The revenue pulling power of subscription-based websites is too glaring to ignore. I mean, it's no longer news that every business actually needs a quality website in order to generate more profits but until now, you probably thought that websites ought to be owned by businesses only or that blogs are the only web pages suitable for individuals.
Well, I will change that notion today as I will be brushing through several ways you too can join me in running your own profitable membership website which you can turn into a great business in no distant time.
When it comes to making money online, running a website remains one of the best options among others...
While a lot of people are currently cashing in killer amounts through freelancing, amazon kindle and many more, benefiting from online businesses such as affiliate marketing and eCommerce certainly requires a website but then again, not everyone wants such huge commitments and this is where membership websites come in.
Membership websites are a lot less tedious to manage compared to blogs but can make you a lot more money!
Every internet user has probably seen their fair share of websites as there are quite a ton of them out there but a majority of them aren't turning any profit.
There are several kinds of profitable websites to choose from – ranging from classified Ads sites, online communities to online directories.
But when it comes to running a membership website, you don't just make money, you make a recurring income! This is the leading advantage.
What is a membership website?
Remember all those websites that request a subscription fee in order to access premium features or to even register as a member? Those are membership websites!
A membership website is any website that offers a subscription plan for users to access certain premium contents or features.
These sites charge their users a weekly, monthly or an annual membership fee for them to retain these benefits.
While some of these sites offer a free lifetime account, others only have several paid accounts to choose from (this means you have to pay a fee to be a member).
The ideology behind running a membership website is to create a steady recurring monthly income (This is one of the reasons I love the real estate business. It generates a constant monthly revenue!).
The blogosphere is saturated already with too many wannabe bloggers struggling to gain traffic, who hardly make $1000 a month.
And many other sites like Classified Ad websites might be quite complex to manage and grow to a substantial revenue since most of them also depend on quality traffic to be able to make a few dollars but a membership site can easily generate $5,000 monthly from just 100 subscribers (Assuming your subscription plan is $50).
Once you get 1000 subscribers, you will be making $50,000/month ($600,000 annually).
Have you ever wondered why your phone and cable company will rather charge you a few dollars monthly instead of selling you a (pay once) lifetime unlimited service?
Well, it's due to the power of user subscriptions.
They make more money from the deal and still get to keep you coming back!
A membership website isn't that different from this system since visitors on your site are required to pay a monthly (you can make it weekly or even annually) subscription fee in order to keep accessing your products, services or information available on your site.
There is really not much to it and once you watch my step by step guide videos and scan through the blueprint, you will wonder why you didn't set up your own site sooner.
Yes, the thought of building a website may sound technically tedious for an absolute newbie but it's not rocket science.
Anyone can do it (including you, if you put your mind to it. Success as you know, starts with your mindset). And it gets easier since you don't need to be a programmer/web developer.
The free Joomla content management system is available for you to utilize maximumly for this purpose.
You can set up your own profitable membership website without writing a single code – you just click, drag and place your site elements.
That is exactly how Ghavoch.com was built using Joomla. Running a profitable membership website only entails that you;
- 1.Setup the website (style the front-end and include a members' section)
- 2.Integrate with a payment processor (to handle your user subscriptions)
- 3.Add your contents/items (e.g videos, articles etc. Not all membership sites need these)
- 4.Launch and market (taking your site to the right audience to gain your targeted users)
- 5.Manage and maintain (renewing and updating your site, keeping your users happy)
Normally, I would say you should come up with an idea of what to offer your users for a premium fee but I have made things easier by laying out the major types of membership website you can set up and don't be perplexed as I will briefly outline them within the next few paragraphs.
Nevertheless, like every other business, your membership website needs to belong to a good niche.
Unless you are building a general community kind of membership website, you need to target a particular audience which means all your premium items have to be related and this is the first step to building a successful membership website.
For choosing a good niche for your site, I would certainly recommend that you set up a site around what you could actually do for your intended users not minding if it's a not-so-popular niche.
In fact, the less popular your niche is, the more likely you will make a big buck due to the low competition (as long as the niche is actually profitable and you should find this out through a good market survey before setting up a site for it).
Just make sure people actually search for such items on the internet. There are several free keyword research tools out there (an example is the Google Keyword Planner ) to help you determine what items are searched for on Google and the common keywords used.
This is very important if you are creating a membership website that deals with a large collection of items.
Owners of this type of websites only need to upload a good number of valuable items (videos, pictures, tools, audios or even scripts) on their website and grant the access to the download links to only users with an active subscription.
If you have a product, you could just create a membership site that will charge your customers a certain subscription fee to continue using your product.
Also, if you have a certain skill, you could just build a membership site around it and charge your users a fee to offer them your services (it could be something as little as helping them keep track of their finances or managing their social accounts) or if you are a professional at something, you could just build a membership site that offers a training course and interested persons will subscribe to learn from you!
My Ghavoch.com is an information/club/training kind of membership site which is about providing quality information to help users succeed in their businesses or grow their career and my practical tutorials, actionable ideas, consultation as well as special assistance, are for my premium users only.
Yes, you may mistake Ghavoch for a blog since I'm publishing articles here and there but it actually has a membership section.
The articles at the front-end are only there to give visitors an idea of what the site is about and to show that I know what I'm doing.
At the end of the day, visitors who have read my articles and want more information, counselling, consultations or my special mentorship, proceed to subscribe to my membership plans.
But not all membership websites deal on this method. In fact, membership sites don't need to publish articles except you are building a content-type membership site.
Whatever type of membership site you choose to setup, it needs to supply something of great value which could be a quality product, service or even information.
When talking about the value of a website, certain things are taken into consideration.
Does the website have information, sell a product or offer a service that helps people save time, save money, make money, make tasks easier, or improve their life? People only pay for what solves or helps them solve a problem.
Well, in case you are yet to figure out the kind of contents you can have on your site, I will use this opportunity, to outline the major types of membership sites you can setup.
Types of profitable membership websites
These membership sites are based on series of contents such as stories, tutorials etc. How do they work? The owner will simply have to keep supplying new contents that are probably the continuation of the older ones.
For instance, instead of writing a book or making one large video of something, you could just make it a series of episodes, as long as it's something people will gladly pay for.
Then, you put these items on your site and set a membership plan for interested users to pay a subscription fee in order to continue seeing more episodes of your contents.
For instance, I already have a good number of 'how-to posts' on Ghavoch.com and due to the quality of the posts, a lot of people wouldn't mind paying a few bucks to see more.
This type of website will work best if you set up your site to only have a landing page that describes what visitors would gain by subscribing while making the actual contents only visible to logged in members (users will have to pay to signup) or you can make the introductions of the contents completely visible to everyone but users will be required to log in in order to read full posts.
This could literally generate more user subscriptions if the post intro is captivating enough but could also have a negative effect on your conversions if you have poor post intros.
This is perhaps the most common type of membership site on the web today. These sites are probably running into thousands in number (I literally hit a new one almost on daily basis), due to the high demand of a need for cloud storage.
These type of membership sites normally do not require much effort from the owners since the files shared on the sites are from the public.
The owner only needs to set it up with enough storage space and charge users a subscription fee to store their large files for a period of time.
And most times, the promotion of the site is done by the users each time they share their links.
This type of membership site is great to run but you will constantly deal with copyright issues as you will be required to remove any material with a copyright infringement.
You may also need to pay more for your hosting plan since your site needs to provide enough bandwidth and disk space to properly allocate some substantial amount to each user.
This is because your users will mostly be bloggers who want to outsource their large files to be hosted elsewhere for their users to easily access and download.
These sites really don't require much to put in place. Simply set it up, give free access to a limited storage and speed and offer a more advanced storage for premium users.
Once your site can allow users to create an account, upload, manage and download their files, you have a profitable membership website on your hands!
All membership sites with a large database of similar items are grouped here. This collection of items could be movies, games, software, eBooks, graphic design images or even webmaster tools. This type of site could also be a web directory.
To successfully setup and run this type of membership site, you would either create these items or collect them from different sources and post as many of them as possible, on your site, as long as you have the permission to share such items.
With a decent number of these items on your site, you could then, set up membership plans to ensure users pay a subscription fee in order to access these items. I even a member of this type of website.
As webmasters, we usually need one tool or the other when building websites and searching for them all the time is tedious so, we find ourselves with a valid subscription to a platform that uploads and updates these items regularly.
An example of such membership website is CMSHeaven.com. They actually make millions of dollars annually by sharing those CMS templates and plugins.
The same way people pay a monthly subscription to maintain their membership to stock photo sites.
Virtually anything (as long as it's something people want) can be monetized using this type of membership website – Including things that are readily available online.
The aim is to reduce the workload of people who need them. It saves them the time they could spend researching these things and they would gladly pay for it.
Besides, it's usually a small fee. You change a token but when multiplied by your users, you are likely going to be making a handful on a monthly basis.
As stated earlier, if you have a product, instead of selling it off with a lifetime licence fee, you could build a membership site for it, and charge users a certain subscription fee for them to continue using your product. Even email autoresponders like ConvertKit fall into this category.
However, you have to note that, not all products will be suitable for this. Selling biscuits this way won't work.
Rather, products such as a software or any item that will require a weekly or monthly update would be great for user subscriptions.
This way, your users will have enough reason to renew their subscriptions. Most computer software companies operate this way.
They either build their software to be free while offering the premium features to only active users for a monthly subscription fee or they make you pay a timely licence fee before you can use the software at all. Do you have a product? Why not make it available to only premium users?
Are you a professional at something with the ability to teach? Are you willing to pass your knowledge to others through online training?
Then, a great way of monetizing your knowledge will be to load up your knowledge into a course or a form of training on your site, and setup membership plans for interested students, to subscribe in order to access your training materials.
The problem with this type of membership site is the fact that you will need to keep getting fresh new students since the old ones will stop paying once they complete their course or you simply focus on making more related courses available.
The courses are could be on virtually any subject as long as it's something people want to learn.
I've seen membership sites that train people on how to speak at an event, how to write a compelling sales letter, how to build an android app etc.
The list is endless and believe me, every one of us has got something to teach. We all know one thing or the other that we can create a course about so, all you have to do is make series of videos on how to do it.
Videos are more preferred but you can still accompany your course with pictures, audios or even written contents.
Once you have your course ready, set up a membership site that is loaded with your training materials and charge a weekly or monthly membership fee.
There are quite a number of individuals turning their freelance skills into a mega business on the internet these days, and you too can tap into this method, if you have any useful skill that people would gladly pay a monthly subscription fee for. Skills such as social media management work just fine.
In fact, with any good SEO skill, you could build a membership site around it and charge your users a monthly fee to offer them your services.
The key behind this is to make sure your services are something your clients will need you to continue doing which will, in turn, make them keep paying their membership fee and as such, management skills are good options here.
This is how it goes. As someone who is good with finances, I would setup a membership website that I would operate like a business.
The site home page will just talk about what I do and why clients should hire me and interested clients only have to create an account, submit their project details and subscribe to any of my service packages and the moment I receive the alert, I get to work.
Depending on the package, I would audit, keep track of the records or give appropriate counselling.
To make this work better, I will have a system in place to help me fully manage my clients individually or I could automate the whole process. I guess this is why you need to be financially educated.
If you are good at fetching information that is not readily available in your industry, then, you could easily build a career out of this as an insider.
If you are a very good researcher who can get quality information about certain topics and would love to turn it into an online business, well, you could just setup a membership site around this and charge users a premium fee to get access to the inside scope.
There are so many people out there who are probably too busy to get the quality information themselves, so, they would gladly pay you monthly, for the latest information about certain things in their industry.
You could also make this type of membership website a private investigation platform but to make it more effective, you need to focus on a niche that requires constant renewal.
You either give your clients the option to request for the information they are interested in or you could leverage on a particular topic in an industry to provide relevant information that can't be found easily elsewhere.
These are online communities that tend to lock some features of the site for only V.I.P users. These communities, sometimes are for like-minds to share ideas but there are quite a good number of popular dating sites that fall under this category too!
The owners of these sites just set up a site with user interactive features and let everyone signup for free, but in order to access some higher features, users pay a premium subscription fee.
To do this, you only need to add a community component to your membership site and lock some sections! Note that these sites do require many users so, you will need to do a lot of site promotion.
For instance, you could limit the number of files free users can access in a month or you could just lock a full section.
If it's a dating site where users interact with each other, you could limit the number of people they can mingle with or the number of messages they can send and at the end of the day, users would have to upgrade their membership in order to increase their limits.
These membership sites are usually a public community like a niche forum where people signup to share ideas but this gets interesting when certain topics are locked for only premium members.
Some of these topics could be open at the onset but get locked the moment it becomes a hot zone with quality contents/information and boom!
Only premium users can view it. It doesn't end there. Some of these communities don't lock the topic. They only hide the solutions to the questions.
This way, you have to buy a subscription plan in order to gain access to the quality information/discussions.
Also, Other sets of these communities make everything available to the public but no free user is allowed to create a topic.
You will either buy a subscription plan for that or earn points. Sometimes, points are sold too! These type of membership sites also need lots of users to function well.
Have you ever come across a local club that requires some form of fees to join? This could be a career club, a business club, fitness club etc.
Well, taking that online isn't that difficult and would certainly yield the same results with the local one, if not more.
If you are great at doing something, you could set up a membership club around it for all others like you or those who will love to be like you, to pay a membership fee in order to network with the big guys.
Or you could make it free to join but taking part in your club webinars will be available to only premium members.
Online clubs are powerful and it's not just because of the money but also the networking opportunity.
When you run an effective club like this, you position yourself as an expert in your field and connect with other great minds.
Most times, the essence of being part of a club is to gain some quality contacts of invaluable people who can help catapult your success.
You share ideas, make good business deals or easily get a great job and find solutions to your challenges. You simply help each other out.
It's a great type of membership website you can setup effortlessly as it doesn't require much.
All you have to do is chose a good niche that you are familiar with, setup the site homepage that depicts what it's about, the members area with some interactive features and integrate with a payment processor to handle your membership subscription fees.
How to start your own membership website business
Research and Plan
I could make several suggestions of what you should do but at the end of the day, it may not be what you are passionate about and build your site around what you love is very important.
For instance, I could say you should set up a membership website for fitness, health or fashion lovers (these are profitable niches that most women will pay heavily for) where you either tutor them, mentor them or let them connect with each other but if you are not passionate about these things, you may fail at it.
Well, it's best you build your site around what you already know or what you can easily do but even at that, you should do a brief research on it.
This will help you assess your target market, the demand in the market as well as your competitors.
You will need to analyse the potential and profit-making power of the product or service you intend selling on your site.
Then, you need to treat your membership website like a business. It shouldn't be just your hobby. It's a money-making empire which means you have to plan your way through it. In fact, consider writing a business plan for it.
Planning and outlining how you will set up, launch and manage the business is definitely an important step to put in place.
This should start from your domain name registration, (How many years? How many TLS? Any addons?) your hosting package (How much traffic are you expecting?
Will you need large storage? Would you need shared hosting, Cloud hosting, VPS or a dedicated server?) and so on.
Yes, you could start small with the minimum resources but you still need to have a plan in place on how you would run your site as it grows larger.
Setup your site
This is the step that could scare a complete novice who doesn't have enough money to hire a professional for the job.
Well, there's nothing technical about the process if you know your way around it and I will show you.
They are simply great!), change the nameservers and install a website builder (you can use the free Joomla! CMS on A2 Hosting cPanel), customize/design the site and integrate with a good payment processor (I recommend you use 2Checkout).
The good news? You can register your domain and get a hosting plan with just about $80 (there are free options but I recommend you go for the more expensive options if you have the money.
Free options always come with side effects) and the software (Joomla! CMS) for building your site is absolutely free.
And don't worry about the cost as it is completely worth it due to the profit you will generate in no distant time.
You should take your time to make sure you give your site a good attractive design since the appearance of your site is the first thing your site visitors will notice even before seeing your contents. A bad design will certainly affect your sales.
The fastest and easiest way to set this up yourself will be to follow my step by step practical video and written guide on how I built Ghavoch.com without coding and turned it into a mega business. Here's the complete membership website setup blueprint.
Anything otherwise, you will probably waste a lot of time trying to figure things out. And if you don't want to waste time or you don't have the time to follow my guide and do it yourself, you can still own a profitable membership website and start making good money too. All you have to do is let Lati Codes build it for you.
They are very reliable to get you a website of great quality and they are completely affordable too!
Overall, you can get your site up and running in just a few hours (depending on the type of membership site) – whether you are hiring Lati Codes to build your membership site or you are doing it yourself using my blueprint.
Add your contents
The type of content you add to your site really matters as well as the quality and quantity. An empty website won't help anyone either. So, what do you do?
This should have been planned out already in the first step but then again, there is always room for correction.
Since you must have chosen a good niche and probably researched its market value already, then you will focus on adding quality contents (information, service or product as the case may be) that will be helpful to your audience.
Something, you, yourself would gladly pay for. Depending on the kind of contents, you can search and retrieve quality information from the internet from which you can create your contents.
For instance, if you are looking to build a membership site that has a database of useful premium WordPress themes and plugins, a simple Google search will review a lot of them which you can gain the distribution permission, post and monetize on your site right away. Simply put. If body fitness was my niche, I would;
--Give quality information to help my users keep fit (ranging from diet to exercises, opportunities services or products).
For this method to more effective, I would have to ensure I bring in new quality information regularly. This is because the users may stop renewing their subscriptions if they stop getting the information.
--Upload a large collection of fitness training online tools, materials, videos etc. which will serve as a one spot resources bank for fitness trainers or trainees.
They would gladly pay a subscription fee to gain access to all the useful tools that would help them stay fit.
The tools really don't have to be something physical such as a fitness training equipment. They could just be applications that monitors their training habits, videos to help them learn the best training techniques etc.
--Offer to coach and mentor my users to stay fit. This way, I would only integrate a live chat feature on my site to enable me communicate easily with my users and maybe do a webcam one-on-one coaching or a webinar once a while.
The most important thing is that set a time-frame for my live coaching session and be available to deliver them.
--Make the site a membership club where all fitness freaks would gather to share ideas and help each other out.
It will be more effective if there are a few other things (such as webinars, interactive sessions with public figure fitness freaks etc.) otherwise, people will still not mind paying a good sum just to be a part of a unique club like that.
The key to this method will be to give a free trial membership month during which you would gain as many users a possible before fully implementing your subscription fees once the club kicks off.
--Do an online fitness training with my audience. This great if I want to take things further. Unlike the mentorship and club method, this method actually includes my practical involvement but it's will be done over the internet.
All I will have to do is create a series of training videos or some live webcam training sessions on the site. Users who wants to learn will only have to watch and imitate what I do.
Market your site
To fully monetize your site, you need a good marketing strategy to get your site to your desired audience.
This means a careful and thorough daily promotion of your site only at a place where people who need your information, products or services are found. Marketing your site on any other platform will be a total waste of time.
Whether through paid advertisement, manual publicity or a nice strategy to get other people to market your site for you (for free), you will need to make sure you have a proper (and clearly visible) call to action on your landing pages as well as a good converting sales pitch and this is because, most times, people who need your products might not know they do or might have other options so, you will need to convince them to buy yours.
You overall goal will be to continually create a buzz around your site. Thankfully, you don't need much (except you are building a community kind of membership website) as just a few users will start generating a monthly income for you.
Utilize as many as marketing channels as possible – social media, blogs and forums, email (you can use ConvertKit for your email marketing campaign) etc.
Then, you should also ensure your site is search engine friendly to help you gain some organic visitors. You could also do contests, giveaways or give rewards to your site referrals.
All these will help generate backlinks and in turn, quality traffic for your site. However, do not expect to hit it big overnight as it's a gradual process.
If you have the money, the fastest route will be to do some paid promotion. One good strategy is to find a good social media influencer on twitter and pay him to tweet about your new site.
There are just several options (which I have been doing for my older websites) to choose from and I haven't even fully utilized most of them yet for Ghavoch.com So, don't be in a haste.
Take your time to build your traffic using each medium one step at a time till you have at least 1,000 users of your site making you $10k to $50k monthly assuming your subscription plan is within $10 to $50. Here's how to generate more sales for your business.
You will also need to have a management and maintenance plan. Launching your site alone is not enough. If you are now making money from your site, you will still need to have some form of management if you intend to keep the profit rolling in.
How large is your site? How often will contents be updated? How many customers are you targeting on your site? How long do you think your products will be useful before they go obsolete?
What will you do to keep your customers coming back? How do you plan to keep your customers happy? Are you innovative enough to improve your site on the go? Will you be able to manage the site alone?
These are just a few, of the tons of questions, you will need a clear answer to, but don't let them scare you as it's an online business that could be done by anyone and I'm saying this because I'm currently running my own profitable membership website – Ghavoch.com.
I've managed several others over the years and I'm currently adding more to my collection. Now backed with my ultimate membership website setup guide, you can create your own membership website business with ease.