If you’ve thought about starting a membership site – or already have – have you struggled with WHAT to give them?
Have you wondered what to charge them for? Especially considering that you (likely) already provide free content on your blog?
It gets worse when you are in a market where there is real information saturation. There is SO MUCH info out there already that it just escapes you on how you could possibly add any more to it and charge for it.
Well, let me give you something to consider. And I’ll outline it using a case study.
Case Study: PCMech.com
Yes, PCMech.com is my own site. The big technology site that was my start into the realm of online business.
I still run the site, 14 years after I started it. And the site has gone through its ups and downs. Last year, for example, it got hit with Google’s Panda update and the traffic took a pretty significant drop. Don’t worry, its still going strong… but it was about a 40% traffic hit.
These things are just a fact of life on the Internet – especially when you are running dependent on other sites. In this case, while PCMech did have a membership program, things were still overly dependent on Google.
This led me to double down on the membership site component. I started the membership site component of PCMech.com precisely to build a revenue stream which IS NOT advertising.
And it worked. The membership site was doing fairly well.
But, it grew stale. And, there was a period there in 2011 where we had more members letting their accounts expire than we had signing up. We had a retention problem, a conversion problem… and underlying all of that, a communication problem.
It came down to the USP – the unique selling proposition.
In the tech niche especially, WHAT THE HELL do we offer that people would be willing to pay for? There is a literal FIREHOSE of information. We’re in the same niche with the likes of Techcrunch, Mashable, Gizmodo, etc. And, to be honest, those sites clean our clocks when it comes to sheer volume and scope of content. After all, they have full editorial staffs and a huge budget. We don’t. 🙂
It Came To Me Over Dinner With The Family
I was thinking about it one night at the dinner table. Much to my wife’s chagrin, too. She doesn’t always like it when I’m still in business mode during family time. Plus, me talking business over dinner quite frankly bores the snot out of her. 🙂
But, whatever. Ideas strike when they strike. 🙂
The thinking went like this…
At PCMech, we’ve always been good at creating content. Well over 400 issues of the weekly newsletter. Over 6000 blog posts. And this is all just a drop in the bucket when compared to the noise in the marketplace.
And it dawned on me…
My tech crowd doesn’t need more content. They need LESS.
They don’t need more volume. They need a FILTER.
And, so I created THE INSIDER.
The Insider is a brand new, members-only newsletter. To raise the quality, we publish it in PDF format (with potential future plans to offer it in print). And we send it to members each week.
The idea is to bring the “best of the best” to members inside The Insider. We do the legwork, and we compile the best stuff, the most relevant, the stuff which can help them use their computers and technology to best benefit their daily lives…. and we deliver it to their inbox each week.
Not Creation…. Curation
So, here is the model that could potentially work for you, too.
Instead of creating MORE content, put yourself into the position of curator.
The membership site component to PCMech is growing once again. There are further marketing lessons about this whole thing that I can go into later on, but one of the big things this has done is that….
The membership site now has a unique selling proposition.
It now has a reason to exist. When people ask me what we provide to members, the answer is extremely clear. Before, I quite frankly had a hard time answering that question.
Now, in addition to this, I’ve set up a lot of other behind the scenes things (which I can go into later), but the results are…
While I don’t have the exact numbers in front of me, we’ve probably easily brought in over 200 new members since we began the new newsletter.
Another great component to this is that we’re now regularly communicating to members. The Insider comes out weekly, so members now hear from us at least once weekly. That’s huge for retention.
Tools I’m Using
I use the very tools I recommend on this blog to build my own sites. So, what we’re using on PCMech.com is:
And in case anybody is thinking it is difficult creating a PDF newsletter, all I did was create a template in iWork Pages (on the Mac). I create the newsletter in there and export to PDF. If I was on Windows, I’d just use Word. There are some killer templates for both that you can use and modify.
I might also remind you about Ryan Lee’s mini-course called NanoContinuity. I still recommend this program to people who are interested in building membership sites with smaller price points. The PCMech membership program is pretty much a “nano continuity” program, even though the price is a bit over the $5/month price point.
Lastly, if you’re interested in technology and learning new tools you can use in your daily life… plus some geekery on how to fix things, etc….. perhaps YOU want to check out out PCMech Insider program. Click here to learn more.
Any ideas on how you can apply this to your own business?