Thursday, 17 May 2012

Building A Membership...Read This!

Paid membership = good idea. 

Paid membership before you have a large, loyal fan base = bad idea. 

Nobody is going to purchase a subscription to a blog that they've never heard of, especially if it subscription ONLY. The only possible way for a new, still growing site to have paid memberships and be successful is to make the "normal" part of your blog free, then offer and exclusive Member's Only section that subscribers pay for to get the best content and support (add coaching as a bonus for subscribers and subscriptions will flourish). 

If I were you, this would be my approach: 

- Keep the blog entirely free until you've acquired a fairly large, loyal fan base. Until people begin to RELY on your blog for info, have it bookmarked and regularly check it, they will be unwilling to fork over cash. 

- Once you're at that point, add a Member's Only section with higher quality content and features. Charge a reasonable rate, and offer discounts for longer times purchased (pay for 3 months get 10% off, a year get 30% off, etc.). 

- If the subscription system is working out well, consider switching the blog to a subscription only site. However, if you do that you will need to leave a good amount of free reading material up in order to woo in new subscribers that find your site AFTER you become subscription only. If you don't pre-sell like that, you will alienate all future customers because nobody will buy something when they have no idea what they are getting into. People buy the Black Book because they've read my articles on BAP, people buy TNB because they've read the CC. In that fashion, you'll need to prove your subscription is worth a purchase before asking for payment. 

Another alternative idea is to make your blog completely free, then make your newsletter a subscription only deal. You can then use your blog to fuel newsletter subscriptions. From an SEO standpoint this is the best option, because if you make part of your blog only available to people with logins, that also means Google and other engines won't be able to spider and index any of the content that is in the Member's Only area. If you make the entire blog free, all content will get listed in searches, thus giving you more traffic and allow you to hit on a broader range of keywords/phrases. 

That's another HUGE problem with making your entire blog subscription only, because if you do that NONE of your content will get indexed. That's why free sites always get more traffic, everything on them is exposed to the spiders. 

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