What Is A Digital Membership Site?
A digital membership site is a site where content, resources, or a combination of the two is located.
Access to this site is restricted and can only be accessed via purchasing a membership to the site.
Usually, such access is on a recurring fee, whether monthly, bi-annually, or annually.
Digital membership sites are a “dream” for most Internet marketers because they can earn recurring income from them for work that they essentially do just once.
A digital membership site can have eBooks, software, private label rights products, video and audio training, and/or any combination of the above inside the site.
The only way to access such a site is through log-in credentials, usually consisting of a username and password.
A customer of the site gets a username and password upon purchase, either a combination he/she chooses or one randomly assigned by the membership site platform the Internet marketer is using to maintain the site.
An Internet marketer can create the main membership site and sell access to it.
However, unlike a traditional product like an eBook or software product, the Internet marketer can gain recurring income from that site, a site he/she only has to create once.
However, this doesn’t mean he/she can just forget about the site after that; no, he/she has to continue to provide value to the members of that site or they will cancel their subscriptions, thereby ending the recurring income the Internet marketer receives.
Adding value includes adding more content, resources, etc. to the site over time.
There are platforms and WordPress plugins that allow you to restrict specific sections or products to only those members who have paid for a high-enough level of access or who have been members of the site for a sufficient period of time, etc.
It’s the Internet marketer’s job to not only make sure that the site continues to function, but that it continues to be useful and valuable for the members of that site, or they will likely end their subscriptions and look to take their business elsewhere.
Thus, a digital membership site is a site that has content, resources, and/or a combination of the two that people pay access to in order to make use of that content and/or resources.
An Internet marketer can make recurring income from such a site because a person will continue to pay for access over time, but only if the customer continues to gain value from it.
This is why the Internet marketer must continue to add content and/or resources to the site in order to ensure that paying customers to the site remain members of that site.
Benefits To Using WordPress For Your Membership Site
Many Internet marketers want to build membership sites to provide more value to their loyal customers, plus also make it easier for them to earn recurring income without having to launch product after product or promote someone else’s products repeatedly.
Membership sites enable them to earn that recurring income by doing work essentially once.
While creating a membership site can sound like quite a challenge, the popular blogging platform WordPress makes it relatively easy to create your own membership site.
For one thing, WordPress makes it pretty easy to create your own website; that is why more and more websites across the Internet (about 28% of the Internet) are using it nowadays.
Additionally, new features are continuously being added because it gets updated regularly.
It also is updated regularly to ensure it remains secure against hackers and other unscrupulous threats.
For functionality, WordPress is one of the best options, as there are thousands of plugins available that can add to the functionality of your WordPress membership site.
This includes login functionality; you can restrict access to specific areas of your website to only those who have paid for the privilege to access them.
With the popularity of WordPress as a website and blogging platform, there are thousands of designers, developers, and enthusiasts who can assist you if you have trouble working with WordPress or if you are trying to add a feature to your membership site.
Chances are high that there is a way to add what you are wanting to it, and there are many people out there who can help if needed.
Another benefit of using WordPress for your membership site is that with the popularity of the platform and the constant content that is being posted to the various WordPress sites out there, sites using WordPress tend to get a boost in the search engines, particularly Google.
Thus, you can get more exposure for your membership site if you use WordPress as the platform for it.
Finally, most Internet users can readily adapt to WordPress, much like they do with a popular software program like Microsoft Word, as it has a relatively simple and easy-to-use interface.
Thus, the fact your membership site can be easily used will make it more likely that people will want to stick around and use the content and resources within; thus, they will want to pay to access that content and resources within, thereby boosting your residual income and your reputation as an Internet marketer who provides quality.
Lock Down Your Products With A Membership Site Script
When creating your membership site, you need to ensure that only those who have paid for a specific level of access have access to those products they are entitled to by their payment.
If people have access to products and benefits they haven’t paid for and word spreads of this, not only will you lose money that you should be getting, but you will likely lose subscribers who will feel cheated by paying for access to products that others are getting for free.
Thus, you must use a quality membership site script that will prevent access to those who have not paid.
There are several quality membership site platforms and scripts that will enable you to restrict access to those who have not paid.
If they attempt to access products they have not paid for, they will be notified that they do not have a high-enough level of access to access or download them and be provided with a link to the sales page where they can pay for access.
If they close the window and forego the payment, they will be taken back to the page where they were at before they attempted to access or download the forbidden product.
A good membership platform or script will recognize which members have access to specific content, resources, and/or features of the site because the system will recognize those who have paid for access via the username and password they have entered to enter the site.
A good platform or script keeps track of which members have which level of access, which can range from the most basic of features and privileges (which are often for free or at very low cost) to access to all of the features and privileges a site has to offer (which is the highest level, and also at the highest monthly, bi-annual, and annual cost).
Therefore, to have a successful and profitable membership site, you have to use a good membership platform or script that limits access to specific products, resources, and/or section to those who have paid for that specific level of access.
All others who have not are redirected to a page to where they can pay for access; if they choose not to, they are redirected back to the page where they were at before they tried to access the restricted product, resource, or section.
Those who have paid for access are given access because the membership site platform or script recognizes the level of access based on the username and password the member uses to access the site.
Such access is required to maintain order and profitability of a successful membership site.
3 Ways To Build Trust With Your New Members
With any membership site, you need to show members that you are a trustworthy business owner who has their best interests at heart and are there for the long haul.
Skeptical members will be weary of paying for something that will not be there for very long.
Thus, you need to show new members that you are trustworthy and that it is worth keeping their membership.
One way to build trust with new members is to stay in constant communication with them.
Send them an email or private message (via your membership site) and ask them if they were able to find everything okay and if they have any questions or issues.
Also provide them with tips and advice on how to use the membership site to their best benefit.
Showing them that you are committed to their success and that you care about their well-being and success will go a long way toward convincing them to trust you.
Another way to build trust with new members is to provide additional, unannounced resources and/or training that can help them gain more from your membership site.
Showing that you are willing to go above and beyond what you said you would do will also go a long way to showing that you really care about their success and are not out to just earn a recurring profit from them.
Unfortunately, some Internet marketers are just looking at the amount of money from their members; by showing you’re actually committed to their success and well-being, that will go a long way toward them trusting you and willing to stay paying members of your membership site.
A third way to build trust with new members is to ask them for feedback on how you can make the membership site better for them, how you can make it more valuable for them, etc.
Unfortunately, some Internet marketers just go through the motions when it comes to maintaining their membership sites.
By actually communicating with your members and asking for feedback, you will show that you actually care about their success and well-being, which will lead to them trusting you more and staying as paying members of your site.
Thus, you have learned that staying in constant communication with new members, ensuring they have found everything and know how to best use the site, providing them with additional, unannounced resources, and asking for and listening to their feedback on improving the value of the site to them will go a long way toward earning their trust and increasing the chances of them remaining as paying members to your site for a long time to come.
Cross-Promote Products To Current Members
One of the benefits of membership sites for Internet marketers is recurring income.
However, it’s not just the membership subscription payments that provide income for Internet marketers; it’s also the ability to cross-promote your other products to current members.
Consider that you have many advertising opportunities when you own your own membership site.
All of the products you provide in the membership site are either products you have created yourself or purchased from others and are able to use in membership sites.
The fact you own those products and are allowing others to use them is a great way to promote your expertise in this field and convince members that other products that you do not include in the membership site are ones that they should purchase, since they know your ability and expertise and the fact that they have a relationship with you.
Thus, you should take the opportunity to cross-promote other products that you do not include in your membership site.
This can include coaching products, one-on-one programs, other membership sites you own, full-course programs that are not included in this membership site, etc.
You can promote these other products via signature files at the bottom of emails and private messages you send to members through the site, emails you send to them via your autoresponder, social media accounts, banner ads throughout the site, etc.
The key is to let these members know that you have other resources that aren’t included in the membership site that can help them, and they are resources that you have created.
This will be a motivating factor for your members to purchase them because they know the quality of work you provide and your knowledge in the topic because they are paying members of your membership site.
This especially works when it comes to high-ticket products such as high-end training courses, high-end membership sites, Webinars, one-on-one coaching, and group coaching because they will be seen as even higher-value than the membership site they currently belong to.
Thus, they will want to gain more knowledge and help from you and will be willing to purchase from you.
Thus, membership sites are a great place to cross-promote your other products that are not included in your membership sites.
Members already have learned to trust you and know the quality of the information and resources you provide.
The fact you cross-promote other products, especially high-value products, will entice them to join them to get more knowledge and help from you to aid them in overcoming any issues and challenges they are facing in the industry.
Capitalize On Residual Income With A Digital Membership Site
One of the main reasons many Internet marketers wish to create one or more membership sites is because they can earn much residual income with it/them.
Residual income is essentially money that you keep earning again and again over time from work you essentially do once.
In this case, you create a site with content, resources, or a combination of the two, then promote that site to those who want to pay a recurring fee to join it and have access to that content and/or resources.
Now, this doesn’t mean you can just forget about a membership site after it has been created and members start paying for access.
If you do that, the site will become stagnant, the value will drop for members, and members will stop paying for access and leave, thus leading to your residual income falling to zero.
What you need to do is to keep pushing the value of the membership site higher so that members will have every intention on staying because you are providing so much value to the site, value that helps them overcome the problems/challenges they are facing in the industry.
Therefore, you need to stay on top of what is going on in your industry and create content, resources, and/or tools to help your members take on the industry challenges of today and tomorrow.
You need to update the membership site accordingly with resources that will help them, that are prevalent to the changing industry at large.
Staying on top of such changes will show that you care about your members and that you are an expert in your field, two reasons why members will not want to leave your membership site, thereby maintaining and even increasing your residual income.
It is easier for Internet marketers to maintain a digital membership site and have members pay repeatedly for access rather than create a new digital product every time from scratch or repeatedly promoting other people’s products whenever they want to add more income to their business.
They don’t have to create a new membership site every time they want to add income; they just have to provide new content and resources (i.e. more value) to the current membership site.
Thus, you know that Internet marketers like to create membership sites to create recurring income streams.
However, that only occurs if they continue to add value to membership sites by adding relevant and useful content and resources to help their members take on the industry challenges of today and tomorrow.
By doing this, they can maintain and boost their residual income, as well as boost their reputation as respected and knowledgeable experts in their field.
Top 3 Membership Site Pitfalls To Avoid
When creating a membership site and maintaining it, you have to be sure to avoid some major pitfalls in order to avoid losing recurring income (i.e. losing members to the site) and losing your good reputation.
Below, we will discuss three of the top membership site pitfalls to avoid to ensure you don’t lose recurring income and don’t damage your reputation.
First, NEVER take your members for granted.
Unfortunately, some Internet marketers will just overlook the well-being of their members, too concerned and interested in the profits they are making to look out for their members.
You need to ensure that you always have their best interests in mind and are working hard to ensure that the value your site provides them is always top-notch; anything less than that will lead to them canceling their memberships and looking elsewhere.
Second, NEVER become lackadaisical in adding new products, content, and features to your site.
Never think that your site is good enough and does not need to be updated anymore.
If you ever think that, your membership site will collapse and so will your residual income.
All industries, especially connected to the online world and digital marketing, are always changing and evolving.
You can never presume that everything is fine as it is and that nothing needs updating or improving; if you do, your competitors will take your members away from you, and you will be out of business.
Third, NEVER ignore your members.
This means that you should always stay in constant contact with them and ask them what they are looking for from their membership.
Never presume you have all of the answers to creating a great membership site; after all, they are the ones using the sites, and the site is there to benefit them.
If they aren’t getting enough value from it, they will leave, and your residual income and reputation will drop as a result.
Thus, always make sure to stay in contact with your members and ask for feedback to keep adding value to the site.
Thus, you have learned to never take your members for granted, never to become lackadaisical in adding new products, content, and features to your site, and to never ignore your members and avoid communicating with them.
The membership site is for their benefit; they need to get continuing value from it in order to continue paying for access to it.
Your job is to ensure that they continue getting value from it, and the only way you can ensure that is to never take them for granted, never get lackadaisical in adding products/resources/content to it, and to never presume you know exactly what they want without asking them.
Making any of these mistakes will lead to a loss of residual income and reputation for you.
Benefits To Creating A Forum-Style Membership Site
In creating your own membership site, you may be wondering if you should include a members’ forum within the membership site.
You will find out below why you should strongly consider including such a feature within your membership site.
Adding a members’ forum to your membership site has many benefits.
One benefit is that members can communicate with each other and make partnerships that can aid them in their businesses.
This provides additional value to your membership site, which will make it more likely they will stay and continue to pay for membership.
Another benefit to a members’ forum is that members can help each other out when it comes to accessing the site’s features or knowing the best way to use the site to get the most benefit from it.
In essence, you will have additional “support” to aid new members who are not sure how to go about best using the site to get the most benefit from it.
While you should always put a lot of effort into helping out members, particularly new members, in using the site, having other members aid them will help you out to free your time into adding value to the membership site for all members.
Another benefit to having a members’ forum is that having active members in a membership site shows that it’s “alive” and functioning well, which can be another selling point to people who are considering joining your site, but are unsure on how useful it will be for them.
If they see active members continue to engage each other, discuss various topics, and aid each other in their businesses, this will make it more likely for them and other new members to join.
Adding a members’ forum to your site can also lead to members getting more value from your site because it’s bound to discuss various industry topics that you may not be aware of.
You, the site owner, are just one person, so it’s virtually impossible for you to keep abreast of every development in your industry.
However, if there are multiple people contributing, it’s likely more topics will be covered, which will benefit all members and yourself.
Thus, you have learned that adding a members’ forum to your membership site can provide great value to it.
Members can aid each other in using the site and form partnerships with each other to help their businesses.
People who are considering joining your site will appreciate active members contributing frequently to the forum, thereby increasing the chances of their joining the site.
Finally, having active members will increase the chances of more developments in your industry being covered, which will aid all members, and you, the site owner.
Monthly vs Annual Membership Site Billing
When creating your membership site, something you have to consider is how much you will charge for access.
You also have to consider if you will have various levels of access to your membership site.
In addition to charging for access, you have to consider whether you will charge on a monthly basis, an annual basis, both, or other (such as bi-annual, etc.).
When choosing to offer a monthly and/or annual membership option, you need to consider how much you think access to your membership site is worth.
You also need to consider comparable membership sites offered by competitors to see what they are charging and judge accordingly.
You can also see if they offer monthly, annual, bi-annual, and/or other payment options.
When choosing monthly and annual membership options, keep in mind that the monthly option needs to be a lower cost than the annual, but that an entire year’s worth of monthly payment options adds up to more than the cost of the annual payment option.
This is the benefit for those who decide to pay for an annual membership; they pay more upfront, but they save on cost versus paying monthly.
For instance, if you decide to charge $20 per month for access to your membership site, that would add up to $240 per year ($20 x 12 months).
Thus, the annual payment option you offer must be less than $240, as there is no benefit to paying the annual option if the cost is $240 or above.
The benefit to you for someone paying the annual option is that you get a higher amount of money now in one payment.
Thus, you should consider pricing your annual payment option at $200 or even less as a “discount” for paying in one payment right now.
You can also consider granting special access to sections of the site, getting additional content and/or resources, or getting special privileges and/or benefits for paying in one annual payment versus twelve monthly payments.
This can be an added incentive or “bonus” for members to pay in one annual, larger payment than in twelve monthly, smaller payments.
Thus, you have learned that charging monthly versus annual payment options for access to your membership site can encourage many people to join up and pay what they can afford.
You have to ensure the annual payment option is less than twelve times the monthly payment option or there’s no benefit to paying one annual, larger payment now, something that benefits you, the site owner.
You can also add extra benefits, content, resources, and/or privileges to annual payment members as a “bonus” for paying in one annual, larger sum rather than twelve monthly, smaller payments.
4 Key Ingredients To A Friendly Membership Site
To have a successful membership site, you need to ensure it is user-friendly and valuable for the members that belong to it.
If the members don’t continue to see the value in your membership site, chances are high that you are going to lose them as paying members to your site.
Below, we will discuss four key ingredients for having a friendly membership site.
First, you need to have active members.
Without active members, the membership site will seem dead and stagnant, which will not encourage new people to sign up to the site.
Thus, you need to have active members; one of the best ways to show this to people considering joining the site is to have a members’ forum.
This will definitely show those who are considering joining that the membership site is an active place and has friendly people who will be willing to help those who need it.
Second, you as the site owner need to be active and present frequently.
If you think that you can just sit back and not participate in your own membership site, you’re wrong.
That will lead to members thinking that you don’t care about them and their success and just want to take their money.
Instead, you need to communicate with your members frequently, ask them what they need to gain more value from the site, and basically show that you care about them and their well-being.
Third, you need to ensure that the site is functioning properly at all times and is accessible to all members.
This means that site members are able to access the parts of the membership site that they are supposed to have access to at all times without errors.
If site members have to constantly email support or contact you directly to take care of errors in site access, they will grow tired and cancel their memberships.
Fourth, you need to ensure that there is high-quality customer support.
Whether it’s you, a support desk (like ZenDesk.com and/or Desk.com), or a combination of the two, you need to ensure that all problems that occur are handled professionally and quickly.
You want to ensure members that their needs and issues will be taken of in a timely fashion.
This will show members that you care about them and that you value them, which will make it more likely they’ll stay paying members for a long time to come.
Thus, you learned that four key ingredients to a friendly membership site are active members, an active site owner, a properly-functioning membership site, and rapid, professional customer support.
Without these four key ingredients, your membership site will likely lose members, and you will lose recurring income and your good reputation.