Should I Make My Entire Site A Membership Site?

26 replies
So I just installed the s2member pro plugin on my wordpress blog and I'm just now figuring out the basics.

I know many sites have a "members only" section, but what if I were to make my entire site a membership site? Meaning no matter what post/page someone visits on my site, the plugin would automatically redirect them to the page where they would either have to subscribe for $14.95 per month to receive "exclusive content", or they would not be able to access any of the content at all.

I would of course monetize my site once they subscribe, but do you guys think this is a good idea?

Making my entire site "exclusive" and a "members only" site, or do you think I should still have some unlocked pages for the typical web surfer.

The way I see it....it's a profit maximizer. If they really do want access to the content, they'll subscribe and I'll be making $14.95 a month off them. If not, they can leave my site and never return to it again.

What are your thoughts? Good or bad idea?

Drew
#entire #make #membership #site
  • Profile picture of the author Romeo90
    If I landed on a website, and I knew nothing about it or the person behind it, and it directed me to a page where I was asked to pay, I would hit the back button immediately.

    My thoughts...bad idea. A very bad idea.
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    • Profile picture of the author wordwizard
      I agree with Romeo. At the very least, you'll need a great sales page that sells them on the benefits of your site.

      OR an opt-in page where you give them a report with answers to their burning questions that also pre-sells them on how your membership site can help them.

      And, of course, that membership site better help them with something they want, or they won't stick around till the second payment...

      In addition to the membership site, you should also create a blog with free information, either on that same URL or on a different URL, where you share helpful info to build your credibility and attract visitors to your site, preferably ones who are so impressed that they'll share the link to your site with their friends
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    • Profile picture of the author Daniel Thomas
      Originally Posted by Romeo90 View Post

      If I landed on a website, and I knew nothing about it or the person behind it, and it directed me to a page where I was asked to pay, I would hit the back button immediately.

      My thoughts...bad idea. A very bad idea.
      You have to be VERY clever about setting up PayWalls. I mean, New York Times, and others are having issues with it, so a random blog...
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  • Profile picture of the author Brandon Modrov
    I think it all depends on exactly what you're trying to accomplish. I would assume you are going to have some information selling them on why they would want to subscribe. You left that out but I'll assume you're going to have that. Very few would buy without more information on what you're writing about and why they should become a member.

    You can package your material a variety of ways. If you're offering a paid membership / blog type of site you can offer free information and link to related articles that they will need to be a member for.

    Example... ESPN offers a lot of information, articles and videos for free but also has their ESPN Insider to get even more information.

    You can also take the route of offering a free optin at first to capture everyone and then sell them on your information and paid system so you don't lose out on as many people as you had mentioned.
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  • Profile picture of the author WillR
    I think it's a bad idea. It's not a profit maximizer.

    To maximize your profits would be to have a whole load of free and valuable content available on your site and then have a paid section that has premium content only paid subscribers can access. The free content act as lead magnets to draw leads to your site. No one is going to come along to a site that has 100% locked content -- it's offers no value.
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  • Profile picture of the author EmergencyMonkey
    What I did was, make a few sample pages completely accessible so they see what they are getting if they sub. For my blog, I have every post accessible up to the first two paragraphs with a "want to see more? Sign in or sign up". I use wishlist member.
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    • Profile picture of the author Brandon Modrov
      Originally Posted by EmergencyMonkey View Post

      What I did was, make a few sample pages completely accessible so they see what they are getting if they sub. For my blog, I have every post accessible up to the first two paragraphs with a "want to see more? Sign in or sign up". I use wishlist member.
      Ahhhh the read more technique.... Yes I've used and seen that before. One of our local newspapers around here utilizes that Newsday.com You have to be a paid member or a Cablevision customer to read more.
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    • Profile picture of the author WillR
      Originally Posted by EmergencyMonkey View Post

      What I did was, make a few sample pages completely accessible so they see what they are getting if they sub. For my blog, I have every post accessible up to the first two paragraphs with a "want to see more? Sign in or sign up". I use wishlist member.
      Something like this is better. I have been to a lot of websites where they have locked content and they share some free valuable posts and also the first teaser of each post. It works well in drawing you in. But I have never signed up to any of those sites though just because you only see the value of one post.

      What I mean is if I come along to a site looking for something and the post says you must signup to read more, (then it shows me the price) it always seems a bit excessive because all I am interested in is reading the rest of that one post. I don't really care about what else is included in the membership. So do I pay $27 to read the end of that one post I am interested in at the moment? No, it seems too excessive and so I don't sign up.

      So you need to think about that and come up with a way to convey the full value of what they will be getting.
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  • Profile picture of the author Brandon Modrov
    Will, I've seen that many a times and thought the same. It's a reason why I never tried a pay more to read more type of marketing strategy. I've always come at it with full informative free to read posts or information with a sell on the more great stuff inside. Or the free opt in approach with the sell on a membership.
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    • Profile picture of the author WillR
      Originally Posted by Brandon Modrov View Post

      Will, I've seen that many a times and thought the same. It's a reason why I never tried a pay more to read more type of marketing strategy. I've always come at it with full informative free to read posts or information with a sell on the more great stuff inside. Or the free opt in approach with the sell on a membership.
      Yeah, those 'solution' or 'answer' sites come to mind here. You know the ones you come across when searching Google for a solution to a technical problem. You then click on the page and it says solution posted, you must join to view the full solution.

      The issue is you only want the answer to that one problem so it seems excessive to signup to the site and so I usually just hit the back button and go looking for the answer elsewhere.
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    • Profile picture of the author EmergencyMonkey
      Originally Posted by Brandon Modrov View Post

      Will, I've seen that many a times and thought the same. It's a reason why I never tried a pay more to read more type of marketing strategy. I've always come at it with full informative free to read posts or information with a sell on the more great stuff inside. Or the free opt in approach with the sell on a membership.
      Actually I am using it for a sign up technique, not a pay for membership technique. .......yet This way they get a taste of everything, and they can sign up for everything, just fill in this tiny, simple, pretty looking area here and click the cute little button.
      I am not sure how I will adapt it, but my niche truly is a little different. We are a particular sort. Gonna see if and how it takes off first.
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  • Profile picture of the author Brandon Modrov
    Ohh yes that's a great example. I forgot about those solution and answer sites. I agree you just want the answer for that current problem and not the whole website.
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    • Profile picture of the author Joel Young
      From personal experience, I'm more likely to actually pay for access if there is already lots of valuable material for free, but personal coaching or other types of exclusive information or help are what I pay for.

      People won't mind paying for something "special".
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  • Profile picture of the author drewfioravanti
    One of my sites is "Members Only". I have free member content and premium member content. I don't care about the casual surfer. All of the content is locked down so you have to at least get a free membership to get access to any of the content.

    I also have two lists...the free members list and the premium members list. The premium list gets the goods. The free members get the teaser...with the opportunity to get the goods.
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    • Profile picture of the author EmergencyMonkey
      Originally Posted by drewfioravanti View Post

      One of my sites is "Members Only". I have free member content and premium member content. I don't care about the casual surfer. All of the content is locked down so you have to at least get a free membership to get access to any of the content.

      I also have two lists...the free members list and the premium members list. The premium list gets the goods. The free members get the teaser...with the opportunity to get the goods.
      Since my site is in the early stages, I am planning ahead for adjusting the model in the future. This way I won't have to alter too much when it's time. I am trying to take as much into account early on.
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  • Profile picture of the author ravijayagopal
    Drew,

    Short answer: Bad idea.

    Long answer: I think you got ahead of yourself a little bit here...

    If your entire site is locked down, your content will not be indexed by Google or any of the other search engines. Which means, no one is going to find your site in search results for general or long-tail keywords any time soon :-)

    Which means your dilemma is no longer a dilemma to begin with :-)

    Which is why, as you have observed, you will see a "Members" section on most sites. That allows you to publish public content to draw SE traffic, and then monetize it further with more specialized content.

    With certain membership plugins (like DAP), you can do what we call "Sneak Peek" (or "Read More...") but those too have its advantages and disadvantages, like the others have already mentioned.

    If the visitor doesn't already know who you are, then you're going to find it tough to convert cold traffic from SE's into paying members. You're better off offering great free content to draw them in, get their email id's, follow up with great content, "stack the cool", build a lasting relationship and provide a lot of value, and then also offer more exclusive content behind a paywall.

    Once you establish yourself as an "expert", converting them is going to be a whole lot easier.

    - Ravi Jayagopal
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    • Profile picture of the author drewfioravanti
      Originally Posted by ravijayagopal View Post

      Drew,

      Short answer: Bad idea.

      Long answer: I think you got ahead of yourself a little bit here...

      If your entire site is locked down, your content will not be indexed by Google or any of the other search engines. Which means, no one is going to find your site in search results for general or long-tail keywords any time soon :-)

      Which means your dilemma is no longer a dilemma to begin with :-)

      Which is why, as you have observed, you will see a "Members" section on most sites. That allows you to publish public content to draw SE traffic, and then monetize it further with more specialized content.

      With certain membership plugins (like DAP), you can do what we call "Sneak Peek" (or "Read More...") but those too have its advantages and disadvantages, like the others have already mentioned.

      If the visitor doesn't already know who you are, then you're going to find it tough to convert cold traffic from SE's into paying members. You're better off offering great free content to draw them in, get their email id's, follow up with great content, "stack the cool", build a lasting relationship and provide a lot of value, and then also offer more exclusive content behind a paywall.

      Once you establish yourself as an "expert", converting them is going to be a whole lot easier.

      - Ravi Jayagopal
      I don't play Google's game.
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    • Profile picture of the author EmergencyMonkey
      Originally Posted by ravijayagopal View Post

      Drew,

      If your entire site is locked down, your content will not be indexed by Google or any of the other search engines. Which means, no one is going to find your site in search results for general or long-tail keywords any time soon :-)

      Which means your dilemma is no longer a dilemma to begin with :-)
      I thought google crawls the code so it would see through any blockade unless the whole site was in something like maintenance mode. Although my site has been in that mode for months, but my posts, as I prepare to open it, are indexed when I search google and I haven't done anything for that to happen....nvm, just checked and it's my sample pages that are Indexed
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  • Profile picture of the author ravijayagopal
    You don't have to like Google or "play Google's game". But if you're thinking you don't care about traffic from the largest search engine in the world, then you're really missing out.

    Anyway, it's not about just Google. The only way for people to arrive at your web site through their own devices, is via search engines.

    Unless of course, you or your partners/affiliates are specifically driving traffic to your site (through ads, solos, aff promos, etc). In which case, you're definitely not going to want to drive traffic to a totally "closed" site.

    So any which way you look at it, getting people to go to a totally locked down site is just not a good idea.
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  • Profile picture of the author drewfioravanti
    OK. But I am definitely going to run my business how I want. And that does not include Google.
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    • Profile picture of the author ravijayagopal
      @drewfioravanti: I just realized that you (drewfioravanti) and the OP (npakergy16) are both named Drew :-)

      All of my responses have been addressed to the OP, and not to you. Of course you're welcome to not include Google in your business, but it looks like the OP does care about Google or other SE traffic, so I was responding to him.

      Originally Posted by drewfioravanti View Post

      OK. But I am definitely going to run my business how I want. And that does not include Google.
      - Ravi Jayagopal
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  • Profile picture of the author stevenfabian
    I think you should definitely leave some free content as well. What's more, I think you should always keep adding new free content to the site. For once, it will ensure people that your advice is worth paying for, and second, even the search engines will drive you more traffic which will earn you more customers and more money yin the long run.

    If you do NOT have any free content available, the exact contrary will happen: you won't receive and visitors and even if you do, very few of them will subscribe.

    Steve
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    No agenda here...
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  • Profile picture of the author shafinazahra
    Totally agree, the website should be left open for content search and the content should be valuable... and then when they approach the membership area, they feel more compelled to join because the free material was so enticing.. you always want to keep your audience engaged.
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    Shafina Zahra
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  • Profile picture of the author Daus
    It is a bad idea to do that. Why should you make them leave your site and never return again? If they want to leave your website, at least make sure they will return again someday to become a member to your site.

    IMHO, just give them some free valuable content. This will build some trust and make them more eager to join your membership site.
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  • Profile picture of the author NewRiseDigital
    Here's a killer tip for setting up a members section within a blog...

    Set up a main WordPress installation in your root directory for your main public facing blog (viewable by search engines).

    Add a sub-directory to your main site (call it /members if you like) and install a second installation of WordPress in the sub-directory, and install the Membership plugin on this subdirectory installation. Use this sub-directory installation for all your membership pages (not viewable by search engines if it's protected with a membership plugin)

    Voila, an open site for your public pages, a separate site on the same domain for your membership pages.

    Hope this helps!
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  • Profile picture of the author Stuart Walker
    I would hit back on my browser and never look at your site ever again.

    You expect me to pay a monthly fee to access information when I don't even know how good that information is?

    No way.
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