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Membership Site Communities

Membership Site CommunitiesMembership site communities provide the perfect platform for building a loyal following.

If you blog within a niche, and you see that people are starting to turn to you for answers to their problems, you may be ready to start your own membership site.

Just think of the benefits if you had a website you could set up that would act as a home base for your ongoing trainings and a location for your continual feed of content.

You would become the leader, of course.  This would certainly raise your authority level in your niche.

Who Joins Membership Site Communities?

People tend to join membership sites because they are looking for very specific information related to their interests.

So you might have a “Spanish Club” where you teach members to speak Spanish.

A membership site could act as your online “classroom” where they could come for ongoing lessons.  You might teach them Spanish via a weekly drip feed of recorded sessions.

Let’s say you have 52 video o audio sessions recorded, and you drip feed one each week.

It would take a year for your members to receive all of the training.

Your membership site would be the place they come to get their training, and in return, they’d pay you a monthly membership fee.

It’s not really very unlike teaching a Spanish course in a physical school setting where students attend your class once a week.

A big benefit to having a membership site community is that people can join at any point in time.

They don’t have to wait for the course to “begin” because it is perpetual.

Your trainings are already recorded and loaded onto your membership site.  But members only gain access to one a week, no matter when they joined.  So anybody that joins at any time, would need to maintain a 12 month membership if they wanted to complete your course.

How Long Should It Take To Prepare A Membership Site Community?

Another nice thing about having a membership site like this is that you don’t have to have all of the content completed the day you start offering membership enrollment.

For instance…

Your “52 Spanish Lessons” could be offered today, even if you only had 3 of them recorded.  Then you can record them on a regular basis until all 52 have been completed.

As long as you keep the content streaming onto your membership site ahead of schedule, you don’t need to worry about having it all done before “opening the doors.”

So you could really set one up as soon as you get the sales page set up!

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What Content or Value Could I Share?

So, what kind of ongoing training or courses could you offer?

Do you have enough information to share, or expertise in your niche…  to start a membership site community?

Only you can answer that of course.

What I can tell you is this… if you have the expertise and leadership ability, don’t hesitate.

One of the big mistakes I see people make is that they wait until they have a “perfect” site with lots of content and great sales pages.

If you can help people accomplish something like learning to speak Spanish, or overcome problems like losing weight or doing exercises to reduce the risk of heart attacks… as long as you can provide a valuable service or information, you’re ready to start a membership site.

It may not be perfect, and it certainly won’t be complete.  But if you can provide a valuable service now, just start doing it.

You can always improve it over time.

Why Membership Site Communities?

There are many benefits to having a membership site community rather than, let’s say, a finished product like a video course or e-book.

The most obvious is that it is a perfect place to build relationships.

When you have a membership site community, the members are always watching for what’s coming up next.  When is the next live training, or when will a new video be added to the site?

You can set up a Facebook group or Google+ community so that members can interact with each other as well as with you.

You can send regular emails to members, letting them know what’s going on inside the community, or something new you just added to the site, or when the next meeting will be.  This, of course, means that members will be very likely to open your emails.

Because building relationships is the most important thing you can do to have a great online business, developing some type of a membership site community should be on your radar.

One of the biggest issues that email marketers have is low open rates.  With a membership site community, as I just mentioned, people are actually eager to open their emails from you.

One of the biggest challenges for bloggers, internet marketers and network marketers, is in trying to get people to actually engage with them.  When people are part of your membership site communities, they actually look for ways to engage in order to get more value from the experience.

One of the biggest problems with trying to sell your products and services online is to get people to trust you.  People only buy from people they trust.

Members of your community instantly gain trust for you because you are giving them value through the community trainings, videos, events and whatever other content you share with them.

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So, you can see that there are many reasons that membership site communities are such a powerful way to reach the people you most want to reach.

In what ways would your blog or online business benefit from such a community?

I’d love to hear your comments below.

 

David Merrill 101
I'm an Internet Marketer and Online Marketing Coach. My students learn no-nonsense, power strategies and techniques to build solid blogging and internet businesses. David Merrill+

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34 Responses to Membership Site Communities

  1. Sue Bride December 20, 2014 at 11:40 am #

    I’ve considered setting up a community linked to my blog but it’s not happened because I wanted it to be just right first. I wanted to get masses of content ready upfront. So thanks for the encouragement here. I’ll stop procrastinating.
    Sue Bride´s last blog post ..Free Christmas Facebook Images

    • David Merrill 101 December 26, 2014 at 7:17 pm #

      Good news, Sue, to hear that you’re ready to move forward on your community site!

      I think we all procrastinate in very clever ways, and wanting everything to be “just right” sounds like such a high ideal, that we trick ourselves into it. But the truth is, while perfection is a great goal, action is what moves us forward.

      So, good luck with it. I’d love to hear how you progress.
      David Merrill 101´s last blog post ..Do Shiny Objects Drive Online Entrepreneurs Crazy?

      • Sue Bride January 3, 2015 at 6:54 pm #

        Thanks David, I will report on my progress. One thing I like about the idea is that I won’t have to pander to Google (or should that be Panda to Google!) In a private area there’s no worrying about keywords, number of words in an article, including images for the sake of it, and you can include whole lists of links without fear of penalty.
        Sue Bride´s last blog post ..Planning Ahead For Success

  2. Rachel Lavern December 21, 2014 at 11:16 pm #

    Hi David,

    As always, you have provided a lot of valuable information in this post. I do believe that one of the best ways to boost our bottom line is by including “continuity” offers such as membership sites.

    We have invested a lot of effort in building our list, so we want to see our subscribers buying from us over and over again. It is always easier to sell more to existing customers than to trying to find new ones. Some of our fans buy everything we offer.
    Rachel Lavern´s last blog post ..12 Days to Get Your Online Biz Booming: Day 9

    • David Merrill 101 December 26, 2014 at 7:20 pm #

      Good point, Rachel, about the value of “continuity” as membership sites are so often referred to.

      What’s interesting about what you say is that continuity, or membership communities, are not only an excellent business model because of the continual membership fees they generate… but because our subscribers and fans tend to become continual buyers of our products and services because they get conditioned to the fact that we are in a perpetual state of giving value, not just a one off sale here and there.
      David Merrill 101´s last blog post ..3 Ways Bloggers Make Money Online

  3. Yorinda Wanner December 22, 2014 at 2:18 am #

    Hi Dave,
    I really appreciate your suggestions.
    You are so right, it does not have to be perfect to start with.
    Creating content along the way, as you suggest, makes a lot of sense.

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge!
    Cheers,
    Yorinda
    Yorinda Wanner´s last blog post ..Turning self-defeating Beliefs into Empowering Questions

    • David Merrill 101 December 26, 2014 at 7:26 pm #

      Well, not only does “creating content along the way” allow us to get our membership site “live” and earning some income, but it also gives us an opportunity to start talking with paying members to see what new content they are interested in seeing.

      So, when you email a survey, or take questions on a webinar or whatever… you get a chance to hear in real time, exactly what folks want from your community. If you set everything up before you open the doors, then you’re really only guessing at what they want no matter how much you think you already know the answer.

      Thanks for joining the conversation, Yorinda.
      David Merrill 101´s last blog post ..Building An Online Business

  4. Emi December 22, 2014 at 12:39 pm #

    Hi David,
    Yes building a community is the way to go, so everyone can benefit from
    your effort and it’s such a time saver too.
    Great article, very informative.
    Happy Holidays!

    Emi
    Emi´s last blog post ..Sell ANY Product Or Service

  5. Zach December 22, 2014 at 11:51 pm #

    Membership site communities are not something I had ever heard of. It makes sense, though. My biggest obstacle would be setting up the website to provide access to certain parts of the webpage only to paying members.
    Zach´s last blog post ..Contract Elements: Consideration

    • David Merrill 101 December 26, 2014 at 7:33 pm #

      There is a bit of technical maneuvering setting up a membership site, Zach.

      As you suggest, you need to know how to create different levels of membership, how to make only some content public while “protecting” other portions, etc. You also need to integrate with vendors, affiliates, paygate software and the like, according to the flow you’re trying to achieve.

      I actually coach folks to accomplish this whole process as DIY training, and do the entire setup for clients who want it totally “done for you.” Others like to just try to figure it all out on there own. Everyone’s different and we all have our own level of technical capabilities as well as creative ability for putting the materials together.

      All that said, I believe it’s the single best method for creating a profit based online business, especially for bloggers.
      David Merrill 101´s last blog post ..3 Ways Bloggers Make Money Online

  6. Chery Schmidt December 24, 2014 at 12:13 am #

    Hello David! Wow! What a Great Article! I never really gave this much thought before but it sure does make a whole lot of sense!

    No you don’t need to have 52 weeks of material ready, love it, a few weeks worth will do for starters and I do agree you will definitely learn and grow and you go HUH?

    I think this will also help build up your confidence HUH?

    This is certainly worth giving some thought to..Thanks for sharing and do have a wonderful Christmas my friend.. Chery :))
    Chery Schmidt´s last blog post ..Developing A Success Mindset Exercise ! Part 2

    • David Merrill 101 December 26, 2014 at 7:36 pm #

      Jumping into the water, even when it’s uncomfortably cold, does take some nerve, Chery. But you really warm up fast when you just keep moving.

      As you point out, “you will definitely learn and grow as you go.” You have to. It’s the sink or swim challenge and it certainly gets your adrenaline going 🙂

      This stuff is really for entrepreneurs… serious ones at that. The learning curve can be steep, but the rewards can be deep.
      David Merrill 101´s last blog post ..Mentoring For Online Success

  7. Miriam Slozberg December 25, 2014 at 10:47 pm #

    Great tips and I have wondered about setting up a membership site. I just need to know exactly what to offer and get it figured out. I will be bookmarking this post so I have a good guideline!
    Miriam Slozberg´s last blog post ..The One Thing to Never do on Social Media During the Holidays

    • David Merrill 101 December 26, 2014 at 7:40 pm #

      Getting your offer together is certainly where it all begins, Miriam.

      It starts with some soul searching and really knowing where you want you business to go.

      Then you move into the production phase of getting the project together for public consumption.

      After that, it’s just a matter of relentless marketing and relationship building.

      Hope to see you putting it together soon, Miriam! Good luck.
      David Merrill 101´s last blog post ..Mentoring For Online Success

  8. donna merrill December 27, 2014 at 10:11 pm #

    Hey David,

    What a great way to explain a membership site! Because we do have one together, I do see how it jump started business. Not only that, but it is a place to corral our clients and teach them the latest techniques.

    It is not for the light hearted It has to be consistent and the information shared needs to be of the highest value.

    -Donna
    donna merrill´s last blog post ..The 10 Best Ways To Blog in 2015

    • David Merrill 101 January 20, 2015 at 8:00 pm #

      You know it’s not for the “light hearted” for sure, Donna.

      We put a lot of serious work and effort into our membership site, and you really need a certain amount of intensity to maintain one.

      What’s nice about it, though, is that the effort is the same for 100 members as it is for 1000, as far as the information you produce.

      Now, our business is what we call a “dynamic coaching” club of sorts, so it does require more one-on-one intervention and coaching… so in our case the more members we have the more work we get involved in.

      But for the standard, information only type of membership site, it doesn’t matter how big the membership gets, your workload remains the same. That’s really the most common type of membership site.

      Thanks for visiting, Donna!
      David Merrill 101´s last blog post ..List Building With Video | Introducing Breakthrough Video

  9. Mark December 28, 2014 at 10:57 am #

    Excellent advice David!

    And i think for most their biggest obstacle is being too
    worried that they either don’t currently know enough or
    that because they don’t have all their ducks lined up,they can’t even start.

    And as you expertly pointed out, that’s simply not he case.

    And also you mentioned several excellent benefits to owning a membership
    site, and one o the main was is, paying member are far more likely to open
    your email messages!

    And they truly look forward to your latest material. Great post, thanks for
    sharing it!
    Mark´s last blog post ..So How Does Understanding How To Make An Omelette Make You A Better Internet Marketer?

    • David Merrill 101 January 4, 2015 at 8:04 pm #

      I love your emphasis on getting emails opened, Mark!

      It’s so true.

      Email marketing is the single best way to build an online business, and the biggest problem with it is trying to establish a relationship with your subscribers so they’ll open your emails, and consider your calls to action.

      There’s no better way to accomplish this than through a membership site platform, so people are upgraded from “subscriber” to “member.” If you’re running a quality membership site, that’s a real big difference in terms of email marketing effectiveness and engagement.
      David Merrill 101´s last blog post ..Mentoring For Online Success

  10. Andy Lockhart December 29, 2014 at 1:24 am #

    David

    Great tips and the idea of setting up a membership community when you only have part of the content developed has always put me off.

    Guess not now, I can see how this helps builds a following and locks people in. That combined with FB or G+ to bring more community is a great idea.

    Many Thanks

    Andy
    Andy Lockhart´s last blog post ..How to Get What You Want in Life

    • David Merrill 101 January 4, 2015 at 1:31 pm #

      You not only don’t have to have all the content in place, Andy, but you’re better off not to.

      Start your membership site with a core following and learn from them… surveys, Q&A etc., what they want to see more of.

      Then develop it for them.

      Grow your content organically. Then you are getting real time market feedback on what you’re doing each step of the way.
      David Merrill 101´s last blog post ..Mentoring For Online Success

  11. Marquita Herald December 30, 2014 at 1:05 pm #

    This is a great review of membership site communities David. I started working on a plan for a membership community earlier this quarter and ended up shelving it because the more I worked on it the more I realized it wasn’t the right direction for what I want to achieve – at least not now – maybe later. Still, I want to learn all I can about this type of program so thanks for the great advice. Happy New Year!
    Marquita Herald´s last blog post ..The Art of Being Imperfectly Fearless

  12. Deborah A. Ten Brink January 4, 2015 at 7:52 pm #

    Hello David:

    Your post is so inspiring and informative! Actually you have answered every question I have at the moment. This is my year! I have a goal to get my portfolio going (for social proof), and then I’ll be ready. Thanks to blogging groups and great people I’ve met online, I am making progress.

    Thanks to your post, I have more detailed actions I’m putting into place to make it happen. I will be ready!

    Best wishes and Happy New Year!

    Deborah
    Deborah A. Ten Brink´s last blog post ..How To Avoid The Paralyzing Fear Of Failure

    • David Merrill 101 January 6, 2015 at 1:34 pm #

      Good attitude Deborah.

      When you start implementing, even in the smallest way, good things start happening. And the bad things… that’s when you learn the most.

      Make it happen!
      David Merrill 101´s last blog post ..3 Ways Bloggers Make Money Online

  13. Monna Ellithorpe January 11, 2015 at 12:17 pm #

    Hi David,

    Thanks for sharing about membership sites. As you know I am co-founder and co-creator with Lesly Federici for the PAC Community site and we have done that with PAC.

    Lesly is more of a risk taker than I am because I didn’t think we were ready but she was right and you would have said the same to us, I believe. PAC is growing and providing lots of activities, learning and value to everyone.
    Monna Ellithorpe´s last blog post ..32 Authors With 49 Comments

    • David Merrill 101 January 12, 2015 at 1:36 pm #

      That’s a good example of how a membership site can grow organically.

      Too many people try to think through the entire process and develop all the content up front. Just let it develop naturally, as you start understanding more and more what works, and what your members want.

      You guys are doing just that with PAC.

      I love success stories!
      David Merrill 101´s last blog post ..List Building With Video | Introducing Breakthrough Video

  14. Julieanne van Zyl January 11, 2015 at 8:46 pm #

    Hi David, I agree, membership sites and communities are the best way to do a business online. I’ve been involved in all different kinds since 2004 – the first one I was heavily involved in, used it’s own platform. In the end, they had to close down because of the cost of maintaining it themselves.

    Over the last 4 or 5 years, I’ve noticed that Facebook groups get the most community involvement. So, for people thinking about offering lots of content on a private site – this is a fantastic thing to do. However, if they want their members to communicate with each other, a Facebook group in addition to the private site is valuable.
    Julieanne van Zyl´s last blog post ..The F..t From Hell

    • David Merrill 101 January 12, 2015 at 1:39 pm #

      Good advice, Julieanne.

      It’s especially good since you’ve obviously “been there… done that.”

      I agree that Facebook groups are a good addition to your site, but don’t count on them adding a great deal of value for your members unless “you” are involved in it, and monitoring it.

      People want to interact with each other, for sure, but they always want the leader to be there… to lead 🙂 That’s what will really build the engagement on your FB groups.
      David Merrill 101´s last blog post ..Do You Want To Rank Page One On Google?

  15. Siphosith January 30, 2015 at 8:51 pm #

    Great information, it is good to learn from you someone who has gone through creating membership sites. I like the part where you say one does not have to wait for a perfect time a site that has a lot of content but start as long as you are ahead in adding content. Thanks David.
    Siphosith´s last blog post ..Types Of Capture Pages

    • David Merrill 101 February 2, 2015 at 1:42 pm #

      It’s funny how often I hear people saying they thought that a membership site required a whole bunch of content to be developed for it “first.”

      I hope that others, like you , Siphosith, start understanding that I’m not talking about a bunch of archived content when I say membership site, I’m talking about getting a group (2 or more!) of folks together to start sharing the energy and moving things forward.

      The content will grow out of that interaction. It won’t lead it, it will follow it.
      David Merrill 101´s last blog post ..Mentoring For Online Success

  16. Willena Flewelling February 1, 2015 at 6:42 pm #

    This is a little beyond me at the moment, but it’s good to learn about it, especially from an excellent team such as you and Donna. Not only do we buy from those we trust, but we learn best from them too. 🙂
    Willena Flewelling´s last blog post ..Week 17a (HJ) – R.I.P. and The Hero’s Journey

    • David Merrill 101 February 4, 2015 at 1:44 pm #

      Absolutely true, Willena.

      You’ve highlighted the reason that membership sites are such an excellent business model, and the perfect one for online businesses, including… especially, blogs.
      David Merrill 101´s last blog post ..Building An Online Business

  17. Mary Sloane February 22, 2015 at 8:22 pm #

    I think this is a fabulous idea and Google+ Communities are perfect places to use for those “membership sites” and they’re FREE. Google+ Communities can be private so you could even charge people for the membership and only give them access once they have paid. Unlike Facebook groups G+ communities are naturally easy to organize and you store information where people can find it in specific categories.

    What a wonderful idea! Certainly beats the unopened email list!
    Mary Sloane´s last blog post ..300 FREE Tools to Hack Your Online Life

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