There are a number of ways to monetize your online efforts. Sometimes, seeking a method of monetization is secondary to creating something “cool” and then sorting out the fallen chips from there. We can’t all create Facebook; however, creating a membership site or at least offering users an option of paid membership on your existing site is an excellent way to generate a real income if implemented effectively.
The Cult of Free
But nobody pays for anything directly anymore, you may opine. People want and expect to receive everything for free, desire instant gratification, and will click themselves off your website faster than a sprinting mouse if they even see the mere mention of money. Not really. Today’s economy is one of information, and though the line between freedom of thought and ownership of ideas is a wavering blur, top businesses implement strategies of combining freebies with paid services. The key, as always, is to keep the user in mind.
Consider the rise of cable television, especially premium service channels like HBO. Sure, there is plenty to watch on free network television supported financially by advertising. There is also plenty of free information accessible online, often backed financially with advertising as the main revenue source. Nonetheless, premium cable channels get plenty of subscribers. Why? Because they offer an appealing alternative in the form of high quality, critically acclaimed entertainment without commercial interruption. In the same way, if you’re able to offer high-quality information, there is a market of people ;who are willing to pay a fee to enjoy your monthly service.
Create an engaging and easy-to-navigate welcoming page for users to explore. Don’t skimp here and place all your focus on your restricted content. Your welcome page is your personal introduction. It should reveal your personality, your goals, and what kind of value you can offer to any potential readers. Place some demonstrations of quality content here so people can get an idea of what to expect. You can also post introductions to videos, articles, and presentations to get users excited about the paid content. Finally, offer one-time deals and bargains that potential users just can’t resist.
Make sure you have something unique and exceptional to offer users. If you try to rehash information that is easily available for free with some exploratory clicks, your users will feel resentful for signing up for your service. Negative word of mouth spreads like wildfire, especially online. Consider your unique selling proposition and structure your membership services accordingly. Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine. Don’t try to mimic other successful experts. Certainly you should look toward success for examples, but find your own voice and relate to your members on a personal level.
You’re offering people convenience and reliability. Users are comfortable with giving up some of their money to gain back some valuable time they would spend endlessly seeking information you have made available in an organized, appealing fashion. But you have to be consistent. If someone is paying a monthly subscription fee, be it $5 or $50, they expect expertise and dependability. Find a great team that can help you deliver content that demonstrates passion and knowledge.
Create a Community
Create a user forum and do everything you can to make it an active, social gathering place for your users. Even during the days of dial-up and BBS, the online world has been about sharing and socialization. Capitalize on this by creating a forum that is helpful, friendly, and properly moderated. You can make some of the forum accessible to everyone with a private section only for members, or you can restrict posting to members only.
You don’t need to rely solely on advertising to make significant money online. If you’re confident in your perspective and can supply a steady stream of quality content, consider giving a membership site a try.
Adam Toren is an Award Winning Author, Serial Entrepreneur and Investor. He Co-Founded YoungEntrepreneur.com along with his brother Matthew. Adam is co-author of the newly released book: Small Business, Big Vision: “Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right” and also co-author of Kidpreneurs.