Are you looking to start an online membership website but feeling overwhelmed by the whole process? You’re not alone. Starting a membership site can seem daunting and complicated, but it doesn’t have to be that way! But I do want to stress that if you decide to have a membership site treat it as a business. In most cases, it could take up a lot of your time and it’s something you can create your whole business around.
A membership site is not for everyone, so to help you decide with this blog post, I want to share with you some essential lessons I have learned about membership sites that I wish I had known before I started my own membership website.
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced membership site owner, these lessons will provide valuable insight and help you get your membership off the ground with confidence! Let’s dive in! These points are both from a business user perspective as well as a developer perspective.
- What is a Membership Website?
- 11 Potential Problems with having a membership site
- 10 Positive reasons to build a membership website
- When should a business user consider stating a community membership site?
- How do you go about structuring a membership site?
- Platforms you could use to build your membership site
What is a Membership Website?
A membership website is an online platform where users can sign up for membership and access exclusive content. Membership websites are great for people who want to share their knowledge, create a community, or grow their business.
11 Potential Problems with having a membership site
We’ll start with some problems and things to keep in mind when looking at setting up a membership site.Here are a few potential problems and negatives to consider when deciding whether to start a membership site:
- Setup and maintenance costs: Setting up and maintaining a membership site can be time-consuming and expensive, particularly if you need to hire outside help or purchase specialised software. The addition of a mobile app (which means you have to have an apple and good developer accounts.) Then having to deal with these issues when something does not publish and you have to reach out to different dev teams.
- Marketing and promotion: Promoting a membership site can be challenging, particularly if you are targeting a niche audience. You’ll need to put in time and effort to reach potential members and convince them to join. Deciding on Timed launches or ever green access, all take up allot of time and effort.
- Content creation: Regularly creating high-quality content for a membership site can be demanding, especially if you are doing it alone or have limited resources.
- Member retention: Keeping members engaged and retaining them over time can be a challenge. You’ll need to continually update and improve your site to keep members interested and coming back.
- Competition: There may be other membership sites targeting a similar audience, which can make it difficult to stand out and attract new members.
- Payment processing: Handling payment processing and managing subscription renewals can be time-consuming and may require additional resources.
- Customer support: Providing customer support to members can be a significant workload, particularly if you have a large number of members. Do not take this one lightly. This one is the main thing that could bring you issues. You must strive to have good customer support in place. Many times business owners underestimate this. Plugin updates, user errors, payment issues, login issues, user-level access issues and strange things user manage to do that is just a mystery how they managed to do something out of the box (All things one must make a not on and try to improve in the business. )
- Technical issues: There is always a risk of technical issues occurring with a membership site, which can be frustrating for both you and your members. Random things, new plugins updates so many issues can occur.
- Legal issues: Running a membership site brings with it a number of legal considerations, such as contracts, terms of service, and privacy policies. It’s important to understand and comply with these requirements.
- Time commitment: Managing a membership site can be a significant time commitment, particularly in the early stages. It’s important to be prepared for the time and effort that will be required to get your site up and running and to keep it running smoothly.
- Smooth refund process: It’s essential to have a smooth refund process in place in case members decide to cancel their membership. This will help ensure that all members are treated fairly and that any disputes can be resolved quickly and easily. Multiple WordPress plugins can give you issues around this, eg checking if the payment has been processed in Paypal or stripe and then cross-referencing this with the website (sometimes payments just don’t go through, cards decline, users don’t have enough funds etc ) to see if a payment has been made or not, access different systems can be such a time-consuming issue.
10 Positive reasons to build a membership website
Now let’s take a look at some positive aspects of running a membership site. Here are a few potential benefits and positives to consider when deciding whether to start a membership site:
- Recurring revenue: A membership site can provide a source of recurring revenue, as members pay a regular fee to access your site. This can help stabilize and grow your business over time.
- Loyal customer base: A membership site can help you build a loyal customer base, as members are more likely to continue their membership if they are receiving value from your site.
- Targeted marketing: A membership site allows you to market directly to a specific audience, which can be more effective and cost-efficient than trying to reach a broad audience.
- Higher customer lifetime value: Members who stay with your site for a longer period of time are likely to generate more revenue over their lifetime, which can increase your overall customer lifetime value.
- Specialized content: A membership site allows you to offer specialized or premium content that may not be available elsewhere, which can be a unique selling point for your business.
- Community building: A membership site can foster a sense of community among members, which can increase engagement and loyalty.
- Control over content and access: With a membership site, you have complete control over what content is available and who has access to it. This can be particularly useful if you offer sensitive or proprietary information.
- Flexibility: A membership site can be flexible in terms of the content and features you offer, allowing you to tailor your site to the needs and interests of your members.
- Passive income: A membership site can provide a source of passive income, as you can continue to generate revenue even when you are not actively working on the site.
- Professional development: A membership site can provide an opportunity for professional development, as you can learn new skills and knowledge while creating content and interacting with members.
When should a business user consider stating a community membership site?
…. and is it worth it if they have less then 100 members? A business might consider starting a community membership site when they have a specific audience or community in mind that they believe would benefit from a membership model. This could include a particular industry, hobby, or interest group.
As for the number of members needed to make a membership site worth it, it ultimately depends on the business and the specific goals and objectives of the site. For some businesses, even a small number of highly engaged and loyal members can be sufficient to make a membership site worthwhile. Others may require a larger number of members in order to generate sufficient revenue to sustain the site.
It’s important to carefully consider the costs and benefits of starting a membership site, including the resources required to set up and maintain the site, the value it will provide to members, and the potential revenue it will generate. It may be helpful to do some market research and assess the potential demand for a membership site in your target audience before deciding whether to pursue this venture.
A membership site that provides access to content behind a paid wall can be a viable option even with a small number of members. However, if you want to create a community-based website like a social media platform, it may be advisable to build up your audience to at least 100 people before launching the site. This can help ensure that there is sufficient engagement and interaction within the community to sustain it. Without enough members participating and contributing, the community aspect of the site may struggle to thrive. It’s important to carefully consider the resources and time required to build and maintain a community-based membership site, and to ensure that there is sufficient demand and interest from your target audience before embarking on this venture.
How do you go about structuring a membership site?
- Determine your target audience: It’s important to have a clear understanding of who your membership site is intended for, as this will help you create content and features that will appeal to them.
- Define your value proposition: What unique value are you offering to your members? How will your membership site benefit them? Clearly defining your value proposition will help you attract and retain members.
- Determine your pricing model: There are several options for pricing a membership site, including monthly or annual subscriptions, tiered pricing, or a one-time fee. Consider what pricing model will work best for your audience and business goals.
- Develop a content plan: A membership site needs regular, high-quality content to keep members engaged. Determine what type of content you will offer, how often it will be updated, and who will be responsible for creating it.
- Consider how you will promote your membership site: You’ll need to market your membership site to attract new members. Consider how you will reach your target audience, whether through social media, email marketing, or other methods.
- Choose the right platform: There are several options for hosting a membership site, including WordPress plugins, standalone platforms, and third-party services. Research and compare the features and costs of different platforms to determine the best fit for your needs.
- Create a welcoming onboarding experience: The first few days and weeks of a new member’s experience can be crucial in determining whether they will continue their membership. Consider creating a welcome email or video, and make it easy for new members to navigate your site and access content.
- Encourage member engagement: A membership site is more successful when members are actively participating and engaging with each other and the content. Consider incorporating social features, such as forums or chat rooms, to foster a sense of community.
- Monitor and analyze performance: It’s important to regularly track key metrics, such as membership growth, retention rates, and engagement levels, to understand how your site is performing and identify areas for improvement.
- Stay up to date: The online landscape is constantly changing, and it’s important to stay current on trends and best practices in order to keep your membership site relevant and successful. Consider joining relevant online communities or subscribing to industry newsletters to stay informed.
Platforms you could use to build your membership site
These are platforms I have used personally and have experience with building and maintaining them for some of my own project s and many customers.
- BuddyBoss: BuddyBoss is a membership platform designed to help you create and manage membership websites quickly and easily. It includes features such as membership tiers, drip content, membership pricing options, and more.
- Memberpress: MemberPress is a membership plugin for WordPress that makes it easy to create and manage membership websites. It includes features such as membership levels, content dripping, membership renewals, and more.
- Learndash: Learndash is a membership plugin for WordPress that makes it easy to create membership websites. It includes features such as membership levels, membership pricing options, content access control, and more.
- ThriveCart: ThriveCart is an all-in-one shoppingcart platform that allows you to create membership sites without the need for separate membership plugins. It includes features such as membership tiers, payment integrations, membership discounts, and more.
- SamCart: SamCart is a shoppingcart platform designed to help you create membership sites quickly and easily. It includes features such as membership levels, membership pricing options, content access control, and more.
- Easy Digital Downloads: A WordPress plugin which can be used to lock of content and have subscriptions activated in a membership-like format.
- Sales Master Hub: Sales Master Hub is an all in one crm platform designed to help you create and manage websites quickly and easily. It includes features such as membership levels, membership pricing options, content dripping, and more.
As a tech stack for WordPress Memberpress, buddyboss and learn dash work nicely together to give you a fuller community and learning experience but this also requires a fair amount of maintenance where you’ll need an inhouse team such as BigFanta.com to help you work the tech.
The easiest quick setup for a simple membership course access is ThriveCart but my main focus now is on our all-in-one CRM system, SalesMasterHub as this allows you to build out a complete business system, so there is no need for multiple systems.
In conclusion, starting and running a membership site can be a rewarding and lucrative way to grow your business, but it’s important to be aware of the challenges and responsibilities that come with it. Determine your target audience, define your value proposition, and choose a pricing model that works for your business goals. Develop a content plan and consider how you will promote your site to attract new members. Choose the right platform and create a welcoming onboarding experience for new members. Encourage member engagement and regularly track key performance metrics to understand how your site is performing and identify areas for improvement. Stay up to date on industry trends and best practices to keep your membership site relevant and successful. By following these lessons learned about running a membership site, you can create a thriving and profitable online community if you can commit to it as it can be like a full-time business so will require that effort if you really want to make it work.
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