Ready to start a membership site? Great—but remember to do your homework! Validating your membership-site idea before you launch is a smart practice. This guide is designed to help you do just that, so you can know whether there’s a demand for your project.
It can be tempting to run with a great idea and launch a project, service, or membership site without doing market research. After all, creating is the fun part, while worrying about promotion, attracting customers, and generating sales—well, not so much.
However, rather than taking a build-it-and-they-will-come approach, you can save yourself a lot of time, effort, money, and potential disappointment by following these steps on how to validate your membership-site idea before you get too carried away.
Why Validate Your Membership Idea Before Getting Started?
With the right tools, such as WordPress and an all-in-one membership plugin, the process of setting up a membership website is relatively straightforward, so why not spend a little time doing market research and idea validation? It’s well worth it in the long run.
Investing a little time now can save you a lot of wasted effort down the road.
Creating a successful membership site isn’t just about building a platform for your project. It also involves demonstrating that your membership site is a sound investment for your target audience, creating content they are willing to continue to pay to access, marketing, communicating with your prospects, and responding to queries.
Save Yourself Some Heartbreak
All the above becomes a lot more difficult and time-consuming if there’s no demand for your membership-site idea. At worst, all the time, money, and effort you’ve put into creating and promoting your membership site is wasted; at best, you’ll have to work hard on redirecting your project to the right audience.
For many, creating a membership site is a passion project with the potential to become a lucrative side hustle. But don’t let passion cloud your reason. Instead, save yourself some heartbreak and follow these tips on how to validate your membership site idea before you get started.
Is There Any Competition?
The first step in validating your membership idea is to research the competition. A quick Google search will tell you who you’re competing with.
Contrary to what some may think, lots of competition isn’t a bad thing. If others are having success with “your” idea, it means people are willing to spend money on it. So maybe you can earn yourself a slice of that pie.
If there are similar products out there, be sure to take a close look at what they’re offering. Sign up or make a purchase if you have to so you know exactly what you need to do to compete with them. If exceeding or at least meeting the standards of the competition is out of reach, it’s time for a new idea.
And while a lack of competition may seem like a positive, if no one else has thought of your idea, it could be a red flag. Is there no demand for it? Have others tried and failed to make a success of a similar idea?
It is possible to create a new market; after all, did anyone know they wanted Crocs until they saw them for sale? But creating demand and a market for a new product or membership site can be tricky. Are you the person to do it? If not, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.
Does Your Ideal Member Exist?
When developing a business idea, it’s important to know who your perfect customer or member persona is. It’s what defines your target audience and helps you create content and a product aimed specifically at them.
If you haven’t already done so, spend some time creating a member persona, or avatar. Once you’ve defined your ideal member, go out and try to find them. Do they exist? If not, it’s time to come up with a new idea for your membership site.
If you can find your ideal member, however, it’s time to reach out.
Talk to Your Target Audience
If you’ve gotten this far, congratulations—your idea may have potential. Now’s the time to get in touch with those you think would be good members for your project. Whether you track them down in person, or through networking events, conferences, special interest meetups, or online via Facebook groups or other social media platforms and websites, ask a few questions about your idea and find out whether it scratches an itch or solves one of their problems.
You may be tempted to ask friends and family what they think of your idea, but they’re unlikely to give you an honest answer, and if they’re not in your target audience, their feedback won’t do you much good anyhow, so don’t waste time canvasing people who’ll tell you what you want to hear but won’t end up becoming paid members.
Run a Pre-Launch Offer
If the feedback from your target audience is positive, it’s time to move on to the next step—running a prelaunch offer. At this stage, you can start working on the fun stuff and create a landing page for your membership site.
During this process, you can simply be collecting the email addresses of interested users in exchange for a freebie or collecting prepayments for access to your membership site when it launches. The latter is a more effective way of validating your idea but carries extra responsibilities, as you need to be sure you can deliver the goods on time.
Create a Minimum Viable Product
An alternative to running a prelaunch offer is creating a minimum viable product (MVP). This is where you create the bare bones of your membership site and open it up to either a select group or the entire internet.
You can circle back to your ideal members and let them know about the launch of your MVP and also start work on the essential marketing strategies that will help you promote your membership site to a wider audience.
Based on the feedback you receive from initial members, you can add more content to your membership site and further develop your idea.
Validating your membership-site idea gives you a level of certainty that your project will be a success. Nothing is guaranteed, and you may still get it wrong, but the more time you spend validating your idea and finding out if there’s a real demand for what you’re proposing, the more your chance of success.
No one wants to spend time working on something people are unwilling to pay for or even use for free, so be sure to follow these steps and validate your idea before you get started.
Are you ready to validate your membership site idea? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.