Making Money Online

Launch a Money Making Membership Site from Scratch

Starting a membership site can be an incredibly lucrative online business model. By charging subscribers monthly or yearly fees to access premium content and community features, you can generate recurring passive income. However, launching a successful membership site takes strategic planning and execution.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to create a money making membership site from scratch, step-by-step.

Crafting the Perfect Membership Site Idea

The first step is coming up with an idea that serves a specific audience with content they’ll happily pay for. Here are some tips for finding a profitable niche and topic:

  • ** Solve a Pain Point** – What problem does your audience struggle with that you can help solve? Providing a solution they need is key.
  • Tap Into Your Passions and Expertise – It’s easier to create valuable content if you have existing knowledge or interest in the topic.
  • Research Profitable Niches – Use tools like Google Keyword Planner to find topics and keywords with search volume and demand. Fitness, investing,web development and entrepreneurship tend to be popular.
  • Consider Trends and Emerging Topics – Is the niche growing in interest and searches? Trending topics can give your site an early mover advantage.
  • Survey Your Target Audience – Get feedback directly from who you want to serve to validate your membership site concept.

Once you’ve settled on an idea, define your target audience. Determine their demographics, interests, goals, and challenges so you can tailor your membership to them.

Key Elements to Include in Your Membership Site

Next, decide exactly what value you’ll provide to members. Common membership site elements include:

Premium Online Courses

In-depth training programs and video tutorials members can access to learn new skills related to your niche.

Downloadable Resources

Such as templates, guides, checklists, workbooks, or audio lessons that supplement your courses. These can also be sold individually to non-members.

Q&A Forums

Let members ask you questions and get feedback. You can also enable peer-to-peer discussions.

Live Events

Like webinars, Q&As, and virtual meetups exclusively for your members.

Exclusive Discounts

On relevant products or services members use frequently. Partner with brands your audience loves.

Community Support

Connect members through chat rooms or private social groups to network and share tips.

Direct Access to You

Set up communication channels like email or messenger apps to provide 1-on-1 coaching and support.

Determine the right mix of features to create value and help your subscribers achieve their goals. Focus on what makes your membership unique.

Choosing the Right Membership Site Platform

Once you know what you’ll offer, the next big decision is choosing a platform to build and host your membership site. Here are top options to consider with pros and cons:

Managed WordPress + Membership Plugin

Pros:

  • Complete control and customization over design
  • Can fully own and move your site if desired
  • Many membership plugins like MemberPress integrate seamlessly

Cons:

  • More complex setup required
  • Need strong WordPress development skills
  • You manage updates, security, maintenance

All-In-One Solutions

Like Kajabi, Mighty Networks, Thinkific, Circle

Pros:

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  • Very user-friendly and quick to create a site
  • Built-in payment processing, email marketing, and other tools
  • Little to no technical skills required

Cons:

  • Less control over design and features
  • Locked into their platform if you want to switch later

White Label Solutions

Such as Memberful or MemberSpace

Pros:

  • Brand and integrate the platform into an existing website
  • Easy for setting up a simple membership model

Cons:

  • Limited customization options
  • Can only be used for memberships, not full course creation

Do thorough research to find the right platform for your technical skill level, control needs, and budget. Many offer free trials to test out.

Designing and Setting Up Your Membership Site

Once you have a platform selected, it’s time to design the look, feel and structure of your membership site.

Choose a Domain Name

Pick a domain name that matches your brand and is easy to remember. Using yournamemembership.com or yournameacademy.com are common patterns. Make sure relevant domains are available.

Build Your Site Architecture

Map out how pages and content will be organized in different sections. This typically includes:

  • Homepage
  • About Page
  • Membership Pricing and Plans Page
  • Sales Page and Checkout Flow
  • Member Dashboard Area
  • Premium Content Pages
  • Contact Page

Create a Visual Design and Brand

Decide the color schemes, fonts, and graphics that represent your brand’s style. Many platforms offer templates or themes to easily customize the look and feel of your site.

Set Up Logins and Access Rules

Configure how members will create accounts and log in to access gated content. Add permissions for what different subscription tiers can view.

Enable Payments and Checkout

Set up your payment processor and automated billing for subscription plans. Popular options include Stripe, PayPal, and Square.

Build Core Site Pages

Add essential pages using your sitemap as a guide. Make sure to optimize pages for SEO with keyword-rich meta titles and descriptions.

Creating Valuable Membership Content

The most critical element for making recurring income with a membership site is consistently producing new, premium content that engages members.

Set a Content Creation Schedule

Commit to regularly publishing new training videos, courses, downloads and other materials on a timeline, such as weekly or monthly.

Develop Extensive Courses

For centerpiece content, design in-depth courses with modules organized into lessons. Include worksheets, quizzes, and assignments.

Produce Supplemental Content

Shorter form content like instructional videos, audio podcasts, printable guides, and slide decks to enhance your flagship courses.

Hold Live Events

Host live Q&As, coaching sessions, or panel talks to add value on an ongoing basis. Record and replay for members.

Curate Member-Only discounts

Negotiate with relevant brands, services, tools and products your audience uses to provide special coupon codes and savings.

Recycle Evergreen Content

Repurpose existing blog posts, videos, or materials into new formats or expanded lessons for members. Add workbooks and exercises to existing content to create new courses over time.

Promoting and Growing Your Membership Site

Driving site traffic and conversions is essential for getting signups. Use these tactics to attract an initial audience:

Leverage Your Email List

If you have an existing following, email subscribers special offers to join your membership early. Offer time-limited discounts for charter members.

Run Targeted Ads

Create Facebook, Instagram and Google ads optimized for your target customer and niche. Aim them at resources your audience already engages with.

Pitch to Relevant Sites

Contact bloggers, influencers and brands in your space to see if they will promote your membership to their followers for a revenue share.

Get Early Users to Vouch

Ask charter members who sign up right away to leave testimonials, reviews and social shares about the value your membership provides.

SEO Optimization

Research target keywords and include them on relevant pages. Produce blog content around topics your audience searches for.

Once you launch, focus on delivering exceptional member experiences through support and community engagement. Consistently add new content over time to retain subscribers.

Top Tips for Maximizing Member Retention

The key to long term success with a membership site model is to keep members actively engaged and subscribed for as long as possible. Here are some best practices:

  • Onboard thoroughly – Make the first experience positive with tutorials, guidance and resources to familiarize members with everything your site offers.
  • Send regular updates – Email members with site announcements, new content releases, live event invites, promotional offers and more.
  • Reward loyalty – Offer special perks, bonuses or discounts for long-time subscribed members.
  • Poll members for feedback – Survey members directly about what they value most and what additional offerings they want.
  • Moderate community spaces– Keep discussions on topic and resolve conflicts quickly to maintain a positive vibe.
  • Highlight subscriber achievements – Profile members who have completed courses, implemented learnings and achieved results.
  • Make cancelling difficult – Allow members to pause subscriptions vs fully cancelling. Make the process multi-step. Offer incentives to stay.

By continually refining your membership offerings and creating reasons to stay engaged, you’ll boost retention over time.

Key Metrics to Track for Membership Site Success

Once your membership site is up and running, there are several key metrics you should monitor to measure success:

  • Monthly recurring revenue (MRR) – Steady revenue from ongoing subscriptions
  • Average monthly price per member – How much each member pays on average
  • Lifetime value per member – Total revenue per member over the life of subscription
  • Monthly churn rate – Percentage of members cancelling each month
  • Member engagement – Content consumption, comments, logins per member
  • Conversion rates – Percentage of visitors signing up from key acquisition channels
  • Traffic sources – Where site visits are coming from and which deliver conversions
  • Email metrics – Open, clickthrough and unsubscribe rates for your emails

Analyze these metrics regularly to optimize your content, offers, and marketing to maximize profitability over time.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much should I charge for membership?

Pricing is driven by the value you provide. Conduct competitor research to see what similar sites charge. Test pricing tiers, features and free vs paid content to find the optimum pricing model. Monthly charges between $10-$100 per month are typical.

How do I accept membership payments?

You’ll need to integrate a payment gateway like Stripe or PayPal into your membership platform to collect fees. This will enable you to accept one-time and recurring credit card payments.

Should my entire site be members-only?

Having some “teaser” content accessible outside your paywall helps attract new signups. Lock your most premium offerings behind membership only. Offer free resources and content samples to hook visitors.

How do I produce ongoing content as a solo creator?

Set a consistent schedule for releasing new material weekly or monthly. Plan courses and content well in advance. Repurpose or expand existing content. Automate email content flows.

What about copyrights and piracy concerns?

Make your terms of use explicitly prohibit sharing access or redistributing your proprietary content illegally. Password protect content. Run plagiarism checks using tools like Copyscape.

Conclusion

Launching a membership site is an incredibly rewarding endeavor that lets you monetize your knowledge while serving an audience with premium offerings. By following this comprehensive guide, you can develop the right strategy and execution plan for membership site success. With consistent, high-value content and community engagement, you can build a thriving recurring revenue business.

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George James

George was born on March 15, 1995 in Chicago, Illinois. From a young age, George was fascinated by international finance and the foreign exchange (forex) market. He studied Economics and Finance at the University of Chicago, graduating in 2017. After college, George worked at a hedge fund as a junior analyst, gaining first-hand experience analyzing currency markets. He eventually realized his true passion was educating novice traders on how to profit in forex. In 2020, George started his blog "Forex Trading for the Beginners" to share forex trading tips, strategies, and insights with beginner traders. His engaging writing style and ability to explain complex forex concepts in simple terms quickly gained him a large readership. Over the next decade, George's blog grew into one of the most popular resources for new forex traders worldwide. He expanded his content into training courses and video tutorials. John also became an influential figure on social media, with over 5000 Twitter followers and 3000 YouTube subscribers. George's trading advice emphasizes risk management, developing a trading plan, and avoiding common beginner mistakes. He also frequently collaborates with other successful forex traders to provide readers with a variety of perspectives and strategies. Now based in New York City, George continues to operate "Forex Trading for the Beginners" as a full-time endeavor. George takes pride in helping newcomers avoid losses and achieve forex trading success.

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