Hey, welcome back. Today we’re going to carry on looking at setting up a membership site, give you more strategies you can use to create a successful one, and actually show you what software you need to get everything up and running. By the end of this lesson, you will have all the information you need to go out and set up a membership site that can help stabilize your income.
As a reminder, membership sites help protect your income as members will be making recurring payments to you. That way, even if your traffic falls for whatever reason, you will still be making money from existing members for some time to come. This is great for giving you time to get your traffic back, and get back on your feet. It also makes for a more reliable income that you know will be there every month.
Ok, so today we’re going to look at how much you can charge for your membership site, how to make your membership site sticky (And what that means), what software you should use to get your site up and running (I’ve tried a few and recommend my favorite that I’m using for this very site you’re on right now), how to successfully launch your membership site, and much more.
So read on for the info, and please, make sure you put it all into action!
Aims Of This Lesson
- Income Stability.
This lesson will help you stabilize your monthly income, and give you more consistency.
- Traffic Retention.
This lesson will help you build a group of repeat visitors to your website.
- Community Building.
This lesson will help you build up a loyal community.
- Gaining Traffic.
This lesson will help you gain traffic to your website without the use of Google.
How Much Should You Charge People To Join Your Membership Website?
So, you’ve decided you want to create a membership site, and you’ve got a really cool idea for what you want to provide to your members. But how much are you going to charge for the product or service you’re providing?
In all honesty, there’s no simple answer to this question. In a niche where there’s a lot of money flowing around, you could potentially charge quite a lot. In another niche where people are more reluctant to spend money however, you may have to charge a lot less.
The price you charge will also depend on what it is you’re offering to your members. If it’s a service that requires a lot of man power, you will need to charge more so you have enough to pay everyone. If your service is largely automated, you have the option of charging less as your expenses won’t be as great.
Lastly, your price can also depend on how many other people are offering a similar service. If no one else is giving a similar product or service and there’s a real need for it, you could charge more. If however your market is saturated and there are a lot of competitors doing the same thing as you, you have two main options:
- You can make your prices lower and more competitive then the rest, or
- You can charge more then your competitors and market yourself as a premium alternative.
As a starter point to determining your price though, you should have a look around and see what your competitors are charging. Even if there’s no one else offering the exact same product in your niche, it doesn’t matter. At this point you simply want to see what kind of prices people in that niche are willing to pay, and get an idea of what they get for their money.
Once you have seen a few products, you will have a rough idea of where you can start off. Will you be charging $10 – $20 a month? Will it be $20 – $50 per month? $50 – $100, or $100 + each month?
One thing to bare in mind, is just because your competitors charge a certain amount, that doesn’t mean that you should as well. They could all be charging roughly the same price because it’s the ‘industry standard’ and everyone else is, but that doesn’t mean it’s the way that will make you the most money. You need to do what you think is best for your product, so if you think selling it at a higher or lower price point is the way forward then go for it. You can always change the price down the line if you feel the need to.
Having said that, if everyone else is charging $100 a month, don’t go on to charge $10 a month for your membership. This is a clear sign you’re under selling yourself, as the industry probably has a lot more money in it. Undercut if you want, but don’t make it so cheap that you lose out on a lot of potential profits.
Another problem with undercutting too much, is you could actually turn people off buying into your membership. They may see your cheap prices as a sign that you’re no where near as good as your competition, even if that isn’t true. So be careful of you pricing point.
Using A Lower Launch Price
As well as thinking about how much your membership fees will be, you should also think about a one time lower launch price. By this, I mean a discount for people that sign up to your site in say the first week.
The reason for this is simple: When launching, you want as many people to join your site as possible. This will encourage word of mouth advertising, a greater awareness about your course, and possibly more affiliates.
You should give people a limited time discount to encourage people to sign up sooner rather then later. Creating urgency will put people in a ‘now or never’ situation, and no one likes to miss out on a good deal.
This discount you offer shouldn’t be so much that you won’t make much money from each person, and it shouldn’t be too far away from your regular price. Say discounting $47 a month to $27 a month should be the least you reduce your prices; anything less then that is probably a bit too much.
Make it clear to people that they’re saving ‘x’ amount off the regular price, and give them a set date as to when the price will be going back up. Whatever you do, definitely make sure you raise the price when you say you will, and to the price you say you will. People are used to the ‘on sale for one day only’ strategy, where you tell them that and it’s still the same sale price the next day. If you want people to trust you and to take your urgency calls seriously, make sure you stick to your word. Then anyone thinking you weren’t being serious about putting the price up will be quick to buy next time you tell them they only have a limited amount of time before a price rise.
Testing Membership Prices
Just because you set a price for your membership, that doesn’t mean that you should settle on that price and leave it at that. Yes sales may be going well at one price point, but who’s to say sales couldn’t be better and earn you even more money?
You’ll never know unless you test different price points. By this, I mean changing the price for new members and seeing what happens. You can make your prices higher, or you can make them lower. Do member sign ups pick up? Do they slow down? And if they slow down, do the higher prices make up for the lower amount of members?
These are all things you should think about after launch, and once you’ve got a good grasp of your new business. Testing your price can add a lot of money to your bottom line, so don’t remain comfortable at the current amount of sales you’re getting. Even if sales and profits take a dip when you’re trying this new pricing strategy, simply put the price back to it’s previous price and your sales will often get back to normal. Then you can try another price point you feel may be more profitable.
Please Note: Don’t try experimenting with price points until you can drive a decent amount of traffic to your membership offer. If you send 20 people to your sales page and don’t make any sales, most likely it has nothing to do with your price. It’s more likely because you haven’t sent enough targeted traffic to your page.
In order to test your price points, you should send a minimum of 1000 visitors to your sales page, preferably more. From here you can get a better idea of how your product sells, and compare it to the next 1000 visitors at your next price point. You can do this by simply changing the price on your sales page, and monitoring it for the next 1000 hits.
You should remember that the quality of traffic you send to your website will also impact on your conversion rates, so only ever aim to send targeted traffic to keep the experiment as reliable as possible.
Making Your Memberships Website Sticky
Now in all honesty, there would be no point having a membership site if it didn’t make the members want to stay signed up. While not charging a lump sum upfront will allow us to charge more for our membership site and allow our income to be distributed to us over time, this will count for nothing if the majority of members are canceling within the first month or so.
In order for this strategy to work well, it’s important that you make your membership site ‘sticky’.
By sticky, I mean that you make people want to keep coming back to it. There has to be something there that makes people want to visit again and again, maybe even when you haven’t delivered a new lesson that day. The more people want to come back, the more they will feel involved in your community. This will decrease the likeliness that they will unsubscribe from your membership.
There are a number of ways you can make your membership site more sticky, such as:
- Installing A Forum.
Installing a forum, also known as a member’s board, is a great way to make your membership site more sticky. While the content your create is all well and good, why not give the members a chance to create their own content? Here they can ask questions about the course, add their own input and useful tips, and generally build up a relationship with the other forum members.
Not only will this mean that people are more likely to come back and check out what’s new on the forums (Even on days where you don’ publish any new content yourself), but they’ll also be less likely to leave your course or service. The relationships they build with other members in the forums are ones that many will start to rely on. These people will turn into their friends, and if they cancel your membership, they’ll also lose access to the forums and that social experience. Sometimes this alone is enough to keep people signed up when they would have quit before, so definitely consider installing a forum for your members.
A quick word about forums however: It can take some time to maintain them. It is important that you moderate your forums, so you can see no one is spamming them and that it’s a pleasant place to be. As you get to know your forum members, you can offer one or two of them a moderator position. This means you allow them to look over people’s posts, and modify / delete them if they aren’t appropriate. This will take a lot of the workload off you, and mean the task of running the forum will be that bit easier.
Most likely people will expect you to participate and answer questions in the forums, as they are after all on your site. As time goes on however, other knowledgeable people will usually appear and become helpful members of the community. As this happens, they will often start answering the questions that were aimed at you. People will then start to ask these people questions directly, meaning once again a lot of the workload will be lifted from your shoulders.
While they can take some work to maintain, forums are one of the best ways to make your membership site sticky and help you retain customers.
If you want a free forum for WordPress websites, check out the SimplePress forum plugin. This is the one I use for some of my sites, and it works great. If you want a paid forum which has a lot more customization options though, the industry standard forum software is Vbulletin. This works on both WordPress and HTML websites.
- Run Competitions.
Just because people are already part of your site, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t run competitions to keep them interested any more. Competitions are a great way to keep people entertained and coming back for more. If your members know you run a competition say once a month, that’s one extra thing to look forward to for them. Small things like this will help you stay on their mind, and essentially come back for more.
- Add Surprise Bonus Content.
In all honesty, if you have a membership site where people know there’s going to be new content on a regular basis (At least weekly) then your site will be pretty sticky anyway. There’s something there to keep them coming back, so they won’t just visit once and that’s it. Having said that, it’s still not a bad idea to throw in the odd bit of bonus content here and there. This will increase the likelihood of people coming back for even more. Just make sure you announce to your members in an email that some bonus content has just arrived in their members area.
- Good Quality Content.
This point is pretty straight forward: Provide your members with good quality, and they will be more likely to come back for more. Give them a poor quality product or service, and they will probably unsubscribe as one of your members. So make sure what you do is at the best quality you can get it.
It’s often easier to keep your current members happy then it is to get new ones in, so make sure you keep the people who have invested in you the time and attention they deserve. Ensure there’s plenty for them to do that will keep them entertained, and make sure your site is sticky enough for them to carry on wanting to come back.
What Software Should You Use To Create Your Membership Site?
While there are a few options you can use to offer your private members area, the choice I recommend is Digital Access Pass. This is the software I am using to deliver this course to you right now, and is also the software I use to deliver all my other membership sites in other niches.
It can be used whether your website is WordPress based or not. If you’ve got a WordPress website, you install it as a plugin and upload some files separately to your server (Pretty easy to do, they’ll walk you through it step by step).
There are a few reasons I went with Digital Access Pass, also known as DAP. Here are the main ones:
- It Has A Lot Of Features.
The important thing to note here, is Digital Access Pass can offer most (If not all) of the features that the other WordPress membership plugins can offer, and more. If you go on to their sales page, you will see a list of features they offer and the things you can achieve using this software. Content dripping, unlimited member levels and types, up-sells, cross sales, coupons, integration with a load of payment processors, integration with a load of email marketing tools, it’s own built in autoresponder, the ability to process offline orders, the ability to sell one off products as well as membership sites, two tier trials, sneak peak feature, automatically protect whole categories in WordPress, pay per view selling options, built in affiliate program, forum integration so you can offer private forms, and much more.
Sounds like a lot? That’s because it is! And what’s more, the DAP team have made two significant updates since I’ve been with them, meaning they continue to work on their product to make it better. Check their sales page for all the details of all the features.
- It’s Easy To Use.
While I can’t tell you I’ve used every single WordPress membership plugin there is, out of the ones I have used, this is the easiest one to operate. It’s relatively straight forward to set up compared to others, which is great considering it’s a tool to deliver your final product rather then the final product it’s self. You want a system that is easy to set up and use, and doesn’t distract you too much from getting your membership site out there.
The only one difficulty with set up comes in the form of the documentation. It’s clearly been written for another version of DAP, and the layout of the newer version is slightly different. Still, it’s not that hard to work out how to do things on the newer version by looking around in related sections, and worse comes to worse you can always contact their support team. For me, this isn’t a big enough reason to not use this software, especially when it can do so much.
- It’s Competitively Priced.
Digital Access Pass gives you a couple of buying options. You can either buy a one site license, or you can buy an unlimited site license if you’re planning on expanding your business and one day releasing more membership sites on different domains (And can afford it). While having a membership site is good for stabilizing your income, don’t you think having more then one membership site in more then one (Or the same) niche is even better for stabilizing it? While you can always simply buy another license later down the line, it works out cheaper to buy an unlimited license from the start. That’s if you’re in this for the long haul. If you’re still testing out the internet marketing waters and aren’t sure if it’s for you, maybe stick to the one site license for now.
Digital Access Pass is the main tool (And only paid tool) you need to set up a fully functioning membership website, and do all the things I have mentioned in this lesson and the last one. It is the one I have used for ALL of my membership sites, and the one I recommend you use too.
Additional Advice On Protecting Your Content
Although Digital Access Pass is great for keeping your content locked away from members who don’t sign up with you, you still have the issue of some of your members potentially copying your content and sharing it with any non members. As I’m sure you’re aware, once something is in the digital download world, it’s pretty hard to stop the sharing. It’s because of this that I suggest you add an extra layer of protection to your website.
If you use WordPress, there’s a free plugin called WP Copy Protect which you can use.
Note: If you don’t use WordPress you should search for a script which does the same thing I’m about to mention. I would recommend you one, but I haven’t tried any because all my websites are on WordPress. Sorry.
What Copy Protect does is stops people from copying your content. It does this by allowing your website visitors to ‘select’ any of your content, meaning they also can’t copy it.
There’s also the option of letting people not ‘right click’ with their mouse on your website, but I always allow people to right click. They may need this option to right click then paste their email / password into your website, to change their screen settings, or do a number of other perfectly reasonable tasks.
So install this plugin, and disable highlighting and selecting of your content. This will mean they can’t copy your website text, and can’t paste and share it with people that aren’t members of your community.
This lesson is continued in Lesson 3 Part 2: Building A Membership Site Part 2.