Set up Membership Site: Twitter Chat with @KathrynAragon #VCBuzz

vcbuzz-Kathryn-AragonWe already had a chat with @KathrynAragon but this lady proved to be so awesome that, per popular demand, we invited her again, this time to talk about setting up a successful membership site.

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About Kathryn

.@KathrynAragon is an unbelievably talented writer and editor. She also maintains a powerful  site called Area 51

Make sure to connect to @KathrynAragon on Linkedin.

Questions we discussed

Q1 Let’s start with the basics: How to set up a membership site? Tools? Plugins? Payment getaways that are easy to set up?

Let’s start with membership plugins: MemberPress and WishlistMember. They’re easy & flexible.

Those two plugins are great for private member areas. But you might also want to build courses.

Yes. I used Premise when it was new. But @copyblogger isn’t supporting it anymore. I thought it was cumbersome. Support content was hard to understand. If it’s too difficult, you can’t focus on your content and marketing.

Couldn’t agree more. What works for others won’t necessarily work for you.

Payment gateways are the biggest challenge–you need recurring payments. The best are, Stripe (They’ve worked well for me. Good way to accept ccards without monthly fees.) and Paypal. is great but expensive. Stripe / Paypal – may need help getting recurring payments to work.

2 ways to build your site: unique URL or adding it to your existing site.

If you try to add it to your existing site, be careful. It can bog down your site & break things.

Better option: create a subdomain like No extra hosting fees and gives you lots of flexibility.

In my opinion, yes. I like being able to build what I imagine.

Plugins can be technical and can break your site. That’s why I prefer a subdomain.

Q2 How did you come with the idea to set up your first membership site? What was that about?

I’ve always liked the idea of a membership site. Great way to create recurring income by sharing your expertise.

Once you have the site built, the challenge is finding your audience and delivering value consistently.

Key: You need to be seen as a credible source for the information you offer. You also need to be sure you’re offering tons of value.

My first 2 membership sites were TopMarketersOnly (separate site) and Area51 (on my main website).  TMO was basic marketing training; A51 was the upgrade and offered advanced training.

Confession: I started by building the membership site, then promoting it. That’s backwards and much harder to sell.

I was using LearnDash in the members area to organize training modules. Worked well.

Better: start with a book or forum and create a membership site as the next step. You want people to be asking for it.

Q3 How to promote a membership site? How to get people join?

To sell membership, you need a great value prop. Offer something people really want, and clearly explain the benefits. I like the idea of creating tiers of membership so people can join at a low cost and move up as their needs grow.

To promote a new site, do a formal launch to get the word out. Free training, webinars & guest posts work well.

For ongoing promotion, use funnels. Ad > Free download > $1 trial or $7 for valuable training > Membership offer.

I do that, yes. But now now. I had to take down my members area.

Membership is a great upsell. Create a lot of low-cost offers and offer membership as the next step. A membership site needs constant promotion. Be creative. Need to get details about your site in front of prospects.

Not now. On my to-do list. ? To set up affiliates, you need a shopping cart that has that feature. Infusionsoft is good.

Q4 What’s the difference between selling a membership and selling a product? Pros and cons?

With a membership, people are charged automatically every month. There’s no set end-date to the payments. With a product, you ask them to buy only once. Even if there’s a payment plan, the cost is a set amount.

Membership is a hard sell. Have to help prospects see the long-term value so they’re willing to commit to payments. Most members only stay 3-9 months. To keep them longer, you need to give tons of value every single month.

That’s the biggest challenge. You have to create private and promotional content. Need time for both.

Whether you sell membership or individual courses, expect to do a lot of promotion. There’s no easy button. ?

Q5 How much time does maintaining a membership site take daily? How to fit it into an already busy schedule?

Running a membership site is time intensive. Expect 2 days minimum per week for promotion and content creation. To promote the site, you need to write guest posts, network & advertise. Perhaps 1-2 hours each day.

To support members, you need new content weekly. Expect 1-2 days a week to plan and execute.

Getting it all done is the challenge. Consider getting an assistant to help—and pay with free membership.

Find the types of content / support that your members value but is easy to prepare. That’s your sweet spot.

It’s best to have several streams of income. Member site is just one.

Our previous community management chats:

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