One of the most profitable ways to monetize your website is by making it a membership website. If you have excellent content that your audience is always raving about, then membership websites could just be for you. Paid membership websites can earn a lot of money when done the right way. As compared to other monetization methods such as affiliate marketing or putting ads on the site, membership sites are a different kind of beast. You can have a predictable source of income and not have to depend on random people clicking on your links or buying recommended products. If your content is good enough, there will be people who will find it worthy to pay membership fees to gain access. However, membership sites are not only about putting a lock on content.
The following is the anatomy of successful membership websites.
They Have Unique Actionable Content
Great content that provides a lot of value to readers it the bread and butter of membership websites. Getting people to subscribe is the easy part, but if you cannot guarantee top quality content, then you will have people canceling their subscriptions. The most successful membership websites have unique and novel ideas since rehashed and weak ideas found anywhere on the web will just not cut it.
Membership websites typically provide original takes on the subject matter and even better, provide tips from personal experience that makes the members’ lives easier. Your membership website needs to offer information that no one on the internet has or that cannot be easily found. While you do not have to tackle a topic that is 100% unique, you need to be the expert on the subject. At the very least you will need to be a person that thinks out of the box or one that can take bland, ordinary topics and find unique angles to them that help your audience.
Offer Free Memberships
The most successful membership sites will often let in a few people for free. While this may sound like a dumb idea since you are basically leaving money on the table, when you look at it from another angle, it is actually a good thing.
Free membership can either be in the form of free trials for new members and free membership for life for subject experts. Subject experts do not have to be well-known names in the industry, as you can invite the most active and knowledgeable members of your audience to become members for free.
By bringing in subject matter experts and most active members of your audience, the membership experience is enriched. Some of these experts might not have the money to pay for membership, but if it is offered for free, they will come in to write posts, comment on the blog and help members with problems.
They Have Multiple Subscription Levels
With a membership website, there are only two ways to increase income; you could make each customer spend more or you could get more customers. It is often harder to get new customers than it is to get existing customers to spend more since they already have a taste of the value on offer.
The best way to get people to spend more is to have multi-tiered membership levels. For instance, you might have Bronze, Silver and Gold memberships. You can then give access to core content on the basic level, and then even more high-quality insider content to the second level, and more support such as one on one coaching and webinars to the highest levels.
They Shift and Adapt Their Strategies to Meet User Needs
The best membership sites are not static in their strategies. They do not always look the same as they are always in a continual state of flux depending on member needs. They take member involvement and engagement seriously and will only do add features and do things that will be of benefit to the members.
For instance, membership websites may reduce bloat by deleting little used forums, making courses simpler, or switch to live webinars so that members can ask and get their questions answered in real time. Successful membership sites ask for the input of the members through surveys on what features or direction they would like the website to take. The changes suggested can then be gradually introduced as the administrators carefully observe the reaction of members before making the changes part of the website.
Optimize Performance and Security
The best membership sites have optimized performance and security to improve the experience of their users and protect their data. There are many websites online where you can get your membership site optimized for things such as speed and performance.
MemberFix provides services such as demarcating your content for the different subscription levels, improving your page speed, installation and configuration of plugins, installation of core updates and ensuring that the website is working as expected. This will save you time and hassle, which you can then use to create content or interact and engage with members.
They Interact and Engage with Members
The best membership websites that are more effective at upselling and getting more people to join are those that interact and engage with members. A lot of people want to join membership websites, but they need to know that they are not going to be paying for drip feed content.
People want to join and know that they can talk and connect to someone who can explain things that they do not understand. There are several ways of making a website more interactive and these include:
- Active forums with regular content that helps and supports members.
- A contact form where people with personal requests can contact the admin.
- A text chat room where you respond to queries from members.
- A private Facebook group to chat and exchange ideas with members.
All these will make for a sense of community and will make the members want to keep paying for their membership. This is because they can get much of their questions and concerns answered.
Nothing about a membership website is easy as it takes a lot of work. You need to have the best content, manage the community, optimize for more revenue, and interact and engage with members. All of this takes dedication, but if you can do it well, the revenue that you can make from a membership site is totally worth the trouble. While this is not a comprehensive list of what creating a successful membership website entails, it should be a good start for anyone to get into membership websites.