Creating Membership Websites

One of the newest online internet business ideas we are seeing is the growth of membership websites.

As the internet has evolved, people have become more willing to pay for information they need, rather than spending hours searching online for it.

Creating membership websites can be a satisfying and profitable way to share your knowledge with the world.

But you will first need some basic website knowledge, and it is helpful if you already have created a successful and profitable website.

There is a learning curve involved, and so if you already have some basic web knowledge, this will be a helpful foundation. If you are new to internet business take our Free Course which will give you a basic foundation in smart online business practices.

The potential for profitability of your membership site will vary depending on the industry you are in. You will need to do some good, solid research on the potential demand for your information. How many people out there are looking for information that you have?

Some membership websites will need fewer members to turn a profit. Business, finance, and legal membership websites can charge higher fees than sites that offer recipes, health information, or hobby information.

Nuts and bolts of creating membership websites

It is important to first research the potential demand for your information, before investing the time and money into creating a membership site. Only go ahead with business ideas that have a clear demand and potential for profitability.

Also you will need to research your competition. The more competition there is, the harder it will be for your site to gain visibility.

Once you have a good, solid and potentially profitable idea for a membership website, you need to think about how you will set up the functionality of your site. Your site should at the minimum be able to:

  • Publish, manage, and archive your content easily.
  • Manage all the features of your membership site automatically, from member sign up, welcome messages, automatic recurring billing, daily statistics, and so on.
  • Offer instant and automatic member sign up.
  • Create both members and public areas in your site.
  • Flexibility to use different types of member plans ... monthly, quarterly, yearly and free trial memberships.
  • Discussion forums are essential to creating a solid membership site.
  • You will need some kind of comprehensive reporting so you can analyze your site's profitability.
  • You'll need a site-wide search feature so members and guests can find the information they need at your site.
  • You'll need a good security system to protect the members only areas of your site.

Additional features that will greatly enhance your membership sites profitability are:

  • You may want a shopping cart to be able to sell additional items to your members.
  • I recommend you create an affiliate program for your membership site, as this will greatly improve the profitability of your site.
  • It is helpful to have the ability to offer content syndication so people can publish your public material on their sites, thus bringing in more traffic.
  • RSS Feed Syndication is helpful as you can selectively pull in news feeds of interest to your members.
  • It is helpful to have the ability for several people to manage your site as it grows.
  • It is very helpful to have the ability to list your members only pages in the search engines, in such a way that the content is not divulged, but that the visitor is enticed to join your site.

Create a new membership site or expand your existing one

Some women in business own a successful site already, and they want to create a membership area on their existing site. This may or may not be possible, you will need to check with your web host.

There are advantages and disadvantages to hosting membership websites on your existing website. The advantage is that you probably already have some traffic and so you'll have visibility for your membership site. The disadvantage is that your current site may not be compatible with many of the functions needed for a membership site.

Tips from experienced membership site owners

We did several weeks of research into the process of creating a membership site. One of the pieces of advice we received from experienced membership site owners, is to make sure that you choose a reliable "backbone" for your membership site that can grow as your site grows.

Some membership website owners became victims of their own success! Their sites grew and exceeded their software and hosting capacity, or their sites were not fully automated, so they ended up needing to move their sites over to a new service!

This cost them big time both in lost profits from the members who dropped off in the transition, and in the hours and hours invested to move the entire site over.

Resources

I only recommend services and products that we have personal experience with here on homebizwomen.com. The software I use for my membership site is Membergate . They are expensive, but in the long run provide a much more affordable solution, and also they provide all the needed tools in one place so that even inexperienced, non-technical people (like me!) can manage the site. They also provide support and even professional graphic design.

There is a significant learning curve involved in creating a successful and profitable membership site. You may find it helpful to educate yourself on this while you're still building your membership site, so that the critical decisions you make will point you towards success and profitability.

I have found it helpful to learn from other membership site owners. Membership Site Owner is an online resource on membership websites that has been very helpful to me in learning how to maximize the profitability of your membership site.

The owner of this site is Tim Kerber, who provided helpful support to me when I was first getting my membership site up and running. Tim definitely knows his stuff and will take good care of you. Tell him we said hello when you're there. :-)

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