Fearless Social is no stranger to membership sites and Recurring Revenue. It has been our goal in 2015 to incorporate recurring membership sites into our business model, and we are well on our way.
A real business runs on recurring revenue streams. There’s nothing more frustrating than hitting your numbers for the month only to have to start from zero again once the beginning of the month starts. Running a business like this is stressful, high-pressure, and exhausting at times. On the other hand when you start your month with a significant portion of your income goals met (and the knowledge of knowing how much money your business will generate month after month), it leaves a ton of room for growth and ingenuity, and not to mention, a less stressful working environment for you and your staff!
Some examples of products we’ve designed here at Fearless Social to meet our membership revenue goals are: ScriptDoll, FunnelVision, The Syndicate, Recurletter, Recurring Revenue Machines, and Fearless Deadlines.
In this post we will be discussing the different kinds of membership sites you could have and the type of content to put inside your membership to provide tons of value so members will keep paying you month after month.
Let’s get started!
4 Membership Types
Let’s dive into the different kinds of membership sites.
1 ) AutoResponder / Email Memberships
Marketers always want to complicate things. They want the fanciest tools and software to get things done. We are all guilty of it!
But what happens when we incorporate fancy tools is hours of “figuring stuff out” which is equivalent to hours of added frustration.
So why complicate things any more than they need to be? Life and business are complicated enough, so why add more?
That’s why the best type of membership site to create, and the easiest is one right through your autoresponder! Autoresponder or Email memberships is a membership where you are delivering members content right through an autoresponder and the designated time you choose.
Advantages of Email Memberships Sites:
- You don’t need any fancy or expensive tools (just an autoresponder like Get Response, Aweber, Active Campaign)
- You can “drip” information on a timely basis (2x per month, once per month, once a week – you decide)
- In some cases, you don’t need to house your content anywhere else.
- Templates are included – nowadays, popular autoresponders have built-in and beautifully designed templates where you can just plug in your information and it looks professionally made.
- You can track your progress – when you have a membership site inside of an email autoresponder, you can check things like open rates and clicks. You can’t really do that with a standard site membership site. You can see what topics are more popular than others. You can then make changes accordingly to what you are offering.
- Easy to manage unsubscribes – if a member stops paying, it’s easy to delete them from the list.
Disadvantages of Email Memberships Sites:
- You can’t insert videos: Videos and email responders (right now) are like water and vinegar – they don’t mix well. If you have videos, you need to link out.
- Lower Perceived Value: Sometimes a feeling of a real “membership” is missed by members. While the content could be superb inside of your autoresponder, members could devalue the product because of the way it’s being delivered. This perception, unfortunately, couldn’t be further from the truth at times.
- Members could potentially miss the content if they don’t read their email or if the email somehow gets delivered into a spam box.
- Reminding a member of new content could prompt the member to cancel.
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2) Traditional Membership Sites
Traditional membership sites are simply a site that is password protected, and when you gain access to it, all of the content that you’ve purchased is waiting inside for you. This could be written content, videos, and even software and tools.
There are many plugins such as Wishlist, Optimize Press, and several others that can password protect a site and integrate with payment processors to have a smooth transition from purchase to the user gaining access to the product they purchased.
Advantages of Traditional Memberships Sites:
- Information is secure and password protected.
- Integrates nicely with payment processors for customers to receive their login information to automatically gain access.
- Content can be organized inside of membership sites with navigation, search boxes, banners, and cross links.
- It’s an easy environment to communicate new information to members about the membership and content inside.
Disadvantages of Traditional Memberships Sites:
- Customers can lose their login information and need to contact support to get inside.
- Information could be overwhelming to the customer. If there are 100 videos inside of a membership site, buyers could get overwhelmed and might not be sure where to begin.
- Could potentially be difficult for customers to find content if information is scattered.
3) Drip-Fed Membership Sites
Drip-Fed Membership sites are a combination of traditional membership and Email Memberships. Essentially, information is drip-fed over a period of time. This could be any time-period decided by the product owner. Perhaps it’s weekly lessons, or even a monthly membership where new lessons are drip-fed every month inside of the membership site.
Advantages of Drip-Fed Membership Sites
- Customers can go through the material at a steady pace and not be overwhelmed with too much content all at once.
- Customers can finish steps in a process without moving forward before they’ve finished a previous step or prerequisite.
- It’s a great opportunity for product owners to charge recurring fees because customers are getting new information during a set period of time.
Disadvantages of Drip-Fed Membership Sites
- Some customers want all of the information up front and they want to be in control of when and how they go through the content. They might be advanced and don’t wish to wait a period of time to receive new content they purchased.
- Special membership software is needed for drip-fed content to work properly to take account for different times people will be signing up. One could drip-feed content manually, but that method won’t work after your initial content is fed and new customers come in at a later time.
- Reminding members of new content inside the membership site could prompt customers to refund or cancel.
4) Third Party Membership Sites
Third Party Membership Sites are memberships that are hosted by another site, usually widely known. An example would be a site like Udemy.
You can get clever and build membership sites on Facebook, Google Plus, and even Pinterest!
Advantages of Third Party Membership Sites
- Brings in a lot of traffic that may have never found you any other way.
- Ability to communicate easily with subscribers.
- Members can easily interact with each other.
- You can offer free products to allow people to “get to know” you and drive them to your other web properties.
Disadvantages of Third Party Membership Sites
- Third parties don’t work for free: Often, If you charge for your product, then a percentage goes to the site. This percentage can be up to up to 50% (example is putting a product up on Udemy).
- You must follow third party rules: Many sites have their own rules that you need to play by if you want to publish courses. For instance, a rule might be that your course needs to be 60% video. Other “rules” could be restricting content and links. (example: Pinterest does not allow certain links inside of a description box).
- It’s risky. Since you don’t own the site you are running your membership on, you run the risk of the site removing your membership for whatever reason or, although highly unlikely, the site can shut down and bye bye goes your membership site.
- Constantly Changing Atmosphere: Sites are constantly changing their terms and conditions. If you are putting content on a third party site, be sure to pay attention to the ever-changing rules, and terms of service.
Ideas For Membership Content
Membership sites can be very fun and interactive for the members if constructed correctly.
First things first…
Before you pick the type and the medium you will host your membership on, you need to think of the type of content you will be offering. For example, if you are providing content like monthly training, you might want to consider a traditional or drip-fed membership site. On the other hand, if you are looking for more of an interactive membership site, then you will probably want to pick a social site like Facebook or Google Plus to host your membership. Your content type will drive the medium on your membership site.
13 Membership Ideas For Your Membership Site:
1) 30 Day Challenges – Challenges keep people engaged (ex: 30-day blog challenge / take a photo a day / write an article a day / 30-day video challenge)
2) Support Memberships – Provides additional product and service support. People will feel they have more of an outlet to get help when they need it.
3) Review Groups – People help and reciprocate reviews for products and books (example: Amazon product reviewers)
4) Daily “To Do’s” – like an exercise / fitness group giving people something daily to accomplish
5) “Nichey” Topic Discussions – Members can only discuss one topic (example: only discuss sourcing strategies for physical products, only Tee Shirts)
6) Sharing And Feedback – These memberships are dedicated for members to share their work and get feedback. Sharing work forces interaction (ex: Facebook group that teaches different ways to photoshop images for kids picture books any everyone shares their work and members provide feedback and encouragement)
7) Fixed Term Memberships – Memberships that only last a certain amount of time. (example: 12 months, 4 months)
8) Ongoing / Never-Ending Goals – ex: Write 500 words a day, produce a 5-minute video a day
9) Done For You – Every month you provide a new done for you service. Maybe it’s PLR reports, graphics, content, templates, etc.)
10) Monthly Group Coaching – Members get together on a live call every month. The call is recorded and archived inside the membership area.
11) Curated Content – Members will pay for content that is packaged up nicely about a topic they are super interested in. (example: daily non-GMO recipes for busy parents, Latest Facebook marketing strategies).
Hint: Curated content membership sites are best delivered through the autoresponder membership method.
12) Software as a Service (SaaS) – SaaS membership sites are VERY lucrative because if your software does something that automates and simplifies a solution, then you pretty much have members for life. There are so many examples of SaaS. Autoresponders, ScriptDoll, Ad Espresso, Ad Tracking, just to name a few. Members will pay you forever if you have a software that makes a complicated process easy.
13) Pay For The Expert – People will pay to be part of a group if an expert in a topic is leading the group. (example: expert copywriter giving tips about copy every day, fitness expert sharing diet and exercise tips daily).
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At the end of the day, as long as you are providing great value to your members, they will continue to pay you month after month.
Having a vehicle, like a membership site, will allow you to have a business with recurring income. Recurring income makes it easier to grow your business, hire more people, and focus on bringing new members into the membership.
The sooner you get a membership site up and running, the sooner you will be on your way to making a recurring income for your business – so go and do it!
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