How to Scale Up Your Business by Selling Premium Memberships

With subscription-based businesses raking in over $50 trillion of the world’s revenue, creating a membership website with WordPress can help your business bring in the big bucks. No. Mega bucks.

There are membership sites available in every industry so it’s about time you get your slice of that pie, especially when over 80% of businesses are planning to by 2020.

WordPress is also the best choice to build your membership website since it accounts for over 29% of the websites on the web.

Not only that, but you can build stunning, professional and powerful websites like top businesses have including The New York Times, Walt Disney, PlayStation, The New Yorker and many more.

Today, I’ll share more detail on why membership websites are lucrative, how to come up with a winning idea as well as how to build your own membership website using WordPress.

What’s the Big Idea Here?

In the past few years, membership websites have exploded into existence in popularity and profit, and they’re on the rise.

In fact, many of the popular, top businesses that have become a household name are membership websites including Netflix, Amazon Prime, Dollar Shave Club, YouTube Red, Adobe, Audible, Spotify, Pandora, HBO, NY times and the list goes on for miles.

Netflix earned $5.5 billion in 2014 and has continued to grow since then. Its subscription competitor, Redbox, earned $1.89 billion that same year.

Dollar Shave Club’s first year’s sales were $4 million and $120 million in 2015. In 2016, the company sold to Unilever for $1 billion.

Adobe switched to a membership subscription business called Creative Cloud in 2011 from their previous one-off payment business model and the third quarter of 2016, they reported $1.46 billion in revenue.

While we’re on the subject, creating a membership website around cloud computing or a Software as a Service (SaaS) business model is becoming a particularly profitable solution for businesses around the world.

Worldwide cloud computing subscription services saw a revenue of $219.6 billion in 2016 and SaaS businesses are projected to grow to $308 billion by 2026.

According to Zuora, subscription-based businesses account for over $50 trillion of worldwide revenue. You read that right—I said trillion dollars. It was also reported that 20% of Fortune 1000 companies are adopting the SaaS business model.

No matter which way you slice it, membership websites mean big business.

Subscription-based membership site sales total trillions of dollars worldwide.

Why People Love Membership Websites

There are also many reasons why businesses and users alike love membership subscriptions.

Gartner, a leading research company, suggested that there are many reasons why subscription websites are so lucrative:

  • You can monetize your software or content.
  • The time-to-market goes down as you’re able to release content quickly and refine it later on.
  • Everyone is able to get their hands on the most up-to-date software or content. This also contributes to all members feeling valued for a greater user retention rate.
  • Members have the option to upgrade or downgrade based on how things are going in their life.
  • It makes software or content more affordable with a monthly recurring subscription at a lower rate than as a one-off payment, which helps increase sales.
  • It helps provide regular revenue which can also help fund upkeeping and customer service costs.

The only real downside for businesses is the increase in customer care costs or that it’s not possible for an existing business to switch to this business model in a balanced way.

However, with good planning and a well-designed website, you can drastically reduce the customer service costs associated with membership websites.

For example, if your website is easy to use and you also have many self-service options, it decreases the chance that your members are going to need regular assistance.

Members love membership websites for different, but equally important reasons:

  • It’s self-paced and flexible.
  • They can consume content on their own schedule.
  • You don’t need anything other than an internet connection and a computer or mobile device, which the majority of people have already.
  • It can be accessed from just about anywhere, even when users are on the go and using their mobile device.
  • There’s a low barrier to entry with easy sign-ups.
  • Many offer a community element, which helps keep users engaged and happy.
  • It’s a lot more affordable since they can access a membership for a low monthly fee, rather than spend hundreds of dollars for a one-off purchase.
  • It saves a lot of time since people really don’t want to spend a ton of time searching the internet for the same information, nor do they want to run around from store-to-store finding the same products.

Pertaining to the last point on the list above, 28% of people identified themselves to be too busy to vote in the 2014 US election, one of the quintessential exercises in democracy for a citizen.

Bottom line: Membership sites offer a quick, flexible solution for users with an affordable price tag.

Membership websites provide a comfortable, affordable and flexible solution for its members.

What’s Your Next Big Idea?

Given the details above, creating a membership site is an excellent strategy to scale up almost any business, but a common challenge is not being sure if it’s the right strategy for your business.

How do you create a winning idea? Is your business right for a subscription business model?

There are membership sites in every industry so chances are, you’re good to go. If you’re able to strategize and come up with a golden opportunity of an idea, then you’re ready all the more.

Coming Up with a Winning Site Idea

There are several factors which determine whether you have fashioned a winning idea for your membership website and they’re explored in more detail below.

Tip #1: Your subscription-based business needs to solve a problem or pain point. This is the reason why users are going to sign up. They want to find a reasonable and comprehensive solution for a large problem they have identified or have yet to identify.

For example, Netflix solves the problem of having to travel and orchestrate a night out to watch a movie and also doesn’t make users have to wait to watch a new episode of their favorite show as it’s released each week.

For a country that perceives itself to be too busy as a status symbol, Netflix solved the need of wanting more leisure time to enjoy watching movies and programs people love in a seamless and effortless way., a membership-based online course company, solves the need of users needing flexible knowledge to increase their skills for their industry. It’s recognized by top companies and users can even sign up with a company account or otherwise get reimbursed for their subscription in many cases.

It offers the opportunity for users to move up within the company in which they work to increase their income level and quality of life.

Tip #2: Think of how you can bridge your existing business or products with a membership site.

A common solution is taking your existing products and making them available as a membership instead of one-off purchase as previously touched upon above.

This is particularly useful for:

  • Online courses
  • Software
  • Web Apps
  • Apps (such as for mobile devices)
  • Ebooks
  • Other digital products
  • Other online services, including cloud computing solutions or products

Tip #3: It also needs to have a reason to justify an ongoing membership.

For example, Netflix lets you watch as much as you want as long as you’re an active member.

In your business, this could mean continuing to let users make use of your API if they’re a member due to the ongoing costs of maintaining it.

You could also offer cloud storage to save the member’s data after consuming your content.

For example, Adobe offers cloud storage that’s included in their membership price so you’re able to backup your work to their servers.

If you’re able to create new content on an ongoing basis, you can offer users a recurring subscription to continue to be able to consume your content.

It’s important to create content that your potential members actually want to buy.

Tip #4: Your membership should include content or software that users want or need.

It’s important to check if there’s an audience for your idea and you can look on forums and comment sections of popular blogs in your industry to find people’s pain points and desires that also relate to what you can provide them.

This is also a great strategy for brainstorming an idea as well.

It’s also a good idea to pick an idea that has interest, but isn’t too saturated in the market, unless you think you’re going to be able to deliver a much better solution than any of your competitors.

Tip #5: You need to find an overlap between what people want or need, what they’ll be willing to pay for your membership and what you’re able to reasonably provide users.

Tip #6: You need to be able to provide high value for the price point you pick.

People don’t want junk or something they can find in five seconds of Googling. The more you can offer them, the more chances you have of them signing up and remaining a member.

For details, check out The Sneaky Way to Create Products that Sell Like Crazy… from Day One.

Planning Your Online Course

Once you have a solid idea ready to go, you can start planning your online course so you can start making it a reality.

The first step is to choose the hosting and platform you want to build your website on.

WordPress should be at the top of your list as you’ll have full control of your website and you’ll also have ultimate flexibility.

There are also different ways to serve up membership sites including:

  • Standard (also known as Ongoing or Evergreen) – Recurring subscriptions with content being available for the lifetime of a membership
  • Drip Feed – Content is made available a little at a time once a user signs up
  • Date Range – Content is available only for a limited time during the year
  • Free trial or free membership level – Members can sign up for free to explore content before upgrading manually or automatically to a paid subscription

It’s also important to consider your target audience and what they would typically be willing to pay for a membership. You need to think about what’s right for them.

For example, if your audience are new parents, a much smaller price point would make sense as many new parents have to struggle with sudden ongoing (and astronomically high!) expenses to care for their new child.

On the flip side, if your target audience is high-powered business people such as presidents and CEOs of companies, then you can justify a much higher price point.

Evergreen subscriptions are one of the most profit pulling types of membership sites.

Creating Your Membership Site

Once you have thoroughly planned your membership site, you can start building it. If you’re comfortable with the DIY route, there are several great WordPress plugins that can help you build an impressive membership website.

For details on the best options out there, check out How to Earn Extra, Passive Income with a Premium Membership Site.

Wrapping Up

Membership websites are a huge, worldwide multi-trillion-dollar industry. It’s no wonder why so many businesses are planning on switching to this business model, if they haven’t already.

Now, you’re armed with the details to scale up your business with your own membership website.

For details on marketing your new subscription-based site, check out 25 Tips to Explode Your Sales for Online Course or Membership Sites.

Are you planning on skyrocketing your business by adding a membership to your website? What are your biggest struggles and challenges? What are your biggest goals? Share your insights in the comments below.



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