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The reality is that membership sites are a marathon and not a sprint and still need to be treated like a business that requires planning, marketing, sales and customer support.
If you are looking for a get rich quick scheme, then a membership site might not be right for you.
I’ve put together this post for you so you can have a clearer picture of what’s involved in planning, launching and growing your membership site as successful as you can.
1. Know who it’s for
The critical part of a successful membership website is knowing who you can help and how you can help them. What transformation can you help them to make?
The most successful membership websites we’ve helped create or we’ve heard of are very niche to a specialist subject. The broader the subject matter, the harder it is to sell as there is more competition in the space and your messaging and marketing won’t be as laser-focused as it could be if you’re targeting lots of different types of people.
A few wildly successful sites.
- How to play the drums
- How to bake bread
- Personal branding
- Youtube Ads mastery
Do some research first – is there a market for what you’re looking to teach, is the market big enough and are there online communities, facebook groups any people already selling courses or memberships in this area.
2. Plan your content
How do you want your members to get value from your membership site?
There is a common misconception that to sell and retain members you need tonnes of courses and resources to give them value.
You can launch my just running weekly group coaching calls and add supporting content as you go.
You could also launch your website with one course and sell this as your flagship course and then as you start to add more courses and resources, you can then switch to or offer a monthly membership model.
If you plan to add lots of content drip-feeding content as you create it. If members know you are consistently likely to add more content, they are more likely to stick around.
You can then start to track which content members are more engaging with and continue to create more content around this subject matter, like new courses, deep dives videos, quick wins, blueprints or expert interviews.
3. Set your pricing & ascension strategy
One of the critical parts of the success of your site will be getting your pricing right for your market.
Generally, the more competitive the industry is, the lower the price people are willing to pay.
Unless you have a huge following and you’re an influencer in your industry, it’s going to be harder to charge $100 a month for your membership site.
The standard pricing ranges between $20 and $50 a month but the more specialist and hard to find the content is the more you can charge.
The industry can also dictate the price you can charge to some degree.
For example, fitness-based memberships that offer training routines or one-off videos tend to be in the $10 – $15 a month range. This is due to the volume of programmes and competition available.
If you go into a more specific area of fitness and have a uniques programme
For example belly dancing or kettlebell training, you’re likely to have less competition and the price can be higher.
How will you sell access to your content?
Will you offer one membership level or multiple for different access to different content.
You’ll need to decide on which model you prefer for your member’s monthly payments, annual, quarterly or lifetime access.
Do the math – if you had 1000 members paying you $20or $50 a month would that give you the lifestyle you want?
How many members will you need to make this work for you?
If you currently offer or plan to run 1 to 1 coaching or group masterminds.
A membership site gives you a great platform to sell more of these programmes to your current members. They will know you, like you and trust you and be more willing to join a higher-priced coaching programme to get more access and help from you.
These programmes can always be added later, but it’s good to go into this knowing what you want from it from a financial and lifestyle point of few.
4. Build your website
Now you know your target market, content plan and pricing and the membership levels you’ll offer it’s time to start to get your website created.
Membership websites are more complicated things than regular websites, and this is commonly the area that holds most people back from getting their site created and launched.
Essentially they are 3 websites in one.
The front-facing site to promote your site and drive your marketing.
The eCommerce site to take payments and set up new members.
And finally, the member’s area where you store all your expertise based content.
There are a few ways you can launch a membership website.
Hosted software – An online tool that you pay a monthly fee to use which offers speed and ease to set up but can be limited in functionality, and you are left paying a monthly fee to use the software.
You will also have no ownership of your site, which could leave you vulnerable to price rises and functionality being removed or added or worse case the company closes down and you have to come away from that platform.
Self-hosted – WordPress site that you own and is hosted on a webserver on a custom domain.
The benefit of this is that you have full ownership of the site and it can be built with the exact features you want for your membership site. You can also add new features at a future date as you grow your member’s numbers.
These usually are a little more complicated to set up, and you may look to build it yourself, hire an external freelance developer or agency or use a service like ours.
It’s essential to bear these factors in mind when you start planning your site.
Switching platforms can be an expensive process in time and money.
So be clear on the functionality you want your site to have.
If you wish to sell individual courses, have a content library and resources, a community forum, a roadmap, events or a members directory and make sure the option you go with can have these features added in the future.
To increase your chances of a successful launch, you need to build an interest in your membership, so people are more likely to join when you sign up.
Pick a date for launch and start sharing updates and create a buzz around the launch of the new site.
If you already have a lot of subscribers on your mailing list or social channels, start telling them that the membership site is coming and push them towards a page where they can pre-register or download something free and introduce them the waiting list automatically.
The more interest you have, the better your launch will go.
The reality is if you try and launch your membership website to a cold audience, you may be disappointed by the results.
It’s always a wise move to always be building your marketing list with free value-based content and nurture your relationship with new subscribers, so they know like and trust you and are more likely to join as a member or buy a course from you.
6. Launch your site
Now that you have your site ready and you’ve built a buzz, it’s time for the launch.
To launch with the momentum, you need to run a launch campaign this can last from 1-3 weeks, but your main focus should be on this.
Decide on your launch offer –
Will members get a lifetime discount to join now.
Or will you offer a free or $1 trial for seven days and then switch to the regular fee at the end of the period.
Or will you offer something for free on top of the membership to encourage them to join now? This could be a free hour coaching call for the first ten members to join or a free book or tool you know can help them.
By using email marketing, paid to advertising like Facebook Ads as well as daily social media posting, you’ll followers will know this is now available, and you want them to join.
Make sure the launch has a deadline to build scarcity and a fear of missing out.
7. Onboard your new members the right way
Congratulations you’ve launched your site and members are starting to join.
Now is the perfect way for you to give your new members a wow experience.
Putting a little effort into giving your new members a wow experience will keep them feeling more engaged and a lot more likely to stay members for longer.
You will want to have an email series set up to guide members through the first month of their membership site to ensure they are using the content you have and they are utilizing the other features of your website.
Get personal to deliver a wow experience. You can do this by sending a handwritten welcome card and a little gift, a welcome video to thank them for signing up by using something like loom or Bonjoro.
These little personal touches can go a long way and will help you to build raving fans.
8. Communicate regularly with your members
The membership site owners with the lowest cancellation rates communicate with their members every week.
Usually in the shape of a weekly email update sharing other members questions and asking for input, letting them know upcoming updates and upcoming calls.
You can also run a monthly or quarterly challenge for members to help them get better results.
Or local meetups for members close to you or when you travel to another city or town.
Reach out to a few members each month and ask them to join you on a 10-minute call to see how they are finding the membership or course.
Getting new members is essential, but so is keeping members. By communicating with members, showing you care, celebrating their wins and encouraging interaction, they will feel like they belong to something more than a website and stay longer and spread your message for you.
9. Ask your members for feedback
To create a better membership experience for current and new members. It’s crucial to get feedback from your members to let them know you take what they want seriously.
Discover what they like about the membership, what they don’t like and what they would like to see more of, how is the site helping them to achieve their goals and where are they are stuck in their journey.
You don’t have to act on every single suggestion, but if common themes come up, you can create content to meet this need or offer a higher ticket programme to help them to become unstuck and implement what they learn to get better results.
If you adapt to their feedback, they will feel listened to and part of something more than just a membership.
Once you have your current member’s feedback, and a clearer picture of their wins and struggles you’ll be able to refine your marketing messages, get case studies and testimonials which will make selling your membership easier and give new members an even better experience that they won’t want to leave.
10. Never stop marketing and selling your membership site
To continue to grow your member’s numbers, you need to be marketing your membership website consistently.
There are lots of ways to market your membership site, and I could create a standalone guide just on this subject.
It’s not all about having the perfect sales funnel but the day-to-day marketing activities that will help you to stay top of mind and the go-to person to learn from. By creating consistent value-based content, whether it’s a podcast, a weekly youtube show or blogging, you will begin to build a following that you can turn into members.
Offer free valuable content to help build your marketing lists, and ongoing email follow up campaigns to build a relationship with prospects and encourage them to join the membership with free webinars or free courses or content with a call to action to join the membership.
Membership websites require a lot of time and planning and need to be treated as a business. You’ll need to be willing to consistently produce content to market the site but also for members and communicate on a regular basis.
If you get it right they can be very rewarding and offer a predictable and reliable recurring income, they are endlessly scalable and can offer a very nice lifestyle business allowing you to work by your rules and from anywhere in the world.
If a membership website is something you would like to build but don’t know where to start.
Find out more about our done for you membership website development service and pricing here.