Monday, January 27, 2014

Don't Sweat the Cost: Even cheaper ways to build a membership

You get what you pay for in building a membership site - even if it's your own sweat-equity

(photocredit: jonkeegan)

I was just about to wrap this up review of Mike Dillard's Elevation Income and publish it as a book (after being distracted by various other subjects and projects) when I found a solution to other problems which fit here.

That makes this a footnote or postscript of sorts.

As you recall, the secret to his millions was a membership site pushed by affiliates.

The trick to pulling this off is to figure out how to do it without the expensive solutions he was pushing in his video's.

A little research found this:

You can actually set up a membership on a Blogger blog.

This means your costs are already covered. No additional expense. Except your own time.

There are really just two ways -

  1. password protect the entire blog, make it private and by invite only. 
  2. add a script which password protects any whole page/post or just part of it. 

This password function has been built-in to Wordpress for years. My point with Blogger is that you can get it hosted on their servers for free, and being part of the Google+ scene will probably make your site and content rank better. (Wordpress.com has numerous fees for hosting your blog there - and simply won't let you put affiliate or sales links on their free blogs.)

I first ran across building a Blogger membership site in Blogs by Heather. She said you could either protect the whole blog, or use a script to protect a whole post or page.

However, I searched wider to see what else was available and find if anyone came up with the same conclusions.

This post from Silly Girl gives a very nice script that's found on vincentcheung.ca and is able to selectively block just some parts of the text. (With another, shorter tutorial on that script at Simple Blogger Tips.) That's probably your best bet overall, since the non-member could become enticed to see what they were missing - and you don't have to have "Pro" and "Free" sections delineated as much. (Again, they get what they pay for.)

The whole page method would give you links to pages that don't show up. (Harder to do this with posts.) However, it would be good for ecourse delivery.

Drawbacks
The drawbacks to this overall is that you can't easily run your own affiliate program, that you can't do split-testing.

The other point is that you can't drip content and then have it disappear. (One way to get people to buy the book based on the content is to have their original content go by-by after several weeks. Should have downloaded it when they had the chance. Now they have to buy the book to get your hard-won content. Of course, that has the benefit of now being readily available on their tablet or smartphone in one package...)

And finally, all these solutions have only one password. Meaning that eventually your hard-coded password will find its way onto forums. You'll need to reset it at least once a year or earlier.

That leaves our best solution being a plug-in-based Membership site built on a Linux-based Wordpress self-hosted as the best bet overall. (And you should host it on Amazon's scalable cloud, which is yet another research job I won't hold up the book for.)

Pluses
The pluses are that you can start immediately with nothing but the autoresponder and domain name you already have. External affiliate sites (as already covered) can provide you with the recurring payments you need, and will handle the refunds for you. Meaning costs are next to nothing, just a lot of work figuring out how to get it running. See the tutorials.

A side note is that even if you post on Blogger, the point is to give it a CNAME so it's not [YourNiche].blogspot.com, but rather [YourNiche].[YourOwnDomain].com - this should tell Google's bots that it's a "real" blog, not a cheapo.

The bottom line, is of course the value of the content, regardless of what hosting you use.

That's the un-stated real sweat equity in any site you put up. I've seen some otherwise well-marketed memberships fall apart when you saw how cheap the content really was. (They called it "underground." I called it "amateur.")

- - - -

Now it's back to the book. I'll put a nice link and cover-shot up when it's done, so: Stay-Tuned; Subscribe.
Enhanced by Zemanta