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If you're an expert in something (and you know you are!) and want to go beyond just blogging about it online, creating a membership site can leverage your time significantly—and, if done right, can be a sustainable online business. But is it worth it?
To scope out this proliferating business model, I consulted the experts: several creators of membership sites, as well as a firm that provides strategies, technology, and services to more than 1,200 associations with 4.8 million members participating in their membership sites.
What did they find to be the keys to a thriving membership site?
The most important step, they say, is to find a need or niche to fill, or a problem to solve.
"Also make certain that you are the leading service provider in your niche, your content is easy to absorb and the membership site easy to navigate," he says. "It is important to make your new customers 'raving fans' as soon as possible. To do this, clearly illustrate the benefits of using your solution, provide the best customer service possible and remember that your customer is the life blood of your business."
The medium can be as important as the message, when you start out building a site.
You need to leverage your customer base to attract new business.
There are many crucial components to a successful membership site, you need to be considering how hosting events can help build and tighten your community. "Events, events, events." It's all about places to go, and to learn, and to interact. They join to interact with other members and learn something.
Customer service is the cornerstone of a successful membership-based site.
His rules include:
1. Respond quickly to customer concerns.
2. Announce any issues or changes that will occur to the membership. In his case, he says, "once we became large enough to obtain a USPS shipping permit we made that announcement, so customers would know."
3. Ask for customer-feedback—and take it. For this membership site, simply asking "what would you like to see changed to make the club better?" is a great question and garners tremendous response.
BY Marla Tabaka
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