Membership Sites
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Packaging Your Membership Site So Your Content Sells

The question every business owners needs to answer when considering a membership site is, "How do I get members to buy my stuff?"

It's not an easy question to answer.  If you have the content ready to go for an online programming language course,

  • how do you make potential students aware you have the course,
  • how do you get them to appreciate what the course has to offer, and
  • how will you get them to buy it.

The power of membership sites is that it provides so many ways to make content available.  The difficulty with membership sites is that it provides so many ways to make content available.  Then there are the many different ways you can charge for it.

Let's review some of the common ways we've seen customers use membership sites successfully.  Let's use this to illustrate common approaches to consider for your new membership site.

Several Ways to Make Content Available

A simple approach is to sell your content and allow you members to access it forever.  This is like buying a book.  Once you buy it, it's yours forever.  The author or the bookseller cannot take it back.

Another option is to provide access to your content for a specific amount of time.  This is like renting a videos on Netflix or Amazon Prime.  You don't own the video.  You get access to it.   When your time's up, you can't see it anymore.

Some membership sites give access to content on a monthly basis.  Members pay as they go.  If they stop paying, they lose access.  This is like paying for a gym membership.  (Let's assume no contracts here.)  When you stop paying, you can't got the gym anymore.

A similar model is you pay for new content as it becomes available.  You pay for month one and get access to that month's content.  Then you get access to month two, then month three, etc.   If you stop paying, you keep access to what you purchased.  This is like a magazine subscription.  You get to keep the magazines you got, but you never get access to the issues from before or after you were paying for it.

So with that, let's go over how this affects how you offer your content.

Possible Ways to Charge for You Content

It's easy to provide access to your content forever.  You give members their login credentials...done.  However, this approach is problematic.  If you sell something today and give members access forever, you can never your mind.   Suppose you offer a course and realize later you could easily charge more for it.  Suppose the initial demand was low and then demand went up.   It's now difficult to go back and charge members more.

A better option, especially when you first launch, is to offer access for a given period of time.  You give access for six months, for example.  It could be that at the end of the six months you don't change a thing.  But if members are all excited about what you have to offer, you have options.  You could increase the price.  You can keep the price the same, but only allow members to stay at that price if they commit for two years.  You can bundle it with something else that's not selling as well.  You you increase sales for another items by leveraging the value of this product.

Let me use a fictitious business called, "The Winery" to illustrate.

Product #1:  Newbee Wine Lovers Learners Guide 

This is a multi-chapter course that:

  • Educates the newbee on wine from different regions.
  • Shows them how to select wines at restaurants.
  • Trains newbees on buying affordable wines they will like.

This is a static course with long shelf life.  It doesn't reference specific wines or wineries.  Several years out, you can still offer this because the content is timeless.

Product #2: Wine Lover's Recommendation of the Month Club

This is monthly published content reviewing wines from different regions.  It includes interviews with wine experts.  The information is current and perishable by design.  This is basically a magazine product.

Here are some options the "The Winery" can consider using to offer these two products.

  • They offer chapter 1 of Product #1 for free.  It's how Amazon sells Kindle books.  Members sample the content and purchase it if they like it.  The key is to make chapter one interesting.  Get your members hooked with that content so they are eager to buy it as soon they get to protected chapter two.
  • If you have members sampling and maybe even buying Product #1, you promote Product #2 to them.  Their behavior indicates they have an interest in wine and are wanting to learn about it.  Product #2 is the obvious upsell.
  • You can offer Product #2 and use Product #1 as a bonus.  If "The Winery" prints a big coffee table book version of the Product #1, it would make it a permanent fixture in their home reminding them of their club membership.
  • Product #2 is content that is being offered monthly.  Members only have access to the issues published while they were in the membership.  So why not offer them access to the entire archive of issues as part of your membership?

You have many option when building your membership site.  You should review these potential ideas for packaging content to sell, cross promote and upsell your members.