What a membership site is and how profitable it is?
A membership site is an online platform whose users must create paid accounts to access its content.
Before you set out and invest your time and money, you need a thorough documentation on this subject.
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Do you want to start an online business that will bring you a steady passive income? There are many online business models that you can try. We talked about some of them in previous articles, such as the online store, the sales letter, online services or digital information products.
Today it was the turn of a new business model to talk about, to find out together to what extent it suits you and it would be profitable for your idea. This is the membership site.
Whether we are talking about a course site, coaching or consulting programs, premium articles or guides on a specific field, audio lessons on different topics or recipes, all of these can be examples of content that is available for a fee. membership site.
In terms of profitability, you can look at this business model as primarily an investment of time and secondly money.
- Time, because you need the involvement of a specialist (if not you) to create premium content on the site. This can take weeks or months to have enough content before launch, and then create constant content to keep users active.
- Money, because you need the help of specialists in the technical development of the site and the “packaging” of the content created in a pleasant form – video, audio, text, report, PDF, etc. These costs are higher at first, but then you only need a constant budget for maintenance and promotion.
Depending on the complexity of the platform you want to develop, the costs may be lower than developing an online physical store. However, keep in mind that everything can be done remotely, without depending on a fixed office, a storage space, a manufacturer or distributor. You may never need employees for such a business: everything can be done with the help of your employees who work remotely.
So far, all good and beautiful. But who would give money to be a member on the platform you created? What can you offer them on this platform to pay monthly, quarterly, annually or at a different frequency for a membership account?
This is where the challenge comes in.
How does a membership site work?
There are different ways to grow your business based on a membership site. You can offer free accounts to everyone and the ability to upgrade to have access to premium content or new features. You can offer free accounts to everyone to access the content but only pay for what they want to consume.
Regardless of the option chosen, the funnel of a membership site is the same:
- Traffic – new people entering the site for the first time;
- Leads – people who subscribed to the newsletter / created a free account;
- New members – people who paid an account for the first time;
- Loyal members – people who have paid a subscription at least twice before.
The biggest challenge will always remain step 1 of this funnel: how do you bring qualified traffic to create an account on the site?
The answer is that the source of traffic influences its quality.
Here’s an example:
If you have a membership site aimed at entrepreneurs at the beginning of the road or those who want to start a business, you will most likely get qualified traffic from the LinkedIn network and from search engines such as Google and YouTube.
Quality traffic comes in time, because it is attracted to the content you create around the membership site. It is about that public content meant to arouse the interest of those who work in the niche of your site.
Going through each step of the funnel mentioned above is a challenge that needs to be treated differently. But over time, after testing, you will create an automated system that constantly generates conversions for each of the four steps above.
My advice is to never venture into this business model alone. Collaborate with specialists to implement a strategy for each stage and you should never lose sight of the big picture.
Examples of successful membership site:
Udacity: They proudly offers aspiring learners across the globe the opportunity to participate in—and contribute to—some of the most exciting and innovative fields in the world.
Udemy: Probably the largest and most popular online course platform in the world. Their principle is simple: you create a free account and pay only for the courses you take.
Fiverr: one of the most popular freelancing platforms in the world. Anyone can create a free account (the one that offers and the one that asks). However, whoever needs a service, pays the fee requested by the specialist who placed his offer on the site.
Netflix: is the most popular online movie and series platform. You create a free account for 30 days, in order to benefit from all the content, and then you have to pay a monthly subscription to continue enjoying your account.
As you can see, these are examples of membership sites that have already achieved success. However, there are many other examples of platforms that are in their infancy or still in need of promotion to reach the desired level of profitability.
What I recommend, if you want to start a membership site, is to choose your niche very well, to know your target audience and to make a strategy for each of the funnel stages mentioned above, even before investing the first money. . This way, you will realize what resources you need and predict how profitable such a business will be for you.