What is a Membership Site?

 

Your membership site can power your ENTIRE online business.

A membership site will allow you to secure and deliver your exclusive members-only content.  Only logged-in members with the right access levels can access your gated content.

People join a membership site to gain access to exclusive content, community and other benefits. You, the content creator and the site owner, can decide what action you want your members to take to join your membership program. 

So how does someone become a Member?

Generally, people need to make a payment to become a member and gain access (or retain access) to the gated content, but that's not always the case. You can also use your membership site as a lead magnet, where people give you their name and email in order to become a member and access your protected content.

Now, you don't have to give away the farm to anyone that becomes a member. The access can be controlled based on user's membership level.

Membership site concepts that you need to understand before starting a membership site:

  • A membership site will allow you to create one or more content packages (often referred to as Product or Membership Level).
  • Each content package can have one or more pieces of content.
  • You use a variety of content format/types (video, audio, pages, posts, downloadable files etc) to deliver your message.
  • Same content can belong to multiple packages (for e.g. - free, silver, gold and platinum levels can all have the same baseline content, but the higher level packages will have additional content and benefits, and of course will cost more).
  • Content in each package can ONLY be accessed by members that have access to that package.
  • You can make your content package available for free (lead magnet), or you can set up one or more payment options (one-time, payment plan, fixed-term or ongoing recurring etc) per package.
  • You can setup packages that allows access to ALL of your content - current and upcoming. You can charge a recurring subscription fee (charge user a certain amount every payment cycle) for access to all of your content. You can make all the content available upfront or release it per a schedule (drip). You can decide what you want the payment cycle to be (weekly, monthly, annual etc).
  • You can set up a content delivery/release schedule. You can decide the release schedule based on the type of content, amount of time it takes to consume it (complexity level) and your audience preference. It also depends on your niche/industry.
  • The delivery method can be different for each package.

. Each content package can have one or more pieces of content, and you use a variety of content types  (video, audio, pages, posts, downloadable files etc) to deliver your message. Same content can belong to multiple packages. You can make the package available for free (lead magnet) or you can set up one or more payment options per package.

Members can only access content that are part of their content package. Now, how they get access to the content package, is entirely up to you. If you want to opt-in and receive your free content package, then put up a registration form for that package. People that register will automatically receive access to the content that's part of the free package.

A profitable membership site uses a mix of free and paid content packages.

Membership site on Autopilot

A membership site software will allow you to put together different content packages (referred to as product or membership level), sell access to the packages for a one-time or recurring payment (fixed-term or recurring), and provide a way for your members to download or access the content online. And the best thing is, the whole process of selling and delivery can be automated, letting you focus on what you should be doing, which is content creation, marketing and taking care of your customers.

Using a robust membership software, you can completely automate your membership site. Everything from selling access, delivering content - instantly or over time, delivering different types of content, removing access for non-payment, refunds, cancellations etc can all be automated.

Now, automation does not mean you can set it up once, and don't have to deal with it until you want to add new content packages or make an update. Anyone that wants you to believe that membership sites do not require work or ongoing maintenance, is blowing smoke.

You got to make time to manages issues related to hosting, site security, caching, wordpress upgrade, plugin conflicts, php upgrades etc. In addition, you'll also have to deal with the occasional issues related to payment, login, content access, email delivery etc. I'm not saying this to scare you but that's the reality of running a membership site.

Does this mean you should shy away from launching a membership site?

Absolutely not!

There is simply no better online business model than a consistent, reliable, stable recurring income generating membership site.

It means that you've got to be aware of what it takes, be 100% committed to it, be prepared to nurture it and give it the time it needs. You've got to be patient with it. You'll have to invest a lot of time in the initial stages. The good news is, as you gain more experience running a membership site, you can start systematizing things, figure out what takes up the bulk of your time and see if it can be automated or delegated.

Membership sites are scalable. You need to map out the full plan before you start building it, but implement your plan in stages rather than launch everything at once. You can launch your membership site as just a lead magnet to build your list. Gradually add your paid products, and ultimately launch a membership program (recurring) to get the most out of your membership site.

Implement your plan in stages rather than launch everything at once. You just need to execute your plan in a structured and ordered manner.

Membership sites are often misunderstood as something you need only if you want to sell an ongoing, recurring membership to something.

You do not need a recurring product to start a membership site. Hold on to that thought. We'll dig that more in the next lesson.

You don't need a recurring product to start a Membership Site

For a profitable membership site, you definitely need to offer a membership program of some kind,, but you don't have to start off that way. Which is why it's so important that you clearly understand that a membership site does not mean that you must offer a recurring program. You can start a membership site even if you just want to use it to generate leads.

The goal of a lead magnet is to deliver a chunk of value that solves a specific problem for your prospects. It'll help you grow you list, get your prospects familiar with your brand and allow you to build a relationship with them. This way, whenever you're ready to launch your paid membership program, you'll be selling it to your existing members that trust you and are familiar with your brand, rather than to cold traffic, resulting in a much high conversion rate.

If you want to run a profitable membership site, the kind that brings in dependable and consistent revenue month after month,  then of course you need to add a recurring component to your membership site, but if you start off a membership site requiring a recurring commitment, you are setting yourself up for failure.

You can create multiple ways for people to become a member. They can opt-in to your email list or make a payment to become a member. A membership site will allow you to automatically control content access based on user's membership level.



A profitable membership site uses a mix of free and paid content, offers it in a structured, easy-to-consume, logical order to guide the members from their start state to the desired end state with the right steps, without overwhelming them, ultimately delivering the promised transformation.

Should I only launch my site after all my content is ready?

No, you don't have to wait. A membership site requires careful planning and execution. It does not mean that you need to have all the pieces in place before you launch it. You just need to map out your plan, and for that you need to be 100% clear about the end goal.

Just package your content and deliver it in a structured fashion. Each package should be complete in itself. It should take the members from their start state to the promised end state. The great thing about a membership site model is that it's a highly scalable model. You can add products and grow it gradually.

Should I only launch my site after all my content is ready?

1. What type of Content are you going to offer?

Is it going to be downloadable files, video, audio, checklists, wordpress pages, blog posts etc?

Are you looking to create a free membership, paid membership or a mix of both?

Are you looking to offer a Free membership, Paid membership or a combination of both ?

Type of content

type of content you are offering, the delivery method for that content, and the type of access members will have for your content.

Do you want to use your membership site as a lead magnet?

Are you looking to setup a pay wall and start monetizing your online content?

It could be one thing or a combination of things. All profitable membership

Your membership site can be the backbone of your entire business. You can use it to deliver your freebies, your one-off products, your subscription products or your high ticket items. You can use it to automatically release the right content when your users take your desired action.

You can take a regular wordpress site and use a membership site software to convert it into a membership site. You can use it to deliver different "types of content".

There are many different ways to package and sell your content.

In this course, I'm going to refer to the packaged content as "product".  It's the same as a "Membership Level". A product is made of different types of content. You can decide what pieces of content will go into each product in your membership site. Here are a few examples:

  • Downloadable Files
  • Videos
  • Audio Files
  • Wordpress Pages
  • Checklists
  • Training Material
  • Interviews
  • Blog Posts
  • Case Studies
  • Product Reviews

You can package multiple pieces of content under a product, protect each piece of content and set a delivery schedule. You can use the packaged content (lets call it a product) as a lead magnet to generate leads or you can sell it. If it's a free product that you're using to generate leads, generate a signup in your membership software and publish it on your opt-in page.  If it's a paid product, generate a payment button or link, and publish You can send a welcome email to your members with their login credentials, setup follow-up emails, create a members-only area where your members can login and only those that've access to the product can access the content that belongs to it.

Now that we've the membership basics out of the way, shall we go ahead and bust some common membership site myths?

Lets do it!

Package Content

Define what your product is made up. Assign the content pieces that make up your product.

You can use DAP to protect any type of content - videos, audio files, wordpress pages, posts, pdf reports, zip files, html files, even images.

You can use DAP to deliver free or paid content.

Even if you don't have any paid products yet, you can still use DAP. So if you want to offer an ebook for free, you could use DAP to manage your members , send out emails, protect your eBook (pdf file) and deliver it instantly to those that sign up.

And you can use DAP to sell different types of products or membership levels- one-time products with lifetime access, one-time products with limited duration access, subscriptions products - you could limited time recurring or unlimited recurring, you could do a trial offer, payment plan.

It also comes with a built-in affiliate program, so you can offer a generous commission to your members to incentivize them to promote your products.
















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Shane Melaugh

Thrive Themes

About the Author

My entrepreneurial journey started in 2006, when I dropped out of university. I went from offline business in the hardware market to ecommerce to affiliate niche sites and from hungry and desperate to well-fed and successful.

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