How many ads have we seen with some charismatic chap dancing around like a monkey telling you that you can make money while you sleep? All you have to do is send him $99 and he’ll send you his 200 page ebook on how to get rich online. The reality is that this age old scam is still just a fantasy - or is it?
There are still many profitable business ideas out there in the world, but the reality is that most of the opportunity now lies in the digital world. Starting and operating an ecommerce website may seem as possible to you as launching the space shuttle from your back yard with a Casio wrist watch. But new tools are available to even the least technically savvy entrepreneur out there that will now allow you to tap into the hottest online business concept going - the subscription based website model.
Membership Based Websites Can Make Millions
When it comes to building a business model in a fantasy land, the subscription based website seems to be too good to be true. You put together a website, lock some content behind a paywall, get people to sign up and then they keep paying the same amount every month as long as you both shall live? Sign me up!
While it’s not quite the simple, it’s as ideal a business concept as I think there exists today. For the entrepreneur, there is really no more profitable business idea.
That’s why I started doing it back in 1999!
Yep, my first subscription based website was founded back in the dot com era when you could get a million bucks from any VC if you could work your way around Microsoft FrontPage! I got my first round of financing in 2000 and was off to the races to becoming the next internet millionaire.
I hit a couple bumps along the way, but I was able to achieve financial freedom using the subscription based business model that I started developing 16 years ago.
Since that time, I haven’t strayed from it. In my mind, it’s the only business idea that makes sense.
Why wouldn’t you, as a business owner, want to get paid for selling the same product every month? It sure makes it easy to plan payroll! The customer wins as well. They get your product at a discounted rate compared to what they’d have to pay as a full upfront cost and only pay for the time they use it.
You get a good idea on how much revenue you’ll generate each month and the customer continues to visit your website frequently, giving you more opportunity to interact and develop a long lasting relationship with them.
As far as being a profitable business idea, the subscription model has some of the highest margins imaginable. Depending on the product you sell, you can have a subscription model that has minimal overhead and requires very little maintenance.
The true beauty of the model apart from the fact that it can be self-sustaining is the annuity aspect. Work hard up front to build a great product that people love and then collect a paycheck while you play golf - literally.
My subscription based golf instruction website, RotarySwing.com, has followed this concept to a “t”. It follows a few golden rules that I have about starting a subscription based business.
If you follow those three rules as your mantra, you’ve got a chance at taking your business idea from concept to profitability.
You would think that the first rule would be obvious, but so many people think they have a great business idea that they think will make millions and it’s simply junk. If you don’t know whether your idea is good or not, ask someone objective and who has experience in the industry if at all possible.
There’s enough junk on the internet already, don’t add to it!
Having a great idea and great implementation of that idea is the most important key to success.
If you have a great product, it will help sell itself.
My golf website RotarySwing.com follows all three of my golden rules, but this one especially. The product we sell is a proprietary online learning methodology to a proprietary golf swing system.
It took a LOT of time and work to develop both of these - which is why the second rule is so important.
If you don’t absolutely love what you do, you won’t be willing to invest the time and energy into making it truly awesome. During the business startup phase, that’s what’s required the most - time and energy from the entrepreneur.
If you obsess about your idea all the time, you’re on the right track! No one is going to take the time to make your idea come to fruition better than you can. Which brings me to my last golden rule - Don’t lose money.
No one wants to lose money, of course, but most business startups fail. They fail for a multitude of reasons, but one of them is they over invest before fully understanding and testing the waters.
I’m pretty risk averse when it comes to money and I HATE losing money on anything, especially on a business deal. Having a lot of start up capital is more of hindrance to making a truly successful company come to life in my opinion.
Because it takes less creativity and ingenuity to get the thing going. Necessity is the mother of invention.
If you have a million dollars of seed money to get your company started and know that will float your expenses for the next 24 months, how closely are you going to be watching expenses?
How well are you going to vet that new hire?
Maybe you’ll spend a little bit extra on your new office space because it has a better view.
Even though I cut my teeth in the internet business world during the heyday of the dot com era, I absolutely LOATHE this mentality.
Get off your butt and work for it, then you can sit back and be proud of what you accomplished. You’ll be much further ahead than the company that had all the resources handed to them early on and you’ll be much more resilient to weather any storms that may come your way.
The good news is that starting a membership site can be done these days almost for free, and certainly dirt cheap compared to a new brick and mortar business.
There are several options out there for the software management tools you’ll need to manage your subscribers. Heck, we even offer the exact same software program we developed in house to manage all 240,000 of my subscribers on RotarySwing.com.
If you’re just starting out and don’t know exactly what you’re doing yet 😉 consider trying a simpler, smaller and less robust program than ours. Our membership software is a full turn key system designed around a video subscription site and cost over $1 million to develop, so it’s not free, but it is the best ;-).
Remember my third golden rule though - Don’t lose money! If you’re not pretty confident that your business is going to work, don’t invest a ton of money in things you don’t need just yet.
Is my Business Idea Any Good?
Who the hell knows? I’m kidding, sort of. In the past 16 years of operating a multi-million dollar subscription based website I’ve learned one thing - I have no idea what the customer really wants.
Sounds crazy, right?
But the reality is, people can often surprise you and so I simply stopped guessing at what I think they want and now I only test. I regularly use tools like Google Analytics Experiments to test my ideas and theories and then I simply let the data decide.
While I’ve gotten better at being more intuitive with my market, I’ve also been wrong enough to know that I don’t like making assumptions.
Be honest, if someone pitched that idea to you and said I need you to give me $100k to help me launch this brilliant idea I have, you would have told him to beat it. But the reality is they’re disrupting an industry that has remained completely unchanged for years.
You can change the game, even in established markets.
So again I say, ask as many educated and sophisticated people you can about your idea. But, even if someone tells you that your idea is hair-brained and has no shot, keep in mind, EVERYONE gets it wrong sometimes, and many more often than not!
There is an online market for just about everything, even disposable razors.
What You Need to Do Next
Starting a business from an idea you scratched on the back of a napkin is exciting, scary, challenging and more. It’s an adventure that can positively or negatively impact the rest of your life!
Think about that for one more moment - it can impact the rest of your life - for good or bad. So, be careful, love what you do, don’t lose money and make sure you have a great product. If you’ve met those golden rules, then you’re at least off on the right foot.
The next key is to get help from someone who has already been where you are trying to go. Whether it be someone in your industry or someone who has successfully implemented a similar business model.
Learn from their mistakes - trust me, they made plenty along the way - and glean from their successes.
I can’t tell you how much I wish I would’ve had someone guide me through the last 16 years and told me all the right moves to make and which ones to avoid. I didn’t have that luxury but the knowledge I gained along the way has been invaluable and allowed me to share my success with you.
I want to help you become successful in the daunting online subscription business world. I’m incredibly grateful for the success I’ve achieved and enjoy being able to help others. That’s why I started https://SubscriptionSiteStartup.com.
It’s THE subscription site for subscription sites! I walk you through, step by step, the entire process of starting an online membership site and show you all the little secrets that I’ve discovered to convert visitors of your website to paying members.
Learn from someone who’s taken a business idea and turned it into a profit center, from concept to exit strategy and everything in between.