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What To Put Into Your Membership Site (Free Versus Paid)

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This is part 2 of 4 of a series on Membership Sites & Recurring Income.

Pretty much anything you might think of releasing as a standalone product could very easily be released into a membership site. In fact, any form of content could go in there. Blog posts, videos, ebooks, etc.

I think a lot of people (especially beginners) tend to think about the ebook when it comes to product offerings. The problem with ebooks is that the perceived value has dropped since so many people now do it. Depending on your niche, there are a lot of ebooks being given away as opt-in bribes. This makes the power of a PAID ebook diminished. Many people’s hard drives are littered with PDFs they haven’t yet read.

So, a great solution to that is to use a membership site instead. In fact, what many people might not have realized is that a membership site does NOT have to be a monthly billing cycle. It could simply me a one-time payment, and instead of sending them an ebook, you give them access to a membership site.

The key to the content for your membership site is simple: Make it useful and design it to get a result for your member. Whatever your niche is looking for, solve it for them inside the member’s area.

The Common Confusion – Free Versus Paid

There’s a good chance that any membership site you start is going to be in the same niche as your main blog. The plan would be to use your blog as a traffic generator and lead generator, then refer people into your membership site from there.

The obvious question that comes up, then, is this: What do you give away for free and what do you keep for members only?

There are many ways to go with this. One common approach is the idea of blogging about the “why”, and teaching them the “how” inside the membership site. Another way is to give them some how-to on the public side, but tell them you have a more detailed tutorial (and perhaps even a video) inside the member portal. Also, blogs tend to be fairly random, whereas part of the value of your membership site could be the structure and the simplification.

The other thing to keep in mind is that membership sites don’t have to be just about content. In fact, the best ones are NOT just about content. You can also offer enhanced access to YOU for members only, forums where people can interact with like-minded people.

My Inner Circle is an example. This blog is obviously designed to refer people into that program (just look at the top menu). This public blog has quite a bit of stuff in there. The major “sell” of the Inner Circle is the enhanced access to me (via live webinars and group calls) as well as the group interaction (via the forums and a private email group). Members can even schedule calls privately with me once per month. So, it is all about increased ACCESS, not simply content.

Think About Content Structure

Sometimes, a big part of members-only content is not necessarily just what you say, but HOW. See, blogs are usually full of noise and it is harder to learn and get things done.

When you create member content, you want to work to make it digestible so as to get results. Videos are great for this. Screencast videos are nice. I also recommend multiple formats in order to suit people’s learning styles. For example:

  • A video
  • The audio of that video (in MP3)
  • A transcript of that video (in PDF)

Doing this increases the real value to the member by allowing them to take it in whatever form is most convenient. It also increases the perceived value and that’s good for price justification.

Lastly, make sure to take a bird’s eye view of your presentation and make it easy to follow. Make sure people don’t log into your membership site and go cross-eyed. Some ways to go about this are:

  • Quick start videos
  • Checklists on what to do and when.
  • Category or module-based structure.

I previously mentioned WP Drip as a way to “drip” content to your members. This is the reason why I recommend drip content. Because you don’t want to overwhelm new members, so it is best to distribute stuff to them on a pre-determined schedule that gives them time to digest and process what you’re giving them. Plus, drip content automates your site a lot more and also keeps members around longer.

Next in the series, I’ll be discussing ways to get new members. So, stay tuned. 🙂

This is part 2 of 4 of a series on Membership Sites & Recurring Income.


  1. Vikk Simmons says:

    Great ideas here, David. Sometimes it’s hard to see that going “simple” offers the most value. It’s always good to be reminded. Many thanks to you and your BlogMaster Club and Inner Circle. Both have helped me greatly. Heck, even your free Blueprint for Success is an incredible value. And the Inner Circle is really becoming a fantastic resource. Looking forward to the future. 

    1. David Risley says:

      Thanks, Vikk. 🙂

  2. Arelthia says:

    This really helped me because I have been struggling to determine what to put in my membership site and what to put on my blog or Youtube. I don’t want to give it all away for free but I want to show what I have to offer.

    1. David Risley says:

      Glad it helped. If you have any followup questions about it, feel free to post them. 🙂

  3. Wishlist Products released their own “true drip” plugin yesterday. While it is not as sophisticated as WP-Drip from Robert Plank, it looks as though it will provide a good solution for many Wishlist Member site owners. I’ll be doing a direct comparison soon.

    David, I also wanted to say that I find your blog here to be very inspiring 😉  In fact, I’ve decided to start my own blog on my topic (membership sites) and I’ve found about 5 bloggers including you, who I am using for inspiration and I am closely following what they do and how they structure their business and revenue models.

    So thanks for your site and keep doing what you’re doing – you rock!

    1. David Risley says:

      Thanks, Steve. 🙂

      Yeah, I talked with Stu over at Wishlist about their new plug-in. It sounds great. But, yeah, it doesn’t do as much as WPDrip. That includes the ability to drip pages, which is important since Optimizepress works primarily based on pages.

      The Wishlist plug-in is designed to be super-easy, while WPDrip is much more powerful.

  4. Mk Akan says:

    Dave, very helpful post here…will be following the series closely..just one quick question …i noticed you had 3 plugins ..wp drip , wishlist and optimize press….recommended ..do i need these 3 tools to work out a great membership site…
    thank you

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