Creating A Money Making Membership Site on A Shoestring Budget
Membership sites have certainly proven to be the hot money spinners of the last couple of years - and there's no reason for that to change. People will always want to be a member of a site that provides them with information and interaction on subjects they are interested in. People pay a lot of money to follow their hobbies, whether that is football, fishing, needlepoint, baking or insider information.
The Internet is awash with adverts in the last couple of months, telling you to create your own membership site and you will create substantial, automatic profits year in, year out. Is it all hot air or can you really create your own fabulous membership site and get paid £10, £15 or even 35 every month from every member?
I'll show you right now how creating your own membership site is something anybody with a real passion can achieve. Whether this is your first Internet money making venture to top up your day job earnings, or you are a seasoned entrepreneur looking for a new income stream to pay for yet another foreign holiday or new car! For those of you who are a bit more skeptical for now ... read on because you don't have to charge members for access to your membership site. Providing free access to something can also bring visitors to your website and you can offer free membership for the first few months
Like everything in life, as technology moves on, everything becomes more accessible – and the technology for you to create and run your own membership site is no exception to this. Back in the earlier days of the Internet setting up a membership site would have set you back hundreds of pounds each month. Things have changed and now I will show you how you can do it for peanuts.
The Benefits Of Creating and Owning Your Own Membership Site
The biggest market force at play in your favour is people’s thirst for information. Today people are willing to pay good money for a regular stream of high quality and targeted information (even software in some cases) covering subjects they are interested in. Yes, you can get a lot of information free on the internet but when you actually try you can spend hours and hours scanning through websites that are just sales pages. It can take days or weeks to find high quality information. Today’s instant gratification lifestyle means more and more people want to quickly find and buy what they want or need because time is the one thing they simply do not have too much of.
Why is this of interest to you? They will PAY you to provide them with this information on the condition they get it IMMEDIATELY! This is what makes the membership site business model a real winner. Think about the following advantages of setting up membership sites that you own and run … and profit from every month
- Share and profit from knowledge that you are passionate about: you can pass on your expert viewpoint or even research and learn about a new hobby, creating a member site as you are learning more about your hobby or interest. How much time you put into providing this information or how much information you provide is up to you, so this can be a part-time or a full-time business.
- Create a successful, money-making membership site for virtually any niche you can think of: from “Baking for Vegans” to “Buying & Renovating Old Houses for Profit” there are a gazillion fabulous niche ideas - potential members numbering in their thousands. And you don’t have to stop at creating one membership site – there are plenty more niches, Most people have 3-5 interests, maybe you do too!
- Work once, profit repeatedly. Once you’ve got your content, each new member is paying you for that work you did, over and over again. When did a boss pay you every time you sent out a standard letter you created for him/her?
- Extremely low overheads. Working from home all you’ve got to pay are your hosting fees – and these are exceedingly cheap these days.
- Work from anywhere. It doesn’t matter if you move house – you can move from John O’Groats to Land’s End and you wouldn’t lose a penny of your income – or move to the other side of the world even. You could be abroad, traveling, on holiday. A membership site business will fit round any lifestyle you care to name.
- You can start a membership site part-time, on the side of your existing work from home businesses, or on the side of an existing day job (even if your day job is shift work that prevents you getting a 2nd part-time job). Build up your membership site(s) over a year or two until they can replace your day job income. Or, if you love your day job, simply use the money to invest in holidays, cars, property or a pension top up.
But How Much Will Setting Up a Membership Site Cost Me?
You should be able to set a membership site for £60-£200, and that one-off fee has the potential to bring you in 12 payments a year from every member. If you had only one member paying £6.99 per month, you would more than cover your costs …. But what if 2 members a week joined every week? Or 20?
Yes, there’s a fee, but a membership site is quite a technical achievement. You need to be able to add content, allow people to subscribe and pay, allow them to cancel. You need to have a membership area for them to log into to get the special benefits of being a member. And all of this in one easy system. If you try to do this for free or on the cheap by using 2-3 products that you stick together you will come unstuck. I know I have. I started my site with free software because it had a member login…. And now I am suffering for it. Now I want and need to go over to a professional member site and I have the problem of moving everything over. So, for goodness sake, start out the right way at the beginning and buy the right tool for the job! My “free system” I started out with still required me to buy a domain name and hosting, then I needed to buy a design (and it was rubbish too as I bought the cheapest) – and on top of all that, the back end system is SO slow that adding content is a very slow and very painful experience. So, I cannot stress this enough: buy the right tools from the start and you can concentrate on making money, not faffing with some cr*p software.
A membership site will provide you with a residual stream of income – that is a monthly, recurring, income. Your members will pay monthly for access to your site. This means you are no longer scrapping around trying to find ways to earn a living online, but instead you can spend your time focussing on delivering top information and content directly to your members – and the beauty of this is, over time, your members are getting more and more from you, while you only had to make the effort once. I love being a member of sites where I can go back and check through their old newsletters and articles for inspiration – and as you build your site up you too will have an ever-building library of hints/tips, information, reviews. Just take it one step at a time and you get there. Meanwhile, you continue to receive members’ monthly subscriptions directly into your bank account.
It wouldn’t take many members before you’ve created yourself a monthly salary without having to answer to anybody else about what you are doing, when or how! Sack the boss!.
With every piece of content you put into your membership site, it adds to its value. Over the months that you build and grow it, and the longer your site is active, the more top quality information, content and recommended products are inside – as well as the more members you'll receive.
Once you have your site, you are able to use your passion or knowledge to really recommend the best products to your members – and get paid a commission. Companies who want to market to your audience will start to approach you wanting to advertise with you. I know this is true, I have a few a week approach me. I turn most of them down as I want to keep my content quality high – and you should do too.
The best thing about an Internet membership site is: you get 100% profit from it. After you’ve paid your start up costs, anything else you make is 100% profit. You can even grab yourself some great free stuff from people who want to advertise with you – maybe a copy of their software in exchange for some advertising. Maybe a logo created in exchange for an advert in your Newsletter.
What is a Fabulous Niche For Setting Up A Membership Site?
The bigger the number of people interested in your interest or hobby, the better a niche site can cater to their specific needs. But outside of the niche, you need to be able to identify other topics which would also be of interest to your membership. If your niche is just “Skydiving in [Your Town]” then it won’t be as large a niche as “Skydiving in [Your County]”. And on top of skydiving, your site could also discuss places to stay, places to visit, places to eat. You could even organize club events if your niche is to a specific geographical area. Although if your niche is “Small Space Living” then the opportunities there would obviously be very different.
Take a look at the local booksellers’ shelves. What magazines are for sale? What are people buying? What are people interested in? Now which catches your eye as being of most interest? Other examples of niches that you could set-up membership sites in:. Notice how I have taken a subject and created a niche from it by targeting it to ONE group of people.
Jobs, career: Work opportunities for the Over 50s.
Money & investments: For the Under 30s, or, For the 30-60s, or for the Over 45s.
Health, beauty, fitness: For expectant mums, or, for people with disabilities
Cooking: for a family, or, for a large family on a budget, or, for Atkins Diet
This is the SMALLEST list in the world of the potential possibilities … there is a niche for everything! And virtually any niche can be turned into a membership site.
What’s to Stop You Setting Up A Membership Site?
If you’d asked me that 2 years ago, I’d have said “Whoa … price!!” But not any longer. Not only would it have cost you a >LOT more in the past, with high ongoing costs, but the admin back end would have taken you quite a lot of your valuable time too. As an estimate a membership site would have cost you probably £1000 or more, meaning it probably wouldn’t be the kind of job for life you were looking for!
Things have changed. And now a membership site is affordable to most people. Recently there have been some great new products that have come to market – making it cheaper and easier for you to get started quickly. I’ll tell you about those later if you’re serious about making this your way to earn a good regular monthly income.
What else will get in your way on your road to financial freedom and fun?
Installing the software: For some this can cause issues. Some people are still not up to speed with attaching a file to their email. Others still haven’t worked out how on earth they could possibly create a payment link from any site they start. Some membership sites will install the software for you for a small fee – much cheaper in the long run than fiddling with it yourself for days – and for a one-off cost again that’s probably no more than about £30. You’d pay a plumber more than that if your washing machine were making a funny noise …. Just for him to stand and say “[sharp intake of breath] .. ahhhh these old models……” However, if you have ever set up a web page for yourself, then you’ll probably be able to install the membership site software quite easily (and it’s always nice knowing you could just hand it over to somebody else to do it for you if you did get stuck)
Providing fresh content for your site: You will have to commit your time to doing this. It doesn’t matter how little or how much time you’ve got, but you must, must keep doing it. It is better to under-promise and over-deliver than to over-promise and under-deliver. Don’t let the new content creation slip. Don’t get too keen and lock yourself into providing a new article a day or a week. Keep it simple perhaps with just two good quality articles a month (actually, you can even pay people to write these for you!)
Are you qualified? Most niche membership sites won’t require any qualifications, but be careful as there are some regulated industries. For example, if you are offering any kind of financial or investment advice, you’d need to really be an Independent Financial Advisor. But “Craft Making for Profits” won’t need this of course!
What Features Does A Membership Site Need?
Firstly, it should be able to operate on auto-pilot. You don’t want to be sleeping beside the PC, with your alarm waking you up every 15 minutes in case a new member joins and you have to send out their Welcome email! In the Information Age, when people join a membership (or any) site they expect an immediate response.
Members should be able to pay by all the usual methods common for online payments. Paypal is now a major provider of online payment services – and they give the buyer protection. Credit cards are good too. But avoid members having to send you a cheque – they just won’t do it. And since a Paypal account is free to set up, there’s few excuses for anybody to not have one.
Here is a list of essential features to check for when researching membership site software to buy:
Ability to accept recurring Paypal payments. So you get the fees automatically each month.
New members should be able to automatically set-up an account without any trouble on your account.
If a member cancels, the membership site should automatically block them without you having to do anything. Imagine if you had a daily task of manually deleting anybody who had cancelled – especially after the first year or two when you’ve got a few hundred new joiners every month and a couple of dozen cancellations. It all eats up your time – not to mention you’d have to keep on top of it almost hourly
No limit to the number of sites you can set up – you wouldn’t want to limit yourself to one membership site as once you’ve got the first one set up you will almost guaranteed have thought of another couple that would be perfect for generating more income. Do you realise that the people making a lot of money “working from home” actually have a team of people working for them! 2-3 years from now you could be managing 12 sites, with writers writing your content and accountants handling your payments and accounts. Maybe all you are doing by then is deciding what is to go on the site – and you’ll have a PA who actually contacts the writers, arranges for the articles to be written and updates the site.
No additional fees to set up more membership sites after you’ve bought the software once
Obviously you need to walk before you can run! The setting up of your first membership site is a big challenge – you are doing everything for the first time. Along the way you will work out better ways to do things. When you create your 2nd one you will do it much faster as you will already know what you are doing and what you want on the site. Each new site you create has the potential to generate a regular and growing monthly income. So it’s certainly more than worth the effort you put in on the first one.
I am Not Sure People Would Pay to Join my Membership Site .... Any Ideas on That?
At first you might find that you lack the courage to charge for membership - maybe you don't feel you've built up your traffic enough or your content enough. You can still earn a living from a membership site without charging any fees for membership. Simply start with a free membership site, wait until you've got some good content then start charging. And, don't forget, you can still earn money from your membership list if you are providing good quality information and recommendations to them! You should think of your member site as building a sustainable income for life - and be prepared to put in a few months hard effort in the first instance to become known as the leading source and resource in your niche. So, for now, forget the money, build the site but use membership site software so you have the option to easily charge later simply by turning that feature on and setting your price.
What Do I Recommend Next?
If you are want to plunge in and get yourself set up with a membership site, then why not try some instant membership software like Easy Member Pro.
For those of you who want to really make this work, then you need to think about what you expect of membership site software and see what's out there for you.
I’d Love to Start a Membership Site, But I’m Stuck for Ideas – Got Any?
Yes, like most things in life, if you think outside the box, you can come up with some great ideas to earn money working from home by providing a service to others who don’t have the time or know-how to do things for themselves.
So here’s an idea: why not approach local groups or businesses and offer to set up and run a membership site for them. All you need to do is pitch the idea to them – and if they agree, then you can get they to pay for the software and pay you to set up and/or run it.
Here are a few ideas for Membership Sites to get you started:
Start & Run a Band Fan Club: Find local bands and offer to run a fan club for them – you can pay for this yourself and keep the proceeds, just get them to endorse your site as their Official Fan Club. They might offer to pay for the software, but this might blur the lines between who owns what … and might lead to them wanting their Fan Club Site back when you’ve built it up, sacking you so somebody else they know can run it. Have special offers, latest news, gig information, etc etc…. send out a weekly Newsletter to all members with Band News (the band can write that for you and email it to you, all you’d need do is tidy it up). You’d just need to work out how much it would be to be a member – and what benefits the members get.
Start a local business membership site. Define your area and approach businesses. You can offer businesses any mix of the following: special deals for members only (invite each member to put their own members deal together for your site only); members can have a free advert (scan in from their existing print ads) on the public area, with a link through to their website (if they have one). Offer a number of free Newsletter advert spaces in your weekly Newsletter. Invite specialists to provide you with the content for the site in areas of specialist knowledge. The options are quite limitless. You can also then sell advertising space in your Newsletter that you send out to members.
Now it’s your turn to get your thinking cap on…. Local, regional, national groups, interests, hobbies, businesses… think how you can capitalize by running a member site whether online or with an offline focus!
If you don’t, somebody else will!