The Most Consistent Way to Make Money on the Web

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Blair Williams is an experienced developer who has been in the membership site game for well over a decade, so he knows his way around the space. 

Back in the day, he looked at existing membership plugins and was unimpressed, so he decided to scratch his own itch and create his own. He called it MemberPress.

As of today, his plugin has generated more than a billion dollars in revenue for his customers, of which there are thousands.

Over the years, he has built it up to become one of the best, most powerful membership plugins on the market.

Don’t miss this interview with Blair as he shares many of ways to incorporate a membership component into your business, how to get started, and many other tips and tricks for adding an additional income stream.

Watch the Interview

Blair goes into detail in defining what a membership site entails and shares a lengthy list of the types of businesses that use a membership component. You might be surprised to learn about all the unique ways people use it and inspired to find a way to incorporate it into your business.

He talks about the exact steps you need to get started and the differences between, as well as the pros and cons, when using hosted vs. self-hosted platforms. Blair also discusses LMS (learning management systems). 

After so many years in the market, Blair has seen what it takes to be successful with a membership site, so he talks about the patterns he’s seen among the biggest winners.

This model is not without its drawbacks, of course, so he also discusses the main hurdles facing membership site owners to offer a more realistic picture.

Lastly, Blair talks about the countless functionalities of MemberPress. 

Today it’s one of the most powerful plugins on the market, and this is because he and his team have been incorporating features and fine-tuning it over the years according to the feedback they’ve received.

Topics Blair Williams Covers

  • Why he created MemberPress
  • What a membership site is
  • Use cases for membership sites
  • The most popular business models
  • How to get started with a membership site
  • Examples of hosted platforms
  • Examples of self-hosted platforms
  • Membership site platforms vs LMS
  • Who is a good candidate for a membership site
  • What successful people are doing with their sites
  • Additional ways to monetize a membership site
  • The main hurdles membership sites face
  • Advice for publishers with sites hit by Google algorithms
  • Courses vs coaching content
  • Capabilities of MemberPress

Transcription

Jared: All right, welcome back to the niche pursuits podcast. My name is Jared Bauman. And today we’re joined by Blair Williams with MemberPress. Blair, welcome on board. 

Blair: I’m happy to be here. 

Jared: Welcome. Welcome. You know, we’ve spent a few minutes chatting about, uh, all sorts of things that have nothing to do with MemberPress and plugins.

So we figured it was probably time to start recording and get this call underway. Um, you’re with MemberPress. So we’re talking about membership. You know, businesses, websites, plugins, we’re talking a lot today before we get into it, because I think a lot of people are going to be really interested in hearing the nuts and bolts about this as it relates to their online business.

Before we get into it. If you could, we’d like to hear your backstory. Catch us up to how you ended up landing where you are now. 

Blair: Yeah. So, um, I am a developer, so I started programming. I think a lot of people in this industry, uh, at least plugins started off as developers and I, um, basically was creating membership platforms for clients for years.

I didn’t. Know that it was a membership site or, or platform or anything like that. But back then, you know, you just kind of coded something up. And, uh, then, you know, I went, I mean, I went to school to be a programmer, so I was a computer science degree. Um, you know, I’m married, I’ve got four kids, so, you know, some mouths to feed there.

And so, you know, just did the freelance thing for, for quite a, quite a time. And. I got into WordPress, I think probably, I mean, not super early on, but around, you know, 2008 I would say. And, uh, just started looking at some of the plugins, um, you know, that were available for. I was like, Hey, you know, maybe we can do a membership kind of style thing here.

You know, it looks similar to what I’ve been building, you know, these other systems, uh, you know, to be. And so I happened upon kind of these membership plugins. I’m like, Oh, they call them membership plugins. Okay, cool. It’s a thing. And yeah, it’s a thing. And, uh, and it allows you to, you know, you know, lockdown WordPress and do that.

So, and then I started playing around with, with those, you know, and, um, You know, just didn’t find right, quite the right fit for what, um, I felt like I needed for that kind of industry. So, um, scratched my own itch basically, and you know, here we are so, but, uh, yeah. 

Jared: When did member press as a business come into play?

Like what, what, what, what was the timeline on that? 

Blair: So, um, really, I almost immediately after I started kind of using, uh, WordPress and started looking at the membership plugins available, I started creating my own membership plugin. So it, it took a little bit just because I, I was like, ah, I don’t know, like these don’t quite protect properly, or they were lacking features that I needed.

And they just weren’t really cutting it for me. So I just started creating my own and didn’t really think to sell it for quite a while. Um, I think in about 20 or probably 2012, 2011, 2012, I started like, Hey, I could, I could sell this. I think this is, this is pretty good. And so just got it all polished up.

And in January of 2013, I released, uh, uh, the first version of member press and it took. Quite a few years to gain, uh, you know, some traction. Uh, but, um, you know, I think, you know, and there, there were several different, uh, kind of things that have happened along the way, but now, you know, we’re looking at our customers have now, um, you know, run over a billion dollars worth of transactions through member press and, uh, you know, we have thousands and thousands of customers and, you know, so that’s, that’s kind of how, where things have, have gone, but, you know, it’s just taken a lot of A lot of work and a lot of, you know, just focus on content, like just maniacal focus on this, trying not to get distracted, you know, and so 

Jared: over 10 years, I mean, what, that’s almost 12, 11, 12 years now it’s been around.

Blair: Yeah, yeah, it’s been around for a little over 11 years now, at least in the, in the wild. So I was using it even privately before then. 

Jared: Phenomenal. Congratulations. 

Blair: Yeah. Well, 

Jared: we’re going to use today to kind of bend your ear about membership sites, membership as a, as a model in general. Um, you know, you kind of, you kind of joked about it.

I kind of jokingly said, Oh, you realize it’s a thing. I mean, maybe let’s define the thing. What is a membership site? And what have you, how has it evolved over the years perhaps on? And so maybe. Certain people won’t know what a membership site is, and certain people might have the wrong expectation membership site as it relates to 2024 and beyond.

Blair: Yeah, that’s a, I mean, I’m glad you asked that question because, um, a membership site is not necessarily, a lot of people think of, A membership site as, as, uh, something different sometimes. So, you know, some people think of it as like an LMS, uh, system. So learning management system, like quizzes and courses, some people think of it as like a protected community.

Some people think of it as just protecting content on your blog, like a, like a paywall kind of a thing, or, you know, protected downloadable, you know, materials, that sort of thing. But really a membership site is. Any restricted access website. And typically it will require payment to get access to whatever materials you want on the, on the, on the website.

And so, I mean, in that sense, you could look at like, you know, Netflix is a membership site and Spotify and, you know, um, I mean, there’s a lot of different membership sites out there today. And, um, And really, you know, we’ve started thinking beyond, you know, it’s like, maybe I have an app on the app store and it has a membership component to it.

Or maybe I have, you know, you know, a podcast. You know, that that needs a membership component to it as well. Or maybe I have a business that, you know, I just need a membership component for my own internal employees or, you know, associations use management or, um, you know, membership management sites or team resources site.

You know, we just built 1 internally, um, you know, That has all of our SOPs and all of our, you know, all of that kind of stuff, uh, written down. Um, that’s a membership site. So any, any, any password protected, you know, website that, you know, requires some type of member management is a membership site. So 

Jared: if like, I think about gating content, like the New York times, I think about, uh, communities that are behind a paywall.

I think about, um, selling a course and basically providing a platform for that course, maybe what are the most common use cases for a member press, but just in general, a membership site. 

Blair: Yeah, I mean, you covered a lot of the of the main use cases. I would say that the number one is probably a course building.

So learning management. So, you know, quizzes and assignments and, um, you know, charting people’s progress through through through a course. Um, but another really big component, as I mentioned earlier, our communities. Um, so, uh, 1 of the we recently acquired, uh. And another membership plugin. So we actually have acquired a few now.

We, I think last year we acquired a wishlist member and member mouse. And then, uh, you know, just this month we acquired access ally access ally provides its own, uh, community building feature. Um, so you can build communities with that. Otherwise, you know, with member press, you can use like buddy press or BB press.

But a lot of times people want like a private community. Um, another big use case that we’ve seen take off in the last, I would say, you know, four or five years is coaching. Um, you know, every coach, I think, needs a membership site. Um, a lot of these coaches are using it, uh, not only for course building, but also for tracking.

Progress, tracking goals and milestones and, um, you know, managing other course or coaches. Um, so you’d, you’d see like, you know, fitness coaches and life coaches and financial coaches and, you know, the whole gamut basically. And, uh, in member press, we actually released a, um, A new coaching platform called coach kit that allows coaches to have more tools available to them for tracking those types of things.

Um, some of the, you know, I would say the low, like lesser known or not widely thought of, you know, use cases for memberships is like a rapid development project or a platform. Like say I wanted to create like a SAS app or something like that. You can spend a lot of time dinking around with like. A user management, uh, portion of your SAS app that doesn’t really hit the meat of it, or you can use, you know, you’re going to need a marketing site anyway, just throw a member press on that thing.

And then you can start charging for access and then you just hook your SAS app up to the API and you’re, you’re ready to go. So we’re seeing a lot more people use it for that type of thing, even like off, you know, website apps, like, uh, you know, app store apps. Um, you know, people are using it for downloadable product launches.

So like, um, I mean big product launches, you know, so big ticket items, you know, upwards of, you know, 10, 000 kind of a thing they’re using member press and other, you know, membership platforms to, to push those. Um, another big one, you know, like I mentioned earlier as podcasts, you know, we have some, uh, pretty big, I would say podcasters using the, the, I mean, there are problems monetizing podcasts, as you probably will know.

And some of that has to do with, well, do I do an affiliate link strategy? Well, you have to be really careful with that because, you know, you know, you say a link on air. And people may just go to the website directly and you don’t get credit. Right. But if you have a membership site, then you can monetize that.

So we’re seeing, you know, we have, uh, like, uh, I don’t know if you’re familiar with Jocko Willenich. Um, he’s one that has his podcast, um, you know, membership component on member. Press and also Peter Attia, he’s a doctor that, um, is pretty big and he’s, he’s doing, uh, stuff with, uh, you know, member press. Uh, another one is, uh, like authors.

So, um, the subtle art of not giving an F I won’t say the word on air, but, um, uh, Mark Manson, the author of that, he, he has a site that has resources dedicated to, you know, his members on, you know, as well. Um, we’re seeing a lot of the, this is kind of an interesting one. A lot of like brick and mortar businesses are using a membership component.

So like, we’re seeing like dentists that have like a portal for their customers where they can get resources, um, even like scheduling, uh, you know, appointments or other things, um, home builders, therapists, Other brick and mortar sites that are, you know, you know, we’re seeing schools. So like schools are using, you know, membership, uh, you know, sites for, for students, churches.

So churches is another huge component, you know, so they’ll offer, you know, resources to their congregations, um, restaurants. We’ve seen restaurants, you know, with like rewards programs. You know, or some that even have like a subscription to come eat, you know, for, you know, some amount of time. So, um, I would say another one would be like fan sites.

So we have like celebrities that have, you know, these membership components, um, clubs. So there’s, there’s a whole bunch of different, I would say, use cases for membership, uh, you know, memberships that just fall outside of what you would normally think of. 

Jared: I’m going to imagine everybody listening had their interest peaked at some point there, given.

All the various scenarios. I thought you were going to rattle off three or four. I didn’t think you were going to rattle off 30 or 40. I could, 

Blair: I could, I could keep going. There there’s actually, if you want to go to, I mean, if you want to go to memberpress. com, there’s a blog post that has over a hundred different membership site examples of people that are actually using.

Member press for various things. And, you know, we could, we could go on all day. 

Jared: I feel like that scene at a Forrest Gump where he’s like in shrimp gumbo and shrimp corn. Yep. That’s right. I couldn’t help it. That’s what came to mind. Um, okay. Well, we’ve got every scenario under the sun. I guess not. I guess we really don’t actually go, go to the blog post.

Maybe we’ll try to get in the show notes if we can about. Every scenario under the sun. Yeah, send it over. I’ll get the notes. But maybe we can hone in on, um, some of the more popular or common, uh, business models that you’re seeing that work well. Right. So we can go away from broad and into a little bit more specific for people to start to get their minds around.

Okay. Let, what is the process? What does it look like in application? 

Blair: So the process of creating a membership site or, uh, like a business model, Yeah. 

Jared: Thinking through the different, different business models. So people listening can kind of get their mind around what is maybe one of the more common applications or some of the more common ones that people are doing and succeeding with.

Blair: Yeah. Well, I’ll, I’ll go to the, the course model. Uh, we, we see a lot of people finding great success with that. So say you’re a person that has a specific skill or, um, you know, something that you can, um, That you, you believe, you know, you understand a market and you believe that there is money in that market to be made and that you can teach someone something, um, you know, given the opportunity, well, you know, you can throw a bunch of videos on YouTube and.

Uh, you know, try to monetize it through ads or, um, you can put them into a membership platform and start charging money for access to those things. Or maybe you do both, you know, maybe you have free content out there that drives people to a more premium content. So we see that as a strategy a lot, but, um, you know, we see people using, um, membership platforms as a way to, um, Uh, monetize and it does a great job.

In fact, I say this often, but I believe that it’s the future of monetization on the web because, you know, ads are getting much less, uh, money, uh, as I think a lot of people know, there’s been even issues with, uh, affiliate marketing. I think in the last few years, you know, there have been a lot of, uh, crackdowns in that area.

Um, and a lot of ways to monetize online are becoming more and more inconsistent, but this is one that I think is here to stay and will continue to grow over time because it enables, uh, you know, content providers to actually control their, um, you know, their own business and their own content and make money at it.

So. Specifically, you know, we’ve seen success with subscription models, so you get some of that recurring revenue coming in. So, um, you know, most membership platforms will have like a dripping model, which means that you are able to say, Oh, well, the first when the person first signs up, they can, um, you know, have access to this lesson.

Then next week. They unlock this next lesson and so on and so forth. That way they don’t pay for everything and just download all of it all at once kind of a thing. Um, but, uh, yeah, subscription models seem to work really well for people and, um, you know, you know, courses is a, is a big deal. And, you know, and we also see a lot of people put a community as part of the course as well.

So like, not only can you, uh, you know, just buy courses on a membership site, you can engage with other members in the community. So 

Jared: how would, um, let’s talk through how to get started with a membership site. And there’s probably several different avatars of people listening. There’s people that already have a prop, maybe they’re like, they’re, you know, running a business and e commerce business, a SAS product.

We talked recently with a SAS owner of a product. Um, or maybe they’re like a local business. There’s also people who are in the content game. Um, and so that seems to have a, uh, you mentioned a course, like that would seem to be a natural fit for like, if you’re running a content business or you’re running a business that gets a lot of traffic from social media and these sorts of things, there’s probably different avatars, but if you can, let’s start to talk about how to get started with a membership site or a membership component to their site, I’ll kind of say both.

Blair: Yeah. Uh, so starting a membership site, you know, I think that the, the initial question that you have to ask yourself is, you know, are you going to go with like a host? Because there are hosted platforms that are pretty turnkey. You can, uh, you can get on and you can start creating a, uh, a membership site.

Pretty much immediately. You don’t have to worry about some of the moving parts, like finding a web host and that sort of thing. Um, but there are also, you know, advantages to self hosting. So that means you would create a WordPress website. Through a web host. So I think the first step would probably be you find a web host and then you would install the required software on that website to run a membership site.

So there are, I would say those are kind of the 2 main routes. So, uh, the advantages of, uh, like a hosted platform would be. Ease of use and speed to get, uh, going. Um, but there are some pretty major disadvantages, I think, as you get going. Um, WordPress, it requires a little bit of knowledge probably to get going with it.

So you might have to watch a few tutorial videos. Um, A good resource for people starting with WordPress is WPBeginner. Um, they, there are some great guides there, but there are online resources everywhere on it, so you may need to have a little bit of knowledge there to get started, but, um, the benefits of going, uh, self hosted, I think are pretty Pretty phenomenal, um, which we can, we can talk about as well.

But, but really that’s really the first steps to, um, to getting started with a membership site. And I would say, you know, anybody can start a membership site, um, you know, with, with an, you know, a little bit of, uh, and it’s never been easier. It’s never been cheaper. You know, I look at some of these clients that I had.

Back in 2008, you know, paying a lot of money to jet, to create a custom membership site. Now you can, you can either do a self, you know, a hosted membership platform, or you can just throw together some plugins on WordPress and you’re off to the races and you can be making money quickly. So 

Jared: I think it might be a good time to ask maybe if you could help draw a line, but then Like the differences in what you’re referring to as a membership site and maybe like an LLM, um, uh, or maybe even like a Patreon, those are kind of some different buzzwords that people are familiar with and like, what are the nuanced differences or maybe there’s broad stroke differences in these other, these other, uh, terms.

Blair: Yeah. So, uh, Patreon would be an example of a hosted platform. And so the model there is, and I think, you know, some other ones would be like, uh, Kajabi, Teachable, um, you know, some of those others would, you know, would be kind of considered to be a hosted platform and, um, you know, again, you don’t have to worry with those about, um, hosting, um, but some of them might take a percentage in.

You’re each one of your transactions, for instance. So like, um, I think that, um, some of those fees can be up to 30 percent of each of your, you know, sales basically. Um, and even if they don’t take a percentage in fees, uh, some have really aggressive content policies. Um, in fact, we, we read one the other day, I won’t mention the name of it, but it’s a big, um, uh, you know, hosted.

Membership platform. Uh, they can, I think they actually even use the word exploit. They can exploit your content for whatever purposes they want. So if they, if you upload content to it, um, they can use your content as they see fit. So, you know, you think about your, the, the, the important message that you have that you’re trying to sell, it’s, it’s your product, it’s your IP.

They have the right. To your content to use it. However, they see fit. And one of the ways you talked about an LL M earlier large language model 

Jared: So I met lms you can tell us You can tell what I talk a lot of this podcast about. Yeah. Oh, yeah Llms 

Blair: are the big deal I 

Jared: met LMS. I was going to correct myself. I have it circled my sheet of paper, but I did say LLM earlier.

Oh man. 

Blair: Oh, Hey, it’s, it’s okay. But, um, you mentioned LLM, but, uh, and I’ll tell you that these, these companies, uh, a lot of these, um, I would say hosted, uh, membership platforms are training their own LLMs on your content once you upload them. And so, uh, so even if they don’t take fees, um, You know, after, after reading some of these, I would personally, and I, of course, I’m biased, but I would never, uh, I would never do a hosted platform after reading some of these.

Um, so the, and the, but the, but I would say as far as going back to the LMS as well, um, most of these membership platforms now will have some type of LMS functionality. Um, so MemberPress originally didn’t have. An LMS functionality. Now it does, but I think most, you know, of these membership platforms will provide some way to do courses, uh, typically.

So, um, that is kind of, you know, the largest use case for a membership platform. So, um, so I can move into self hosted now. So the, the, the difference between, you know, well, and actually I’m trying to circle back around. So, um, Your question was between, um, the LMS and the, um, 

Jared: More hosted the Patreon. The hosted.

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It’s a job. Yeah. And it makes sense. Like a member press is a plugin. You have more control. We can talk about. You know, all the control you get it just in a general WordPress environment versus the hosted option, which takes care of it for you. But you went through all the drawbacks that come with that convenience.

And then you have LMS is that people might be familiar with, you know, like a teachable or whatever, fill in the blank. There’s so many of them. And so I think a lot of people listening might be on of the course spend, right? They’re like, I got a, I got a website. Where I have a lot of expert content that I’ve developed.

Hmm. Maybe you’re piquing my interest. I should turn that into a course. Why choose a membership site, plugin platform, whatever you want to call it versus choosing what’s considered typically an LMS platform, maybe. 

Blair: Yeah, well, I would say just most membership platforms are going to also be LMS is now and some will not have the same features as others.

So, you know, you may want to look at the features. Like, what is their LMS capability? You know, some platforms started off as LMS is and have now moved into memberships. Um, some. Our membership, you know, started off as memberships and are now doing LMS. That’s kind of the route that we, that we took. Uh, but, um, I would say most, um, offerings are going to have that.

And you just have to kind of take a look as you’re looking through the feature sets, you know, what, what, what specific features they provide. 

Jared: Great. Okay. Um, who is the right fit to consider going down the membership site platform, platform, whether. Brand new or whether working with an existing, you know, product or website.

They already have. 

Blair: Yeah, I, I would say anybody who wants to make money from knowledge or skills that they, that they currently have, you know, um, we, we, uh, you know, like I rattled off that huge, you know, um, you know, uh, list earlier. And really they’re, it’s so varied. It’s ridiculous. Um, you know, you know, if you know how to fix something or you know how to do, you know, whatever you, you can, you can start, uh, a membership site.

And so again, you know, some people may need some type of help doing it. Um, so you may, you know, if you, if you don’t feel like you are, you know, Equip even to do like a, a hosted, uh, you know, membership site, you know, you can, there are people that can help you with it. Um, but if you are willing to go in and learn a little bit, um, you know, you can do it yourself.

Um, you know, we have plenty of people, plenty of customers. In fact, I would say the large, the lion’s share of our customers are DIY, you know, uh, membership site owners. And they’ve been successful at it, you know, so 

Jared: what are the most successful people doing in membership sites? Like, what are the things they have in common?

You have access to so much data. I kind of like to spend at least a few minutes bending your ear about according to the data, according to all the people that like, what are the successful ones doing? Are there any commonalities or anything that they’re doing differently or better than other people?

Blair: Yeah, I would say the number one, uh, differentiator between people who are doing it successfully and maybe people who are struggling with it would be that they, They really focus on it and they have a, a real business model that they’ve dialed in around it and they’re serious about it. They’re focused on it that, um, you know, the, the most successful membership site companies are, um, you know, they either are, uh, you know, doing it full time or they have a staff at this point, you know, of course, getting started, maybe you have to be a little scrappy to get to that point.

But, um, But it can, it can definitely be done, but I would just say you just have to be really focused on it. And it’s just like any other business. Really? It’s just a, it’s just an online business, right? You have to, you have to put in the effort and focus on on it. And, um, It helps, I think, initially to know the market, like one of the things that I’ve seen with really successful membership sites is that, you know, the site owner knows about the market that they’re in, um, and they are experts in that market.

So they, they can kind of see opportunities that present themselves in the marketplace, and then they use the membership site as a means to, uh, to make. A business out of it to grow a business out of it. 

Jared: I could see there’s, there’s an opportunity for people to maybe think too small about this. And again, with your experience, maybe you can help ideate around it.

Like, let me, let me, let me put myself in my own shoes and say, I have a website where I would consider myself to be a semi expert in it. So I could come up with a course of some sort and launch that. What else could I do beyond that? Like what are their money? What are their opportunities? What are their potential ways to connect with my audience by leaving them the table, because I’m kind of being myopic about my thinking.

Blair: Yeah, I think that, um, A big one that I’ve seen lately are these kind of higher ticket, you know, product launches, um, you know, especially as a podcaster, you can, uh, you, you can have a, uh, a whole audience of, uh, of listeners, maybe thousands of people and not be monetizing it to the level that you could.

Well, what if you create a product that appeals to those, you know, thousand, 10, 000 people? And then you go through some type of launch process that provides real value to that audience. Um, you know, limited time product launches are, are kind of a new, well, it’s not a new trend, but it’s something that we’re seeing a lot of success with in our industry 

Jared: again.

It’s like fashion. 

Blair: Yeah. Well, and I think, I think part of the reason it’s, it’s, it’s, uh, it’s had a resurgence is, uh, you know, frankly, you know, online payment processing has gotten so much easier with Stripe. Um, you know, that, you know, you can, you can bake things in like buying out pay later into kind of these large ticket items where, you know, you as a site owner can get, you know, like say you’ve got a 2, 500 product, you can get that money up front and then the customer can pay.

Over time on on the product. Um, so, so we’ve seen a lot of success with that. We’ve seen, um, you know, even like large sites that are, um, monetized with ads, they add a membership component to remove the ads from the site. And they’re, you know, it’s just this, this invisible source of revenue that just magically appears in their business.

Um, you know, they’re, so like, they’re, they’re all kinds of different things that we’re seeing, but I would say that the ones that are the most successful are focused on it, and they, they put in the time, uh, and, um, you know, of course, the bread and butter of membership, uh, sites, the strategy is subscription based, uh, recurring.

for listening. Uh, you know, revenues. So we see people offering and we see like, you know, we’ve seen smaller, uh, monthly amounts that make a lot of money. And it just kind of depends on the industry. And then we see, you know, larger annual amounts that that that can make money. Um, but, uh, yeah, so that’s really the, the, the ones that are, are, are, are successful or just the people that focus in on it.

Jared: Let’s talk about the downsides, you know, be fair about the downsides. Like you said, it all takes work. What, um, like what are the, what are the drawbacks to it? Uh, what are the things that people should be aware of going in and know that it’s on the table and they need to address it and they’re going to need to be committed to it because this is something that some people would call a drawback or some people would find frustrating.

Blair: Yeah, I think that, um, marketing, uh, you know, is, is, is tough, especially in the early days. You, you have to be smart about it. Um, this is one thing that I think WordPress really excels in is that you have, uh, a lot of really great like SEO plugins, like all in one SEO and monster insights that enables you to To track e commerce in member press, uh, with one click basically in your Google analytics, uh, you know, there’s, there’s all these different tools that, that help with it, but marketing can be a lot of work.

You know, you have to do outreach. You have to, um, you know, make alliances with other people on the web. You know, to like get backlinks and to, and to really grow your, your SEO, uh, footprint. Um, you know, there’s paid marketing, you know, that can sometimes be tricky. So you don’t lose your shirt at it. Um, so, so that, that seems to be one of the ways that like, you know, people, um, you know, get frustrated as they start a membership site.

Um, another one is you have to continually provide value. So you need to have a, uh, some, because. Turn is always an ever present and by turn, I mean people who, you know, you, you know, you have a hundred people sign up and then there’s going to be, you know, some percentage of them that leave after X amount of months.

And that can vary depending on, you know, the. The, uh, the, the industry and your offering, but, uh, the more value that you can provide over time, the more you can combat that as well. So I would say that probably marketing and churn is probably, you know, two big hurdles that people face. Uh, some people early on, you know, uh, get intimidated by just starting, you know, but, um, like I said, I don’t think it’s ever been.

Easier to do, uh, than it is today. And it’s, and it’s getting easier over time, uh, to, to get started with it. 

Jared: I’m going to direct a question to you that will appeal to a lot of our listeners. A lot of our listeners or many of our listeners have had a lot of their traffic kind of altered and changed a bunch, by the way, Google has addressed.

Sites in the content space as it relates to the HCU and their core updates. And so many of them are like, Hey, I’m I’m looking to take all this hard work. I put in all this content. It’s a 400 pages of articles. I put together all that and obviously membership site could be a great way to do that for someone in that space.

Like, what would you, what would you do if you were holding a website right now that had 4, 3, 400 pages of content? You know, call it pretty darn good content about something that you were kind of an expert in. Like, where would you go with it down the membership site? Would you go to a course? Would you go to a community?

How would you get people to that? Now that traffic has been hit hard, I’m again, I’m just trying to speak to the person listening who’s had those impacts in the last six to 12 months on their site. 

Blair: Yeah, I, I think that, um, you know, memberships is kind of one of those, um, ways that to help you to be more independent from problems that occur out there.

I mean, you can still be impacted by, you know, changes to the Google algorithm and that sort of thing. But, um, you know, you’re engaging with customers in a way that is, um, you know, you’re providing value to them and you’re getting paid directly by them. So you’re kind of removing a lot of the, the, the middleman kind of a thing.

But, um, you know, we see a lot of people that repurpose content from, you know, like, say you have a whole backlog of, of blog posts and other kind of posts out there that are, uh, either diminishing, you know, you’re getting diminishing returns from or whatever. You can repurpose a lot of that and, and like you said, put them into courses.

depending on your community and your, uh, your market, a community can be a really great, um, component as well. A protected, uh, uh, community. Um, one thing that we are seeing a lot of too, like I said earlier, is the, uh, the coaching aspect. Um, so there are ways that you can either do an autopilot kind of coaching, platform to provide value, or you can.

You know, have human coaches that actually coach people through, um, you know, uh, coaching programs. And, um, and so there, there are definitely ways that you can, you can, um, get around that and make and still make money online. 

Jared: What are, what would be the difference between a course and a coaching program as I think through the content and the management of it?

Blair: A course would be a series of lessons, uh, with, you know, quiz material and assignments. Um, and there’s progress that is tracked through that. A coaching program is more like, uh, um, it can also include courses, uh, but it is a set of goals that people are walked through by A coach, so a coaching program would typically have a coach who’s monitoring, uh, the progress of students, which, of course, doesn’t necessarily have to, you know, the software can track, um, you know, the progress through that, um, and a lot of coaching programs that we’re seeing.

Also have, uh, an appointment scheduling component. So, um, you know, coaches will get on a Zoom call with, you know, a coaching group or, uh, or a, a coach one-on-one. Uh, there’s also a messaging component, uh, to coaching typically. So like, you know, um, you know, being, having the ability to message. You know, a coach directly or a coaching group directly is a big deal.

Um, as well. So a coaching program is really just any kind of program that a coach has developed to lead students or clients, I guess, through, uh, you know, a set of goals to achieve something. 

Jared: Makes sense. Okay. Uh, what are the different features and we’ll use member press because it’s yours. Like what are the different features that member press has?

So again, people can get their minds around what the capabilities are, if they want to create this kind of content, they want to do membership sites, what kind of features can they. What are the most used features? What are the most popular features in a, in membership and member press? 

Blair: Yeah, the, the core, the core, uh, features in member press would be the ability to, uh, charge for content.

So, you know, when you install member press, you, it’s kind of like any other kind of Part kind of plugin that you would put on your, your site. Um, it’s optimized for a more of a signup flow, but, uh, you can charge people’s, you know, you hook it up to your Stripe account and you can start charging people’s credit cards right from your site.

Um, and so there’s a payment component, and then the other one is the content protection component. So MemberPress has the ability to protect any content you, uh, want on your, on your entire WordPress site. Um, and so it’s really pretty flexible in that. Um, but the other, you know, kind of main feature that people use is the, uh, the courses.

Um, and so, uh, MemberPress has a full set of, uh, course building features. You can do a drag and drop, you know, curriculum. You can build. Quizzes, uh, very easily, um, you know, it’s all kind of drag and drop, um, and it, uh, provides some really, I think, innovative ways to get started quickly. Uh, there’s a technology that we have pioneered called ready launch that, uh, allows you to, um, Just start building your course and not worry about design as much.

You can just, uh, you know, set a, you know, a brand color and upload a logo and ready launch will take care of all of your, you know, your course pages and your, um, Pricing pages and checkout pages and log in and all of that. So it’s, it’s, I think it’s a pretty, uh, pretty sweet, uh, way to get started. Um, the other kind of feature I would say that is really widely used in member press is, uh, dripping.

So it enables you to drip content over time to your users. Um, but member press has, uh, and, and I think most, uh, Membership plugins out there have just exploded in, you’d be shocked at the amount of different, you know, features that are contained in these plugins. I mean, MemberPress has a full, you know, like, uh, paywall capability.

It sends out reminders. So like, Hey, your credit card’s about to expire, you know, reminders. You can send it directly from, you know, MemberPress. Um, you know, like I said, the coach kit, uh, functionality, it handles taxes. It handled, you know, like, so you’re, you know, you’re, uh, even, even like VAT, uh, taxes, it integrates with Stripe, PayPal, authorized.

net. So you can, you can, you can put, you can pay in a whole bunch of different, uh, ways, um, You can protect downloadable files. So it has downloadable, uh, files, uh, feature set. Um, really it can do pretty much anything that you need it to, uh, mainly cause over the years, um, we’ve adapted the software, you know, with feedback from users on what, uh, they need.

To run their business, um, you can even do, uh, like a team, uh, login. So it’s called our corporate accounts, uh, login. And then some of our other membership plugins like, uh, access ally, you know, it has a full course building cape or, uh, not court. Well, it does courses too, but it has a full community, uh, building feature set and gamification.

So wishlist does that as well. It does a, uh, so you can gamify your, uh, your, your courses and your, your memberships, uh, offering. So just a lot of features. And if you go to any of the websites, you’ll see a giant list of feature sets. Um, so, and what I would say too, is that, um, one of the real advantages of using, uh, a membership plugin, and this is, Kind of a hidden feature of it, I would say, is that you own your own content, you own your own data, you own your own business and your, your, your destiny.

We’re, we’re not training AIs on your content, mainly because it’s self hosted. You know, we don’t have You Access to your content and, uh, and there’s no extra fees along with your, your transactions. So you kind of control your own, uh, destiny as a business owner. 

Jared: Is there anything I, I didn’t ask you about that you think is important for people to hear as it relates to this topic is pretty broad topic of membership sites and membership plugins in general.

Blair: All I can say is that you can do it. You know, if you, if you, if you are focused in and you, you want to build a, a membership platform, um, or any of the other kind of use cases that, uh, that I’ve talked about, you know, that we’ve talked about here, um, you know, don’t be intimidated by the technology. You know, there’s, there’s so many resources available, you know, like, you know, even if you’re doing self hosted, which of course I would recommend, um, You know, you’ve got, you know, WP beginner, um, as a, as a really great resource on getting started with WordPress, but don’t, don’t be intimidated.

You can do it. There’s, there’s a lot that the other thing too, that I would even mention about, uh, WordPress in general, every developer. Every designer, every agency, every web host, they’re all using WordPress. WordPress powers 45 percent of websites on the internet. That’s millions and tens of millions of websites use it.

So you’re, you will find resources. If you want to build a membership site and we’ll be there to help as well. If you choose one of our products and I’m sure, you know, even if you don’t choose one of our products, you know, they’re there, you know, whatever product you do choose, the support is probably going to be decent and you can, you can figure out a way.

But I would just say, you know, you can do it if you want to. 

Jared: Well, Blair, I appreciate you coming on the podcast today. I hope everybody’s listening has been given a lot of ideas at the least for what they can do. I mean, really broadly speaking, like people who are currently running businesses that serve their customers in ways they can add a membership site on to enhance that, but also content website creators and um, And people who typically relied on maybe affiliate marketing or these sorts of things and how they can leverage, um, um, you know, membership sites for, for increased earnings and something to do with some of the traffic that they used to have and the content they currently have.

So, um, Blair, where can people follow along with you and, uh, learn more? 

Blair: Yeah, um, you can go to uh, memberpress. com. That would be uh, Uh, probably our flagship, you know membership, uh solution. Um, and uh, you know, you can go from there great 

Jared: Well blair, thank you so much. Um, can we talk again? Appreciate it. 

Blair: Yeah.

Thanks a lot. Jared. Have a great one



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