A membership site starts with an idea, but without a game plan, you’ll never get it off the ground. This article will provide a membership site blueprint you can use to build your own membership site. In this blog post, you’ll learn how to strategize, determine pricing, and which tools you’ll need to build a profitable membership site.
You wouldn’t build a house without a blueprint, would you?
Well, you could, but that’s a disaster waiting to happen.
Similarly, you don’t want to jump into building a membership site without a plan, or else you risk wasting time and effort.
In this blog post, I describe a membership site blueprint to help you prepare for creating a profitable membership site. You’ll learn how to formulate your strategy, how to decide how much to charge for membership, and the tools you’ll need to put together a successful membership site.
The first thing you need to do once you’ve decided on your membership site ideas is to draw up is your membership site strategy.
The 3 key elements of your strategy are your site’s content, delivery method, and how your members can access the content.
The significance of your membership site is dependent on how valuable your content is. Provide excellent value to your members and they’ll pay the membership fees to keep your membership site profitable.
Here are some types of content to give you ideas on how to provide maximum value to your members.
eCourses. Ecourses are some of the most common content type you’ll find on membership sites because people always want to learn something new and useful to them.
Whether they’re short, intensive courses or longer, more detailed courses, providing courses to help your members achieve their goals is a great way to provide value.
Live webinars. Maybe your niche isn’t too keen on courses, or the topic you’re teaching isn’t suited to an eCourse. Live webinars can be a suitable alternative.
Regular mastermind calls. Holding a live mastermind call or Q&A session with members every month or twice a month gives your members an opportunity to ask questions, talk about their struggles, and share their successes.
Text-based content. With the sheer variety of written content that you can offer your members, you’re bound to be able to find multiple formats you can create to suit their needs.
Long-form content such as eBooks and industry reports seem to be more premium content as they’re more difficult to create, but short-form content like cheat sheets, workbooks, action plans, and whitepapers can also be helpful to your members.
Library. When you encounter the word “library,” you tend to think of books, magazines, and other documents. And indeed, you can have a library full of your ebooks and other text-based content.
But you can also archive your video content. Live webinars and mastermind calls are great, but chances are not all of your members will be online when you do it. You can record and add these videos to a video training library or archive so that both new and existing members benefit from these videos.
Discussion board/community forum. Membership sites don’t really feel complete without an area for members to interact with each other. People may join for your content, but they usually stay for the community.
Downloads. If it fits your niche, you can offer exclusive software, tools, or applications that are otherwise expensive or aren’t accessible elsewhere.
In other niches, the simple convenience of making a bunch of resources and tools accessible to your members in one single repository may be valuable enough.
Member perks. Offering special discounts and freebies for products and services that your members need for their business or hobby might just be the factor to convince them to join your membership site, especially if the discounts and freebies are worth more than the membership fee.
Interviews/Q&A sessions with industry leaders. Insights and advice from prominent people in your niche or industry are priceless to people who are serious about succeeding.
Asking the right questions so you can get valuable answers can truly set your site apart from the competition and set you up as an industry leader yourself.
Member news and updates. Your members will largely benefit from getting the latest news in your niche. This can be in a bulletin board format when they log in to your membership site, or you can send member-only newsletters packed with the freshest news.
Your members also want updates on your membership site. New members, new features, new perks: your members will want to know about them. Again, you can post these updates in a bulletin board when they log in or you can send weekly newsletters.
How you intend to deliver your content to your members is also an important element of your strategy. Ensure that you’re choosing the delivery method that will be most valuable for your readers and not just to maximize your profit.
Straight Off. When it’s a straight-off delivery method, members will be able to access all of your content once they sign up for membership. There’s no new content to be added except for updates on existing content and possibly some extra content.
Continuous. New content is regularly being delivered to the site, usually monthly. This continues indefinitely, and as long as a member is subscribed, they’ll have access to both the older and the new content.
Piecemeal. New content is delivered at scheduled intervals for a set amount of time starting from the date the member joins. Thus, not all members may have access to the same content at a given time.
The type of access your members have to your content is the final element of your strategy. This also informs the payment method of your members, so you need to keep in mind your members’ needs and ability to pay when deciding.
Recurring. Members’ access to your content continues as long as they pay. When they stop payment, their access is revoked.
Lifetime. For either a one-time payment or through an installment plan, members get access to the content for as long as you host it in your membership site.
Fixed-term. Access is granted for a certain amount of time, and then automatically revoked once the set period is done.
Pay-as-you-go. Instead of paying for access to your entire content, your members pay for each piece of content or set of contents that they consume.
For example, if you’re offering a range of eCourses, your members can pay for access to individual eCourses and related training materials.
When you’re drawing up your membership site strategy, ensure that your strategy fits both the problem you’re trying to solve and your target audience. If your strategy doesn’t fit your target audience’s preferences, lifestyle, and income, it won’t fly.
Pricing is always a tricky subject. There’s something about deciding about other people’s money that makes determining the price of a product or service difficult.
Basically, you want a price that
The amount of money you can charge your members is determined by the perceived value of your membership site content. But the thing is, it’s tough to know exactly what your target audience perceives as valuable.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself when you’re working out how to price your membership:
At the end of it, how you present your membership site and what you have to offer will determine how willing your target audience is to part with their money. If you’re able to make your target audience see your site as valuable, you can charge higher than you think you can.
Just make sure you’re actually able to meet your members’ expectations and live up to what you promised them. Getting new members is more costly than keeping existing ones.
The only thing left to do now is to set up the actual website.
Just like building a blog, there are technical components that you need to build your membership site. These are:
I’ve previously talked about choosing a domain name in detail in my previous article about building a blog, but essentially, choose a memorable, brandable domain name that is preferably a .com and captures the essence of what your membership site has to offer.
Choosing the right web hosting is also critical, as you need a reliable service to store your all-important content and files. We highly recommend Bluehost (affiliate link), but other services you can go with include SiteGround (affiliate link) and HostGator.
Hands down, the CMS we recommend is WordPress. Aside from the massive support and documentation available, there also plenty of plugins you can use to help you run your membership site smoothly. Here are some of the most popular membership site plugins you can choose from:
Email marketing services, also called autoresponders, are necessary for you to keep the communication lines open with your members. Beginners usually start with MailChimp, but as your membership grows, you might want to move on to Drip (affiliate link) or Aweber (affiliate link).
Depending on the WordPress theme you use, you can set up your own landing page right there, but for extra features, insights, and analytics, we recommend Clickfunnels (affiliate link) or Leadpages (affiliate link).
One final thing you need to think about while you’re researching and selecting your service providers is that your final list of tools should integrate nicely together so that your members have the best possible experience on your site.
Note: You’re not required to follow our affiliate links, though it will help this site greatly if you do. Know that we don’t promote affiliate services that are shady and low-quality, but feel free to look for other non-affiliate services that may be a better fit for you if you find that our affiliate services aren’t up to par.
Solving your target audience’s problems through a membership site is a lofty goal, but to achieve this goal, you need a solid plan.
Let’s recap the essential components of your membership site blueprint.
Content is what you’re delivering, Delivery is how you deliver your content, and Access is how your members get to use it.
The perfect price is that which allows you to keep your site running and gives you a profit while providing immense value to your members that they can afford to pay for.
Was all this information useful to you? What does your membership site blueprint look like now? Tell me in the comments!
This is the 3rd of a 6-part membership site masterplan series. I highly recommend reading them in order.
For your reference, here are links to all the articles in the series:
JoAnne is your average, everyday, sane stay-at-home mom who believes in the power of the internet to make dreams come true. She has an insatiable appetite for chocolate, as well as all things internet marketing. She keeps up with the latest trends in blogging, affiliate marketing, e-commerce, and more.