If you’re planning to start a membership site, there are a few things you should consider before you do all the work. Preparation is half the battle, and deciding some important questions first may mean the difference between success and failure.
First, is your idea a good one? Just because you thought that people would enjoy a membership site on penguin clothes, doesn’t mean they will. You have to do some research. Go to places like SEOBook.com and use their keyword discovery tools to see if anyone is searching for penguin clothes.
Check out Google Trends, which you can also access from SEOBook’s results page, and see if the idea is waxing or waning or if there’s any interest at all. There’s no sense setting up a membership site on penguin clothes if no one will ever join. If you don’t see at least 300+ searches per day, you probably have a narrow market.
Next, what type of membership site should you build? Will it have forever content that continues to grow over time, or will you have a finite situation whereby members come and join to see what you have and are introduced to a type of “course,” where the membership content is finite? Sites with either model exist. You have to decide which one is right for you. If your niche is content narrow, meaning you can plan only so much content before you run out, then the finite option is probably best for you.
Third, you must decide how you will deliver your content. There is membership site software out there that will organize and present your content in a certain way. Or, you can decide to deliver content via a password-protected blog or via email. Which type of content delivery will fit best with the type of content that you plan to deliver?
Each of these questions are important because they will determine the shape of your membership and your site. When you research to find that the idea is a good one, when you decide on an appropriate level of content and a delivery system beforehand, your site is much more likely to become a success. So, take some time beforehand, iron out the details, and when you have a plan, go for it! Nothing means success better than good preparation.
How Long Can You Keep Up the Membership Momentum?
When deciding on the kind of membership site you want to have, one of the biggest decisions you should make before doing anything else is whether or not to limit the membership period. By that I mean, how long the membership should last? Should it be an open-ended model or should it be limited by time? Whether you realize it or not, this decision will spell the difference between success or failure for your site.
What are the pros and cons?
First, having an open ended membership site means that you’ll need to provide content for members forever, or until you run out of information. In an ever-changing niche, like information marketing, you may never hit the limit, whereas if your niche is dog grooming, there’s probably only a certain amount you can teach. So often, your niche will determine whether your membership site should be limited or not.
Second, what about your time? Will it continue to be profitable for you to spend time creating content for your membership site? For example, if you do well in your industry, you might take on coaching clients that will pay you $100 or more per hour for counseling. If you have only a few members in your membership site, it may take you four hours to create the content you need each month. If you have only 10 members, paying $20 a month, the numbers don’t add up. You’re losing money creating content when you could be spending the time with a coaching client.
Third, consider whether a limited site will provide sufficient information. If your niche is continuing to grow and change, such as social marketing. Will you be able to provide enough information or will your information quickly go out of date? In the social marketing arena, new sites and opportunities for networking open every day. If you’re not on the cutting edge, you’re yesterday’s news.
Fourth, decide how much money you want to make with your venture. Can you make it evergreen so that the information will always be valid so that you continue to earn money from your site forever, with just a bit of promotion now and then? Or, can you continue to dump members into the site, and offer higher and higher levels of membership, so that your revenue stream continues to grow over time?
Fifth, will you want to sell your membership site in the future? Either model will allow you to sell your site, of course, but if you have a passive mode of income that never stops, would it be wise to sell and have that income end? Or, if you have a limited amount of information in your site, could you sell it for a price high enough to make your work worthwhile?
There are many decisions that should be made before you decide on how your site will be constructed. Perhaps the biggest thing to consider is whether or not you have a list. Without your own sizable list, it becomes very hard to maintain members in the membership site. But after you have the list, the next important consideration is whether or not the site will be finite in information or open-ended. Making a wise decision in this area could mean the difference between success and long-term frustration.