In the last year, I have seen membership subscription websites take the Internet by storm. Most subscription sites offer their subscriptions for a fee; however, a handful offer their information for free to anyone who will provide an email address and name.
The focus of this article will be on the fee-based membership subscription web sites. Back in the Internet dark ages in 1997 or so, everyone expected everything online to be free of charge. For a few years, as more and more people purchased computers and chose to be online, that philosophy worked quite well. Around the year 2000, however, that philosophy began to change. The dot.com bust was beginning, and many companies realized that continuing to provide their services or content free of charge wasn't going to work in the new Internet marketplace. The fee-for-content phase was beginning, and many were skeptical, saying the people would never pay for something that was once free.
Now, paying for information online has become the rule, rather than the exception. Newspapers charge to access their article archives; membership associations charge to access their membership lists; and membership subscription web sites charge to access the “insider" information that a particular industry or niche finds vital for success.
I am amazed at the number of membership web sites out there that cater to all interests. Here are some examples:
1. TheJanitorialStore.com - provides tools and resources on how to open and run a cleaning business
2. LandlordSupport.com - helps property managers with the challenges of managing and maintaining rental property
The most informative source of information that I've found if you want to start a membership subscription web site is a membership web site, http://www.MembershipSiteOwner.com. This site offers the best soup-to-nuts resources on all aspects of creating, maintaining, and growing a membership subscription web site.
There are a number of companies providing membership subscription software and services in the marketplace, and the prices are all over the board. Two that come highly recommended are http://www.MemberGate.com, a membership web site development company that will host and help you develop your web site, and aMember Professional, http://www.AMember.com, which is software to help you manage your membership site.
Integrating a membership web site as a key part of your marketing funnel will be a time-consuming endeavor, but I think you'll find it worthwhile. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you think about launching your own membership subscription web site:
1. Pick a niche market with which you have some experience and credibility. Your audience is paying for your expertise and insight, so trying to fake it won't work.
2. Talk to members of your target market and evaluate their enthusiasm for providing content they want online. You may find out that they'd prefer the delivery of the content via a different medium.
3. Determine the size of your market. Are there already some products and services available for this market? How does your pricing compare? How will they find you? What will be their incentive for joining? What sets you apart and makes you different from others offering a similar product or service?
4. Don't think of a membership subscription web site as a “get rich quick" effort. It will take 8-12 months for you to develop the content for and then launch the web site, and at least another year to build your membership and begin showing a profit.
A membership subscription web site can be a phenomenal way to leverage your expertise and can grow to become a lucrative multiple profit center for your business. Create your business plan for your site and do the research up front to determine if this strategy will be a viable profit center for your business and how you will integrate it into your current offerings. Copyright 2006 Donna Gunter
Online Business Resource Queen (TM) and Business Coach Donna Gunter helps self-employed service professionals learn how to get more clients online at http://www.OnlineBizCoachingCompany.com . To sign up for more FREE tips like these and claim your FREE gift, TurboCharge Your Online Marketing Toolkit, visit her site at http://www.GetMoreClientsOnline.com . Read about running an online biz at our blog, http://onlinebizcoachingcompany.typepad.com/online_business_coaching_/