How I started a $10K/month membership site in 6 months
Membership sites can create some great revenue for your business, but they can also feel daunting to put into place initially. Many people tend to steer away from them because they feel like an overwhelming, massive project that may not be as passive as they appear to be.
Well, I started a membership site a few years back, and I grew it to $10K a month in just six months!
If you’ve considered adding a membership into your own business, then keep on reading because I want to share with you my own story of growing and scaling this type of digital product (and how it can work for you!).
How it all started
Back in high school I was what you would call “ambitiously lazy” …
What I mean by this, is that I was already thinking of ways I could make money without having to work (or how I could work less).
My dad runs a landscaping business, which is HARD work (I appreciate the work ethic he passed on to me through it), but that’s the kind of work I saw all around me: manual-labor jobs that left you physically in pain. As I was considering what I wanted to do or be when I grew up, I knew I didn’t want that!
So I asked myself, “How can I get paid to think?”
My ultimate goal was to find something I could do that was meaningful to me.
It was about this time that a friend loaned me the “4-Hour Work Week” by Tim Ferris (love it!), and this opened up my mind to alternative ways to make a living. I started reading and learning more about these different money-making options. I immersed myself into understanding what options I had for online business, from digital products, coaching options, to membership sites.
Another impact player in my life was the Smart Passive Income podcast with Pat Flynn, which introduced me to even more ideas, as he interviewed successful course creators and membership site owners, and no two were completely alike.
After hours and hours of studying, I realized I really wanted to create a membership site.
What is a membership site?
When you pay to be a part of a website platform or a private community where you receive exclusive content, you are essentially a part of a membership. Memberships make you feel like you’re part of an exclusive club.
Do you have a Netflix subscription? This is a membership!
How about a Costco membership? Are you a part of that whole-sale buying club?
Apple music. Amazon Prime. Hello Fresh. Stitch Fix.
All memberships. You pay an ongoing monthly fee until you cancel.
Many online memberships offer educational content about a specific topic, and you pay to access the material so you can learn a new skill. Memberships can be very similar to an online course, but they are subscription-based rather than a one-time purchase.
What’s the beauty of memberships then?
They provide ongoing, consistent income month after month. You’ll do some work initially to make the sale, but then it can begin to work for you passively as you continue to make the monthly income for work you did one time.
RELATED: The ultimate beginner’s guide for making passive income
Obstacles to starting a membership site
I faced some technical obstacles as I moved into planning mode for how I would build my membership site, but the main hurdle that challenged me was this pressing question:
“How do I come up with an idea that people want to pay ME month after month for?”
I wondered if I could bring enough value to the table…
If I were to start a membership site, I wanted to ensure I was confident in the knowledge I could give to paying members.
Then another question popped up:
“How would I create the content for the membership site?”
In my head, I was thinking I needed to have months worth of content inside the membership to keep people interested, and then I’d probably have to continue to create content all the time.
“How was this going to be a passive product option for me???”
Now, the good news is that I found out I don’t have to keep creating content month after month to keep my members satisfied. The kind of content you create (and how often you create it) really depends on how you position your membership site.
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Creating a plan
In 2018 I finally came up with a plan for my membership site.
I would build out a membership for people who wanted to start an online business, and every month I would create one month’s worth of content for members.
I knew I needed proof of concept for my membership, so I tried selling a few live workshops on topics I wanted to create for the membership to see if people actually wanted the information I taught (and if they’d pay for it).
I had about 20-50 people sign up for each live workshop, which earned me around $1-2K in income each time.
The thing is, before trying to sell these one-off workshops, I hadn’t successfully sold any digital products! I finally found something that people wanted and validated my membership idea.
At the end of the five workshops I hosted, I felt confident that I was ready to get the membership site started and that I had content to fill it with. I was able to create some mini courses inside my membership from those workshop topics I taught on.
Getting the membership site set up
Two main things I needed to do to get the membership set up were:
- Setting up the membership platform
- Setting up a way for members to pay on a monthly basis
I chose the Access Ally plugin on WordPress for my membership site because I wanted to host it on my own platform, and I wanted to be able to completely customize it. Even though I recommend this option, it is quite techie and expensive. For this reason, I recommend making sure you’ve proven your concept before investing that much into customizing the membership site on your personal platform.
Launching the membership site
Before launching my membership, I worked on two main things:
- Setting up membership site itself
- Building up a waitlist
In July of 2018, I had 300 people on my waitlist. I honestly had no idea if that would be enough people to get started, but I’d been building out my audience outside of that as well, and guess what??
I had 300 people sign up!
This is statistically unlikely, but if you have an audience outside of your waitlist, I’ve learned that it is common to make a similar number of sales to the number of people who sign up for your waitlist. Around 5-50% of your waitlist will purchase, but if you have a larger audience than that, you could see additional response to your offer!
I chose to host a week-long email campaign. I didn’t host a webinar. I didn’t have any other sales mechanisms. All I did was send an email every day telling my audience about the different aspects of the membership and what they can expect if they join. I also let them know (at this time) I planned to only open up doors to join twice a year.
I titled my last email, “Humor my curiosity,” and I asked anyone who chose not to join why they didn’t. Do you know I had 500 people respond? And I was flying solo at this point! I didn’t have a team to help me answer these emails, and I wanted to personally reply to each one because they asked me some great questions and could be leads for later down the road.
Now here’s the kicker…
Two out of the six months that I was producing these five paid workshops for proof of concept and then launching my membership for the first time, my family and I were traveling around Europe! (oh, and I should probably also mention that I was pregnant…)
What did having 300 people initially sign up for my membership do? Here’s the breakdown:
- I had 300 people on the waitlist
- 300 people joined for $33 a month
- I created $10K in revenue that first month
- … and continue to make $10K or more every month after!
RELATED: How to make money online with zero audience
Game changer for my business
Opening up the Startup Society membership changed everything for me and my business.
I had a chance to experiment more, and it helped me work to serve my members more and more. I wanted to create a place for them to be able to start, grow, and scale their businesses, and I wanted to ensure they had the tools and resources they needed to do it effectively.
Now, I didn’t have much of a strategy for this membership. I just tried things. But the things worked! And now I have the privilege to teach others how to do this for themselves with a proven strategy I’ve used over and over as I build out new programs.
So there you have it…
This is the story of how I got started with my membership site and finally found that successful digital product that I could scale to $10K a month and beyond!
Using this same strategy (that I learned by trial and error), I now created a new program called $100K Mastermind that teaches people (like you!) to do the same thing. I teach you how to create and launch a digital product with an automated sales funnel that creates $10K/month in revenue… just like I did with my Startup Society membership.
If you’re interested to find out more about $100K Mastermind, you can do so here: