There's a very interesting and critical thread about membership sites here: http://www.warriorforum.com/main-int...ip-income.html
I read it and while I agreed with some aspects I also think many people miss a few of the positive aspects of memberships so I thought it would be great for people (Starting with me) to share why they ARE good.
The title is a little tongue-in-cheek because obviously a delivery mechanism is no more a business than an engine is a car.
So here's what I'm thinking.......
I've been creating membership sites for many years and I've done them in many niches and in many formats.
I have a membership site that gets all of its traffic from offline marketing and someone else does all of the work and I get 50% (for creating and developing the plan and technical implementation) but I don't actually create any content or in fact do any of the administrative tasks anymore. This site is currently bringing in over $20k a month - not massive but very low attrition.
Let's talk about the situation of "membership sites are hard work to maintain and more trouble than their worth".
This is of course nonsense.
Since there are so many ways to implement a membership, they can be as simple as an autoresponder and a password protected area on your server, or you could pay $10k for a script.
The upshot is - YOU get to decide what you're going to provide.
***Important Note*** Your members will expect.....
Whatever you told them to expect.
So, if you tell them that for $5 a month they'll get one 30-minute audio - THAT is what you need to deliver.
They rarely care about the technicalities of how you do it.
(see this thread for peoples views on that: http://www.warriorforum.com/main-int...embership.html )
So - given that you don't HAVE to make it complicated and you're only obligated to deliver whatever YOU decide to offer and set the expectation for - Why would it be complicated?
So, now we come to the other aspect - retention rates, or attrition rates (whichever way you want to look at it)
This obviously is governed to a large degree by the market you're entering. Since many IMers go into the 'IM' market, it's not surprising that they have high attrition rates - Many IMers get bored, change their mind, stop caring, download everything and leave, and all the other things they like to do.
If you're providing lessons on how to get your Private Pilots License, and delivering material in a timed fashion that lines up with a training program or curriculum you'll probably find different member behaviour.
So - consider what's appropriate rather than trying to fit what you want people to do into the model instead of what they want to do.
Next the issue of - "I don't want the hassle of a forum I need to keep busy and spend personal time on"
See previous note - YOU decide what you're offering and what they should expect.
Some people run memberships that are purely forum access, some don't have forums.
I tend to avoid having forums unless it's for coaching or mentoring clients where that model requires personal interaction and tracking of actions.
Take away note: Don't have a forum just because you think you should. Start without one if you can and then add it only if it makes sense.
"I can't think of anything I can offer that I could charge much for - I'm not an expert in anything"
Ok, that's common and completely fine.
Here are 2 approaches:
1 - Just do some research and find a few dozen key things that your market want and then put a low price on the membership to give them a little each month. (a price that makes it a no-brainer)
2 - Find a person who is an expert and work with them to share their expertise in whatever way is most suitable for your market.
Now I know there are also people who want to do a membership but are thinking "But even if I had good stuff, I wouldn't know how to get tons of members".
Here's what I say to that.....
There are 2 clear ways to make membership sites work for you:
1 - Make 1 (or just a few) that you put focus on and grow into large membership numbers.
2 - Create lots of small ones that require very little from you.
So - if you think "I can't get many members" just reframe that into "I will create lots of small memberships which only require a little"
Then consider this:
If your model is to create lots of small memberships - Think of a good overall niche and purposely build as many sub-niches as you can feed enough content into to deliver on your promises - but that you can reasonably cross promote to each other and that if after 12 months you took the content from each membership it could logically be turned into a high-ticket course.
Let you little bits of effort support a bigger overall theme and you can be creating a high ticket product to promote to ALL of your membership sites, while making money and cross promoting each site to the existing ones as you go.
Again, this can be free and simple or expensive and complicated - that's up to you.
And of course - you can outsource any of the bits you don't want to do yourself (up to and including ALL of them).
So - don't assume it has to be difficult, complicated, expensive, require you to be an expert, be time consuming etc. etc...
YOU CHOOSE HOW YOU BUILD YOUR BUSINESS.
So membership sites CAN be a very simple, very lucrative adding to any business or form the complete revenue model - it's up to you.
They also make excellent value when approaching JV partners (you can offer memberships/trials as bonuses to add value, or even offer to do a return promotion to your membership in exchange for them promoting your stuff).
In short - While I agree with Kens perspective in the other thread to some degree, there are people making things sound too good while selling their stuff - Since YOU are ultimately in control of how you do these things, you should stop relying on other people to tell you how you should do it and just create your own plan that you're comfortable with and that you can fulfill in a way that you enjoy and that will make your goals be realised.
Memberships are as good or bad as the way you use them.