BizSmart Media
Share this!

5 Tips to Starting a Successful Membership Website

In the last few years, I have seen membership subscription websites take the
Internet by storm. Most subscription sites offer their subscriptions for a fee;
however, a handful offer their information for free to anyone who will provide
an email address and name.

The focus of this article will be on the fee-based membership subscription
websites. Back in the Internet dark ages in 1997 or so, everyone expected
everything online to be free of charge. For a few years, as more and more people
purchased computers and chose to be online, that philosophy worked quite well.
Around the year 2000, however, that philosophy began to change. The dot-com bust
was beginning, and many companies realized that continuing to provide their
services or content free of charge wasn’t going to work in the new Internet
marketplace. The fee-for-content phase was beginning, and many were skeptical,
saying the people would never pay for something that was once free.

Now, paying for information online has become the rule, rather than the
exception. Newspapers charge to access their article archives; membership
associations charge to access their membership lists; and membership
subscription websites charge to access the "insider" information that a
particular industry or niche finds vital for success.

I am amazed at the number of membership websites out there that cater to all
interests. Here are some examples:

  • The Janitorial Store
    provides tools and resources on how to open and run a cleaning business.
  • Landlord Support:   helps
    property managers with the challenges of managing and maintaining rental
  • Patterns Patch:  offers
    cross-stitch design patterns to avid cross-stitchers
  • Dog Problems:  teaches you how
    to train your dog to become better behaved.

There are a number of companies providing membership subscription
software and services in the marketplace, and the prices are all over the
board. Two that come highly recommended are
MemberGate, which is a membership
website development company that will host and help you develop your
website, and aMember Professional,
which is software that you purchase and install to help you manage your
membership site.

Integrating a membership website as a key part of your marketing funnel will
be a time-consuming endeavor, but I think you’ll find it worthwhile. Here
are some tips to keep in mind, as you think about launching your own
membership subscription website:

  1. Pick a niche market with which you have some experience and
    . Your audience is paying for your expertise and insight,
    so trying to fake it won’t work.
  2. Talk to members of your target market and evaluate their
    enthusiasm for providing content they want online
    . You may find out
    that they’d prefer the delivery of the content via a different medium.
  3. Determine the size of your market. Are there already some
    products and services available for this market? How does your pricing
    compare? How will they find you? What will be their incentive for
    joining? What sets you apart and makes you different from others
    offering a similar product or service?
  4. Is the information you’re providing readily available offline? 
    If it is, people may not be willing to pay a monthly or yearly
    membership fee to access the information.  However, they may be
    willing to pay for convenience if you bring all of the info together
    under one roof.
  5. Don’t think of a membership subscription website as a "get rich
    quick" effort.
    It will take 3-6 months for you to develop the
    content for and then launch the website, and at least another year to
    build your membership and begin showing a profit.

A membership subscription website can be a phenomenal way to leverage
your expertise and can grow to become a lucrative multiple profit center
for your business. Create your business plan for your site and do the
research up front to determine if this strategy will be a viable profit
center for your business and how you will integrate it into your current

About the Author Donna Gunter

Best-selling author Donna Gunter works with successful business owners who are experts in their fields and established in their industry and are seeking a way to stand out from their competitors. Using her Ideal Clients on Autopilot System©, she helps them determine the exact strategies to generate more qualified leads and better-paying clients with automated systems. This proven system makes all their marketing easier and more effective and they find themselves positioned as the only choice for their clients.

follow me on:

Leave a Comment: