Tag Archives: Membership Sites

Copyblogger’s Holiday Buffet Edition

Copyblogger's Holiday Buffet Edition

You know how holiday buffets are … you take a little bit of cheese, and then another kind of cheese, and then four more kinds of cheese, then squeeze six desserts onto the plate, and finally you take a tiny square of Jell-O because it’s basically a vegetable?

No? Just me?

ANYWAY. This week we have a little buffet assortment for you … without the Jell-O vegetables.

On Monday, Sean Jackson and Jessica Frick were nice enough to host me on the Members Only podcast, where we talked about the days when I launched my first membership community. We laughed a lot and had a great conversation about the value of just plain moving forward, even if you’re not 100 percent sure where the path will take you.

Over on The Showrunner, Jerod Morris and Jonny Nastor dug deep into creating systems for your podcast (or any other aspect of your content or business, actually). Even if you’re not a podcaster, I think you’ll find this one useful.

Monday, I also had fun sharing some of my favorite bits of bad writing advice, sourced from the community (hey, that’s you!) and our editorial team — with some suggestions for what you might try instead.

On Tuesday, we saw a classic Brian Clark post about why education works so well when we’re trying to persuade … and how to structure your content to make it easy for your reader to say “Yes.”

And don’t miss Brian’s new conversation with Darren Rowse of ProBlogger on Unemployable. You’ll hear how the entire content marketing movement truly began, where blogging is going, and why we all need to first return to the foundational element of human connection before we focus on fancy automation, strategic funnels, and conversion optimization.

Stefanie Flaxman wrapped up the week with a small but mighty fact-checking tip that, if you’re in this game long enough, is just about guaranteed to save you an annoying customer support headache at some point in your professional life.

If you’re celebrating a holiday this weekend, I wish you a very happy one, and I’ll catch you next week!

— Sonia Simone
Chief Content Officer, Rainmaker Digital

Catch up on this week’s content

bad advice you can tune outConventional Writing Wisdom You Can Ignore, Effective Immediately

by Sonia Simone

Educate to Dominate Your CompetitionEducate to Dominate Your Competition

by Brian Clark

A Seemingly Minor Fact-Checking Tip that Yields Top-Notch Customer ServiceA Seemingly Minor Fact-Checking Tip that Yields Top-Notch Customer Service

by Stefanie Flaxman

Why Starting a Membership Site Is a Terrible Idea … Until You Just Do ItWhy Starting a Membership Site Is a Terrible Idea … Until You Just Do It

by Sean Jackson

Quick! What Can You Systematize Before 2017?Quick! What Can You Systematize Before 2017?

by Jerod Morris & Jon Nastor

Laura Roeder on Building a Business that Supports the Lifestyle You LoveLaura Roeder on Building a Business that Supports the Lifestyle You Love

by Brian Clark & Jerod Morris

Bad Writing Advice: The ‘Post Truth’ EpisodeBad Writing Advice: The ‘Post Truth’ Episode

by Sonia Simone

How Journalist and Bestselling Author of ‘The Revenge of Analog’ David Sax Writes: Part TwoHow Journalist and Bestselling Author of ‘The Revenge of Analog’ David Sax Writes: Part Two

by Kelton Reid

Blogging is Back, with Darren RowseBlogging is Back, with Darren Rowse

by Brian Clark

The post Copyblogger’s Holiday Buffet Edition appeared first on Copyblogger.

Why Starting a Membership Site Is a Terrible Idea … Until You Just Do It


Sonia Simone joins our show to walk you through the most important elements of setting up a membership site, today.

As we approach the new year, you may be thinking about the changes you want to make to your life. And if you have been following the show, that may mean that you are looking to start — or at least expand — a membership site.

But change can be scary. And it is that fear of change that keeps most from ever moving forward.

If you are in earnest about building and growing a membership site — and need that extra inspiration to move forward — then you will love this episode.

In this 30-minute episode, Jessica Frick and I interview Sonia Simone and discuss her personal journey in creating membership communities, with deep insight into:

  • The single most important element you need when launching a membership site
  • How to launch a membership site when you have no audience online
  • The two most important ingredients you need to grow a membership site
  • And why it is OK to make mistakes along the way

Listen to this Episode Now

The post Why Starting a Membership Site Is a Terrible Idea … Until You Just Do It appeared first on Copyblogger.

Why Passion Matters More Than Skill When Launching a Membership Site


Charity Preston — a teacher turned teacherprenuer — shares her incredible journey to creating an online membership network for teachers.

Imagine you have a sick child at home that demands 100 percent of your time and attention. And these demands require you to give up your professional career.

What would you do?

Today’s guest faced that exact situation — a classroom teacher at the pinnacle of her career that resigned in the middle of the academic year to care for her child.

But she was not content to give up her passion for helping others. So she made the leap from teacher to online teacherprenuer — with no technical training or online marketing expertise, armed only with a passion to help others.

In this 24-minute episode, Jessica Frick and I interview Charity Preston and discuss her journey from academic to online entrepreneur, including:

  • The personal event in 2010 that changed her life
  • Her haphazard online attempts that turned into a huge lead magnet
  • How she created multiple income streams in a cyclical sales environment
  • And the next frontier that she is exploring in community-driven membership sites

Listen to this Episode Now

The post Why Passion Matters More Than Skill When Launching a Membership Site appeared first on Copyblogger.

How to Set Up Google Analytics for Your Membership Site


Setting up Google Analytics for your membership site can be tricky … unless you know the right way to start.

Data analysis is at the core of all online marketing. But how do you get the right data, and more importantly, how do you make sense of it all?

On today’s show, we have the queen of data analysis for Rainmaker Digital as our guest to help you set up Google Analytics for your membership site.

In this 27-minute episode, Jessica Frick, Sean Jackson, and Loryn Thompson discuss the best way to set up Google Analytics, including:

  • The most important steps you need to do first
  • How to track actions that generate financial results
  • What data you should be looking for
  • And why all data analysis is really a trend analysis

Listen to this Episode Now

The post How to Set Up Google Analytics for Your Membership Site appeared first on Copyblogger.

My Favorite Business Model for a Breakthrough Digital Business

a business model and a breakthrough

It was the end of 2008. Something you might remember about that year — in October, the markets took a nasty fall and the global economy melted down.

I was the sole breadwinner for my family. The company I worked for was going through round after round of layoffs. The well-paying, secure job I’d had for five years looked likely to evaporate underneath me.

I had some savings, but not a ton. I had a mortgage and preschool for my three-year-old to pay for, as well as silly habits like buying groceries and having health insurance for my family.

I had been noodling around with business ideas, but I hadn’t gotten serious.

In the final few months of 2008, I had to get serious. Early in 2009, I took the leap. Here’s how I did it.

My year of living dangerously

In 2009, I felt a lot like a chicken trying to cross an eight-lane highway. It was theoretically possible, but there was a non-optimal level of stress involved.

The first thing I did was hang out my shingle as a freelance copywriter.

In a lot of ways, it was wonderful. I worked on fascinating projects that I cared about. I had lovely clients who actually listened to me. I was able to implement content strategy (which I learned, incidentally, mainly from Copyblogger), instead of sitting in endless meetings talking about it.

The main downside for me was the “you don’t kill, you don’t eat” freelance model, in which I was endlessly having to close new clients in order to keep my revenue going.

I know people who are masters of this. I was not one of them.

But it worked, more or less. I was supporting my family.

Growing the audience

One thing I’m so grateful for about that time: I had started growing my audience well before I needed clients. My original intent had been to find another job — I figured a blog would help me stand out with prospective employers.

As it turned out, I was functionally unemployable, but the blog was an amazing resource. It didn’t have zillions of readers or email subscribers — but it had enough.

(By the way, I launched an email list with a simple autoresponder before I even had that site up, which I recommend if you’re starting from scratch today. You want to capture every drop of attention you can.)

By the time I went out on my own, that blog had already started to pull a small audience together. It also connected me with like-minded people for projects, support, expertise, and eventually business partnerships.

The email list allowed me to put offers in front of potential customers — and discover what worked and what didn’t.

Finding stability

2009 was a year of hustle, and trying out all kinds of business models.

I tried freelancing, which sort of worked. I tried some content strategy consulting (we called it something else then), which also sort of worked. I put together a few simple information products with friends. I had some affiliate offers going.

My friend Gary, a business coach who talked me down from Mount Freakout about a thousand times that year, had been on my case to launch an online course with a membership component. I told him I’d get it done that year.

It was not pretty. Building the site was complicated, and I needed to hire someone to put together a variety of puzzle pieces that came from entirely different puzzles. It was fairly expensive to build. But I got it launched — in mid-December, since I’d promised Gary I’d do it that year. (Accountability is a useful thing.)

I called that site The Remarkable Marketing Blueprint, and it changed everything.

(There are still lovely and successful folks out there who identify themselves as “The Remarkables.” That makes me deeply happy.)

I launched the Blueprint at a pretty modest monthly fee. The checkout system was a PayPal nightmare, and I’m lucky it worked at all. The membership management tools were primitive, with lousy security. (Remind me to tell you about the week that Russian hackers kept putting porn into my member library. Fun times.)

That’s why I’m a bit emphatic about how much easier the Rainmaker Platform makes things. Trust me, the early tools were not so user-friendly.

But they got the job done. People bought the course. They benefited from the course.

After a short time, I relaunched the Blueprint (Gary was bugging me again) at a higher price. And that launch went even better.

I didn’t become a millionaire. But I had momentum and steady revenue. I was helping people with their problems, and in turn, I was making a reasonable living. I had a business that worked.

If you think that would be an amazing feeling … you’re absolutely right.

Come to the free webinar

Building an online course or membership community is a great business model — but it’s not a guaranteed home run. You can set yourself up for failure, or set yourself up for success.

Brian Clark’s original Teaching Sells was the course that taught me how to set the Blueprint up for success. How to structure it, how to make it marketable, how to position it, how to get the content created, how to launch it, and how to run it.

Teaching Sells isn’t on the market anymore, but Brian Clark still teaches folks how to build online courses — only these days, it’s a much more streamlined process.

Brian’s holding a free webinar on Wednesday, December 7, 2016 at 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time that will get you started.

Click the button below for easy (and free!) registration.

Free Webinar:
How to Develop an Irresistible Online Course People Will Line Up to Buy (and Then Actually Use)

I love this model for so many reasons.

  • I won’t say it was easy, but it was doable.
  • It supported me and my family when we really needed it.
  • It provided steady, predictable revenue so I could catch my breath and actually plan something.
  • It was conducive to my commitment to be a good parent and spouse as well as a capable businessperson.
  • It connected me with wonderful customers, who became friends, and who went into the world and did amazing things.
  • And it opened doors to other possibilities — the business stage that Brian Clark calls “Acceleration.”

It’s a model that works if you know how to do something really well. It’s also a model that works if you don’t have your own particular area of expertise, but you partner with someone who does. (You set the course up and run it; they provide the content and expert authority. These can be remarkably productive businesses.)

Even though we’ve been business partners for years now, I always make a point of listening to what Brian has to say about online courses. He always has new insights and points of clarity that I learn from.

So I’ll be there … and if you have any interest at all in this model, I recommend you check it out as well. You can just click the button to get registered.

Free Webinar:
How to Develop an Irresistible Online Course People Will Line Up to Buy (and Then Actually Use)

The post My Favorite Business Model for a Breakthrough Digital Business appeared first on Copyblogger.

How to Start and Grow a Successful Membership Site (In Your Spare Time)


Starting a membership site is hard work, especially if you have a full-time job. But with persistence and patience, it can pay off.

Our guest, Jerod Morris, shares his tactics and advice for growing a membership site. It was not easy — especially since his membership site competes with numerous online sport sites.

But he found his niche and kept working it, season after season, finding success after many years of perseverance.

And while his story is not unique, the ideas and tactics he shares on this show are priceless and can truly help you grow, and profit, from your work.

In this episode, Jessica Frick and I interview Jerod Morris and delve into the history of his site, including:

  • Why he stayed with the project even when his audience was small
  • The unique insight that helped distinguish his site from the competition
  • The one tactic he recommends everyone starting a membership site should use
  • And the different revenue paths he pursues to grow his profit

Listen to this Episode Now

The post How to Start and Grow a Successful Membership Site (In Your Spare Time) appeared first on Copyblogger.

4 Creative Models for Finding the Right Niche for Your Online Business

how to find and focus on the best niche

If you want your marketing to work, you have to focus.

You have to understand who your message is for, then speak to that person.

And you have to craft your offers to serve that person. Present options that appeal to her, that are in line with what she’s willing to spend, and that will benefit her in ways she cares about.

In other words … you need to specialize. You don’t have the budget to blanket the earth in ads that appeal to everyone, and neither do I.

One of the first things people do when thinking about building a business online is rush to identify their “niche.” And that isn’t wrong … but it’s more complicated than it might seem at first.

The word niche doesn’t just mean a focused topic. In biology, niche refers to how each type of organism interacts with all the other organisms in its ecosystem.

It’s how a plant or animal fits into the larger context.

Your topic is part of your niche, of course. But so is your audience. And your positioning. Not to mention your potential partners. And the folks who share your content. And the content platforms you publish on.

A conversation in the comments here on Copyblogger got me thinking about some of the different ways that business owners inhabit their niches.

Early niche sites

Back in the day, creating a “niche website” meant building a compact site around an under-served keyword phrase, pulling out all the SEO stops to get it to rank, then loading it up with affiliate offers.

That was tidy, and some did very well with it, but it doesn’t work today.

Rae Hoffman nailed it years ago, in a post that’s still highly relevant on how to survive the affiliate evolution.

Her post talked about moving toward richer and better content, a better user experience, communicating quality (to both visitors and potential partners), and establishing a credible point of difference.

The problem with the old way of thinking about nicheing is that it focuses on the search, not the searcher. The keyword phrase is the focus, rather than the human being at the keyboard who’s using that phrase to solve a problem.

So, I’d like to look at some more effective models. Let’s take a topic like learning art.

There’s an astonishing amount of free art education on the web, particularly YouTube. You can learn to sketch, paint, sculpt — whatever floats your boat.

It’s tough to make a living teaching art online. But there are many businesses that do exactly that. How? By defining their audiences clearly, focusing their messages and offers, and differentiating themselves. Finding that point of difference.

Keep in mind that art education is a nonzero market. In other words, people interested in learning more about art don’t just watch one video, read one ebook, or join one membership site. They tend to immerse themselves, especially early on in their journeys.

Now let’s take a look at four examples of sites that are doing it well.

1. The mega authority

One way to differentiate is simply to be bigger and more comprehensive than anyone else.

Simply, in this case, doesn’t mean easily.

The site ArtistsNetwork.tv brings dozens of well-known artists and art teachers under one virtual roof, partnering with big publishers of art books to give authors a venue to teach.


If you’re the kind of person who has “How to Paint” books on your bookshelf, it’s a good bet that some of those authors have courses on ArtistsNetwork.tv.

The model is: find ultra qualified authorities, publish excellent tutorial content that’s interesting and useful, then use the publishing platform to offer more advanced content at an additional fee.

Of course, there are also individual mega authorities. We all know the name Bob Ross, the “happy little trees” painter whose videos were so weirdly soothing to watch.

Ross actually modeled his painting and his patter on the “happy trees” of his mentor, Bill Alexander, who had a PBS show that I fondly remember watching as a child. Alexander’s family still runs art courses that you can pick up online and also offers supplies, books, and a free membership library.

Authorities can compete with the huge volume of “free” in this topic because they’re … authorities.

Art instruction has the advantage of providing exceptionally appealing content that audiences can see and say, “I want to know how to do that.” These teachers demonstrate superior mastery of their subjects. They’ve won awards and written books, but most importantly, they know how to teach what we want to do.

2. The professional authority

Over on Twitter a couple of weeks ago, Derek Balsley brought my attention to the site The Art of Education.

They’ve partnered with an accredited college to focus on professional development for a very well-defined group of artists — art teachers. The Art of Education offers courses for graduate or undergraduate credit, as well as satisfying ongoing education requirements for teachers.


The courses are priced to be highly competitive with courses offered at brick-and-mortar institutions. So even though art teachers aren’t known for their deep pockets, the product makes sense financially for its audience.

Like the other models, The Art of Education offers free authoritative content as well, producing shareable, relevant material that attracts the attention of the customers their business needs.

If you can create content at the right quality, professional development is always a smart play. It’s highly marketable, because it’s something professionals need in order to advance their careers — especially those who need ongoing education to keep their licenses.

For content marketers who make the commitment to the work, it can be a great model.

3. The identity authority

Another serious authority in art education is Bob Davies — a wry, soft-spoken watercolor teacher who built a following on YouTube, then sold his home-filmed DVD series in massive numbers.

Bob and his son Phil founded an art education website similar to ArtistsNetwork.tv — with one key difference that they don’t actually mention in their marketing.

Davies is British. Specifically, Davies is Northern, with a Welsh background. My top analyst for British accents figures him for northwest England, probably somewhere near Liverpool.

Davies’s accent, his delivery, his self-deprecation, and his sense of humor all quietly point back to a strong sense of identity … something Robert Cialdini would identify as Unity.

Bob and Phil run a site called ArtTutor.com. It’s not as big as ArtistsNetwork.tv, but it’s got a much more cohesive identity.


Not all of their students are British, but every teacher I could find on their site is. Most share the Northern background of the founders. Courses include topics like “English Watercolour Landscapes,” “Yorkshire Landscapes,” “Green Landscape,” and, just to break things up, “Isle of Man Line & Wash.”

(I’m teasing them a bit — but if you want to learn to paint or draw, it’s a very good site, with lots of project topics.)

And beyond a question of accents or subject matter for paintings, there’s a point of view that’s highly consistent on ArtTutor — among the founders, the teachers, and the member comments in their forums.

It comes back to that personality of Bob’s … understated, self-deprecating, a bit dry.

I don’t think it’s about geography. It’s about a particular set of outlooks, attitudes, and expressions that art lovers from Northern Britain tend to share.

ArtTutor’s marketing doesn’t say, “This is the art education site for Northern British painters and sketch artists.” They don’t have to. The identity gently infuses the content — both free and paid — in an appealing way.

Although it can be strategic to chase away the ones who aren’t part of your “tribe,” in this case it’s not necessary. The cohesion of group unity makes the site attractive to paying students from all over the world.

If they tried to become more international — if they tried to go head to head with a site like ArtistsNetwork.tv — I think they’d fail. Their site would lose its individual personality and flavor — and personality is crucial if you want to stand out and you aren’t the biggest on the block.

4. The category of one authority

The sites I’ve mentioned have all been big. Well-known teachers, lots of content, lots of money and time to set up.

But big isn’t the only way to go.

Artist Eni Oken has niched down her topic in multiple ways.

She’s a certified Zentangle teacher — a form of meditative drawing that is a tribe unto itself. But even within that specific niche, Eni narrows down her focus to specific subtopics, like shading drawings or specific compositional approaches.


Eni runs a popular group on Facebook, where she invests a lot of time and energy. She’s also smart about SEO and ranks for some keyword terms for popular drawing techniques within the Zentangle format.

She funnels her audience attention into an email list to promote her library of ebooks and keeps her eye on the promotion prize with consistent calls to action.

There’s plenty of beautiful art to look at in her content, but you’re never in doubt that she has a business, either.

When you’re willing to make yourself a “star” of your business, differentiation becomes fairly simple.

Eni Oken differentiates by topic and subtopic (she’s the “shading Zentangle teacher”), but that’s just an introduction to the real differentiation — her distinctive artistic style, her teaching approach, and her personality. Those elements come together into “the brand of Eni.”

You don’t have to build your whole business around your personality — that doesn’t have to be your only differentiator. But for those who are willing, adding an element of individual personality — a founder’s newsletter, a blog, a podcast, a vlog — can make a winning difference.

How about you?

What kind of niche do you occupy in your ecosystem?

What’s your topic? How do you approach it? Who do you serve? And what makes you different from the other options?

Drop a comment and let us know!

The post 4 Creative Models for Finding the Right Niche for Your Online Business appeared first on Copyblogger.

Enjoy Responsibly: It’s Grown-Up Week on Copyblogger

Copyblogger Weekly

Hey there — welcome back to the Copyblogger Weekly!

Not sure why, but we had a kind of “adult” thing going on this week.

Sean Jackson and Jessica Frick kicked off Monday with a podcast about the, er, adult entertainment industry. If that’s a bit racy for you, I really enjoyed The Digital Entrepreneur podcast. Jerod Morris talks with Ed Feng (who’s fantastic; I always enjoy catching up with him at live events) about a pivot in his business to an “over 21” audience.

Really, we needed a podcast about drinking a fifth of Dewar’s to round out this week. You let me down, team.

But being an adult isn’t just about vices … on Tuesday I wrote about the Great Big Grown-Up Event of the week, the U.S. election — and how the techniques of political persuasion play out in all our lives.

And on Wednesday, Sean Jackson put together a very responsible, sensible guide for pricing membership sites. There were numbers and a chart and everything. It was a little bit like doing my taxes. But, you know, making money instead of spending it, so more fun in that sense.

After all of this grown-up stuff, next week I’m really looking forward to curling up with some glitter and coloring books. Maybe even a popsicle. Adulting is hard.

Hope you enjoy this week’s content, and I’ll catch you next week!

— Sonia Simone
Chief Content Officer, Rainmaker Digital

Catch up on this week’s content

Hero’s journey - teaching around the worldHow to Serve Students Around the World: A Natural Educator’s Story

by Pamela Wilson

The dance between listening and speakingPersuasion Lessons from the Political Trenches

by Sonia Simone

don’t guess! discover the pricing model that worksThe Smart and Simple Framework for Finding the Right Pricing Model for Your Membership Site

by Sean Jackson

What the Porn Industry Can Teach Us About Running a Membership SiteWhat the Porn Industry Can Teach Us About Running a Membership Site

by Sean Jackson

Leveraging Social Media to Build a Creative BrandLeveraging Social Media to Build a Creative Brand

by Brian Gardner & Lauren Mancke

Why Podcast Advertising Works (and How to Get Started), with Glenn RubensteinWhy Podcast Advertising Works (and How to Get Started), with Glenn Rubenstein

by Jerod Morris & Jon Nastor

The Power of Not Being StubbornThe Power of Not Being Stubborn

by Brian Clark & Jerod Morris

Getting More Traffic, Links, and Shares to Your ContentGetting More Traffic, Links, and Shares to Your Content

by Sonia Simone

How the Author of ‘The Bestseller Code’ Jodie Archer Writes: Part OneHow the Author of ‘The Bestseller Code’ Jodie Archer Writes: Part One

by Kelton Reid

It’s Your Duty to Design the Life You Want, with David KadavyIt’s Your Duty to Design the Life You Want, with David Kadavy

by Brian Clark

The Book is Launched! Now What?The Book is Launched! Now What?

by Pamela Wilson & Jeff Goins


Authority Business Coaching Call with Patti Podnar

with Sonia Simone and Pamela Wilson

Friday, November 11

You know you have what it takes — your clients love you! But for some reason, you don’t have the steady stream of new business you need. Patti Podnar is in a similar situation. Join Sonia Simone and Pamela Wilson as they guide Patti toward success as a professional writer.

Join Authority to attend this session

The post Enjoy Responsibly: It’s Grown-Up Week on Copyblogger appeared first on Copyblogger.

The Smart and Simple Framework for Finding the Right Pricing Model for Your Membership Site

don't guess! discover the pricing model that works

Building profitable membership sites is one thing we know a lot about at Rainmaker Digital, and one question we often receive is:

How do you create the right pricing for a membership site, especially one that is just launching?

Even sophisticated online entrepreneurs struggle with that question.

And while there are many ways to optimize your pricing plans once your site is launched, starting with the right foundation will make it easier to improve.

In this post, I will walk you through a basic framework you can use to determine the best pricing models for any type of membership site.

Rule #1

The most important rule you must remember is this:

You are in control of your pricing.

There is no national database of pricing that you have to follow. You are in control of everything when it comes to pricing — so don’t feel like you have to do what everyone else does.

Yes, the “market” does decide if your price is “right.” But you influence the perception of your price through the unique value you offer.

So toss out any preconceived notions of what you have to do and focus on what works for you.

Know your costs

I know what you are thinking right now:

“Damn it, Sean. I am a marketer, not an accountant.”

Don’t worry. You just need a “bare bones” understanding of basic math and a little logic to find your costs, so that your site will “live long and prosper.”

All membership sites share a common set of annual costs, including:

  • Credit card or PayPal fees
  • Hosting costs
  • Platform costs
  • Time spent on customer service
  • Time spent on contributing to the site

You should think of your costs as the money you spend to fulfill the customer’s purchase.

And these costs are different from expenses.

An expense is the money you spend to run your business.

Typical expenses include:

  • Sales and marketing: the money you spend on promoting your products and services, including affiliate commissions, advertising, or content marketing
  • Research and development: the money you spend on building your membership site, developing content for the site, or educating yourself on digital commerce
  • General administration: expenses like your internet connection, rent, or accountant

Expenses are not costs even though you spend money on them.

Why is this distinction important?

Unless you identify your costs, it makes it very hard to determine your profit. Profit is defined as your revenue less your costs and before you pay any expenses.

And as a general rule of thumb, a membership site should generate a profit margin between 90 percent – 75 percent.

Or put another way, for every $100 you collect in revenue, your costs should be $10 – $25, netting you a profit of $90 – $75 per sale.

An example of membership site costs

Let’s say that for a year, you estimate your costs as follows:

  • $12,000 on credit card fees
  • $1,500 for your Rainmaker Platform site (includes hosting)
  • $6,500 for a part-time assistant to handle customer service questions
  • $80,000 for you to manage and contribute to the membership site

Based on these items, your total costs are $100,000 per year, before you pay for any expenses. And if your costs are 10 percent – 25 percent of your total revenue, your target revenue is between $400,000 and $1,000,000 per year.

Your profit will be between $300,000 and $900,000 per year.

membership site profit example

That’s a lot of money, but don’t get too excited yet.

You will still need to pay for your affiliate commissions, advertising, and any other expenses you incur to operate your business — and that comes out of your profit.

Now that we have covered your costs, let’s get to work on pricing your different membership categories and offers.

Create an anchor offer

An anchor offer is the most expensive membership type you sell.

For example, your anchor offer could include telephone consulting, personalized daily emails, and/or exclusive access to webinars, conferences, or other high-touch events.

Basically, it is the offer you would give to someone that includes everything you would ever want to provide to a person willing to pay you a huge premium.

The good news is that very few people, if anyone, will buy it because it is so expensive!

So, why create it?

By creating a very high-priced offer, you anchor the expectations of website visitors for your lower-priced offerings. Your goal with your anchor offer is to create an emotional desire for it, knowing that most people can’t afford it.

Luxury brands use this tactic all the time.

Buying a luxury car? The most expensive ones are in the showroom. Want a deluxe coffee maker? They show you the $5,000 model first, before they show you the $500 one.

When you create your anchor offer, you set the expectation of quality in the mind of your customer, even though they will probably buy your lower-priced membership.

Next, create two lower-priced offers

Once you’ve defined and priced your anchor product, you can create two other offers or categories for your members.

Why just two? To avoid analysis paralysis.

The first offer you need to create is the lowest price for a membership to your site — ideally between 10 percent and 25 perfect of the price for your anchor offer.

This low-priced offer should meet the basic needs and wants of your customer, including some, but not all, of the features and attributes of the anchor offer.

The second membership category is the mid-tier offer that is priced between the low price and your expensive anchor offer. It should have more benefits and features than your low-priced offer and is generally priced between 30 percent and 49 percent of your anchor offer.

So, let’s say your anchor offer is priced at $97 per month, and you want your lowest-priced offer at 20 percent and your mid-tier offer at 40 percent.

Your lowest price will be $19 per month and your mid-tier price will be $39 per month.

Pretty easy, right?

But now comes the real question …

Can you afford your customers?

We started this article with a basic discussion about costs, but we did not determine if those costs are sufficient to run your membership site.

This is where a little math and a basic rule of thumb can help.

In general, the average revenue per member you will receive from a membership site will be between your lowest-priced offer and your mid-tier offer.

For example, if your lowest price is $19/month and your mid-tier price is $39/month, then your average revenue per member will be around $29/month.

Let’s look back on our costs. We identified $100,000 of costs per year and we want to target $400,000 per year in revenue. That means that every month we need to generate $33,333 in revenue ($400,000/12 months).

If the average revenue per customer is $29/month, then we just need to divide our target monthly revenue ($33,333) by the average monthly revenue per customer ($29) to find the number of customers you need:

$33,333 / $29 = 1,149 customers per month

Now you want to ask yourself:

Does your $100,000 in annual costs allow you to support 1,149 members per month?

If the answer is “yes,” then you are good to go.

If the answer is “no,” then you either need to increase your pricing or lower your costs.

Get all the details in this SlideShare presentation

Your head might be spinning right about now, but we want to make it easy for you.

Here’s a SlideShare deck that breaks down all of the information above:

Learn about profitable membership sites each week

We have a new podcast called Members Only that helps you not only develop the pricing model for your membership site but also gives you the tactics and techniques you need to grow a profitable online business.

Every week, Jessica Frick and I provide an entertaining format to discuss the challenges online entrepreneurs face with ideas that you can implement to improve your own site.

So, if you are serious about running and growing a profitable membership site, we hope that you will tune in.

And since the show is free, we know the price is right.

Subscribe Now to Listen

The post The Smart and Simple Framework for Finding the Right Pricing Model for Your Membership Site appeared first on Copyblogger.

What the Porn Industry Can Teach Us About Running a Membership Site


This episode is an insightful look at how to thrive in a hyper-competitive online environment, with lessons from an unconventional industry …

Running a membership site can be difficult, especially if you are in a highly competitive space. And this appears to be especially true in online porn.

What once was a very lucrative business category has completely transformed into a low-margin business with numerous competitors. But even in this highly competitive space, there are tactics that some sites use to grow and thrive.

So how do they do it?

Jessica Frick and I take an analytical approach to the challenges faced in this space and apply those learnings to more traditional membership sites.

Don’t worry, we won’t be making any commentary on the content of the industry. Instead, we focus on taking their ethical marketing tactics and applying them to your site to help you thrive, while everyone else is taking a dive.

In this episode, Jessica Frick and I tastefully cover …

  • How to syndicate content online (and why you’d want to)
  • Why more intimate online activities should come at a premium
  • Why you should not be afraid of extreme niches for your audience
  • And a few double entendres that will make you laugh

Listen to this Episode Now

The post What the Porn Industry Can Teach Us About Running a Membership Site appeared first on Copyblogger.