In working with customers in setting up their Membership Sites, regardless of which type of membership "site" or "service" you use, you must consider the following BEFORE starting. Following these _____ tips will save you time, money and headaches!
#1: DETERMINE THE BEST TYPE OF MEMBERSHIP SITE FOR YOU!
There are many types of membership sites – that is a service in which you are paid for where your customers can enter to view information OR it may be where members sign up to receive information from you daily, weekly, monthly, seasonally.
What is good for one is NOT good for all.
Please read my past but recent article on the different types of membership sites and find which is best suited for you:
- What are your goals? Is it a short term or long term commitment.
- What you are trying to accomplish? Is there a series they have to go through step by step, is it that you offer many videos on a subjects that they can have access to in no specific order? Is your site a teaching-aide, a downloadable resource site, an advice column, etc.?
- What are you promising to deliver to your subscribers (members) and when. This is CRITICAL in your planning!
Do Not Pay Yet
After reading and learning about the different types of memberships, do NOT purchase anything yet!!! It's not time yet! At this stage you are not ready to pay for a service you are not yet using!
One of the main reasons is that for products you may purchase for your new membership site, there may be a Trial FREE period, there is normally one year support (or some duration and type of free support). You don't want to waste a free trial or any support you may need later once your site is up and running.
Click here to read my articles (it is a 3-part series) on Membership Sites – what they are, the different types, the time required, the costs involved and more!
#2: PLAN..PLAN…PLAN…FOR YOUR MEMBERSHIP SITE AND SERVICE!
I cannot express how important this is! You must, must make a plan and get organized.
- What are you delivering?
- How often?
- What is the cost?
- How much overhead?
- How much time – as the administrator, as the developer, as the service provider – a day, a week do you have to work to deliver top knotch, high quality material, product or information that will keep your members ACTIVE?
During this phase you may also seek a graphic designer to design a professional, custom look for your site – regardless of what platform you choose, you will need a "look". If you have an existing blog or website, then you can use those graphics, slightly modified as well.
Do a Trial Run
Go through a trial run with family and friends to help best estimate YOUR time in managing and administrating your membership site/subscription service!
Do Your Research
Find out and do research on what your competition is charging for a similar service!
- What is the quality of their work?
- How is your site better?
- How is it different?
- What are you offering that will make people want to COME to you…and then to STAY with you!!!
#3: ARE YOU READY TO DELIVER YOUR MEMBERSHIP SITE?
After you've done your research and planning, now you have to build your content! This, again, is a MUST.
- You have to prepare.
- You have to be ready!
- You need to take the time to put together high quality content. Whether it is for a week, a month, a few months. Whatever you chose, but you must have high quality, good content to deliver to members who sign up! AND continue to deliver in order to keep them!
#4: BUYING YOUR MEMBERSHIP SITE
Now, and only after you have done your research, set your pricing for members, have high quality content ready to go, is when you can now buy what YOU need to gt YOUR membership site up and running.
- What platform will you be using for your membership site? Many use a WordPress blog and the Wishlist Member Plugin. Others use phpBB Forum. Others use vBulletin. There are many, many options for your budget and comfort zone.
- Do you require a password-protected, login SITE or is a password protected "page" enough?
- Are you delivery content in the form a newsletter?
So, find your platform. Do the research on the different platforms and their cost – intial/setup cost, hosting, monthly fees, etc.
- If WordPress/Wishlist Member, you will need to pay for WordPress hosting (monthly/yearly) as well as the WishList Member license (you could use the $97).
- Graphic Design costs if applicable…estimate $100 for all that you may need.
- If using a newsletter service, most have a FREE tria period (Constant Contact is a 2 month/60-day trial), some are FREE like MailChimp. However, on average most pay about $15-$30 a month to get started and then MORE once their list of subscribers grow. So when pricing your newsletter service (to delivery content to your members if you go this way), be sure to see the costs associated with a growing list of members!
- If using a password-protected blog, this may cost you no extra. Blogger is free, WordPress.com is free, TypePad is $8.95 for 4 blogs. If using a password-protected "page" tihs doesn't cost you anymore!
#5: ADVERTISE YOUR NEW MEMBERSHIP SITE
You are now ready to go live! Make sure when you are in phase #3 you post on your blog or website that "something is coming". You may tell them about it or you may keep the suspense going!
When you do actually launch it, promote it on Facebook, Twitter, your blog. You may even want to take out ad/banner space on popular sites (depending on your budget) or use Google AdWords and related paid services.
I wish you much success in your new venture!