I just found a great post from Yaro Starak sharing his experience in launching a members-only site. I will cite some of the key points in his post and share my experience as well in starting and maintaining the DigitalFilipino.com Club from December 2003 to the present.
- Build your preeminence
Becoming known as an expert in your field requires a lot of hard work and investment. In my case, writing numerous articles, joining or forming an association catering to that niche, creating free e-learning programs (using an autoresponder), doing speaking engagement and advocacy on e-commerce helped in establishing myself in this area.
This is a continuous effort and getting your contacts to spread the word for you will be helpful, in addition to your resources.
- Communication channels
My mailing list/newsletter is one of the most important moves I've taken when putting up DigitalFilipino.com. By the time the membership club was launched, I have sufficient number of contacts to offer the membership and pitch it whenever appropriate.
- How to launch a membership site
The right combination of tools must be available to launch a membership site. For me, I used WebsiteWizard to start my online membership program. That web service allowed me to:
- accept payments online
- have a members-only area where members can download research reports, join forums
- have a mailing list system that can be used for broadcasting services.
- Content and pricing
A membership site will have higher chances of success if individuals that join or sign-up will find high quality content. In our case, these are composed of research reports, e-commerce related e-books, tutorials, advice, presentation papers by fellow members, among others. Always give more than what they pay for.
Depending on which country you are based and the package you're offering, pricing may differ from one membership program to another. To find the right price is to get an estimate on the value you are offering. Adjust this based on freshness of offerings and changes in the target market.