Membership Sites
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3 Threats You Must Overcome for Membership Site Success

I meet business owners all the time that are unbeatable on stage or in-person.  People agree to see them or meet with them because they are proven authorities.  Their presence and services are in high demand.

One of my clients is a perfect example.  He works with sales teams.  They hire him to improve sales.  It's that specific.  He's been perfecting his twelve week program, which takes a lot of in-person time, for years.  He has a proven formula that works.

I have another client that travels to meet with rooms filled with realtors.  He's got a successful business aimed at helping realtors grow their sales.  He travels a lot.

These two business owners, and many others, face a big challenge.  People today aggressively look for solutions like the ones these two have in an online or do-it-yourself format.  The boss is telling them, "Have you checked for online alternatives where we don't have to foot such a big travel budget?"

Cost, of course, is a driver.  An even bigger one is time out of the field.  If a sales team or any employee is out of the field in training, something else isn't getting done.  People today want and often demand an option they can use when it's convenient for them and this could be late at night or early in the morning not impacting their "regular work hours."

If it's your first time doing this, you may think, "Hey!  All I need to do is bring in a video crew to record my in-person training sessions.  We organize them behind website with a login and we've got the same high quality program."

Let me go over some challenges any person with content faces when they transition from in-person to online.  These are challenges you need to understand and address or else you program will will fail miserably.

Challenge #1: Understand Your Online Learner

At the college level, you have set schedules.  Courses typically run,

  • 3 - 50 minutes sessions a week,
  • 2 - 1 and a half minute sessions a week,
  • 1 - 3 hour session a week

If you run a one or two day event, you break the day up into 4 or 5 sessions.  You schedule presentations with activities to enforce the learning.  You schedule in a break in between the sessions with a lunch break.

What happens, that doesn't happen online, is you have control.  You may have students distracted by their devices or taking phone calls, but you mostly control their day.  You can assume they will stay engaged to some extent.

Because we all grew up going school, peer pressure and common courtesy keep mostly follow the rules.  It's understood.  Of course you'll have some people taking calls, but they will typically get up and leave the room.

You have none of this control with an online course.   You may possibly have a very focused student that needs to learn your material badly and they commit to turning off:

  • their phone,
  • email,
  • Slack,
  • Hangout,
  • Facebook,
  • Linkedin,
  • Skype and
  • all the other tools meant to keep us hyper-connected.

You should assume these highly-motivated, highly-focused types will be the minority.

If you ask an online student to commit to a 30, 45 or 60 minute blocks of time and your video becomes boring to them, they quickly lose interest.  You can expect them to go for coffee, take a bathroom break or jump to something else.

Let me give you the scenario I know you'll face. I listen to a lot of training videos (only the audio) in my car.  I connect my phone to the car via Bluetooth. Students like me lose all the visuals.  Unless it's a long drive, you lose a good amount of their attention too.

For your online course to work, you must design and adapt your in-person material to address this.

How can you do this?  As cool as video is, and I highly recommend video for online courses, many students need to read it too.  Some students will ONLY use the written transcripts.  Also remember that for many of your students, English may NOT be their strongest language.  You can help by providing a transcript of each video lesson.  Students can then either read along, read the transcript instead of watching or read it again after viewing it.  Many will keep notes on the printed transcript if you make it available to them.

To help these distracted students, you should incorporate quizzing, interactive exercises or discussions with others in order to re-enforce the learning.  These would help these distracted learners confirm they have grasped the concepts or realize they need to change their unfocused ways.

Challenge #2: Organize Your Content for Online Learning

Top experts in the learning field recommend keeping your videos to under 15 minutes.  The thinking is a good video presentation should keep someone's attention for that long.

That's going to mean that you must cut up your in-person materials into bite-sized chunks.  You use it to highlight the learning objectives and review the resources that go along with each session.

We recommend organizing sessions within a course so they follow a consistent pattern.  For example, each session can consist of:

  • an introductory video,
  • a list of written objectives,
  • a longer video covering the topic more extensively,
  • a transcript of the videos,
  • additional resources, and
  • a comments sections where all students discuss and comment on that session's material.

They are many more abbreviated or more involved possibilities. You have to come up with one that works for you.  What's important is that you be consistent.

Using a consistent format like this sets your student's expectations so they'll know what to expect.


Challenge #3: Presenting In-Person vs. On Camera

Many people that present well in person struggle with the camera.  Presenting in front of an audience is something many of us do a lot.  In school, we present in front of the class.

Until recently, few of us had even a single opportunity to get in front of a camera.  So it's not like we've had a lot of practice.  To some, this transition to doing work on camera comes naturally.  For most, it's a learned skill.  You learn it by:

  • working with people that know video,
  • experimenting with simple presentations or
  • persistently doing it over and over again watching yourself in a do-it-yourself mode.

These are definitely challenges you need to address.  The average business owner with content they want to move online can tap into the many available resources and services available today.  Fortunately, compared to just a few years back, getting your in-person materials online is so affordable.  These challenges are worth taking on so you have another avenue for getting your valuable content out to a wider audience.

Hope this helps.