We’ve launched hundreds of membership sites over the years with clients of every type and demographic. During that time we’ve been able to observe and analyze specific trends that lead to growth. Of all the trends one thing has stood out with certainty.
The most successful membership sites focus on consistent content creation.
This is their foundation and backbone for growth. This is essential to reach 6 and 7-figure revenue, which we’ve seen from various clients.
To be clear, we’re speaking to membership sites that focus on recurring revenue and member retention. In other words, these are membership sites that aim to grow their MRR (monthly recurring revenue) and optimize for member retention. They are focused on growing their membership base consistently.
We are not speaking to course websites or other membership models that require “launch” frameworks and other one-time product optimizations. These are an entirely different animal in terms of strategy and trends.
Why is consistent content key?
So, let’s break down why creating consistent content is the secret to growth.
1) Content creation leads to traffic
For starters, it’s extremely challenging to grow a membership website without traffic. In fact, the only way to grow a membership website without traffic is to be extraordinarily good at sales and networking. Otherwise, traffic is essential to create leads, which turn into members.
A solid content strategy will include both member-focused content AND public facing content for SEO. This helps you get found by search engines for the niche content you’re creating. Some membership sites can devise a strategy that exposes all of their content, which is best for SEO, and then “gate” specific parts of the content for members only (i.e. videos).
2) Content creation is proof of expertise
In addition to the traffic gains, content creation shows proof of your expertise in the subject matter. Some of our most successful clients expose their content library to display all the knowledge and information they’re offering to the world. They showcase some of their best content and make it accessible to navigate the rest of the library.
This is exactly why retail stores put strategy into how they showcase their physical products. The best stuff is placed in the window so people get a quick glance, which is similar to a membership site homepage. Then the rest of the inventory is intentionally placed throughout the store, which is similar to a membership site content library.
3) Content creation is hard work
Creating content also demonstrates your ability to step up and do the work. Most experts in the world are not creating content online because it’s hard, especially if you’re not naturally wired to “create.” The few that put the work in end up building an audience and eventually decide how to nurture [and monetize] that audience.
The old saying “If it was easy everyone would do it” certainly applies. Here’s what’s typically involved in creating content:
- Planning and outlining
- Video or audio recording
- Content editing and production
- Content publishing
Each one of those steps has it’s own set of sub steps depending on various factors. So again, the process of creating content online is not easy or fast. It usually requires commitment, practice and discipline. It’s hard work that will pay off in the long run.
Now let’s look at some examples of great content driven membership sites.
Khan Academy is one of the leading organizations in online education. They focus on primary education for K-12 and offer a massive library of learning curriculum. Students can learn virtually anything on Khan Academy from math to life skills.
Khan Academy makes it effortless to view their content and engage. You can begin a course without even creating an account, for example. They’ve spent years establishing proof of their content and now hold position as one of the top online educators in the world.
Piano With Jonny
The Piano With Jonny team has been producing high quality online piano lessons and courses since 2013. Their website and business has evolved quite a bit since then, but one thing that has remained consistent is their commitment to creating content. They currently offer piano lessons, courses, live Q&A shows with their team, and continue to create content every week as their membership grows.
Piano With Jonny exposes their content library so users can preview all the awesome content they’ll have access to as a member. They provide visitors with a preview video on each piece of content instead of the full video that paying members get access to. This has led to high conversion and sign ups of their free trial.
Mixing Light is an online leader in color grading education. They provide detailed tutorials and courses for colorists and color grading professionals. The foundation of their membership site is a color grading tutorial library that boasts over 1,000 premium tutorials.
Similar to Piano With Jonny, Mixing Light has always exposed this tutorial library for the public to see. They also gate specific parts of the content like videos and deeper insights. This has led to high retention and engagement from their members over the years.
Piano With Jonny exposes their content library so users can preview all the awesome content they’ll have access to as a member.
All 3 of these sites demonstrate a commitment to consistent content creation. Not only that, but they expose their vast content libraries for the public to see. This is a cornerstone for what makes their membership sites wildly successful.
Let’s say you already have the content creation dialed in or fully understand the commitment. The next logical question is “what’s next?” Some content creators hit a ceiling and find it challenging to grow beyond a certain threshold. This is fairly common with specific founders and teams who excel at creating content but lack another certain skillset.
That skillset = Sales and Marketing
Once you have a solid content engine the next lever for growth is learning how to effectively market and sell your membership. This deserves an entire blog post for itself, but some quick tips include:
- Learn about the different online marketing channels and how they can be leveraged for your membership site.
- Understand the concept of a sales funnel or customer journey and how it nurtures your audience into paying members.
- Create effective landing pages and sales pages that optimize and sell your membership offerings.
- Refine your copywriting to communicate an authentic and compelling message.
Sales and marketing is imperative if you have plans to really grow a membership site. A great site or platform will only get you so far. The 7 and 8-figure businesses master their marketing plan and learn how to sell not only their content but their overall vision and mission.
In summary, focus on creating consistent content first. If your goal is to grow MRR and increase retention, expose your content so the world can see the value you’re creating. Be strategic with how you gate specific parts of the content and you’ll end up with an organic membership funnel.
Once you start to see the growth trend upwards it’s then time to focus on sales and marketing. This is where you’ll really accelerate into the next phase of your business.