Are you wondering how to make money with a membership website? If there is profit potential in running a membership site? The answer is yes, absolutely. In fact, you may not have considered that the majority of extremely popular websites ask you to create a user account and log into a password-protected area.
Examples of websites that offer a membership include:
- Social sharing sites, such as Facebook and LinkedIn
- E-commerce sites, such as Amazon
- Websites that host email accounts, such as Google’s Gmail, MSN’s Hotmail, Yahoo Mail and many others
- Software sites such as AVG for anti virus protection
- Websites that are set up to coordinate activities, such as sports signup websites
- Buy and Sell websites
- Special Interest and Hobbyist websites
- Many other types of sites
You may not even think about just how many very commonly used websites suggest that their readers join a free membership so that they can receive special perks and access specific information that the outside world isn’t privvy to.
These websites appeal to customers for the following reasons:
- Customers appreciate the privacy of this type of user experience
- Having their own profile area that they can personalize really makes the member site feel like home to them
- Most member sites offer special perks to their customers such as price breaks, learning materials, freebies and networking opportunities
- The paid upgrade option is available but not necessary. This makes customers feel like they’re still getting something of value, but they are in control of the membership.
A member site offers flexibility and works for many types of niches.
If you already have a website but have never considered the possibility of making more money by turning it into a mbership site, consider this. Whatever you currently offer can definitely be worked into a membership business model. Just because you’ve never thought about doing this until now, or because most of your business colleagues also do not have a membership website, does not mean that a membership site wouldn’t suit your line of business. It very likely will, you just have to be open to thinking about things in a different way than you may be used to.
Can Your Current Product or Service Based Business Model Work as a Member Site?
Many people who run small businesses online either offer products, services or both. This applies to nearly any industry. Let’s say you’re a skilled crafter – you make things that people purchase. In this case, you might mostly conduct business as a creator and seller of products.
As a crafter, you likely have a profile on a selling site such as Etsy, Amazon, Shopify, or Amazon. These are all good spots that permit you to upload images of your product, set a price for each, and make your products available for order.
How can selling handmade items online work as a membership model? If you have a way to produce in bulk, then you can offer your customers the option of receiving X number of products per month.
A real-life example of this comes from a woman who sells natural perfumes online. Taking a seasonal approach to her marketing, she invites members to sign up for a monthly delivery. The seller of the homemade perfumes puts out a certain number of new products per month or season, with members signing up to receive a box of 5 new skincare related items by mail per month. The deliverable is something of a surprise, but having a seasonal theme definitely holds great appeal.
In addition to the physical products offered with this membership, the owner of the site could take her offerings to the next level and deliver an information-based incentive or perk that members get when they sign up. So if you’re a crafter or creator of handmade products, you might ask yourself what your customers would want to know and how does sharing certain information tie in with their need for your products?
To use the example of the natural perfume customer again, the private member area might provide certain information that customers might find useful. They could log in and download an information sheet covering aromatherapy benefits of each type of essential oil used in the perfume.
For today’s educated customer, this type of perk – the gift of knowledge – definitely provides value. People want to know what’s going into the products they buy, and they want to know the real benefits.
So the customer who purchases natural skincare products might learn by way of the provided information that ingredients such as lavender, geranium and chamomile deliver a mild sedative effect which is why these ingredients are included in the winter product delivery emphasizing rest and relaxation – a naturally scented bath soak, relaxing bedtime moisturizer, and stress-relieving cologne spritz for daytime wear.
What Else Can You Offer With a Membership Site?
People who sign up for member sites often do so because of ‘The 3 I’s”. They want…
How does this apply to what you sell? First, realize that you’re not just selling an item. You’re expanding your reach within an entire niche. So if you sell handmade jewlry made from precious stones, then you’re targeting the jewelry lover who also has an interest in the types of materials used to make the stones. Let’s apply the “3 I’s” to the subject matter:
Again, we’re looking to supply members with information that will educate them and capture their interest. For this topic, customers might enjoy learning about the geographic region where the precious materials that are used to make the jewelry were sourced from. They might be interested in the process by which the stones or precious metals were mined. They could be curious about the historical use of these types of stones and the sort of healing powers that people assigned to these substances.
Ideas that might appeal to someone who buys handcrafted jewelry made from precious metals and stones could be things like what metals to use on your body for which purposes. For example, people who believe in the healing power of precious stones might be interested to learn the 10 Most Common Healing Crystals such as onyx, lapis lazuli, rose quartz and others.
Again, wrapping the topic of what you sell around the type of content you share, you might try and come up with inspiration for what customers can do with said products. The seasons and holidays definitely provide plenty of inspiration. So for example, if spring is coming, you might be thinking of some new creative pieces that would look beautiful with a fresh spring wardrobe. Or maybe you can set up samples of wedding favors such as a simple bracelet or set of earrings, that would make a perfect bridal shower gift, would be a way to inspire customers to take action and order your handmade wares.
Again, the method for supplying the 3 I’s – Information, Ideas and Inspiration, comes from content, and you have any array of presentation methods. Ebooks, PDF downloads, workshops, an email series, or a video presentation could be the conduit for delivering the information. So, free members would sign up for your list and receive these types of educational and inspirational updates.
What about a paid membership? The next level up could be a paid membership. As we discussed with the homemade natural perfume example, a monthly or seasonal gift box sent by mail could be something that your customers would be excited to receive, and be willing to pay a flat fee for.
How Does a Membership Site Make You Money?
A membership website is much more common that you might think. In fact, as mentioned earlier, you likely type in a login and password for most of the websites that you visit regularly, and don’t even think about it. So if you have a business online, then one really strong way to own your niche or become a definite influencer, is to go that extra step, and tap into what your customers want and need in the way of information.
Why a membership? The member site holds great appeal for everyone involved, and here’s why. With a traditional hours-for-dollars service offering or pay-per-product business model, you must charge a higher amount if you’re hoping to make some decent income by way of your trade or your expertise. You might be aware that the highly skilled training you received in order to become a professional at what you do means that you’re worth more.
But how to actually command that income you know you deserve and have worked for, when today’s frugal customer has a tighter grip on the purse strings than buyers from past decades? Simple, you start collecting email addresses. When you have a lot of people on your list, you’re able to monetize your expertise in the form of an affordable paid membership.
The secret is to turn whatever you offer into a product — one product that you can sell to many people. A membership counts as a product because you can offer it for a flat fee. But unlike a regular product that you sell to each person one time, your membership can exponentially expand your profit because each customer pays 12 times per year.
If your membership meets and exceeds their expectations, and if whatever you provide by way of the membership proves useful to them, then you can count on their monthly payment coming in for all 12 months of the year, and repeating year after year after year. So multiply that monthly payment a continually expanding number of happy customers, and you can see how a membership works as an affordable means of giving customers what they want but not having to charge them an outrageous amount.
In fact, if you really think about it, NOT having a member site could be the very thing that’s preventing you from taking your online income to the next level.
How Can a Coach Expand Their Profits By Creating a Membership Site for Their Clients to Join?
As a coach, are you intimidated by the idea of offering a membership option to your coaching clients? Don’t be afraid. For as much time as you spend trying to come up with fresh ideas that get your existing clients coming back to work one on one with you, you can streamline the materials that you create for a single client, and offer it to hundreds or even thousands of buyers.
In doing so, you can succeed at freeing up your time because you’re able to recycle and repurpose your teaching materials over and over to an ever-expanding group of buyers. Some of these buyers might be existing clients who have already signed up to work with you on an individual basis. Others may be new customers who have never worked one on one with a coach, but for whom this type of learning model delivers infinite appeal. And you can grow your income without having to constantly chase after payments or strongly suggest that clients sign up for more hourly sessions with you.
A membership provides a way for your clients to get the coaching guidance they need without creating a codependent relationship with their coach. In fact, did you know that not everyone appreciates working with a mentor? For as many happy clients you’ve managed to add to your client roster, you’re leaving another group on the table who simply don’t enjoy the thought of having to check in and follow up with a coach. So rather than leaving this demographic in the dust, and basically handing them over to some other coach who offers a membership, you get to keep this group of potential buyers because the materials that you deliver with the membership will ideally satisfy a need of theirs.
Your membership site can offer the following to your existing clients as well as to new buyers who find you via the web:
Information on a specific topic. Many coaches offer “themed” months or seasons where they talk about a single topic of interest that their members may want to know about. Some coaches may be hesitant to “specialize” in this manner for fear of alienating some of their buyers. However, having a membership can help you compartmentalize your coaching offerings and set things up to go out automatically via email. So, the first year that you do this, you can organize the materials up front and have them go out to any members on your list that sign up. The following year, you can recycle the same material to use again, or you can offer a modified version of it.
Examples of topics that coaches might offer:
- How to Launch Your Small Business on a Shoestring Budget
- Coping with Loss
- Discovering Work-Life Balance
- Overcoming Your Fear of Public Speaking
- Discover Your Purpose
- Finally Find Lasting Love
- Surviving Divorce
- Developing Good Self Care Habits
- and many, many more topics
Types of media that can provide delivery of said learning materials:
An automated email series. Can be as short as 5 days or as long as 3 months. Frequency of follow-up mails can be whatever you’d like it to be. You might offer a new article that goes out each day for 5 days. Or you could make it a Monday-Wednesday-Friday mailing for two weeks or so. A once-per-week email that includes 3 articles and a take-home assignment which is due the following week could be a great deliverable to offer your coaching clients seeking new information.
A log in where readers can access resources from a private area inside of their account. You might build an article library of topic specific material. Access to available articles can vary month to month or season to season, according to whatever theme you’re speaking to.
Another option for members could be a number of different types of learning materials that meet your readers’ preferred learning styles. Some people are visual learners, others are auditory learners, and still others learn best when taking a hands-on approach to the material. As a coach, you can maximize your profit potential and meet the learning preferences of your customers by providing several different modes of information delivery. This includes ebooks, journaling assignments, courses that include ercises and worksheets, planners, video tutorials, audio podcasts and more.
Other forms of self coaching materials that coaches can present to their customers for a lower price point include live and pre-recorded workshops, step by step video tutorials, group classes hosted in person or via an online private conference room, or some other spot.
What Types of Perks Can You Offer Customers With a Membership Site?
Your coaching clients will want an incentive that compels them to sign up for your member site. What about this will be different than the individual coaching services that you already offer? Will it be reduced pricing? More features? Special classes? Self coaching materials? All of the above? Something else?
As a coach, it helps to have a clear picture of what you’ll be creating that will live inside of your customers’ member area. You also want to think about this in terms of tiers. Your lowest membership tier will be the free signup. This is what gets them in the door and onto your subscriber list.
Once the clients are signed up, what will they see when they log in? You want there to be some definite items of value, plus you should have some strategically placed upsells. The upsells can be visible inside of your member area. You can also send emails out that run your readers through a sales funnel.
So let’s say that you’re a career coach. You’re devising a freebie opt-in gift that your new followers might want to sign up for in exchange for creating a free membership and logging in. How do you get them to log in in the first place? Simple, you make the freebie information giveaway accessible via the private member area that they must log into. So your readers might arrive onto your website, log in and then from within their private member area maybe they get access to a free information download, and a list of tools.
Ideally, you want to create passive income with your giveaways. So it would make sense that the tools be some sort of online product they can make use of which you would also make a profit on as an affiliate if they sign up. As an example, maybe your free members have joined your list because they want to go on a journey to self discovery.
Your initial free giveaway might be a “Get to Know Myself All Over Again” Free Personality Assessment. If this is something that interests them, you might also supply a list of other websites that could be of use on their journey to self discovery. Maybe one of the links goes to another company’s website where they can sign up for and take a body of personality tests, for a low monthly fee. So if they sign up for the other person’s monthly via your link, then you get a commission.
The next level of your own member site will be a paid monthly. What will paying members able to access with this enhanced membership? Here, you might set up the following offerings:
- Access to 10 free personality tests of your own
- Access to a Career Builder Kit which includes tips for assessing their career skills, highlighting their career history, updating their resume, writing a cover letter, prepping for an interview, and other career building must-haves.
- Access to a complimentary coaching session (or a series of them) to help them get clear on career strengths, goals, and a plan to transition into a new career.
Will you have a Tier 3 of your monthly membership? You could if you feel up to the challenge. For an even more in-depth customer experience and a higher monthly fee you might offer…
- Unlimited access to your entire Career Resources Library of informative articles and ebooks
- A set number of coaching hours per month at a flat fee
- Access to your Insiders Exclusive Networking Club for Aspiring Career Seekers
- Unlimited free downloads of useful career templates. This might include a variety of customizable resume and cover letter templates, website templates for career seekers who want to upload their own career portfolio to an online website, follow-up letters, and other essentials.
The number of membership levels that you offer might be two, or it could be three, but ideally you don’t want things to be overly complicated, and you want your membership to run on software designed for this purpose.
In addition to whatever is offered as part of the free and paid memberships to your coaching site, you can also highlight regular specials such as classes, workshops and in-person networking events that you can promote in addition to what’s already available.
How Does a Membership Site Logistically Work?
A membership site can be a potentially exciting and different way of doing business online. The membership provides a more affordable and user-friendly option for your customers than having to pay for individual hours in exchange for your coaching, administrative, or consulting services.
A membership can put teaching materials and information resources at your customers’ fingertips. This allows you to set up all of the available content in advance, and offer them other exciting offers via email. It frees up your time, and can benefit your relationships with clients because now they have more choices in how they work with you.
While some people really love the traditional hours-for-dollars mode of doing business, other people prefer the freedom and flexibility that comes from belonging to a membership. The web naturally lends itself to this type of business model. Your customers have total control over how they choose to utilize the information on your site.
But how does this work from an operational standpoint? Your first step in developing a membership site is purchasing access to the needed software. Popular and reliable choices in membership software include Amember and Invisionsoft, among others.
These types of software allow you deliver content to your members by providing a central location on your web server. From the administrative end, either you or your virtual assistant will log into the membership platform and set up the following:
“Products” or memberships
You get to name the product/membership, add details about what’s included with the product, and set a price for the product. Each “product” constitutes a level of membership. There may also be additional products that you might set up besides the membership levels, such as a special training series, an email challenge that people pay to sign up for, a video tutorial series, an ebook, or something else. Everything goes under the content category of “product”.
“Files” associated with the “product” or membership
A membership database will give you ample room on your hosting server and within the platform, to upload any number of popular file types. This might include .doc files, image files such as .jpgs or .pngs, PDF files, .mp3 video files, or PowerPoint slides.
One huge advantage to running membership software is that it makes it extremely easy to organize everything categorically. As a coach or expert of some kind, you might start by setting up topic categories. This can be based on the different niches that you have expertise in that you might want to develop teaching materials and courses around which will help your members learn new things and master new skills.
Within your member area you will have space to set up automated emails. When your members or customers sign up for a new type of membership or pay to gain access to a product, an email should go out that delivers the information to them instantly. This can be set up in any number of ways. You can send out a single email that delivers a single item, such as an ebook download in PDF format. Or you might set up a series of automated emails that go out at regular intervals, such as an email challenge or an email course. The number of emails that go out, the promotional content that’s contained inside of the email, the information downloads that attach to each email and the amount of time that passes before the next email in the series goes out, is entirely within your control.
This is an important component of your membership site. If you’ve ever signed up for a free or paid membership on any other company’s website, then you may recall clicking a button that says “buy now” which routes you via link to a checkout area. In this space, you can check off specific items that you may want to purchase before hitting Submit and being re-routed to an online payment site such as Paypal. Within your own membership software you’ll be able to create any number of sign-up forms, and include as few or as many “products” or memberships that people can check off, pay for, and then receive information via email after their order goes through.
Members and affiliates
Of course, you’ll have member profiles on your membership site. Your members will be able to initially sign up via a form on your website. They can use the free option, or upgrade to a paid membership if you set this up for them to do so. Each time a member signs up, they will be prompted to enter a username, email, password, and payment details if applicable. From the administrative end, you can log in and view who signed up and either upgraded, downgraded, or cancelled their membership whenever you like. Your members may also have the option to activate their affiliate status from within your membership software. This means that they will be able to share links to your products and memberships which are tagged with their affiliate ID so that they automatically receive a commission each time a sales comes in via their link.
How to Attract New Signups to Your Membership Site
If you’ve never run an online membership before, it may take some time to get used to this new and different way of working online. However, once you become comfortable with the nuances of having a membership site, you may enjoy it so much that you could even end up phasing out entirely the one-on-one aspect of working with clients.
However, it’s important to note that growing a thriving and lucrative membership site will take some time. So if you already have a roster of hourly clients that are helping you keep the bills paid and a roof over your head, then you’ll want to continue to nurture these relationships while you make the transition into having an online membership.
For this reason, it may be a good idea to solicit the help of a virtual assistant who can help you set up your membership and start attracting new signups for free who can later become paid members once you reach that point.
For your initial foray into hosting a membership site, you want to log in and familiarize yourself with the member area and how everything works. If you have specific content categories in mind that you intend to create products and coaching materials around, now is the time to define those inside your membership software. You can go back and add details later, as you continue to develop your content and products.
For now, there is no rush to deliver the complete package of multi-tiered membership options to your subscribers. But you do want to get things going, so start with the following:
Create a free giveaway that delivers value for your potential members. This could be a quiz or assessment, an informative ebook, a series of templates, a list of free tools, or something else that they would be willing to trade their email address and other contact info for.
Find a source of valuable, short and informative articles that you can begin feeding to them for free via email. You can decide how often you’d like to email them. Will it be once per week, twice per month, daily, or even more frequently? Whatever you do, you’ll want to make sure that your readers know how often you intend on keeping in touch with them so that there are no surprises.
Got Membership, Need Content: Where to Source Your Member Materials from?
Here’s a helpful tip for getting the most value from content that you create for your membership website. Remember that very few people stick around to read a website for very long these days. They will take a quick peek from their smart phones, and then move on to some other distraction. Knowing this, you can make your content go the distance by repurposing any type of learning material that you publish. Here are some legitimate ideas:
Source content from writers who will accept a rate of pay that doesn’t break the bank. If you find a good writer, you may want to retain their services so that you can continue to have new, fresh articles coming in that your readers and members will benefit from having. Try to work out an agreeable rate of pay that your writer will be amenable to, knowing that you will be supplying him or her with a steady stream of repeat business.
If you feel overwhelmed with the amount and different types of content you’ll need to create that members will soon have access to, start with a set of articles that all cover a single topic. This will take some time getting used to. However, once you get the flow of the project down, you’ll see that 15 articles of about 600 words make a short ebook that works as a giveaway to get more subscribers on your list.
If you have three different short ebooks of this kind sitting around, you can put them together to create a more comprehensive guide, that you add to your paid member area OR that you sell for a set price point.
Once you and your team have become accustomed to creating basic ebooks of varying lengths and detail, you can then take the same content and copy and paste parts and pieces of it to create even more brandable, sellable products.
An ebook can be repurposed into the following:
An email course
Just copy and paste each article into its own email. However many emails that you choose to set up in your series will go out at timed intervals for your members or customers to learn from.
A video tutorial
With a bit of tweaking to become a spoken presentation, an ebook that you write or have written on a specific coaching topic of interest can transform into a coaching video that becomes another type of course for your members or customers to learn from.
A journaling challenge
With the addition of some journaling exercises, one to go with each article in the existing ebook, you can quickly turn your ebook into an introspective journaling series. Your file delivery can be MS Word, or you can send out the series, one article and one journaling exercises, via email for a set number of days, at timed intervals of your choosing.
A paid podcast series is one very easy and lucrative method of repurposing content for your coaching clients and members. It’s as simple as reading the ebook, or through parts of the ebook, to create audio content for your podcast.
What Type of Tech Know-How Do You Need to Run a Membership Site?
As someone who is considering expanding your website to include a multi-level membership, you may wonder how, logistically, this will work.
You may already be familiar with the blog based model of website. This is where you log into a blog platform, such as WordPress, where your business blog/website lives, and update pages and posts on your own before hitting publish.
If you’re comfortable working in a platform such as this, then you’re already halfway there to managing your own member site. But of course, as a coach you may not want to be involved in the daily details of uploading new content, launching coaching products, fielding customer questions, accepting payments, and other aspects of running a membership.
If you’re still into the idea of having a membership but you don’t want to be a slave to the daily operation, then your best bet is to make a plan for setting up everything inside of the member area. You can do this on your own if you’re looking to save money. However, it will take a lot of time and patience, and if you take the learn-as-you-go approach, you’re likely to make more than a few mistakes along the way. A virtual assistant who has experience working with this type of software will come in handy for setting up your member site.
What Stops You From Running a Membership Site and How Can You Move Past These Blocks?
We’re here discussing the possibility for making money with a member site. If you’re not entirely familiar with this format, you might feel hesitant. But, like anything, once you and your customers become accustomed to the change, you’re likely to love having everything set up on autopilot for your business.
So if you’re thinking that a member site might be the way to go, BUT you’re still blocked about it and unable to move forward, then consider the below pitfalls that might be temporarily preventing you from taking action. The goal is to find a solution for each.
Lack of knowledge and understanding. If you’re unsure about launching a membership because you just aren’t sure what it might entail, there are ways around this — especially if you’re already known in your field. Here are some ideas:
Sign up for some different memberships that other people in similar fields might be offering. Log in and take a test drive of the what-you-get with each level. Take plenty of notes and remark on what you like, what you don’t care for, and how each feature might prove useful.
Lack of planning
One big road block that happens to small business owners is lack of a plan. If you’re not sure where to start with creating a member site, you can’t very well proceed, can you? One way around this is to simply start – take the first step, and see where you go from there. Order the software that you’ll need to run your membership. Log in as an administrator and play around with what you can offer.
Lack of confidence
What you don’t know CAN hurt you, right? Not if you take the bull by the horns and begin to learn and try out what you know. The best way to experience what it’s like to run a member site is to log in, set up the basics like member profiles, content uploads, automated emails and sign-up forms. Got a friend who’s interested in learning along with you? Invite her to sign up as a member and take the system for a test drive. In time, your confidence will grow as your knowledge expands.
Absence of a source for content
A major issue that stands in the way of launching a member site is not knowing where the content will come from. There are a few ways to handle this. One, you can hire a writer, or a few of them. If you’re looking to keep costs down, you can purchase private label rights content. Buy articles that will help your readers learn something they want to know. Customize them by adding your own “voice”, headlines and examples. Upload to the member area. Log in “as a member” and see if the content reaches your account and also read it to see what members will learn.
Need for a support team helping to manage your member area. Running a membership takes a LOT of work and detail. So if you’re feeling cautious because of this, you’re having a smart thought. But there are definite ways to overcome this, and one is by hiring at least one support helper – an admin. This person might already be familiar with membership software. Or, if they’re not, you can train them as you go.
Absence of the necessary tech tools. You can’t very well host a membership if you aren’t sure where to start with the technology. The basics that you’ll have to sign up for are: web domain, web hosting, MySQL database, member software (such as Amember), list manager such as GetResponse or Aweber, and of course your blog, email account, and social media accounts that lead to future customers.
What Types of Memberships Can You Offer?
There are many options for membership options on your website. It’s really up to you to determine things like what people will see when the log into their member area, how much is included in the monthly membership, how long new products and features are added to the membership, when availability of certain items expires, and many other details.
Sometimes the best way to figure out what will be a good value in a membership for your customers is to sign up for someone else’s membership who works in the same or a similar niche as you do. Or… if you’re not willing to lay out the cash needed to sign up for a competitor’s monthly member, you can simply visit the sales pages where they advertise their membership to find out what’s included and what you might want to do that’s similar to or different than their offerings.
Of course, the best way to learn what your customers would want in a membership is to ask them. Each niche is different and comes with its own set of needs and priorities. What do customers hope to accomplish by way of your association? Are they attempting to get more done? Learn a skill or trade? Take a business shortcut? Meet fellow hobbyists or people who share their interests?
Here are some ideas for what you can add to your online membership that people would likely be willing to pay for:
Private information library
A common, high value offering to include in your monthly membership would be a way to log in and access articles from inside the member account. These articles can be a series on a specific topic, or they can be random relevant aspects of your field of specialty.
Access to needed content
In the case of internet marketing memberships, “PLR” or “private label rights content” is a useful thing to offer with your monthly membership. Customers can utilize the content for publishing purposes and brand it under their own name.
Access to helpful tools and software
The purpose of the offered tool will depend on the niche. A weight loss support membership might offer calorie counters, carb counters, weight trackers, exercise trackers, and other unique kinds of apps and programs to help users stay on track with goals.
A support network of humans
Your users will benefit from having available experts to help them with any challenges they encounter while putting your membership offerings to use. So if your membership lends access to design templates, then you might have a 1800 phone number or a chat line for people to access help with uploading, download and accessing their template materials.
Materials to help you stay organized
Organization is a big sub-category of the life coaching, self help, business and health fields. Basically anyone who is looking to accomplish a specific goal will appreciate organizational materials to help them stay focused. A career transition membership, for instance, might include a daily planner to keep users on track with their job search.
Materials to help you streamline communication
Yet another popular membership deliverable is communication. This would typically include prewritten communication templates. Questionnaires, exercises, assessments, letters, Q&A, contracts, marketing templates, scripts… basically anything that gives the end user a writing shortcut.
In the business niche especially, a mastermind group means high value for members. Networking can prove to be frustrating as newbies must weed out the time-wasters who don’t help them move forward with their professional goals. Knowing that you can skip to the good part and become part of a powerful group of knowledeable business professionals holds huge appeal as a membership upgrade.
Private support and discussion group/community
A good example of this would be a private forum of crafters – let’s say knitters or crochet experts, or how about gardeners, who might want to share tips, ask and answer questions, and otherwise engage with people who share their skill or are learning.
The possibilities for offering low-cost educational materials as a membership abound. You might include as all, part, or a bonus to your existing membership, a series of video tutorials… set of emailed lessons… how-to e-guides, in-person group workshops, or anything else.
Discounts and deals
Discounts never go out of style. A valued customer membership will always be a perennial favorite for anyone who intends to become a repeat buyer of what you offer with your company website.
How Does Running a Membership Site Differ from the Product- or Service-Based Business Model?
A membership website may be something that, as a small business owner, sounds entirely foreign to you. It’s true that our first reaction to something new is to reject the idea in our mind. However, remember that most of the websites you rely on to do the things you need to do require you to log into your own member area. So, the member site is VERY common, and your customers will most certainly take to the idea of having their own, private space hosted on your website.
In fact, having a membership that you offer readers will be something that takes your company into the next echelon of professionalism and sophistication. If your clients show up to see that they can now log in to access all kinds of special freebies, discounts, information and tools on your site, they will most certainly put doing business with you on higher priority than ever before.
The membership site differs from a product or service-based business model because it’s “all inclusive”. Similar to the offerings at your favorite buffet restaurant, everybody gets their own portion of a variety of different items. Each person pays a flat monthly fee in anticipation of their “what you get”.
Of course, can still run a membership for your customers, AND you can also periodically advertise your coaching, consulting or administrative services at ala carte pricing. Some will bite for the membership while others will stick with what may feel like more control over their purchases – an opportunity to order individually, picking and choosing what products and services they want, when they want.
So the difference, mainly, is that your customers get more VALUE when they sign up for your paid membership. And many people who have developed a close business connection with you will decide that this is worth it for them. They already know that they’ll be utilizing what you offer in your membership. The value is making money or solving a problem for them in some other way. The offerings are on par with their needs. So they’ll go for it.
One major difference between running a membership versus just selling products or services is that you’ll need to advance-plan, maintain, and keep the momentum going with your membership. So you’ll need to make a strategy to produce the following:
- A steady stream of content for your readers to benefit from
- A new roster of products that continue to cycle through the seasons which you will continually add to your member area each month
- Different deliverables for different membership levels
- The need to constantly follow up and let people know what’s coming, what’s arrived, and what’s next.
Your members should feel 100% in control of their membership. So the technology definitely needs to be in place, or this won’t work and you’ll end up with a lot of irate customers. The system should be set up so that members can sign up, remit payment, cancel payments at any time, and upgrade or downgrade their memberships as they so choose.
Quick Tips on Managing Affiliate Sales via Your Member Site
Your coaching or special interest website will gain many more subscribers and gain much more profit if you utilize the affiliate area of the site. It’s included within many of the standard membership software systems, such as Amember. Here are some basics of how the affiliate area of your member site will work.
Members sign up as for either a free or paid subscription to your membership. If they, like you, work as a coach or they’re in a complementary field, then they may decide that your offerings are compatible with the customers on their list. If they want to start promoting your products and membership, they can easily do so by way of your member area.
To activate affiliate status, a member of your website will log in and navigate to the affiliate area where they can then press whatever buttons they may need to in order to activate. They must fill out any necessary information that you require of them, at the very least they must supply a PayPal email address.
Once they do this and you approve said member as an affiliate, they will be able to log in under their usual member account and then navigate to the affiliate area of their member console. There, they will find a list of links to products that you will have presumably set up in advance. (If you don’t set up affiliate links to your products, then there will only be a general affiliate link inside of their member area,which is still useful – BUT they’ll have a much better chance at getting commissioned sales if you add affiliate links to your specific products that they can then share with the people who have signed up to hear from them via email).
When new customers sign up via a link in your affiliate’s email, you can set things up so that either you, they, or both, will receive an email alert. As the administrator, you can also designate how often your affiliates will be paid. Typically, your choices would be weekly or monthly payments. At the end of the pay period designated by you, an alert will come from the system letting you know that it’s time to pay your affiliates. You can then log in to the admin side of your membership site, run through a list of affiliates, and pay them via your PayPal or other payment processing software that you use.
Routine maintenance of your affiliate/member area might include deleting old, outdated user accounts; making sure that affiliates are receiving the correct commission amounts; adding new links to your recently added products for affiliates to promote; deleting or archiving old products that may no longer be available for affiliates to promote; fielding questions from your affiliates, providing email swipes for affiliates to share with their lists so that they can quickly and easily promote your newest offerings, and other details.
Again, as a busy coach, consultant, or other type of expert, you may wish to utilize the help of an administrative assistant who can help you manage the affiliate portion of your online membership sales.