About three years ago membership websites were hot. Everybody was adding one to their blog and everybody was making money hand-over-fist… or so they said. Turns out, those membership sites weren’t really as “hot” as everybody said they were and a lot of their members demanded their money back or just never bothered paying for the second month. Here are five “selling points” about membership websites that we now know are nothing but myths.
Anybody Will Buy At Any Price If It’s Exclusive
The idea that something is “exclusive” always makes it more valuable, look at the price you have to pay to join an exclusive country club. However, the idea that everybody will be standing in line to join your membership site – at any price – because you’re offering exclusive content has two problems: The price and the exclusivity of your content.
These days, exclusive content published on the Web stays exclusive for about 5 minutes. As soon as it’s published it’s picked up by other blogs and websites and within minutes it’s all over the Internet. Most readers know this. The fact that “Just Google It” is now part of our daily speech proves it.
Webmasters who create their own digital products have been dealing with this issue for years. They write a new ebook, sell it for $99 for a week, and after that they can’t give it away because it’s been posted in every forum and chat room for free.
The information you’re providing doesn’t necessarily have to be unique and one-of-a-kind. Your “exclusivity” may be in the way you present the information. For example, you could create a series of How-To videos in your own unique style.
But the fact is, while it’s not impossible to create exclusive content that’s only visible if someone has paid to join your membership site, it takes a lot of work and creativity, and you really need to create high-value unique content that’s relevant for your members if you expect them to pay to see it.
Just Set It And Forget It
This is another old myth – All you have to do is set up your membership site and forget it. Once people see how awesome it is they’ll tell their friends and soon you’ll have people beating down your doors.
Of course, this is assuming your membership site really is wonderful – which most weren’t. And it also assumes that no one is ever going to tell any of the secrets they learned on your site, thus quickly spreading your ideas all over the Web, killing that idea of “exclusivity.”
They’re A Promotional Tool
“Once you get people to join you can start promoting your back-end products and you can up-sell them your consulting program and you can sell them…”
You can only use it as a promotional tool if you can A) Get people to join and B) Keep them interested. Again, this all requires top-quality, high-value content that’s exclusive to your site.
They Work In Any Niche
Back in the day the guys selling the software and the “How-To” guides said that membership sites would work in any niche. And they certainly will – as long as you find a way to add value and exclusivity. These are the only two reasons people will pay for content. It must provide exceptional value and it can’t be something they can find lying around for free. If you can meet those two requirements, then by all means, start a membership site.
They’re Easy To Set Up
While the software today is a little more robust and easier to use than it was a few years ago, it’s still not a walk in the park to set up one of these sites. Especially if you’re offering different membership levels that each include their own set of up-sells and down-sells. It’s still very easy to confuse your members and that’s not something you want to do.
Before you set up a membership website think about what you’d be billing to pay for. Chances are, if you know how to get it for free your readers do, too, and they’re not going to be happy if you ask them to pay for it.