3 Things You Should Do Before You Create a Membership Site
Creating a membership site is on most entrepreneurs’ business plan or list of things to do at some point, which makes sense. There are so many positives to running a membership. You can share your knowledge and experience with a lot of people at once which means you can help a lot of people at the same time. You can generate a regular, recurring income through monthly subscriptions which makes your business financially more stable. You can plan and create your membership content in batches and schedule it to be delivered to your members via a membership website, email or a shipping service if you are providing a physical product, this means the income from it becomes relatively passive compared to other types of business.
Starting a membership is such a good idea that there are people, such as Stu McLaren, who have amazingly successful businesses teaching people how to run brilliant memberships. But, before you jump head first into creating your membership, there are 3 things you should do before you create a membership site.
We have helped a lot of people create membership sites over the last few years and those who were most successful with their memberships had done these things first.
1. Truly be an Expert
We see so many people these days who decide they want to start a business. They pick something they like the sound of, they do some courses on it and then straight away they put themselves out there as experts in their field with the minimum amount of experience. Some people manage to make this work but on the whole people see through these people and don’t want to work with them.
The experts who create successful memberships have real experience in what they do. Many have worked in the field for someone else and properly learnt the ropes. They have gone out on their own and run a business in a more traditional way, working one to one with clients or providing products or services. Possibly some of their ideas will have failed and they have learnt from that. Then with all that experience behind them they are ready to present themselves as an expert.
2. Create a Following of the Right People
Once you are at that stage where you know loads about what you do and you always impress people with your knowledge and service, then you need to show people this. There’s no point starting a membership if nobody knows who you are or what you can offer them but you have to make sure you are talking to the right people.
A lot of people make a mistake at this point. They start a Facebook page or create a profile on Instagram. They then invite their friends and family to like them or follow them. Their well meaning friends and family then ask their friends and family to like the page and follow this person “to help their business”. People will also do a like for like thing where they follow or like someone else’s business page just to get a like or follow back. Then you feel good because you’ve got loads of followers but none of them are actually interested in what you do. If you launched a membership to that group of people you might get a couple of people who are coincidentally interested in what you do but that will be it. I’m not saying don’t promote yourself in Follow Friday or Social Media Saturday type posts in groups but only do it in the right groups where your ideal clients hang out.
You don’t need big numbers, you need the right people. To get the right people put out regular posts or videos on social media that show your knowledge and use the right hashtags to attract people looking for that kind of content. Write blog posts and learn about the way to create them so that they are good for SEO. Write guest blog posts for other websites that will attract the right people for you and link back to your own blog posts on your website within your guest posts so that the readers will come to your website to find out more. Be a guest expert in other people’s Facebook groups or membership sites which will establish you as more of an expert because other people are putting their trust you. It’s also a way to get seen by more people.
While doing all of this make sure you are giving everyone who sees you a way to stay in contact with you. Offer them a free download that’s relevant to your work that they can get by joining your email list so you can contact with them through a weekly email that provides them with useful hints, tips or information. Point them in the direction of your social media so they can follow you. But do all of this from the point of view of helping them, don’t put them off by selling to them straight away.
But remember you don’t need big numbers. You need the right people. When we did the beta launch of Ready Steady Websites® we had an email list of about 19 people and about 100 followers on social media. We were known in quite a lot of groups and to the audience of one fairly high profile business coach in particular but we didn’t worry about numbers too much and we were right not to. From this small list and following we got the 10 members we wanted on our beta launch. Six of those bought within five minutes of us launching! Over the next month we concentrated on building our audience more before our full launch but we still didn’t worry too much about numbers, its all about quality not quantity. Over time our list has grown and so has our social media following. They still aren’t massive numbers but they are the right people.
3. Plan Your Membership Site Content
So, you are an expert with a wealth of experience. You have a really good quality following and you know it’s the right time to create your membership site. You love working one to one with clients but your income is capped by the number of people you can see in a week and when there are quiet periods you feel the drop in income. You are ready for that regular recurring income and you know you have current clients and people on your email list who would jump at the chance of joining your membership but what will you put on your membership site?
Many people come to us to create a membership site. We ask them what the structure of their site will be. Are they going to have a course? Will they schedule content every week or every month? Are they going to create video tutorials or are they going to use more written content and downloadable worksheets? And many aren’t sure. They’ve thought it over but haven’t decided yet. Before you can create your membership site or even decide which platform is going to be right for you to use to create it, you need to have planned your content. Ideally you need to have created some of your content so that when it comes to building your site you are ready to just drop it all in, schedule the date you want each piece of content to be released to your members and you are good to go.
We like to create at least three months content in advance. We batch write blog posts. We batch record videos for our challenges and we are about to start releasing monthly content on our membership site alongside our tutorials for using our website and membership site templates and we have six months worth of that content created already for that. Now we can just put that content on the site and set the go live date, write the emails to tell our members that new content is available and schedule those to go out in Convertkit and that’s one part of our business taken care of for a while.
A well planned membership site, run by someone who really knows their stuff will create a fantastic experience for the members and give them value for money. If you do it like that it means your members are likely to stick around for a long time and tell their friends about you! So, don’t rush it, get it right and it will be worth it!