Launching and growing a successful membership website


Your website is more than just a tool that gives your business a face online. It can be a business in itself.

One of the best ways to increase your income is to set up a membership site platform. Designing a professional membership site takes time and investment, but the returns can be well worth it. A membership platform be used to promote new ideas, reach clients who willingly test your ideas and products, and create a community of people who willingly encourage others to use your products and your ideas.

Pages, menus, categories or any other content on your website can be restricted, accessible via a membership password – taking into account the user’s membership level. Subscription plans, with or without a time limit can be enabled for users following a successful payment. You could even set a trial period for new registered users. An alternative to a subscription based system is “Pay to View” which offers customers a range of content by providing them with a password that, upon payment, enables access to certain pages on your website.

You don’t have to produce a year’s worth of content overnight, nor do you have to come up with the idea for every tutorial or video you’re going to produce. Consider offering a “test” membership for free or at an extremely reduced price to a number of individuals that you know are an active part of your current fan base. Give them a sneak peek at the action while you’re developing the community. Let them know up front that they’re part of your testing group: you’re still working out the kinks and figuring out how this is going to work, but you want them to come in on the ground floor and help you figure it out.

From there, market, market, market! Use your social media accounts and website to seek out people who are interested in your workshops, downloadable resources, products or services.

Free vs Paid Membership Sites

Once you decide on the type of content you want to present inside your site, it’s time to figure out how to sell it. If you want to increase your income with a membership site, the obvious choice is to require clients to pay for access.

Paid membership sites charge a small monthly or yearly fee for access to premium content. You can also offer to unlock content in a course on a one-time fee basis, and just host your premium content inside a members only area. Obviously, the key benefit of paid membership sites is that you can keep adding members to increase your monthly or yearly recurring income.

If you have a selection of digital products like courses, ebooks, templates, cheat sheets or any other downloads, the product bundle model can help you get more of your products into people’s hands. Rather than trying to convince your audience to buy multiple products from you, you can make it easy for them by bundling two or more products together, and offering them with a membership subscription.

Free membership sites have their own unique advantages. First, they’re available to anyone who wants to look in on what you’re doing. In some cases, having access to that content will convince people that they want to take advantage of the products and services you’re offering.

For best results, offer a mix of paid and free content. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You can offer an open area of your membership site and a closed area that is only available to people who pay the fee.

Membership Sites - a Reality Check

Plenty of internet marketers will tell you that you need to be running a membership site, and that everyone can and should do it. Yes, you can make good money with membership sites, but it’s leveraged income, not passive. The amount of work involved in running a membership site can come as a bit of a surprise. Truth is, it’s not for everyone.

Dealing with customer service issues, producing a regular stream of content, continuously having to come up with fresh ways of keeping subscribers engaged and paying for your product is hard work. You need to have something to teach, or a result that you can help people to achieve. Once your website launches the real work begins… and the pressure is on for you to deliver.

If you’re looking to get rich quick with minimal effort then you probably should be looking at other options.

Should You Create a Membership Site or an Online Course?

Online courses and membership sites share many similarities and overlaps.

A typical membership site includes:

The content of a course usually has a clearly defined start and end point, unlike in a membership. When you sell online courses, you need a protected online area that only the course students can access. This protected online area is where you’ll store your documents, videos, and any other content.

A typical online course includes:

Online courses and membership sites are based around paying for access to exclusive content. The main difference is the kind of content and how the access is controlled.

Questions to ask before making the decision:

There isn’t really a right or wrong answer when it comes to whether it’s better to create an online course or a membership site. What’s important is that you choose the best approach for your topic, your audience and you.

Anita Henderson - i4websitedesign

Anita Henderson - i4websitedesign

Full Stack Developer – taking care of the backend development and frontend design of websites. Dedicated website administrator, offering everything from low-cost daily site care to help with marketing and increasing sales. Proficient in complex e-commerce transactions and search engine optimisation. Responsible for making sure client websites look great, work well on all devices, are safe, function quickly, efficiently and with the greatest stability.

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