As with any new adventure, starting out can be kind of scary and confusing. And so it is with starting a membership site—but that’s why we’re here. Whether you’re interested in starting a membership site or are currently running one, this post is for you. We’re going to lay out all the questions you should be asking before you start a site—and even a few you should ask while you’re in the midst of running one, too. But you seasoned pros can read on, because you probably have some valuable insight on this topic, and we’d love to read and share your comments at the end.
If you need to hit pause for a moment and determine exactly what a membership site is, feel free! But, simply put, a membership site is a gated part of your online business where only subscribing members can access the content you’ve placed behind the gate.
FAQs Before You Start
Before you start blueprinting your site, you need to brainstorm what your site is going to be about.
- What am I going to sell? What is your membership site going to be about? This seems like an obvious question, but you don’t want your site to be about just software or photography or fitness. If you’re a fitness expert, what is it about fitness you are going to focus on? What questions does your current audience often ask—and is that something you could build a site around? While you knock these ideas around, the next question will help you solidify that even more.
- Who is my target audience and market, and how strong is it? You probably already know what you’re selling, but make sure you know who you’re selling to. If you’re trying to sell to too many people, your site may not be specific enough or unique enough to show your product’s potential for a customer’s unique needs. But don’t fall into the trap of being too narrow—because you won’t be able meet any needs at all. (It’s a fine line, isn’t it!)
- Similarly, are there other membership sites out there offering the same thing? If no, you’re offering something extremely unique to the world. That in and of itself should be enough to make you stand out (though reread that caution above about being too narrow). If yes, don’t worry—you don’t need to scrap your idea and start again. You just need to make sure that what you’re offering is unique, that it gives your market something fresh and new, or that it’s got a different spin than your competitors’ products.
- Have you established yourself as an authority or knowledgeable expert on your subject? Don’t quite start from scratch. You need to have built at least a small reputation for knowing your stuff—whether from years of study, being in the workforce, or other experience, you’ll be able to gain trust, earn leads, and hopefully make more sales if you show you’re knowledgeable when it comes to your subject matter.
FAQs as You Begin to Build
Now that you know what you’re going to sell, you need to know what you should be asking as you build your site.
- What type of membership site are you going to build? This is a big question since there are different ways to set up your site. In other words, how are you going to deliver your content and products to members? Are you going to have a content-drip or a “buffet” site? Will you be offering digital services or tangible products? If these terms are all new or a bit foggy, head over to our post on the different types of membership sites, where you’ll find more information about all of this.
- What kind of content are you going to create? The list of different content types is going to feel endless. The key here is to vary your membership site with visuals, infographics, videos, live feeds, and text—as with any website or blog post. Another important question to ask is if your subject is going to have enough information that you can keep creating applicable and engaging content. If you tap out on your subject, you may need to broaden your scope.
- Which content and products are you going to gate, and which are you going to offer as lead-generation pieces and opt-ins? A quick reminder: a “gate” is a barrier you build into your website using a plugin, like the one we offer here at MemberPress. Once you’ve got that barrier in place, members can log in and access exclusive content, special offers, and even be part of a community of other members. So, after you’ve created content and built products, you’ll need to decide which content is going to be used as lead generation (a handy little newsletter with how-to steps, for example) or as gated/members-exclusive content (like an ebook or e-course), and which of your products and services you’ll use as opt-ins, for-sale only, or sales to members only.
- Will you have members-only communities? One of the benefits of a membership site is that you can offer exclusive access to groups/communities and discussion boards. How many of these groups will you have? Other than discussion with other clients, what else will you offer clients who pay a little extra to be in these groups? Office hours with you, members-only discounts, live trainings, exclusive products, and free downloads are just a few ideas.
Starting a new membership site is a lot of work, but you have the brains to do it, and we have the tools to help you build it! Stayed tuned for part two of this blog series, which will discuss FAQs for how to price your membership site and the best ways to launch it. What FAQs would you like to add to this list? Let us know in the comments below!