We often have great ideas for online businesses, but many times it takes more than an idea to bring a business to life. We have to put other plans in order and organize our ideas into coherent things that we can move forward with.
For online businesses, you would want to start a membership website which is one of the best ways to form an online business. I know you might be wondering, “what even is a membership website?” Well, this guide is here to answer your question.
A membership website is a website that offers users access to protected content or products based on membership to said website. This protected content can be available for free or for a set fee and the protected content can be the whole site or selected portions of the site that is gated.
A gate is simply a kind of barrier that is integrated into your website allowing members to log in and access exclusive offers and even become a community built around your product or service.
Many businesses use membership sites, examples are online clothing stores that offer premium access to the VIP community. Anybody can go on the site and shop for clothes but once you sign up for the community can get perks like discounts, early releases, newsletters, and access to founders and high-ranking people in the community.
Once you are required to sign up to access any form of content on a website, even if it’s free, you are joining a membership site. This content can be a lot of things like digital products, ebooks, images, online courses, clothes, etc.
Building a successful membership website in a world that is increasingly online is quite an uphill task. You have to grab everyone’s attention as quickly as you can with unique ideas and offers. This is where this guide comes in.
Create And Plan Your Vision
You have to flesh out your idea and even create a vision board of your product and the membership site you want. This should be the first step for whatever idea you have so you can achieve success and a good way to do this is to tell someone you trust about your idea. Explaining it to someone will force you to define exactly what you want to build because the person you are telling will provide feedback that will make you tweak your idea till it becomes its best version.
You can ask yourself core questions about your membership site and product. These questions are:
- Who is the product for?
- What does it do?
- How can I monetize it?
- Why should people sign up to be members?
- Where can people find out about it?
These questions will help shape your vision for your product and membership site. Add it to your vision board so you never forget it and so it drives you in the right direction.
Pick A Hosting Site
Fortunately, we are in a software boom and countless tools can help you create websites and products without you having to write one line of code.
The simple way to do this is to use a website builder to create a website and then add a bunch of plugins to allow for membership website capabilities but this method will leave your business website vulnerable to security issues and slow down the function of the site.
Now there are more sophisticated website builders that have filled the gap for membership sites. You can pick templates that fit the aesthetic you are going for from a wide array of options. Your membership site, at the bare minimum, will need four pages.
- A homepage to inform visitors about your site and convince them to sign up.
- A signup page to give information about pricing and give way to join.
- A page for members that directs them to the content, product, or service you provide.
- A login page for returning visitors.
Add Membership Functionality
Before it would take you thousands of dollars and hiring a developer to implement a membership function to your website but now you can use a membership platform that allows you to perform the same task without writing any code.
You will want to connect all forms and fields, create memberships and designate members-only content. Make sure you create the fields you want to capture for your members when they sign up and if your product has different plans you should create a form for each membership and direct them to the service they are entitled to once they become a customer.
Don’t forget the aesthetic part of the building, think of fonts, color, settings, etc. A beautiful website adds to the legitimacy of your product, convincing people to sign up.
Think Of More Tools
Some tools might not seem necessary but they make operating your membership website more seamless. These tools include:
- Beamer to notify members of updates
- Fathom to measure the traffic on your site
- SparkLoop for ensuring referral programs and giving incentives for sharing.
- RightMessage to help you build an email list.
You can integrate these tools with your website and with each other to create peculiar responses and notifications that will help you gain new subscribers and retain the old ones.
Start Inviting People
Once your membership site is live, you can start inviting people to form your customer base. A membership website is nothing without members and your members won’t be retained if your product or content isn’t worth it.
You can start with friends and family so that they can help you fine-tune the website functions and work out any bugs before you open it to strangers. Launch it on social media using targeted ads and even video walkthroughs that help people sign up.
These are the basic steps to building a membership website and generating money from it. Don’t forget to integrate customer feedback to your website and offer incentives to keep them coming back.