How To Start a Money Making Membership Site – Part 3

Before we dive into the part three of this coaching series, read part 1 and part 2 if you haven’t already done so.

Setting Up an FTM Site

If you’ve never put together a site before, then the prospect of assembling a membership website may sound daunting. Luckily, from the technical point of view, FTM sites are very easy to set up.

Technical Aspects of FTM Site Development

I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that you already know everything about choosing a domain name and a hosting provider. In case, you don’t let me just say the following very quickly – Name Cheap is great for domain name registrations, while Blue Host is widely used by Internet Marketers as the hosting provider of choice.

When picking a domain name, stick with the .com TLD whenever possible; .net, .org and .info are all second-rate domains and shouldn’t be used for a professional, profitable site if you can help it.

Now that we’ve gotten the obvious out of the way, let’s take a closer look at the technical structure of an FTM site, which consists of the following:

  1. Landing Page / Sales Letter Page
  2. Payment Processing Page
  3. Opt-in Page
  4. First Download Page
  5. Content Download Pages

The first two pages are self-explanatory, so I’m not going to waste your time explaining them. Your opt-in page, however, is extremely important – for the simple reason that an FTM site delivers all of its content solely via e-mail. Every single time a new lesson becomes available, you fire off an e-mail to your subscriber list with a link to the new content (which comes in the form of a PDF file and is available at its respective download page).

Finally, the first download page is the page that your customer will be redirected to upon opting in for the first time. This is where they will download the first piece of content you have to offer – with the rest to be delivered by e-mail.

If this sounds a bit confusing, consider the following example of the typical buying process for a new subscriber:

  1. A visitor lands on your page, reads the sales letter and decides they’re interested in getting a membership
  2. The visitor clicks the Buy Now button and pays the initial membership fee (let’s say $47 for the sake of the argument). Whether you use PayPal, PayDotCom or Clickbank, all of them allow you to setup recurring billing, meaning that the customer will be automatically billed $47 every 30 days.
  3. Upon making the payment, the buyer is redirected to the auto-responder opt-in page, where they enter their name and e-mail in order to receive future lessons/content.
  4. Upon opting in, the buyer is redirected to the first download page, where they can download the first lesson.
  5. Every 7 days, the customer receives an automated e-mail from you informing them that this week’s lesson has now been published and that they can download it at its respective Content Download page, with a link to the page in the e-mail.

It goes without saying that all of these mailings are scheduled by you in advance and queued up in the form of auto responder follow-up series.

This way, you never have to worry about manually sending out broadcasts with links to new lessons every single time one becomes available. And, as you will see later in this report, site structure that relies on auto responder follow-ups for content delivery can be invaluable for discouraging membership cancellations.

When it comes to setting the site up, although you don’t have to user membership site management software – in fact, I see quite a few FTM sites that do not require login and password authentication – why run the risk of possible piracy?

But let’s cover BOTH the methods so that you can experience firsthand the pros and cons of each.

FTM Site without using Membership Software

Ok, let’s first find out how to set up your FTM website without using any kind of membership software. We will also find out the pros and cons of taking this approach.

If you decide not to use any membership software for your FTM site, then all you need to do is code simple HTML pages. Let’s follow our FTM site technical structure and see how many HTML pages we will need.

  1. Landing Page / Sales Letter Page – 1 HTML Page
  2. Payment Processing Page – It can be the same page as number 1
  3. Opt-in Page – 1 HTML Page (after customers returns from paypal)
  4. First Download Page – 1 HTML Page
  5. Content Download Pages – 1 HTML page for each subsequent lesson.

Now, ensure that in all the HTML pages that contain your paid content (lessons), you have this HTML code at the top:

<META NAME=”ROBOTS” CONTENT=”NOINDEX,NOFOLLOW”>

This is required so that search engines don’t index your paid content pages. If you do not include this code at the top of your HTML pages, your pages will eventually become available in search results and can be accessed for free.

A second and better approach is to save all the paid content pages in a sub directory as lessons and then password protect it using cPanel Password feature. You can then include this password in the first autoresponder welcome email that goes out to every new subscriber. Do not include this password in every email that goes out else it will be a big headache should you decide to change the password in future. You will have to update ALL the messages in your autoresponder J

Here’s the directory structure you can follow:

public_html

– index.html (your salesletter, with order link)

– difficultToRememberName.html (the opt in page where customers return after making the payment and subscribe to your auto responder)

— <LessonsDirectory>

All files under this folder should have this HTML code:

<META NAME=”ROBOTS” CONTENT=”NOINDEX,NOFOLLOW”>

— – lesson_1_someothertext.html (first lesson)

— – lesson_2_yetanothertext.html (second lesson)

Benefits of using this approach are that

  1. You do not have to spend any money on buying costly membership scripts
  2. And then invest time in learning the new software.

All you need is a bunch of HTML pages that you can upload to your web server using the method I showed above.

But there are three main disadvantages of using this method.

  1. Your content is not secured. Anyone who knows the URL of your lessons (paid content files) can post it on forums or warez sites. In that event, hundreds of people can access your paid content without even paying you.
  2. But there is a bigger disadvantage – even if you decide to rename your HTML files or remove those completely from your server in future, still people can view your paid content. Most of the search engines take a snap shot of your static pages that remain on the internet for years to come. There are many free services (like time machine) that store such snapshots for years.
  3. And last but not the least, when someone cancels his or her subscription, you have to login to your autorepsonder service to manually remove that subscriber’s account. If you do not do that, your subscriber will continue receiving the lessons and I bet, you will not like it.

So, why run the risk of possible piracy? Why not start in a right manner from the beginning?

FTM Site using Membership Software

This is a better method of running your FTM sites. You don’t have to worry about securing your content, search engine indexing of paid content or customer cancellations. The membership scripts that you use take care of all these things.

But the top question is which software should you use?

There are number of options available today. The top software I used to recommend was aMember. I have used it plenty of times on many occasions. But the biggest problem with aMember is that it doesn’t offer a content management module. So you require a separate CMS such as WordPress or Joomla to run a content oriented FTM site.

The other top choice is WishList Memberhsip plugin. It is a WordPress membership plugin. It has some very nice features, but with it, you are stuck with using WordPress.

The biggest disadvantage I see in using either of them is that you may have to buy a separate license whenever you wish to install a new FTM site.

Note: I have reviewed these two top choices on my blog, in case you wish to take a look. Check my membership software reviews here.

Now if you do not want to buy a paid membership script, you can still set up your FTM site using the top CMS solution Joomla. I have posted a video on my blog that will take you step by step and show you how to set up a membership site. Remember, this video tells you about setting up membership sites in general, and not FTM sites specifically. But you can make it work for your FTM site easily, with little modification.

Here’s my video on “How to setup Joomla Membership Sites

Can I Be Little Biased?

See, I have years of software development experience. I have tested hundreds of software (joomla, drupal, amember, wishlist, membergate, memberspeed, wordpress, storefront, magento, jvmanager, aec..you name it).

I have done hundreds of integration between joomla-amember, wordpress-amember, joomla-wordpress-wishlist, drupal-amember, but have always found one or the other limitation when it was a time to expand my business.

One of the greatest stumbling blocks I’ve encountered is how to manage a number of different systems and how to reduce the need to run multiple systems to ensure you have ‘all the bases covered’.

Many of these problems I’ve encountered are going to give you a sense of ‘déjà vu’! I’ve used countless different programs on the market and I’ve tried using self hosting systems.

What I really found is these caused nothing but hassles for me and my team – and I was watching more and more money go down the drain for unsuccessful programs.

Sounding familiar?

By 2007 when I launched my first membership site I was using a popular script that had been taken up by a number of internet marketers. Finding this was not enough to manage my site needs, I switched to a Joomla-amember combination, but encountered problems when my site was hacked because I failed to update Joomla quickly enough.

I moved from that to a more secure platform combining Drupal-amember. This was an ok solution, but I had to sell my digital products separately and I quickly became aware that amember wasn’t able to handle this – and while it was ok for running membership sites – it didn’t manage digital products.

I tried using another popluar cgi script- paying a hefty price for this solution, only to find that I still needed to maintain amember to manage the membership side and this new script to complete the sales of the individual digital products.

That meant two separate systems to maintain and two separate databases that needed managing – with no real option for integration between the two systems…

After the years of using all these programs, not to mentions wordpress, shoppingcart, intervals, timesheets, and many, many more – I was frustrated with having to use patched together solutions that didn’t really integrate into one solid answer….

I decided to create my own system

I achieved the results I was looking for because I could see that I needed to take matters into my own hands and apply my programming skills to creating a system that would make my life easier…

And the best part is that this unique software doesn’t cost a dime. You can download it for free. It’s extremely effective. Believe me and just go ahead and download it. You will be amazed with what it can do for your entire FTM business in near future.

It is available at www.SiteManPro.com

Setting up your FTM site is super easy with SiteManPro. The biggest advantage of using SMP software is that you can run different types of websites without having to buy costly software. For example, you can run your FTM site, traditional membership sites, or just plain simple blogs with one installation. And all your sites can have different design.

You will also have the flexibility to give bonus access to your other FTM site. For example, if you run three FTM sites as A, B and C and run five traditional membership sites as D, E, F, G, and H then you can grant access to customers of FTM site A to site C and F. This becomes powerful when you grow in terms of number of your sites.

You can get all help about using the software and setting up your membership site on www.SiteManPro.com.

Excited seeing such powerful software for free? I bet. Once you have your FTM site up and you have finished creating the lessons, it’s time to create auto responder messages to send out weekly lessons.

Choosing the Right Autoresponder

In general, there are two autoresponders that you can use – GetResponse and Aweber. Although both are quite good, all things considered, I’d go with Aweber for a very simple reason – they do not require double opt-in. With Aweber, double opt-in is strictly optional, while in GetResponse it is enabled by default and cannot be switched off.

Considering that only paying customers will be joining your list, you’re already providing as much spam protection as possible. Requiring someone who just paid to be on your list to opt-in twice is just plain nonsense and will only frustrate your customer.

With that said, Aweber has one important disadvantage that may or may not have an impact on your marketing campaign. Unlike GetResponse, Aweber prohibits the use of Tell-a-Friend scripts (scripts that allow visitors to send an automated e-mail to their friends with information about the website). If TAF functionality is important to you, stick with GetResponse; otherwise, use Aweber and you won’t regret it.

By the way – it goes without saying that you should never try to save money by using an in-house autoresponder solution instead of an established one. Aweber, GetResponse and others have special agreements with e-mail service providers that ensure high deliverability of their e-mails in return for spam vetting. Using an in-house solution will adversely impact your e-mail deliverability rates – which will be catastrophic for your site, considering that links to new lessons will be delivered solely via e-mail.

Homework for this week:

Explore all the software that I have mentioned above (but download SiteManPro, trust me). Then pick one and install it on your domain. Test it out in every way to ensure it can sustain with your future growth.

Note – If you require any help in installing your first FTM site, you can hire my staff to do your website. More information can be found here: http://sitemanpro.com/services

Case Study:

As I promised in last week’s lesson – here’s the case study of a site that we did for a very famous Internet marketer and speaker “Roy Carter”. Roy Carter contacted me after seeing the Joomla Membership Site Video on my blog to find out what are best ways to set up a FTM site. Roy speaks in internet marketing events.

Roy designed a 12 month Personal Internet Mentoring Program in which he offers personal (one-one-one) mentoring and Internet Marketing Training to his customers. He charges $3400/year for his online coaching. To accomplish this, his website needed to have the ability to restrict content to members only, and a way to deliver that content on a weekly basis for twelve (12) months.

Since every customer would join at different times, these content pages needed to be protected and delivered incrementally. In other words, when customer No. 1 joins, say on June 3, for example, he receives content for week one. Then, customer No. 2 joins on July 22th, and he will also receive content for week one and so on. Every 7 days, they both will receive content for the following week.

Looks similar to our FTM site model?

Roy wanted to have the ability to send this new content via email and/or manually, but at the same time, the content needed to be delivered in a secured manner and not be indexed by search engines. He also wanted to have the ability to add new pages and content himself.

These content pages would allow his members to watch his video tutorials on a particular subject for a specific week. Since Roy has a huge stage presence and a high clientle, the challenge was to come up with a design that looks vibrant, cool and serious, and one that doesn’t look hyped.

The solution to Roy’s problem was to implement a FTM website using SiteManPro for the membership and content management, along with an autoresponder service (getresponse) which will send members the links to the content pages already created within SMP core for his site. These links to the pages will be sent by his autoresponder, incrementally, to each member.

The entire procedure (that you can model too) is listed here. And here’s Roy’s FTM site running on SiteManPro.

The site is a huge success among his customers. And Roy is very happy with the site we did for him. In Roy’s own words:

SiteManPro is such a state of the art platform that I will now be able to run a good deal of my entire business from this one place. This includes being able to keep all my accounts and invoicing inside SiteManPro as well as automating my business more and even controlling all my sites from this one area as well. I am delighted to have found SiteManPro and I have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone who wants a highly professional solution to help them run their websites and business. It was the perfect solution for me.

Thanks Deep. Roy Carter

So again, if you require any help in installing your first FTM site, you can hire my staff to do your website. More information can be found here: http://sitemanpro.com/services

Next week – Creating a Stream of Content

As the owner of an FTM site, content is your bread and butter. So long as you keep offering valuable information to your subscribers, they will happily keep handing over their hard-earned cash to you, month after month. But as the quality of your work starts to drop, so, too, will your earnings.

Creating a steady, ongoing stream of content for your site is no small task – but this is the one thing that you absolutely need to get 100% right or you can forget all about that dream of residual income.

In our next week lesson, we will cover “creating an effective content plan”, “writing compelling lessons”, “developing supplementing content”, “outsourcing strategies” and “leveraging on your customer feedback”.

Stay tuned!! And yeah…don’t forget to leave your feedback below.


34 thoughts on “How To Start a Money Making Membership Site – Part 3”

  1. Right word for the right time. Well explanatory…Thanks John

    1. gaban says:

      dont missed any post from john 🙂

  2. Some serious Meat here: Thanks John!

    I’ve struggled with certain aspects of setting up my own membership site; and have instead offered a paid subscription model; instead of the content protected in an area; I email it out; or put it on a hidden page for download. But you’ve helped with a lot of these issues i needed help on. Thank you so much!

    1. I’ve done the paid download thing using wordpress and the WP E-Commerce plugin just never found a product that has made as much money as promoting affiliate products.

  3. Now I know a little about making a money maker online again.Well not again.But I get more money.So I get money again.

  4. Scott says:

    Mr. Chow dot com,

    I read your ebook and I must say that it is the most informative, yet grammatically incorrect writing I have ever read. My reason for writing you is that it needs to be updated, plus in my opinion, it is out of order. I went though and signed up for all 130 sites that were listed, but not all exist anymore. I will list the ones that do not exist anymore: 121media, Ad Solutions Network, Adbonus, Adzuba, Ampira Media, bluelithium, euroclick, experclick, hurricane digital media, impression up, mamma media, maxonline, meta reward, adhearus, adsonar, all clicks, all feeds, bidclix, expoactive, industry brains, one monkey, textads.biz, webadvertising.ca, 7adpower, creamaid, avn ads, qumana, waypointcash, response republic, and deal.com. Alladvantage isn’t there anymore either and I liked that site 10 or so years ago. Also, the first 49 you list, the only one that accepted me was hyperbidder because you need lots of traffic before a site can be accepted. Why not put this at the end of your ebook before telling about yourself. It would have saved me a lot of time. My site has been up since June and it was a lot different in June than it is now. I recreated it since I read your ebook. Please check it out and if you can give me some pointers. Now, I am going to give you a list that accepted me rather quickly after taking a look at my site: clicksor, kontera, webmaster.dating.lt, bidvertiser, payperpost, pepperjam, adbrite, oxado, shareasale, linkshare, buy.at, darkblue, commission junction, clickbank, hyperbidder, claxon, azoogle, google adsense, chitika, amazon, and maxbounty. So, 22 out of 100 sites until I get traffic. Actually make that 24 – paypopup and popuptraffic also accepted. You do give some good ideas about traffic and I am going to go do them. Any chance you can send me some traffic since I gave you the sites that do not exist anymore? Oh yeah – i had godaddy a few years ago and cancelled them because of customer service. I have tried many different hosting sites over the past few years when I had a business inside of a mall. The one I have now is HostMonster.
    They pay an awesome affiliate payout, the site is the best I have seen, and the customer service is excellent. I do not know your host so I can’t say anything about it, but hostmonster is phenomenal. I am a teacher who was let go unfairly this past year and I have no job. My site is about blogging about travel. Can you help me, John Chow?

    1. Geez dude!

      On the subject of being gramatically correct I strongly suggest that you try paragraphs when writing a thesis 😉

      Jokes aside, you raise some very valid points and your criticism is well directed and backed up with the facts. I went to have a look at your blog, and you need links pointing at your blog pages buddy, and lots of them. Travel is a very competive industry online.

      Have you done your keyword research? At present your main page will rank for “time travel” and I don’t think that is really your niche!

      I strongly suggest you go and learn a bit about SEO and on and off page optimization. SEOmoz.org is a great resource, go and spend some time there, it will really help your cause a lot.

      Good luck with your online endeavours.

      Jacques

      1. Jacques …

        You are the man … and co operative as well.

        So what other you prefer SEOmoz.org. I would recommend you to have an eye on BestRank.Com as well. They are providing good knowledge as well.

  5. I’m a little ADD. Could you add a couple of screenshots or pictures to break up this massive wall of text?

    The information is amazing, but I had to come back and start reading it again 3 times. Talk about some seriously dense content!

  6. Charles Lee says:

    Very nice post. Thank you, John.

    But I am a little bit confused by the FTM site. Is it a script including blog and membership functions?

    Currently I am running my membership site with WordPress, and using a membership script called PHPMembers which can be integrated with WP and protect my WP pages. It works quite well and you can download its trial version from http://www.phpmembers.com/

    1. Deep Arora says:

      Hi Charles,
      The SiteManPro script is much more than a regular membership or blog script. You can run a variety of sites using SMP.

      But to answer your question, yes, it’s like having wordpress, amember and digital downloads in ONE script. Plus many more new features will be added soon.

      Download it, you will enjoy I’m sure..

      1. The most notable aspect of SiteManPro is that not only does it offer a centralized hub for controlling different sites, but it also comes at no cost whatsoever.

  7. I’ve got a great idea for a membership site in the travel niche, but I ain’t tellin anyone about it.

    1. Deep Arora says:

      ssshhhhh……. 😉

      1. Lee Ka Hoong says:

        Deep Arora you have a nice guest post here, and a pretty long post. I’ve never heard about the FTM Site, may take some times to find out, thanks a lot for this long and useful post! 🙂

        1. Deep Arora says:

          Sure thing mate..don’t forget to read the part 1 and part 2 (links at the starting of this post) of this series to get the entire benefit..

  8. You can actually use WordPress as a membership site with the right plugins. The key is having high quality content and giving the community value they can use. GigaOM did a nice job with its recent Pro community, as an example.

  9. Awesome post, thanks for this series.

  10. Richard says:

    thanks a lot John. That was a very looonnng article…

  11. Hey Deep,
    Your post is informative, quick & really supportive in the process of decision making. It was really kinda practical details & easily implementable.
    Great!
    Nice series!

  12. Hiya Deep Arora. Your mini-series has been informative and enlightening so far and I am looking forward to installment number four.

    I went and had a look at your page, and am intrigued by your Site Man Pro system. It looks a great system to coordinate multiple web pages / sites. I gave it a StumbleUpon review. Keep up the good work!

    1. Deep Arora says:

      Thanks for SU mate… 🙂

  13. Dan says:

    Loving the course so far, I’m about to release a 7-day “Monetizing Your Blog” course using an autoresponder, but look forward to playing with SMP and membership sites!

  14. Hey Deep its nice to see that you are adding post after a gap as reading and trying these things need some time and I am happy that you and John are providing such time to us.

  15. Hiya Deep Arora. Your mini-series has been informative and enlightening so far and I am looking forward to installment number four.

    I went and had a look at your page, and am intrigued by your Site Man Pro system. It looks a great system to coordinate multiple web pages / sites. I gave it a StumbleUpon review. Keep up the good work!
    OH! You’re my new favorite blogger fyi

  16. EarningStep says:

    amazing post. i learn lot of useful thing just from this post.. keep the good work

  17. fas says:

    This is one detailed post, you coud write a small pdf on membership sites.

  18. FTM site are beautifully designed program seamlessly integrated with a huge database will inspire the genealogist. The emphasis is on discovery—growing your tree with minimal frustration and maximum accuracy. If you’re searching for a family program, this is the one. A young student could easily create a visually appealing project in 30 minutes or less. A parent could research ancestry forever. The cost is not in the software, but in the online monthly membership. However, this is the only program with a dedicated database, so using the two in tandem will give optimal results.

  19. Membership sites are one of the hottest topics in Internet marketing right now. The reasons for this are clear; you can make some great recurring income, and satisfy the needs of members in your niche to really corner a market!

  20. amazing post. i learn lot of useful thing just from this post.. keep the good work

  21. Gary Parenti says:

    Hello Mr. Chow,

    I watched the short movie with you on T.V.
    John Chow on Breakfast Television..I thought
    that was Great..I didn`t know that you were such
    a Great celebrity..Blog and Learn I guess..

    I have started Blogging in the past few months
    and am now learning the ropes from you and
    your Blog and E Book..I came here tonight looking
    for ways to start getting Traffic to my New Blog..

    Maybe I will finish the E Book you gave me..
    Seems like I get off track and go other places
    online and forget the book for a day or two..

    Well talk at ya Later,Thanks for the help,
    One of your Students,

    Gary Parenti,

  22. lubangbisnis says:

    amazing post… i got a lot onformation here.. thanks for posting this….^^

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