So, you got your membership site up and running and you're ready to get that recurring revenue.
But there's just one catch...
You don't have any members.
And you have no idea how to attract them and grow your membership site.
There's nothing to worry about - Rome wasn't built in a day.
Before you start running a successful membership, it will take time to acquire new followers.
Let's take a look at some of the proven methods that will make your membership business grow.
Offer A Free Trial
Your membership fee doesn't have to be high to impact someone's budget.
So it doesn't matter how highly-rated your membership is. If you don't allow your potential users to test it before buying, you will guarantee a lower conversion rate.
Even the most popular memberships hand out free trials to increase their user acquisition.
For instance, Fulltime Filmmaker offers a free sample of their membership website videos to "hook" potential members.
Parker Walbeck offers free samples of his course to attract new users
Depending on the membership model, decide whether to "unlock" a particular area of your membership during the trial (blog section, video content, private group) or to open the entire membership site for a limited time.
💡 Tip: Users registering for trial will leave valuable data so you can offer upsells and send win-back emails later.
Host or Attend Webinars and Speaking Events
Most of the time, you are the selling point of your membership website.
You are an expert in your niche and you hold value to your followers.
Hosting or attending events will get your brand in front of your target audience and it works well for a couple of reasons:
- It grows your reputation and authority in the space.
- It brings you in front of an already "warm" audience (have some interest in the industry)
- It helps you connect with potential followers on a more "personal" level by connecting the brand to the face.
- It's a pool of content that you can later repurpose and distribute.
- It helps you pitch and demonstrate your membership first-hand and clear up any dilemmas (with Q&A, afterparty discussions, networking, etc.)
Peter Sage, a coach and entrepreneur with a massive memberships site, hosting a Ted Talk
It's also good to note that most of the event material stays online.
That makes it easier for prospects to find you by simply looking for a solution to their problem and running into your presentation.
Invest In Content to Get Exposure
If you're promoting a membership, you won’t get far without content marketing.
Blog posts, YouTube videos, social media posts, TikToks, and Reels all benefit your personal brand and membership.
If you look around, every successful membership site will have tons of free content to digest.
There's a good reason for this.
By leaving some of your content accessible, you're providing potential members with an inside look at what they'd be getting.
Furthermore, they'll probably jump from video to video (article to article) which naturally warms them to your offer.
But creating content consumes tons of time and/or money.
Make sure you emphasize quality over quantity as it will help immerse new people into your project by providing actual value.
You can also repurpose some of your old content, turning long videos into short Tiktoks, or podcasts into blog posts or social media snippets.
Also, you can turn your old content into infographics and ebooks, using them as lead magnets to capture your future members.
💡 Tip: Take time to learn the basics of SEO when creating blog content. Ranking your articles highly on Google will bring plenty of organic traffic that you can leverage in different ways.
Growing a Community With Content: The Petersens
The Petersens is a family folk/country band based in Ozark mountain country. They built a massive following on YouTube (over 680K followers) and have videos with over 20 million views.
Ellen Petersen Haygood, a family member of The Petersens band, helped grow the band and develop multiple income streams. They receive income from their memberships, YouTube, live gigs, and merch.
We had a chat with Ellen who was more than happy to share her business strategies. Catch the full interview below:
Optimize Blogs For Conversions
Speaking of organic content...
Driving users with converting intent to your website is one thing.
But having them actually commit to membership is a completely different beast.
Believe it or not, membership sites often neglect the posts they use to drive organic traffic.
They look at them as means to get other people to their website and raise brand awareness. Or even remarket those website visitors in their ad campaigns.
However, your blog posts can be the building blocks of your membership.
By simply optimizing your blogs not only for search engines but also for conversions, you can drastically increase your member acquisition.
Anthony Metivier’s membership Magnetic Memory Method has carefully placed CTAs on his blog
A simple CTA with a lead magnet (free video, pdf, ebook, or other content) is enough to get a lead you can tap into.
Set Up a Referral Program
Nothing beats a good ol' word of mouth.
That's why plenty of membership websites leverage referral and affiliate marketing programs.
Put simply - let your current members spread the word.
It's a simple process.
Users can use your referral link to invite others to subscribe to your community and get something in return.
The rewards can vary. It could be a percentage of the monthly membership fees, or free stuff, or even privileged status in the community.
What's important is that you get new members while your affiliate partner gets adequate compensation.
Ladyboss’ Membership Website referral program CTA
Tip: If you sell a product or service in addition to your membership, you can use an affiliate program to promote those products. These products could be a gateway to people discovering your entire membership program.
Offer Discounts on Special Occasions
Everybody loves a good discount.
Membership websites could offer discounts to first-time members, annual or longer period subscriptions, or when promoting some special offers.
But if you offer discounts all the time, you risk becoming a "permanently discounted brand."
Meaning that you'll never get the value that your membership deserves.
Instead, you should try to time discounts only when appropriate. Or even better, when it aligns with your niche.
For example, if you own a plant membership, you could use Plant a Flower Day to promote it.
By offering discounts on that particular day your offer will seem genuine while you'll also raise awareness for a particular cause.
Of course, it's always good to use traditional sale holidays like BFCM, Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc. to cut your membership prices a bit.
Ecommerce brands aren’t the only ones profiting from viral giveaways.
Although less conventional, you can still promote your membership site and acquire new users by hosting a giveaway.
But here's where most of them go wrong:
You can't host a successful giveaway without an exciting offer and a touch of gamification.
That's why successful membership websites don't involve their membership in the raffle.
Instead, they will host a competition offering a product related to the brand (or their own digital/physical product).
Hence by including a more desirable product the raffle will see more success.
By using software such as Vyper or Gleam you can turn a giveaway into a game-like experience.
This can turn the giveaway into a viral battle, earning you a bunch of:
- Emails, for nurturing potential members.
- Social media impressions and engagements boosting your social proof.
- Website traffic (also useful for Facebook remarketing or increase acquisition with on-page conversion optimization)
Foundr is a hybrid membership and paywalled publication about entrepreneurial life that benefited a lot from hosting a giveaway.
Using Vyper, they've earned 13.5k+ new emails and over a thousand new YouTube subscribers.
No doubt plenty of those became members & subscribers in the future.
Keep Your Email Dripping
Email automation should always be your key acquisition channel.
All your free trials, webinars, blogs, lead magnets are optimized to have people leave their email addresses.
That's because the majority of users won't subscribe to your membership from the get-go.
But if you nurture them via email drips you'll warm them to your membership over time.
Use automated email drips to tell success stories, share free content, offer promotional discounts, and more.
Take them through all stages of the customer journey until they feel comfortable committing to the membership.
For example, Chris Ducker of Youpreneur claims that "email is king" of his membership site.
A look at Youpreneur’s email drip inviting leads to Chris Ducker’s event
Invest In Paid Advertising
Despite all your organic marketing efforts, paid advertising is still the quickest and most effective method to get new members into your funnel.
You can promote your membership site by using highly targeted campaigns and paid advertising strategies.
This is a great way to get new email leads, traffic, and even members quickly.
For instance, the Wolf of Wall Street himself used paid advertising to promote his exclusive mastermind.
Advertising your membership on social media allows you to target people with interests that align with your brand.
The Wolf of Wall Street advertising his mastermind
Some of them will convert later through remarketing, while some will leave their email as well so you can develop those leads through email marketing.
Also, there's a chance some convert on the first touchpoint!
BONUS - How Jenny J creates ads value for fans and monetizers her fitness community
BONUS - How Bernadette Used Paid Memberships to Turn Her Passion for Music into a Full Time 6+ Figure Career
Bernadette Plazola is a music teacher that uploads tutorials on YouTube and social media. She also teaches students how to play the ukelele in her Zoom classes featured on Patreon.
Bernadette explains how she built her audience online and how she consistently attracts more users to her membership plans. Watch the full interview below:
BONUS: Learn How Benn Jordan Built a Community Around His Music and Expertise
Benn Jordan is a musician that has released a ton of music on platforms like Spotify and Soundcloud. Even after finding success on those platforms, his revenue wasn't what he had hoped it would be.
So, Benn decided to build a YouTube channel around his knowledge of music hardware by uploading gear reviews and music vlogs. This strategy allowed him to grow a 150k-strong community of subscribers.
Now, Benn has additional revenue from YouTube and from his loyal fans over on Patreon. Listen to the full interview below to learn more:
Growing your membership is a combined effort of quality and exclusive content that's accessible to everyone and various promotional techniques.
The acquisition of new members and retention of old ones could help you turn your membership into a recurring revenue machine.
So if you haven't started already, now's the right time.
Jump on Hyax, create a membership site, make some exclusive content and you're ready to grow.
After all, it takes hard work and some time to become the leading industry heavyweight. Why not start right now?