What I’ve Learned from Starting a Membership Site

Interested in the membership business model and wondering what it’s all about? Here’s my experience with starting a membership site and the lessons I’ve learned in the first months of running it.

One thing that hasn’t changed for me and which I never want to change is my love for my craft. This work, this business, this passion, mission – whatever you want to call it – it’s what I’m here to do.

The ups and downs are teaching me exactly what I need in order to evolve. But the one piece of advice I can give to those who want to be or stay in business is to not give up on it. It’s as simple as that.

If you’re truly committed to a goal, it doesn’t matter how long it takes or which one of the many business ideas you try actually works. It’s all about how bad you want it. 

Many people say they want to be in business, many attempt to start one. Not many actually start one though, and even fewer stay in it.

You have to put it above other priorities sometimes. You have to change direction when necessary. You have to learn to be okay with discomfort.

You have to do some healing and personal growth. 

If you don’t enjoy the journey, this will probably not work. But if you love every part of it, things become simpler and life gets better.

Because regardless of how much or little your online income is and what else is going on in your life and how you feel about it, you wake up daily knowing you’re doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing. 

And if you found a way to impact others positively through your work, congrats, you’re answering your soul’s calling. Let me know what you think about it and if it’s a topic you’ve reflected on.

What’s New inside Blogger Playground

If you want some support and motivation along the way and to be surrounded by people who get it and are going through it, then that’s what Blogger Playground is all about

blogger playground post image

It’s our membership for bloggers, and aside from the strategic content I’m sharing week after week, people are actually opening up. They often prefer to email me instead of writing inside the membership, but that’s totally okay.

I’m so happy that I created this safe and intimate space for them to share their fears and doubts as entrepreneurs and to be able to ask for help and guidance. And that sometimes the other members are the ones coming up with answers to their questions before I even log in and they share resources. 

Last week I came up with a fun way to collaborate with them. We shared each other’s newsletters and joined them and can now also give feedback on how the emails look and anything else.

I joined the newsletters of 3 or 4 members so far and will be getting their emails and keep up to date with what is going on in their blogging business. Others in the membership are about to start their email list soon and they said they will share it in that same topic inside the community. 

Speaking of email marketing, a few requests from members came related to email marketing, so I’m in the process of creating a resource for them with templates, examples of automated welcome sequences, and more to get their list off the ground or to take their email marketing to the next level.

I just shared the monthly calendar for March with them in the beginning of this month and one thing to look forward to is another kind of collaboration I’ll be offering them, something I’ve never done before. 

I also gathered all the metrics in my business for last month and created the February income report, which I just published the other day.

Just thought I would share what is happening there because that’s my main project this year and the best way to work with me. And knowing how affordable and easy to join it is, I won’t stop inviting you. If you’re curious what else we have going on there, here’s the link to the enrollment page with all the details.

What I’ve Learned from Starting a Membership Site

Now let’s get into today’s topic, which is all about what I’ve already learned from running a membership. It has been 3 months and I’ve already learned and experienced so much. What a journey this is. 

If you’re thinking about creating your own membership, this post will definitely give you an idea of what that involves and maybe you can decide if that’s for you or not. 

But if not, you can also find many valuable tips that you can apply to any offer you have in your business and just how to serve your audience better, because that’s why we’re here, right? So let’s dive into it.

Nothing prepares you for it.

The first thing I want to share about starting a membership site is that nothing prepares you for it.

You can read all about the membership business model and yet the real education for you starts the moment you actually create it. 

The moment the first member is in and you start serving them. The lessons are happening when you have some tech issues and members tell you that they know about it before you do and how you handle them.

Also how you feel about this process, how you create content consistently, what happens when all the content that you prepared in advance is now published and you just have to create new one week after week or month after month. When you have to have some structure, let people know what to expect, to overdeliver and to also interact with members. 

Nothing prepares you for it. That’s why once you’re in it, you can know if it’s really for you or not.

It definitely involves more work than just having an online course and selling it all the time. So if you’re not looking for more responsibility in your business and something that will require your constant attention, then this probably isn’t for you. 

I successfully practiced detachment during a launch.

I talked about this in the previous episode which was all about the energy of desperation in business. Detachment is a very interesting concept which I was trying to understand better for a few years now but never got to it. Now, I’m closer than ever.

And, of course, you care about how the launch goes and how many members join, how much you earn, how much of that is recurring revenue and all the other metrics. But you also detach from the result. You don’t define yourself by whether the launch goes well or not.

You don’t give up on anything in case there is zero or just a little income. You don’t make it mean anything about who you are in your business in general or even how this year in your business will be. 

Because everything can change 3 months from now with your next launch, once you have a few members and feel comfortable and create your publishing schedule. Or maybe the membership was meant to grow a year or two from now but you just have to stay consistent with it.

You don’t know how to promote it yet, your audience might not be familiar with the whole concept of having a membership and a community. They don’t know how it works, they aren’t sure if it’s for them, so it will take more time to warm them up as opposed to just releasing a new online course, for example. 

Choose the right topic for your membership.

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Here’s something else I learned about starting a membership site. You really have to choose a topic for it that you know inside out.

For me, it couldn’t be anything else other than blogging, at least in terms of business topics. I can answer any question people have asked me about it. I have so much to say and teach. And I keep doing things in my blogging business, learning and getting results and I love sharing everything about my journey to make it easier for others. 

The membership keeps me accountable and motivates me.

One of my favorite things about running a membership site, and which I only learned a month or two after having it, is that it motivates me and keeps me accountable. So it’s just something very beneficial to me personally. But it’s also because of how I structured it.

The more I try new things in my blogging business and see results, the more juicy strategies and tips I can share with my members. I can include screenshots and numbers and answer their questions.

I also love creating monthly income reports with all the numbers in my business and sharing them in the membership in the beginning of every new month. People really love seeing it.

One member just said yesterday that she’s so happy I’m sharing my numbers and it’s inspiring for newbies. Another one said last month that as a beginner blogger it’s nice to see the highs and lows of a full-time blogger’s life and that it was an eye-opening read and she loves it when I share my income journey. 

Done is better than perfect.

The next lesson I had the privilege to learn thanks to starting a membership site is that you don’t need to have it perfect from day one. That applies to every offer you create online, to starting a blog, to starting your business as well, and anything else.

Done is better than perfect. You can always optimize and upgrade and learn as you go. But you can’t let perfectionism stop you from actually launching what you want to create. 

That’s what I did. The sales page was out there from the beginning of course, the actual membership existed, I knew how to use it but there was no content already waiting for the members.

This is a personal preference actually. Many people would advise you to prepare your content for the next 3 months in advance. To have it ready so you don’t need to worry about that and can focus on growing the membership. 

But that’s not how I did it. I had the bonuses, I had the idea, I knew the topics and how it was going to be structured, at least its initial version. But then I was just gonna go with the flow.

I planned many topics, though, so I simply had to pick some and post something every week. 

So if you’re overthinking something, if you’re waiting until it’s perfect before you publish it, just create its first version and get it out there. The feedback from members is going to be the most critical thing you need to actually improve your offer and product. Which brings me to the next point.

Feedback from members is crucial. 

And it can begin right after starting a membership site, from the moment you have your first member. 

I don’t remember the exact details anymore, it was 3 months ago, but I had interactions with members from the moment they signed up. The first launch was actually only for the waitlist so it was before the offer was public. 

I saw that they weren’t sure in which topic to post or how it works, they weren’t getting the notifications but they told me and we fixed it, I contacted support, I learned why that happens.

Then I added this to the main guidelines – the welcome post with the first steps for members – and in many places I just clearly state that they should be getting email notifications. If they’re not, they can contact me and we’re going to fix it immediately. That was one little thing that I couldn’t know. 

Create a test account.

Thanks to that, which came from one member who was very helpful, I realized I better create a test account and use it myself. 

I did it and, to this day, I’m testing everything there because I want to see everything the way members see it. 

We’re talking about Podia, by the way. This is the course hosting platform I’m using and they specialize in membership sites.

I’m really happy with them, I just switched to them last year and it’s been an amazing experience. So I have the test account and my main one, me as a creator, which shows things differently. 

The test account is how I see everything. I see how the new posts appear, how I receive notifications, the bi-weekly newsletter that I’m sending. I test it with all the links and it’s just nice to see it from the perspective of an actual member.

So that’s also one tip I have for you if you’re starting a membership site.

Be both the founder and one of the members.

Then, I also realized you can be the founder but you can also be one of the members. 

One of the topics I have there is called Share Your Wins. I encourage people to share any little or big win they have in their business. Whether it’s a few new email subscribers or creating their lead magnet or going through the bonus course I have for them. 

There’s so many wins and they don’t need to be big. We’re there to celebrate each other. 

Then, I realized I can share my wins and I had some in the last months. My blog metrics are growing now.

Same goes for another section of the membership. It’s called Content Corner and it’s where you can share your latest blog post just to get some traction to it and to hear what others think. But you can also ask for feedback and I’m actually going to give you proper content analysis with next steps to take so you can optimize it better and improve it. 

But once I also shared my latest article there, the keyword it was optimized for and a few other details about it.

Forming relationships with your members is one of the best investments.

There are open topics in the membership and there are closed ones. The open ones are where everyone can post but that includes me. 

Another thing I learned which was amazing and I just didn’t know it in advance is that people will open up to you and testimonials will be coming your way without even having to ask for it. 

I’ve had amazing conversations with members. I actually know them by name. I know their blog. I know what they’re going through.

I joined their email list. I know what they struggle with. Some prefer to be quiet and aren’t leaving comments, aren’t reaching out to me, but that’s totally fine.

I expected that, it’s part of starting a membership site. But whoever did reach out, I always responded. I always asked further questions.

We talked like friends, you know. It’s amazing to form a relationship with your members. Now I have plenty of testimonials on the sales page but that happened naturally.

I haven’t even officially asked for it yet. I’m going to do that soon but so far I haven’t. It just happened.

They gave me positive feedback inside emails, in comments, on the posts, in the membership or just somewhere else. They’re all truly, truly grateful for being a member. 

They’re thanking me for creating that space for them and for the fact that I actually listen to them whenever they mention a new topic. I see it as a content request and I go ahead and create it, and I’m just there for them.

Blogger Playground is already my favorite place online to log in. It’s a free time activity for me, it’s not just my business. I honestly didn’t expect to love it that much back when I was coming up with the idea and actually setting it up.

Staring a membership site can lead to collaborations.

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I also learned that we can co-create in that space together with members. One of my goals in life and in business is to open up myself more, to form connections and to collaborate with people. Who knew that this membership was one of the biggest ways I was going to experience that!

Because people are so open up to collaborations and we discussed it with some of them in emails, I just had to create a new topic called Collaborations. They can post there. 

Someone already did it. She said she’s open to guest posts and just being featured on other platforms and she ended up collaborating with me by creating a guest post for Let’s Read Success. This is a genuine win-win situation. She felt very validated as a writer.

I had a new valuable piece of content which was relevant to some of the topics I cover on my blog. It was just a beautiful partnership.

In addition to that, I’m also posting collaborations there so there are different opportunities for people to work together with me, to get featured, to get discounts, some other surprises that I’m sharing, to get my eyes on their business in a more private way which is like coaching. And that’s only for them, only for members. I don’t offer that much to anyone else because I just don’t have the capacity for it.

Your members can invest in your other offers.

Another fun thing I found out by starting a membership site is that people who already joined your membership and are happy with it can invest in your other offers too. 

The biggest example of that is one of the members who was saying that she has her eyes on my course about sponsored content called The Blog Sponsorship Boss and she’s saving for it. That inspired me to create a discount for it. It was only available for one month. I shared it with all the members and she invested in the course. 

She started taking it right away and going through the lessons, the bonus material and she saw an immediate win from it. Then she shared it with me. That was amazing feedback and testimonial I got without even asking for it. She was also very happy how I answered one of her questions in the topic of the membership where you can ask your questions and in what detail I answered it.

It was also about sponsorships because that’s one of my main income streams. It’s one of those topics in the blogging industry that there isn’t much information about. Most bloggers are scared to do it, they’re wondering what’s right and what’s wrong. 

I’ve been doing it for many, many years now so I have a lot to say about it. And that course really is where I teach it all. But also in the membership we are going to be covering that topic. 

Aside from that, I also saw that some of the members are enrolling into my free course that I have for bloggers called The Passive Income Blog Boss. And they are purchasing one other toolkit I’m offering with templates for bloggers.

One member told me that she’s listening to my podcast, she really checks out every new episode and loves it. So that’s another nice thing to hear. This opened my eyes to the idea that people can join your membership and once you give them so much value there, they can actually be interested in your other offers and more ready to invest in them. 

I never thought about it this way. 

You can grow the membership in many ways.

Let’s talk about the possibilities that come with starting a membership site and how this project can evolve. I believe the possibilities are endless.

You can invite guest experts, you can offer coaching there, you can do live calls to answer questions, you can have themed months or weeks, you can run contests and do giveaways

There is no limit to what you can do because it’s such an interactive space. 

You can restructure things as you go.

Another thing I discovered after starting a membership site is that you can restructure things as you go. Such as starting new topics when it seems like the next logical step, closing a topic that doesn’t get any engagement and which seems redundant, giving people more of what they want and so on.

Here is an example of that which literally just happened in the last few days. What was the Welcome topic in the membership is now called Motivation. 

One of the main reasons why some of the people who joined Blogger Playground did it is to find the motivation to keep going.

So I decided that it would be good to add a topic where you can share empowering and inspirational insights and resources. I also decided to keep it open so they can post something if they ever feel like and just share something they experienced or read or heard that motivated them about blogging and business, even if it’s just a quote. 

I take decisions about the membership based on what is best for the members and where the engagement is.

Having a Welcome topic was part of my initial plan but that doesn’t mean it led to anything. The results speak for themselves. No one posted in it and to this day, 3 months later, it still contains only the welcome post with the first steps for new members.

So now I simply moved it by publishing it as a new post to the Updates topic. I also pinned it to the top of it so people can easily find it. That means the Welcome topic was left empty.

As I was reflecting on what else the membership might need, I came up with the idea for a Motivation topic. I have a lot to share in terms of that and those posts don’t really fit into any other topic. So I decided to create one specially for them and we’ll see how that goes.

Give members what they want.

Another lesson from starting a membership site is that we should give members what they want.

I try to come up with as many ways as possible to serve members. I encourage them to give me feedback and to ask any questions they have. 

I do that inside the bi-weekly roundup newsletters I send to members, inside the posts, sometimes I post inside the membership solely for that reason.

So was the case with the email marketing topic that’s becoming a key one this month. Discussions are happening in two different posts and people are opening up about their concerns, where they are at on their list building journey and what they need help with. So I’m now outlining what will become a whole bundle, a starter kit that will serve like a bonus for members.

I don’t need to have it perfect, I can always add new resources to it. But for now, I’m thinking of including an email list checklist, tips and a template on creating a welcome email series, the same about the lead magnet, newsletter tips, an email launch sequence swipe copy with some powerful sales emails examples and more. 

Again we’re co-creating this. 

Creating a member-centric community.

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From all the feedback I was getting from members, I saw a few themes.

I saw what they liked the most about the membership, I saw how they describe it compared to anything else they’ve invested in online. 

One member said we were definitely missing something like this in the blogging community. Another one said that Blogger Playground was the best investment she could have made in her business. Honestly, I can’t imagine hearing anything better.

So that made me think about this on a deeper level. I want to create a member-centric community. It’s about them, not about me.

It’s about the results they get first, of course, but it’s about them. What content they want, what topics work best for them, what creates engagement for them and so on. And what they love the most, which I saw from their feedback, is what I’m going to double down on.

Make your membership stand out.

I was also reflecting on my business values because there is a very powerful book I’m reading now and doing some exercises from it to just narrow down the focus in my business, to create my bigger vision, and to make a plan for the next years. The membership is in the center of it all. If you’re curious, the book is called Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business.

It’s a bestseller. It’s a book that all my mentors recommend so definitely check it out if you’re looking for a new resource. But I will create something, probably a podcast episode, soon where I share what I did thanks to it. Because I really came up with a lot and it’s changing the way I approach my business. I’m going to apply it this year but I’m not just there yet and I haven’t finished the book, but you’ll probably hear about it soon.

So, I was thinking how to find ways to make the membership stand out. Because we want to create unique offers, right? I

came up with a few things which involve my core values in business and in life, the feedback I’ve gotten from members, what I believe is most important and what my vision is for the space, and what is already happening, of course. 

Here is what makes Blogger Playground different than other communities and memberships for bloggers. 

It exists to help you grow your blog traffic and income sooner with the strategies, community accountability, support and direct access to me that you get once you join.

It’s also one of the most affordable memberships and communities for bloggers out there. 

I think it’s also cool that I do the work myself for personal growth and business and I reveal it all to you. I’m very transparent and I show you the ups and downs in my business which then helps you feel okay about your failures and find the motivation to keep going.

I’ve also been told that I turn complex topics into simple step-by-step guides that you can follow and actions you can apply right away. I do believe that what I post in the membership is probably the biggest example of this in my business. 

Next, you can get any blogging question answered in a day, at least at this point, at this stage of the membership. I guess that’s not going to be the case when there are 100 members which is my goal, but that’s how it is for now.

I also listen to you and I’m there for you every step of the way. You really can feel my presence in your life and in your business.

We put progress over perfection with focus on personal growth and spirituality and doing what feels right.

Your success is my success. We focus on results, moving the needle forward and giving you what you need to achieve the result you want. This can involve tough love, honest feedback and accountability.

My goal is to surprise members with the massive value I provide by caring and being there for them, by going above and beyond to deliver, keeping my promises and leading gently but boldly. 

Also, trust is built through the content you find inside, the accountability we provide and the community we foster. 

Last but not least, to be of service and do meaningful work is one of my core values.

This is bigger than me, each individual I serve and the content and products I create. It’s also about the collective, the overall impact and raising the awareness and vibration on the planet. 

So we have big goals over here, yeah.

Final words

So that’s what I came up with so far in terms of lessons from starting a membership site. Probably, if I think about it, I’ll come up with a few more but we can leave that for another time. 

Let me know if you’re interested in building a membership of your own, if you found this post valuable, if you’re interested in joining Blogger Playground and seeing what we do inside or if you have any questions. You can always reach out to me.

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Prefer to listen to this instead? Tune into the podcast episode on starting a membership site below:

Interested in the membership business model and wondering what it's all about? Here's my experience with starting a membership site and the lessons I've learned in the first months of running it.