Make new connections on social networking sites.
Spend some time each week finding and connecting with people in your market on Facebook, Twitter and any other sites you may already be a part of.
Use search terms related to your niche and add new people as friends. This will help build your circle of influence and get potential new members to your site.
It is a simple fact that you can build the best membership site in the world but if you don’t promote it, you won’t make any money from your best laid plans.
The following tips will keep the traffic flowing to your website and your income growing by leaps and bounds.
No matter what type of membership site you have, you’ll be sure to find some inspiration in these tips:
– Article marketing.
Article marketing is by far one of the most accessible forms of online marketing.
Research the top keywords for your niche, write a quality article and distribute it to a few top article directories like EzineArticles.com.
It doesn’t get any simpler than that!
– Recruit affiliates.
When you’re running a membership site, affiliates can be your best allies in getting new members.
An affiliate program that pays well and that offers affiliates tools like articles, solo ads and e-mail messages will attract top affiliates and bring you new customers.
Register your membership site with Clickbank to reach a wide pool of affiliates.
– Find JV partners.
Unlike affiliates, JV partners get a special level of commission by promoting your membership site.
They’ll run special promotions for your membership site when it launches and get you some of your first members to your site.
– Use pay per click advertising.
Running a successful pay per click campaign can bring you a lot of targeted traffic to your sales page.
Choose the right keywords, craft an attractive ad and you’ll have lots of new members.
– Use Social marketing.
Sites like Facebook and Twitter can offer you lots of opportunities to connect with your niche market and get new potential members.
Start a profile for your membership site and search for friends who are interested in your niche.
– Use Yahoo Answers.
This website is a good place to find questions that people are asking related to your niche.
Search through the open questions a few times a week and provide helpful answers.
Use your membership site link in the resource area to drive targeted traffic back to your site.
– Use Forum marketing.
If you already participate in a forum related to your niche, this will be an easy way to promote your site. Add a link to your membership site in your forum signature file.
Each time you post, your sales page link will be promoted.
– Use viral reports.
Write a short report on a popular topic within your niche. Solve a major problem or provide a plan of action for your niche. Include lots of links back to your site within the report.
Allow others to distribute it for free and your membership site link will get in front of thousands of potential subscribers.
– Barter for reviews.
Contact bloggers and other product creators to give them free access to your membership site in exchange for a review.
They’ll offer their opinion of the site to their readers and you’ll get lots of new traffic into the site.
You can also find paid reviews sites that put you in connection with bloggers who will review your site for a small fee.
– Post blog comments.
Search for blogs in your niche and post insightful comments from time to time.
Use your membership site link in your blog comment and you’ll get some new visitors to your site.
Many people mistakenly believe that their membership site income only comes from the monthly subscriptions that they receive. This is far from the truth.
There are several different ways that you can make backend income from your membership site.
Here are some ideas to help you turn your site into a profit-pulling machine.
– Promote affiliate offers.
Affiliate marketing works really well within the membership site model because you’ve built up trust with your audience.
They’ve seen your monthly content and know that you offer quality. They will trust your recommendations because you’ve offered good content in the past.
Choose affiliate offers that tie directly into popular topics within your membership site.
Ebooks, video courses and short reports will add value for your members and boost your backend sales.
Send an e-mail article to your membership site members with good content and a link to the recommended product.
– Sell advertising.
You can charge a small fee per month to existing members or outside advertisers to display their text ads or display ads on your site.
You can display advertising in the sidebars and just under the header of your membership site.
Search for advertising directories to list the advertising space and add the offer to your signature file in forums that you visit.
You’ll start to see advertising dollars start to roll in the more you publicize the offer.
– Offer personalized coaching.
No matter how much instruction you provide inside of the membership forum, there will always be people who will want something a bit more hands on.
You can offer exclusive one on one coaching for members who want that extra help.
You can charge this as a one-time fee or as a additional monthly subscription (sort of like a membership site within a membership site).
Alternatively, you can offer teleconference calls for membership site members for a small additional fee.
– Sell your own advanced products.
There are bound to be topics within your membership site that deserve special attention.
You can make backend sales by creating products around these topics and offering them to your members.
For example, if you’re running a membership site on weight loss you can create a special report on the best exercises to do to blast through a weight loss plateau.
Offer this at a special price to your members.
You can also sell the same report at a higher price to non-members to drive traffic back to your website to grow your membership.
-Turn membership site content into individual products.
Once you’ve built a good amount of content within your site, you can start using the content for other purposes.
Package up your articles on a specific topic and sell them as a special report.
You can even sell resell rights to the report so that your membership site’s name and link is distributed widely around the ‘net.
You can do this with several different sections of your website to make some backend income and get new members for your website.
With one or several of these techniques you can create several streams of income from your membership site and attract new members.
As we have been discussing during your lessons, starting a membership site is a smart business move, but only if you do it right.
Did you know that every month dozens of people start membership sites only to shut them down just a few months later.
Often the failed site ruins their reputation because they didn’t deliver what they promised to members.
In other cases, they didn’t pick the right topic to begin with. Here are the top seven mistakes that you can make with a membership site and how to avoid them.
– Picking the wrong topic.
A membership site needs a wide customer base. Your topic should be specialized but not so narrow that you can’t attract new members on a consistent basis.
Unlike a short report or niche site, your membership site topic has to be large enough that you can produce fresh content month after month.
Pick a topic that a lot of people are interested in but that also has the potential for evergreen content.
– Not actively contributing content.
Members of your site are looking for fresh content every month. You need to give this to them or they’ll unsubscribe in droves.
You should develop an editorial schedule so you know exactly what you’ll deliver each month. This will help you stay on track.
Base your editorial schedule on the benefits that you promised in your sales letter and you’ll have happy, satisfied customers that will stick around for month after month.
– Not taking the time to craft a good sales letter.
Your sales letter is your 24/7 sales person. It doesn’t matter how much traffic you drive to your membership site if your sales letter isn’t doing its job.
If you don’t trust your own copywriting skills, hire a professional writer.
The investment will be well worth it as you see higher conversions and more members in your site.
– Not marketing for new customers.
You should always have new members coming into your membership site, but the only way you can do that is to market your site continually.
You should be conducting pay per click campaigns, distributing article marketing articles and doing social networking to drive more traffic to your site.
Work this into your weekly plans so that you can keep the flow of new members consistent.
– Not being accessible.
When you start a membership site, your members are looking for a lot of attention and care.
Most of this will come in the form of an easy to use site with quality content. But you should also make it a point to be accessible through e-mail or a help desk function.
There’s a high level of trust involved in a membership site, so make sure you’re there for your members.
– Not looking for opportunities for backend sales.
Opportunities for backend sales exist in many different places in your membership site.
You can sell advertising space within the site or create a platinum level of membership with special coaching.
Just because the members are paying a monthly fee doesn’t mean they won’t be willing to pay for extra information on the site’s topic.
– Not taking steps to increase retention.
If you’re concentrating on getting members but aren’t worried about keeping them, you have a recipe for disaster on your hands.
It takes much more effort to get a new member than it does to keep one that you’ve already got.
By posting consistent content, offering polls, running contests and getting involved the community in your membership site, you’ll be able to hold onto the members you’ve got.
As you know a membership site is a great way to get consistent monthly income but did you know that it can bring you even more money if you sell it after it’s been established for several months?
By doing all the groundwork for a membership site, you can sell your website to someone who wants to take it to the next level.
When you follow these simple steps, you can be ready to sell your first website within a matter of months.
– Start with a profitable idea.
The future buyer of your membership site will do a lot of market research to make sure the site will be profitable. You need to do the same.
Start by looking for a profitable market using Clickbank, Amazon’s best sellers list and other niche market research techniques.
Be sure to check out the existing competition and pick a membership site topic where you can quickly gain dominance.
– Register a new Paypal address.
Your future site transfer will go a whole lot easier if you have a separate PayPal address to collect memberships.
If you have the new memberships go to your existing address, you’ll have to have all the subscribers unsubscribe and then re-subscribe to the new owner’s PayPal address.
By setting up a separate PayPal address, you’ll increase the likelihood of keeping subscribers with the new owner.
– Install Google analytics
Google analytics is a free tracking program that will tell potential buyers all about the traffic that your website is receiving.
Register for the service and install the code onto your web pages from the first day you start the site.
You’ll have a nice history of your site’s traffic to show the buyers as well as proof that you’re receiving the daily visits that you claim you are.
– Create a few months of content.
Get your membership started with a month of content and have a second month ready to add.
If you want to add more money to your bottom line, add a few additional months of content and include them with your sales price.
This will give the new owner plenty to work with once the site transfer takes place.
– Drive traffic to the site
Use article marketing, pay per click campaigns and viral reports to start building traffic to the website.
With a great sales letter, you’ll have your first subscribers in no time. Continue the traffic building techniques for the entire time the site is under your control.
– Prepare your site to sell.
Once you’ve gotten a good amount of members into the website and feel you’re ready to sell, gather together your traffic data and post an ad.
Webmaster forums like Sitepoint and Digital Point Marketplace are some of the best places to sell your site.
Browse through the existing listings to get a sense of what works and what doesn’t. Pay attention to the starting prices for auctions and price your site accordingly.
Be sure to answer all buyer questions and be prepared to collect a big payout for your hard work!
There is also a simple process that you can follow to get ideas for your next membership site. If you’re unsure how to begin and are stuck for ideas, try out these tips.
Your next membership site may not be that far away.
– Get personal.
Begin by brainstorming your own life. Creating your membership site is going to be much easier if you know a little bit about the market.
That’s why it’s a great idea to start your ideas list with hobbies, interests and activities from your own life.
Write down everything that you and your family members are passionate about or interested in. This list could be a goldmine for your membership site.
– New product launches.
Ebook and video course creators have done a lot of niche market research in order to create their products.
You can piggyback on this research specifically by keeping an eye on “product launches”.
For example, if you see a lot of products being produced on article marketing you can safely assume that a membership site on the same topic would do well.
Subscribe to email lists in your potential market to watch for product launches and get ideas for your site.
– Examine in detail.
If you want a comprehensive list of existing digital products that are selling well, Clickbank.com/marketplace is the place to go.
Search through the marketplace to find out what topics your market is interested in learning about.
You’ll be able to find new market ideas, content to fill your site as well as affiliate offers to create some backend sales.
– Popular topics.
Visit Amazon.com’s best-seller list. Amazon is the top retailer online so it makes sense to search their marketplace for membership site ideas.
The bestseller lists in various categories will help you see what topics are popular. You can easily gather membership site ideas from these lists.
Hint: Go with the topics that are popular.
– Keep your finger on the pulse.
Forums are the pulse of your market. You can be sure that a market has members that would be willing to pay if there is an active forum dedicated to that topic.
Track down some popular forums in your potential market and spend some time browsing through the topics. See what the market is talking about.
Pay close attention to the FAQs section and the threads that have a lot of activity.
These are indicators of the kinds of topics which might serve as a topic for your next membership site.
– Check out the magazines.
You should go to Magazines.com! This website is full of membership site ideas.
If a market has a buying audience, there is probably a magazine out there dedicated to it. Magazines don’t get started without advertising dollars to back them up.
If advertisers are paying to get to a market, it’s a safe bet that you can create a membership site for the same market.
On Magazines.com you can search by category to find membership site ideas. I love this place!
– Look for problems.
The final stop I want to mention is social media groups. These free e-mail discussion lists cover a wide variety of topics.
Subscribe to a few groups in your potential market to look for ideas.
The benefit of using groups like these is that you’ll often be able to see problems in the market that aren’t currently being met by other products.
By going through these simple outlets you are sure to find a great idea for your next membership site.