Paid membership sites have become hot Internet properties recently, but most people who start them don’t succeed with them. A profitable membership site can add new income streams, reach new markets, and create greater profits in your business.
If you’re a thought leader or business professional, think carefully before you launch into building a membership site – it isn’t for everybody. It works best if you have:
- an established business delivering value to your clients through your face-to-face services
- resources that deliver on-going value (such as e-books, audio programs and worksheets) or the time to give members access to you (through webinars, group coaching, short consulting sessions, and so on)
- a network of clients, peers who can deliver value to your members, and a database of potential members
Benefits of a Membership Site
A membership site has a number of potential benefits for you:
- Recurring Income: The most obvious benefit is that you create a new income stream.
- Market Once: You only need to convince people once to sign up, and then charge them every month.
- Vehicle for Value: The membership site is a way for you to deliver, share and archive your resources.
- Build Loyalty: You keep delivering value to your members in all your communication.
- Reward Loyalty: Members get access to things that non-members don’t.
- Maintain Relationships: You can offer free membership to selected people, as a way to keep and build relationships.
It also has benefits for your members:
- Manage Cash Flow: They know exactly how much they will spend each month.
- Join a Community: Some people join a membership site primarily so they can be part of a community of like-minded people.
- Make One Decision: They don’t have to keep making decisions about whether to buy individual products and services.
- Get Increasing Value: The longer somebody is a member, the more value they get, because the network expands and you keep adding resources. So each month their membership dollar goes further.
- On-Demand Learning: Members can dip into the archive whenever they want, rather than waiting until you deliver what they need.
- Save Money: Finally, of course they save money, because you give them discounts, special prices and members-only offers.
Are You Ready?
Broadly, as an expert, you have four potential types of income:
- Active: You get paid for delivering value to your clients – speaking, coaching, consulting, professional services, etc.
- Bundled: You get paid more for your activity, because you bundle in other products and services.
- Recurring: You get paid over and over again for your activity, because clients buy a subscription.
- Passive: You get paid even without any activity.
Each level of income relies on one thing:
- To generate active income, you need to demonstrate value (otherwise, clients won’t pay!)
- To generate bundled income, you need products (physical, electronic or even additional services)
- To generate recurring income, you need a network (potential members, joint venture partners, affiliates and staff)
- To generate passive income, you need marketing skills – especially marketing that stands alone without you being there to sell
The fourth level – passive income – can be achieved by itself, but the other three build on each other. A membership site is an example of recurring income.
The Proven Path
Because a membership site is recurring income, you need value, products and a network. It’s difficult to succeed unless you have all three.
This is the most common path to success.
Unfortunately, some business owners launch into a membership site too soon, and discover that they don’t have expertise that members value, they don’t have enough products and resources to keep the site going, or they don’t have a network to promote, support and buy membership.
So make sure you have value, products and a network – and a commitment to making your membership site work!