Everyday there are literally hundreds of thousands maybe even millions of people who will start to entertain the possibility of using the Internet to forge some kind of business.
A subset of these people will pursue the membership site route.
If you are one of these and still have more questions than answers regarding how to start your membership site, then you should read this article.
There are a number of factors you will need to take into account when it comes to setting up a membership site business from which you wish to generate a respectable source of income either on the side or as a supplemental income stream.
Below we’ve outlined the handful of the most important points you need to start researching and addressing before you even begin setting up your site.
What will be your niche or subject matter?
Before even entertaining the prospect of running some kind of membership business you will have to ask yourself, what niche or topic you want to target via your site.
There are a swag of online membership sites currently doing well which are covering a range of topics and niches spanning both technical and non-technical fields but there are a larger number of membership sites which are not doing so well.
The most important factors when choosing your niche is to take into account whether there is enough demand for it and whether it is something you are interested in enough to spend a few hours or more a day running a business based on this niche.
Some people think that they can simply just outsource most of the work even if they are not interested in the topic but the fact remains that YOU are ultimately the business owner and you will thus be responsible for running the business and coordinating your outsourced workers. Therefore it will be much tougher to run a business which deals in something your are not interested in compared to something you have a passion about.
What is your competition currently doing?
When planning an online business it is always a good idea to scope the playing field and see what sort of competition you will be up against. Sometimes you may find that the niche you have initially chosen is just way too competitive and it might be best to focus your efforts on something else.
Another advantage in researching your competition is that you will be able to get a clearer picture of what they are doing well and not so well. You can then put yourself in a position to offer your membership services which has strengths that are based on the weaknesses of your competition.
Quite often by researching your competition you will also be able to find a micro-niche (or a niche within a niche) which is currently not being addressed by the market and you can therefore be the first to offer a membership site based on this.
What delivery mechanism will you use to offer your services or products?
When you get a chance to study the plethora of membership sites on the Internet you will discover that what they offer their members and how they do it can be as varied as the topics they specialize in.
For example, when running your own membership site you can offer videos, audios, articles, or even one-on-one or one-to-many seminars and coaching sessions using skype sessions or something similar.
Therefore at the initial stages of your site, it is a good idea to start planning what sort of delivery mechanism or mechanisms you want to offer so you can start to think about how you will create these items.
What type of membership model and plans will you offer?
When people talk of a “membership model” they usually mean whether your site offers free or paid subscriptions plans or a combination of both.
There are differing opinions regarding the most effective membership models and all have strengths and weaknesses. For instance a free plan can be a very successful method of getting your potential clients to “try before they buy”, but if your upsell skills aren’t up to scratch, you might have a hard time getting people to upgrade to a paid plan.
Another factor which is tied into membership plans is the frequency of payments and length of the plan. For instance you can offer monthly billed plans which never expire or you might go for short subscription plans which expire after 3 months after which you can then you can ask your members to “graduate” to the next level by offering them another 3 month module.
What are your technical options as far as site setup and membership software?
A lot of the time the strength of your membership site can be gauged by the reliability and usefulness of your technical setup. For example WordPress is one very powerful CMS platform which is widely becoming the tool of choice for membership site owners because of its flexibility and wide range of membership plugins.
Before building your membership site you should do some thorough research regarding the platform on which you will base your membership site and also what kind of membership software you will use.
How will you promote and market your site?
Your membership site will be of no use to people if they do not know about it. This is where your marketing skills will need to kick in.
The best way to get people to notice your site on the Internet is to get it in front of their eyes when they are using search engines such as google or any of the other alternatives.
You can do a whole range of things (such as pay-per-click, article writing etc) to get more traffic to your site and you are therefore encouraged to learn about the most effective Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques which you can apply to your membership site.
Have you considered how you will retain your members?
Getting members to sign up will only be half the story as far as your site goes. Statistics show that for many membership sites, subscribers usually cancel their subscription after a few months.
There are of course many factors which can determine why somebody decides to opt out of a membership plan but there are things you can do to minimize the occurrence of this such as continually engaging with your members by providing them with frequent and fresh content they will find useful.
People need to feel that they are getting value for their money they pay for something like a membership subscription and this is why producing high quality products and services is an important factor.