How To Start a Money Making Membership Site – Part 1

How to Build Lasting Membership Sites that Never Lose Subscribers, Need Only 2 Hours of Work and Keep Printing Cash Even As You Relax on Your Dream Vacation in the Caribbean!

How would you like to start making money on autopilot using a proven system?

Let me be very honest with you – I won’t insult your intelligence by explaining why membership websites are great for your business. Odds are, if you’re reading this, then you probably know all about the breath-taking profit potential of even the simplest membership website…

But if you’re reading this, then I can also guess that you haven’t got a membership site of your own.

Chances are, the following issues stopped you dead in your tracks:

  • You heard that membership websites need a lot of investment to become profitable. You need some fancy-shmancy script to make them work, and then you have to waste weeks fighting the brutal battle for your first subscriber…
  • You’ve been told that membership sites aren’t as profitable as everyone claims them to be, and that all your hard-earned subscribers cancel after three months, leaving you with a lot of wasted effort and squandered profit potential…
  • You’re worried that running a membership site is like slaving at a second job – you have to keep pumping out new content week after week, or start seeing your subscribers drop like flies…

Now… What if I could show you how to create a profitable membership website that kept churning out money month after month, even year after year – without spending thousands on development or working feverishly every day just to keep your subscribers.

Let’s begin our membership mastery journey together in this 12 part blog post series (yeah, that’s huge, I know). We will cover every aspect of starting and maintaining a membership site – from concept, research, selecting tools, and marketing to sustaining the ultimate profits.

Introduction to FTM Sites

It is no exaggeration to say that income streams that continue to churn out cash even when you sleep are the Holy Grail of Internet Marketing. In fact, it’s a pretty good bet that the attraction of such profit streams that generate guaranteed income month after month is one of the reasons why you got started in Internet Marketing in the first place.

However, as you know by now, most ways to make money online fall well short of this notion. In most cases, how much money you make online is determined by the amount of effort you’re willing to put in – and the second you stop investing that effort, your income will plummet.

Membership sites are different – once you have convinced a subscriber to join, he will continue to generate income for you month after month (provided, that is, that you’re able to provide sufficient valuable content).

This is where a lot of regular membership sites struggle. If you’ve ever been a subscriber yourself, then you probably know that content tends to be great for the first few months, and usually starts to go downhill from there. Incidentally, this is also the reason why the average subscriber rarely stays for longer than 3-4 months.

Fixed-Term Membership sites – also known simply as FTM sites – are profoundly different. Just as the word “fixed” implies, the objective of such a site is not to keep a subscriber signed up continuously, but to create a consistent stream of content for them for a fixed period of time.

Unlike their regular counterparts, FTM sites build upon the idea of a course, rather than a collection of content. This is a very important distinction; because it means that content provided by FTM sites in one month inevitably builds upon the content released in the previous month. In other words, there is what I choose to call a progression of value – every month, new content takes the previous month’s content one step further.

This is more important than you might think – so let me illustrate the difference with a specific example. Let’s say you’re running a FTM site on organic gardening. Your unique selling proposition is a 12-month long course on how to take care of your garden without using chemicals. Since you only release new materials once a week, members need to stay subscribed for the entire 12-month period – otherwise, they will not get full value from the content you have to offer.

Now contrast that with, say, a regular PLR membership site. A user signs up, pays their monthly fee and receives access to a vast collection of PLR material, whether in the form of articles or e-books. After 3-4 months, they already have more PLR content than they know what to do with. The result? Predictably enough, they unsubscribe – because they’ve already gotten all the value they need from this site.

As will be discussed throughout this blog series, FTM sites feature some of the highest customer lifetime values found in the realm of Internet Marketing. Let’s say you charge $39 a month for access to your site – assuming that you provide enough valuable content to compel the user to stay for the entire 12-month duration, the lifetime value of this customer would be 12 x $39 = $468. This is an incredible amount by any standard.

The simplest way to think of a FTM site is to liken it to a university degree. For example, to get your Master’s, you need to attend a defined number of courses spanning a little bit over a year. If you stop attending or skip any of these courses, you won’t get the degree you seek – it’s as simple as that. This alone provides powerful incentive for students to keep going all the way until the end.

FTM sites are exactly the same – and in this coaching, I will show you how you can design, create and market a profitable FTM site full of compelling content.

We kick off the next part by looking at some of the factors you need to examine in choosing the right niche for your FTM site. Once you know your target market, we next look at the technical elements of setting your site up (although daunting at first glance, you will soon discover that creating the site itself is actually pretty painless and straightforward, especially if you use the right software for the job).

The next lessons address the ever-important topic of creating content for your FTM site. After all, this is what users are paying you for, and this is what you will really need to deliver – and, occasionally, overdeliver – on.

I will also discuss in great detail how to market and monetize your site. There’s no point in developing winning content if you’re not putting it in front of the right eyeballs – but, in the final analysis, even that is useless if you’re not making money with it. Monetizing a membership site is often a very different beast from everything you may have heard about so far – and, frequently, recurring membership fees are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Finally, I will also cover how to increase member retention rates and reduce attrition. It is a well-known fact that most members do not stay longer than 3 months. However, as you will discover in this chapter, the FTM model allows you to dramatically improve upon this figure – and even develop a sneaky mechanism for penalizing those who unsubscribe!

Ready to make money with your FTM site? I sure hope so – ‘cause we’re off, and the ride will be wild!

So give a little more thought to this concept, and then get ready for the second part of the series next week. Set aside a schedule for yourself and keep a pen and paper handy as next part onwards we will be taking lot of practical actions (no theories here, sorry)

Next Week’s Lesson – Choosing Your Target Market

Choosing the right market is essential – and take it from someone who has launched a bundle of info-products of his own only to see them flop in the most embarrassing manner imaginable.

Effective market research is critical to the success of any product – and FTM sites especially so. As you will see in next week lesson, membership sites of this kind are a profoundly different marketing proposition from regular information products.

And yeah, don’t forget to leave your feedback 😉

You can meet Deep Arora, read more of his tips & tricks and watch some of his free videos at www.SiteJerk.com.


70 thoughts on “How To Start a Money Making Membership Site – Part 1”

  1. ricky says:

    it’s the university style … you win nothing to stay one month but get way more to stay on a long term….

    1. Steven Roddy says:

      Agreed. I am looking to create a membership site right now and was contemplating the various methods to do so. Thanks so much for the info John….and I want so much more than just a one shot wonder.

  2. BigManta says:

    Look forward to reading it all, 12 weeks huh?! You’re actually putting up some really helpful guides on here lately, first with the email marketing and follow-up and now with the membership.

    Perfect timing as well, lots of people are interested in the membership model right now.

    1. Yes we are getting back by back surprise post. Some by John and some by guest post.

      But however I must say that we are the winner in this.

      1. Yes, absolutely true, people were raving about they are not finding quality learning about making money here. This is enough to shut those big mouth.

        Its always enough content here to learn about how to make money online.

        -Shanker Bakshi

  3. Anuj says:

    This is nice. “Free” makes it even better 😉

    I have been hearing FTM buzz a lot these days and this looks like coming in just on time. I am looking forward to future lessons.

    Anuj

    1. Yes this is really interesting to see how these 125 posts is going to have …

      Because we do know that 12 posts are really big and Deep also knows it.

      But if he will be able to keep the momentum than sure we will come again and again.

  4. nathan says:

    Whoah this series is huge. FTM sites if monetized properly is really a good investment. I’ve did some researching and found out that this sites ensures that their subscribers get the information they want every month or more. I based it on a prescription of drugs site.

  5. Benjamin Cip says:

    I am very interested in creating a membership site, thanks for sharing this posts with us! Looking forward to read the part 2!

  6. LetUpdate says:

    I see it is a big potential post series. The membership site/blog surely can make into stable good money for us. It is worthy to learn it.

  7. Wow! This is great indeed, thank you!

  8. Doug Dillard says:

    Great Part 1… I really look forward to this entire series. We have plans for a membership site at the beginning of next year… so I am hoping to learn some new tricks in the next couple of weeks here 🙂

    1. Earningstep says:

      yeah… arora just did a great job.. not from the length of the post but the meaning of it

  9. Charles Lee says:

    Nice post!

    I am using a membership script called PHPMembers. It is very cool and can be easily integrated with WordPress and other systems. You can download it from http://www.phpmembers.com/ for free trial.

    1. LetUpdate says:

      So, there are some good plugin for wordpress too. It seems worthy to try.

      1. Benjamin Cip says:

        Very interesting… Thank you for sharing your affiliate link with us Charles Lee…

        1. EarningStep says:

          free = interesting… right ?

          1. Benjamin Cip says:

            “Free” one month trial… you show the worms to catch the fishes…

    2. Thanks for sharing this, i have seen lot of buzz about it, people are using it.

      -Shanker Bakshi

  10. Kevin Pasco says:

    I LOVE THIS

    Looking forward to a great series! This will be my second project after creating my John Chow Blog killer muahaha.

  11. Earningstep says:

    nice part.. i took more than 15 minutes to read them all.. but i like it very much…. good job

  12. cosmosblog says:

    Nice post! i want to try

      1. cosmosblog says:

        i dont not how to do

  13. Socialcouch says:

    Looking forward to read the rest of the parts.

    The hard part of membership sites is getting people to sign up and pay money. While many find it pretty hectic to gather new blog subscribers, it is worthwhile to look at how you address this issue.

    1. Deep Arora says:

      That’s exactly I am expecting in the feedback – Questions/problems you face so I can tailor the series along the way..good one..keep ’em coming 🙂

      1. Is that mean you have not prepared all 12 posts and this is under process.

        If that is the case than how can you expect that this will be only 12 posts … it can be more or may be less.

        1. Deep Arora says:

          The course is fully prepared and outlined 🙂

          By that I meant I can add things during the course to answer specific questions/concerns of readers..

          It will remain a 12-week course..

          1. Hey deep it a good job you are doing up there, yes tailoring your articles from comment feed back would be a great idea rather than sticking to what you know and explaining things the way you think they are.

            -Shanker Bakshi

  14. John random question but what service do you use to have the pop-up email service. Would be happy to use it through your affiliate program.

    1. Deep Arora says:

      I guess it’s action popup by Robert Plank. Search for it in Google and you will find it.

  15. MiniCravers says:

    For building this type of business model takes a longer time but of cause its more rewarding than a normal sites that put ads.

  16. John, congrats! Definitely, you have put a lot of readers in loop of coming back till the series finishes and in the bargain, many more readers to your existing long list. Anyways, it was a curiosity arising post & exmplifing your strengths as blogger
    1. Value
    2. Simplicity
    3. Attraction
    4. Clear action plan for your reader
    5. Follow up readers

    P.S. : Your fabulous style.
    I wish I could appreciate it enough.

    1. Dude this is not from John this is by Deep Arora from SiteJerk.com

      1. Thats called speed commenting. Sometime people just make comments without reading stuff.

        -Shanker Bakshi

  17. Mike says:

    Whoa another great content John.
    it’s perfectly in time for my upcoming membership site project. Looking forward to reading all the information in the coming weeks.

    1. Nope man this is not from John friend … this is guest post by Deep … and this will have 12 posts.

  18. Blogging says:

    Greet post, Deep Arora, I am really looking forward to the rest of the series! I was planning to run something similar additionally to my blog. But I was thinking of doing it a bit the 30DC style, free to join and then promote products and services I already use to the members. People are always more willing to join something that is free 😉 SY

  19. I echo the comments of others when I say that the content being dished out here is killer.

    I have been researching the membership model for some time and have always struggled to settle on a system that works for me. The idea of using fixed term memberships is a new angle which I hadn’t considered before.

    I loved the 40k per month vid featured on this blog, and it really opened my eyes to the potential income you can generate from a well put together blog. Massive respect Mr.Chow. Massive respect!

    1. Why does everyone assume all the posts are written by John? At both the top and bottom of the post credit is given to the author!
      Deep – This series is going to be sick. You’ve already started off demonstrating the model perfectly by offering a free course that is 12 weeks long and progressive. I’m really excited about the content even though it doesn’t apply to my blog currently.

  20. Diabetis says:

    This is similar to what Starak has shared before.

  21. thank you for this post very important to me i badly need this.

  22. fas says:

    Interesting stuff, cant wait for tomorrow.

    1. I wish he was posting daily. It sounds like it’s going to be a weekly article, so it will take 12 weeks! The weeks can’t pass fast enough!

      1. Sahil Kotak says:

        Yeah, can’t wait for another interesting post.

  23. Emerald says:

    thank for sharing ! It ‘s so helpful . !!!! I so admired of you !!!

  24. PPC Tips says:

    Looking forward to the series.

  25. Sahil Kotak says:

    Nice Post, I am eagerly waiting for the second part.

  26. Toni says:

    Ah – that makes sense. One website training programme I looked at does exactly this. Because I’m a teacher who loves teaching, this concept has been playing in my head, but I didn’t know how to go about getting it onto paper, so to speak. My next project will be creating one I think – about what I don’t know. I’ll have to go and do my research, but this sounds like awesome fun.

  27. Membership sites are definitely good, however you have to offer a quality service to a target audience. When I was younger, I ran an online membership site for UO (if you remember what UO is bravo!). It did very well, but it also required a lot of maintenance. So I do agree with Mr Chow that it is a great way to do business, but it does require dedication, some creativity, and work on your part.

  28. I used to make my englishland as a membership and paid website. But I could not make significant earnings from it. Now I have made it as free website and monetize it with Google Adsense. I see that the English learning website gives me significant earnings every month.

  29. Hey Deep …

    Do you have any schedule of posting of these 12 posts. According to that we will keep coming as we are really looking forward to see the second one.

    1. Deep Arora says:

      Yup – every week, same day..so next one is scheduled for Oct 1, Thursday (then Oct 8, 15, 22, 29…)

  30. Jeff says:

    What really amazes me John is that you give all this stuff away fro free – you could have started amemebership site on just this topic and got a 1000 takers!!

  31. Chad says:

    Hi Deep,

    I am a subscriber to your membership site http://www.plrowner.com. Is this site still functional? Where is the September 2009 download? Also, I have already sent 2 messages to your support contact link and got no response. I noticed a new price (much lower) for your membership subscription and wanted to know how old subscribers can benefit from the new price…

    Sorry if I may seem off-topic, but Customer Support is part of a membership site success, no?

    Thank You.

  32. Yes, why don’t you start a membership program? That sounds like a great idea and I am sure a lot of people would be interested.

  33. Bayseec says:

    Great article! You really put a lot of effort for this. Looking forward to other articles. Thanks…

  34. Hey John,

    FTM sites area wonderful idea,and you were right about the core statements that generally stops people from indulging in the membership sites.

    Mine reason was also the first one, I didn’t have the capital at that time when this idea was suggested to me by my friend. Your post made the facts clear and made me repent on my action that I took not getting into a membership site, a year back.

    Anyways now i have the key elements and I am waiting for the next lesson.

  35. gaban says:

    let me think to choose which is the best one

  36. Money-Era says:

    Another brilliant idea for making money online by monetizing traffic http://www.money-era.com/?s=monetize! I like it a lot. Your article immediately sent me off thinking what knowledge I could share with my readers on a consistent basis and I got an idea. Thank you

  37. Lee Ka Hoong says:

    One of my reader asked me to create a membership site but I have no idea how can it be done. Thanks for this post, I’ll need to read your next post for further clarification.

    Thanks,
    Lee

  38. Money-Era says:

    It seems to me that John sensed the next big trend in Internet for money making. We might be experiencing the birth of the new era in money making. Thanks for sharing.

  39. Awesome beginning to what seems like a great series. I’m looking forward to it.

  40. JoshuaElliot says:

    That was a great share, John.

    To have the best retain is to make them a course with time period.

  41. Abol Joe says:

    To join membership gave more opportunities and create a community among us but the most why not many want to join because the fee … if i had a money i really want to invest ….

  42. Hey John,

    It is wonderful to know about how you can earn money out of a FTM site. This is a wonderful idea and I liked the concept of it.

    However prior to now, I used to be skeptical about these membership sites business model. But now I am starting to understand this. Thanks for this wonderful information.

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