I’m betting that you’ve heard about people starting successful membership sites and making buckets of money. However, running a profitable membership site doesn’t just happen overnight!
You can’t set up a membership site, create content, and expect dozens of customers to join instantly.
But the motivation is all about recurring income. It’s one of those catchphrases you hear in the online world constantly and yet not many business owners take advantage of it seriously. They might dabble in affiliate marketing here and there or they may try to create a product or two.
But when you consider just how many people are trying to make a living online, not many take full advantage of recurring income.
Creating Recurring Income
The excuses are many: I don’t know what to produce; I don’t have the budget for outsourcing; Hey, I can’t do it all by myself; I don’t know where to start. The list goes on for miles and miles.
Creating recurring income takes work, no doubt about it! There’s no magic bullet that fills up your product library with the exact products and programs that your audience is dying to purchase. But all that work is done upfront; then with some regular marketing on a schedule you choose, you can reap the profits for many years to come.
Let’s clarify one thing: recurring vs passive income. Contrary to popular belief, these two words are not interchangeable.
- Recurring income means you’re receiving a regular payment every month. That may be your affiliate commission from the web hosting company you recommend or it may be payments from your membership group.
- Passive income means you sold one of your products and got paid for it but it’s not a guaranteed payment every single month.
Just to be clear, passive income is awesome so don’t give up on creating your own products or writing that book! All forms of passive income are worth investigating and producing if it’s in line with your business goals.
But this article is focused solely on recurring income, so you can earn extra money outside of your coaching programs on a regular basis. Wouldn’t it be nice to have an emergency fund to replace an appliance that breaks, to save for college tuition, or simply take a vacation?
Recurring income also means no more guessing how much you’ll bring in every month. Sure, you might lose one or two affiliate sales if people drop out of your recommended programs but overall, you’ll come to rely on that recurring income number.
Put your creative thinking cap on and let’s get started!
Mistakes Successful Membership Site Owners Avoid
The philosopher, G.K. Chesterton once said, “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.”
What he probably meant was that most people who try to do something with the best intentions will still make mistakes – but that should not stop us from trying. Avoiding the curse of perfectionism is the key to progress.
This axiom can be applied to your membership site when you’re setting it up. Don’t aim for perfection, but you should strive for excellence.
Save yourself a ton of wasted time, money, and effort by avoiding these five common mistakes made by most marketers, new membership site owners, and first-time course creators!
Lack of Simplicity
If you’re building your first membership site, always remember that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Do not try to build an overly complicated membership site with too many levels and trials, etc.
You want a simple trial followed by a paid membership. Content should be delivered smoothly, on time, and be easily accessible to the members. That’s it in a nutshell.
You’re building a membership site, not a space shuttle. Keep it simple.
Biting Off More Than They Can Chew
It’s understandable that you want to blow your customers’ minds by giving them a ton of content. There is one question you must ask yourself:
Is it sustainable?
You may be able to pull it off in the first month or two. But will you be able to overdeliver consistently… or will it become a grind that drains you?
Setting the bar too high initially can make customers expect a lot, and when you fail to deliver, they’ll look at it as you not delivering on your promises – and they’ll quit the membership. So, you’ve set yourself up for failure by raising the bar too high from the get-go.
Less is more.
This is one of the biggest mistakes you could make. Always ensure that you’re at least 2 months ahead of your ‘oldest’ subscribers when it comes to having your deliverable ready. This will give you some buffer time should there be any delays in content creation.
Many beginners make the mistake of preparing the following month’s content during the current month and they’re always rushing to get it done. Being behind the 8-ball is not a good place to be. It’s frenetic and stressful.
If you’re late with the delivery, you can bet you’ll lose trust and several of your subscribers will leave. You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Make sure yours is impeccable as far as content delivery is concerned.
Not Testing the Onboarding Process
When you first build your membership site, make sure you test it thoroughly. Pay for it, sign up, and check how smoothly you become a part of the membership – and how easy it is to access your content.
It would be a good idea to wait a month to see if you’re billed again – and if you are, did you get access to the following month’s content? You should have.
But what if you cancel? Did you still get access to the next month’s content? You shouldn’t have.
All these details must be checked BEFORE you launch your membership. Once it’s all ready, you can shout from the rooftops about it and there will be fewer hiccups once people start joining your site.
Running a membership site is a marathon and not a sprint. Your goal is to get more members and provide good content monthly. Do not try overselling your subscribers by hitting them up with new offers every 2 days or so.
Give them time to consume the content. If you wish to make more money, you should provide upgrades within the membership site so that they can get more perks, etc.
Consider 2 or 3 membership tiers with varying payment plans. These will help you get more customers who can choose a membership that’s suitable for their budget. All you need to do is look at Netflix’s membership options to get an idea of how it’s done.
Give your potential customers 2 or 3 choices – but not more than that.
These 5 mistakes are common and can affect your membership site adversely. Keep them in mind and steer clear of them… and your site will grow to become a profitable investment that reaps rewards over and over.
Daily Tasks to Complete When Running Membership Sites
Running a membership site is a relatively hands-free process once you have all your automation and deliverables in place. However, even with automation, there will be a few tasks that will require daily monitoring and action.
If you have a successful membership site with lots of members and your profit margin is good, you may outsource the task of handling support to a freelancer. With a bit of training from you, they’ll be able to answer inquiries and technical support tickets.
It’s imperative that all support tickets, especially those from paying subscribers are handled in a timely and efficient manner. Your retention rate will suffer if your support desk is slow and unhelpful.
Furthermore, someone who is interested in signing up for your membership may have an inquiry. If you reply to them quickly, they’ll be much more likely to sign up. If you delay too long, their passions would have cooled and they may not join your membership. Money loves speed.
So, the growth of your membership site is affected by the quality of your support. Check on tickets/inquiries daily or hire someone to do it for you.
Show Up in the ‘Community’
One of the best ways to have engaged subscribers is to have a Facebook group for your members to be a part of. They can engage with one another and gain valuable insights.
In some cases, being a part of the ‘community’ may encourage many subscribers to carry on staying in your membership because they enjoy the friendship and guidance in the group.
Spend 15 to 20 minutes a day in your Facebook group engaging with your subscribers. Answer their questions and share useful information and a dose of entertainment.
Being present in your group shows that you’re not an absentee site owner. People want to buy from other people. So, make sure you have this crucial human touch when running your membership site.
Check the Feedback
Occasionally, you may have members who cancel their subscriptions. It’s not fun, but it will happen. You’ll need an exit survey (with a list of options for them to choose from) to let you know why they’re quitting.
The feedback will let you know if they’re leaving because of financial reasons or if they’re not satisfied with the quality of the content and so on.
Analyzing feedback will be extremely useful for making improvements on your membership site. This will prevent future subscribers from leaving because of the same reasons.
Constantly Looking for Ways to Improve
Spend 30 minutes a day coming up with new ideas for your membership. During these 30 minutes, you’ll want to brainstorm new topics for your content, new tactics to try to sell your program to more people, new advertising ideas, and so on.
By forcing yourself to think of new ways to improve your site daily, you may strike upon a technique or method that boosts your income. Like Steve Jobs said, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”
So, keep innovating and testing new ideas. You’ll never know which one will be a winner.
Website Traffic Generation
Lastly, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, you’ll need to spend an hour or two daily doing some work to let more people know about your membership site.
The goal is to have a freebie that converts – one that you promote to get people on your list. You’ll then have a 7-day email sequence that delivers value and builds trust. Once that’s done, the following emails will mention and promote your membership site.
Post relevant engaging content on different social media platforms and have links pointing back to your freebie offer. You might want to use paid advertising to generate more traffic too.
It doesn’t matter which platforms you use. In the end, all roads lead to paradise… or in this case, your landing page for the visitor to sign up. From there, it’s just a matter of email marketing.
By actively promoting your site and generating traffic daily, you’ll ensure that you get more eyeballs on your landing page… and ultimately, more members in your membership site.
Pay attention to the daily tasks and be on top of things. Do not rest on your laurels once your membership site is making money.
When it comes to achieving success with a membership site, there’s one rule – If you’re persistent, you’ll get it. If you’re consistent, you’ll keep it.
Proven Secrets to Growing Membership Sites
If you’ve been doing online marketing for a while, you’d know that the saying, “If you build it, they will come” is anything but true. You can build a ton of membership sites and it’ll all be crickets unless you proactively go out to get subscribers.
This is real marketing, and while the almost ‘clickbaity’ title above mentions the word “secrets”, the hard truth is that the pointers listed below are fundamental marketing concepts that work wonders when deployed efficiently.
To grow your membership site, you’ll need to employ the strategies discussed in this post, constantly and consistently. Any membership site, no matter how good it is, will experience attrition.
It could be 1% to 2%, but you’ll still be losing members monthly. So, your goal should be to add more members than you lose. This will ensure that you stay in the green and that your site is highly profitable.
Get The Word Out
The first step to getting people in your membership site will be to shout it from the virtual rooftops. You’re the best ambassador for your site… and until you have affiliates, you’ll probably be the only ambassador. So, it’s all on you. No pressure.
You should first create a lead magnet to give away. The lead magnet could be a report, training video, white paper, etc. and it has to be highly relevant to the content in your membership site.
Next up, you’ll post this freebie offer on your social media accounts. Ideally, you should have a Facebook page, group, etc. where you can post.
Pinterest boards, YouTube videos, Facebook lives, webinars, etc. are all fantastic ways to get more traffic to your freebie. The more eyeballs you get on your freebie, the more sign-ups you’ll get.
Do this for all your different social media accounts, relevant sites, etc. You want as many links as possible out there pointing to your freebie offer, which leads to…
The Money Is in The List
Once people sign up to your list, they should go through a 7-Day Sequence where you provide a ton of value and get them to like and trust you. There should be a link in your signature that points people to your membership site.
On day 5, you’ll casually mention your membership site. A soft sell to build awareness. On days 6 and 7, you’ll be more blatant and aggressive in your promotion.
Offer them a free or low-cost trial (recommended) to tempt people to sign up. Limited time discounts are very effective for getting the fence-sitters to jump off and join your membership bandwagon.
Employ Good Sales Copy
It goes without saying that when people reach the sales page for your membership site, they should be greeted with persuasive sales copy that hooks them by the eyeballs and reels them in.
You should wet the reader’s appetite by showing how the content in your membership will help solve their problems and make their life easier. The goal is to tell them what they want to hear and once they sign up, give them what they need to get the job done.
Tell them about the benefits first, and provide them with the features they’ll need when they’re a member. Good sales copy is often not mentioned as a technique for growing a membership, and yet, it’s one of the most crucial components.
Improve your conversions and your customer acquisition will grow exponentially.
Incorporate Low Barriers to Entry
Make the signing up process smoother than a baby’s powdered butt. Or something like that.
The customer onboarding process must be hassle-free and ideally, you should have about 3 pricing levels and tiers. This will allow people with lower budgets to sign up too and those with a higher budget can get the bells and whistles.
Leverage Paid Traffic
Besides the pointers above on getting the word out on free platforms, you may also wish to try paid traffic on platforms such as Facebook ads, YouTube ads, Pinterest ads, Bing ads, etc. This will get more eyes on your offer and you’ll get more sign-ups.
The good thing about paid ads is that you’ll get feedback much quicker. Organic traffic takes time.
You’ll also be able to grow your membership site much quicker with paid ads because it’s scalable once you have a winning campaign. Do note that you’ll need to analyze the metrics closely to ascertain if you’re recouping your ad spend.
Feature a FAQ Section
This is another secret that rarely sees the light of day. Have a frequently asked questions (FAQ) at the bottom of your sales page.
You’ll want to pay special attention to answering questions on payments and always make it clear that the subscriber can quit easily anytime they want to. Many people fear joining a membership because they may have to jump through hoops to cancel.
Or they worry about how often payments are deducted. Or if their access will be immediately blocked after cancellation, even if they have 2 weeks or so left on their current subscription.
Answer all these questions in your FAQs so that the potential customer is put at ease. Build trust and you’ll win them over much more easily.
Master Affiliate Marketing
Having an option for affiliates to sign up and promote your membership site will help your site to grow by leaps and bounds. Do give them recurring commissions (instead of a one-time fee) so that they’re tempted to promote your membership and build a passive income for themselves.
You’ll need to actively recruit affiliates too. You can do this by approaching bloggers/influencers in your niche and asking if they’d be interested in promoting your site.
There is some virtual legwork involved… but that’s just how it is.
Increase Your Retention Rate
This is an entire topic on its own. The rule of thumb is to do whatever you can to make your current subscribers happy and satisfied so they stay as members.
Having a discounted membership option on your membership cancellation page will prompt some of those who are trying to cancel their subscription to just go with a cheaper membership where they get the ‘lite’ version.
Just by retaining your existing members, your site will grow much faster.
The ‘secrets’ in this article are very potent. Apply them wisely and your membership site will grow fast and become very popular in your niche.
Is an Online Membership Site for You?
Starting your own membership site isn’t for everyone. It takes a certain kind of individual to jump into content and community membership management like this.
Yet, for a digital marketer, blogger, or course creator who is serious about monetization, membership sites are powerful. They’re a great way to build a recurring revenue stream for your business and create a loyal fan base.
Therefore, if you’re thinking of creating one, it’s time to put the strategies discussed in this article into action.
Only you know if you’re up to taking the leap and taking charge of your future.
So, what do you say?
Related Resource: 5 Benefits of Packaging Your Services