Again, unless your research makes it clear that your audience is ready and waiting to join your program, don’t produce your entire membership program just yet. Starting small and creating just enough top-quality content to keep charter members happy, then seeking their feedback before moving on to the next stage of production will help save you both time and effort in the long run.
Your business plan lays it all out. It details what you sell and where your profit comes from; how much inventory you’ll have on hand and where you’ll store it. It lays out your return policy — and you’ll need one of those. Most important, your business plan details your total start-up cost, from your ad campaign to Web designer to monthly server fees.
Now that you’ve created your site and have taken into account the feedback of your first set of members, it’s time to start promoting to a wider audience. We’ve published lots of useful content covering this topic, including some simple SEO strategies for membership sites, as well as a guide to creating a buzz around your program. Then there’s social media marketing to consider, not to mention starting a blog to attract more of your target audience.
Be aware that your URL affects your search engine ranking, so if you want to be found for “shoe,” it’s a good idea to fit “shoe” into your domain name. One way to do this is to use your brand name along with a keyword term. So MillerShoe tends to work better than FantasticShoe.com. (Which is why MillerShoe is taken, but FantasticShoe is still available.)
Consequently, it’s vital you do all you can to serve those members who’ve invested in your program. Adding a help desk system to your website can improve communication, while creating new and varied forms of content for your membership site is sure to increase the perceived value of your program. You can also implement tools like Churn Buster, which can reduce the risk of satisfied members involuntarily quitting your site—something you may not even be aware is happening.
With time, you might consider using an affiliate marketing program, in which other sites get paid a percentage of each sale they send you. But it’s questionable whether a brand new site will benefit from an affiliate program. Although some new sites have profited, many new sites has yet to build the name recognition that makes using affiliates profitable.
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The last option you can try is signing up for free trials for the different builders. Ensure that at this stage, you have filtered off your options and only have a handful to try. Signing up for trials might take some time. You don’t have to sign up for platforms that don’t even have the features you were looking for. Set aside some time to scroll through the different platforms and features and fast as possible before making your mind.
Focusing on acquiring new members is a key part of creating and maintaining a successful membership site. But perhaps even more important is keeping existing members happy. For starters, it’s probably easier to keep a member than find a new one. Then there’s the invaluable word-of-mouth marketing happy members contribute, not to mention the damage to your reputation unhappy members can do.
Unfortunately it’s impossible to know what type of licenses will be required for your specific business until some extensive research is done. Requirements vary depending on many factors – city, county, whether or not it’s a home-based business, the purpose of the business, etc. My company CorpNet does offer this research. Please feel free to contact us for a free consultation at 888.449.2638.
Google Sheets beat Microsoft to the punch and introduced a Checkbox as one of the Data Validation options. You can go to Insert > Checkbox to quickly create one, and you can customize it by going to Data > Data Validation. I've updated most of the Google Sheets versions of my checklists to use that feature. I hope Excel gets smart and introduces a similar feature some day.