Membership site vs one-time course - My thoughts. What do you think?

20 replies
I've got a micro niche self improvement site where I add 400 members per month to my list.

I was initially thinking of offering a 4-week video & text course, for perhaps $297 or $197.

Now I'm thinking I could get more revenue with a membership site charging $14/mo, with an option to prepay 1 year for 15% off. I could space out my content more and make it last 2 months. I will also have a members forum where I answer questions, and other members I'm sure will help each other.

Even after adding more content and expert interviews, I could run dry on content after 3 months. All the business I've done to date on other sites has been affiliate sales and ecommerce, with no real pressure to come up with new content on any schedule. I've never dealt with the kind of intense pressure to keep providing new content for paying members or lose my revenue stream, and it scares me.

Any advice? I'd love to hear any feedback, including on my pain point or the figures I gave.

Edit: I'm also toying with the idea of adding an a up-front $47 fee to the $14/mo. Right away they get access to a bunch of content and the forum, so the value is front-loaded.
#membership #onetime #site #thoughts
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  • Profile picture of the author Luke Hayler
    Have you considered webinars?
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  • Profile picture of the author kursat
    I think the best model would be a membership with upsell products that you can offer in the members area. These can be affiliate products and even other membership courses on related niches. Just my thoughts.
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  • Profile picture of the author Steve B
    Originally Posted by squeebo View Post

    Any advice? I'd love to hear any feedback, including on my pain point or the figures I gave.

    Two things:

    1- New content is easy to come up with when you think outside the box just a little bit. There are dozens and dozens of sources of great content. Here are two dozen off the top of my head:
    • Write your own
    • Pay others to write for you
    • Have subscribers or members contribute (written, audio, video)
    • Interview authorities in the niche (written, audio, video)
    • Survey results and summaries
    • Writing contests in the niche
    • Public domain (articles, books, reports, magazines, graphics)
    • Article directories and databases
    • Newsletter content (critique, evaluate, add commentary)
    • Resale Rights
    • Private Label Rights (articles, reports, ebooks)
    • License other people's products
    • RSS feeds
    • Archive databases
    • Google Alerts
    • Social Media
    • Curation of others' articles, blogs, reports
    • Guest blog posts
    • White paper summaries
    • Forum (add one to your site - lots of fresh content)
    • Screen captures turned into slideshows or reports
    • Emails on a topic turned into a summary report
    • Solicit "advertorials" from companies selling in your niche
    • Online forums, discussion groups, answer sites, (Yahoo, Quora, etc)
    I am not suggesting you just randomly add this kind of content to your web site. You need to be concerned about copyright issues, of course. But there are a lot of ways to analyze, assess, curate, comment on, add your own opinion to, critique, summarize, and editorialize on the content of others. That's what I'm suggesting here.

    Read this article: 101 Ways to Source Content Ideas
    from Kissmetrics


    2- I would suggest you change your focus. Everything you said in your post was about what you wanted to do. To have a successful and profitable membership site or course, think mostly about what your audience or members would like. How can you serve them and meet their needs best? When you change your focus from you to them, it will become apparent which content platform would serve your customers best - course or membership site.

    Good luck,
    Steve
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  • Profile picture of the author squeebo
    Great replies!

    I'll hang onto Steve B's list. That should keep me going for a while.

    As far as what my audience wants, they want to use the solution quickly and be done with it. So on one hand a one-time course makes sense. However, after that they will usually continue to need help. So I would need to offer them something after that. One on one help can be good, but I'm not thrilled about trading my time for money. I'd rather add more value for everyone by giving answers to questions to the whole group. I can do affiliate products too.

    There are other courses in the niche selling for $295, $157, and $449.

    This solution can be very involved and take months or years of practice to be fully done with it. I will continue to develop the material, so it can naturally work well when structured as a membership IF I can stay consistent with offering material indefinitely and replying to questions.
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  • It all depends, but sometimes membership sites gives some problems with the recurring payments. But it all depends on your objective and strategy.
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  • Profile picture of the author ryanbiddulph
    Hi Squeebo,

    I dig the one time offer because I have no interest in setting up anything more intensive. But folks in your niche seem resonant with that model in many ways.

    What feels like it'd be more fun to offer for your people? Go with that; better, more fun and prospering journey because you wish to take that route and your followers will feel this energy.

    Ryan
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    • Profile picture of the author squeebo
      Originally Posted by ryanbiddulph View Post

      Hi Squeebo,

      I dig the one time offer because I have no interest in setting up anything more intensive. But folks in your niche seem resonant with that model in many ways.

      What feels like it'd be more fun to offer for your people? Go with that; better, more fun and prospering journey because you wish to take that route and your followers will feel this energy.

      Ryan
      Well now you're talking my language! I feel more excited about a membership site. So I guess that's it.

      Now that I've thought about it, I could queue up several weeks worth of material ahead of time so that I'll never be under time pressure to come up with more content.
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  • Profile picture of the author IGotMine
    I was initially thinking of offering a 4-week video & text course, for perhaps $297 or $197.

    Now I'm thinking I could get more revenue with a membership site charging $14/mo, with an option to prepay 1 year for 15% off. I could space out my content more and make it last 2 months. I will also have a members forum where I answer questions, and other members I'm sure will help each other.
    So this is still a theory? You might want to start small and see if you will sell anything before you start planning how to maximize your revenue.
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    • Profile picture of the author squeebo
      Originally Posted by IGotMine View Post

      So this is still a theory? You might want to start small and see if you will sell anything before you start planning how to maximize your revenue.
      Very good point. In the past I sold some cheap products in the niche, and I didn't even have an email list or hardly any marketing. I still get new people asking for help daily. The other marketers in the niche are doing well. So I feel confident that the niche has proven itself and that I can offer what they need.
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  • Profile picture of the author FreedomBlogger
    If you are afraid you might not be able to keep adding content consistently then maybe you should just have a one-time fee. What you can do is have an Upgrade in the backend where you offer some extra services. Maybe add access to a private Facebook group for one on one engagement with you and things like that.

    This is what I would do.
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  • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
    Why do you have to pick one or the other?

    You said people in your niche want to get a solution and get on with it, so you sell them a course.

    Some of them will want ongoing help and support, so you sell those people a membership where they can get it.

    If you're already adding 400/mo to your list, what are you sending them now while you dither about with this decision?
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  • Profile picture of the author iamludwing
    you can always combine all type of offers and see what works better to focus on that
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  • Profile picture of the author radu
    It always comes to your goals and time willing to spend growing your business..

    If you want to have more free time then go with product launches (limited time offers) and afterwards just create content and provide value at your own pace till the next launch

    If you are very passionate in your niche and don't mind working many hours then take into consideration starting a membership site and building a team later in the process.. In the long term both of them can be very profitable but the second one takes more dedication and more effort on your side and supervision of the team to do their job well..
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    • Profile picture of the author squeebo
      A course in that context sounds good.

      One issue is I really want to provide a forum for the members to interact. I already have a public forum, but this one will be for the paid members (or course buyers) to get help from each other, share, and for me to answer questions and give help to everyone at once.

      The forum would be tough when it's just a course, because each launch group purchasing the course would have to be big enough to be a community in itself, or I'd have to mix them with the past buyers who are also on the forum... and then what happens once they're through the course? Let them stay on the forum and post questions for me, even though they aren't paying anymore? Make them pay just to stay on the forum? So that's why a membership thing was making sense to me, because they will likely need ongoing help for an indeterminate length of time.
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  • Profile picture of the author Randall Magwood
    Well you can succeed doing both, but I like the paid course idea better, because you get all the money upfront. Nothing is more frustrating than having a $15/month membership site, and have a lot of people joining..... then getting all the content/"stuff" you have, and then cancelling.
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    • Profile picture of the author squeebo
      Originally Posted by Randall Magwood View Post

      Well you can succeed doing both, but I like the paid course idea better, because you get all the money upfront. Nothing is more frustrating than having a $15/month membership site, and have a lot of people joining..... then getting all the content/"stuff" you have, and then cancelling.
      That's a good point. I guess I was hoping most of them would stick around a while for what's coming next, and none of the content would be easily downloadable except to people techie enough to figure out how.
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      • Profile picture of the author Randall Magwood
        Originally Posted by squeebo View Post

        That's a good point. I guess I was hoping most of them would stick around a while for what's coming next, and none of the content would be easily downloadable except to people techie enough to figure out how.
        Lol there's nothing techie about "Right click, save target as, save to desktop".
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        • Profile picture of the author squeebo
          Originally Posted by Randall Magwood View Post

          Lol there's nothing techie about "Right click, save target as, save to desktop".
          It's not as basic to save a video hosted under a paid plan with hidden title info.

          Even a script to disable right click will stop some people from taking text.
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  • Profile picture of the author annaross
    I think it is better to be a member of site than always find new ones
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  • Profile picture of the author snehil kamal
    Outsource content creation and concentrate on your funnel.
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