Even for large membership site, you don’t have to spend tons of time taking care of your members and adding in new content. In fact it is very easy and tempting to overload your members by updating too much and piling too much into that site. All you need to maintain a membership site is about one hour per week. And here’s how I would structure it, 30 minutes for content, 20 minutes for promotion, and 10 minutes for maintenance.
With the membership site, one big piece per week is all you really need. This might be 30 minutes making a video, or an audio, or a handful of articles, but you can compress a lot of good information into one single block of time, then, that’s good enough. Hence, what you can do then is have one big piece and cut it up into smaller pieces like, 15-minute interviews or fifteen minute halves. You can take your one 30-minute video and add an assignment to the end of the video that drips out a few days later. You can add a checklist or places you were able to brag about, what you have done or a quick start guide a few days after that. But if you just have one chunk of content every week, you can then build on that. And 30 minutes is good enough. An hour of content recording is good if you want to have a higher priced membership site, but basically, 30 minutes of recording video content.
But content is not enough, you also need to promote your site and get new members in to replace the ones that drop out every now and then. So spend 20 minutes doing something to get either one new member in or one new person to promote. This might mean posting a special offer on a forum, contacting someone new to be an affiliates or even just e-mailing your subscribers and talking to people one on one and asking them, what will it take to get them inside of your membership site.
And for the remaining 10 minutes added every week, you do need to just check in and make sure that everything is okay with your membership site. Some people may not know this, that they can grab their lost password and need to tell them the password. Some people might have left comments or forum posts that you need to moderate and make them live or even respond to people who have asked questions or run across problems. You also might tweak your membership site theme, or plug-ins, or structure for those few minutes because we are always improving, because you don’t have to set-up your membership site perfect the first time, just get something out there and improve it incrementally as it goes on.
When you have a monthly membership site, people will drop out from time to time, sometimes in their control, sometimes it’s not. But you can take a few preventive measures to make sure that if they have a choice, your members will stay inside your site as long as possible. Be upfront about your rebilling, announce what content is ahead, and keep in touch with your members using e-mail follow-ups.
It just is common sense on your sales letter to tell people what amount they will be charged every month and how much will they be charged. But far too many people skip this step. If you’re offering a hundred dollar per month membership site then tell people that when they buy they will be billed $100 immediately, and then $100 every 30 days until they cancel. You would be amazed that people who get confused about this. They might think that it’s free now but they won’t be charged until 30 days, or that they will be billed every 31 days, or on the first of the month, so you need to tell them ahead of time this is exactly what you’re being charged. And this is a good reason to avoid trial offers, or up sells, or forth-cut nudie when a monthly membership site is concerned. Tell them what and when they will be billed and bill them in exchange for the content or the services inside of the membership site.
And once you were inside the membership site, tell them what content is coming. Will you be providing two audio files per month, What day of the month will they be played out, Tell them and let them expect it. Even if you say it on the sales letter, it really can’t hurt when they log in to the site to see what’s coming up and you might actually save a few cancellations. What if one of your customers sees that they have been billed, logs in to cancel, but then notices that if they just wait a few more days they would have access to a video that they really want. Make it simple and tell your members what content is ahead.
But you can’t expect them to keep logging in and checking in, can you, That is why you should also keep in touch with e-mail follow-ups. Tell them what’s coming out tomorrow. Tell them what you just posted, tell them what you posted last week, but think of an excuse to contact those members at least once per week either telling them about new content or asking them to participate in some way. Every blog post you have in your membership site could be an excuse to mail. Every comment someone leaves in a blog post could be an excuse, every form post, or apply in a form post can be an excuse to mail as well. So get your paying customers to log back into your membership site so that they actually consume what they are paying for.
And those are some easy ways to keep people or retain members in your membership site. Be upfront about the price and the rebilling, announce content that’s coming up, and keep in touch about your e-mail responder about what content you just added.
A membership site sounds easy and sounds like a lot of fun, right, If you can get a certain number of people to pay you a certain dollar figure every month then you can pay for your car payment or pay for your house payment. It sounds fun, to get things started and to make content and to get people into your site, but, how can we automate this so that it does not become a chore,
And the thing you need to know about outsourcing anything especially membership sites is that you do not have to outsource the entire thing. And I’m not even sure that everything can be outsourced at all.
I trust myself. I trust myself to make my own videos, or make my own connections, or get my own traffic, but I am okay with outsourcing the non-creative items. For example, if I make a video and I want to add a transcript, I trust other people to make transcripts out of those videos. If I am running low on membership site content, I trust many other marketers who offer resell rights to have decent content, and I have no problem purchasing resell rights from others to use as content inside the membership site. I am fine with buying a design or a WordPress theme or paying someone to have graphics made for me, but I still want to make my own videos and do my own promotions. Outsource the non-creative laborious stuff that takes you a lot of time and do the creative parts on your own.
And also, make sure that you automate most of your membership site software as possible. For example, with a software like wish list member, you can automate not just a part really were they buy but also the security which cuts off their access when they cancel. If someone loses their password, WordPress will take care of resetting their password or e-mailing a new one to them.
A lot of the tasks that go towards maintaining your membership site are not that difficult and you can devote just an hour a week towards making sure everyone who has cancelled is cancelled, anyone who asked for a password has a new one, and anyone whose payment didn’t go through is taken care of.
But, don’t think about outsourcing or membership site outsourcing as an all or nothing choice. You can outsource the things that take you too long or that you don’t want to do and leave the creative stuff to yourself.
Warning, I don’t want you to get caught up on creating tons of content before you launch a membership site.
You don’t need to make a year’s worth of content in advance before launching a site. You don’t need to make 6 months, 3 months or even really an entire month ahead of your subscribers before you launch. All you have to worry about is staying ahead of your very first subscriber. Think about that, if you have 6 months of content inside your membership site and no one joins, then what good is it, What is the difference between having a month of content and six months of content if no one is even inside to look at it. There is no difference. That’s why you should start off with just one week.
Can you make just one or two videos to keep people happy and give them something to watch or stay busy with after they join your site, If you can, then, that’s all you need to launch. And if no one buys, then the problem is not of the content, it’s with the promotion of that membership site. But if you get a handful of subscribers, now you know that you have to create another week of content.
And it is fun to stay about a week ahead of your earliest adaptor, because you can schedule yourself in advance, you can create two videos at a time and so on. But don’t use content as an excuse not to launch. It’s too tempting and you might not have any buyers. Worry about the buyers and then worry about getting far ahead in the scheduled content.
You want to have a membership site, but what should the price be, Should it be free, And how can you justify the price you charge,
These are all very good questions and the first thing I want to tell you is that a free membership site is something that should come later. For now, charge a fee for access of this site. Just to make it simple, for now charge a one-time fee, not a recurring fee, just charge a one-time fee, even if it’s $20, $50, whatever seems about right, charge now and worry about the free membership site later. The point of a free membership site is to get a lot of people in and to get a lot of participation, and I prefer to set-up the paid membership site first, so that when it’s time to make the free membership site I can push them all into buying the paid program. The free comes later, charge for now.
But what exactly should you charge, Does $50 sound right, or does $20 sound right,
The easy answer is to look at what your competitors charge. I will look at my top 5 competitors and average out that price they all charge and that will be around what I should ask for. Maybe you have some of thousand dollar people in there, some of hundred dollar people, and the average price point is $500, then look at how those competitors justify the price they should charge. And naturally the secret because whether you’re asking $10, $20, $50, if you can show a clear result, then you can justify that price. That’s why there were some weight loss products for hundreds or thousands of dollars because they explain to you, “if you pay this money, you can get these results.” That’s why real state courses start at $1000 on the low end, because, you take a training, you flip a house, you get thousands of dollars back.
Charge for your membership site, for now, make it a single-payment site, worry about the monthly site later, don’t make it free, but charge for your site. Look at what the competitors are charging and figure out what clear result you can promise or, at least explain so that any price you offer seems cheap.
Extremely common question I hear is when I make a membership site should I add a forum to get people posting there, to have a community, and to keep members paying and coming back all the time. And you should think for a long time before adding a forum. You should make sure your site is established first and has content of your own before you start asking for content from other people. The reason for this is because it’s too easy to have an empty forum.
If you set-up a forum or message board and no one is posting inside, then you have negative social proof. We’ve all seen on websites, on blogs especially, we can make posts, we can get people to visit, but it’s very hard to get people to participate especially that first time and leave a post or leave a comment. That means that if you have a forum, you can have a lot of lurkers reading posts but not a lot of people posting and everyone believes that the forum is empty.
And if you can get your membership site filled up enough, you have the worse case and the best case. The worse case is that, no one posts on your forum at all and you just have an empty message board. This really sucks because you end up having to put in a bunch of time making posts of your own, maybe using fake names just to get people to look at what you have but they still wont post. In other words, it’s a wasted area of your membership site. And the best case is that you have tons of activity on your forum which means you have to watch it everyday and moderate comments and delete troublemakers and basically make sure that everyone stays friendly towards one another.
I am not saying forums are all bad, I just highly recommend that you launch your membership site normally right now with posts and the ability to leave comments, and if the membership site becomes very popular, add a forum and you set as an excuse to launch again.
Question, when you set-up your membership site, do you take the time to think about what your visitors will be trying to get access to or do you simply pile in content with no thought towards usability,
If you haven’t yet thought about how your membership site should be organized, this will help. What you want to do is, keep in mind that one single post can belong to multiple categories, that you should type and module your post as well. In WordPress you have posts and you have categories. A category can be a group of posts but a post can have multiple categories. For example, let’s say you set-up categories like module 101 and module 102, and you also have categories, for example called video and called software. One single post in your WordPress membership site can belong to both the 101 module and to the video category. And that means when we look at the video category, we can list all posts that belong to the video category and we show the 101 category lists of posts laying to the 101 category. But it is very important to keep in mind that you are not limited to assigning one post to just one category, one post can have many categories.
But what kind of categories should you set-up,
I recommend two different kinds of categories. First set of categories for the different types of media in your site. One might be video, one might be audio, one might be reports, you might have assignments or check lists. These could be different categories. In that way someone can click on just the video category and list all the videos, just the check list category and see all the check lists. You should also type your categories according to module, in other words, what’s the simple stuff, what’s the hard stuff. What I like to do is name my modules 101, 102, 103 and so on and apply a post to one type category and one module category. That means if someone wants to just list the audios, they list the audio category, someone just wants to start out they list the 101 category and that makes sure that everything is organized and that your members can easily get to the information they need.
When you have membership sites, sometimes it just doesn’t make sense for people to pay you on a recurring basis and be able to get all of the downloadable items all at once. I have been in a few membership sites where I pay a monthly fee but as soon as I joined I had access to the previous several years-worth of content, and what happened was I was overwhelmed, I was confused and I definitely did not consume everything inside of those membership sites.
But you can be different. You can structure your membership site with Drip Content and make it more like a course. Somebody pays you a monthly fee, they joined and they get access to the first week or two of content. If they stay in for another few weeks or another few months they get access to even more videos and downloadable items over time. In this way, when people join, they can see what’s coming up, what was just delivered, and it’s all hand-fed to them over a link of time so that it makes sense because the more they pay the more access they get to the information.
If you have a recurring payment plan kind of site where somebody might pay you once a month for five or six months and then stop, this makes sense as well because someone joins, they pay for just the first month, they get just the first month of content, when they pay for the second month, they also get the second month worth of content and so on all the way until they get to the end. And I have even used Drip Content on single payment membership sites. Someone can pay you one time, for example $50 and get access to a few videos but the longer they wait around the more videos they get at no extra charge. The bonuses are dripped out and they can make sense of the first few videos and when it’s time to move on to the next step they get access to the next few videos. And that’s all Drip Content really is. Someone joins your site now, they get some content, then after a few days or weeks they get more content whether they pay for it or don’t pay for it depending on how you set it up.
You might have become confused hearing different people’s explanations of what a membership site is. A membership site doesn’t necessarily mean a recurring or continuity income stream. It is just a protected download area.
A membership site is a more advanced version of a download page. Somebody sees your site, they choose to click on the payment button and pay you money, but after they check-out for their purchase, they are sent to a registration page where they can fill out their very own unique username and password. What this means is that every single person who buys from you has their own unique log-in details, their own unique username and password to get back to your membership site later. This means it is fully protected against people who try to find a download file. It means that if someone loses their details, they can use the lost, password functionality to get it back and best of all, if someone cancels or refunds from your membership site, then their account is locked and they can no longer get access to your site.
Another cool thing about membership sites is you can host different items for download in the same membership site. Somebody could purchase product number one, and log-in to your membership site, download it, then purchase product number two and log-in to the same site with the same details and now see both items they just paid for.
The thing to remember the most is that a membership site is not necessarily something where you collect a monthly fee. It can be a site where you take money one single time, or it can be a site that is completely free but it’s just a protected download area that is only open to people who are supposed to get access to that download.
The best membership software runs on top of the WordPress, but the problem with the WordPress is, it has thousands and thousands of plug-ins and it’s difficult to choose which ones you should add to your site. That’s why the top three plug-ins I use in my membership sites are the Subscribe to Comment plug-in, the Category Post plug-in, and the WP Audio Player plug-in.
First of all, the Subscribe to Comments plug-in is very useful because you can have posts in your membership site and people can come and leave comments under those posts to add to the discussion or ask questions, but the problem is, many people will log-in, leave a comment, and leave never to return, and if they do return, they have come back too late and the discussion is over. But, Subscribe to Comments changes that. If you leave a comment under someone’s post, and another member comes back and replies to that comment, then you will receive an e-mail. Then if a third person comes in and leaves a comment, then both of you will receive e-mails, and so on. Basically, every person who has left a comment under a particular post gets updates anytime anyone leaves a comment under them. It’s great for keeping the discussion on the membership site going without you having to do any extra work.
The Category Post Widget plug-in allows you to add a listing of all of the posts in a specific category on your side bar. What I’d like to do is add a section on my side bar for every category of my site and what that means is that every single post is listed on my side bar but they are all grouped by category. And that means that someone can see a listing of all the video posts, all the audio posts, all the beginner posts, all the advanced posts, and jump to any particular piece of content within the membership site.
And finally, the WP Audio Player plug-in makes it very easy to add audio to your website. For many people, video is too complicated or too scary, but audio is a good first step because audio doesn’t require writing and doesn’t require a lot of preparations. You simply start talking and that is your recording. And many people can get the majority of what you get in a video or an article with an audio, and you can still get the audio transcribed later. That’s why I like the WP Audio Player plug-in, I’ll record mp3 files as content for a membership site, upload it, and the player makes the audio available right there on the page.
So, the top plug-ins you should use in a membership site that you can get for free are the Subscribe to Comments plug-in for discussion, the Category Post plug-in for navigation, and the WP Audio Player plug-in for multi-media.