Social media makes it easy for businesses to build their client-base and their own communities, like in Facebook groups. But ever thought what would happen if all those social media platforms disappear? What would happen to the communities you've built?
Smart business owners use social media as a springboard where they build a following and direct them to their own custom-made community on their website. This keeps their online communities safe and guarantees that their money-making opportunities remain intact.
Membership sites make it possible for you to build your own community and make money of it as well. The best part of that is it's your own platform.
Sefa Tsegha is passionate about membership sites. His enthusiasm for this innovative platform resonated in his voice when we spoke about it. He is the project lead at Fruitfulujah Project where he vibrates his love for membership sites as he sets them up for his clients.
Of course, he didn't become an expert in one day. His passion and curiosity kept him going as he learned valuable lessons on his journey with membership sites and he's very happy to share them with you.
Thanks to WordPress, setting up a membership site was made really easy, especially for those who are not techie. All you have to do is to install a membership plugin.
Sefa points out that it's important to have a good hosting plan that's able to carry the load of your membership site to prevent it from being shut down.
"It happened to me...I think it was in 2013. People loved what I was doing so I had a huge amount of traffic but my site could not handle it. I lost everything I did completely because I had cheap hosting and so I couldn't profit from that surge of traffic."
So if you're going to set up your membership site, "go for a hosting company that can handle the kind of traffic that you need." That's definitely a smart thing to do.
That's quite alright, but which plugins can you use to set up your membership site?
"That's the problem about membership sites! The options are so many that you don't know which one to choose."
"Internet marketers love using those 3 membership plugins." But he warns that those plugins have a lot of options and could be overwhelming for novices. So he recommends Simple Membership and Membership 2 for newbies.
Is it really possible to earn a living from membership sites?
Yes, you can earn a nice comfortable income from your membership site. It allows you to offer your products and services for a fee, which can be monthly, quarterly or yearly. "It depends on how you want to charge and some people can actually put it at a one-time fee." A one-time fee will give your target audience a life-long access to the products and services you offer in your membership site.
- You can offer digital products like your eBooks, checklists or workbooks available for download during the duration of the subscription your clients paid for.
- You can offer your services in form of support, coaching or direct access to you through calls or emails.
- You can offer training in form of courses.
Through membership sites you can grant your target audience exclusive access to your valuable premium content and services.
But how much content should you create for your membership program?
Sefa clarifies a common misconception. "The mistake we make is that when you are [developing content] for membership sites, you're not [developing] content for 12,000 people or 400 people. You're developing content for one person....Just visualize only one person: the person that needs your membership." This makes membership sites scalable. The content you create for one person is the same content you'll give to the hundreds who subscribe.
Keeping your subscribers throughout the duration of the membership program is a challenge for many entrepreneurs. But why do subscribers leave?
Sefa was pretty frank when he said that subscribers "stay on a membership site for an average of 3 months. If you don't provide value for them or if you don't give them what they paid for...people are going to opt out. "
Another possible reason why some subscribers opt-out took me by surprise. If your membership site has "all your content displayed, some people opt-out because the minute they walk...into the site they download everything you provided and then they opt-out."
Is there a way one can retain their subscribers or will you have to come to terms with the fact that your subscribers will keep leaking out of your membership site?
Sefa gave a really helpful suggestion to deal with this problem: Don't offer everything at once, instead 'drip content' you've segmented every month.
By giving little bits of content each month, your subscribers will have a need to stay until the duration of your membership program to have access to all the content scheduled for your program.
"You prevent a situation whereby somebody comes in and then downloads everything from your site and then goes away."
Smart move, isn't it?
We've got the opt-out problem in check to some degree, but what about engagement?
You can engage with your subscribers in the built-in forum of your membership site. However, as the owner of the platform, you need to show up consistently and keep your members engaged.
Sefa made the whole concept of membership sites really simple, didn't he? It is this simplicity that he passes on to his audience in his course Membership Site Simplified.