As with most online entrepreneurs, I’m sure you’ve given quite a bit of thought to what product/service model will create the most profit and lifestyle freedom, and will help people in the best way possible. You have a lot of options, right?
letting others advertise on your websites
I have personally had experience with all of these except the last one. While they can all work quite well, there is one online business model that trumps the rest ~ the online monthly membership. Starting your own online membership is truly the ideal way to create passive income and lifestyle freedom AND help a lot of people at a low price point. Let’s discuss why this is such a great way to monetize your knowledge and talents and go into some detail on how to set it up, including the membership website software you should use, how to create content, and then how to market it effectively.
The Membership Website Software That I Personally Use and Recommend
I have built one very successful membership for alternative medicine practitioners who want to learn how to attract new patients using the internet and off line methods. This membership has been online for about 3 years now and is called The Prosperous Practitioner Membership . I am currently building out a new membership program called Online Mastery Training, which will teach all service professionals, authors, coaches, consultants, speakers, and trainers how to use the internet to not only attract new clients, but to create a true business that generates passive income and lifestyle freedom.
By far and away, the best membership website software I have found is Wishlist . This is a fabulous paid plugin that integrates with WordPress. With Wishlist and WordPress, it’s quite easy to upload new content… and the user experience is very intuitive. Since I moved this membership to Wishlist (we used to use Amember), we receive far fewer customer service emails from clients who can’t figure out how to log in or navigate their way around the membership area. Another important consideration is that I have never had a security issue with Wishlist (we got hacked when we were using Amember, which is the main reason we transferred over to Wishlist ).
I don’t recommend that you do the initial set up of the membership yourself, unless you have a web design background. It will save you a ton of time just to have a virtual assistant or web designer do this for you. You can contact my assistant Rachel here ; she does a fabulous job setting up my memberships efficiently and professionally. I have Rachel upload all the new content to my membership, as she can do it in about 1/10th the time it takes me. There are some things you should just outsource in business and this is one of them! Instead of fiddling with the technical set up, put that time and energy into marketing and traffic generation.
So, Wishlist is the Best Membership Website Software.. Now What?
Once you have set up Wishlist, the next two steps should really happen simultaneously: Create content for AND market your membership. One of my recent blog posts on creating a book marketing plan for authors reinforces the importance of marketing AS you are building out content for a membership site. You should start generating traffic and building your email list well before your membership has enough content to go live.
That way, you have a built-in network that you can promote your membership site to, rather than putting a ton of work into it and then saying, ‘Now what??’ Unfortunately, a lot of content creators and authors are shocked to realize that nobody actually cares about their work because they have done very little promotion. Marketing is actually more important than content creation; you can have the most fabulous membership content in the world, but if nobody knows about it, the work in creating it will be for naught (unless you happen to love creating content and don’t care if you ever make money from it).
So, what is the best way to create content when you’re starting an online membership? That’s a very good question… one that causes many entrepreneurs to endlessly postpone creating their first membership because it just seems like too much dang work. Now, don’t get me wrong– it IS a lot of work to create decent content that is worth $17-97 per month for your customers. But, most of the work is on the front end. Once it’s live, your membership may require some ongoing maintenance, but it’s quite workable in most cases.
Think about it: How long will it take you to create, say, 20 videos that are 3-30 minutes in length to start your membership? If you’re motivated (and you drink a ton of coffee), you can crank that out in a weekend! Especially if your membership is set up as a $1 trial for the first month, this is really all you need to get going. Then, you’ll want to aggressively expand your content over the next 2-3 months to keep your customers satisfied once the regular monthly rate kicks in.
Membership Website Software? Check. Content Creation? Check. Let’s Talk About Marketing Your Membership!
I can’t emphasize this enough: You need to focus on generating traffic as much as you focus on content creation, or else you’ll be disappointed in the results you get from your membership. Here’s an overview of 8 ways to market your membership (I’ll be covering this in great depth in my Online Mastery Training membership )
1. Build a wordpress blog to use as your main marketing hub for your membership
2. Create a compelling free offer on your blog to build your email list
3. Integrate your blog with social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube
4. Do keyword research and set up blog posts to rank for your main keywords
5. Set up a facebook fan page based on your niche
6. If you have an advertising budget, set up Facebook PPC ads to your fan page
7. Create 1 Youtube video for each blog post and keyword optimize it
8. Find JV partners in your niche to become affiliates for your membership
Building an online membership is one of the best ways to build a ‘real’ business that does not require your ongoing time and effort to maintain. If you have the right membership website software , good content, and an effective marketing plan, your membership will be a huge success!