Selling a Membership vs. Selling a course

28 replies
Hello Warriors,

So I've been doing a lot of research lately on membership site platforms, both of the plugin variety and the 3rd party hosted variety. But I'm starting to realize that for my purposes a membership platform my not be what I need.

I have a course- a continuity course. It has a fixed length, and I charge a one-time fee to access it. As this isn't technically a monthly membership with a recurring membership fee, is there a better way to sell it? Seems like a membership site is a bit overkill for this. Drip-feed would be nice but it isn't mandatory. I do also have a couple of digital products I'd like to sell on the same platform, but that's it.

Is there a platform that works better for a fixed length course like this than a membership site or membership plugin? Oh, and Udemy is not an option for me. I kinda like being the one who decides what my course sells for.
#membership #selling
Avatar of Unregistered
  • Profile picture of the author DIABL0
    Most use a membership site even for one-time fee / fixed length course.
    Signature
    How to Build LARGE EMAIL LISTS on a Budget and MONETIZE Like a PRO
    20 Years Exp . . . . . . . . . . . . Email - CPA - PPL
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[11310595].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Mike Anthony
      Originally Posted by DIABL0 View Post

      Most use a membership site even for one-time fee / fixed length course.

      Not true. You can give streaming access and/or downloading without a memberhip site.
      Signature

      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[11312062].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author DIABL0
        Originally Posted by DIABL0 View Post

        Most use a membership site even for one-time fee / fixed length course.
        Originally Posted by Mike Anthony View Post

        Not true. You can give streaming access and/or downloading without a memberhip site.

        Providing a course (if it's of value) that's not behind a login is foolish.
        Signature
        How to Build LARGE EMAIL LISTS on a Budget and MONETIZE Like a PRO
        20 Years Exp . . . . . . . . . . . . Email - CPA - PPL
        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[11312121].message }}
        • Profile picture of the author Mike Anthony
          Originally Posted by DIABL0 View Post

          Providing a course (if it's of value) that's not behind a login is foolish.
          no one said anything about not protecting the course. That does NOT make it a memberhsip site
          Signature

          {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[11314806].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Sid Hale
    IMHO - A membership is an ideal way to deliver almost any digital content...

    Originally Posted by MusicMinCoach View Post

    So I've been doing a lot of research lately on membership site platforms, both of the plugin variety and the 3rd party hosted variety. But I'm starting to realize that for my purposes a membership platform my not be what I need.

    I have a course- a continuity course. It has a fixed length, and I charge a one-time fee to access it. As this isn't technically a monthly membership with a recurring membership fee, is there a better way to sell it?
    1. A membership gives you an extra level of product protection by hiding the course behind a login
    2. Giving buyers life-time access to your course allows them to
      • progress through the lessons at their own pace, and
      • refer back to individual lessons whenever a "refresher" is needed.
    3. Because you automatically have return traffic to the members' area... you can periodically give them extra "freebies" from inside the members area, and you have another platform for selling.
      • You can offer special discounts on related products just for members, or
      • treat them like any other "buyers" list, by offering new products to existing members before making them available to the general public (at list price).

    In short, using a membership for product delivery gives you a wide range of options for customer retention and future sales.
    Signature

    Sid Hale
    Coming Soon... Rapid Action Profits (Pro)

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[11311970].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Mike Anthony
    Originally Posted by MusicMinCoach View Post

    I have a course- a continuity course. It has a fixed length, and I charge a one-time fee to access it. As this isn't technically a monthly membership with a recurring membership fee, is there a better way to sell it?.
    I've had two customers somewhat recently in your space that opted NOT to do membershp sites but sell their digital product and services. They did pretty well - one in the worship music ministry.

    It really goes back to the kind of product. Some content works pretty good with month to month drip feeds and others the nature of the content is one time because the consumer wants to get it all at once.

    My SEO course a few yearsago was strickly one time. Buyers didn't want to have to wait because it was something that needed to be all together to properly implement. Sold betwen $189 and $250 one time. Now developing programming training for the average person but there its a longer journey so those are going toward membership monthly - just to give you a sense of the difference in strategy relating to the business model.

    I think you should reconsider Udemy NOT to sell the course itself but I know of more than one person using udemy to build a large audience and finding ways to funnel their customers there to their own sites. Udemy used like that can be a gold mine.
    Signature

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[11312073].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author bigbody300
    I often debated this as well... pro's and cons for both.. love to see what others say
    Signature
    #1 Proven 2017 Pay Per Call Marketing Course - How I Make $8k+ a month from PayPerCall - WF DISCOUNT >http://www.warriorforum.com/showthre...0#post10850267
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[11312319].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Steve B
    Originally Posted by MusicMinCoach View Post

    Is there a platform that works better for a fixed length course like this than a membership site or membership plugin?

    Ron,

    In today's online business world, the line drawn between membership sites and product sites is not so clear as it used to be. Any content can be put inside a membership site including one-time-payment products. Likewise, most any drip-fed multi-session course can be sold from a non-membership type platform. Plug-ins, scripts, and various software can be implemented effectively to do just about whatever you want regarding the way your content is distributed to (and paid for) by the purchaser. Each type of plug-in or platform has its strengths and advantages.

    So, how do you make the choice? I like to look at the "reasons why" it makes sense to use a membership platform. If those reasons are compelling enough, then focus on finding the platform that does everything you need it to do. On the other hand, if a "regular" site (HTML, WordPress, or a hosted solution, etc) is all you really need ... then go with that and don't complicate the choice unduly.

    You've already said that your course is a fixed length with a one-time fee. To me, that suggests you probably don't need a membership platform. There are secure ways to protect your content and still stay in touch with your purchasers with a regular web site and there are many, many site themes made specifically for course content.

    Here is just one example of what I am using in a similar way:

    Academy Pro theme from StudioPress. It's built on the familiar WordPress platform and the theme is designed for online courses. It's just one example of a site that is not really a membership platform ... but it can handle the job nicely. WordPress has a gazillion plugins that can be added if there is something you need to incorporate outside this theme.

    The very best to you,

    Steve
    Signature

    Steve Browne, online business strategies, tips, guidance, and resources
    SteveBrowneDirect

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[11312379].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author MusicMinCoach
      Great points Steve, especially regarding the wordpress theme. Thanks!
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[11312944].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author Mike Anthony
        Originally Posted by MusicMinCoach View Post

        Great points Steve, especially regarding the wordpress theme. Thanks!
        They had a custom system that created a login and url download link. Not too hard to do without having monhly fees.

        There is one big downside to one time downloads though.

        Someone will eventually rip them off even though I sold that SEO course all at once I never faciltated being able to download them. Some people cried a river that I should allow downloads but I refused because I knew that in that niche they would be ripped off.
        Signature

        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[11314808].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Jonleecontent
    You can do the best of both worlds and offer a cheap product with a more expensive continuity program.

    We have done this in several businesses and while you do need to be careful about letting them know it is a continuity program and reminding them they are going to be charged 3 days before it can be the best solution to this problem.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[11312393].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author ramtar
    It depends on what the site will include:

    For Membership Sites:

    Publish frequent brand-new content.
    Membership remains indefinitely.
    The Admission is linked to payment, such as a monthly fee.
    Access to an constant community.

    For Online Courses:

    Defined content course or A-Z steps.
    One time charge or payments allowing permanent time access to content.
    Improvement tracking, quizzes and tasks.
    Component and lessons content structure.
    Content drip fed or obtainable everything immediately.
    Signature

    Join My Mailing List, Get One Free Internet Marketing Ebook Every Monday Ramon Tarruella's Internet Marketing Knowledge

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[11312415].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Sid Hale
      Originally Posted by ramtar View Post

      It depends on what the site will include:

      For Membership Sites:

      Publish frequent brand-new content.
      Membership remains indefinitely.
      The Admission is linked to payment, such as a monthly fee.
      Access to an constant community.

      For Online Courses:

      Defined content course or A-Z steps.
      One time charge or payments allowing permanent time access to content.
      Improvement tracking, quizzes and tasks.
      Component and lessons content structure.
      Content drip fed or obtainable everything immediately.
      Nothing you have listed under For Online Courses: is necessarily precluded from a membership site, so I must be misunderstanding your response.

      For the OP (and anyone else here who creates their own products)
      Think about it...
      Anyone here who sells even a downloadable ebook through a platform like JVZoo, is selling a membership. Unfortunately, it is JVZoo's membership program, rather than your own.

      YOUR customer is registered in someone else's membership, and logs into that membership in order to get to YOUR download page.

      That membership (i.e. JVZoo) sends email offers to your customers (daily), but those emails are selling someone else's product. That is their funnel - not yours. You make nothing from any resulting sales. doesn't it make more sense to promote your own products (or even affiliate offers) to YOUR customers?


      Those platforms (the affiliate networks) recognize the value of their membership. YOU are the front end of their sales funnel. Is there a lesson for you to learn, there?
      Signature

      Sid Hale
      Coming Soon... Rapid Action Profits (Pro)

      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[11312420].message }}
  • Build your tribe. Membership sites usually get better retention from your buyers.

    Like the other replies above states, the benefits are endless with a membership site. It will also keep you creating more content to lead your tribe to success in your niche.

    Monthly paying members would be more active and prone to buy more in the member's user areas, where you can market to them. They already know, like and trust you. It would definitely beat and unopened email blasted to your email list.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[11312433].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Coachella
    I recommend selling it as a book in the beginning. You could always expand upon the content of your course and create a membership site later.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[11312472].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author MusicMinCoach
      Well the fixed length course is actually a vocal training program that includes 18 lessons on video. That would be hard to present in book form, and I really wouln't want to. And at least for that particular product, it won't be expanding or getting any bigger.

      The other product I have is also a video- just one, about 40 minutes long. I have an e-book too.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[11312953].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author JohnVianny
    Everyone has to final point to membership, which is what give you a lifeblood of good income streaming in a long way.

    BUT you have constantly take care of it and optimize platform, give great updated content and insights...

    Just use a good platform, like amember etc, and clickbank or jvzoo for billing.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[11312526].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author MusicMinCoach
    Platform suggestions was my next question Connann. Thanks for all the responses so far guys.

    Just a bit more background on where I am and why I'm looking. In addition to the fixed length course (a vocal training program, 18 lessons on video) I also have another digital product, which is a single lesson on video-about 40 minutes. Finally, I have an e-book.

    I've been using a membership plugin for several years to serve all of those products. I'm moving away from the plugin because I've had delivery issues for years that could never be fixed, and unfortunately the owner simply stopped responding after a while.

    But I've always had an issue with how many steps it takes for a customer to finally access the product he purchased; especially the e-book, or the one-off video.

    First the buy it, then they have to go find the e-mail to get their log-in information, then go back to the site and log in, then FINALLY they have access to their product. Maybe for the continuity course that's ok, but it's just always seemed like too much to do to gain access to an e-book or a single video.

    Then I started having problems with people not getting the welcome e-mail with their log-in details, or the plugin not automatically creating the membership like it should.

    So that's why I'm looking for a new home for my products, and that's also why I'm second-guessing whether or not I really need a membership platform. I do want to be able to serve all of them from one platform, so in that regard it does seem like a membership platform would work best. But I wish the purchase process was a little smoother-and it may be on other platforms.

    The one I'm using is the only one I've ever used. But the experience has kinda soured me a bit on using membership plugins, so if a membership site is the way to go I may end up using a 3rd party-hosted platform.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[11312961].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Sid Hale
      Originally Posted by MusicMinCoach View Post

      But I've always had an issue with how many steps it takes for a customer to finally access the product he purchased; especially the e-book, or the one-off video.

      First the buy it, then they have to go find the e-mail to get their log-in information, then go back to the site and log in, then FINALLY they have access to their product. Maybe for the continuity course that's ok, but it's just always seemed like too much to do to gain access to an e-book or a single video.
      So reduce the number of steps, Ron.
      On returning from the payment processor, your site can still send the email (as a backup), but also put that same log-in information directly into the thank you page.

      Originally Posted by MusicMinCoach View Post

      The one I'm using is the only one I've ever used. But the experience has kinda soured me a bit on using membership plugins, so if a membership site is the way to go I may end up using a 3rd party-hosted platform.
      ...and you think this simplifies the process???

      You put a sales page with buy button on your site, transfer the customer to your payment processor to collect payment, and then return the buyer to yet another platform? How do you think you are going to deliver login information from the 3rd party-hosted platform? Still via email?

      I don't think you're simplifying anything by introducing a 3rd party.
      You've simply introduced another point of failure.
      Signature

      Sid Hale
      Coming Soon... Rapid Action Profits (Pro)

      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[11313059].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author MusicMinCoach
        I don't "think" anything, I'm asking. Remember the original question. I'm trying to figure out if there's a better way. If there isn't, there isn't.

        But if a membership platform is still the best way to do it I figured a third party platform might be more reliable. As far as simplifiying things I'd just go with one that has it all right there, including the landing pages, sales pages, check-out pages and even the video hosting. There are at least 3 out there that offer all of that.

        In that case I would just link my own landing/sales page directly to the course check-out page (assuming I didn't want to use any of the ones they have on board).

        Those platforms somehow seem a bit more reliable to me than plugins which are at the mercy of wordpress's constant updating and code changing. But I'm not sure, that's why I'm asking.

        Every time I've submitted a ticket on anything wordpress related the first thing they want you to do is go into your site and turn off every single plugin, then turn them all back on one at a time because any single one can be causing the problem.

        At least with a well-established third party platform like Thinkific or Teachable if there's a problem there's an actual staff available to work on it, not just one guy who looks at it a few times until he decides he's tired of trying and just says screw it, lol! But it looks like I have my answer. I appreciate all the feedback and suggestions guys.
        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[11313062].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author jbsmith
    I think you are right to question - I use both fixed download/access sites as well as membership sites and do recognize that solid membership platforms are a challenge (and always have been). I've run plugins, membership modules off of blog themes, as well as hosted membership sites and they all have their learning curves, challenges and more than a few have poor support. I still run membership sites on Membergate - seems like one of the more solid ones but has its quirks.

    I do use the full recurring billing, membership site forum, and various CRM pieces so it works for me, but if you don't need that then I would certainly go simple - sell via shopping cart like Ejunkie, Clickbank, etc... and then simply make your course content available behind a secure login which can be done with everything from basic htaccess/cpanel directory protection through WP scripts for secure download

    Finally - you can use platforms like Simple Goods, Gumroad, Sellfy, etc... where you can start with free accounts and ramp to $10-$20/mo plans as your business grows
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[11313070].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author MusicMinCoach
      I just learned about Gumroad JB, and I think it would be great for the e-book and the one-video course. It may be that I need to do something similar to what you suggest, using one simplifed solution to sell the one-off products and then another platform to sell the big course, where I want to drip-feed and need to host lots of videos. I'm going to look into Gumroad.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[11315143].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Randall Magwood
    Is there not a way to host them on your own website? You could easily hire a programmer or web developer to create a simple platform that would suit your needs. And it doesn't have to be pretty and glamorous. Most people in your niche only want the information - and new and newer information since they want to delve deeper into their faith.
    Signature

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[11315137].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author MusicMinCoach
      Hey Randall,

      If you mean the videos, it can be done but it's strongly advised against by everything I've read. As I understand it, it really slows down your site and makes it hard for the videos to play smoothly. Especially when you're talking more than 20 videos. I'm thinking for big course I'll use Thinkific, since they have all the integration and features I need plus the video hosting is included. Then use something like Gumroad deliver the other two products.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[11315146].message }}
  • Have you looked at Optimize Press? You can use your own auto responder, set up a sales page, download page, etc.
    Signature

    Maria Marsala,
    Financial Advisors Coach, Author, Speaker at http://www.ElevatingYourBusiness.com/

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[11347894].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author yukon
    Banned
    Easy Digital Downloads is an option for self hosted Wordpress sites. Works with several payment processors.

    It's a good plugin, I currently use it with Paypal.

    Working on a new download site and want to test Stripe as the payment processor because their popup checkout is simple/clean and awesome, traffic doesn't leave the site/sales page and integrates with Easy Digital Downloads/Stripe.

    Stripe is also pay as you go (2.9% + $0.30 per card charge) so there's no monthly fees. That transaction fee is pretty low, it matches Paypal only the real advantage is traffic never leaves the money site to make a payment. Way more professional user experience.

    That's my plan and this site will have approx. 3,000 downloads (eventually).
    Signature
    Hi
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[11347932].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author franamico
    Always better selling a membership. These days advertising costs can be high so it's better to do the hard work once and keep earning recurring fees from members
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[11348245].message }}
Avatar of Unregistered

Trending Topics