Membership sites are a great way to generate constant income over long period of times. That’s because your members will join and renew their subscriptions every month as long as they get what they want. So if you plan to create a successful membership site, check these five tips that you’ll help you build a solid, long lasting business.
1 – Don’t Start What You Won’t Continue
Once you make the decision to build a membership based website, you are making a longer term commitment to your buyers. It may be a travel membership site, dating membership site or a money making membership site. Many membership programs start strong and then fade out because the owner gets bored or finds other more exciting and/or profitable projects.
Any business that wants to have long lasting success obviously has to have a solid foundation. What does this mean exactly? In a nutshell, it means that you as the business owner have to be good at what you do and you must provide genuine value to the end buyer. In a recurring payment situation, nothing will lead to your demise faster than a low quality product that forces the buyer to hit the cancel button faster than you can say “fail”.
If you really want a membership business to work for you, make sure you pick something that you will have a long term interest in continuing. In all likelihood it is going to take longer that you anticipate to achieve the levels of success that you desire. Are you picking a program that you will want to stick with? This is a tough question but you need to ask yourself this before proceeding.
2 – What Type of Membership Will it Be?
This topic was mentioned in the Membership Structuring section but it is really key. If you want to have a program like Dennis’ with a discussion forum, you need to make sure that the forum is active on day 1.
Nothing turns people off faster than a money making forum that appears to have no activity. This may mean starting your program with a free membership option to get the conversations started. Or it could mean you invite members from partner programs to participate in your forum at a special rate. You may need to get creative here but the main thing is, make sure it is active. Once you have an active forum, make sure it is a friendly, helpful, respectful place to visit.
Forums are all about community and if you set the precedent that all members will be treated with respect, people will naturally want to stick around. If you go with a non-forum membership site, decide if you will be releasing products, drip fed training/information, newsletter style mailers, etc…
Each style of membership requires infrastructure and management. Product releases may require a password protected website whereas newsletter style memberships may be able to run with a simple autoresponder. Understand these implications and associated costs.
3 – Make Sure it is a Bargain
Your members need to feel compelled to stay on. They need to feel as though they “can’t afford to NOT stay” because the program is so valuable.
The good news for most online marketers is that you can add value to any of your offers and it does not have to cost you a fortune. In fact, with some extra effort and ingenuity, you can increase the value of anything you produce by a factor of 10 or even 100 depending on what it is you offer.
You have a serious advantage over a business owner who sells hard goods or delivers services. To add more “value” in most of those cases means, investing more time and/or money and it is hard to measure the payoff
You can do the exact same thing and simply make sure that your members are getting many times more value than they are ever paying for.
4. Reputation and Relationships
When your buyers feel like they have received FAR MORE value than they have paid you, you are creating an unseen force that can be valuable beyond belief in the business world. You are creating life-long fans who will support you AND tell their friends about you.
Not because you are giving them affiliate links and paying them a referral (although you certainly should be doing this as well), but because they feel the deal is so good that the HAVE to tell everyone they know. Before you even begin your first membership site, you should take into consideration exactly how you plan to build and grow relationships with your buyers.
Remember, the financial goal here is long-term recurring revenue. If you do not have a solid relationship with that buyer, you are giving them every reason in the world to cancel their membership before the next monthly installment is due. On the flip side, many people are happy to pay a recurring fee if they feel like the deal is too good to pass up and that they are a part a program that they simply MUST have (i.e. they can’t afford NOT to be a member).
5 – Stay In Touch With Your Members
Stay in constant contact with your members. Whether it is a few times a week, once a week or a few times a month, make sure you contact your members and keep them up to date on everything going on in your program.
Assuming you have been building and growing your program, you should have lots of exciting announcements to share with them on a regular basis. Many of your members may have subscriptions to a dozen other programs.
They may forget to visit your site if you don’t remind them. And if they haven’t been visiting regularly, again it becomes easy for them to justify a decision to cancel. Setting a contact schedule for your members not only keeps them up to speed but gives you as the owner, a forcing function to make sure that you constantly have new content to share with them.