How Much Content Do You REALLY Need to Start a Membership Site? (Hint: Less Than You Think)

JillBlog4 Comments

How much content do you really need to launch a membership site

“I want to launch a membership site, but everyone says I need to have a ton of content before I launch! Is that true?”

Do you know how many times I hear stuff like that?

Actually, save the guess.

Because it's a lot.

And I get it!

I mean, when you are first tossing around the idea of starting a membership site (and if you are, you should read this first), you're probably going to be looking at membership sites that already exist to see what they're doing, what they're offering and how you can compete.

However, here is one thing people don't realize when they look at already-existing memberships…

Those membership site owners have been at it for months, if not years! So they've had time to build up a library of content to offer their members.

And while having some content is a great start (obviously), it's not the be all, end all of membership sites.

So how much content do you really need if you want to launch a membership site?

Lemme break it down for you.

How Much Content Do You Need to Start a Membership

Here's the thing…

When we first overhauled Screw U from a one-off digital product into the monthly membership community that it is today, we didn't create one new piece of content.

*GASP*

Instead, we repackaged our already-existing content from 3 separate products we had created previously and rolled it all into Screw U's membership and paired it with two live calls each month.

Did anyone complain?

Nope.

Did it take the pressure off of us?

Oh hell yes.

Now, I will say that this strategy only works if your pre-existing content is in line with the overarching topic of your new membership site.

If it is, great!

If it's not, here are a few things you can do before you launch:

  • Get clear on the specific outcome/result people will be joining your membership to achieve
  • Set up an introduction thread so your members can get to know you and the other members
  • Create ONE foundational course/guide/piece of premium content that new members can use to take the first step towards achieving their goal
  • Create a “homework” and accountability assignment for them to work on for that first month
  • Host one live call – this can be a coaching call, Q & A call, accountability call, a done-with-you call or whatever else you come up with
  •  Show up and be present at least 4 times a week to answer questions and support them
  • Map out the next 3 months and communicate it to your members so they know what to expect

That's it.

Now, I assume some people reading this may think “That's it? I wouldn't pay for that”.

But here's what they're not taking into account…

If you spend all your time creating loads of content before anyone joins, how are you going to know if that content clicks with your members?

Instead, use your baseline content to attract your founding members during your launch and then ask them what they want you to create next.

(More on that whole launching thing later.)

After all, what's the point in guessing at it when the whole reason for creating a membership is to serve. your. members and help them reach their desired outcome?

To do this, you need to take the pulse of your community, find out what they want and then *gasp* create it for them. Month by month.

I know, launching “lean” sounds crazy! But, here's what most people aren't telling you…

When it comes to membership sites, it's not just about the content.

It's about the community.

Or as I like to call it: the glue.

Content vs Community

I remember the first membership site Josh and I ever joined…

It was called the Dynamite Circle and there wasn't one training course, live call or downloadable (created by the owners) available to members.

Instead, it was a forum for digital nomads and all of the content was created by members.

What's more is we stayed loyal members for nearly three years!

Why?

Because the community was so tight-knit and supportive we couldn't bring ourselves to leave it.

Now compare that to another membership (which will go unnamed) I belonged to for a sum total of, ohhhhh, about three and a half months which offered new monthly courses and guides, but had zero presence when it came to the community.

Hell, even the owners were barely active!

Sure, the courses were okay, but only one of out of the three were relevant to me at the time and it straight up did not justify a monthly withdraw from my account.

So I cancelled and never looked back.

And THAT is where I think a lot of membership site owners go wrong…

They assume that in order to keep their members engaged they have to continuously churn out content for the sake of churning out content.

But here's one key thing a lot of online entrepreneurs are missing…

People are busy and they don't always need new content to add to their growing pile of unused content.

Instead, your job as a membership site owner is to provide them with something they can't get anywhere else…

Connection.

So how do we foster this inside of Screw U?

How We Created a Contagious Community

Here's the thing about community…

A lot of people make it into a bigger deal than it needs to be.

What I mean is, some people think they need to have loads of bells and whistles in order to make the community “worth” someone's time.

However, in our experience, creating a community people can't get enough of boils down to a few things:

  • Listening to and acknowledging your members
  • Asking questions…and then responding to their answers
  • Giving more than you take
  • Being transparent
  • Actively participating in the community
  • Sharing your story and giving them a glimpse into your life
  • Creating discussion topics and icebreakers
  • Polling/surveying members and implementing their feedback and suggestions
  • Connecting members who have similar interests

Oh, and my biggest community-building tip of all time?

Show up and give your members your time. Consistently.

Ohhh ahhhh! Novel concept, isn't it?

But here's the thing…

While it may seem obvious, you would be surprised how many people don't do it.

Why?

Who knows. Maybe because it's not “scalable”.

Know what it is though?

Ruthlessly effective.

Why?

Because most people don't do it.

Which means if you can go the extra mile, show up and give your members your time, you will create a loyal rapport with them that gives them a sense of belonging.

And that? Is huge for enticing your members to stick around month after month.

So how do we blend it all together?

How We Balance Content and Community Inside Screw U

Now that you know you don't have to create ALL THE CONTENT in order to launch your membership, allow me to break down how Josh and I roll when it comes to Screw U.

So, here's the deal…

When we first launched, we kept things simple and easy to manage; which meant we didn't have set dates around new courses being released.

Instead, we used live calls to continuously help our members out and move them closer to their desired outcomes.

This ultimately gave us the time and space to create useful high-impact training courses, instead of just scraping the surface in order to meet a looming monthly release date.

So how many new courses have we created since kicking the doors open 15 months ago?

Seven.

What's more is our membership has grown every single month and we have members who have been with us since the day we launched (June 1, 2015).

Here's what a typical month looks like inside the U:

  • Week 1: Strategy Session – this is a live call we host that give our members a behind-the-scenes look into a strategy that is working in our business
  • Week 2: Hot Seats – this is our live mastermind call where we bring 4 members on live and deep-dive into their business
  • Week 3: U Crews – these are our local mastermind and accountability groups where members meetup (online or off) and brainstorm/mastermind/strategize (purely member driven)
  • Week 4: Q & A – this is a live call where we A all our members Qs

If we also have a new course we've published that month, BONUS!

We'll release it as soon as it's ready, but again, there is no fixed date around when that does or doesn't happen.

Do any of our members complain?

Nope.

Instead, we work with them to learn what they want and need in order to hit their goals and use that information to create it.

In fact, that's how we came up with our new training model, Momentum Marketing…but more on that in the coming months.

So, now that you know that content isn't the be all, end all of membership sites, I'm gonna assume that you're pretty damn eager to map out your launch plan so you can kick your new membership community off with a bang, am I right?

Fortunately, that's exactly what I'll be breaking down in my next post.

But first…

Are you ready to start a monthly membership site that will allow you to turn your knowledge and influence into recurring revenue and give you more stability, less stress and allow you to make a big impact in the lives of others?

Well, then allow me to introduce you to the man who taught us everything we know about membership sites…

Stu McLaren.

Who's Stu?

Well, he's one of the co-founders of WishList Member, the man behind Michael Hyatt's multi 7-figure membership site, Platform University and one of our favourite dudes around!

And right now he has a FREE 3-part video training series designed to help you turn your knowledge and influence into recurring revenue.

It's a must-watch and truly one of the best free series we've watched!

You can catch it here and tell me after you watch Video 1 you're not itching to create and launch your own membership site!

How-To-Create-More-Stability-&-Less-Stress-With-Membership-Sites

  • Jennifer Ross

    I’ve got a membership site that I’m launching this year. It’s all just blog format though. I hoped it would be more organized and user friendly, similar to Lynda.com in regards to layout of videos and suggested videos, etc.
    Is there some kind of template or software for that? Something like shopping cart software for e-commerce sites, is there an out of the box solution for membership sites?

    • Josh Stanton

      There really isn’t a platform out there that does everything as such. We use IPS Community Suite which is great for discussion. With our training, we post our lessons as new threads essentially. That way our members can watch the lesson and if they have questions, they can post those below the video and we can answer it later for them.

      I prefer it this way, as over time each thread turns into a mini FAQ section, which helps out future members who can find their questions answered already.

  • I love this great info!