A membership site is a great online business to run. It can be a wonderful community of users, a creative outlet and a profitable business. Best of all, you can add a membership site to your existing existing digital business.
Let's go over what you need to know about a membership site, including some actionable tips for getting more members.
What is a membership site?
A membership site is a business where customers get access to content for members. Often, membership sites are paid and the content is exclusive.
The membership content can include:
- Blog-style articles
- White papers
- And more.
Each time you update your membership site with new content, your subscribers get to consume it. They get an individual username and password that grants them access to the membership part of your site as long as their subscription remains active.
A membership site is a way to make money for your content, but not through advertising. Instead, people pay for the content because they respect your knowledge and want to learn from you.
Should you build a membership site?
You should create a membership site if you're interested to create an online community around your content. It’s a great way to establish your authority, build loyalty among your fans, and stay connected with the people who want to hear from you.
Yes, you can do all of those things on a regular blog or site. Yet, a membership site lets you get paid for your effort. Additionally, you can use your membership site as an offshoot of your other digital products, such as:
- Online courses
- Books and e-books
- Free videos
- Social media content
- Public blogging
You should only start a membership site if you’re willing to jump in with both feet. Your customers will expect to receive regular, valuable content. If you don’t deliver, they’ll ask for a refund or simply unsubscribe.
What are some great membership sites built on Kajabi?
Kajabi has empowered its Heroes to sell more than $1.5 billion in content. This includes multiple Heroes who have membership sites.
Alla's Yummy Food is one example. Alla includes a membership for people wanting to learn how to make Latvian, Russian and Eastern European cuisine.
Alla has also seen success directly selling her online cooking and baking class. The membership part of the site is a growing part of her business. As this expands, it enable Alla to have more predictable recurring revenue, which she plans to use to grow her business even further.
"I got started with my membership about two years ago and I did it through Kajabi, which was the best decision of my life," said Alla. "Kajabi helps me a lot in running my business because everything is on one platform.
The benefits of adding a membership site to your business
There are several benefits of creating a membership site. Let’s break down some of the benefits you can expect to get from opening your own membership site.
Increase your revenue
We all want to make more money, right? You might already sell online courses, e-books and other digital products. A membership site can become another revenue stream for your business.
Diversification and multiple income streams matter for your business. It’s just like investing in the stock market. If you put all of your eggs into one basket, so to speak, you could easily lose them all.
In the stock market, investing your money all in one place puts it at risk. Diversifying lets you absorb losses more easily because they’re offset by the gains.
In entrepreneurship, a single stream of revenue could evaporate overnight. You hope it won’t, but you can’t depend on it indefinitely. Yet, if you diversify your revenue streams, you’re more secure financially.
You’ll build trust and loyalty
As a knowledge entrepreneur, you depend on other people to put their cash in your pocket. You can’t force them to do so. Instead, you must earn their trust and loyalty.
It’s just like any other business model. If you love a particular supermarket because it always carries your favorite products, you won’t go to another supermarket unless you have a very good reason. You’re loyal to the first store because it doesn’t let you down and because you know that you can get what you need there.
The same pattern holds true for online entrepreneurs. When people trust you to deliver accurate, valuable information, they’ll have no reason to seek that information elsewhere.
When someone gives you money in exchange for a membership subscription, they’re already demonstrating loyalty. You now have the opportunity to nurture it. As long as you don’t let down your customers, they’ll continue paying to access your content.
There’s no need for a physical product
Managing an inventory of physical products can create problems. You have to find a place to store those products, pay to ship them out, and hire people to manage sales. Even if you don't hold inventory, we saw that dropshipping has its own set of headaches.
And that’s just skimming the surface of the potential hassles that can come with running a business that requires a physical product.
A membership site isn’t physical — it’s virtual. In other words, it doesn’t take up any space in your home or office, and you can’t run out of it. The supply — your content — is always there for your customers to consume.
Of course, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t take work. You must continue to supply high-quality content if you want your customers to stick with you.
You get lots of free traffic
When you have a membership site, you automatically have access to lots of consumers’ contact information. Those email addresses become intensely valuable when you want to market your other digital products.
You can run drip campaigns to specific segments of your customer base once you figure out what they want and need. This leads to free traffic to your other online properties as well as to your membership site.
Email marketing can take many forms, whether you’re announcing new products, nurturing leads through the sales funnel, or providing free educational content. All of those strategies can lead to an abundance of free traffic.
As long as you continue to deliver consistent value, you can turn that traffic into new customers. Create lead magnets to build up your email list even further, then continue to connect with your prospects via email.
You build increased authority
Authority matters today more than ever before. Consumers have access to so much online content that they don’t know where to look first. They’ve started to pare down on the number of websites they visit and online leaders to whom they pay attention.
Naturally, they’re drawn to those who demonstrate their authority best.
What is authority? It’s the sense that you know what you’re talking about, that you can back up your claims, and that other people follow you. When you create a membership site, you send the message that you have information that’s valuable enough to demand payment.
It might sound like a little thing, but it can make a huge difference when it comes to attracting market share.
Think about it: How many blog posts, emails, and social media posts can you read in a day? It’s limited. You only have so much free time, and you’re not willing to give up that free time to people who don’t, in your estimation, deserve it.
That’s why you have to demonstrate authority on as many levels as possible. Establishing a membership site adds another layer to your authority and credibility in the online marketplace.
We can’t stress enough how important it is to develop relationships with your customers. If your customers don’t feel like they know you on a personal level, they’ll have no reason to stick around.
An online membership site gives you a chance to build your own exclusive community. Only people who are willing to pay to consume your content can enter, which makes members feel more connected to one another and to you. That’s powerful.
The people who sign up for your membership site are likely extremely devoted to your industry, just like you. They’re seeking solutions and knowledge so they can develop their own talents and skills. You might meet a future partner or influencer who can help your business grow. Plus, you might meet people whom you can help to further their goals.
It becomes a multi-way street. Everyone in your community can work together to achieve a common goal.
When you’re paid for your work, you can afford to put more time, effort, research, and value into it. That shows in the content you produce.
Sure, lots of people produce excellent content for free. They post it on their blogs and social media accounts, and their generosity is appreciated by their followers.
Yet, money creates freedom. You can use that freedom to spend more time on your content to make sure it really shines. You can dig deeper into the research—or maybe conduct research of your own—and control your production schedule more efficiently.
In short, charging for your content doesn’t automatically make it more valuable, but you get the chance to inject more value into it.
What should a membership site include?
Your membership site should include a variety of content that aligns to your membership model. Some of the types of content can include:
- Written content like blogs or videos
- Online courses
- Live webinars
- Perks for members like digital products or even physical merchandise
- A community section or forum where other members can interact
- Your archive of content
- Exclusive downloads like worksheets, templates and more.
Let's break down some of the different membership models you can use.
A fixed membership period
This is when the membership lasts for a certain amount of time. This could be something like a 90-day weightloss challenge or even a multi-year "master class" that comes with a certificate.
Users typically only pay for the amount of time as offering. But, there are still ways to keep these fixed-period members engaged and paying. You could offer refreshers, community access and more to get them to extend their membership.
A product membership
This is when members pay for access to a product or exclusive content. This could be online courses or an actual application that can be downloaded for members. You'll typically have to offer multiple products over time to have members continue to pay.
Offering a service as a membership
This is when members pay for a set amount of service per month. This could be for fitness coaching, voice lessons or more.
But how is this different than just offering bookable coaching? There's definitely similarities but for a membership site, you'd also want to provide members with things like exclusive content and community.
A combination of these models
The truth is that most membership sites offer a combination of these models. Members may pay for a few hours of coaching per month but can also be given exclusive products or online courses.
There's nothing stopping you from delivering your members a variety of options.
Tips for creating and running your membership site
If you’re ready to create a membership site on Kajabi, there are a few tips and best practices you can follow to make your first foray into this field a successful one. Even if you’re confident that you understand how membership sites work and what they can accomplish, you still need a strategy.
Follow these tips for creating and running your membership site. You’ll thank yourself for putting in the time to get it right on the first try.
Start as soon as possible
We mentioned above that time is of the essence. Many online entrepreneurs have already started membership sites, so you’re behind the curve. To catch up, you need to start as soon as possible.
Yet, don’t immediately throw some content onto a site and start asking people to pay for it. Starting as soon as possible means creating the content first. You should have several pieces of content ready to go before you open for business.
How many pieces of content should you prepare? It depends on the type of content and its length and complexity.
For instance, if you open your site with 10 3,000-word articles, you’ll probably satisfy your first members. They’ll have plenty of material to work through. The same goes for 10 10-minute videos or 10 30-minute podcast episodes.
These numbers aren’t written in stone. You just don’t want your customers to sign up for the site, then find themselves disappointed when they discover what lurks behind the gate.
Learn from membership sites you belong to
If you belong to membership sites, start paying attention to the content, the interactions that take place on the site, and other features. Take note of:
- What do you like about the site?
- What would you change?
- How do the sites’ owners communicate with their customers?
- Do you see a high level of engagement?
- If not, why do you think that is?
Take copious notes so you can apply what you’ve learned to your own membership site. You don’t want to copy someone else’s strategy, but you can take bits and pieces to help shape the site you create.
Pay attention to design and functionality, as well. Take note of:
- How is the navigation laid out?
- What colors do the sites use?
- How about typography?
Getting a feel for the visual impact of the site can help you figure out what you want to do with your own.
Interact and engage with members
We’ve mentioned interaction and engagement several times in this article, but bears repeating. You can’t act as a silent founder when you run a membership site. You need to be present and active.
Ask people what they think. Respond to their comments. Hold regular polls and surveys so your customers know that you care what they think.
You can also encourage members to interact with each other. Membership sites, much like online forums, often build around a shared culture. There will be inside jokes, standards of etiquette, and other cultural norms that develop over time. Embrace those qualities and treat your customers like friends.
Run group events and challenges
Don’t be afraid to spark a little competition. Invite your customers to meet challenges or goals that you set for them. Help them grow and develop as you create content and other features on the site.
You can even develop a badge or point system that gives customers bragging rights. As they participate in events and meet challenges, they earn rewards.
Over time, you might even add monetary incentives to customers who win contests. A free month of membership might go over well. Just get creative and show your customers that you care about their engagement and happiness.
Help members find their way around as your site grows
New members might feel a little lost. Provide simple, intuitive navigation so new people can find their way around.
You might also write a Starter Manual. Tell new customers what they should read and which pages they should visit first to get acclimated. You can also introduce them to other members if you have a forum or other communication tool on the site.
Adapt based on members needs
Over time, you’ll get a sense of what your members need and want. Deliver on those desires and necessities if you want to keep them around.
For instance, you might discover that your customers prefer video content over written content. Strive to release more video to meet that demand. Your customers will thank you for it.
If they don’t offer up feedback of their own volition, ask for it. A poll or survey can provide you with in-depth information about each of your customers’ specific needs. You can use that information to inform your editorial calendar and site updates.
How to attract new members to your membership site
You want your community to grow. Striving to bring in new members will help you increase your bottom line as well as engagement on the site. Here are a few ways to grow your membership site.
Content marketing is a great way to grow your membership site. When you write your free blog posts or add updates on social media, mention your membership site and post a link to the signup page.
Don’t just make it a sales pitch, though. Tack your call-to-action on the end of a piece of valuable content that gives your audience a hint of what they can expect when they become members.
To gain more visibility, consider guest posting on other people’s blogs. You can also work with influencers, use email marketing to spread persuasive and educational content, and get involved in industry forums.
Don’t discount the power of commenting on other people’s sites, either. Include a link back to your own membership site, but contribute valuable content to the conversation. Don’t just pitch and run.
You might cringe at the thought of spending money on advertising, but sometimes it’s necessary — and profitable. Many entrepreneurs experience extreme success with paid search, paid social, display advertising, and other types of ads.
You might start with Facebook Ads or PPC through Google AdWords. Whatever you choose, set a budget and make each ad count. Create a custom audience for each ad that will appeal to your target customer. The more strategic you are about your advertising methods, the less money you’ll spend and the more customers you’ll net.
Whether or not you try paid social, you still need to be active on social media. Some social sites are more effective than others, so figure out where people in your industry hang out. If they spend most of their time on Twitter and LinkedIn, you don’t want to waste time on Facebook and Instagram.
Create a following by following influential people in your industry, posting valuable content, and linking out to other people’s content. Follow the 80/20 rule of social media marketing:
- About 80 percent of what you post should be entertaining or educational
- The remaining 20 percent can be promotional.
Your existing email marketing list
Remember when we talked about your email marketing list? It’s a goldmine for growing your membership base and keeping in touch with current customers.
Use it to inform both members and non-members about upgrades to your site, new content, and other relevant information. Don't forget to provide non-members with enticing reasons to become members: that could be exclusive discounts or other goodies.
You can also grow your membership list by partnering with other online entrepreneurs. You each expose yourselves to each other’s audiences, which can result in a boost in memberships for both of you. Consider working with someone in the same industry, but who occupies a different niche.
For instance, maybe you both publish content about personal development. You focus on spirituality, though, and your partner concentrates on relationships. Together, you can cross-post content that appeals to each other’s audiences and stimulates a boost in membership-site signups.
How much should you charge for a membership site?
Pricing is always going to be a challenge when you're starting off. You can choose between a one-time payment or a recurring membership payment model. Many business owners love recurring subscriptions because it's revenue you can bank on down the road. Your mileage may vary based on the type of membership you're offering.
One good way to determine pricing is to determine how much you would like to earn. If you want to make $1,000 per month for your membership sites you can charge:
- $1000 per month and you'll only need 1 member to hit your goal
- $100 per month and you'll need 10 members to hit your goal
- $1 per month and you'll need 1,000 members to hit your goal.
This is an intentionally simple framing but it's a powerful one because it forces you to have a goal in mind vs. just putting something out there.
How to research membership site pricing
Once you have your desired goal, you should also incorporate research to see if you need to adjust pricing. Some ways to do this include:
- Do a competitive analysis: what are similar sites like yours charging? Is your service higher-end than their or meant to appeal to a wider audience?
- Do surveys: if you already have an email marketing list, send out a survey and ask what people would be willing to pay. If you don't have a list, you can use free online survey tools to see what your target audience would be willing to pay. Remember, people often say one thing about pricing and actually shell out for a different amount. Still, this survey data is a great bit of directional data for pricing your membership sites.
- Do tests over time: Your membership site will evolve over time and so will the pricing. You can do experiments like a big Black Friday sale or even test a price increase on the most devoted users. Take those learnings into your larger pricing strategy.
How to retain your members
You've done a great job of getting paying members but your job isn't done. You must put just as much time and effort into pleasing and retaining your existing members as you do finding new ones. In fact, it’s easier and less expensive to retain customers than to find new ones.
Here are some tips to retain your members on your membership site:
- Interact with members as often as possible.
- Pay attention to their feedback and incorporate it when you can
- Continue delivering quality content on a predictable basis
- Add new features and content to your membership site to keep it fresh
- Make your members feel as welcome and special as possible.
How do you create a successful membership site?
Creating a membership site is as easy as signing up for Kajabi. From there, you can create your membership website using one of our beautiful templates.
You can create online courses, blogs, mini-courses and other membership content directly with Kajabi. Kajabi is also well-suited for membership sites because it also includes:
- Digital marketing capabilities to acquire new members and engage your existing members
- Robust analytics that empower you to know how your members are engaging with your site and services
- Automations, including our Pipelines funnels, that make it simple to turn prospective customers into paying members
- And much, much more.