Issue #376

Sent to members on March 14, 2022

Many Forms Of The Membership Site

The idea of building a membership site has been quite the trend the last several years. There’s a lot of interest… and a lot of people seek to build one.

But, I have also noticed a bit of tunnel vision on what that means and what the possibilities are.

So many people hear that phrase “membership site” and they automatically think (1) online courses, and (2) monthly or annual billing.

And don’t get me wrong… both of those are great. But, they are not the only approaches.

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You do not necessarily need to create a library of online courses or be a “guru” to have a membership site. You don’t necessarily have to do recurring billing, either. And I thought I might shed a little light on some of the possibilies. Just to, perhaps, give you some membership site ideas you might not have thought of yet.

Personally, I think there’s been too much emphasis on online courses in this industry. Too many “gurus” creating them, too many “gurus” teaching other “wannabe gurus” how to make them.. and just an overall cheapening of the idea.

I know that might sound weird coming from a dude who has made a lot of courses. And certainly I’m not saying not to make any. Online education is a growing industry, but today the idea of an “online course” is kinda like the ebook. The idea of an ebook used to be cool and novel, but now most people barely raise an eyebrow over it. The value in these offers has nothing to do with the format anymore, but solely on the value and impact of the information therein.

The average price of online courses has only dropped over the years. It is rare to see online courses go for $997 or $1997 anymore even though we used to see it somewhat often. Now, we live in a world of Udemy and Skillshare. One article from Podia said that, of 132,000 courses in their system, the average price was $137. There was quite the standard deviation, but 89% of all their courses were $350 or less.

This trend in online course pricing led a lot of people into membership sites. After all, instead of selling one big mega-course, you could make a bunch of smaller ones and sell access to the whole library on a monthly or annual basis. Recurring revenue is awesome for business, too.

But, many people got a little “stuck” in that mindset.

The membership site is an AWESOME setup for any blog owner. Frankly, any business with a website. And it goes beyond merely selling a course library or recurring billing.

See, a membership site is ANY site that requires a login to access something. That’s all it is. It could be 100% free and still be a membership site. It could be a one-time payment and still be a membership site. It could even be for services and… as long as people log into their account to do something, it is a membership site.

The whole time people are registering accounts, though, you are:

  • Building a database, a community, and an email list.
  • Giving people a reason to come back and engage.

Some things you could do here include:

Running a service business? You could have your clients get member profiles on your site. In there, they get access to any resources and a support portal. Maybe access to billing, etc. Honestly, doesn’t matter what kind of business this is. Even a local pool service business could do this. Clients could access their member profile to access bonus material about maintaining their pool or ask questions.

Membership site for list building. Instead of just offering “free updates”, some PDF lead magnet or some little video, offer people a free membership for a bunch of different things when they subscribe. Higher value for them, potentially higher engagement for you. You can click here to read more about building your list using a free membership.

Bonus content right on your blog. Instead of feeling compelled to create online courses, what if you just created bonus content to go along with your blog content? Then use that as a way to entice member signup. Many membership platforms for Wordpress allow you to protect parts of a blog post for members only, often using special shortcodes. There’s lots of ways. If they aren’t a member, it will show them a call to action to unlock the bonus. If they are a member, they’ll see the bonus material.

Running a coaching business? Definitely protect any content relevant to your coaching via a membership. Can also set up a special coaching portal where they log into your site for ongoing interaction or to get access to other relevant information.

Selling physical stuff? You can have a membership, too. Increase the value of buying from offering relevant content to customers only. Anytime they buy, they get a login to your site.

Do affiliate marketing? You can probably see where this is going. 🙂 Offering bonuses is great for affiliate revenue and you can offer that via a membership. Could be bonus training, access to special coupon codes, or any number of things.

Point is…

Membership sites are a super smart thing to do for any kind of business… whether online or offline. Most local businesses, if they have any web presence at all, could improve teir systems with use of a membership site. And probably improve business, too.

This isn’t all about online courses. It isn’t all about recurring billing. There’s way more flexibility than that.

If you see the benefit of a membership site for yourself but not sure how to go about it, be sure to get in touch with me. Whether it be something simple or something more advanced… a full site build or just a phone call to toss around some strategy about it… I’m here to help.

Tech Talk

The folks at Gravity Forms have been trying for 13 years, but have finally been able to acquire Gravity(dot)com domain name. Owning a single-word domain associated with their brand is pretty awesome thing for them. They’re not legally allowed to disclose what went into acquiring it, but congrats to them.

Speaking of Gravity Forms, GravityWiz has created something called Entry Blocks that allows you to use the block editor to build tables that show form entries, forms to add/edit entries, etc. It is part of their Gravity Perks suite of addons for Gravity Forms.

Personally, I like Fluent Forms way better than Gravity Forms for ease of use and bang for the buck. But, there’s no doubt that Gravity Forms has way more third-party addons that can be handy in certain scenarios. And, if you wanted user-generated data to display on the front-end, Gravity Forms along with Gravity Perks or even GravityView might be a nice combo.

Elementor 3.6 Beta 3 has introduced something called Flexbox containers. I know this sounds nerdy as hell, but basically it will be a replacement of the “Inner Section” widget, but much easier to use. It will make it easier to do full-page layouts in Elementor and is going to result in more lightweight code. For now, it is only on the beta version. So, if you’re using Elementor, you can enable it under the “Experiments” section in Settings.

Patchstack has issued a whitepaper about WordPress security vulnerabilities in 2021, reporting a 150% increase. 99.31% of all vulnerabilities were due to themes and plugins, not the WordPress core. Of the two, themes were actually the bigger source of problem.

Before you may conclude that WordPress is just becoming a bigger security problem, the same report says that’s not really true. More security professionals are getting involved in the space, so they just find more holes. If anything, this means WordPress is getting MORE secure, not less.

Definitely, WordPress inherently a very secure platform. The issues almost exclusively come from plugins and themes you may be running. So, that’s why it is important to run regular backups, update things regularly, and use secure web hosting.

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