How To Start a Money Making Membership Site – Part 2

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

Ready? Let’s talk about selecting a market for your membership site in this lesson. This is going to be a long lesson (up to 10 pages), so roll up your sleeves and dive…

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 a moment, membership sites of this kind are a profoundly different marketing proposition from regular information products.

How to Find Potential Niches

Finding niches – profitable or not – is one of the biggest challenges of aspiring marketers. Go to any IM forum and you will find hundreds of posters all ranting about the profit potential of an untapped niche. But how do you actually find them?

Amazon – Personally, I always prefer to start with Amazon – for the simple reason that, if books are being published on this subject, then it’s probably because there’s demand for information. For example, head to Amazon and select Books -> Crafts & Hobbies. Here’s just a sample of topics that you will immediately find there:

  • Baskets
  • Candlemaking
  • Knitting
  • Origami
  • Scrapbooking

Zinio.com – An alternative way to discover potential niches is to take a look at magazine publications. These are, as you know, multimillion dollar businesses that rely primarily on advertising for their revenues. And where there’s advertising, there’s also an audience that’s able to buy and manufacturer’s willing to sell – in short, a potentially lucrative market.

The site I usually use for magazine research is www.Zinio.com – not only can you see all the major magazines there as well as the categories they belong to, but you can also buy digital versions of them for as little as $3.99! This makes niche research both cheaper and more convenient.

By the way – if you do buy a magazine this way, take a good hard look at all the advertisements you find inside. If you see an advertisement for, say, anti-wrinkle cream, then it usually means that there are millions of people out there all wondering how to get rid of wrinkles. A quick Google Keywords search reveals that 135,000 people a month search for “anti wrinkle” – how’s that for a market with high demand?

Lastly, when examining advertisements, be on the lookout for the unique selling proposition that the advertisers are trying to communicate (how they seek to differentiate themselves from the competition). Differentiation strategies are strong indicators of niches – for example, if an advertiser emphasizes organic anti-wrinkle creams, then it’s usually because there is a niche for natural wrinkle solutions.

Forums and Online Communities

Forums are great for finding lucrative, laser-targeted niches, provided that you’re willing to invest some time into research. Once you have decided what broad market you want to work in (e.g., parenting), spend some time on relevant forums to see what questions users ask and what needs they seem to have.

Look for threads along the lines of:

  • “How do I…?”
  • “How can I…?”
  • “How to…?”

For example, sticking with the parenting example above, a quick scan of parenting forums reveals the following potential niches:

  • How to potty-train your child
  • How to help your 6-year old with social problems at kindergarten/early school
  • How to deal with bullying/reverse bullying

This list of potentially very profitable niches (remember, most parents are absolutely crazy about their kids and will happily spend as much money as needed on them) took me all 10 minutes to come up with, and that’s in a market I have absolutely no experience in.

Another way to use forums for niche research is to actually involve other forum members and get them to tell you what problems they have that need solving. For the parenting example above, you can simply make a post on the forum and ask people what the number one problem with their three-year old was. Before you know it, you will have hundreds of people all sharing stories, complaints and experiences – and even providing solutions!

Market Segmentation

Another great way to find lucrative niches is to segment your market. Professional marketers use this term to describe the process of breaking an otherwise big market down into smaller, manageable chunks.

For example, let’s say you want to release an FTM site in the dating market. As you know, this represents an enormous group of customers – in fact, every single adolescent and adult person in the world is a potential customer!

However, let’s see if we can segment the market somewhat by identifying groups of customers. The most obvious way to do it is by gender – after all, there’s a world of difference between dating advice for men and for women.

This leaves us with a market of approximately 3 billion customers, so let’s segment it further still. If we were to look at our potential male customers, how can we divide the group even further? The following criteria come to mind:

  • Age
  • Ethnicity
  • Sexual Orientation

Let’s apply the criteria above – dating advice for men would clearly be a market segment, and an enormous one at that. But what about dating advice for homosexual Asian men over 40? In just one fell swoop, we narrowed our target market from an unmanageable 6 billion to a small, niche segment.

Beating the Competition

This is by far the most challenging way of finding niches – simply because, while identifying one should be pretty easy, taking action and penetrating the market will be a downright nightmare.

If you really, really find yourself without any ideas on lucrative market niches, then sometimes it pays to look no further than your competition. Visit Clickbank and see what products are in high demand (they are usually the same products that hold leading marketplace positions).

The idea here is very simple – figure out what your competition is doing, and then do it better. Oftentimes, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel, since there’s usually always room for more than one contender in any given niche.

Niches and Markets

One of the biggest problems with online market research is the ongoing confusion of terminology. A lot of marketers claim to show you how to find profitable niches – when in reality what they’re pointing you towards are markets.

The difference between the two terms is profound – and important to grasp. A niche is a small subset of the market – one that oftentimes remains unclaimed by existing product manufacturers.

For example, “beauty care” is a market. “Pet care” is a market. Wrinkle treatments and dog training are still market segments, with tens of millions of customers and fierce competition.

In comparison, wrinkle treatments for women aged 50 and over is a niche. Dog training for naturally aggressive dogs is a niche. The difference, as you can see, is the extent to which you narrow down your target market, until you identify a small segment untapped by existing offerings and fellow marketers.

So next time someone tells you that they have an info product in the dating niche, feel free to laugh in their faces and tell them to study the fundamentals of marketing – dating is a market (and an enormous one at that), and not a niche.

Profitability Factors

As hinted earlier, FTM sites are a very different beast as compared to traditional information products. In fact, I’ll even go one step further and say that traditional indicators of a potentially profitable niche – such as a desperate audience – are not necessarily applicable to FTM sites.

Luckily, in this section I have compiled a list of 5 main factors that can help determine whether the niche you have in mind is suitable for an FTM site. Simply use this litmus test before you start developing your membership site, and you will never end up with a commercial flop on your hands!

Why a Desperate Audience Isn’t Necessary

If you’ve been around the block in Internet Marketing, then you’ve probably heard all about the concept of a desperate, hungry audience looking for an immediate solution to their problem. Such an audience is routinely described as the key element of any marketing campaign – if you find such prospective customers, then everything else will fall into place. After all, they have a burning need to solve a pressing problem, and you’re offering the solution. How could you go wrong?

This approach works almost every time – except for FTM sites. Of their nature, FTM sites spread the solution to the problem over a period of time – and it can be as long as 12 months.

So, for example, let’s take one of the hottest markets out there – acne. Every day, millions of acne suffers wake up to a terrible reflection in the mirror. There’s nothing they wouldn’t give for a magic solution that got rid of their acne in a week.

These people have a desperate problem – but would they be willing to spend a year’s worth of membership fees just to figure out how to get rid of acne? Clearly not – they want a solution, yes, but they also want it right now.

FTM sites do not easily lend themselves to solving immediate problems. Instead, when creating a FTM site, you’re better off focusing on areas of improvements. For example, a course showing you how to improve your copywriting skills and maybe even find your first few clients would be a great concept for a FTM site – simply because anyone who’s serious about copywriting knows that it is a learned skill that takes years to master. Similarly, a membership site showing how to improve your golf skills would be another example of a site that people would be happy to pay for – because any serious golfer knows that this kind of improvement just doesn’t happen overnight.

In this respect, then, FTM sites go against the conventional wisdom of Internet marketing. Instead of focusing on a burning problem that requires immediate solution, they concentrate on long-term opportunities for improvement.

Memberships as a Concept

Not all markets are equally accepting of membership sites as a concept. For example, if you have spent your entire online career solely in Internet marketing, then you’ve probably seen many membership sites come and go. In your mind, they’re nothing new – and you might not have a problem paying for one, so long as it continued to create value for you during the subscription period.

In contrast, a lot of people outside IM have never encountered a membership site, much less paid for one. This, in turn, makes selling memberships to them exceptionally difficult.

This, then, forms the second component of your market analysis – how likely is the target market to accept the concept of a membership site in the first place? One good way to do it is to identify such markets is to find problems that require a long process to resolve.

For example, consider weight loss – you clearly can’t lose weight overnight. To shed those extra pounds, you’ll need to embark on a long process that will take you six months at the very least. And, precisely because the solution to this problem is a process rather than a quick fix, you will find it much easier to explain to prospective customers why you’re offering a membership site rather than a one-off e-book.

Real Disposable Income

No matter how you slice it, membership sites are expensive. Even if you charge $9.95 a month – which is pretty cheap as far as memberships go – that still works out to an impressive $$119.40 a year.

In turn, this means that another important factor you need to keep in mind when deciding on the market for your site is whether your potential customers have sufficient real disposal income to afford your service in the first place. For instance, you’d be hard-pressed to sell a job-hunting site or a frugal living membership solution to the unemployed; but you could easily get away with a golf training membership site, simply because your target market is likely to be relatively upscale and affluent.

Personal Expertise

Do you have enough knowledge of the subject matter to keep producing valuable content month after month?

As any ghostwriter will tell you, you don’t need to be an expert to produce a winning, in-depth e-book that delivers value and solves your customers’ problems. All you have to do is spend a few weeks conductive exhaustive research – and soon you’ll have more material than you can shake a stick at.

Unlike e-books, however, membership sites aren’t one-off affairs. You don’t just have to create valuable content once – you have to keep churning it out week after week, month after month. And if you don’t know the first thing about the subject matter, then there’s only so much information you can provide to your subscribers before you run out of things to say (and, soon, out of subscribers as well, as the quality of content starts going downhill).

Keyword Research

How popular is your market? Are there enough people looking for information on this topic to justify developing a full-fledged FTM solution?

Keyword research is a great way to answer this question. As you know, there are many keyword research tools out there – some are paid, while others are free. While all have their own advantages and drawbacks, I personally am not a fan of paying for keyword research data that I can already get for free.

This is the reason why I always stick with the Google Keywords Tool. Of course, it’s not 100% accurate – no keyword tool is – but it enables you to pull data directly from the Big G, instead of relying on metacrawlers.

With this, we conclude the part-2 of this membership mastery coaching. Don’t sit back and forget what you have just read. Until you take action and narrow down the niche for your FTM site, the next week lesson won’t help you. You have full one week to research and come up with your niche.

If you require any help in determining the niche for your FTM site, then feel free to ask your question(s) by commenting below. Alternatively, you can ask your question(s) on my blog.

Next Week: 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. And I will uncover every aspect of it in my next week’s lesson. I will even show you the exact scripts that you can use and a case study of a FTM site that charges $3400 a year. So stay tuned.

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


57 thoughts on “How To Start a Money Making Membership Site – Part 2”

  1. Amar says:

    Pretty good studied, i wrote about this thing on my blog 3 days back. Before it was even on johnchow but anyways great post

    1. Ben Pei says:

      Yours was a prediction.. This is a prediction come true!

  2. Simon Bunker says:

    Thanks for this post Deep. Some really useful information. I always struggle with the niche research aspect but this post has made it look far simpler than I had previously appreciated.
    Thanks again and I am looking forward to the next installment
    Thanks
    Simon

  3. Sahil Kotak says:

    Thanks Deep, I was waiting for the second part from days. Thanks for more useful information about this niche.

    1. Benjamin Cip says:

      So was I. I really like this part 2.

      1. Sahil Kotak says:

        Yes, Ben it is really interesting. And I really liked it. 🙂

        1. Benjamin Cip says:

          Will you open a membership site soon?

          1. gaban says:

            i am considering to join this membership 🙂

          2. Sahil Kotak says:

            I will decided that after so much of planning, for now, NO Planning of it. 🙂

          3. 10 training posts are yet to come and we are waiting to get that one.

            We are sure rest 10 will have equal level of quality.

  4. Adam M. says:

    Pretty much exactly what you want to do for any type of niche site. Whether you are selling affiliate products, using ppc, or starting your own membership site. Before you can jump in and do anything you must research and plan.

    Good series so far. I am enjoying it.

  5. Home Jobs says:

    Nice writeup Deep, will be waiting for your 3 session of setting up FTM Site, thanks John for this guest post

    1. gaban says:

      john is master
      just stay tune here and you will find many things:)

  6. Money-Era says:

    Absolutely fantastic article: a wealth of information presented very clearly. Written in easy to grasp language, that actually make the reader want to act! Thank you very much for that. I can’t wait to read the next in series. Great job, really.

    1. Benjamin Cip says:

      We always find informations we are looking for at John Chow dot com.

      1. Lee Ka Hoong says:

        We’re not only reading JohnChow’s post but we can read many other great guest blogger’s post as well.

        1. Sahil Kotak says:

          Yes, this is also one good feature of John Chow dot Com

          1. Benjamin Cip says:

            I’m wondering what is his criteria to accept Guest post on his site… of course, quality and valuable post, but does he allow only his friends’ guest post?

          2. Lee Ka Hoong says:

            Perhaps you send an email and ask John, and let us know here? That would be great if we can write a Guest Post here, but quality and value of the post would be the first element for John to accept Guest Post.

      2. Yeah I love that I found this site. It has a very active community of commentators and the information just can’t be beat. It is a great example for the blogging community.

    2. In today’s world of arbitrary blog posts to make up the numbers, articles like this represent some serious value. Not something to just glance over, but something to be read & re-read, in order to assimilate all the information dispensed.

  7. Okay Deep I can promise you as soon as you will be done with this series i will start a new membership site, Courtesy Deep Arora.

    -Shanker Bakshi

      1. Benjamin Cip says:

        this article series kept me motivated to create a membership site.

        1. gaban says:

          good decision

  8. I am in the process of setting up a membership site now. This post is incredible timing. I never thought about utilizing a magazine to find niches.

    1. Benjamin Cip says:

      I want to create a membership site as well. I just try to find a programmer to create a membership site for me.

    2. Lee Ka Hoong says:

      We’re waiting to see your membership site, don’t forget to share with us. I believe that you should have some useful tips on how to create a membership site too right? 😉

  9. Deep Arora says:

    Just to add to the topic, I wrote this blog post sometime back that shows a sneaky method to come up with product/article ideas multiple times every day. And all these ideas are red HOT. I use them personally when I am stuck.

    You can read and comment this method here:
    ==> http://sitejerk.com/136/one-proven-method-to-never-run-out-of-product-ideas/

    1. I went and had a look at your blog post. It is a tad plagiaristic, but if you’re not copying things verbatim, but rather using the concepts and topics that are popular you’re quite safe. If inspiration is lacking, then go take a peek at what the neighbours are doing….heheheheh….I like the way you think sir!

  10. What an incredibly detailed, thorough and clear blog post. This is literally amazing and ridiculously generous.

    This post a lone is worth 100’s of other blog posts I have seen and the comments regarding the hungry crowd not being the be all and end all in marketing was a new insight for me.

    Props on this post, and I am looking forward to number three. This is going down in the swipe file.

  11. Lee Ka Hoong says:

    One of my reader asked me to create a membership site, and this post gives me an inspiration of how the membership site can be looked like. Thanks a lot Deep Arora!

  12. Greg Ellison says:

    It looks like this year is the year for membership sites. If you do a good membership site your are bound to make a lot of money from it. Nice post by the way Deep. Greg Ellison

  13. Back in 90s everything was for free in the internet, then step by step people start charging for even small script, I remember that time. Then you can get almost all for free. Now membership sites. New gold rush?
    It’s good, we can get informed how to build it for free. Take advantage of the JC

  14. fas says:

    That is alot to look into before doing anything, not easy.

  15. Money-Era says:

    Hey commentators: I can see plenty of you are ready to start membership sites. This is great.
    Have you thought about providing the right content? I think content to be paid for is the most important thing in membership sites. You got enough resources/knowledge to supply it for many months?
    I am asking all these questions because it is the biggest concern for me. If it wasn’t, I would be off to start a membership site, too 🙂

    1. Deep Arora says:

      Don’t bother much as of now. We will cover that aspect in good detail shortly. Just focus on task at hand and find yourself a good niche… 🙂

      1. Money-Era says:

        Oh, so glad to hear that. Thank you for clarifying that. I’d stick with your advice of finding the niche then.

        1. Yeah, I second this. This was my major concern as well.

  16. Flippa Chick says:

    My highest earning niche website came from a topic that I myself suffered with. From then on, when I choose a niche, I always refer to a list of questions that I’ve often searched for through Google.

    I’m still amazed at how what I think is a minuscule topic is something that is on the minds of thousands of other people as well.

    1. Money-Era says:

      Do you make a list of topics that you searched for? And keep it for future reference?

  17. Deep, hi!
    To be frank, I wasn’t expecting such an awesome article looking at simple sub-headings. But i liked certain points:
    1. Details
    2. Easily understandable examples
    3. Charted out plan of action
    4. ……..
    Forget it. I just loved it.

  18. Excellent article, Deep, it gives great advice how to find profitable niches in general, not only for membership sites applicable. BTW, you mentioned the free Google Keyword Tool, I have switched nearly completely to http://hospitalera.com/market-samurai-review/ Market Samurai as it allows me to save projects and to track how sites are doing in the SERPs. SY

  19. EarningStep says:

    ow… man .. this is for real..real complete for make money online . i am sorry about this but some times it is not easy than we thought. we can do everything but … you know …

  20. Great post. It is really very important to choose the right niche. it must be both profitable and the one that you have some knowledge about. And that is not so easy.

  21. Ben Pei says:

    Very details information I must say.. Definitely a good read on JC.. thanks!

    1. Very in-depth for sure, I’ll have to come back to it, my eyes are starting to close.

  22. Hey John,

    Research is the core of any online marketing activity. You have research up to the core prior getting your feet into the arena.

    Keyword research and niche researches are the major thing to do, because these are the sole factor o which your site’s present and future depends.

  23. A desperate customer base isn’t necessary, but it can make you a ton of money.

  24. JoshuaElliot says:

    The volume of the market (demand) is where you can make money, and the competition tells you that people are making money there.

    Be it you are targeting a small niche or the mass popular niche, it all depends on how you position your product to the market, as known as USP.

    I like this post, thanks Arora.

    1. Money-Era says:

      Of course, you can watch what is hot on internet and kind of copy that.
      But it pays off to be the pioneer, to be the first (or among first) in the next “hot internet trend”. Whoever is first gets cream of the cream, the rest are followers…

  25. Hey John,

    I liked the Zinio.com as I haven’t heard of it before. This is truly a amazing site and I am using it for fining the perfect niche for my new site.

    Thanks for introducing it.

  26. Andrew says:

    I find I know a little about alot of subjects but not enough on any to have quality content for a 12 month membership site.What are the best online tools for research and building up expertise?

Comments are closed.