Membership Sites VS Selling Ebooks

23 replies
Hey all

Do you have membership sites, or are you selling ebooks or other products via a website, through a list, through affiliates etc?

Thus far I have only ever sold ebooks, but I'm starting to see the light in the whole continuity aspect of membership sites.

It just seems that if you have a list for example, you have to provide enough value on a regular basis to convince someone to take out their wallet and buy something every week, month or however often you send out a promotion.

With a membership site on the other hand, the only real convincing you need to do is to get someone to sign up to your membership site in the beginning. After that you only need to keep them happy enough so they do not unsubscribe.

That seems to me to be a LOT easier than convincing someone to take out their wallet and buy something on a regular basis.

What are your experiences? Which model do YOU think is more effective?

Thanks
#ebooks #membership #selling #sites
  • Profile picture of the author TheAngryMarketer
    They both work. It depends on what you're better at. Can you continually create new products for your customers (or continually find good affiliate products to promote)? If not, and you understand how to run a membership site correctly, which means giving constant value to your customers, do that. They are similar ideas. While you may not be creating a 'product' every month on the membership site, you have to create new content. Otherwise you won't be able to keep re-billing them, since they'll leave.
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  • Profile picture of the author tpw
    I hear that most membership sites lose the majority of their members within 3-4 months of sign-up.

    While membership sites look attractive on the outside, more important is repeat sales. That is what we all want, right?
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    Bill Platt, Oklahoma USA, PlattPublishing.com
    Publish Coloring Books for Profit (WSOTD 7-30-2015)
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    • Profile picture of the author Snow_Predator
      Originally Posted by TheAngryMarketer View Post

      They both work. It depends on what you're better at. Can you continually create new products for your customers (or continually find good affiliate products to promote)? If not, and you understand how to run a membership site correctly, which means giving constant value to your customers, do that. They are similar ideas. While you may not be creating a 'product' every month on the membership site, you have to create new content. Otherwise you won't be able to keep re-billing them, since they'll leave.
      Thanks for your reply TheAngryMarketer, yes I understand that each are different and I suppose you can't classify one as being better than the other. At the end of the day it depends on what you personally can get better results with.

      Originally Posted by tpw View Post

      I hear that most membership sites lose the majority of their members within 3-4 months of sign-up.

      While membership sites look attractive on the outside, more important is repeat sales. That is what we all want, right?
      Thanks Bill. That's an interesting statistic, and puts a whole new spin on the concept of membership sites for me. If all you have is that membership site, then as soon as your members leave, you'll never see them again.

      With a list on the other hand, there will be unsubscribers and inactive members on your list, but there'll be far less people unsubscribing and vanishing from a list because they won't be paying anything for it.

      Perhaps you could treat a membership site like you would a product? So work with a list, refer them onto products, also develop a membership site at one point and refer your list to the memebership site. That way when they leave the membership site, they're still on your list.

      Hmmm, much food for thought, thanks
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    • Profile picture of the author sal64
      Originally Posted by tpw View Post

      I hear that most membership sites lose the majority of their members within 3-4 months of sign-up.

      While membership sites look attractive on the outside, more important is repeat sales. That is what we all want, right?
      Very important pints, Bill.

      The thing is that the whole term membership has become blurred.

      For the consumer, membership has a higher perceived value. So at the very least, even ebooks should be accessible through a membership site. This gives you hub where you can keep your customer coming back every time you have something new or an announcement etc.

      Retention is a key factor in all of this. we have to remember that people are great at getting all pumped up and taking action... and then quickly moving on to something else.

      So on that basis, unless you are running a subscription site like a news site, they can be difficult to maintain... and I am not just talking about retention and content.

      If you have a product that you can break down into smaller steps then a fixed term site is ideal to triple or quadruple your customer value.

      For the bigger fee sites... say $47 per month upwards, you really must have something great that will keep your members engaged, as well as see real benefits and results from the site.

      And that's just the tip of the iceberg IMO.

      Sal
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      • Profile picture of the author butters
        I remember back in 2009/2010 micro continuity sites used to be all the rage. A membership site was set up but only had 12 weeks worth or training on it (could be longer or less.) after that 12 weeks, that's it, your monthly bills stopped and you have access to your content, just some food for thought, there are more variations of a membership site then the typical one.
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  • Profile picture of the author Andrew Mak
    If your content is very important for the member, then they will keep on paying monthly, this is a very good business module for IM.

    if you feed them with value, they will feed you with money.
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  • Profile picture of the author knish
    Sometimes membership sites are safer. It makes it harder for people to download, copy, and distribute content illegally.
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  • Profile picture of the author jbsmith
    They actually work very well together...for most of our markets we find that there is the desire for "point" products (ebooks, reports, courses) as well as continuously updated products (continuity).

    For example, we have one ebook that sells on Clickbank that shares a 5-step process for achieving a Stress-Free state...then we have a membership site that helps with advanced methods as well as related challenges people have such as self-confidence, shyness, goal setting, etc...

    The benefit of continuity is that it is updated weekly, incorporates different information delivery formats (in our case we offer videos, audios, private support forum and monthly Q&A calls)

    You can also do some interesting bundles where one of your ebook bonuses is a special rate $1 - 1-month trial which gives added incentive to buy the ebook and puts them into your continuity funnel...

    Jeff
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  • Profile picture of the author Kal Sallam
    The thing with membership sites is they don't just work for any niche.
    Also regarding the member stick rate it would be best if the monthly fee
    Is low, a good number would be 9.99 per month, who can't afford that?
    You would be surprised that some of your members will forget to cancel.
    Or just pure lazy about the whole unsubscribing idea.(Tested)
    Now that being said never take advantage of that, and always go beyond
    Your customers expectations.


    KaL.
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    • Profile picture of the author braincandy7
      I understand where you are coming from here. But we have learned from personal experience that the lower your price the harder it is to please your members.

      When people get a free trial or something for a very low price they often don't feel any urgency to actually take action and apply what you are teaching. The flip side of this is that often they don't see any tangible results. It's very easy at that point to say "well this isn't really working for me" and unsubscribe.

      We found that as soon as we did away with the free trial and replaced it with a small payment for a weeks trial that we got less signups but the people who did sign up all engaged and made contact. Once people have made contact and start talking then the everyone can move forward make some good progress.


      Originally Posted by Kal Sallam View Post

      The thing with membership sites is they don't just work for any niche.
      Also regarding the member stick rate it would be best if the monthly fee
      Is low, a good number would be 9.99 per month, who can't afford that?
      You would be surprised that some of your members will forget to cancel.
      Or just pure lazy about the whole unsubscribing idea.(Tested)
      Now that being said never take advantage of that, and always go beyond
      Your customers expectations.


      KaL.
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      • Profile picture of the author Mary Greene
        Good posts, braincandy7! Thanks for sharing your experience with free trials and low-priced memberships.

        Overwhelmed with individual offers, buyers seek control, competence, and community.

        The membership model is so flexible, it offers a way to reward repeat buyers and build long-term relationships.

        Cheers,
        Mary Greene
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        Cheers,
        Mary Greene

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  • Profile picture of the author John Romaine
    Sales funnel

    offer 1 > offer 2 > offer 3 > membership
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    BS free SEO services, training and advice - SEO Point

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  • Hi Snow Predator, to keep up a membership you must keep it up with top quality, using also a drip feed system to keep every month different by the others.
    Only in that way a person is stimulated to stay subscribed, otherwise he will lost past contents.

    If instead a person made access in January and you have the same contents available as he login in September, there's no sense to stay subscribed. He can enter in January and cancel to re-enter later to grab new things.

    I hope you can comprehend me.

    See you soon,
    Alessandro
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  • Profile picture of the author braincandy7
    I have and continue to sell ebooks, affiliate products and also co own a membership site.

    I have found much more enjoyment from my membership site. I like to engage with people and enjoy helping them overcome to obstacles which newer IM'ers come across.

    I guess it all depends on what sort of membership site. If you are talking about paying monthly and receiving scheduled emails with info then i would say it will be much harder to keep people with you long term as you don't really build relationships.

    If you are on the other hand talking about a site where you can build a community feel and can engage with members via forums and live chat then you will find it much easier long term as you can get to know your members and can more easily grow your site in the direction they need. Call it constant market research if you like.
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  • Profile picture of the author braincandy7
    No Problem Mary. We are still testing as we go but each step seems to be closer to a good balance.

    I forgot to mention that when we took away the free trial we also tripled our monthly price and were happy to see that the number of new members joining did not really diminish by much. Maybe a 25% drop in new members but they are all active.

    To be honest we would rather have less members to better be able to concentrate and assist them than be thinly spread.
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  • Profile picture of the author Nixgan
    Membership sites are hard to
    maintain in my point of view.
    It is still better to go for ebooks
    or both together for maximum impact.
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  • Profile picture of the author Randall Magwood
    Membership sites are desirable, but a one-time $7-$19 ebook would sell faster and easier.
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  • Profile picture of the author amin-lelieveld
    Hi,

    Using a membership site is very interesting but you must understand that people won't stick for a year or more. Sell a solution that people can achievein a matter of weeks and sell a coaching program as a membership.

    People will pay a lot more for good coaching and they will stick longer.
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  • Profile picture of the author paul nicholls
    I currently do both, I have my own IM membership site and also my own products

    Membership sites are fantastic and mine is building very nicely ;-) but they do take a bit of work and you do need to make sure you follow a proven membership model otherwise it can take you months and even years to work out how to structure things for best results

    I did all the testing myself which took me bloody months but it's all paying off now because i have a solid model now which is very profitable

    Selling products is also very profitable but i would say that first create some products and then consider the membership route.

    A little tip for you - Once you have your membership site built you can build it up quite easily by adding it to your existing products and sales funnels as upsells, downsells and oto's etc
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  • Profile picture of the author seobro
    I have found that the majority of membership sites die after a few month, but it is the fault of the owners. Like many times you cannot get in. This is because they have only one server. Other times they create tiers such as - premium, premium pro. However, they will only give you the goodies if you pay a lot every year. Frankly, it is not worth the money. Reminds me of a WSO that is real cheap only $27 this week only and all it does is try to sell you on a $297 product that has the secret sauce.
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  • Profile picture of the author paul nicholls
    The way a membership site is way more profitable is if you only have a 3 month retention on a $17 per month then you are going to make $51 per person that joins your membership site if you have a 3 month average retention

    And if you can convert around 1 in 10 to join your membership site you have a very profitable business

    That is like selling a $51 product and getting a 10% conversion rate, which is pretty un heard of

    I have tested lots of different price points and trial lengths over the last 6 months and i have finally found a very effective pricing structure along with a trial length and also how i deliver and produce all my content for my members.

    Once you do the initial testing and you know your numbers it's all easy peasy from there, you just then send boat loads of traffic to your membership site and watch the number increase
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  • Profile picture of the author Coby
    I use my "digital products" (software, ebooks, video courses) as a way to generate leads for my membership site...

    So while I promote the membership as a stand alone product (as do affiliates). It's much easier to upsell someone into the membership then to sell it to them "cold"....

    So if you are launching lots of WSOs (or products in general) it's a good way to introduce yourself to that person and let them see the quality of work you produce. Once they know like and trust you it's an easy upsell to the membership site.

    Good luck.

    Cheers,
    Coby
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  • Profile picture of the author yakim1
    I think you are missing the boat if you are not using both models together. It's called a sales funnel. The free ebook could be the opening of your funnel where you build your list.

    The non- free ebooks become a step or two down your sales funnel with the farther people go down your sales funnel the high priced and the higher the quality of the products become.

    The bottom of your funnel is your high ticket product, which could be your membership program. Even if your membership only costs $27 a month that's still a $324 a year from every member that remains active. So when you look at the yearly price you have a fairly high ticket product.

    You have your list building and lower ticket products working for you now, don't abandon it, but start building the rest of your sales funnel.

    I hope this has been helpful,
    Steve Yakim
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