Describing a membership website is quite a difficult task, simple because it can be used for SO MANY different and positive purposes and it brings a wide variety of benefits and features to both the member and the membership website Webmaster.
Please bear in mind what you are about to see is just one process, the one I have used successfully a number of times. There are no hard or fast rules regarding membership websites and as always it is your game to play as you wish.
Before we get started let me tell you that the membership software which I now use is called Wishlists member and is a WP word press plug-in. I have used other membership software which have also been exceptionally good but have found nothing to compete with the usability and power of Wishlist member. If you would like to discover more about Wishlist member you can do so by going to:
The process of becoming a member starts on the sales page when your prospect makes the decision to purchase your product. From there they are taken to your merchant website which may be: PayPal, 2checkout, or virtually any payment system you may be familiar with.
However, PayPal is an exceptionally good choice as it will allow you to set up multiple payment methods and it integrates with the membership software which I use. I am sure that other payment systems will also do the very same job for you and there are more payment systems which are compatible that are been added to such membership software packages on a weekly basis.
Now you MAY offer more than one payment choice for becoming a member of your website. You may offer a one-off payment in which case almost any merchant service will work fine with most membership software. However, if you decide to offer multiple payment terms, and I REALLY ENCOURAGE YOU TO DO so for a number of benefits which will become obvious as we progress, then PayPal will be the best choice at this point in time.
Once your payment has been made your new member will be automatically taken to the subscribe page to set their new membership where they will be able to enter their details and select a personal username and password, and once this is done their membership will be ready for immediate use.
However, you may decide that you want to approve each new membership individually! The reason for this is just in case your new member decides to share your new setup page with their friends allowing unauthorised access to your website.
Personally, I have only ever seen this happen once although the potential is always there. In reality, what will happen is when a new member subscribes you will get payment notification of this by email and also a notification from the membership sites that a new member has subscribed.
This is simply a matter of matching up payments and new members. If you have an additional member without evidence of payment you can simply switch them off, and if you have made a mistake believe me when I tell you they will soon make you aware of this fact. For this reason I would leave the automated subscription process switched on as it allows personal freedom to travel, and new members gain the immediate access to your membership website which they expect.
If for whatever reason you decide to personally authorise new members you will have to be available on a regular basis to authorise new members as once they have paid they will expect rapid access to their investment. Alternately, you could deliver these notifications to a separate mailbox and then have such mail delivered to your phone. This would allow you to travel and authorise new members with just the aid of a smart phone.
Before we get into the meat and real beauty of using automated membership software I would like to explain a couple of things which will pre-frame what follows.
One of the most important aspects of offering online memberships is organising your information in a logical format which members find easy to navigate. A drop-down navigational hierarchy will help you achieve this although I have found they often take a lot of thought before I get it right.
Also your members will help you with this process as when they ask for the location of page which you thought was obvious, but they couldn’t find, you will have to relocate it to a more obvious position. Eventually such requests will become less frequent and highlight the fact that the navigation process has become a logical one.
Now there will also be a number of NON-VISIBLE SYSTEM PAGES which your membership software uses, I say non-visible because they will only be seen when they are required and certainly not linked to from your membership navigation, so let’s go through them one at a time.
Your non-members page is probably the best sales tool you have in your arsenal of signup gadgets. It will allow your non-members to see part of your membership website and at the same time allow you to hide the important paid stuff from them. It works like this; imagine a blog was part of your membership website. Non-members could see all of the posts available and perhaps part of the post content and certainly the teaser copy at the top of the page which develops their appetite for what they think they are about to discover. However, when they click upon protected information which is for paying members only, they are immediately hyper-linked to the non-members page.
This page will contain a striking image such as a NO ENTRY SIGN and a short message stating: Sorry this information is for members only! If you would like to discover more about how you can benefit also please click here…
This link would take them to your sales page and give you the opportunity of converting a new prospect. Now I have to tell you that there is NOTHING more annoying and more likely to get you a new sale than when you as a visitor gets to some juicy bits of information and then discovers that you can’t see it!
It’s REALLY FRUSTRATING as the teaser copy has built your desire and now you want to learn more! Once this has happened to visitors a few times they start to become VERY SALES RECEPTIVE and your sales page will start to receive some serious scrutiny and hopefully sales also.
This page is only likely to be seen when your visitor tries to open a page or module which they haven’t yet paid for such as an ongoing membership or next months or the month afters module. If they were on month one of their membership and tried to open month three material they would be taken to the wrong membership page. The page encourages them to upgrade and give them the opportunity to pay the difference between their monthly membership and one-off payment membership.
Obviously, this option would only be put into place once you have prepared and completed all of the membership material. Before this point you may be developing your material on a monthly basis although there are paying members using it as you progress and you are just one step ahead of them.
The big problem with offering monthly payments is that sometimes payments fail. This may be due to credit card expiration, or a whole load of other small problems which sometimes occur. Usually such problems are QUITE EASILY FIXED by the member who simply updates their new credit card information and their membership is reopened and once again unlocked for them. However, when this happens they are taking to a page explaining this to them and generally, in 99% of all cases you will not have to get involved.
Now this is a new facility I have only started using recently which allows me to put a limit on HOW LONG members have access to the membership website for. After this time their membership becomes expired and they are asked for a renewal payment. Often this payment is just a fraction, perhaps 15% – 25% of their initial payment which they will generally pay without argument on an annual automated basis developing you a residual income.
This is a very useful facility and one I use to take new members to a page which they will only see once. This is generally the congratulations or stick pages as some people like to refer to it. Here I pat them on the back and congratulate them upon their purchase and tell them what a wise choice they have made and reassure them that they can do it and that they can be highly successful if they follow the process as laid out for them in the membership area.
I may also offer bonuses, or surprise gifts upon this page. Once they log out for the first time they will never be taken to this page again and so I’m sure that its use becomes self-apparent to you at this point?… Perhaps you can also think of a variety of other uses which this strategic page can be useful?
Obviously this is the page which you take your members to every time after they log out of your membership website. It’s their exit page and it has many benefits and uses. This is where I make offers of other products to my members and I would change these frequently. In my case these would generally be seminars or webinars which they could attend at a discounted price if they wish to.
I’m sure with a little creativity the log out page could be used for many other purposes also and help add to your bottom line profits.
Now I have already mentioned the congratulations page or after registration page which is only seen once and has been highlighted in this illustration, so I won’t mention it again.
You can decide which page your members go to after they login and generally I like to take them to a page which reminds them of the most important points of your membership website which could be:
From both the head and side navigation bars they will be able to quickly navigate to pages and modules of their choice. Although these modules may not say month one etc, they should be broken down into a logical hierarchy, and one which allows you to force your members through a planned process so they miss nothing out.
The illustration highlights this particular membership opens in months and what is most important is that at the end of 28 days your payment system will charge their card for the next month’s membership module and if this payment is successful the next module will open automatically for them. However, if it is not successful this is when their membership closes down and the only page they see is the ‘Membership Cancellation’ page as already described which highlights the payment problem for them to correct.
I really hope so because I think this is the ULTIMATE PROFIT MODEL in generating an income from the Internet. Although I really enjoy my work I do not want to be tied to it and there are occasions when I clear my diary and take lots of time off such as in the summer holidays when I may shut down for eight weeks or so. When this happens my automated membership websites carry on selling and serving prospects and my new members in my absence. There may be the occasional incident which requires a few minutes of my time but other than that EVERYTHING operates on automatic.
Another major benefit of membership websites is that once created they allow me to commit all of my time to selling and promoting it if I wish. Now if you’re totally committed to selling and have nothing to distract you you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve and the level of profits you can generate.
A great facility for making sales is that your membership software will allow you to set up short FREE TRIALS of your membership, or perhaps part of your membership. When this happens, the person who takes the trial will gain full access to just one module of your membership while the other 11 modules stay permanently locked. However every time they click upon one of the locked modules they will get taken to the upgrade page and given the opportunity to subscribe as a full member.
Alternatively you may want to give an unlimited 7 day trial of your membership for a token cost of perhaps £1. Now this means that they have to give their full credit card details to get started and set up their membership, and then after the first seven days they are charged at full cost each and every month. From experience I can tell you that such free trials will capture many new members and customers who will stay with you for years before cancelling or suspending their membership.
Another benefit of giving a free trial of your membership or part of your membership is this. Once your prospect has subscribed to your membership and set up their user name and password you will find it much easier to get them to upgrade to the paid version.
I am very much a creature of habit, and for that reasons I have told you about how I do things. However, I am not so conceited that I believe that mine is the best or the only way of making money with a membership website because it is not. I have merely scratched the surface, as with a little creativity you could soon find many far better methods of using your membership software!
Often when there is a price objection from your prospects which can be overcome by offering a second payment structure where payments are broken down over a number of months. Remember that most people pay the larger investments in their life on a MONTHLY BASIS, or on payment terms of some type. For this reason payment terms are likely to convert a far higher percentage of prospects than one-off upfront payments.
The second and probably more important benefit of offering a split price structure is that you don’t have to develop all of your material before you start selling. By contrast, you can break your content down into equal portions to match payments. For instance, if you wanted to offer 12 months or one year’s terms, break your core content down into 12 modules. In this way you only have to produce your first module of content before you start selling it. This means you can start selling and making money after just 28 days and building a residual income stream into your product into the bargain.
Right now I have been considering a new project and as part of THIS module and food for thought I would like to tell you about it as you may consider developing something similar. I really enjoy delivering seminars, and more recently from the comfort of my own home webinars and Tele seminars. I find them extremely rewarding and enjoyable to put together so I am thinking of creating a new low-cost membership as a way of exposing prospects to my other products.
This is the name of my URL and biweekly webinar which will help those people and individuals who want to find alternative methods to their present job where they find themselves being underpaid and over-exploited. After all why do for someone else what you can do for yourself and then keep all the profit for yourself.
What most people lack is the motivation, know-how and ONGOING encouragement to get started and that’s what WithoutLimitations.com and the biweekly webinars will deliver. Now the webinars themselves will actually be FREE and anyone can attend and this should build me a large mailing list of prospects to develop a relationship with.
However, there will also be a paid membership where the members will gain access to all past webinars plus some additional HIGH VALUE information, monthly interviews with experts and a whole load of other benefits too numerous to mention here.
What will all of this cost? Well as we are in recession times I am thinking I will charge just £10 per month although I will test it thoroughly and may well find that £20 or £27 tests a lot better! Now I guess you probably think I am MAD asking so little, but I promise there is method in my madness because I believe I can quite easily sell between 500 – 1,000 memberships in the very first year, perhaps much more.
A few years ago I developed a membership which I only charged £20 a month to stay a member of and my membership grew to in excess of 3,500 members within just a few months. This particular membership was on stock market trading for beginners and I could see it had a limited life and so when I was approached about selling it I took the money and run and made a great deal into the bargain.
However, it does HIGHLIGHT the huge potential of membership sites…
Now there is no better income stream than a residual one as often they will go on paying you for many years to come and often they only require a minimum of work to maintain your profit stream. There is no better feeling than knowing that you have an income for many months to come without having to do any work, or just a little work and this is what membership’s websites provide.
They certainly take time and effort to set up, but once you understand the formula they are well worth it and once mastered you can replicate that formula as many times as you wish.