A membership site will allow you to package and deliver different types of content.
Different people respond to different modalities. Survey your market to find out what content types will work best for your audience. To expand your reach, repurpose your content and offer it in multiple formats so people can consume the content in the format they prefer. You can select from a variety of content types - video, audio, text, pdf files etc.
A membership site will allow you to offer the same content in different modalities. You can, and you should repurpose your content. Some people prefer text content, while others may want downloadable audio so they don't have to be in front of their computer to consume the content.
What type of content do you plan on including in your membership site?
A product is nothing but a collection of content. Here's a list of different types of products that you can offer from your membership site:
Software products have a higher perceived value than information products. Consumers are more likely to spend on things that will help them save time and make things more convenient for them. Customers will invest in software products that will help them automate and expedite things in their business.
You could create a plugin or a tool that offers a solution to a specific problem and sell it from your membership site. It could be your core product or you could use it as a members-only bonus. SaaS (Software as a Service) membership sites have great profit potential if your software can simplify and automate things that are time-consuming to do manually. People will pay for speed and convenience. And usually SaaS products have a higher stick rate because people don't want the hassle of migrating everything to a new platform or learn a new system from scratch.
We sell a membership plugin for WordPress - DigitalAccessPass (DAP). Our customers are able to pay for the software license in multiple ways (one-time fee, monthly recurring , annual recurring etc). We use use a membership site to manage all our software products, sell our plugins, protect the downloads (zip files), manage our affiliates and members.
If you want to start a software products business and are looking for ideas, just look at some of common problems that you face online (in your niche) and wish could be automated. Do market research and if you believe that your product will fill a specific need in your marketplace for which there is clear demand, and it's something that you are passionate about and can sustain for long term, go for it!
You don't have to be a developer or a designer to start a software business but it'll certainly help and make things easier if you have some tech background. You can hire developers to create the product for you. Of course you've to be careful about who you hire. Finding developers that are reliable and have the technical knowhow to get it done is not an easy task. Making a bad hiring decision can prove very costly so do your due diligence before your hire. Be prepared to work closely with your developers and provide them with regular feedback so they can shape the product according to your vision and not theirs.
If your software product is your core business and you are completely dependent on a developer to develop, manage and support it, you should always have a backup plan (in case the developer decides to quit or starts throwing tantrums that are hard to deal with).
One of the biggest challenges for any business owner is accepting that they are not the only competent person in the team and their time would be better spent working on the business, rather than working in the business. I'm guilty of that myself!
I used to do a lot of coding work for DAP, but it also meant that I had very little time for anything else. And if you get bogged down with stuff and spend hours doing tasks that other people could be trained to handle competently, you’re not going to able to grow your business.
The last couple of years, I've gotten really good at delegating, training and trusting my team. I've spent a great amount of time training my developers and now I've a great team of very capable and skilled developers and designers who can handle any complex projects. It took us us time to find the right kind of developers who we could trust with our software. Building a team takes time. And growth not about how many people you've on the team but how you can get each member of the team to be more productive and accomplish the goals you set for them.
Now I come up with the idea, my designers create a mock up based on my guidelines, after a few iterations I approve it and my development team takes over from there. I've good, reliable developers that are able to implement my vision. My tech background helps me because my developers know that they better do their homework and try all possible options before telling me that something is not technically feasible :). I talk to my development team daily and provide them with my feedback. Things don't always get done per schedule, unexpected issues and challenges do come up, but that's expected when you create software products.
While creating and managing a software product is not for everyone, if you do it right, the rewards are so great that it makes it totally worth it.
An online community for your members, such as a forum or a closed Facebook group, is a great way to get your members more engaged and increase your membership stick rate. However, if you just sell community membership where your members have to pay a monthly or yearly fee just to have access to community, unless you are a well known marketer and very active in your community where members would happily pay for your advise and suggestions, it'll be hard to get your members to stick around. People won't mind paying to be part of a group if an expert in that industry is leading the group.
You may have heard this many times: "People come for content but stay for community". For a successful membership site, you need both - great content and active community. There are so many free Facebook groups available these days that people are not going to stick around just for community and pay the monthly fees if you're not consistently delivering value with your content.
While you can create a membership site that's just content-based or community-based, usually a mix of both is what helps a membership site thrive.
Use your Private Forum or access to a Closed Facebook Group as an added incentive for your members to stay and continue paying subscription fees.
Live Events, Workshops & Webinars
You can use live events, workshops and webinars to educate your audience, while simultaneously positioning your product, program or service as the logical next step. You can make it free for your members and use it as an added incentive to improve your stick rate and keep your members engaged.
You can use webinars in multiple ways in your membership site. It's a very powerful marketing tool. You can use it to generate leads, provide value by educating prospects about a problem and then demonstrate how your product solves that problem, signup new paying members, promote your brand, and build authority, trust and credibility. You can offer group coaching or product training using webinars. You can make the webinar replays part of your membership content.