Avoid this when building a mini membership site

Written by ansel

Topics: Digital Assets, Membership Site News

What's your idea for a mini membership site? Is it easy or hard to get it launched?

Frequently I receive emails from people sending through their ideas for a membership site or mini membership site, and it's always interesting to see the ideas my readers are developing and launching. It's something I enjoy observing and guiding people on. However, it's also common to see people complicate the process or complicate the original idea.

Below is a list of what I consider "hard projects" and "easy projects." There's nothing inherently wrong with the hard projects, but if you're just starting then it's best to avoid them, until you're ready to take them on. Get experience with the easier ones first and then move on to the harder projects.

Why avoid them (for now)? Two reasons: 1. If it's too complicated, you might not ever get the project out the door - launched! 2. If you don't have any other digital assets generating income, then you'll want to start generating income as soon as possible. Complicated = a lot more time.

I recently had someone send through their idea. And it sounded pretty good. However their execution of it sounded complicated. They sent me through a flow chart of how it would work and what was involved. It included groups of memberships, upsells, and various levels of membership. There's nothing wrong with this approach - if you're experienced. But I have to tell you, just reading the chart hurt my brain. If you want to avoid a common mistake, don't complicate things. Don't make it hard for yourself - and above all else, don't make it hard for your visitors.

If it's your first mini membership site, then get it launched first and then come back and play with it, tweak it, complicate it if you like.

When I refer to a membership site being hard or easy, it usually revolves around two factors. These factors on their own can make it either hard or easy:

  1. The type of content you're providing (software, articles, books, etc.)
  2. The options you're providing (membership levels, upsells, upgrades, etc.)

Fortunately the options are easy for you to control. Just limit them. The content is sometimes a bit harder, depending on your niche market. The list below is more about the content, as you are already in control of the options.

Here are the types of mini membership sites to avoid, when you're getting started or if you haven't had any success with online marketing. Remember I'm not saying you can't do them, just be aware of what's involved...

Hard Mini Membership Site Ideas (Can hurt your brain)

Software: Don't get me wrong - software is great and can generate a lot of sales - I own several software membership sites myself (like IMPRESSION), but I've had my fair share of problems getting them launched. For starters, development always takes longer than the programmers tell you. Then there is the testing and debugging stage and then a second debugging stage after you launch and see what damage users can do when they let loose on your software. Once again software is great, but make sure you have the time and experience to see it through. It doesn't have to be costly to develop, but you do have to get it right.

Legal/financial advice: If you require special permission or licensing to get your site built or launched, you might want to let it go - unless you have an expert who can help you. If unsure, get legal advice from a professional.

Service based membership sites: This one can fall into hard or easy, depending on the service. However, if it's an online tool you're providing/hosting for a member then it can be complicated. It falls into the software category. But, if it's more along the lines of consultation, and you're experienced, then it can be easy. I've launched software services (where we hosted it) and it was very profitable, but it required a lot of custom programming work.

Profile and community based member sites: Dating sites, networking sites, etc. can be complicated to put together. The reason for it, is that it usually requires custom software for you to run it the way you want. There's a lot to work out whenever you stray from out-of-the-box solutions. I've done it with networking sites, and although it was very successful, it took a lot to make it work. If you can't do what you want with WordPress plugins or an out-of-the-box software tool, then you might want to consider passing on it for now. Come back to it when you have the cash flow and time created from your easier projects.

Easy Mini Membership Site Ideas (Won't hurt your brain)

Video & video screen casts: Video is one of the fastest ways to put together a product. I've been able to put together products in days or weeks using video. It's a lot faster than writing a book. If you can teach on video or find an expert to talk on video, you can turn over a product within days. And if you're not confident talking directly to the video camera you can always create a Powerpoint presentation and record your screen. The only downside to this is that you may need some gear, but just about everyone has high quality cameras on their cell phones these days. That's all you need.

Articles & ebooks: In my previous blog posts I talked about how easy these are to outsource, or if you like to write you can create the content yourself. When outsourcing the writing you'll need to be very specific with your writers and provide research material references, if you want good content.

Audio recorders: When I started one of my first membership sites, I recorded audio interviews done with me or other experts (I actually had my wife interview me) and included them as a big part of my members area. The interviews were done in real time (no editing) and simply uploaded to the site as an MP3. It's similar to video, but most of the time you can get away without the same level of editing. The downside is it doesn't have the same perceived value as video. It usually needs some written content or video included, to support it.

PLR (Private Label Rights) products: Of all the methods, this is the easiest (not always the best, but certainly the easiest) to get started with. You won't have to spend any time on product development and you can search through different products within your niche to find the right match. However, if you choose this option just be sure to check the quality of the product and to customize the graphics and sales copy that come with it. The downside to this option is the amount of low quality PLR products on the market. You'll need to do your research.

Keep in mind that even the easy ideas can be complicated. This is done by adding too many options and choices. Keep it simple, at least until you know what you're doing. I've been creating membership sites for the past 11 years, and I still try to keep it simple.

Pick the one you like best. Don't complicate things. And get your new mini membership site launched for New Year, or maybe even before Christmas!


4 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. thierry says:

    Solid post Ansel, thanks for the advice.

  2. Paul says:

    Great stuff Ansel. I’ve always wanted to start a membership site. Maybe now I will. BTW…can you give us a review on a good, quality PLR to use for starting a membership site. Or maybe an example of one that is successful.

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