6 Secrets of a Successful Membership Site

A membership site is where a customer pays you a monthly or annual fee to gain access to the content you deliver on a monthly basis. The great part about membership sites is that you can build monthly recurring income, which means less launching every month. This means less stress and freedom too.

[Check out this post for everything I learned in TRIBE]

Once you gain enough members, you might find it is a lot more fun to run your business because you know your expenses are covered. Membership sites are truly for people who want to make a big impact and reach a lot of people. You may not want to do as much one-on-one consulting or individual coaching, but you like teaching.

For me, I wanted to do more training internationally online and less one-on-one consulting.

Here are a few tips I learned while building a successful membership site.

The 6 Secrets of a Successful Membership Site

Running a membership site is not easy and it’s not for everyone. If you decide you’d like the benefits of having your own membership site, these tips will make sure your membership site is set up to succeed as quickly as possible.

1. Create a Content Calendar

Your success depends on your content calendar. There are many different options to consider when creating your content calendar. Do you like creating content on a consistent basis or do you want to create content once? Do you enjoy setting up automation in your business so that you don’t have to continue creating content over and over?

For example, one of our membership sites, Corporate Rescue Plan, has a content calendar where we deliver brand new content on a weekly basis. I am on the hook to have something new that will help our members start and grow their businesses each week. I batch this ahead of time and try to create 3 months worth of content in 2 days. This is called the Publisher membership site.

Our other membership site, Love Your Career Formula, is a modular/mastery format where I deliver content on a weekly basis, but it’s all automated. There’s not much work for me because I have already created the training once and it’s automatically delivered to our members on a weekly basis. I can deliver the content out to our members over 2-3 years.

I also hold a weekly FB Live in Corporate Rescue Plan because the community is our #1 priority and the reason people join and stay. This is different from our  Love Your Career Formula. Our members in Love Your Career Formula don’t utilize or need the community as much.

You have to evaluate the needs of incoming members. Q&A is a lot more important for CRP, but no one shows up when I do Q&A’s in Love Your Career Formula. Our retention rate actually increased when I stopped holding Q&A’s in Love Your Career Formula because our members weren’t overwhelmed with content.

Less work for me, and a greater retention rate…sounds great to me!

Note: Everything I know about membership sites I learned from Stu Mclaren, creator of the Tribe Course. This course only opens 1-2 times per year. If you are interested in membership sites, you definitely want to sign up for his course. He’ll be making it available at the beginning of August, so stay tuned to our website for more information. I have taken what he has taught me over the last 6 months and have used it to successfully grow our membership from 100 to 470 members! 

Stu has a free workshop going on right now through May 9th. Register here now.

2. Hire a Team or An Assistant

You need someone to help you out. I had a membership site called the Get Ahead Club that I had to close in 2014. I was a couple of months away from giving birth to my daughter and I was stressed because I didn’t have anyone to help me out. I wasn’t setting up myself to succeed.

I highly recommend having someone available to help you with answering emails, questions, community engagement, monitoring your payment processor, and designing images.

Figure out your strengths and what you are most excited about doing in the membership site, then fill in gaps around you to help you grow. You’ll overwhelm yourself if you try to run and grow a membership site by yourself. You’ll hit the point where you can’t get any new members because you are working so hard on keeping your current members happy. This is the point that you’ll start to plateau and you won’t be able to grow.

3. Ongoing Problem and Success Path

Your membership site needs to solve an ongoing problem that your members have. Not all topics are good for membership sites. Some topics should be a short online course instead. For example, if I was learning how to make pancakes, I’d take a course because I won’t need to keep getting information about making pancakes on a monthly basis for a year, right?

But, if the topic was how to cook healthier, and every month you helped me by providing new ideas and recipes, that’s something I would be interested in using for a long period of time. You’d create a success path for me to see what I needed to do to keep eating healthier and feeling better, and you’d keep me looking forward to reaching the end.

In Corporate Rescue Plan, we teach you how to start and grow a business and there is always something to learn when you are growing a business, so it’s an ongoing need that never stops. In Love Your Career Formula, we teach our members how to determine their ideal career and develop leadership skills once they are in their dream job. There’s always something else about career development and leadership that people can learn.

If you just need resume tips, we have that in a short online course. You can take that and be done in a week, but in our membership site, we want to help people through their entire careers. That can last for years and years and years, which is how we have designed our membership site.

Think about an ongoing problem that your customer has and how you can continue to solve their problem on an ongoing basis.

4. Develop a Marketing Plan

You need to have a solid marketing and launch strategy. This is a mistake I made in the beginning because I didn’t have a good plan and I was scared to launch. Now, thanks to Stu’s TRIBE course, I am no longer scared of launching. Actually, I LOVE IT!

We now like to have some sort of launch every quarter of the year. At the beginning of the year, we set up our marketing and launch calendar for the whole year.

You’ll also have to decide if your membership site is going to open and close the cart or if you’ll always have it open. A big launch usually does well because there’s lots of excitement and closing doors motivates people to join because they can’t join later. Depending on your topic, it may make sense to keep your membership site open so you can enroll people at any time.

5. Create a Retention Strategy

You want your retention rate to be as high as possible. A high retention rate means that a lot of your members are staying month after month. When I was struggling with growing our membership sites, before getting help from Stu’s TRIBE course, our retention rate was at 60%. It’s hard to grow at that rate. It’s much easier to keep your current members happy than to have to keep launching and get new members over and over again.

When we focused on improving retention and used many of the strategies I learned in TRIBE, we had a lot of success. In 6 months we have increased our retention rates from 60% to 85%. I know this will keep growing because we have a lot of great retention strategies we plan to add to our sites over the next few months.

A few retention ideas: keep your members engaged in a community with a members-only Facebook group. You can conduct Facebook Lives or put together mastermind groups for your members to meet each other. The quicker they meet others in your membership, the longer they will stick around. You want others to get to know each other. In person, meetups are another great idea, as well as telling your members what is coming up in the future. You want to be them excited to stick around. These are just a few ideas, but there are a lot more ways that Stu teaches in his course, TRIBE.

Stu has a free workshop going on right now through May 9th. Register here now.

6. Time and Patience

Build a membership site is not quick or easy. It will take time. If you are just starting to create a business, it may not be the best first place for you to start. You might want to get used to selling something else first.

When you have a membership site, you will be selling at a much lower dollar price such as $20 or $30 per month so you’ll need a lot of people to support you. If you are struggling to grow your business and have bills to pay, I don’t want you to be stressed out about making money. I recommend having some side income coming in for at least 6 months so you aren’t entirely relying on your membership site to pay the bills.

It took a year for me to make the same amount in my membership site as I was making when I was doing individual coaching. It will happen. I know you can do it, but you can’t rush success. You need to do it right and set it up the best way possible. There was a time when I kept doing individual coaching so I could grow my members, which let me completely remove individual coaching from my calendar.

Take your time and you’ll be so happy you did. It will be so worth every single late night that you put into growing your membership site.

Questions to Ask Yourself:

  1. Do I have a content calendar?
  2. Do I have a team or an assistant to support me?
  3. Does my membership site solve an ongoing problem?
  4. Do I have a marketing and launch plan?
  5. Do I have a retention strategy to keep members interested and engaged?
  6. Do I have the time and patient to grow a membership site the right way?

Please reach out and let me know if you have any questions about starting membership sites!!

Stu has a free workshop going on right now through May 9th. Register here now.

See you then! Can’t wait to help you grow your membership site!


Hi, I'm Anna!

I’ll help you create a career strategy and plan so you can finally have a job or business you love that supports the life you really want.

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