Planning Your Membership Site
In todays post I’m going to share some information about membership sites. More specifically, I’m going to discuss in depth some very important things to consider both when researching concepts and ideas for your membership site and some other factors to keep in mind.
While you could create a membership website that carries a broader theme, they are often harder to maintain, and when it comes to creating targeted marketing campaigns.
The more focused your membership site is, the easier it will be to tap into your customer base and recruit subscribers to your site.
Every website begins with a theme. A theme is a specific topic or focus that your membership website will focus on. Before you can choose a theme or topic for your membership site, you will need to conduct a bit of market research.
By doing this it will allow you to closely evaluate the viability of creating a membership based website within specific markets that interest you.
You want to make sure that you can find a ‘point of entry’, so that you can generate exposure for your membership site regardless of the competition.
Alright so without rambling on any further, it’s time to continue on to the meat of this post and get you well on your way to membership site success.
Factors To Keep In Mind When Planning Your Membership Site
What I want to put focus on is analyzing the various types of popular membership site models that have been successful. In particular, we’ll look at 3 different models that you can focus on.
Of course, these are not the only ideas, and you can always expand upon these or come up with your own concepts as well. There are a few things to keep in mind when evaluating potential topics for your membership site, including:
1) Are There Existing Membership Websites Within The Market?
You want to build your membership sites around a viable industry, and by determining whether there are successful membership sites already catering to your market.
By doing this you will maximize your chances of building a membership website that will be widely accepted and of interest to the majority of your customer base.
For example, if during your research you determine that there is a very low number of membership websites that target a specific topic, it’s a good indication that the market is too small to accommodate too many membership websites.
While smaller niche markets can be profitable, in order to scale your membership website you want to focus on broader markets.
2) How can you offer something new to an existing customer base?
If you have established that a specific market is actively purchasing and subscribing to similar membership websites, you need to determine your unique point of entry.
How can you create a community of your own that offers something different than what other membership sites are offering? How can you offer distinct value in your own membership program?
You need to set yourself apart from other membership sites in the marketplace by first defining your USP, and then creating a membership website that clearly demonstrates how you are different.
How can your members benefit by being part of your community, and why they should choose you over the competition.
Your USP could be as simple as the delivery methods that you offer, or the format in which your content is made available.
For example, if you find a competing membership website offering ebook-only products to their members, consider offering both ebook and video or audio based versions of the information products that you create.
Since people prefer to learn in different ways, by offering many different formats for your training tools, you are able to cater to a wider audience while separating yourself from the competition.
3) Do You Have The Ability To Provide Quality Information And Resources To This Market That Aren’t Already Being Offered?
Just because you’ve confirmed that a market is a viable one doesn’t mean that you will be able to create a successful membership site for that market, unless you have the ability to create content that your subscribers will be interested in paying for.
Consider the costs of outsourcing content for different markets, as the more popular a topic is, the greater the number of freelancers to choose from.
If your topic is too focused or specific, you might find it difficult to locate qualified freelancers who have enough experience to produce quality content for your site.
Developing a membership website that offers specialized content is a great way to develop a USP (unique selling proposition) so that you can stand out in the market and attract subscribers.
4) Is Your Theme Or Topic Considered “Evergreen”?
Evergreen topics include subject matter that will still be in demand years from now. These topics aren’t based on fads or temporary hot topics, but rather on stable, longterm markets that have proven to be viable over a long period of time.
Markets that are considered evergreen include weight loss, parenting, employment, finance, credit, health topics and even sports or hobbies.
It’s important that your membership site is designed around a viable topic so that you can build a long-term membership program. After all is said and done, you want to focus on a scalable community base that can consistently grow and maximize your overall income.
If you base your membership website around a short-term topic, you will struggle to retain subscribers after the initial buzz wears off.
More Membership Site Factors To Consider
You want to make sure that your membership site will attract enough subscribers to justify the time and work involved in consistently updating the community with fresh content that above all, provides value to your members. Here are a few other things to consider:
1) Will you be able to come up with fresh ideas for future updates to ensure that your website stays fresh?
2) Is your market scalable with the potential for ongoing growth? Can you offer upgrade options to further maximize your income, or are products and your overall scope extremely limited?
3) Is your target audience able to solve their problems quickly (making it difficult to retain subscribers), or is your potential topic able to expand so that you can cater to a large-scale, ever-growing community?
These are just a few things to keep in mind when choosing your membership theme.
Once you have a general idea as to your membership theme, take it one step further by identifying what you are personally interested in or experienced with that could add additional value to your community program.
Are you experienced with a specific instrument?
Are you trained in specific programs or software?
Are you experienced with popular hobbies or sports?
Are you knowledgeable regarding a specialized topic in a ‘desperate’ market?
The best membership sites involve frequent activity from the administrator so the more active you are within your membership community, the easier it will be to develop a relationship with your subscriber base and encourage member loyalty.
This means that you want your membership theme to be something that you are personally interested in or have experience with. You’ll also find it easier to develop content for your site if you have a genuine interest in the topic.
The more focused your website is, the easier it will be to tap into your niche market and determine exactly what your target audience is interested in and provide it to them.
If your membership site is too generic or broad, you will have trouble tailoring your content to what the majority of your members base is looking for.
If you struggle to pin down a topic for your membership website, consider exploring the digital marketplaces where you can quickly evaluate potential topics and see what is currently selling.
One of the greatest resources for evaluating potential membership site topics is found at ClickBank.com. While ClickBank is primarily known for digital products, they also showcase membership based websites from within dozens of categories and niche markets.
You can locate membership websites by searching using the “Future $” option within the search area of their marketplace. You want to search through existing membership sites and communities in order to determine how their membership site is structured.
The different structures can be (traditional, coaching based, email based, etc), their price structure, whether they have an affiliate program, as well as the specific content that is being offered and overall value on the site itself.
Then, ask yourself the question:
“How can you improve on their existing model?”
“Can you expand on the topic’s coverage and provide additional resources, tools and information?”
Write down any ideas that you come up with as you evaluate existing membership sites in your niche market, for future reference.
This will help you thoroughly analyze the existing subscription sites in your niche so that you can create an improved membership website, that offers unique value to your own members base.
Another simple strategy for reviewing potential markets and topics for your membership site is by exploring www.Amazon.com to determine the number of available products focusing on your subject matter.
This is a great way to determine whether or not your market is a popular (and profitable) one.
SPYFU, available at http://www.SpyFU.com is a great niche research tool that will provide detailed statistics on keywords as well as existing Adwords advertisers.
Google Alerts is an exceptionally useful tool for locating hot topics and current trends that could serve as potential ideas for your membership site. You can access Google Alerts at http://www.Google.com/alerts
Yahoo Answers and Yahoo Buzz are also two very useful research tools that will help you come up with killer membership topics based on overall popularity.
With Yahoo Buzz, available at http://www.Buzz.Yahoo.com you are able to keep on top of current trends and hot topics.
All of this research takes a bit of time but it’s a critical step in effectively evaluating the theme and topic of your membership site so that you can build the very best membership website possible within your market.
Planning Your Membership Site – Conclusion
One thing to keep in mind is that when you launch your membership website and begin to generate subscribers, it’s often difficult to switch formats or change delivery times.
Make sure to do your best to carefully plan out your website early on, so that there is no need for abrupt changes. Believe it or not, your subscribers will come to rely on the schedule that you implement into your website.
In order to retain consistency and demonstrate your desire to provide a stable, ever-growing community, you need to do your best to thoroughly plan out your entire membership program before it even launches.
It’s important that you take the time to communicate with your audience so that you can best determine exactly how to keep them happy. Too often marketers skip this and just keep pumping out content that is no longer valuable to their members.
If you follow these steps and put effort into research and planning properly, the entire process of assembling and later launching a membership site will be a breeze.
With all of that said, thank you for taking the time to check out this post and I wish you all the best of luck with launching your own membership site.