Nowadays, more and more entrepreneurs are creating a membership community for good reason. It brings in recurring revenue, gives your audience the opportunity to build community and network, and allows you to offer products and services to a specific segment of your audience: your dedicated customers and "super fans".
Here at SPI Media we founded our membership community SPI Pro in July and we already have hundreds of members. We didn't plan to launch SPI Pro until 2021, but then COVID happened. Unfortunately we had to cancel our second annual FlynnCon conference (that was difficult because we were so excited).
After the FlynnCon was canceled, we realized that we could put all our energy into getting the SPI Pro site up and running ahead of schedule. With most of us quarantined behind our computer screens at home, it seemed like a good time to offer a virtual community of members to those who crave connection and fellowship.
We are thrilled that our membership community has started and is growing strong. We strongly recommend starting a membership program. BUT there are a few things you need to ask yourself before jumping into the depths. Here are the top 5 things to ask before you start:
Is your target audience ready for a membership community?
As you know, it takes time to grow your audience and customer base. Here at SPI Media we've built an audience since Pat started his online business 11 years ago. We have built a huge library of content for people looking to start an online business.
However, in recent years we have found that part of our audience has been ready for something more. Some of them have grown their businesses and become successful themselves, and they longed for content to help them take them to the next level. Our audience has evolved with us and has grown with it.
We also noticed that they long for more community. Our first FlynnCon conference last summer was a great success. However, some of the feedback from participants was that they wanted “more detailed content” and “more opportunities to network and meet people”.
This indicated to us that our audience was ready for membership. A place where entrepreneurs who were serious about growing their business could get more detailed content, meet other entrepreneurs, network and have more access to our team.
We knew our audience was ready and they trusted us to provide them with the information they needed.
That brings us to the second point: Do your audience trust you and your brand? Perhaps you have a large social media presence that you can use to build a membership program. Or you have a podcast and have built your reputation as an expert in your field. Before considering a membership program, you need to have a sizeable audience and be trusted as someone who can provide that audience with what they need.
Are you ready for a membership program?
It might seem simple: set up a membership page, invite people to join, and walla, you have a membership program.
Not so fast. Building a membership program can be daunting. You need to decide which membership platform to use, what type of program to create, what the fee structure will be, what content you will provide and who will create it, who on your team will manage the site, and how you will. I will market the program to your audience and more.
Do you have the capacity? If you're feeling burned out or overwhelmed, now is probably not the time to embrace something new in your company. Unless you have a team that can help you set up and manage the program and create the content, this is another factor to consider.
Here at SPI we have several people who helped us set up SPI Pro, including those on our team who help create content, manage the technical side of things, develop marketing tactics, and interact with the community Have helped. We have also hired trusted consultants like Jay Clouse who has a lot of experience launching membership programs, as well as freelance designers. Once the program has started, this team is also involved in the day-to-day administration of the program.
So make sure you are ready, have the capacity, and can hire an in-house or freelance team to help. If you can check all of these boxes, you may be able to start your own membership program.
Can you offer additional value?
What more can a membership site offer your audience than what you already offer? What do you offer your audience that they can't find anywhere else? How does your membership program fit your overall business goals?
These are all questions you need to answer before starting your program. For SPI Pro, we knew we could add value to those in our audience who are ready to take their businesses to the next level. Those who are committed to making an effort and having time to succeed.
Of course, SmartPassiveIncome.com has tons of free content for entrepreneurs. It contains over a decade's worth of blog posts, podcasts, videos, guides, and resources for people looking to learn how to start and grow their business.
However, we wanted to offer more to our audience and built SPI Pro around three main areas that we haven't yet provided:
- A private community Here, people can feel safe asking questions, gathering ideas, networking, receiving feedback and building relationships
- Exclusive content B. Free video workshops, a monthly book club, free e-books and special offers for SPI Pro members.
- Direct access to Pat and the rest of the SPI team through AMA events (ask me a question), virtual meet-ups for new members, and zoom meetings for book clubs, and more.
What is your audience asking for? If you don't already know, you can send a survey to get an idea of what they'd like that you don't already offer.
Do you have the patience to build a membership program?
Membership programs take time to grow and develop. If you're excited about one-and-done projects and instant gratification, think twice about building a community of members.
SPI Pro has got off to a good start, but we also have plans to ensure it is a success in the long run, including ongoing marketing to recruit new members, customer support to help with troubleshooting, and ongoing creation of content that offers value and commitment from our team.
All of this adds more engagement and complexity to our business, but our team was ready and excited to make this happen. Ask yourself if this is the time in your company that you can face this challenge.
Does your program offer a return on investment?
To determine if a membership program is right for you and your business, you need to determine if it is worth it.
How much time and energy will you and your team devote to the program? How much does it cost for design, content creation, website hosting, ongoing marketing tactics, and other business expenses?
How will you rate your program and how many paying members will it take to get a return on your initial and ongoing investment?
Will it be worth it?
If you can answer YES to all of these questions, then you may be able to start your own membership program! Here at SPI Media we want to help you get started by showing you how we created SPI Pro and what we've learned so far. Sign up for our free workshop below!
Lessons We Learned Starting SPI Pro, our new community for members
When you're ready to take the next step, join our FREE workshop on August 25th at 10:00 AM Pacific Time to learn more about how and why we created SPI Pro and how to set up your own membership program can create. We will cover the following:
Why Membership Pages Are The Holy Grail Of Passive Income; Common mistakes and why many member communities fail; What types of membership programs are there and what they should offer; How do you choose the right platform? Which perks and benefits should you include? How to start your community and what to do to keep it growing.