How to Monetize Content and Grow Community Using Membership Sites

March 30, 2019
How to Monetize Content and Grow Community Using Membership Sites

Hi, I'm Eric Turnnessen, founder of, a powerful membership plugin for WordPress. These days if we're running a business or if we're providing services or content to anybody, we're probably out there in some way, whether through Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, whatever it is. And maybe we have an engaged audience, maybe people are following us and we're successful. But then the question becomes, how do we sustain this at scale? The first challenge to solve is what content or what offering do we have to share with the world? And I think one of the biggest challenges can be that people try to think about money and all that before they figure out their offering and what they can actually give to people. And more so than any other time, I think that's an important thing to answer because pretty much everybody and anybody can be producing content and so there's a lot of competition and there's a lot of noise. But there's actually opportunity because of this fact. The thing is, if you are creating content and you have something of value, there's always going to be an audience that's ready to engage with you on that. So, the question becomes, once you get to the point where you have solved that problem of what you're offering, then the question is, how do you maintain that in terms of supporting yourself financially? Because it's a lot of effort to do these productions, and the thing is, we need to find ways when we do this to financially support ourselves, because it's not going to help us or our audience if we come to a point where things are out of balance in that area.

Membership sites are a great answer to the question of "how do I sustainably build and maintain a content business." And it has a lot to do with engagement. The thing about connecting with people on social and getting likes and things like that, that's all very good and it builds credibility, it builds a wide audience of people, but at some point, that relationship needs to switch to something more intimate, something with an agreement. And this is something that the people who consume your content will appreciate just as much as you will. So then it comes down to you instructing them on how you want them to engage with you, and this is where the membership site comes in.

With a membership site, people are going into a more intimate setting with you. They're coming into your home. And this could be a free membership level. The power of a free membership level is there's no obstacle other than somebody just signing up with you, saying I want to be, I want to hear what you have to say, I want to get notifications, I want to be a part of your community because I appreciate your message. Right? With the free membership, they come into your site, and now they're actually taking a specific action to be a part of your community. They're logging in, they're inside of your walls -- not the YouTube walls and not the Instagram walls -- so there's a different feeling, and you can control this experience. It becomes more about your personality.

How do you like things to look? How do you like to present things to people? And the thing about them now being a part of your free membership is it's somewhere where you have many opportunities available to you to how to grow this and have a conversation with your audience. And each one of these opportunities is essentially happens over the course of a lifespan of the business. This isn't something that you set up from day one.

What you're doing when you have a membership site is you make it a possibility to ultimately be able to do these things. And one of the first things you might consider doing, especially if you're creating content, is creating paid content, right? So maybe you have a course. Now if people are just engaging with you on YouTube or Instagram, they have no way to, without a certain number of steps, purchasing something from you. But if they're coming and engaging with you on your membership site, now it's really easy. They click a button and they purchase it right on your site. Or if they've already purchased something from you, they click a button using the card on file, and they just purchase it with one click. So the other advantage of people being in a membership site, especially if you're using MemberMouse, is there's this tool called SmartTags, and SmartTags allow you to have a dynamic conversation with the customer, with the member, based on what they've done with you. So if they've never purchased anything from you, you can detect that, and say hey, maybe you'd be interested in this course. Or if they have purchased something from you, you can do the same. You can say, oh hey, I see you bought this course, maybe you'd be interested in this one. So by having somebody inside those walls of the membership site, you have the opportunity for personalization.

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