I thought it would be useful for the readers of my blog to hear the strategies that successful membership site owners are using to run highly profitable membership sites.
This first episode is just me talking and giving an overview of membership sites in general. Going forward, you’ll hear from folks (some of them my clients) who are making significant profits with membership sites.
You're listening to the membership site success podcast. Where you learn from successful entrepreneurs, how to build and run a profitable membership site, so that you too can generate recurring revenue for your business month after month. And now here’s your host, membership site expert, Vic Dorfman.
Hey guys thanks for joining me for the breakout episode of the membership site success podcast. If you’re listening to this podcast, then chances are very good that you’re an entrepreneur and as entrepreneurs, one of the problems that we face is not just how to create a product, sell that product and profit from it, but how to create a product and sell it such that people are willing to give us money for that product or service on a recurring basis, whether that’s yearly, monthly, by yearly, weekly or even daily.
There’s a business truism, we’ve all heard, which goes something like “it’s ten times more expensive to acquire a customer than to keep him.” Now I don't know if ten times is an exact figure, but it’s definitely much harder and more expensive to acquire your customer but it’s much cheaper to continue to engage with that customer, to continue providing value to him, solving his problems in exchange for money.
So as an entrepreneur, if you’re going to spend all this time, energy, sweat, toil, heart into creating something a value to solve people’s problems, doesn’t it make sense that you would want to be able to profit from it on a regular basis?
You know, if you write an eBook and you sell it once, that’s it for you and your customer, but the question is, how can you continue providing value on a regular basis and continue getting paid on a regular basis?
So with all of that in mind, allow me to first of all introduce myself. I am Vic Dorfman, I’m an internet marketer and I live in Thailand. And I’ve been doing internet marketing probably now for about 5 years, give or take. And for the last 2 years approximately, I have been helping entrepreneurs and small to medium sized businesses set up their membership sites. Both in terms of planning the site, planning the strategy, setting up the funnels and the marketing components but also the actual implementation and integration with payment processors and other 3rd party software that allows the entrepreneurs to collect revenue on a recurring basis from their clients and customers.
In that time I’ve worked with both big-shots and beginners alike and I’ve seen firsthand what works and what doesn’t in terms of really having a successful membership site and I’ve seen what clients, my most successful and most profitable clients due on a regular basis to bring about their success.
At the same time, I realized that you, listening to this right now maybe thinking that I don’t even know where to begin with membership sites. Much less, how to implement all of these advanced strategies.
We are going to cover both the nuts and the bolts, from alpha to omega in this podcast and I want both beginners and intermediate and advanced entrepreneurs . I want anybody who’s interested in earning money on a recurring basis with a membership site to be able to benefit and learn and implement the techniques that I’m going to share, my guest are going to share and benefit from our experience and leverage it to grow your own business.
So first of all, what is a membership site? Well, basically it’s any kind of site where you charge for membership on a recurring basis. For example, a gym would be an example of a membership model. In the online world what I mostly see and the folks that I work with mostly sell some kind of educational resource that they update on a monthly basis with new content or could be a coaching call or a mastermind group and they provide new fresh value on recurring basis, and charge for it on a recurring basis.
Now you don’t have to necessarily sell a course or an eBook or some kind of digital offering for it to be a membership site. There are a lot of other examples and probably the one that comes to mind most readily is the most successful membership site model of our time. Our membership model of our time, which is the software as a service, or SaaS model, and you can see a lot of start-ups in Silicon Valley basically run their businesses and their models as software as a service.
They provide a certain kind of software and you pay for it on a monthly basis and you benefit from it as long as you continue to be a paid subscriber and then when you unsubscribe and stop paying then the benefit stopped.
But let’s say that you decide today that you want to set up a membership website. What would be involved in that? For example, let’s pretend that you are a basketball coach and you are a decade vet of basketball and played professionally.
You’re awesome and you’re a great teacher, you’re a great coach, but now you’re sick of going to the gym everyday and coaching your team. You want to just relax and maybe collect some cheques passively but you still love teaching, you still love basketball and you want to communicate and pass on your knowledge in a way that will benefit not just the people who you help immediately when you are working with them in the gym but that will benefit anybody who wants to benefit from it out there in internet land.
So you create a video tutorial course. Let’s say it has a hundred videos on all of the aspects of playing basketball. You cover dribbling, you cover cutting, you cover lay-ups, you cover shots, free throws, and you cover team work, solo drills, everything that goes into becoming a competent kick-ass basketball player.
Now, you’ve got your videos, what do you do next? Most likely what would happen is you would buy a domain name, let’s say learnbasketballnow.com and today pretty much everybody’s using wordpress to set up their websites and you install wordpress and at this point you put up all your videos on your new site.
The question is, how do you protect those videos so people can’t just access them publicly in a freely available way and how do you charge in a recurring basis for your content? This is where a membership plug-in really comes into play, and all membership plug-in does is enable you to protect content, assign your membership levels.
Let’s say you have a bronze, silver and a gold membership and the Bronze members, they get access to the first 25 videos, and the silver members can access the first 75 videos, and if you want that last 25 super awesome extra great videos, who have to sign up for the gold level and that would be the most expensive tier.
And so this membership site plug-in manages all of these different levels, it determines whether the person visiting the site logging in is a bronze, silver or gold member and it grants them access on that basis.
What this plug-in also does is it keeps track of who has been paying and who has canceled their payments and grants and revokes access on the basis or whether are not the person has paid.
Now of course I’m greatly simplifying what’s involved in actually setting this up but that’s basically how it looks when it’s all done. Basically once the site is set up, if a casual visitor goes to your website and tries to access your basketball videos, they won’t be able to and they’ll be prompted to login as a member. So if they become a member then they can login, and view the videos, that correspond to their level of access, whether it’s bronze, silver or gold or however you choose to set up your membership levels. And then in the background, your membership site plug-in is communicating with your payment processor which is probably going to be paypal or stripe or authorize.net and collects payments on your behalf, and ideally what you want the picture in your mind is certainly the picture in my mind is to open up your paypal account or to open up your stripe account and see a shit ton of money in there and not having to do much work (yeah right!)
Now there are two basic kinds of membership site models that I want to make you aware of, and they can be categorized as live or pre-planned. In a live membership site model, you basically have to update your current content on a regular basis. For example, if your membership site is a forum and you have to pay for monthly access to participate in the forum and to benefit from all the knowledge being shared in that forum, then a requirement in order for people to justify giving you their money on a regular basis is going to be that there’s fresh new content in the forum all the time.
So if you’re going to have to be contributing, your moderators are contributing, in other words, people have to feel like they’re getting their money’s worth. And they’re getting the value that they’re paying for many times back. Preferably they’re getting multiples of value that you’re charging.
Another example would be if you’re doing group coaching calls. If you’re charging for those on a regular basis and you don’t show up to your group coaching call, your members are probably going to very quickly cancel on you. In a pre-planned membership site model, you will have already assembled your course materials.
For example, if we use the basketball course analogy again, let’s say you have hundreds of videos and you realize that in order for your members to really benefit from your content and really digest it, that the best approach would be to 'drip' the videos to them and allow them to see a new video every day or every other day. Otherwise, they could become overloaded with the information and they won’t be able to actually implement what you’re teaching them and this is really important because on the one hand you want to be able to get all your content and give your entire value proposition all at once and say “here look at all this good stuff that I have for you” and then you continue to charge for it. But the problem is that what your customers are really paying you for is not just the experience of going through your site but the results.
The problem, the solution to the problem that they have, that they came to you to solve and if you can provide that, then it doesn’t really matter what the method of delivery is and in many cases especially in a complex subject like basketball or internet marketing or anything that requires time and effort to get good at, you’re going to want to present the content and package it in a way it doesn’t make the person feel like they’re overloaded with information and more importantly, you want to hold them accountable.
So if you’re doing a basketball course, and the first week you have let’s say 3 videos and you have a video on Monday, and then you give homework and say “Okay so this is a dribbling video and I want you to take the drills in this video and do them on Tuesday. Then on Wednesday I’m going to have a new video for you and it’s all going be all about lay-ups and I want you to practice those drills on Thursday”. And then on Friday you’ll have a little bit more of a substantial video, let’s say on taking 3-point shots and you’ll say “Okay practice this on Saturday and Sunday and you give some drill to them.
So not only are you teaching something but you are incentivizing and holding your members accountable to actually do the thing that gets them the result that they want and this is powerful not just because you’re helping people which is great, but it’s also powerful from of a business stand point because the biggest and the best way to grow your business is to have raving successful members or clients.
So the people who came to you asking for a result, wanting their problem solved, they came to you and you solved it. You gave them the thing that they were looking for. And now they come back and they will be your number 1 cheerleader and when other people see that when you prospective members see that you are a man or a woman of your word and you provide the value you say you’re going to provide, and then some, man, you will not have any problem acquiring you’re members and your customers!
Now one question you maybe asking yourself is “but Vic I’m in the seduction niche or I’m in a forex niche or I’m in such and such a niche, can I still do a membership site? And charge them in a recurring basis?” And the answer is YES, you absolutely can!
In my work, I’ve seen people start membership sites on some really far out funky things but also some very conventional things, things like golf, teaching people how to make iPhone videos with their iPhone, hobby, and various hobby sites.
Basically, if you can find a way to continue providing value to your members, they'll keep giving you money, okay; it’s a very basic kind of trade. So it doesn’t matter what your niche is, it’s definitely worth your while to start thinking now “How can I provide value to people on a regular basis such that they would feel justified in paying me in a recurring basis and not just one time.
Now, another thing that you're probably wondering – no, that you’re definitely wondering - is “How much money can I make running a membership website?” And the answer to that is a lot. Now, there’s no guarantee that you’re going to make a lot, that has to do with many factors, but what I can guarantee you is that your return on your investment, meaning all the effort, the time and energy and money that you spend creating your product, will pay much larger dividends if you can charge for that product on a recurring basis.
For example, let’s say that you write this mega-ginormous-awesome-ass eBook and it’s 200 pages and it’s everything you know about, whatever topic, and you sell it for $97. You might get people to buy it for $97, but what if you take that same information and you put it, you organize it into a video course or into an audio course that sequentially unfolds each lesson and holds your members accountable to do the thing that’s getting them the results that they came to your for and charge for a recurring basis...?
Not only are you going to make more money most likely but you’re also going to be providing a bigger, more actionable value to your members because you’re not just brain dumping on them saying “Here, here’s this eBook, read it and do the things inside it and you’ll be successful”
No, you’re saying “Here’s the first lesson, now, do the drills or do the exercises in the first lesson and wait for a while, and in the meantime you’re kind of getting antsy and you’re saying “Okay I want that second lesson.”
Then the second lesson arrives and you do the thing in the second lesson, and this way, you’re getting small wins, your members are feeling these small wins. So psychologically, from a presentation stand point from a learning stand point, I think membership sites have a lot to offer and you’ll be surprised that a lot of entrepreneurs still haven’t come on board with membership sites yet. But I think they are pretty much the next big thing in the information marketing space.
Alright, and with that I want to wrap up this first episode of the membership site success podcast. I want to thank you for listening and I want to ask you to come visit me at www.vicdorfman.com, click on the podcast tab at the top and leave a comment letting me know what kinds of topics you like me to discuss.
Be specific, this isn’t my podcast, this is your podcast, this is where I answer your questions and bring aboard experts. This isn’t just for my own entertainment, although this is entertaining, but it’s for your benefit, your edification. My goal is to help you make a bunch of money, so help me help you by giving me feedback and letting me know how I can better serve you.
Till next time, this is Vic Dorfman signing off, talk soon.
MmmmMMMMmm! Wasn’t that scrumptious? Thanks for listening to the membership site success podcast with membership site expert, Vic Dorfman. For oodles of free tips, tricks and tutorials on crushing it with recurring revenue, go to www.vicdorfman.com . It's what all the cool kids do, and you do wanna be cool, don’t you? See you next time.