Resource Guide to Memberships
A membership is a subscription-based product that lets you charge your audience a monthly or annual fee in exchange for access to your membership site. Unlike online courses, which solve a specific problem or pain point for your students, most memberships are ongoing.
You might have noticed that membership programs are gaining in popularity in just about every niche and market.
I believe that this is because memberships offer that sweet spot between education AND creating connection. Unlike an online course where there may not be any level of follow-up, in a membership program, the student feels more supported and part of a community.
Memberships are one of the best ways to build deeper relationships with your audience, help more people, and earn money. The recurring monthly revenue model from a membership is not only lucrative, but can also stabilize your business. You can expect a certain percentage of “churn” (people leaving the membership), but ultimately you can set a goal for a certain number of recurring members that guarantees a predictable income.
What to Include in a Membership:
What you include in your membership program is completely up to you. Here is a guide of the most commonly offered elements.
You need to base your membership in the root of solving a problem for your audience, so you are going to offer some kind of educational content for them. The content you create for your membership - whether it takes the form of video lessons, downloadable guides, articles, etc - is the same as it would be for an online course. Head over to the Resource Guide for Online Courses to review the recommendations on how to create content.
Bringing in Guest Speakers is a popular add-on that is included in many membership programs. Inviting guest experts to come and give presentations on different topics is a win for you as the creator, a win for your audience (additional learning material), and a win for the guest as they are getting exposure to potential new followers. Aim to have a new guest speaker every month or every quarter.
Some sort of coaching or Q&A “office hours” are generally included with a membership program. This is where you are opening you and your team up to your members to answer their questions. Generally this takes place in a live video format inside of your private Facebook Group, on a Zoom call, or in a similar setup, and typically happens once or twice a month.
Creating some kind of community space is a vital component of many membership programs. This is what a lot of members join for - that connection. You can do this using a private Facebook Group or a Slack Channel (depending on where your audience is used to hanging out).
This is your membership program and so it’s up to you to get creative. I think the more creative you can get with what you offer to your members, the better!
How to Price your Membership:
When you launch a membership, generally you want to offer monthly billing, annual billing, and a lifetime option.
Monthly billing offers a lower member commitment and is easier to sell than annual or lifetime, which are both obviously more expensive (but will save the member money in the long run if they plan on sticking around). There are pros and cons to each plan, so it’s important to offer several pricing tiers.
When it comes to pricing, there is no right or wrong answer or set guide to what to charge. There are various factors that will come into play : your monthly deliverables, the amount of access to you, your niche, and the market.
Set your price high enough that members will take it seriously and engage with the membership, but low enough that the monthly recurring charge won’t lead to high churn (members cancelling). A good test for this is to ask yourself “how much are they already spending monthly to solve problems in the same topic area?”
For example, someone who hires a personal fitness trainer may be spending $300/month on them, so you can price your fitness membership at $99/month and know that it will be a good deal for that audience.
On the other hand, if your membership is focused on furniture flipping (this is a real membership, by the way! all about how to take thrifted furniture pieces and restore and paint them), the potential members wouldn’t have been spending much on this to solve their problems before. You are offering them time saving by having all the information and resources right there, and are offering that community aspect, but anything over the $15 to $30/month range would probably feel overkill in this niche.
It can take some experimentation to find your sweet spot. If you're not sure about your pricing, start with a lower price than your end goal. It's much easier to raise your price later (and create some reverse discount promotions in the process!) than to realize you have set your price too high from the start. This also has an added benefit of rewarding your first members for getting into the membership early - they get the best ever price and get to keep this for as long as they are a member, which helps with retention.
Membership Software Tools:
In terms of building out your membership site, there are quite a few options out there. As always, I recommend you stay as lean as possible with your software.
#1 Squarespace + Memberspace: This is a winning combination, in my opinion. You create your website and membership site in Squarespace, and then set up the membership payment and login side of things using Memberspace (which is essentially a plugin that works with Squarespace).
#2 Wordpress + [plugin - see list below]: If you are building your membership on Wordpress, then you are spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing a plugin that allows you to create your password-protected content and handle all of your member billings and accounts. The four I have listed below all have the core features and payment integrations I would recommend for memberships.
AccessAlly (I have heard excellent reviews of AccessAlly!)
MemberPress (feature-rich, provides good support, and easy to setup from what I have heard)
Here is an article by ‘The Membership Guys’ which talks a bit more about Wordpress plugins for membership sites.
#3 Online Course Software: The other option is to use online course software to build out your membership program in the same way as you would build out an online course. Just be sure to check that whichever software you go with has a subscription billing option, since that is what you will need to charge members on a monthly basis. Head to the Resource Guide for Online Courses to check out the software options listed.
Sales Page & Checkout Page:
The sales page for your membership program can be creating using the same software you are using for your membership program (Wordpress, Squarespace, etc). If you’d like to use something that has easy-to-use templates, LeadPages might be a good option for you (check out their templates here).
The checkout page (where the customer actually puts in their payment information and clicks “buy”) is also going to be created using the membership software you choose (Memberspace, AccessAlly, etc).
No need for additional software! The more you can keep everything in one spot, the better.
There are so many amazing examples of membership programs in just about every niche out there. I found a great set of examples on the Memberspace site where they included interviews with each founder. Click below for each example, and be ready to get inspired!
What do you think? Is a membership program the right fit for you? Come let us know inside The Facebook Group!