Wondering if it’s time to create a membership program for your business?
Membership programs are an excellent way to help more people while bringing in a steady income…but they aren’t for everyone.
Most people don’t realize just how much time, effort and hard work goes into creating a membership site – so you’ll definitely want to make sure you know what you’re getting into BEFORE you jump in!
In this post, I’ll go over 11 signs it’s time to create a membership program.
Before I do, I'd like to share a…
Quick story…I started my first membership program in 2007 and the reason I did was because the business coach I had at the time told me I HAD to stop spending half my day giving away my knowledge in my free Facebook group!
AND it was HARD! Hard to pull back what I had been freely giving away for free and putting some boundaries around my knowledge, aka starting to CHARGE for it!
BUT it was the absolutely one of the BEST decisions I ever made! Since that time, I have generated over 1.5 million in revenue from membership programs (supported by Facebook groups, btw!).
I think there are “signs” that it might be time for YOU to start your own membership program…just like for me…I was spending so much time giving away my knowledge – THAT was my sign. There are 11 others I have outlined in today's blog…
If most or all of these signs are present for you, it could be the perfect time to create a membership program for your audience!
1. Your Audience is Asking for it
This is probably the #1 sign you should create a membership program!
Is your audience coming to you and asking if you have a membership site, or telling you they’d join if you started one?
This doesn’t happen very often, so if it’s happening for you, this is a very GOOD sign!
One way you can get some good intel on this is to actually pre-sell your membership program.
Surveys can work too, however, in my experience, someone telling you they want a membership site isn’t the same as actually getting them to hand over some money. By actually getting them to put their money where their mouth is, you’ll know with 100% certainty whether your membership program will fly…and all with zero risks to you!
2. You Have too Many Clients and Not Enough Time
If you run a service-based business, you may find that you are quickly reaching your earning limit with your 1-to-1 clients or customers.
What I mean is this: You only have so many hours to spend with your clients each day, and you can only bill for those client hours.
However, with a membership site, you can help many more people, as it’s a “one to many” model, rather than a “one to one” model.However, with a membership site, you can help many more people, as it’s a “one to many” model, rather than a “one to one” model.Click To Tweet
A membership program allows you to continue to spend time one-on-one with those who really need it…but also gives you a ton more time and flexibility to help many more people!
3. Your Audience Needs/Wants More Access to You
Are your social media followers, email subscribers, and blog readers constantly wanting more and more of your time and attention?
Are you overwhelmed by questions and requests for help?
This could be a sign that it’s time to create a membership program. Rather than running yourself ragged trying to respond to all these individual requests, you can set up regular access via Facebook Lives, group calls, or even one-on-one calls for all your members.
This will ensure you have clear boundaries and are giving your time to those who are willing to pay for it!
4. You Have Tons of Free Content
Do you have hundreds or even thousands of blog posts, email newsletters, eBooks, guides, worksheets, videos, and other types of free content?
Navigating all this amazing content can quickly become overwhelming for your audience, and a membership program is a perfect way to help them make sense of it all.
Rather than just throwing information at them, your membership program gives them a framework or process for actually implementing all your ideas and techniques. For instance, each module of your membership site could take them deeper into solving their problem or completing a process.
This is a GREAT way to take advantage of all the incredible content you’ve created over the years, rather than continually creating more and more content that will never get seen or used!
5. Your Audience Needs/Wants a Sense of Community
Is your audience asking for a way to connect with one another and get more personalized support? If so, offering a membership program with a members-only area could be the right move.
Most membership programs come with some form of community – this could be a forum on your website, a Mighty Networks group, or even just a private Facebook group.
If you already have a free Facebook group for your audience, this might be a bit trickier: you’ll need to be crystal clear on what your paid community offers that your free one doesn’t.
But once you’ve established this and your people have let you know they want MORE community and more support via a group or forum, this is a great sign that it’s time to start a membership program!
6. You Have Tons of Paid Content
Do you have a bunch of paid courses, eBooks, guides or other digital products? As with free content, you can leverage your paid content by offering access to all of it via a membership program.
This can be a win-win for both you AND your clients/students.
Chris Brogan’s Owner Unlimited membership is a great example of how this can work. He offers his courses for $500 a pop…OR you can join his membership and get ALL his courses (and more) for $100/month.
While this doesn’t appear to make sense for Chris from a financial standpoint, he gets recurring revenue and doesn’t need to be out there finding new customers constantly…because he has a built-in audience who is paying for monthly access to his content.
7. You’re Looking for Recurring Revenue
As a service-based business owner, it’s always a good idea to build some passive income strategies into your revenue model.
As we talked about above, you only have so many hours in the day – so if you’re exclusively working one-on-one with clients, your revenue will be limited to those one-on-one hours.
With a membership program, however, you bring in monthly, recurring revenue…all while helping more people. This is the beauty of the one-to-many model!
8. You Have the Desire to Run a Membership Program
Are you drawn to the passive income a membership site brings, or are you actually ready and willing to be available to your members on an ongoing basis?
One of the reasons your members will join your program is for access to YOU. This means you’ll need to be active and available to answer questions, conduct training and just be a presence in your site and group.
Is this something you’re prepared for, and actually excited about? If so, creating a membership program could be the right next step for you!
9. You Have a Large Audience Who Loves You
Important: Simply having a large audience doesn’t necessarily mean your membership site will succeed!
That said, having a large, engaged audience will likely make launching your program a LOT easier.
And if you don’t have a large audience? You’re not destined for failure! But, it does mean you’ll need to put in the work to build your audience, give them free help and content, and help them get to know, like and trust you.
Do this through regular blogging, starting a podcast or getting guest spots on other people’s podcasts, doing Facebook Lives, etc. Anything that offers true value to your audience and that lets them get to know you better!
10. You Have the Time to Run a Membership Program
Many people assume that running a membership site is an easy way to make passive income. And while it DOES allow you to help more people and potentially make more money, it’s NOT “easy” money!
As you build out more and more of your content, you’ll find you do save time…but you’ll still be answering member questions, managing payments, updating your content, and of course, marketing your program.
When starting out, count on a bare minimum of a day each week to work on your program – and remember that you also need to be available to answer member questions as they arise.
11. You Have a Solid Process or Plan in Place for Helping Your Clients Get Results
Do you find yourself helping clients with the same problems or issues again and again?
Have you developed an effective framework or process for helping them solve those problems?
Instead of reinventing the wheel with each new client, a membership program might be a more effective, efficient way to help your people reach their goals.
Your membership program can walk them through the entire process – with how-to videos, worksheets, guides, workbooks, and even online courses, so they can reach their goals at their own pace…and often for a fraction of the price of working with you one-on-one.
What Happens Next?
So…are you ready to create a membership program? If so, what happens next?
Where do you even start with getting it built, creating content and finding members?
Here’s a very brief outline of the steps you can take to get started!
1. Choose how you want to deliver your content to your members
This is often the most overwhelming and time-consuming decision that needs to be made.
You’ll have a lot of content to deliver to your members, and you’ll want to make sure only your members have access to this content. So, how do you protect it from being accessed (for free) and provide a home for your membership site online?
For a full rundown on what options are available to you, check out my post, Running a Membership Program: 3 Ways to Deliver Content to Members .
2. Choose where you want to host your members-only community
Most membership sites offer some type of community for members to ask questions and get support.
How and where will you host this community?
Some of the options to consider include:
- A private Facebook group
- A Mighty Networks group
- On your WordPress site, using a plugin like bbPress
- Using open-source forum software like phpBB
- A custom-built forum on your website
3. Deal with money matters
While you may be more focused on creating content for your site, you’ll also need to think about how much you want to charge and how you’ll collect payment.
There are a bunch of different factors to consider here, including how you want to position yourself against your competitors, what different levels of membership you want to offer, and how you’ll actually collect payments from your members.
Since this is a much bigger topic than I can cover here, I’ll direct you to two posts I’ve written that will walk you step-by-step through making these important decisions:
4. Create your content
Now the fun part!
There are tons of different types of content you can create for your membership program. Some of these include:
- Blog posts
- Guides or eBooks
- Worksheets or checklists
- Audio downloads
- Online courses
Once you’ve decided what types of content you want to create, you’ll also want to figure out which tools you need to create them…as quickly, easily and cheaply as possible!
I cover all this and more in my post, How to Create a Membership Program That Rocks!
5. Market your membership site
Once you’ve made all your big decisions and created all your content, it’s time to launch your site and market it to your audience.
Some marketing strategies you might want to use include:
- Creating an email funnel
- Using paid ads
- Creating an affiliate program and reaching out to influencers in your niche
- Writing blog posts
- Talking about your program on social media
- Launching your program to your email subscribers
- Announcing it via a webinar or Facebook Live
This is another BIG topic that deserves its own blog post! For a comprehensive guide to marketing your membership site, check out my next post, Marketing Strategies to Attract More Members into Your Membership Program.
I hope at this point you have a clear idea of whether it’s time to create a membership program…or not.
They’re not for everyone, so I’d highly recommend you meet many of the criteria above before launching your own site. Creating and running a membership program takes a LOT of time, money and elbow grease, so go into it with your eyes WIDE open!