A membership site is a business. Members receive access to exclusive and protected content via a range of free and paid memberships. Members sign up and log in using usernames and passwords. The long page is also known as a paywall.
There is virtually no limit to the type of content website owners can share with their members. As the creator, you have complete control over the content.
There are hundreds of types of membership sites businesses can build as well. Sites focus on three main, general areas: online content, products, and services. Some examples of membership sites are digital content and digital art services, fan sites, hobby sites, coaching/mentoring sites, news, classifieds, auctions, life skills workshops and training, marketing, business, resume writing.
There are so many options available that if you don’t really know what you’re looking for, you can end up making a bad choice. This is why you need to have a checklist to help you narrow down your options. An efficient membership site should:
- Increase revenue
- Build trust
- Boost traffic
- Increase authority
- Build relationships
- Enhance value
How do I Get Started
Once you’ve worked out what your business is and into what market subset, or niche it fits, the first step is to build a website. There are hundreds of businesses that provide services for those wanting to start membership sites. Hubspot has provided a list of their top recommendations, and you can view the list here to get a better idea of the best services currently available. You’ll have a number of decisions to make, but these professionals will guide you through the process.
How Do You Build a Successful Membership Site?
Find your niche. One of the ways for these niche sites to become more popular is for the owner to narrow the field further. To make the niche even more specific might seem counterintuitive, but it’s a proven formula for success. As the saying goes, ‘the riches are in the niches. This may sound like a cliché, but that’s because it is true. According to current trends, the days of large businesses that do everything are numbered. Specialization and ultra-specialization are the future of online business.
Give your members and subscribers what they want. If you market yourself as a Subject Matter Expert (SME), don’t publish content about your pet rat, no matter how cute you think it is. Members join because there’s a benefit for them. It could be for specific knowledge or a product they’re interested in, or just to belong to a community of like-minded people. If you provide irrelevant content, you won’t attract new members and you’ll probably lose the ones you have.
Make sure it’s quality content. Don’t make the mistake of thinking anything will do. Your members must feel they are getting value for their money.
Offer both free and paid memberships. Also, offer memberships at different levels. Provide choice and value to your membership community by providing quality content at each level. Remember, your goal is to use free content to attract paid memberships.
Offer a free trial. This is a no-brainer. Think about how many times you personally have signed up as a free member-only to find the pull of additional content and services offered to paid members irresistible.
Get feedback. Make it easy for your members to talk to you and tell you both what they think of what you’re offering and what else they’d like you to offer. Use polls but also find other ways to engage with your members. Encourage them to be honest with you by telling them that your aim is one of continuous improvement.
Value your members. Flowing on from getting feedback and responding to it is a growing sense of being heard and valued. More than that though, you want to make sure that low-level and free members also feel valued. Your focus is on the higher-level paid members, but you don’t want to forget the others because if you give them lots of love, they’re more likely to upgrade.
Make it personal. More than product and knowledge content, successful membership sites have more opportunities for personal interaction. Offer yourself for mentoring, for example, will build strong ties between you and your members. Having access to the teacher directly is appealing. You can also facilitate better relationships among members through shared experience and knowledge.
Keep it simple. The website itself should look clean and professional and be easy to navigate. If it’s too hard for visitors to find what they’re looking for, you may lose potential members. In a similar fashion, if your members struggle to find what they need, they may also be turned off.
We have entered a new era of business, and so much has changed over the span of a very short time. If you want to run a successful business and aim for growth, then you need to look into the different methods and platforms available to get ahead. Creating an ideal membership site for your customers and potential clients encourages them to commit to your brand and your services on a whole new level, so you need to make sure that it’s done right.
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