16 replies
Hey Warriors,

Membership sites are hot - I know quite a few people on here run them. There's something cool about a recurring x people paying you x per month for providing them good content.

Unfortunately, I've never really tapped into the membership website craze... having thousands of members sign up. I have a couple of low member, low income membership sites (a few hundred a month) but have never 'hit it big'.

I've always wanted to, but one thing's held me back... how do you transfer the ownership of membership sites?

I always like my websites to have an opt out (for me) ease so if things come up I can sell them to someone that has the time. And obviously membership sites can go for a lot of money... ten people paying you $50/month and your website is worth $5,000 - $10,000.

If income is taken through Paypal, on subscription, you have to cancel all subscriptions and transfer them to the new owner once sold. Which means you'll lose a decent chunk.

You could transfer the Paypal account if it's a business one, but that isn't feasible for me given where I stay.

Anyone who's been there, done that have any tips? Thanks!
#membership #sites
  • Profile picture of the author ~kev~
    Well, there is more to membership sites then just posting content. Such as paid members not seeing ads and banners.

    A lot of forums offer paid memberships, and as a result members get access to private sections and do not have to see banners. This is the way I have it setup on my forum and it works pretty well.
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  • Profile picture of the author winebuddy
    just a quick thought...

    You CAN sell the site but keep the current income stream. You and the new buyer can see what the site is capable of and that definitely adds a lot of value.

    In addition, you could stock it up with 12 more months of future, to be released, content.
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    birminghamshootingrange.comfor sale |"Knowledge is NOT power... ACTION on Knowledge is power"
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  • Profile picture of the author Jason Pereira
    I'm not talking about the content guys - I mean transferring it *if* you decide to sell it.

    Say, for example...

    I start a membership site - 'weight loss for dummies'. Talk about one way to lose weight per month, comes in a PDF / video / blueprint format.

    Get 100 members paying you $10/month, so total of $1,000. Run it for 3-4 months, members are happy, membership stays roughly the same.

    Exams come up - don't have the time to run it anymore. Or just want to liquidate it to get some funds for other projects. Whatever the reason, a website with a recurring, proven $1,000/month is worth around $10,000... so say I decide I want to sell it.

    Is there any way to set up a membership site so that when you transfer to a new owner you don't lose all the subscription payments, without transferring the Paypal account?

    Thanks all that have taken a look and tried to help
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    • Profile picture of the author Josh Anderson
      The first rule of thumb is to never use paypal as your payment processor for membership sites. I realize this may be a little more challenging being located in Dubai but if your site uses a merchant account with a common or easy to obtain gateway then switching owners is a simple 2 second process.

      That is how I have set up our system to handle membership sites for publishers. We offer paypal but we also offer Authorize.net and Durango Merchant Services gateways so that anyone can move to a new merchant account just by switching their id info. This makes selling and taking over easy as well.
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      • Profile picture of the author Jason Pereira
        Originally Posted by Josh Anderson View Post

        The first rule of thumb is to never use paypal as your payment processor for membership sites. I realize this may be a little more challenging being located in Dubai but if your site uses a merchant account with a common or easy to obtain gateway then switching owners is a simple 2 second process.

        That is how I have set up our system to handle membership sites for publishers. We offer paypal but we also offer Authorize.net and Durango Merchant Services gateways so that anyone can move to a new merchant account just by switching their id info. This makes selling and taking over easy as well.
        That's where I'm going wrong, then.

        For your membership sites - does that mean if you sell them you lose / forgo your Paypal members?

        I'll check out Authorize.net, it looks fairly decent. Does it allow people to pay through Paypal with their credit cards? The reason I ask is that a lot of people are scared of giving out their credit card details to X website which they have no idea whether it's trustworthy or not.

        Thanks for the help Josh.
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        • Profile picture of the author Josh Anderson
          Originally Posted by Jason Pereira View Post

          That's where I'm going wrong, then.

          For your membership sites - does that mean if you sell them you lose / forgo your Paypal members?

          I'll check out Authorize.net, it looks fairly decent. Does it allow people to pay through Paypal with their credit cards? The reason I ask is that a lot of people are scared of giving out their credit card details to X website which they have no idea whether it's trustworthy or not.

          Thanks for the help Josh.
          Authorize.net is a gateway. You need a merchant account that works with Authorize.net in order to use them.

          That is why I mentioned Dubai being difficult because there are no Authorize.net enabled merchant accounts that I know of that will accept Dubai merchants.

          If you lock all of your subscribers into a paypal account you are pretty much stuck unless the account is owned by a corporation in which case if the corporation changes ownership there may be a way to keep the paypal account...

          But I doubt Paypal will let sole proprietors off the hook.
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    • Profile picture of the author ~kev~
      Originally Posted by Jason Pereira View Post

      I'm not talking about the content guys - I mean transferring it *if* you decide to sell it.
      Dang it,,, I'am sorry I posted off topic. I thought you were asking about creating a paid member content site.
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  • Profile picture of the author Roshan C
    Yeah, I am still trying to find a "good" answer to this question, as I was thinking to launch a membership site on "health" niche soon.

    I've called paypal, they said I could make a different paypal business account especially for the website, and it is possible to handover the paypal account to the new owner.

    Are there any better option available expect using clickbank?

    TGK
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  • Profile picture of the author TheRichJerksNet
    Well as someone that has sold many sites I can tell you a membership site is no different than selling a regular site. You go about it the same way.. But you must notify your members and inform them of such sale because when they signed up with your site they agreed to get emails from you, they agreed that their personal info would only be seen by you, and etc ...

    There is a difference between selling a membership site and flipping a site as some call it.. You should have a contract in place with the person you are selling to, this is to protect you as much as the buyer...

    As far as payments and etc if you are using a proper membership script it will have all the recorded information and all the new owner needs to do is add his paypal (or other payment method) to the site..

    James
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    • Profile picture of the author mscopeland
      Another thing about selling a membership site.

      If your membership site is its own business then it will have its own paypal account etc.

      So when you sell it, they get the paypal account. The only thing there may have to be changing the address and remove your bank account information.

      If the business remains in tact, just a change in ownership, then technically it's the same business. So the people already agreed that Membership Site Biz.com could contact them and have their information that agreement is still in place, right? The agreement isn't with the owner of the business but with the business itself.

      The policies would have to remain in tact or if changed everyone would have to be notified.

      At least that's my thoughts on the matter.

      Everything you build should be able to be packaged and handed to someone else.
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      • Profile picture of the author JP Wilson
        The best way to sell membership sites is not to simply flip them for a quick profit (although you certainly could with great success) but rather to build them up so that the monthly recurring income stream skyrockets the value of the site.

        Imagine starting a program tomorrow and managing to get 2 people per day into your program. At the end of 1 calendar year, you would be sitting on a business that is no longer "theoretically" profitable but is a 4-5 figure per-month asset. Trust me; the last thing you'll need to worry about is how to transfer it over to the buyer. All of the specifics can be ironed out quite easily.
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    • Profile picture of the author Tyrus Antas
      Originally Posted by TheRichJerksNet View Post

      As far as payments and etc if you are using a proper membership script it will have all the recorded information and all the new owner needs to do is add his paypal (or other payment method) to the site..
      Unfortunately because there is no decoupling between merchant and gateway with paypal memberships changing paypal ids would mean you'd have to resend payment information for already existing members and the old owner would have to cancel existing memberships so as to members won't be billed twice.

      Tyrus
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  • Profile picture of the author stevenh512
    If you can use Clickbank to collect payments, that kills 2 birds with 1 stone. You have a built-in affiliate program, and if you ever decide to sell the site you can transfer the Clickbank account (yes, they do allow this) and the owner doesn't lose any monthly subscriptions or affiliates.
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    • Profile picture of the author Stu Eaves
      Originally Posted by stevenh512 View Post

      If you can use Clickbank to collect payments, that kills 2 birds with 1 stone. You have a built-in affiliate program, and if you ever decide to sell the site you can transfer the Clickbank account (yes, they do allow this) and the owner doesn't lose any monthly subscriptions or affiliates.
      Does anyone here use clickbank for membership sites though?
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  • Profile picture of the author stevenh512
    I'm not sure how many people are actually using Clickbank for membership sites, but depending on the membership software you're using it's possible to use Clickbank. They support recurring billing, they offer an "IPN-like" system to notify your script of purchases/cancellations/refunds, etc. Considering how easy Clickbank has made it to transfer an account (no need to pay the $50 fee like you used to.. just give the new owner the login/password and let them update all the account info), if I was building a membership site with the idea of selling it at some point in the future, I'd definitely be looking into Clickbank as a possible solution.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jason Pereira
    Thanks for all the feedback guys

    I'll be looking at setting up a company in Hong Kong or India while I'm on vacation and I'm sure one of them will be accepted by a merchant account setup. So will start my (hopefully awesome :p ) membership site then.
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