Which is a better long-term strategy - keep building one site/brand or build multiple sites/brands?

19 replies
Hey, I'm looking to really start expanding my business this year. I seem to make sales pretty regularly, but I have never once felt that my income has gotten to the point where it feels stable and secure. That is because I have only been selling one single thing, which is a lifetime membership to a website that I have continuously been adding content to for almost 5 years now. The site is pretty massive!!

Selling lifetime memberships is appealing to the market, but it requires a consistent flow of new customers in order to remain profitable. The obvious solution is to change the model to a recurring model, which I have done before. I have never tested a recurring model for longer than 2 weeks though because it always results in an instant drop in income. During the 2 week testing period(s), I have always still made sales nonetheless. The fact that this is now my full-time job and primary source of income, those income drops can be scary. However, I feel that if I could just suck it up for at least a year, I would find myself in a much better position than I am in today. Over the course of a year, I will acquire many monthly and annual subscribers and I will make a bunch of one-off sales as well. Fighting through that initial income drop is the real challenge though...

An alternative that was suggested to me here on this forum was to expand by creating more websites. I am actually in the middle of a new 6-month project where I am creating a new course. I was planning on following the advice to build an additional website, and to host this new course on an entirely separate domain. At that point, I would then have 2 "products" instead of just 1. Essentially, it would be an entirely new "brand", and I would market it using mostly Facebook ads. I'd let my current buyers list know about this new site and offer them a discount.

While this 2nd site thing does sound like a good, safe idea that won't affect my one and only income stream...I'm still wondering if it is the best long-term strategy though? I already have a "brand" that I have been building for almost 5 years now. I have a loyal following with a private Facebook group. I have hundreds of great written reviews, and I'm starting to collect video reviews as well. The seed has been planted, and it's continuing to grow. As I said, my site is already broken down into individual courses, but I'm still just selling them all as a "package deal" via a lifetime membership. "Changing the model" to a recurring model with one-off options can be done at the snap of my fingers. "Changing it back" could also be done just as easily. Therefore, it's very easy to run tests.

I was thinking that I could give the recurring model, with the option to buy one-off purchases another shot. I could then host this new course that I'm making on my current site and market it using Facebook ads. This would re-introduce the risk of taking an income hit for a while. However, ultimately it may be the better long term strategy.

I'm wondering what your thoughts are on which you think is the best long-term strategy?

Thanks!


TL;DR -

Option #1 - Host this new course that I am making on an entirely new website. This would result in having 2 separate websites. Keep site 1 at a one-time price since that has proven to result in steady sales. Market this new course (which is hosted on site 2) as an entirely different brand, but offer a discount to my current lifetime members. This option is the risk-averse option

Option #2 - Just stop selling lifetime memberships and switch the model to a recurring model, also giving people the option to buy single courses for a one-time fee if they didn't like subscriptions. I'd then host this new course on my current site and market it using FB ads. The leads that I pick up from FB ads would then have several options of things that they could buy from my site, including the "full access" option which would be the recurring fee. This option is the riskier option as it will result in an initial income drop, but my gut instinct keeps telling me that this is what I should do.
#build #building #longterm #multiple #site or brand #sites or brands #strategy
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  • Profile picture of the author savidge4
    Originally Posted by Bkelly301 View Post

    Option #1 - Host this new course that I am making on an entirely new website. This would result in having 2 separate websites. Keep site 1 at a one-time price since that has proven to result in steady sales. Market this new course (which is hosted on site 2) as an entirely different brand, but offer a discount to my current lifetime members. This option is the risk-averse option

    Option #2 - Just stop selling lifetime memberships and switch the model to a recurring model, also giving people the option to buy single courses for a one-time fee if they didn't like subscriptions. I'd then host this new course on my current site and market it using FB ads. The leads that I pick up from FB ads would then have several options of things that they could buy from my site, including the "full access" option which would be the recurring fee. This option is the riskier option as it will result in an initial income drop, but my gut instinct keeps telling me that this is what I should do.
    I think you have the strategy flipped. I would KEEP now and forever site #1. Build site #2 ( as you are doing ) and keep them separate. ( and then as suggested create site 3 and 4 and 5 etc ) At some point in all of this you might want to consider building brand around YOU the person ( site 8 or whatever LOL ) but this would only be an option.

    Unless there is ADDED as in ADDED ADDED value on site 2, I would never offer site #1 users site 2 in any way shape or form.

    However... As you collect a "list" for site 2 I would run a series of e-mails.. trying to sell the site 2 course. There would come a point that we all could agree they probably will not convert, and that's when I would hit these people up with the site 1 offer. Keep in mind I would refrain from showing this offer to people that convert to site 2 - and only use it as a last ditch effort to convert the otherwise dead traffic. Make sense?
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    • Profile picture of the author ayomyde
      It still looks as though your site 1 needs more time, focus and attention. Concentrate on getting it right with your first site. Have both the annual and recurring subscription. Establish the brand.

      Once the brand is established and your selling strategy is achieved, you can then move to create or build a second site for your other product. While the first is established, you can have sufficient time or outsource the building of your second stream.

      Don't neglect your Golden goose!
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    • Profile picture of the author Bkelly301
      Originally Posted by savidge4 View Post

      Unless there is ADDED as in ADDED ADDED value on site 2, I would never offer site #1 users site 2 in any way shape or form.
      As always, thank you!

      I really like the idea of using site #1 as a last ditch effort to people who don't buy site #2 through my advertising efforts!

      I'm interested in hearing more about why you wouldn't offer site #2 to site #1 users?

      Site #2 is going to be all new and completely original content, not found anywhere else. Also, I was thinking of only offering it to people that have bought their lifetime membership to site #1 at least 6 months ago or longer so they don't feel bombarded with sales pitches too close together.

      I figured that these people would be the "warmest" possible traffic I could get since they have already bought off me in the past. Also, since almost everyone that has paid for site #1 is extremely happy with their purchase, and how much value they received for such a low price, I figured that they would love to buy another product that I create.

      I'm wondering why you are saying to avoid doing this though?
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      • Profile picture of the author savidge4
        Originally Posted by Bkelly301 View Post

        As always, thank you!

        I really like the idea of using site #1 as a last ditch effort to people who don't buy site #2 through my advertising efforts!

        I'm interested in hearing more about why you wouldn't offer site #2 to site #1 users?

        Site #2 is going to be all new and completely original content, not found anywhere else. Also, I was thinking of only offering it to people that have bought their lifetime membership to site #1 at least 6 months ago or longer so they don't feel bombarded with sales pitches too close together.

        I figured that these people would be the "warmest" possible traffic I could get since they have already bought off me in the past. Also, since almost everyone that has paid for site #1 is extremely happy with their purchase, and how much value they received for such a low price, I figured that they would love to buy another product that I create.

        I'm wondering why you are saying to avoid doing this though?
        Looking at this from YOUR side of the equation, yes they are warm. They have bought from you before. They more than likely happy with the product they have. It creates a second dip into the end users wallet. ALL good things.

        The other side of that is the end user... and you say "all new and completely original content, not found anywhere else." but is this a real true statement? Remember in the last post I left I said:

        Originally Posted by savidge4 View Post

        Unless there is ADDED as in ADDED ADDED value on site 2, I would never offer site #1 users site 2 in any way shape or form.
        Could the end user within the vast library or content they have at their lifetime fingertips gleen out the same tips? Does it have the potential of turning "Happy" into not so happy? I am guessing the next to be a true statement: Do you know how many of your members are referrals from existing members? ( the answer being no ) You start walking this fine line.

        All of that being said.. if you frame the offer as much of the content is spread throughout in bits and pieces in the lifetime membership, this new course places the entire theory in one place and a step by step easy to follow course. I understand this can be found within the content you have paid for - so I am offering this at a discount to current lifetime members.

        THIS turns the potential of you being the bad guy, into being the good guy - and increasing the potential for referrals. I dont think you are there yet in your journey to understand exactly how much referral traffic has probably played into your success. But me the guy that plays in a world of 60 to 80% referral business will protect this over any and everything. So that would be why the statement was made. You unknowingly are risking far more than could be gained in the long run without the preemptive setting of expectations.

        And with that.... as long as expectations are set, there is no shame in the game to make this offer across all of your members... Its not that you are money grabbing, you are building layers of education. Broad inexpensive education, and then a more refined more expensive education.

        Hope that Helps!
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        • Profile picture of the author Bkelly301
          Originally Posted by savidge4 View Post

          THIS turns the potential of you being the bad guy, into being the good guy - and increasing the potential for referrals. I dont think you are there yet in your journey to understand exactly how much referral traffic has probably played into your success. But me the guy that plays in a world of 60 to 80% referral business will protect this over any and everything. So that would be why the statement was made. You unknowingly are risking far more than could be gained in the long run without the preemptive setting of expectations.

          And with that.... as long as expectations are set, there is no shame in the game to make this offer across all of your members... Its not that you are money grabbing, you are building layers of education. Broad inexpensive education, and then a more refined more expensive education.
          Gotcha, so it's risky to promote site 2 to users of site 1 because it could potentially make me look like a "bad guy", which would in turn hurt my referral traffic/sales.

          However, if I frame it properly by being open and honest - "This new course contains all of the same information as site 1, only it is much more streamlined into a single course with hundreds of practical examples. I'm not trying to actively promote it to you, but if you do want it, or if you ever see any ads for it anywhere, you can use this coupon code to get a discounted price." - Then this doesn't make me look like a bad guy/scammer/etc.

          So I *think* what you are saying is that it is okay to promote site 2 to the members of site 1 as long as the messaging is framed properly.

          I personally think that my current members of site 1 will get more angry if I didn't mention site 2 to them at all, but they end up hearing about it through YouTube or FB ads or something... I definitely think that they will find out about it whether I tell them via email, or just let them hear about it themselves.

          Maybe it is the smartest idea, and the most reputation-protecting to remain open and honest about it rather than "keeping it a secret"?
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  • Profile picture of the author cheese1688
    Both options are quite good, but personally I would go with the second option as it looks for me more structured and could bring you more money, but it's just my personal opinion.
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  • Profile picture of the author RS3RS
    If you have a lot of content to digest (sounds like you do if you've been adding for 5 years), have you considered moving to a recurring monthly model with, say, a 7 day trial for $1? Then auto-bill the recurring rate. Should help a lot with conversions, and if you have a course of actual substance with a lot of material to digest, then users should just be getting hooked by the time payment time rolls around.


    You should be able to run side-by-side split tests with different pricing structures, segmenting your visits to where 50% are sent to the old version (the control) and the other 50% are sent to the new version. Switching back and forth at different times isn't ideal. A lot can change even just week to week, and a shift like this deserves backing from solid data that has had time to reach statistical significance.



    Either way, you'll want to run that experiment long enough to collect data about the lifetime customer value (LCV) under each model. To make up numbers for an example, let's say your lifetime membership costs $100 and the monthly subscription is $19. If the average member subscribes for 8 months, then their LCV is $152, meaning that this model is more profitable (and may continue to be more profitable even if less users sign up). If the average subscription length is 3 months, then obviously it's a failed experiment unless your conversions go way up.



    Testing price points can be valuable in other ways. Say you raise the price of your current membership by 20% and conversions don't drop much. Or, maybe you reduce the price by 20% and your sign-ups increase by 50%. In either case, you've come out with more profit. The only way to find out is to rigorously test these points.



    I would be hesitant to suggest building a second brand in the same niche as your existing entity. It takes a lot of work to reinvent the wheel and develop brand recognition, trust, word of mouth, domain authority, all of that. In almost every situation, you'd be far ahead investing that time, energy, and money into expanding the reach of your current brand.


    You could also spend time auditing your checkout funnel. Sometimes, upsells and add-ons are where the real profit lives. Maybe, immediately after they've checked out, you pitch a super-duper upgrade for a one-time cost, and then another monthly subscription that adds even more value. Maybe you offer one-on-one coaching for $150/hr or something. Worst they can do is say no.
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    • Profile picture of the author Bkelly301
      Originally Posted by RS3RS View Post

      If you have a lot of content to digest (sounds like you do if you've been adding for 5 years), have you considered moving to a recurring monthly model with, say, a 7 day trial for $1? Then auto-bill the recurring rate. Should help a lot with conversions, and if you have a course of actual substance with a lot of material to digest, then users should just be getting hooked by the time payment time rolls around.


      You should be able to run side-by-side split tests with different pricing structures, segmenting your visits to where 50% are sent to the old version (the control) and the other 50% are sent to the new version. Switching back and forth at different times isn't ideal. A lot can change even just week to week, and a shift like this deserves backing from solid data that has had time to reach statistical significance.



      Either way, you'll want to run that experiment long enough to collect data about the lifetime customer value (LCV) under each model. To make up numbers for an example, let's say your lifetime membership costs $100 and the monthly subscription is $19. If the average member subscribes for 8 months, then their LCV is $152, meaning that this model is more profitable (and may continue to be more profitable even if less users sign up). If the average subscription length is 3 months, then obviously it's a failed experiment unless your conversions go way up.



      Testing price points can be valuable in other ways. Say you raise the price of your current membership by 20% and conversions don't drop much. Or, maybe you reduce the price by 20% and your sign-ups increase by 50%. In either case, you've come out with more profit. The only way to find out is to rigorously test these points.



      I would be hesitant to suggest building a second brand in the same niche as your existing entity. It takes a lot of work to reinvent the wheel and develop brand recognition, trust, word of mouth, domain authority, all of that. In almost every situation, you'd be far ahead investing that time, energy, and money into expanding the reach of your current brand.


      You could also spend time auditing your checkout funnel. Sometimes, upsells and add-ons are where the real profit lives. Maybe, immediately after they've checked out, you pitch a super-duper upgrade for a one-time cost, and then another monthly subscription that adds even more value. Maybe you offer one-on-one coaching for $150/hr or something. Worst they can do is say no.
      This is really great stuff, and I do feel that this is the best way to go.

      However, the main drawback of this is that I rely on this site as my main source of income. Therefore, any testing or tweaking of the price introduces the risk of not getting paid what I'm used to making that month.

      My business is 100% organic, and I suspect a large portion of my sales are from word of mouth. I'm not confident enough in my FB advertising to cold traffic skills yet to really attempt to test and tweak things (knowing that I'll still be clearing at least $3K per month no matter what).

      This risk/fear is literally the only reason that I'd want to focus on building a second site, which will just be a single course...and then just promote it entirely using FB ads. That way, I don't break what is already working.

      On the other hand, judging by what everyone says about my site...there is definitely A TON of room for testing optimization, because it's priced ridiculously low right now (a major reason why people buy it
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      • Profile picture of the author RS3RS
        Originally Posted by Bkelly301 View Post

        This is really great stuff, and I do feel that this is the best way to go.

        However, the main drawback of this is that I rely on this site as my main source of income. Therefore, any testing or tweaking of the price introduces the risk of not getting paid what I'm used to making that month.

        My business is 100% organic, and I suspect a large portion of my sales are from word of mouth. I'm not confident enough in my FB advertising to cold traffic skills yet to really attempt to test and tweak things (knowing that I'll still be clearing at least $3K per month no matter what).

        This risk/fear is literally the only reason that I'd want to focus on building a second site, which will just be a single course...and then just promote it entirely using FB ads. That way, I don't break what is already working.

        On the other hand, judging by what everyone says about my site...there is definitely A TON of room for testing optimization, because it's priced ridiculously low right now (a major reason why people buy it

        Have you considered expanding into FB advertising without adjusting anything on the site just yet? You could setup Google Analytics to track conversions from each source (ads / organic) and really feel out the potential ROI behind an ad campaign and see how paid visits convert vs. organic. If your demographics are large enough, those ads could be pretty scalable once you get it sorted out.



        If nothing else, a campaign using a Facebook pixel to remarket to users who already viewed your site tends to convert well.


        I believe certain split-testing platforms will allow you to run tests on specific traffic sources. So you could have your current visitors / site left unchanged, then run split-tests on just the visitors from advertisements. This might produce some useful data in a less risky way, and if "cold" ad visitors are less likely to be influenced by word of mouth, they might be more receptive to price tweaks since they don't have preconceived ideas based on what they heard from friends.


        I hear you on wanting to play it cautious. I had a site years ago making a few thousand / mo that was my primary income source. Organic rankings changed massively one day and it dropped to barely anything. If I had tested alternate traffic sources (ads, mainly) before things went south, I might have had time to ride it out and recover.


        Diversification doesn't have to mean launching another product. Separate methods of attracting buyers that convert can accomplish the same goal, all while building your brand. If you can double or triple your income at the same time, that also gives you a bigger safety net to make a recovery if anything turns south in the future.
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        • Profile picture of the author Bkelly301
          Originally Posted by RS3RS View Post

          Have you considered expanding into FB advertising without adjusting anything on the site just yet? You could setup Google Analytics to track conversions from each source (ads / organic) and really feel out the potential ROI behind an ad campaign and see how paid visits convert vs. organic. If your demographics are large enough, those ads could be pretty scalable once you get it sorted out.



          If nothing else, a campaign using a Facebook pixel to remarket to users who already viewed your site tends to convert well.


          I believe certain split-testing platforms will allow you to run tests on specific traffic sources. So you could have your current visitors / site left unchanged, then run split-tests on just the visitors from advertisements. This might produce some useful data in a less risky way, and if "cold" ad visitors are less likely to be influenced by word of mouth, they might be more receptive to price tweaks since they don't have preconceived ideas based on what they heard from friends.


          I hear you on wanting to play it cautious. I had a site years ago making a few thousand / mo that was my primary income source. Organic rankings changed massively one day and it dropped to barely anything. If I had tested alternate traffic sources (ads, mainly) before things went south, I might have had time to ride it out and recover.


          Diversification doesn't have to mean launching another product. Separate methods of attracting buyers that convert can accomplish the same goal, all while building your brand. If you can double or triple your income at the same time, that also gives you a bigger safety net to make a recovery if anything turns south in the future.
          I have been dabbling with FB ads, with not much success. I have one retargeting ad running, which displays to people only after they create a free membership to the site and join my list. I made a total of 5 sales from this ad, which has been running for about 2 months now.

          I also tried a cold traffic ad, and that got a ton of clicks and 109 people that signed up as a free member. None of those people have bought my product though. I'm running a sale this weekend, and still none of those leads from the FB ads bought it. This tells me that I'm really good at attracting freebie seekers, but not buyers. I ran that ad for 2 weeks before shutting it off.

          I use the service called "Clickmagick" to track everything, so my data is very accurate. I definitely want to get better at this stuff though because you are 100% right....the algorithm could change at any moment, then I'll be screwed!!

          Thanks for the perspective!
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  • Profile picture of the author Medon
    I think you have already achieved. Why not move to a second website and let the first website alone?
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  • Profile picture of the author DURABLEOILCOM
    Continue constructing and perfecting your website until it becomes automated. Once you succeed in accomplishing a successful website update it every 3 months. Then you can now move on to the next venture website. Makes zero sense to start 100 projects and never complete any of them to its full potential.
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    • Profile picture of the author Bkelly301
      Originally Posted by DURABLEOILCOM View Post

      Continue constructing and perfecting your website until it becomes automated. Once you succeed in accomplishing a successful website update it every 3 months. Then you can now move on to the next venture website. Makes zero sense to start 100 projects and never complete any of them to its full potential.
      My site is automated. In the OP I said that I've been working on it for 5 years now. I make about $4 to $5K per month as it stands.

      My question was if I should add this new course that I'm making to this current site and risk changing what is working in order to test a recurring model, or to simply add the course to a 2nd brand new site and start promoting it separately.
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  • Profile picture of the author goldenbold
    Your options is good. But I would to recommend to the second option. It's my honest opinion.
    Thanks
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  • Profile picture of the author megamind22
    Having multiple income streams is a sure way to make more money as an online marketer as one will substitute for another if one fails to yield profits cause you'll never know what would happen tomorrow. So personally I would go for option. Hope this helps.
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  • Profile picture of the author diana popova
    I tend to the second option
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  • Profile picture of the author thedark
    How related is the course you create to the main website ?

    No one knows the answer to your question better than you, and you will never know if you made the right decision. I think you are here to learn from others experience.

    I've started many online projects: blogs, tools, apis, plugins, services, etc. I found myself many times in your position. I've developed new products on different websites, I've developed new products or services that I offered on old websites.

    A project is a success if you invest the right amount of passion, time, energy or money. It is more important what you do and what value do you provide, how you promote your product, not where it is. People make money with blogs or articles hosted on article databases, but if you need to control different things you should own your website.

    I developed a plugin without a website in mind. When I saw it is a success, I build a website for it and started to make it look like a professional one.

    Adding the product to the old website might get some sales to it fast, but if it is not related it might confuse your users. Think where do you want the product to be in the next 5 years. If it is a standalone product or if it is a product that will develop a community around it.

    There are so many questions you need to ask yourself, but only you know the answers.
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    • Profile picture of the author Bkelly301
      Originally Posted by thedark View Post

      How related is the course you create to the main website ?

      No one knows the answer to your question better than you, and you will never know if you made the right decision. I think you are here to learn from others experience.

      I've started many online projects: blogs, tools, apis, plugins, services, etc. I found myself many times in your position. I've developed new products on different websites, I've developed new products or services that I offered on old websites.

      A project is a success if you invest the right amount of passion, time, energy or money. It is more important what you do and what value do you provide, how you promote your product, not where it is. People make money with blogs or articles hosted on article databases, but if you need to control different things you should own your website.

      I developed a plugin without a website in mind. When I saw it is a success, I build a website for it and started to make it look like a professional one.

      Adding the product to the old website might get some sales to it fast, but if it is not related it might confuse your users. Think where do you want the product to be in the next 5 years. If it is a standalone product or if it is a product that will develop a community around it.

      There are so many questions you need to ask yourself, but only you know the answers.
      The problem is that my current product is a website that I own and have been working on for 5 years, and once someone buys they are a full member for life. Therefore I constantly need to keep getting new customers in order to keep making money. This is not a good business model.

      The new course would be very much related to the content of this site, and I'm sure the current members would love it. However, that is not a very profitable use of my time. If I were going to add this new course to my current site, it would only make sense for me to switch the model such that I stop selling lifetime memberships. However, with that comes the risk of drastically decreasing my sales volume (which happens everytime I try to change the model). On the other hand, if I change it and leave it for like 2 years, I definitely think I'd be better off in the long run with receiving recurring revenue. I just can't seem to stomach that "rebuilding period" where I'm not making what I'm used to making...

      I'm just going to keep working on this new course and then make the decision after it's done. It's definitely a tricky one!

      Thanks for the reply!
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  • Profile picture of the author Medon
    More site brands means more exposure. The aggregate income will be high even though you will need to reduce your leisure time.
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