Start Forums STEP 1: MAKE A PLAN AND RESEARCH YOUR NICHE Step 1: The Membership Model

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  • #6436

    Courtney Danyel

    I wonder about creating a membership site for travel lovers. Would it need to be niche specific based on travel location (e.g. traveling in Africa) or by traveling style, etc? Just trying to think what would offer enough value for people to regularly pay for membership.

  • #6650

    Pete Sisco

    I have a lot of questions about this part in the business building process and I would like to set up a phone call to chat in-depth about them. In short, I find myself questioning the value of my content for my future listeners. I am in the beginning stages of starting a podcast, blog and website that will show people how I stopped working at my traditional job, started making money online and traveling the US with my wife. Figuring out how to monetize my story is where I struggle.

    • #6652

      Pete Sisco

      No problem. That's what the Silver and Gold levels are about. You and I can get on the phone and privately discuss your circumstances and objectives then I can help you with the steps to take. It really speeds things up.

  • #6788

    Pete Sisco

    This is a good idea about creating a membership site. I have been thinking about creating a free membership with the very basic amenities, and then building from there. This was great to read through. However what's a great way to encourage people to spend money on your site for a membership?

  • #6795

    Pete Sisco

    The membership model is very powerful. It's particularly good for people who want to be as certain as possible that their online business will generate the income they need when the decide to walk away from their 9-to-5 job.

    You're right about offering a free or trial membership. It's a proven way to allow people to see the value you offer before they decide to commit to a full membership.

    The more expensive your membership is, the more attractive the trial deal.

    I would also suggest making it clear that if people are not happy, you will refund their money without a hassle.

    Reassure them that it's easy to unsubscribe too. Many of us have been caught by some dodgy operator who deliberately makes it a 9-step process to contact them and then to get a billing stopped, so you want to make it clear your system is easy and painless.

    And, above all, you get more customers by making it obvious how valuable your product or service is. I can't stress that enough. It's never ultimately about the new plugins and cool marketing tools – it's always about offering something so good that people eagerly want to buy it (or become a member.)

  • #6823

    Pete Sisco

    It looks to me like this is an ideal, because you could potentially keep customers for life, if the interest is there.

  • #6828

    Pete Sisco

    In general, you can keep customers for as long as you deliver value they need. And it all comes down to the niche.

    For example, pregnant women just don't stay pregnant so you know from the start that memberships will be temporary.

    But it's moot in a good niche because there are so many people who are potential customers and in many cases your business can make you a fortune with just 0.01% of the total online market in a niche.

  • #6876

    Filip Frans

    Hi Pete,

    I am strongly passioned about the world of fitness. I like to do the research and the information I get out of fitness. There are countless niches I believe that can be lucrative in terms of a membership site. Also when I'm in the gym I build easily rapport with other gymmembers. I have the capacity to touch the right nerve when I talk to folks in the gym. It's what I love. I have also a history as a personal trainer.
    I have zero experience in terms of online marketing. Is starting a membership site the most efficiënt way to start my project?
    Thank you,


  • #6878

    Pete Sisco

    Hi Filip!
    It sounds like you're on the right track. It's something you really love + you have experience working in the niche.

    At this point, I would say don't focus on whether you use a Membership model, Expert model, or another model – be thinking about WHAT you will offer to people in this niche.

    When you have a sharp idea what it is, and how it would need to be presented, it can help you decide on the business model.

    And this is the stage where you can mold and reshape everything in your mind and on paper – all without spending a dime – until you have a very sharp vision going forward. (Something I call your North Star.)

    I talk about your “North Star” in this video:

    I recently did a podcast about Personal Training and online business:

  • #6885

    Pete Sisco

    Hi Pete,

    Just started the Bronze course and really good content you got here. I have already started my own website, Madsen on Security but have not yet started to promote it or monetizing it (zero followers on Facebook and Twitter – and no email list set up yet).

    I would like to keep everything free on the site, all the info, advice, tips etc., as I believe the internet is really missing a site about how private individuals can stay safe on the internet. There are lots of sites for businesses and some for individuals (selling a product like anti-virus program or VPN service), but none that capture the whole spectrum of threats in my opinion. And I think this is very important. For instance, it is impossible to buy a new car today that is not connected to the internet (scary).

    So for my site, I do not want to have any “premium content”. It should all be free and accessible. I have a day-job today and happy to keep this for the foreseeable future. I had thought about monetizing could be via Patreon on a voluntary basis (and maybe have some Facebook Live Ask Me Anything sessions for the supporters). And down the road maybe some 1-on-1 consulting for people who need a personal coach. But everything should be available on the website for free as well. That is something I am quite passionate about.

    What do you think to this strategy? Are there other areas where I could monetize without taking away the independent on the site (not keen on advertising or sponsorships on the site, nor affiliate products – feel it takes away the objectivity of the site).

    Love to hear your comments.

    Kenneth 🙂

  • #6886

    Pete Sisco

    Hi Kenneth. Your site looks nice. First off, I'm not a huge fan of the Patreon/donation model of monetizing a site, mostly because I've never seen anyone turn it into a long term, substantial revenue stream.

    (For the benefit of those who don't know, Patreon is sort of the equivalent of a street musician's open guitar case soliciting coins for his performance from passersby. It's all about voluntary donations, sometime recurring.)

    Also, you'll still need to do the same amount of work and spend the same amount of time and money to draw thousands of targeted visitors to your site that you would if you used other methods to make multiples more income.

    1. You might be overestimating how much people care about ‘objectivity' in your recommendations.

    2. Take a look at what your direct competitors are doing in this niche and see what insights you get.

    3. Can you find a way to provide a complete solution (a ‘productized service' to use the new buzzword) for a price that is very tempting to your prospects?

    4. Do you have a philosophical reason for not wanting to make a lot of money from your site?

  • #6888

    Pete Sisco

    Hi Pete,

    Thank you for your comments and suggestions. This is much more than just a 2nd income for me. It is something that I am really passionate about, being a security evangelist, and something that I would do, even if I didn't got paid at all 🙂 You can read a bit about me here and why I am so into online security for the individuals and families.

    1. I plan to have official organizations, like the Oxford Internet Institute and Family Online Safety Institute etc. to help promote my site. I have already met with people from these organizations at conferences and they have expressed their willingness to help promote my site as long as I stay in line with their values (which is absolute fine by me). With links and endorsements from such high quality sites, I should get lots of traffic from people who are concerned about their family's online safety. And these organizations have reservations about promoting me if I accept advertising. So I thought Patreon donations would be a good idea as it is 100% voluntary and could at least give some income. Also, to counter critics etc. I do believe it is important to be 100% independent. Maybe later I could monetize the site somehow (1-on-1 consulting, speaking engagements etc.), but in the beginning I have decided to stay 100% objective. Yes, means less money, but I am OK with that.

    2. I have tried to look at competitors, but can't find any there offer advise on the entire spectrum for online security. does something similar, but not the same. He is more investigative and for a higher level of knowledge. There don't seem to be anyone who offer online security advise to the beginner :-O FOSI and the Oxford Internet Institute offer some similar advise, but not as comprehensive. And they have companies and institutions supporting them, who they have to please.
    Or do you have ideas how to find competitors (main keyword is online security).

    3. Yes, I could do this later via 1-on-1 consulting, speaking engagements etc., but I do want to keep all my advise on the website free.

    4. I think so. I am really concerned about online security and would love to help families stay safe on the internet. It is something that I really enjoy doing and would do for free. Would like to make a living of it later, but if I grow a lot of followers (FB and Twitter), then maybe later I can offered more personlized services, but would like to always keep the basic advice free.

    What do you think? Anything I have missed or not looking into?

  • #6918

    Pete Sisco

    A. It sounds like if the site makes you very little money you're fine with that. If generating principal income is not a goal for you then you have maximum flexibility in terms of what you deliver and how you deliver it. Sounds like you're not literally looking to ‘leave the rat race' and that's a personal decision. This will be a hobby site.

    B. It's a yellow flag whenever you can't find other people/websites that are making a living online doing what you want to do. It can indicate there is only a small or even zero paying market. If a thousand people will take your info for free, but none will pay then you can't build an enterprise. Is somebody already making money from performing these exact speaking engagements?

    C. In the early stages it's important to think as far into the future as you can. If 100,000 people came to your site every month – what would you want them to do? How would you benefit from that? How would they?

    D) In other words, are you putting the ladder against the right wall? Because it's a lot of work to get all that traffic.

    Kenneth, the thing I'd like to see you avoid is building a great site, working hard to fill it with good information, then never getting enough traction to build an audience because there just isn't a lot of demand.

  • #6919

    Pete Sisco

    Hi Pete, thanks for your comments.

    A. For me this is more the longer play. First gets lots of followers and people I can help with lots of free quality information, and then later monetize it. I am not in a hurry to leave the rat race – a 3-5 year horizon is fine for me, as I do like my job, but would like to have more time to travel and do other things eventually…

    B. There are lots of sites that gives the information I offer, but none of them offer it on one site. There are VPN providers, anti-software providers, privacy organizations etc. And with the internet of things on the rise, as well as the increase in cyber attacks, phising attacks etc., I do foresee a great demand for the information I am offereing.

    C. Good point. Will brainstorm this.

    D) Yes, getting traffic is not easy. But with help / links from sites like the Oxford Institute (ranked around 2,300 of all sites worldwide on alexa this will give me a good push. And then optimize for keywords of course…

    Pete, thank you for your comments again and your insights. This is a one-man business and it is very useful to get a second pair of eyes to look at it from time to time 🙂

    Noted your point and will start to engage with organizations and start building traffic in December and January. And then see what traffic numbers I have then and see if it is working and worthwhile building more content…

  • #6920

    Pete Sisco

    Sounds like you're on the right path for you. Kudos for that!

    Try to spend some time absorbing the information in the Step 3 videos. You'll need all of those tools to build your visibility is the cyber-security marketplace and become a trusted authority.

    (That Oxford website is huge because the domain is for all of Oxford University. The subdomain for OI likely has a much smaller influence. Expect to do 90% of the heavy lifting for marketing and visibility entirely on your own.)

    Let me know if you need help with any aspect of your marketing.

  • #7633

    Pete Sisco

    Good day Pete,
    I had joined just last evening and have gone through the Step 1 videos.

    The membership or freelance models are, what I believe I'd want to pursue?

    I have ample experience with the old HIT method of training as well as static training, which has served me and clients much better. I have and utilize the principles from you static contraction training book.

    The idea or an idea is to take that knowledge overseas to places I have friends and contacts, such as Germany, England, even Finland!

    I have the desire to go abroad and a mobile income will be needed.

    Perhaps a phone call would help me sort it out.

    Thank you

  • #7634

    Pete Sisco

    Hi Michael. Welcome aboard!

    If you want to build in the fitness/weightlifting sub-niche obviously I can offer you a lot of insight there, since I've been earning online income every day in that exact niche for 20 years.

    I'm not clear on whether you want to operate in a specific geographic area and augment a physical business with an online component, or run your site in another language as a way to generate German or Finnish clients while you live anywhere.

    I'm happy to chat with you this way, or you can schedule a call and we can speak privately. The links to set up a call are in the right sidebar.

    • #7635

      Pete Sisco

      This is, why I’ve joined; to sort this out.
      I’ve been in New York long enough and feel, like there’s more out there.
      I see in my head, what I’m after, though it can be hard to type it in only a few sentences.
      A mix of German and English is an idea.
      As fast as I can type it… I was in Germany twice for 3 months in the summers of 2013 and 2014. I thought, I could live here and be quite happy …. but maybe not year round.
      I think the answer is a website with members and customers in the U.S., though I may not be here. Let me pick a day and time and we’ll get cracking on this.

  • #7638

    Pete Sisco

    Sounds good. I'll be ready when you are.

  • #8269

    Pete Sisco

    I had wanted to ask, for I am putting together a program for a monthly or yearly membership site.
    I should know this, but which website or company is good or ideal to look at, in regards to creating a membership site?

    I hope that made sense.

  • #8270

    Pete Sisco

    Well, there are literally thousands of membership sites. So it's best to do your reconnaissance inside your chosen sub-niche to see what competitors are doing. What niche is are you planning to work in?

    Also, you can learn a lot by looking at the tools used for membership. The #1 membership software is probably WishlistMember. So if you look at the features of that software it will stimulate ideas for your business:

  • #8530

    Pete Sisco

    Thank you for the rely Pete,
    I have one simple question. I’ll write to someone at Wish List as well through your feedback is always preferred.
    There are two fees with Wishliat, one is $197 and the other is $297.

    I had recently had to re-up my hosting with Dream Host, so I have that taken care of.

    I would not need to go through Dream Host for a blog or website, if the goal is a membership site? WishList would be the website to go through.

    I hope I asked that right. I am looking to simplify this as much as possible.

    My membership site will be small but that is what I desire.

    Thannk you as always,

    Michael Hudson

  • #8531

    Pete Sisco

    I think this is what you need to know:

    – WishList has two prices because one pays for using it on only one website. The higher price gives you a license to use it on multiple sites. (The latter is only worth it if you have two or more sites right now where you need to operate a membership model. If that's not the case, pay $197 now and upgrade if you ever need it on more sites.)

    – WishList is a plugin for your site. It is not hosting. So even with the WishList plugin you still need a hosting service like DreamHost.

    – To summarize; if you want a website/blog you need it hosted at DreamHost. If that website/blog is going to use the membership business model you need the WishList plugin.

    Does that answer your questions?

  • #8532

    Pete Sisco

    FYI – The link to the 8 Questions PDF file appears to be broken. I've tried 3 different browsers.


  • #8535

    Pete Sisco

    Hi Kevin! Sorry, it was an issue with hosting. Fixed now.

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