Forum vs Membership Site. How to Earn on Building a Community?
There are numerous ways of monetization in the Web. You can monetize your content, sell online and even monetize your community. Community driven websites differ from other types of websites by the fact content is generally delivered by users of the community, not by host. And all activity in such a website is driven around the content which relates to community. For example, community built around web-design will react and show activity for content related to web-design. All webmaster has to do – is to provide conditions for users to share, create and discuss the content. Community driven websites started from forums. However, nowadays even there are popular forums remaining all discussions, content sharing and creation moved to social networks and membership sites. Membership site is an advanced forum and social network usually dedicated to one specific topic. The reason membership site is an ideal platform to build community driven resource is the fact it can possess all features for community building:
- User Profiles
- News Feed
- Sharing Content
- Creating Content
- Discussing Content
- Membership System
All of these features are enough to build a community-driven membership site.
Why Most Of Membership Sites Fail?
The reason is simple – it is hard to explain to user which has never dealt with membership sites the value of membership. Therefore, it is hard to sell membership. Just consider that you are going to start community driven membership site related to blogging. There are numerous blogs, websites that post continuously content about blogging and you can leave comments, discuss content there. And all of these can be done for free – no subscription or purchases are needed. So why user has to pay for membership on your site if he can view all necessary information for free crawling the Web? That’s the question membership sites’ owners rarely manage to answer and that’s the main reason they usually fail. The first thing you have to do is to describe the value of your membership site to users. And in order to show value you should know your potential users’ needs and know how to deliver an information about value in the most convenient and simple way.
What is Necessary for Membership Website?
For a community membership site dedicated to blogging there should be several advantages:
- All necessary info for blogger in one place
- High usability rate
- User-friendly navigation
- Rewards for valuable content
- Adequate price
- Active community
It is obvious that bloggers are the main clients of membership site dedicated to blogging – so you need to make sure that all beginner’s info/guides are situated in one place which is easy to reach. Usability is something that has to be maintained on a high level on any modern website. Navigation should be smart as there is going to be enormous amount of content – so user has to understand where is the content he needs. Once your membership site is community driven you should expect that your users wil create content and there should be a reward for them. You need to provide conditions for users that ensure that valuable content sharing is rewarded. This will be an additional motivation for your users to create content. There is no fix price which is treated as common for membership site and it is up to you to set it up. However, price should be grounded for users. Active community can be provided by your marketing efforts – and it is very important to make sure your subscription base grows exponentially, otherwise you will start losing current subscribers due to the lack of activity.
How to Attract New Members to Your Membership Site?
Community driven website has to be growing instantly so you need channels to attract new members. The best way to attract member to membership site is to show its value by posting valuable content in blog and offer subscription using pop-up window. However, note that offer and content must be specific. For example, if your website is dedicated to blogging you need to write about case that is valuable for your potential member and then set a pop-up window that offers an access to such cases after subscription. Another good way to attract users to community driven membership site is to offer free trial subscription for a specific period. This allows user to try your site out and decide whether it worths subscribing. Such an offer will avoid user from negative considerations and doubts about membership value. Last good way to attract users is a sequence of the fact that all successful community driven sites have a core of active and authoritative users. And this is the category of users you need to attract. They will bring their own audience and increase your current audience. Usually, such users are holding business related to your community’s topic and you need to provide them with options to increase their profits from your website – then they will be motivated to be involved in your website development.
How to Sell Membership Plans on Your Website?
Membership Plan is the core of your business model, the reason you started membership site and grounding of its existence. In a community built membership site the reasons users subscribe are:
- Membership in dedicated community.
- Value of content they cannot get for free.
So you need to make an accent on these two advantages. You can offer purchasing subscription plan after trial period (if you have one) or after user gets some sort of value from your website (reads your article or newsletter). Usually subscription plans are sold on monthly basis. However, you can try to sell plans on annual or forever basis as well – it depends on your business model. For example, dating services offer membership plans that are enabled for days. The main thing you need to provide is grounding for the price.
How to Make Your Membership Website Remain Profitable?
Most of membership sites share common problem – current users start unsubscribing in couple of months when value of website is not so high anymore for them. That’s what you have to avoid. The thing is that for community driven site all you need to do is to ensure community growth and create conditions for active users to create and share content. However, this can be not enough, so make sure you react to changes on the market and requests of users. For example, some membership sites have no integration with social networks as social networks can take traffic away. Such an approach today will only lead to negative impact – do not afraid to share traffic with other websites – collaboration is much more efficient than false competition. Motivate your users to return and stay on your website. Make offers for current users as a reward for being loyal to resource. For example, giving free access to educational webinars from professionals in a field related to your community website will result in increase of loyalty of your current users. And the probability they leave will decrease significantly. In order to make sure your membership site is responsive enough make sure you know the reason members give up on membership plans. If someone leaves your website there may be a serious reason and if there is a chance or necessity to fix it you need to know it.
Membership Website Creation Tool
If you are running website on WordPress you need proper membership plugin which allows you to provide all necessary for membership site features. WordPress Membership Plugin by Supsystic is fully customizable tool which ideally fits for creating membership website. It is easy to to install and customize. Along with all social activity features included to plugin there are also extensions that let you increase options for website management. Social integration, subscription, membership levelling and e-commerce extension – all these features make your life easier as they allow to use only one Membership plugin instead of installing numerous other plugins. Try out Demo Membership site to make sure plugin fits to your needs.