When starting a new membership website, there are countless pitfalls that you must avoid to ensure your long term viability. This guide walks you through the most common mistakes that most membership sites make early on so you can these costly mistakes.
1. Selling/Creating a Crappy Product
The internet is already loaded with junk - so don’t add to it! The most important thing you can do to ensure your success is to create not only a unique product or service, but one that is absolutely the best. It sounds obvious, but so many entrepreneurs think they’re going to get rich selling some poorly developed product or other half-wit idea. The reality is that 80% of all businesses fail within the first 18 months and this is one of the many reasons why.
Ask yourself honestly, would you pay for what you’re selling? How much would you be willing to pay for it? Are there other ones out there just like it? How can you make yours better than everyone else's?
If you’re the first to market, do everything you can to ensure that it would be difficult for someone to copy your work. These days it’s not hard to duplicate someone’s work online when you can simply copy and paste and there are many out there who will try and steal your work. So, put your distinct mark on it. In the beginning, people are going to be buying into you as much as the product you’re selling, so ask yourself what unique traits you have that you can exploit to make you stand out from the crowd.
Critical question: What is your unique value added proposition?
2. Not Researching the Online Market
This is a biggy that you need to learn now and make it a habit as it will affect every single piece of content you produce going forward on your website, as well as the product itself. Researching the online market really means doing keyword research to figure out what people are actually searching for online as it relates to your product or service. The most important tool you can use for this is Google’s Keyword Tool (do a quick search, it will come up first). This incredibly powerful tool is a game changer as it gives you direct insight into the bowels of the beast! It shows you exactly what people are searching for and how frequently on Google. It even provides suggestions for other related key phrases.
Most importantly, it will tell you if people are already searching for the product or service that you intend to offer. See below:
Note that these two search phrases are identical except for one word, yet one phrase gets 14x the amount of searches each month!! This type of data will give you insight into how much potential your business idea may have and whether or not you should change your strategy. Don’t do anything without doing keyword research first!
Critical question: Are people searching for my product/service and if so, what phrase(s) are they using to find it?
3. Go Into Too Much Debt
When starting an internet business, one of the most beneficial aspects of the nature of the internet is that you don’t necessarily have to invest tons of capital to get started. With the membership sites I’ve helped, this is one of the most common and frightening mistakes I’ve seen people make and that I work hard to make sure they avoid. If you’re smart and willing to work hard, you can get started for relatively very little money. You may not have the best of everything - or anything, for that matter - but there are enough software tools out there for free or very inexpensively that will allow you to test your ideas without betting the farm.
When starting a membership site, you should be able to do this from a very simple home office. Don’t go out and rent some high dollar office space downtown and don’t go buy the most expensive MacBook. To get started, you’ll need a decent computer, and well, that’s it! You may need some other basic office supplies, but again, don’t swing for the fences here. Be very stingy with your precious startup capital until you've gone through Step 4 below.
4. They Don’t Test the Market
This goes hand in hand with my previous point, but they warrant separate discussions. You may think you have the greatest idea in the world, but if others don’t think so, you’ve got bupkus. Because 4/5ths of all businesses fail early on, you must harness your excitement and test the waters before you dive in head first.
Test your idea in the market by building a simple, inexpensive website and put your product out there through organic means - ie. basic SEO, content marketing, post to social media and ask your friends to get their feedback. If you get people to sign up, ask for their feedback, ask them what they like and what they don’t. Ask them how they found you, why they signed up and how you can improve your product before taking it to the larger market.
It’s very exciting starting a new membership site. You may see nothing but dollar signs and they are there, but you have to be smart. The temptation early on - and forever for that matter - is to try and grow as much as possible as quickly as possible and to capture the entire market by being everything to everyone. That plan is generally one destined for failure. Which is my next point...
5. They Try to Grow Too Quickly
This is another great way to go into debt and have nothing to show for it! Paid marketing is one of the fastest ways to lose tons of money if you’re not careful but the quickest way to get your name out there. When you’re first launching, every move should be very calculated and the results quantified. It will take a while for you to learn what marketing tactics work best and provide the greatest return.
Being eager to grow as fast as possible may tempt you to start an aggressive Pay Per Click campaign or some other paid advertising campaign. Be patient, learn your potential customers likes and dislikes and what they’re looking for. Learn what they’re searching for and what keywords convert best. There’s nothing wrong with growing slowly at the beginning, as long as you’re growing, you’re heading in the right direction.
6. They Hire the Cheapest Person Rather than the Best Person
While you may be able to start your membership site up completely on your own, many businesses will need some help. The irresistible temptation will be to hire the cheapest person capable of doing the job but this is can be a fatal flaw for your business. At the end of the day, people are what make a business succeed or fail. Even the best product in the world can be a victim of having the wrong people behind it.
Having a great person you can bounce ideas off of and who is willing to put in the long hours that startups require are just some of the qualities your employees may need. They also need to be trustworthy and loyal. The most qualified person with the best skillset will not likely be the cheapest, but the saying “you get what you pay for” is a cliche` for a reason.
7. They Don’t Ask for Help
By their very nature, most entrepreneurs are “type A” mentality people who are born leaders. They’re used to working independently and sometimes consider it a failure to not be able to succeed at everything they attempt on their own. But the reality is starting a business from scratch is a big undertaking that takes a diverse skillset that takes years of experience to master.
You’re not going to be able to be good everything and you’re not going to have enough hours in the day to get everything done you want to. Sometimes you may just need an extra hand from a friend, other times you may need an expert to help you with important decisions. There’s nothing wrong with admitting you don’t have the answer to something. The only mistake is not asking someone who does.
There are plenty of experts in the world at all sorts of different things, so seek out those who can help you achieve your dreams!
8. BONUS TIP - Carve out a Niche
Yes, I said there were 7 deadly mistakes, the reality is there are hundreds! But, here’s another quick tip - under-promise and over-deliver! Are you disappointed I’m throwing in another bonus startup mistake? Of course not! Your customers won’t be either. But, that’s not my tip (see, that was even another freebie!).
If you remember points 4 and 5 on test marketing and growing too quickly, I eluded to the fact that many businesses want to be everything to everyone. It makes sense, why would you purposely ignore a segment of your market? The reason is that it’s simply too big and you’ll have to operate too thin to try and capture it. When starting out, you can’t simply go after everyone because you won’t have the product offering, branding nor the resources to effectively market to them.
Carving out a niche means that your marketing message is far more focused. Your campaign can be laser like to target a very specific group of people rather than casting light in every direction like the sun. You don’t have the power of the sun - yet! And likely, you never will. You may never be able to compete with the titans of your industry who have mega-resources and have been around for decades so don’t waste your time trying.
Instead, focus on a subset of the market and become THE specialist in that sector. If you look at my golf instruction website, http://RotarySwing.com, that’s exactly what I did. The golf market is pretty big, roughly 40 million golfers in the US alone. That’s a big enough number for any subscription site owner to start salivating over. But to go after all of them I’d have to dilute what makes my product unique - I’m THE authority on how the mechanics of the golf swing using objective science.
Most golfers don’t care about the physics, biomechanics and neuro-mechanics of the golf swing, but that’s what my product is really about. The important thing is that I realized there is a big enough market for me to have built a multi-million dollar membership site around my niche`, but I’ll never be putting a dent in that 40 million golfer number. To do so would require that I dilute the quality and uniqueness of my product and completely change my identity and strategy. Apart from the risks to my brand, I’d have to risk millions of dollars in a broad based marketing campaign to compete against some of the big boys out there. The cost would be very high and the returns likely very low.
Instead, I focused on the specialized market I’ve carved out which is plenty big enough to build a phenomenal business and lifestyle following the plan I’ve developed and now share with my members at my membership site https://SubscriptionSiteStartup.com.
If this has made sense to you and helped you better formulate your plan, just think about all the stuff that I keep exclusively for my paying members! This is just the free stuff! I’d like to show you just how much I can help you by giving you a special offer. I want you to try my site for HALF OFF for the first month - completely risk free! If you don’t like the information I share with you as a member, let me know within 30 days and I’ll give you 100% of your money back - no questions asked!
Ready to take advantage of my offer? Visit https://SubscriptionSiteStartup.com/services/join to claim your discount!