You’ve probably heard of Marie Forleo. Marie was struggling in the corporate world and feeling like there was something more out there for her when she established her online coaching community. What started as an online membership business idea is now a multi-million dollar online training program with an audience spanning 195 countries.
You know what you and Marie have in common? You both had an idea. Now it’s time for you to build your membership business.
A membership business can allow you to monetize and grow your following and build steady, predictable income for your business. You have to start, just like Marie did. This post will cover choosing the right membership business model for you, finding the tools that make it easier, and outsourcing the work others can do for you.
What are Membership Websites?
There are a lot of membership business model ideas out there. At the core of it, a membership is a product or service that people pay to use, typically monthly. But more than that, a membership website is where people go to feel a sense of community. Your members come to you for what you have to offer and build ties with one another in the membership community.
As a result, you will build a loyal audience, and your members will become your biggest fans.
Life as a solopreneur can be lonely, but creating a membership allows you to be in touch with your customers as often as you’d like.
Plus, members are an audience of warm leads, which means they’re more likely to buy your other products and services in addition to paying for the subscription.
Examples of Membership Businesses You Can Run Solo
There are a lot of subscription-based businesses out there. To see what a membership site looks like in action, check out the Paid Memberships Pro customer showcase. Here are some membership business examples that can easily be part of your solo business venture.
As a blogger, you’ve likely already built up an audience for your writing and may even have a sizable subscriber base. Creating a membership around your blog content allows you to monetize your work. You can create exclusive content for your members or give them behind-the-scenes access to your writing and research process, so they can learn how you do what you do.
With blogging memberships, you can create more in-depth content, such as posts, e-books, or any other format you’d like.
As with your regular blog content, keeping a regular publication schedule with your membership content is essential.
Darren Rowse may be one of the best examples of a blogger who made it big. Darren launched his blog in 2002 after reading another blog he liked. As he learned, he came up with the idea to share what he was figuring out on his own with others. Today, Rowse is the proud owner of ProBlogger, which is considered the resource on blogging for profit. His passion blog, Digital Photography School, also is profitable.
If your company of one is as a coach, or you’re a solo founder looking to share your expertise (think Marie Forleo), you’re probably looking for a way to scale that income. Sure, one-on-one clients are great, but creating a course can help you reach more people while you earn more. A course allows members to access the content at any time, which mitigates any scheduling conflicts and allows you to connect with people all over the world.
Plus, you don’t have to get rid of one-on-one sessions if you don’t want to. You can always create a higher tier in your membership that gives your members direct access to you. The key is to think about your time and how many people you can have in this tier without overworking yourself.
Groups and Networking
Did you know you can create a membership just for the community? If your audience is looking for places to network and meet new people to build professional connections, consider creating a community just for that.
A member directory and online forums are beneficial features for people to get to know one another. Plus, you could facilitate monthly group calls for the community to connect and learn more about other members.
The plus side of this sort of membership is that the members create a lot of the content in the form of community engagement. You’ll be there to prompt discussion, but the members will take the reins and run.
Youpreneur is a great example of a niche membership community. Chris Ducker created the community for solopreneurs who wanted to launch their personal brands. It’s grown from an idea to a vibrant community and thriving business.
You can create a membership around your content if you’re a podcaster. Your audience will be happy to pay for exclusive content, like some of the conversations left on the cutting room floor when you edited the episode. And you can easily create members-only episodes.
Many content creators let their members get exclusive access to episodes before the wider public can hear them. If you create a podcasting membership, make sure you choose a membership WordPress plugin like Castos that offers all the features you need to make a member’s only podcast feed.
There are a ton of amazing podcasters out there to use as examples, but worth mentioning here is Amy Porterfield’s podcast, “Online Marketing Made Easy.” Amy teaches solopreneurs like you to create active email lists and popular online training, and she built her own empire doing it.
Another membership business model you may want to try is an influencing model. This model is perfect if you have a large social media following and want to share content with your audience without having to fight the algorithm..
You can share any content you’d like and give your members behind-the-scenes content they won’t get on social media.
And if you work with brands, you may be able to give your members special discount codes for those brands in addition to the content you create.
You don’t have to look far to find an example of an influencer. You probably follow some yourself on Instagram or TikTok.
What to Tackle at the Start
Feeling inspired? We certainly hope so! Before you jump into creating your membership business, there are some steps you need to take. You may think that you know exactly where your business stands, but it’s important to take a step back and assess.
Even though you are the only person in your company, taking some time to analyze and plan can help you see the big-picture you tend to miss when dealing with the day-to-day tasks of the business.
The following suggestions can help you research and plan your membership business so you have a competitive advantage:
- Complete a S.W.O.T analysis. Determine your strengths and weaknesses and the opportunities and threats to your company. This analysis will help you get a good idea of where your business stands.
- Set short- and long-term goals. Based on the size of your audience, set goals for how many subscribers you’d like to have at the membership launch and within a year. Setting goals can help you formulate a plan for what you’ll need to do to hit those goals.
- Determine your membership offerings. Think about what kind of exclusive content or perks you can offer. Keep your audience’s needs in mind and how much time you’ll need to create these offerings.
- Complete market research. Take some time to visit online forums in your niche to get an idea of how many people are interested in your membership idea. This research will help you set better goals and choose a membership site business model that fits your audience’s needs.
Create an initial business plan. Put your SWOT analysis, goals, membership offerings, and market research into a business plan. It will likely change as your membership evolves and grows, but your initial business plan will help you stay on track during the early days of your membership business.
Freelance Work You Can Hire Out
Running a membership business will take time and energy. But even if you’re a company of one, you don’t necessarily have to do everything yourself. Consider outsourcing the work you don’t need to do. That way, you can focus on the tasks that really matter in your business and give them your full attention.
Hire freelancers for:
- Graphic design. Hire a contractor to create your logo and any other graphics you’ll need for your membership site.
- Site page copywriting. Product descriptions, landing, and sales pages can all be written by a copywriter to save you time.
- Blog writing. Rather than spend your time writing blog posts, hire a contractor to do that for you. Many blog writers can capture your tone and voice just by looking at a few of your past posts.
- SEO work. Search Engine Optimization will keep bringing in new customers and potential members to your website for years to come. Hiring someone to make sure your SEO game is on point will pay off in the long run.
- Website development. A developer can help you create a unique website experience your members won’t find anywhere else while also saving you the work and hassle of doing it yourself.
- Video editing. If you offer exclusive video content to subscribers or include videos in your online course, you can hire someone to edit for you to save time.
- Social media management. There is never enough time to check all the social platforms and create unique content for each. But if you hire someone to do it for you, you’ll benefit from posting without losing your time.
The key to success with a membership-based business model as a solopreneur is to take back your time where you can. Take advantage of the resources you have to delegate these tasks.
Helpful Tools and Programs to Save You Time
As a company of one, finding the right tools to help you build your membership business is crucial to your success. You don’t have to choose expensive softwares and spend hours learning how to use them.
Some tools we recommend are:
- Canva. Create graphics and videos easily with Canva’s templates for all major social media platforms.
- Zapier. Connect different plugins and software and automate aspects of your membership using Zapier.
- Pressable. Managed WordPress hosting with Pressable means your site will run smoothly.
- A logo maker. Creating a custom logo for your business or membership site can be simple with templates or logo generators.
- WordPress full-site editing themes. Easily manage the look of your membership site with block-based site editors.
- Membership plugins. Offer a unique experience no matter your membership business model with a free plugin like Paid Memberships Pro and all our AddOns.
Looking to start creating graphics, videos, and voice content for your membership site? This cheatsheet shares the top 10 free tools we use to create rich media at PMPro. Use these tools to create rich media content like PDFs, commercials, audiograms, blogs, social graphics, and more.
Ready to Build Your Membership Business?
Are you ready to be the next Marie Forleo, Darren Rowse, or Amy Porterfield? Does the idea of helping people while building a business that matters excite you? If so, it’s time to launch your membership business. If you’re ready to take steps toward building a membership to serve your community and grow your business, sign up with Paid Memberships Pro today.