Membership sites are websites which operate on a subscription basis. There are free membership sites but in this article we’ll talk about paid membership sites which, if operated successfully, can provide you with a steady stream of income. In order to access the information on the site, visitors much sign up by providing their email addresses and other relevant information including credit card details. In return, you provide them with valuable information they wouldn’t ordinarily have access to.
The main advantage of operating a membership site is, of course, the potential for steady income. But like any revenue-generating business, it’s not enough to just set up a site and demand payment from members, it needs to be set up properly and professionally and members must feel like they are getting value out of their membership.
Important aspects of setting up a membership site:
Be prepared to invest money to make money
If you have no cash, then it’s time to raise some. Although membership sites can be relatively cheap to run, you will still need to invest at least some money. Don’t rush into building a site if you don’t have the resources to see it past it’s first six months at least.
Decide on a concept
What is your membership site going to be about? In the interests of giving value to members and providing them with useful information you need to know a great deal about the subject matter of the site. Or, if you don’t know anything, you need to collaborate with experts in the field. However, even if you yourself are an expert in the area, it’s still a great idea to do some research at this early stage to find gaps in the market and discover what information is lacking on the web so that your site can fill that void.
You may also decide to perform free people search and locate and contact people already having successful membership sites.
Plan the layout of the site and decide how it needs to be set up. It should include a very attractive and attention-grabbing home page, contact details, excellent and useful content for members to access, and, of course, a sign up page which links to a payment page for collecting members’ subscription fees. Can you build the site yourself or do you need to hire a web developer? This is for you to decide but in either case, planning is essential. Then you’re ready to actually build the site.
Develop a marketing plan
… so that you can successfully promote your site. Find out who your target members are and formulate a plan to reach that specific demographic.
Decide how much to charge
There is a delicate balancing act between charging enough to make a profit and not so much that you turn people off the idea of signing up.
Members are signing up to receive content that they wouldn’t ordinarily have so it is vitally important that you write (or have written for you) very strong content with new information and ideas that the members cannot easily access elsewhere.
Decide on a schedule for updating content
Don’t fall into the common trap of slaving away at the site for the first few weeks or months, adding wonderful new content, only to let it die off and become stale after a few months. Members will not be happy to see their subscription fees going to waste on a dying site with useless content. Update it regularly. Plan well ahead and keep in mind that subscribers tend to leave membership websites after three months so it’s extremely important that you plan well in advance so that you encourage members to stay. Make them feel like they would be losing out if they were to leave the site.