Today I’m going to tell you why membership sites are a fantastic way to start your own online business, and give you some ideas for what you can do with your membership site!
What is a Membership Website?
Whether you are brand-spanking new to internet business or an old hand, starting a membership website is a fantastic way to earn a regular income!
A quick Google search on almost any topic will produce some websites in the results which are actually membership websites. These are websites where you can learn about a topic, access resources or talk to others about it. Simply put, a membership website is a website that brings people together who have a common interest.
You might not think you are familiar with membership websites, but a lot of major, successful websites which have now become a household name are actually based on the membership model (think Ancestry.com). You may even be subscribing to membership websites yourself and you just haven’t realised!
Put simply, membership websites are groups that people join and become active participants in. This might be to learn something or to share ideas and experiences. A membership site facilitates an online community for like-minded people.
You can enter the online business market, or expand your current internet business by opening your very own membership website. This will usually include a website that offers some exclusive content and often offers the opportunity for members to interact with one another. For access to these features, customers will pay a monthly subscription fee.
Why are Membership Sites a Good Idea?
- They are a fantastic way to start off your own online business because they don’t cost an arm and a leg to get off the ground
- You get paid to create content!
- Customers will also generate content through their discussion
- Membership sites have the ability to generate unlimited profits
- They can provide a great testing ground for your newest product and service ideas
The beauty of membership websites is that unlike selling a product, your customer base will continue to purchase your product month after month, and that’s without all the work of driving new traffic to your site.
Most membership websites also provide information either alongside their service or product, or as the content itself. Because information is free, the content can be free, allowing you to keep 100% of the profits.
Most internet marketers strive for a steady income through their online businesses. Membership websites can be one of the easiest ways to achieve this success!
Another fantastic benefit to running a membership website is the customer base that you will build. Rather than selling products which may have you interacting with customers on a one-time basis, managing membership websites allows you to provide a service or information to the same members daily, weekly or month. This naturally builds an audience who are loyal and respect your content, making it much easier to promote new products or services in the future.
Things to Keep in Mind
- Like any business, membership websites are not a sure thing. There has to be a demand or a gap in the market for what you are offering
- They take work to build up – you will need to offer good, exclusive content and you will need a good amount of this before you launch. Nobody will pay to access a website with pages that read “Watch this Space” or “Coming Soon”.
- You will need to be active and engage with your audience as much as possible
- If you choose to have forums, you will need to moderate these, or hire someone else to
Examples of Membership Sites
Membership websites come in all shapes and sizes.
Your website might offer a class, a service or a product. If you have anything that you can share with an audience, then you can create a membership program out of it.
The most important factor is finding a niche. Your website needs to be specific and it needs to fill a gap in the market. It also needs to offer value for money immediately, as well as ongoing content that will keep your member base coming back month after month.
Here are some ideas for membership sites that you could get into:
One of the most popular types of membership site is software licensing. If you have a product already in place, members sign up to access your software (e.g. Xero, Aweber).
Membership sites are the perfect place to offer tuition in areas that you have knowledge or skills in.
Crucial to the success of a teaching site is new content and tutorials – whatever you are uploading; it needs to be fresh and regular.
Teaching can also be offered in the form of an online course over a set time.
This is a membership site purely based on you offering a service to your subscribers.
This might be something such as online coaching, access to worksheets or file storage.
This is the perfect membership model for those who have already established a community of loyal followers on a blog or website.
Convert your website into a membership site by charging your visitors to become ‘premium’ members who can then access exclusive content or forums.
If you already have discussion forums on your website, you might want to consider adding a ‘Members Only’ forum which entices free participants to pay for a membership so they can access and engage in the premium forum.
This is the most popular type of membership site –and for good reason.
The idea behind the evergreen membership model is that you focus on making your paid content as evergreen as possible. This means that it should still be as relevant as possible this time next year, in 5 years and in 10 years.
Another common element of evergreen sites is utilising tools and plugins which will allow your site to drip feed the content so that your subscribers don’t get access to all of your content at once. Using this method also means you can schedule your content in advance and let it roll out automatically.
What Could I Offer?
No matter what kind of membership site you decide to open, you are going to need content of some kind. Here are just a few examples of things you could offer to your members:
- Live seminars or webinars (you might even use guest speakers)
- Live Q&A sessions
- Member forums
- A private Facebook group
- PDF Files – How to’s” or Step-by-Step Instructions
- Blog articles
- Group challenges (you might even offer a prize!)
Everyone has knowledge or skills in something. By creating a membership website you can use these skills to build your own sustainable business with massive financial benefits.
Let me know your experience/feelings/concerns etc about membership websites in the comments below! :)