This tutorial is not intended to make you an expert in planning for, setting up, operating, and marketing a membership site. It will, however, provide you a good base from which you can start.
It is essential to know the basics when considering starting a membership site, so you include all the necessary elements and have it provide what you envision, and also have it provide what members are looking for…
We will start with the very basics and work our way through and at the end of the training, you will have the option to pick up a couple of handy eBooks that will help you even more.
Finally, at the end of the tutorial, you see that I ask for feedback and input. In the comment section, we have an opportunity to learn from others, get questions answered, and generally, discuss membership sites further and in more detail.
So let’s get started…
WHAT ARE MEMBERSHIP SITES
Membership websites are an excellent tool for you to create a valuable central resource location that you fill with good actionable tools, resources such as eBooks, lead magnets, and whatever else that may be appropriate for your members who sign up to access.
Membership sites provide an excellent way for you to build an on-going revenue stream. Some people refer to this as residual income, wherein on a monthly basis you have members paying to have the privilege of accessing the valuable information, tools, and tips you provide.
So in reality, it is a win-win situation, and as you add more and more information, you can choose the way that members get access, and also create levels of access, so that top level members will have more training and tools than lower level members.
While this sounds easy and makes a lot of sense, and of course is one of the most lucrative profit opportunities you have available to yourself online, to make a go of it successfully, it is important to understand what all the necessary elements you must plan for and act on to have a successful membership website.
We are going to explore all of the key components that must be used when you plan for and launch a membership website…
Starting at the beginning stage, we’ll look at brainstorming or mind-mapping, then move into the planning phase, cover the launch, and lastly cover some post-launch imperatives.
Understanding what a membership site is at face value will not help much unless you know the process of constructing a successful membership website. If you do it right, however, you can achieve success using this business opportunity that you have always dreamed of.
ADVANTAGES OF CREATING A MEMBERSHIP SITE
You may be asking what can a membership website do for me? Why go through all the trouble to get one in place? What will it do for me? Is it worth the time I will have to invest? How expensive is it going to be? Is it even worth my time?
There are likely more questions I could include, but you get the point. Truthfully there are many advantages over and above the monetary aspect I spoke of above to getting a membership site im place…Let me fill you in…
Advantage # 1: Authority
One of the most critical is the ability you have to establish your reputation or your brand. If you have a membership site for whatever niche that you happen to be in people will naturally perceive you to have more knowledge about that particular niche than John Doe who is just selling another ebook.
In this manner, it makes it possible for your site to become an authority site. That is something that you cannot establish with just a thank you page or a sales page.
Advantage # 2. Fewer Opt-outs
Running a membership site also offers another distinct advantage in the ability to establish a relationship with your customers. Stop and think about it for a moment…
What happens when you have a subscriber list and all you are doing is sending out emails or newsletters?
There is a good chance that at least a percentage of those subscribers are going to be lost through the opt-out or unsubscribe option.
This is something that is not nearly as easy with a membership site…
That is not to say that there will not still be a small number of people who may choose to leave, but if they want to do so they will need to come back to the site to do it.
Advantage # 3. Improved Security
Another keen advantage of the membership site is that it allows you to have far better security. It is much more difficult for someone to break into a membership site than it is for them to hack your thank you page and then proceed to download your product without paying for it.
Advantage # 4. Increased Traffic
Also, you have to factor in what is often known as the stickiness factor. With a membership site you have a greater potential for repeat traffic…
Consider for a moment how many times you have ever returned to visit a thank you page…
The answer is probably never and that is precisely what you can expect when you try to sell products without using a membership site.
While people may not return to a thank you page, if you provide enough high quality, relevant and helpful content and products on your membership site you can rest assured that people will come back.
The key is to make sure that you give them a reason to come back and that can be accomplished through a contant supply of fresh articles, perhaps a blog, new products, etc.
Advantage # 5. Easier Bonus Delivery
It is also much easier to deliver additional bonuses or whatever you want at a later point…
Unfortunately, what some people try to do is simply deliver their product through email and then toss in a line telling the customer that they can also download a bonus.
If you have a membership website you have the opportunity to send out an email and request that the customer log into their member area to download the brand new bonus that you have uploaded just for them as a way to say think you for being a customer.
See how much more personal this is and how much easier it is to customize this type of message?
When they do log in to the member area they will also be able to see links to other products that you have posted as well as links to other sites that you may have and practically anything else you wanted to put there.
This is an excellent way to earn some passive income!
Advantage # 6. Passive Income
Membership websites offer the ability to greatly increase your passive income because you will know that your customers will be coming back again and again.
Not only are you building that all important trust with your customers but when they see that you have recommended something they are going to be far more likely to check it out and actually buy it.
Advantage # 7. Pricing
When it comes to pricing your membership websites, there are a couple of different ways that you can handle this. One way would be to charge a one-time fee while another option would be to charge a recurring fee.
One thing to keep in mind if you choose a recurring fee is that it can become more complicated with recurring billing unless you have it set up so that people do not mind the recurrent billing for whatever service you are providing.
Really, this all comes down to whatever niche or market you happen to be in. There are some markets where it is going to be easier to charge recurring billing than others.
So, make sure you give some thought to which pricing model is best for the particular market that you happen to be in…
PARTNERING FOR YOUR MEMBERSHIP SITE
One of the biggest mistakes that most people make when they first enter the online business world is trying to go it alone. This is why it is important to understand that making online is very much like a team sport.
It is crucial that you find someone or perhaps even a small group of individuals with whom you can partner and work with on a regular basis. You can help each other, support one another, and grow together…
The same principle holds true regarding a membership site or sites…
The key for making such a partnership or team concept work is to find people that you will feel comfortable working with over the long term.
It is virtually impossible for you to go it alone in this type of business and the sooner you embrace that idea, the sooner you will be able to begin on a journey of success.
What to Look for
There are quite possibly an invariable number of different possibilities available, meaning that you will need to focus on looking for the right personality traits and characteristics.
The first thing to focus on is finding people who have a mindset that is similar to your own. You must have a fairly good idea of who that person is if you are going to be working with them closely over the long-term.
Keep in mind when you are looking for people to partner with that you do not necessarily need to work within the same office. This is one of the great benefits of being able to conduct business online.
When you find the right person to partner with you can be thousands of miles away from one another and still make the partnership work through the marvels of the modern world.
The fact that you are not actually in the same office with one another can actually prove to be a benefit in and of itself because this means that you are held accountable to each of your partners and them to you in terms of the results produced.
There are no temptations to sit the and waste time, take long leisurely lunches together, go out after work and have a drink, etc. This actually makes it much easier to get far more accomplished.
The idea of a virtual team can actually prove to be advantageous in many different ways…
When you are working virtually, there is no one there looking over your shoulder, forcing you to feel as though you need to stay engaged in busy work just to look as though you are getting something done.
This means that every member of the team can be far more productive during the time when they are working…
While it is important to look for someone who has the same mindset as you that does not mean that you need to find someone who is exactly like you.
The goal is to find someone who will complement you. For example, if you are a copywriter then you would not want to partner with someone who is a copywriter.
If you develop software, then you should not look for someone who is also engaged in this niche of developing software…
This is because when you are both involved in the exact same field, there is much greater potential for there to occasionally be disagreements….
Ideally, you and your partners should all complement one another. They should be strong in areas where perhaps you may be weaker and vice versa. When you are together you will be much stronger.
This type of arrangement can work with only two people but it can also work with more people in a larger group working together as well.
You could even have up to a dozen people working on the same project if you wanted to do so and everyone brought something positive to the team.
The main thing to understand is that with joint venture partnership, you really need to find someone who will complement your skills. You never want to have a situation where different people are essentially doing the same things.
By creating a team of at least two members, everyone will be accountable for their own actions. This means that there should naturally be much more productivity occurring.
The fact that you are accountable to others means that you nor your partners can afford to simply sit around and put work off until the next day because you do not see it as important.
This type of extra incentive can really light a fire and ensure that everyone on the team continues going and accomplishes everything they need to do so they can check in with the others.
ELEMENTS OF A MEMBERSHIP SITE
Ok, now that we have covered the advantages of getting a membership site in place, and also looked at the advantages or partnering with someone or a team to get your membership site in place, now we can dig down into what the elements are and order the elements…
Element # 1. Your Niche
Beyond setting up your team, one of the critical elements in developing a membership website is deciding upon your niche. The thing to focus on with this is to spend some time looking at where a demand for products exists.
When you can see an area of the market where there is obviously a huge demand, you can see an opportunity that will exist for your membership website.
At the same time, you want to make sure that you avoid areas of the market that have been clearly over-saturated. You need to find a market area where there is a demand but very little business.
This may sound as though it would be difficult and to a degree it is, but the thing to keep in mind is that any type of business, whether it is online or offline, requires a tremendous amount of drive and determination.
Element # 2. Your Mindset
The mindset that you have can be one of the most important elements in determining the success of your business. If you have the wrong mindset you will likely find that you have a much harder time in developing your business.
It also puts your business at a greater risk for failure. Therefore, it is crucial that you have the correct mindset…
Essentially, you must make the change in your mind from being an employee and begin to think like an entrepreneur. Of course, this does involve a lot of thinking and it also involves a tremendous amount of learning on your part.
Some of the most critical things you can do to plan and prepare for the success of your business is to watch DVDs, listen to audios and read books that relate to what you are trying to do.
Make a point to find someone who is succeeding in what it is that you are trying to accomplish. Your goal here should be study individuals who are currently doing more than you and that you would like to emulate.
The learning process should be completely ongoing. You must never stop trying new things. Set a goal of locating at least a couple of books each month that you can learn from.
Always make an effort to try to absorb some new material each and every day so that you can improve your business…
It is also important to avail yourself of all of the technology that is available today. Studying technology is another excellent action that you can take to benefit your business.
In all of these activities, it is important to view them as a learning experience. Make it a goal to learn something from everything that you do.
This is an excellent way to learn much more in-depth regarding how things work behind the scenes in relation to online business, particularly membership sites.
Element # 3. What is the Market
Making sure that you have a good idea and background knowledge of the marketplace is critical to your success. It is not that difficult to lose money when you try to promote something that you are not familiar with.
Individuals who are successful with their business have taken the time to get to know the market. You have to consider the fact that you are basically your own customer.
If you are able to look at yourself in this perspective, it is enough to get you at least halfway to where you need to be in order to begin planning the next stage of your business.
This is how crucial understanding the market really is…
You must be aware of what the issues are that are affecting people within that marketplace as well. Part of the successful formula is also relying on that basic intuition.
You should certainly never rely on intuition alone because that can be quite risky but you must make sure you are listening to your customers…
One way to do that is to run a survey. Stop and think about it. What better way to know what your customers want than to simply ask them. Ask them to let you know how you can help them.
- What is it that they don’t have in their business right now that they need?
- What is it that they want to learn?
- How much money are they making and how much money would they like to make?
- What is currently causing them the biggest problems
- How can those problems be resolved?
These are all important questions that you need to be asking when studying the market. Ask your customers what they need, listen to what they have to say and you will find yourself positioned much better for success.
Element # 4. Brainstorming and Planning
When it comes to building membership sites, one of the best ways to approach it is to build the sites from scratch…
The only real way to do this is to simply take an idea, put it down on paper and then begin brainstorming regarding what you can do with that idea to make it come to life.
Eventually, you will take that idea and test it and launch to sell a service or product, but initially, you will focus on brainstorming and planning.
If you find it hard to get your brainstorming going, you may find it easier to bounce ideas off people who actually know the market that you want to infiltrate than if you just sit down with paper and pen and try to come up with ideas.
So, how far in advance should you start this? Keep in mind that everyone and every project is certainly different but it is not a bad idea to try to start the brainstorming and planning phase at least a year ahead of time.
You must be flexible when you are in these early stages as anything can happen but there can also be positive changes that will occur as well which could enhance your planning.
THREE PHASES TO SUCCESS
Generally, we think about three phases in most projects that I have been involved in, and membership sites are no different. There is the pre-launch, the launch itself, and then the post-launch. Let’s look at each one…
Let me say that the first phase may seem like one you do not have to pay much attention to, but that is NOT true. This phase sets the stage for everything that will follow. Screw this up, and your chances of success diminish significantly…