How Can You Set Up A Monthly, Recurring Membership Site Subscription?

This episode will likely get the gears going and generate some ideas for you on how you could set up a monthly recurring subscription program for your blog.

Episode #126 | Episode Date: October 21, 2015

OK, let’s be real… all this talk about membership sites lately here on CBB, and what really makes it “sexy” is the monthly recurring revenue. I’ve made it clear that a membership site can be used in many other ways, but people REALLY like that monthly recurring revenue.

So, how can you do it? What can you offer that justifies a monthly subscription?

We’ll discuss:

  • The one simple rule that you must follow to sell a subscription and keep them from cancelling
  • The 5 things people will pay the MOST money for
  • Examples of how to build these 5 things people buy into your membership
  • 2 key factors of delivery to keep your members around
  • How I deliver monthly content to my own members
  • How to go about building a member community
  • How to do what I call “outsourced thinking” and charge for it

This episode will likely get the gears going and generate some ideas for you on how you could set up a monthly recurring subscription program for your blog. I hope it does, because this kind of business model is the “holy grail” of online business.

Once you’ve set this up, you’ll find there’s no more preferable way to go. 🙂

Now, in these past several episodes that we are talking about here on CBB right now; we are talking about membership sites and various aspects of memberships sites. And with that in mind we are going to jump right in to the core of it right now, which is specifically how to set up a recurring membership because I know this one can be confusing for people. People get the idea of buying a course or buying an eBook or something like that; but when it comes to recurring monthly billing people many times will get a little confused as to what they can do there because you are under to that pressure every single month to deliver something to your members that they actually will want to pay for on a monthly basis. And we are going to talk a little bit about that here in this episode.

Realizing The Benefits Of It

You have probably realize by now the benefits of recurring revenue. And I really do think that most online business owners should find a way to build recurring revenue into their business. First of all, that recurring revenue provides predictable revenue which is a really big deal when it comes to cash flow. You do not want to be out there constantly wondering whether you can have a hard time paying your bills. You want to know that every single month you can depend on a certain baseline of revenue. And that anything else you might be doing at the time because of some marketing campaign or what have you, is basically gravy on top of that if you have got that baseline revenue which is formed by your monthly recurring revenue. Or it could be annual. If you have annual members that is fine too, and you can work out the accounting on that; divided by twelve and you kind of have a net monthly, so you can still kind of have that baseline. But it’s great to have that recurring revenue.

The other thing is that it reduces your pressure to make continual sales. I mean, you are still; as a business owner, still are going to want to constantly get new sales. So that is never going to go away, but reduces that pressure because you have got that baseline revenue. If you know that you are not going to have a hard time paying your baseline bills for the month, then you don’t have to push quite as hard on your sales or your marketing campaigns. Now, obviously you always want to get revenue up and all that, that never goes away. But it is just nice to know that when you have some marketing promotion that you are going to be doing that your livelihood does not depend on its outcome. It is just kind of nice to know.

Now if you have ever looked at the chart of how recurring can build up, it really is something how it can build up. Let us say it is $20 a month for a membership and you are going to have people coming in, you are going to have people canceling; that is just part of it, but when you work those numbers, that $20 sale can turn in to a really nice monthly revenue stream. And you just work those numbers. It is basically simple math, you know… How many members you need in order whatever your income target is… And then you have to take into account people who are falling off or cancelling… If you have a 5% monthly turnover rate or 5% of your members are cancelling every month, then you just want to make sure that you are bringing in at least that amount of new members every month to make up for it or obviously you want to bring more than that so you have got actual growth.

It is a numbers game and it actually makes business a lot more fun but also a lot more predictable. And it is just a much better business model in the long term. It is a lot more sustainable. And launches are sexy. People hear these stories of huge launches with lots of revenue. Well, that is great and all. But you all talk to many of those gurus who have done those big million dollar launches; they will tell you straight up, it is like a crack-hit. You are still addicted to the drugs but it is like a crack-hit. You need it to pay your bills and pay your staff but then a few months later you are like, “Holy crap we need to bring in some money here! We are just going to run out.” It is no way to run a business.

Valuable Deliverables

Let us get in to actually, like, delivering a recurring membership. What are you going to deliver to give them a recurring membership? What are you going to provide to justify that recurring expense to your members? Well, the big key here, and it is real obvious when I say it; the big key here is to make sure that you are giving them more value every single month than what you are asking them to pay; really easy, right? The big thing there, though, is that it needs to be more than what they are being asked to pay from their perspective, not yours.

You might think that what you are providing is really valuable, but if you are not properly communicating that value or they are not seeing that value for one reason or another, that is a problem. So, THEY need to see that you are giving them more value every single month than what you are asking them to pay. And then they will stick around. And I say this for people who think that it is just much more difficult to sell a recurring membership. But I have heard that, I had thought of it for a long time, to be honest with you. But then, let us get off the internet and look at the real world and that all of us are paying recurring monthly bills all the time; happily so, in many cases. Some of them are for baseline utilities like electricity.

You will not like to stop paying your electric bill, right? You want electricity. Then you look at your cellphone; you are paying monthly for that and you are happy to pay a little bit more monthly for that phone in order to not pay for the phone upfront at the beginning of the contract, right? So instead of paying $800 or 900 for a phone you might pay $100 or 2 or 3 hundred dollars but the exchange for that is you are paying more on your monthly bill. And most people will do that happily.

Probably you are buying something like Amazon Prime or NetFlix or your cable TV which is definitely not; well depending on your viewpoint, it is not a basic necessity of life to have cable television. You are doing it because you want it. It gives you more value for you, than what you are paying. And that is the case on all of it. And if you can situate your membership program to where it works the same way; to where it they see that they are getting more value every single month than what you are asking them to pay, they not only will join a recurring monthly program but they will stick around for a while.

5 Things People Will Pay For

So let us look at what will people actually pay for? What are the big categories here that people will pay more money for that people assign value to them? I want to give you 5 different things here… Five different general categories that people will generally pay more money for.


People will pay to reduce the amount of time that is going to take them to do something. They will pay for a shortcut. They will pay to make things easier. Now, this is the big one for those of us who are in the recurring membership or information business because… let us be real, there is a lot of information out there on the internet. There is no shortage of it, none of us are suffering from a lack of information. But yet, people will still buy it and they prove that time and time again. Now, is it because you are fooling them and they do not think it is available for free? Nah! They are not stupid people! They realize they can go to YouTube and watch those videos and stuff. It depends on the subject matter, obviously; but here is what they are really buying… They are really buying the structure behind it because it provides speed plus convenience.

You could probably listen to podcast like this, watch a crap load of YouTube videos, read blogs for the next few years; and if you are an action taker on top of that, you could probably build an online business. And you could do without buying anybody’s course. That being said, it is going to take you a heck of a lot longer. Not only that, you probably are going to be highly confused very often. And it is because as much free information is out there, it is generally on a much unstructured format, hard to find, generally kind of annoying. Whereas if you get into a course, it is all laid out to you in a chronological way, very clear, and that provides speed plus convenience. So keep that in mind.

And when it comes to your membership, you want to provide speed plus convenience. Keep in mind too, that that can translate into higher value things. Like instead of giving them a course it could be a series of checklists or templates or things that they look at and they go, “This is an obvious shortcut.” That is what you want. You want them to realize that they are getting shortcuts, like being a member of your program. And however you can provide that, you are going to be golden.


Doing something for them; removing a pain from their lives by simply doing it for them. Now this will be different in every business. Not everybody who is here right now is going to see a clear path to a “done for you” service of some kind. The other side of it is that maybe you just do not want to do it. I mean, I understand. I could provide a service where I design people’s blogs for them; I just don’t want to do it, so I wouldn’t. But think about it in terms of whatever business, whatever market you are in, there is some level of done for you service that you can provide on top of that. You are going to have the highest value placed on that type of a thing, by the way. This is why SEO companies can charge quite a lot of money every month. It is because these business owners do not understand SEO and the SEO companies come in and say “We will do it for you.” They will remove that pain. So it works and they pay for that monthly recurring basis. That can work really well in a membership program.


People will buy something which is going to elevate them beyond their peers; which is going to make them look good in the eyes of their peers. And people will buy that. Now there are a lot of different ways you can do “status” and you kind of rake it in. You can do gamification inside of your membership program where there are different levels inside the membership… Not so much about what they pay for, but things that they might have accomplished. Just off the top of my head; I don’t have this inside the Blog Monetization Lab, but if I have something inside of the Lab that took in to account how much of the training they have gone through but also what results they have had on their business and what wins they have achieved and I have some system in place where they check those things off and it elevates their status, then that will be a great thing. If there is something that they can show on the outside; like give them a t-shirt or something, something that has a community bonding around it, that can help bring people in as well.


Now this sometimes goes along with the idea of speed plus convenience, but it is the idea of, if you are in a market where you can give something to somebody that it is going to make them be able to probably have higher results than other people who are not in the program, then they are going to want that because it gives them a competitive advantage. That can be like a secret weapon to them. And that goes along with status as well because then these people are going to have elevated status in their own communities and they are going to be like, “Yeah, I have your secret weapon” and that can be your membership program. Now obviously it is going to depend on what business you are in on how you can deliver that or if you are going to be able adequately deliver that. But that is definitely something that people will pay for.


The access to probably, “you”; if you are the instructor. If they have a higher level of access to you; the ability to get on the phone with you or to ask you questions, people will pay for that. It is a strange thing on the internet, these days. Everything has gotten a lot more dehumanized and anonymous and I think people do crave a little bit more one on one contact. People work better that way when they have got a mentor in whatever it is they are trying to accomplish, somebody to help keep them out of trouble and keep them on the line. And if you could provide a level of that with your membership on an ongoing basis, you can build that into your recurring membership.

Things To Keep In Mind

Now all of that said and done, you got to keep a couple of things in mind here for a recurring program…

The first one is that VALUE has to keep coming to them; at least not come to them in just one big spurt when they join and then it is kind of like downhill from there. You are going to have to consistently deliver it.

The second thing is that you need to ENSURE THAT THEY ACTUALLY USE IT. They got to consume the value of the program. Otherwise, they are going to see that bill coming every month and they are going to be like, “Eh, I am not getting any value from that.” It does not mean that your membership is not much more valuable than what you are asking them to pay but if they are not actually utilizing it then to them it is not more valuable. They rather have their money. And so you have got to put systems in place to get them consuming and attending and actually utilizing the benefits of your membership.

Let us talk a little bit about structure here of a recurring. This is my favorite structure; this is how actually the way Blog Marketing Academy works. And this is where you can get material for a recurring program. So it works like this, it is very simple…

You create products on a routine basis. In my case, they are the Action Plans that I sell. Now, it would be different in the context of your business but you need to prioritize “delivery.” Do not prioritize writing more blog posts for free. You need to prioritize delivery to your customers. So you need to make and actually schedule it out; make a priority out of creating deliverables to your paying customers. Now you set it up and you schedule that when you do this you can release a new product every single month.

Now, the way that it works then is that; using your membership software you could sell that product each month as its own thing if you wanted to, but then you have a global membership level that will include all of it. Okay? This is my favorite approach to a membership. So put it in the context of the Blog Marketing Academy… I have got several Action Plans; many Action Plans that are available at the Blog Monetization Lab. Now, a few of them are available to be purchased when you are not a Lab member. There are a few of them out there where I offer a special deal so you can get just that one Action Plan. So they are front end products, but the thing is that all of them are included in the Blog Monetization Lab. But of course, if you buy one of my Action Plans by itself, you better believe you are going to get an up-sell into the Blog Monetization Lab in order to get all of them. That is how the system works. So you can sell these things separately as a front end product which if you go to the way the sales funnel works; it works beautifully, and then your core offer in this case is going to be the membership itself where they get all of them.

Now, by doing it this way and by just prioritizing delivery, you are going to be creating a new product every single month at least for a little while. I mean, maybe you will get to a certain point where after a year or two years you have got that many products you just start letting your older members kind of fall off the radar and you start focusing on the newer ones and you set things up on a drip feed if you want to, where they get things over time and you do it that way. I mean, you set this up the way you want… It is your membership program. But that is a structure that I like a lot. I create at least one new Action Plan every single month for my members. And then they all go in to the membership; that is what they are paying for, and then of course, there are additional values.

Now another one that is really great for a recurring program is BUILDING-IN A SENSE OF COMMUNITY. Now in my case I do this for the private Facebook Group and I know there are a lot of other memberships doing it the same way. Some people are trying to setup forums or even make a forum the main value of the membership. I am not a big fan of that. Having paid forums are a lot more difficult than you probably realized. They are a lot more difficult. And if you do not have some other forms of value in there; if the main value the people are buying is a forum membership, they are probably not going to be that interested. But generally speaking, I look at a community as a value add onto the main guts of what they are buying which is the content and training and that type of stuff itself; then you have the community there as a support mechanism and do it that way… Because the community is constantly going; that provides a recurring benefit to the program as well.

Another great way to do it is to CREATE NEW TOOLS FOR YOUR MEMBERS ON AN ONGOING BASIS. Now, again, going back to what I was saying earlier, people love shortcuts… They love things that are going to give them a competitive advantage. One of the best ways to do that is to provide something which is literally a tool to get it done. Now that tool could be digital in terms of a checklist or a system or something like that; but it could be something better like software or something, if you have got that capability. You can hire somebody who create some software that enables your members to do something and you give that to them.

I think of the WishList Insider Program that goes along with WishList Member… I do not know if they are still doing it; but for the longest time they would create a custom WordPress plug-in every single month and give it to their active WishList Insider Members. It is beautiful. I stuck around that program a long time just for that! But you could take it into account itself if you are in like maybe like a crafts business and you have got a membership for people who are interested in some type of crafts, maybe you could provide templates to them or stencils or what have you and do it every single month. I mean something like that. What can you provide them in terms of ongoing tools and shortcuts every single month?

Another thing that you could do is ongoing curation or what I like to just call “OUTSOURCE THINKING” to your members. This works especially well when you are in the field where the members are interested in doing something but they just don’t have time in their day to keep track of all the happenings; but that is your job and so you can curate it for them. For example, if you are talking to an audience of stock traders; you will see a lot of these people will pay a recurring program to have highlights that would affect stock prices or maybe even stock picks in different trading recommendations.And they will pay for that and it is because those members may not understand all the ins and outs of the market or they just do not have time to pay attention and so they pay on an ongoing basis in order to basically outsource their thinking to you.

And so you could put that in the context with many other different markets as well where there is a lot happening and one of the values that you are doing is providing that curation; that outsource thinking to them and you can do that on a recurring basis.

So this episode is getting a little long here for a coffee break so we are going to go and wrap it up at this point. But I hope you got some real value and some real ideas there on how you can set up a recurring membership site. We are going to talk more about that coming up here; the next episode we are going to talk about how to actually signup new members to a program, how you are going to sell them into a monthly recurring. But I want you to get your mind going around what could you actually provide to people on a recurring basis… How valuable can you make it? And then you start playing with what your monthly price point is going to be in relation to that. All keeping that key fundamental equation in mind; is that you need to give them more value; obvious more value than what you are asking them to pay every single month.

Alright, we will end it here… Thank you and I will see you next time! 😉