What is a Membership Site?
A membership site is a website that allows only members to access your website content. To get access to your gated content (access after a login), members would need to sign up and typically pay a one-time fee, a monthly reoccurring fee, or an annual fee.
Membership sites can offer different levels of membership access as a way to offer more tailored products to your customers and drive more revenue. Tiered membership access can include a free access level for customers signing up and testing out your product, a paid entry-level membership for your beginner level product, and higher levels of membership access for content that you believe would provide more value to your customer. Typically, the higher the tier, the more expensive you can price your products.
Free membership access gives customers the opportunity to see what kind of value you provide, and in return, you get permission to communicate with them via email, text, or other messaging mediums. This is where you get to nurture your prospect into becoming a paid customer. If they continue to know, trust, and like you, they are more likely to join your higher-level membership tiers to get further levels of content or personal access to you or your team.
What Can Membership Sites be Used For?
Membership sites are great if you are creating premium content that provides significant value in a niche or even broad category. We've seen membership sites used for bonsai tree communities, fitness programs, healthy food recipes, digital marketing training, trading academies, and many other areas of interest. Membership sites can be used for online courses, exclusive community access, personal Q&A access to yourself, premium content, etc.
Membership sites don't have to stand-alone either. They can be part of a larger business plan by incorporating a membership function to your business. For example, if you have a blog that monetizes content, you can also add a membership component where customers can get exclusive content or educational online courses from you.
How Does it Work?
How Do You Make Money?
Membership sites make money through membership subscriptions. Typically, membership sites offer tiered membership products starting anywhere from free to several thousands of dollars. Payment options vary from month to month, annual, or a one-time payment.
Most standalone membership platforms or plugins for more custom websites provide a payment service that allows you to collect reoccurring customer payments through debit or credit cards. This allows customers to easily choose any level of membership access, input their payment information, and will automatically charge them a reoccurring monthly, annual, or one-time payment.
What Are The Pros & Cons?
- More consistent income with reoccurring revenue.
- An engaged and loyal audience that you can provide more value to and generate more revenue.
- Able to automate much of your business.
- Member fallout.
- Content maintenance.
- Constant content creation.
- Dealing with customer cancellations.
- Collecting failed payments.
Estimated Startup Cost
To start your own membership site, you can create your own website with a membership plugin or you can use a software company that provides all the membership services for you without having a site of your own. If you opt to create your own site with your own membership function, total costs will be a little below $400 dollars. If you want to use a company that provides existing membership functions without your own site, it'll closer to a reoccurring cost of $1,000+ annually.
Key Activities for a Membership Site
Membership sites are versatile so depending on the type of products you're offering, your key activities will vary. If you're providing live access to yourself or your team through Skype or Facebook Groups, then most of your time will be spent hosting live events (online or offline). If you're creating an education curriculum, then you'll spend most of your time creating content. For most membership sites, you'll be focused on providing valuable content and services to your members. The more engaged and valuable they see your products and services, the longer they'll stay a paying member. The rest of your time will be spent marketing your membership program, engaging with your members, dealing with member issues, and maintaining your website.
Start a Membership Site
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By Mike & Callie
With a combined 25+ years in the online marketing and web development industry, we've been privileged to be involved with hundreds of membership sites, communities and online courses covering a diverse range of topics
From weight loss to business coaching, executive training to bass guitar, and everything in between - we spent years helping great clients to achieve fantastic results from their online business.
Now our focus is on teaching entrepreneurs and small business owners just like you to create successful membership sites which earn 5 - 7 figures a year in recurring revenue.