membershipsiteIn the business world, is there anything better than profits? Yes, RECURRING profits. Imagine if you could package your knowledge into a membership site and charge people every month to access to it.
Step 1: Does Your Market Have a Membership Mentality?
Not all markets are good for continuity programs. There are two factors that are strong indicators that the market lends itself to continuity:

  • There is a magazine for that market.
  • There is an association for that industry.

If your industry doesn’t match that criteria, a membership site isn’t out of the question, but you’ll have to give your prospects very good reasons to pay you every month for your content.
Step 2: Create the Content
It’s really hard to create a successful membership site with only articles; you’ll need more than that. These are some ideas:

  • Videos
  • Reports
  • Tools
  • Community (social network / discussion boards)
  • List of resources
  • Do-it-for-them items (forms, templates, etc.)
  • Reports
  • Expert interviews

Step 3: How to Get Content if You’re Not an Expert
Maybe you saw a great opportunity in a given market but you’re not an expert in it. Don’t worry, you have some options:

  • Partner with an expert and offer her a share of your sales.
  • License someone else’s content (i.e. you pay them a fixed fee to use their content).
  • Hire ghostwriters. If you do this, make sure it’s not the only source of content you use. You’ll need a real expert at some point in order to stand out.
  • Become an expert! Yes, that’s right. Becoming an expert is not as hard as you may think. Go to a library, read a few books, read a few hundred blog posts, interview experts and go to seminars.

Step 4: Create an Irresistible Offer
This is my favorite way to present a continuity offer:

  1. I take my best content and split it in several parts. I create reports or videos out of them. For example, if I wanted to start a wine membership site, I could create a report on how to get quality wines at affordable prices and I could create a video demonstration on how to taste red wine.
  2. I’d give those items away and ask people to pay $3.97 for shipping and handling.
  3. On the confirmation page, I’d tell people about my membership site and tell them that they can get a 30-day free trial. If they agree, they have 30 days to try my site. If they don’t like it, they can just let me know and I won’t charge them anymore.

Some people automatically get their customers into their continuity programs and they need to opt-out if they don’t want to be charged anymore. I don’t recommend this. Don’t charge people for something they don’t want. Sure, it can increase your sales, but you’ll make people angry and that’s not good for your business. You can tell me that “the terms and conditions were very clear” but most people don’t read these, so do the right thing and let people choose whether they want a membership for your site.
Step 5: How to Build It
I’m not going to get too technical here; I’ll just tell you the tools I recommend for membership sites.

Step 6: How to Promote It
There are several online marketing tactics you can use to promote your membership site:

Step 7: How to Get People to Stick Around Longer
These are some ideas to get people to stay with you for longer:

  • Give them exceptional value.
  • Charge a reasonable price.
  • Don’t overwhelm them with too much content that they can’t consume. This will make them feel that they’re not taking advantage of your content.
  • Don’t give them too little either.
  • Tease them about upcoming content. Things like “On May 1st all our members will get an award-winning DVD on matching wines with the right cheeses”.
  • Increase the “pain of disconnect”. If your members feel that they won’t lose anything if they leave, they will leave.
  • Grow a great community. People that feel part of something are a lot less likely to leave.
  • Allow your members to share their membership with up to two friends. Because friends don’t like letting their friends down, they’ll think about it twice before leaving your site.