It is great that you have chosen to spread your specialized knowledge, unique life story, and profound insights through your membership website. But you have an obligation, both to your subscribers and to yourself.
You have to provide VALUE to your subscribers. Remember, they are spending their hard-earned money to read your eBooks, watch your videos, listen to your podcasts, and take your courses. Respect their time and money, because if you don’t, they will leave you for other sites.
You also have to ensure that your hard work is setting the cash registers ringing.
So here are six pieces of advice to make your membership website wildly successful:
1. Take cues from other websites
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel always. An excellent time-saving and fool-proof way to guarantee success is to follow what other successful people (in this case, successful membership websites in your niche) are doing.
If you are a member of such a site, review:
- What’s working for you. Figure out why you continue being a member of that site. Mull over their offerings and think how these have changed your life for the better.
- What’s not working for you. It is as important to learn from non-examples as it is to emulate examples. So also mull over what did not work for you on that site. Especially consider the courses that you left midway or the eBook that you now regret buying for that princely sum.
2. Review and rethink your prices. Revamp, if necessary
Here, the watchword is balance. You should have a pricing strategy that brings you profits without scaring away potential customers. Get into the shoes of your potential and existing members and figure out what appeals to them.
For instance, instead of offering all your digital content in a single three-month course, you can break up the information into courses and podcasts, bundle these into multiple small packages, and sell each over the course of six months.
Many people would hesitate to pay $1,000 in one fell swoop, but they won’t mind paying $200 a month. Some others might be apprehensive of covering all of that material within three months. Taking a six-month course sounds more practical and possible.
Here’s another way to make your pricing policy more lucrative to your audience. Instead of charging a steep membership fee and then providing all content you put up to the members, lower your joining fees. This will attract more members.
Create various membership categories. Make some content (of course, relevant and informative) available to your Basic members, but offer more to Premium subscribers. Besides, creating various membership categories lets you identify members who are more likely to buy your higher-priced products so that you can create more focused marketing strategies for them.
You can also lower the membership fee and offer access to various pieces of content for additional charges.
A conventional way of charging membership fees is to offer discounts on long-term plans that would encourage people to buy a one-year plan instead of a three-month package.
3. Make members stay with a retention plan
It is not enough to lure your audience to your site. You must also ensure that they stick around and continue being your loyal subscribers. After all, it takes more resources to attract and sell to new customers than to cater to the needs of existing members who are already sold on you. Furthermore, your existing members are more likely to buy your high-value products than members who have just joined.
To motivate your current members to stick around, they need to feel there is recurring value in subscribing to your site. In short, you have to provide more to your subscribers than what they expect from you.
Here are some tips on how you can up the value you provide:
- Provide value, frequently. You can post new, relevant content in the members-only area or send the information via newsletters. Throw in an eBook once in a while and offer a new information product after every few months.
- Ensure that the information you provide to your subscribers is exclusive and original. In other words, what you provide must be information that cannot be readily found elsewhere or can be accessed for free.
- Update your products regularly, so your offerings never become stale or obsolete.
- Make your subscribers feel valued. You can offer one-on-one consultations or give them access to a support forum where you or members of your team provide solutions to their problems.
- Offer free products occasionally. For instance, you can offer a three-day mini-course for free, and then use the leads you have generated to push a paid three-month course to those subscribers who have completed the mini course.
- Offer multiple informational products. When you have diverse offerings, your members are more likely to find what they need. Besides, the more the products in your kitty, the greater are your chances of making a sale.
- Get your members into the habit of spending on your site. Start by offering a high-value product at a low price. Then market a higher-priced course to them that they can take over the course of a few months. A satisfied (note the emphasis) customer is more likely to buy a higher-priced product than someone who has not yet bought anything from you.
- Show your appreciation to your members for sticking around. Offer bonuses that will make them want to buy more, like five free eBooks or a price discount for the member who buys a five-month course instead of a shorter three-month course.
4. Use videos
Videos have been proven to enhance the engagement quotient of a website. Your membership site is no different. Videos not only enhance the value of your knowledge product but also give you the opportunity to connect with your audience on an intimate level and thus build your credibility.
The following are some tips to help you make the most from the powerful medium that video is:
- Create a welcome video where you introduce both yourself and the benefits of your offerings to your audience.
- Consider putting up a talking-head video to build a rapport with your audience instantly. It is easier to relate to a face that displays emotions than a list of cold numbers!
- Use your video to reflect you and your brand’s personality. Use footage from your site to establish brand identity.
5. Provide relevant content only
You are selling your website to an audience. Your members are shelling out money to access content on your site. Your audience is your CUSTOMER. So it is imperative that you put up content that is relevant to them.
As people who are experts in their respective disciplines having years and decades of experience teaching what they know best, it is not unnatural for content creators to sometimes forget that their audience is just starting out on the learning journey. The result: learners cannot make sense of the jargons content creators spew or wrap their heads around the analogies experts tend to use.
As content creators, you wouldn’t want to lose your audience halfway through a course or right after the podcast begins. So here are some tips on keeping content relevant to your audience:
- Carry out a thorough target audience analysis to know your typical member and what does he want to learn from you.
- Define your niche, so your audience knows what to expect from you.
- Interact with your audience regularly on forums to find out about their expectations from your site.
- Ask your subscribers what content they want from you much before you roll out a new course or record a podcast.
- Ask your members for feedback. Their responses will give you clues about their knowledge gaps.
- Remember the pain points and the stumbling blocks you faced during your own learning journey when you create content for your audience. Then address these.
- Create new content regularly for your audience. Be there for them on their learning journey!
6. Plan for growth and design your site accordingly
If you have strategized thoughtfully and executed your business model perfectly, then it is likely that your website is now flourishing. Your brand is well-known in the virtual world, and you are attracting new members in droves. Kudos to you!
But your work is not over yet. You have to make sure that your members—existing and new—have a great experience while they are on your site. Ensure that they know they will find on your site what they are looking for. Then make sure they can find their way easily through the maze of content you have here.
Organizing your content is critical. All the podcasts, courses, Q&As, and tutorial videos that you have posted over the weeks, months, and years should not get lost. Here are some tips:
- Create a “Welcome” page for new members that will inform them about the information they can find on the site. Update this page regularly.
- Create categories and organize content topically.
- Tag content to make it easy for members to search with keywords.
- Link to relevant older resources.
- Let members know about the content they might have missed or overlooked.
It takes work to create a membership site that goes on to become a valuable resource and a source of steady passive income for you. Be thoughtful and empathetic (read: know your audience). Serve others (read: provide relevant content). Be smart (read: plan for growth and automate).