4 Membership Site Tips

4 Membership Site Tips

I just wanted to share 4 of my favorite membership site tips with you to get you thinking about building yours today:

1. Your membership site doesn't have to be recurring. It can be a single payment or even a finance plan

2. You don't have to create months of content, just stay ahead of your earliest subscriber. This will let you "get it out the door" soon, plus you will end of with better content since you can adjust based on the feedback you receive

3. You can ask your current members to help promote your site as affiliates. Create something that "wows" them so they will tell their friends. Under-promise and over-deliver

4. You don't need fancy or expensive software. In fact, you can run a membership site with your existing blog and email list. Always make sure you get the right tool for the job.

What is your favorite tip or hint about running or being a part of a membership site?

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Comments (52)

  • Judy Jackson Reply

    Membership site de jour is NEWBIE CRUSHER

    Yes, love these instant business tidbits

    December 12, 2010 at 12:47 pm
  • Mike Darling Reply

    For your first membership site, go with a simple, easy to build site. Don’t do what I did and build my first site with 16 interviews, transcripts, spreadsheets, and blog posts… aarrgghh!!

    Learning how to install and properly configure the membership plugins is a steep enough learning curve. Do something simple. Get something built and done that you can finish in a week. And move on to the next…

    Mike Darling
    Bend, Oregon

    P.S. Love the WPDrip plugin. It rocks!

    December 12, 2010 at 1:18 pm
    • Lance Tamashiro Reply

      Mike, a lot of people do just that and one of two things happen..

      1) They are constantly building and never get it launched
      2) They find out there content is all wrong and based on the feedback, the members want something completely different…

      Awesome tip!

      December 12, 2010 at 1:40 pm
      • Mike Darling Reply

        I agree. We are ready to launch our membership site this Tuesday, but it has been a long and difficult journey over the past six months – and just a lot of plain hard work.

        And there is no guarantee that what we have created is what the market really wants. I have tried to manage that risk by doing appropriate niche market research. Our website is not the first membership site on public speaking, and based on my research, it SHOULD succeed. But no guarantees. It could fall flat on it’s face…

        And after six months of work, that would be a difficult pill to swallow…

        In hindsight, better to build quickly and either fail or succeed quickly. Find the membership sites that DO succeed. Then scale them up.

        I have made it clear to my business partner that after the launch this week, we are focusing on producing a lot of small, quick products, and small membership sites, in the $7 to $17 range. And of course those numerous small products can point to the larger more expensive membership sites…

        We did it backwards…. live and learn.

        Mike Darling
        Bend, Oregon

        December 12, 2010 at 2:02 pm
    • Bolaji O | WhoIsBolaji.com Reply

      Now you tell me… (groan)

      LOL!

      Yup – I did just that.

      I got bogged down in Wishlist member settings for 30 days! AAARGH!

      Then, I launched (this week), and found that there was very little interest in my voluminous content.

      No worries – I’ve been hearing Lee M give this same advice lately. I have plans for the next membership site . And it’s going to be super-scaled down. 🙂

      Thanks for sharing!

      Bolaji.

      April 28, 2011 at 7:39 pm
    • Mike Nottingham Reply

      Mike you are sooooooo right, My first project is so huge it has taken me two years of learning and building to get it up, now I still have to learn a few more things and finally market it. My first program has 53 video’s and 83 pages. I so should have done something small to start off with. 🙂

      October 25, 2011 at 10:01 am
  • Ron Passfield Reply

    Lance, some very sound advice. I built my first membership site recently as a fixed term site – 6 months with weekly PDFs and bonuses. It covers social media marketing. On reflection, given I also have a full time job, I should have aimed for a 3 months site (12 weeks instead of 24 weeks). This would have taken the pressure off me at a busy time of the year. However, I have been able to “stay ahead” as you mention above. Feedback and reflection as I write will certainly make the site better. I will explore the affiliate side (I have been thinking Clickbank for this). Meanwhile, a colleague who has been receiving the program, has offered to translate my site into German for the German speaking market. Once you start and commit, you never know where it will all end up. Thanks for the encouragement and support over the past year. I’m really enjoying the regular monthly payments (continuity income).

    December 12, 2010 at 1:56 pm
    • Mike Darling Reply

      Ron:

      The affiliate issue was a big one for me. I first built our membership site using s2Member, but the support for standard affiliate programs through ClickBank, PayDotCom, etc was weak – pretty much roll your own.

      I finally had to unload that plugin and go with Wishlist and WPDrip (thanks Lance and Robert!), becuase of the built in support for ClickBank and other processors.

      I am in a niche in which people are not necessarily internet marketing savvy, and I wanted to make it EASY for someone who is a business coach, to promote our membership site and make money.

      For me right now, Wishlist, WPDrip, and Clickbank are the answer.

      Go for the affiliate program. And be generous with your commissions. I think you’ll be glad you did.

      Mike Darling
      Bend, Oregon

      December 12, 2010 at 2:08 pm
  • Warren Hayford Reply

    Hi Lance,

    Short, sweet, and to the point. Good job at giving people food for thought. And more importantly, action.

    Warren

    December 12, 2010 at 2:00 pm
    • Lance Tamashiro Reply

      Hey Warren,

      What is your best tip? You gotta have one..

      What about from a consumer standpoint?

      December 12, 2010 at 4:42 pm
  • Gavin Allinson Reply

    I like the idea best of just keeping the content ahead of your latest subscriber.

    Gavin

    December 12, 2010 at 2:19 pm
    • Lance Tamashiro Reply

      Heck Gavin…

      that is one of my favorites as well.

      It makes me sad when I see people spend tons of time perfecting and creating when the could just do a little and start getting paid.

      When can I see your membership site URL?

      December 12, 2010 at 4:43 pm
  • Robert Ballin Reply

    Hi Lance,
    I have not been very active lately, just investigating
    something new almost everyday. I have decided to stop that
    and focus on my membership site, but I don’t know where to
    start. I want a 12 month site about the human body works,
    with an in depth ebook-size article each month and a smaller
    important article once a week, everything downloadable. For
    me, the formatting of the articles will take quite some time
    to learn. Will the passwords be created automatically by
    by the Drip or is that something I also have to create? If
    something would go wrong, I would become absolutely hysterical. So that is where I am at. What do you think,
    Lance? Where can I get help?
    Robert.

    December 12, 2010 at 4:08 pm
  • AudreH Reply

    Tip 1 – Take a class from Lance and Robert to lower your learning curve — I’m speaking from personal experience here!

    Tip 2 – Find and use really good quality PLR or resale-rights content along with the content you create yourself — it’s a cheap and easy way to ‘outsource’ with no supervising or delivery hassles.

    December 12, 2010 at 5:13 pm
    • Brian Reply

      Which class?

      I want to get going on this but can’t seem to get the help I need.

      December 13, 2010 at 4:11 pm
      • Clyde Reply

        Membership Cube of course. What else?

        October 25, 2011 at 10:48 am
  • Gary Reply

    The “not enough content” issue can be paralyzing, but it can also be an issue if members show up and there’s too much content, which I guess WPDrip is handy for. As I think through our membership new members at this point would likely be confronted by too much content, but there’s no true sequence to drip it out? I’m struggling with that now. Maybe dripping out some type of “intro to the membership site” content would be good.

    One of the best tips I picked up from you and Robert at WLM Live was your challenges. Our biz is all about accountability, so we’re working on how to better implement that into the membership.

    The best thing we currently do is “make people feel at home”. It’s pretty time consuming personally emailing folks, etc – but it makes people feel like they really joined a “team”.

    December 12, 2010 at 5:16 pm
    • Lance Tamashiro Reply

      Hey Gary,

      We have the problem many times of “too much content”.

      We use the drip and set up our courses following the “college” model. For example, we might make the first section labeled as 101, then 102, 103, etc…(as categories)…

      That way it makes for a logical progression that is familiar to most people.

      In your niche you can definitely take advantage of the challenges for accountability.

      It amazing that sometimes it is harder to get someone to commit to completing something by a time and date, but once you do they almost always follow through on the task

      December 13, 2010 at 9:29 am
  • Jase Reply

    Great tips. We found we needed a clear structure upfront so we had some logic to our member site rather than dripping out random related content. All you need is an outline and an idea of what you’ll include then deliver according to plan and adjust based on feedback.

    Keeping one week ahead of your first subscriber was a challenge.

    December 12, 2010 at 5:40 pm
  • Curtis Reply

    Tip: Make sure no matter what your membership site is about always give honest answers, that give people hope and you should succeed.

    PS. Sign up for http://WWW.Newbiecrusher.com to learn more…

    December 12, 2010 at 5:41 pm
  • Brian Reply

    NONE of those are good ideas if you can’t get your site up and running correctly.

    Congratulations on the award you guys won in Vegas last weekend for your Membership Cube site. That site got me to subscribe so I can start learning and making workings sites. The problem is there is no road map on where to start and not much if any assistance if I have questions or problems. Not to mention how to stop my subscription if I’m not going to get any of that.

    Brian

    December 13, 2010 at 6:11 am
    • Brian Reply

      I’d really like to use your system to get a few sites up an running, it’s just confusing not knowing where to start. Sorry if I’m asking too much and being so upfront about all this. If I’m suppose to log into your site, and just keep tooling around it, watching videos, and playing on my own site(s) to get this to work, that would be nice to know. If there is a system in place…Step 1, Step 2, Step 3, etc. that too would be nice to know. It seems like the problem with this is once you subscribe to one site/list/etc., I now continue to get e-mails for offers for a bunch of other stuff to pay for. I just want to pay my $47 up front, the $47 every 2 weeks, and go through your program with out so much confusion.

      I’ll be trying to call or e-mail you to talk about this directly with you as well.

      Thanks

      December 13, 2010 at 2:39 pm
  • Allen Sayer Reply

    If the techie aspect scares you – you can run a membership site using only your auto-responder to send out your weekly/monthly material in pdf format and PayPal to handle your regular payments.

    In fact last time I looked PayPal had an example recurring payment button already set up in your profile to copy.

    December 13, 2010 at 7:27 am
    • Lance Tamashiro Reply

      Awesome tip Allen!

      Most people try to overthink things and forget that they can actually “grow” to the next level IF they start out correctly.

      Most people think of an autoresponder as only a one way advertising tool, when they should be looking at it as a membership!

      December 13, 2010 at 9:30 am
  • Theresa Wagar Reply

    Personally, I like all the tips, but the affiliate one is something I’d like to focus on coming up. I never thought about affiliates as a FAST way to get traffic. While http://www.membershipcube.com really helps reducing the learning curve for a membership site, as a newbie, I really needed to go through http://www.newbiecrusher.com FIRST.. . get something LIVE and then make it amazing through membershipcube info. Now on to find some great affiliates 🙂

    December 13, 2010 at 11:06 am
    • Lance Tamashiro Reply

      Using affiliates is a great traffic strategy.

      If done correctly, you can get some awesome endorsements and build a site extremely fast..

      December 13, 2010 at 11:12 am
  • Paul Klein Reply

    Hey Lance,

    You’re on the right track alright. Keep it simple. Start as soon as possible.

    You can even set it up with an interactive “forum” inside the membership site, and have your members help create content… user-generated content is working well for many currently.

    December 13, 2010 at 1:13 pm
  • James Dodson Reply

    Lance,
    In reply to your request I subscribed.
    I have often thought of a membership site
    so I am viewing yours with interest.

    I was thinking of divided content:
    1.Uknown
    2.Me. I have lived a most unusual life
    from a young age. Military career starting at
    age 16 was very successful.
    Special Operations in the Middle East and Asia.
    Very interesting. Readership interest ???
    Questions and answer interest ???
    Seperate from the above:
    Articles on Comparative Religion followed
    by questiions and answered. I am an expert
    in this area. LifeTime Teaching Certificate.

    Lance, a note. More recently my life has tsken
    a nose dive. Due to sudden illness I lost everything.
    While hospitalized no one took care of my personal
    affairs. Financial wipe out. Still trying to get back
    up there. I know the purpose of comments is to let you
    know about you. Not to explain me. Wanting to duplicate
    you is a big OK !!
    Also a topic of high interest when offered.

    December 13, 2010 at 1:51 pm
  • Val Spangler Reply

    Probably the most pervasive and insightful idea I came away from the Newbie Crusher Workshop with was to treat every blog/site as a membership site. The continuity is in the quality of the value provided on a consistent basis. That’s true however you package the content. Take care of that and the monetization becomes much easier. Build the know, like and trust with the quality and freshness of your content, the consistency of your delivery and the personality and style of that delivery. Bells and whistles are unnecessay distractions. (It also doesn’t hurt to have a compatible partner with good chemistry to delivery interesting and enjoyable webinars with. 😉

    December 13, 2010 at 2:29 pm
  • Warren Hayford Reply

    Add a way for people to communicate with each other directly on your site.

    Even if you are a guru, you are not the only source of useful information. Every member has the potential to add valuable insight or content.

    A membership group that becomes an active community is a happy one. And one that buys again.

    December 13, 2010 at 2:53 pm
  • Shane Purcell Reply

    Hi Lance,

    I think alot of people think that starting a membership site is too hard or seems like a daunting task. I will say the upside to membership sites far outweighs the fear of starting one. Sure it may seem hard but infact it is simple once you learn the system for setting one up quickly and properly. This can be gained from Lance as he and Robert make setting up your own Membership site in 24hrs. a reality! They did for me…..

    December 13, 2010 at 4:01 pm
  • Brian Reply

    Have I been baned from this blog?

    December 13, 2010 at 4:25 pm
  • Brian Reply

    Should I start with Newbiecrusher or Membershipcube?

    I’m new and a newbie and want to get started on this.

    December 13, 2010 at 4:27 pm
  • Joshua Reply

    Lance, Membership Cube is the best tip I would give anyone, but most importantly would be to follow along and set the time out of your schedule. I wasn’t able to following along as much do to a very busy schedule like I wanted to. Now I am stuck on setting up a fixed term membership site. Membership Cube gets right into the nuts and bolts of setting up a membership site.
    Joshua Shoemaker

    Lance, could you please direct me in the right spot for the fixed continuity. Thanks

    December 13, 2010 at 4:30 pm
  • charles d hart Reply

    Hi Lance, In my oppinion, all 4 tips were good. I know when
    and if i start a membership site, i`m going to use them all.
    TYhanks for all the help, Charles D Hart

    December 13, 2010 at 4:56 pm
  • Manuel Viloria Reply

    Great blog post, Lance! 🙂

    Here’s my tip: Start with a four-article (or four blog post) membership website. Market it, and sell access.

    Then add four more weekly blog posts and market it some more (at a higher price).

    Next, add four more weekly blog posts and market it even more.

    Then move on to your next 3-month (or 12-article) membership site, by building a 1-month (or 4-article) site. 🙂

    December 13, 2010 at 4:58 pm
  • Terese Tomasello Reply

    I agree with Warren , add a way for members to get involved also, people do like to be social,and share things,plus if they have knowledge on certain things they can offer to help someone.

    Also, offer weekly webinars on different IM , listbuilding,affiliate marketing, etc. But wait a minute…you and Robert are doing this already here, I’m saving up,with Christmas and all,things are real tight for me at the moment, but I really hope to get in here in 2011.

    :o)

    December 13, 2010 at 5:04 pm
  • Jim Fortune Reply

    Hi Lance!

    From a customer viewpoint, it’s a good idea to have a syllabus or an outline of what the courses are and if there are videos, what order to watch them in. You tip in Newbie Crusher about numbering them 101, 102, 103, etc. is a good idea, but if there are videos or bonuses, it would be nice to have a table of contents or syllabus so a student (member) can follow along. Also for a new member, it shows what is coming up to keep the interest and money rolling in.

    Thanks,

    Jim Fortune
    http://www.retirementincomereports.com

    December 13, 2010 at 5:32 pm
    • Lance Tamashiro Reply

      Heck yeah Jim… Log in to http://www.newbiecrusher.com/members
      right now.. look in the header..

      Click on the link that says “Dashboard”… and tell me if that helps you?

      Lance

      December 13, 2010 at 6:57 pm
  • Mark V Reply

    From a customer POV, the step by step – hand-holding, let me show you how it’s done is great. Videos and supporting pdf’s for the same content…cuz some people have different learning styles. I realize that’s more work but, my opinion.

    Sometimes I have skipped content if I think I’ve already learned it somewhere else. Entice the student with a new angle on a tried and true method so they will take in all of the content.

    December 13, 2010 at 9:32 pm
    • Lance Tamashiro Reply

      Hey Mark.. check out the new setup we got going in “Newbie Crusher”…

      December 13, 2010 at 11:55 pm
  • E.G. Sebastian Reply

    Cool tips!

    Thanks!!!

    My tip is an evergreen: think what are the main problems of your niche-market and provide solutions/cure to those problems in your membership site…

    Unfortunately I got lost in building my membership site and added hundreds of articles and audios… I feel I overshot a bit…

    Great stuff – makes me move forward…

    December 14, 2010 at 8:55 am
  • Andreea Reply

    You make it so simple Lance… I like the idea to be just a few steps, if not one, ahead of your earlier subscribers… that takes the pressure off. I always wanted to have everything ready ahead of time.

    Thanks for the tips.
    Andreea

    December 14, 2010 at 9:19 am
  • Allen Sayer Reply

    Loving this thread … but just thought of one from a member point of view.

    I know lots of big boys who either ‘sell the $1 trial’ or the ‘membership itself’. And that you will often have a worse stick rate if you sell the ‘trial’ over the membership content. And that the ‘average’ membership might only be 3 months.

    Personally I’ve been a member of several sites where the trial was amazing .. and there was no content after month 2 or 3. Then I get promised that the new content is coming, they give me a freebie to say sorry and I pay for another month … but it never arrives.

    That sucks … if you only expect people to stay for 3 months and continue to sell it as an on-going membership site … STOP! Just do the right thing and do a shorter fixed term site with the content you told me you were going to provide and be done with it!

    December 14, 2010 at 11:36 am
  • Jeanette Cates Reply

    I’ve now set up over 30 membership sites – and yes, I’m a HUGE fan of the
    “Award-Winning” MembershipCube! My tip is use the SAME theme, layout,
    plugins, customizations on ALL of your member sites. Yes, you can change the
    header. But other than that it is a HUGE time-suck to try to re-invent the
    wheel for each site with its own theme, its own organization, etc.

    Instead, my members, who generally belong to 4 or more of my sites, find it
    easy to navigate as they go from one to the other.

    It’s also VERY fast for us to set up a new site – in fact, I outsource that.
    Since all of the settings are the same, all I need to do is give the name of
    the site and the member levels I want to use – and boom! it’s up and ready
    to load content.

    Second tip: When you DO have multiple sites – be kind to your members and
    give them links to the other sites on the same topic so that it’s easy for
    them to move from one to the other with just a click.

    The first membership site is the hardest – but if you’ll take
    MembershipCube, you’ll find it MUCH faster and easier.

    December 14, 2010 at 11:50 am
  • Manuel Reply

    Hi Lance… Was wondering if you received my emails? Would love to hear from you. Thanks!

    March 25, 2011 at 9:49 am
  • Britt Malka Reply

    Great advice! I’ve been running membership sites for years, using nothing more than an auto-responder. And I tell my students to get started instead of waiting until they have money enough to get a membership script.

    Two days ago, I invested in a membership script, and it’s great, though, especially since it controls people’s access to content if they unsubscribe on PayPal. Saves me a lot of work. So in the long run, it’s better, but far from necessary.

    August 30, 2011 at 11:39 am
    • Michael Cordova Reply

      Great stuff.

      Britt, can you tell us the script you mentioned? Does anyone know if this is covered by some of the other tools?

      October 25, 2011 at 12:20 pm
  • Shay Rockhold Reply

    I have started with membership sites, and I love it.

    I use a combination of emails and webinars for members.

    My tip –

    Just do it. Get your first one done – because after that, it gets SO much easier.

    October 25, 2011 at 9:25 am
  • Claude Corry Reply

    Its not the membership site that concerns me it is the recruiting of members is soooo hard

    October 25, 2011 at 10:11 pm
    • Michael Cordova Reply

      Claude Corry,
      My thoughts indeed.

      If recruiting members was included in these ideas and tactics then that would close the circle.

      October 26, 2011 at 6:00 pm
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