AskPat 14 Episode Transcript
Pat Flynn: Hey, what's up? Welcome to AskPat Episode 14. I'm Pat Flynn, and I'm here to answer your online business questions every single day. And of course we have another question from a listener, from Juliet actually. I love answering these questions.
But before we get to that, I want to give a shout-out to my buddies over at Fizzle.co, a membership website for people looking to start online businesses that is run by three amazing people, which quite interestingly enough all their names start with the letter C: Corbett Barr, Chase Reeves, and Caleb Wojcik, three guys I highly respect. Fizzle.co, you can check them out at SmartPassiveIncome.com/fizzle in case you want to go through my affiliate link, but again just check it out. [Full Disclosure: As an affiliate, I receive compensation if you purchase through this link.] A well-run membership website which is actually the topic of today's question from Juliet.
And Juliet asks a specifically about membership site software, but I have a lot more to say beyond that. So let's get to Juliet's question really quick.
Juliet: Hello Pat, this is Juliet. I would like to know if you can recommend any software for membership sites. By that I mean systems to sell info products, like video tutorials. I have tried Wishlist a few years ago, then stopped making video tutorials, but now I would like to give it another shot. If you can recommend any things or plugins for WordPress, I would really appreciate that. And thanks for your superb information that you've been sharing with all of us for years now. Thank you so much.
Pat Flynn: Hey Juliet, thank you for your question. This is something that I'm actually quite familiar with right now because I just recently created my own membership website, and I'll tell you what software I use for that in just a second.
But before I get into that, let's talk about the pros and cons of offering a membership site type solution for your audience. And I want to talk about this really quick because many people know that a membership site, especially one that requires a recurring monthly payment to be a part of is pretty much the holy grail of passive income if you own that site because every month, depending on the number of members you have who stick around, if they're paying monthly you're guaranteed that income. And each month, hopefully as your membership grows, you're getting paid more and more as more members come in and your income can just take off from there. The payments from members pile up on top of each other each month, and unlike an ebook or an info product that people buy once, if they're a member of your membership site and paying monthly, you have a paying customer every single month and you know that.
Sometimes you never know if your ebook is going to sell as quite well as it did the last month, for example, or some one-time payment product, how well it's going to do next month. But with a recurring membership model, it's mostly predictable, which is why it's sort of the holy grail of passive income. It's not quite passive to run a membership website, especially if it's one that sort of requires a recurring monthly payment, and we'll get into that, into those differences in a second. But the thing is because of the lure of creating a membership site, and how attractive these recurring monthly payments are, a lot of people get into trouble with it. Just because it's one of the best business models out there, it doesn't mean it's the best business model for you and the best solution for your audience. And Juliet, I don't know what the business you have is or what you plan to do deliver, but I'm just saying this for everybody, including you, just in case. You have to know what's involved with keeping it going.
So with that said, membership site software actually isn't only used for creating these monthly payment type of memberships. It can be used also for a one-time payment instead to gain access to something, like a library of videos, or usually something with a larger file size; something that's easier to download after logging in to get access to it than getting a huge file in an email or delivering an email with a large file. It doesn't always have to be a recurring payment model in order to gain access into these membership site platforms. But again, the recurring income is more attractive as far as the income is concerned.
The first thing is you have to realize if a membership model is right for you. If you'll be providing information in a course-like structure, or delivering massively huge files, or both, then membership site software could be a good solution for you. If you're thinking specifically of a membership site where people are paying each month to stay in, the question you have to ask yourself is this: why should people continue to pay a monthly fee to have access? Paying monthly just to be a member isn't going to fly typically, but if there's something that's worth continuing to pay month after month for, then it could definitely work out for you.
The best way to think about this would be, “would anyone lose out on anything if they didn't continue to pay?” If not, then you probably shouldn't be charging each month. I see a lot of people charging month to month when they really shouldn't be, and they get into trouble, and they wonder why people drop out. People get access to these files, they download them onto the computer, they can watch them later, there's no reason to stick around and continue to pay. The owners of these sites are wondering why they're losing customers every month.
Now, I'll tell you some examples that do work for recurring payments, lots of software for example. There's a particular piece of software I use called Basecamp which is not a membership site per se, but it's a project management software that I use to communicate with my team, and delegate tasks. It's not a membership per se, but if I stopped paying monthly, I'd lose my ability to easily organize my projects, and easily communicate with my team, and have all the archives of my existing projects there. I'd lose something if I were to stop paying, so that's why I continue to pay.
With a membership site, if it's simply to go through a course and I can finish, and there's nothing more after that. If there's nothing new that's coming in, then there's no reason for me to pay, so I leave. So in that case I would recommend just charging a one-time fee to get access, but not a monthly fee. If, however, you were to continually post and publish new content within this membership site each month, then people who would stop paying would lose out on something, so that justifies the monthly payment. A lot of times also, people will continue to pay monthly if there is a forum or some active community in that membership as well. And many times people find that that active community is the most valuable part of that membership, and something worth paying for because they would lose out on that communication, relationship building, and the information they can learn in there if they stop paying. Of course, that forum has to be active, and if it is, it is worth paying for typically.
So just some things to think about again. And also think about it from your audience's perspective. What's the best way to deliver the solutions you need to deliver to them. Membership site software can help you provide solutions, whether it's recurring or not, but it's not always the best choice depending on what it is exactly that you're delivering. Sometimes it can just be as simple as an ebook, and you can get paid quite well for publishing ebooks as opposed to creating a membership site. Just go to NathanBarry.com and you'll see what I'm talking about.
Let's get into the specific pieces of software. I know there's a ton of solutions out there on the market right now, most you will need to pay for. And yes, there are some that are free, but setting up a membership site isn't push-button easy. Some software is easier than others, but this is a really important element of your business if you're going to create one, and you want to make sure you have software that has support, software that will continually update . . . there's a team behind it that continually adds new features over time and stays with what's happening. So I would completely avoid any free membership site software for those specific reasons. If you're going to be doing a membership site, I would invest money into your business and pay for a legit piece of software or plugin that will do that for you, that will create this membership site for you.
The one that I use for my membership sites, the one in particular, Breakthrough Blogging, is a plugin called WP Wishlist. Which I know, Juliet, you said you've used before. I love WP Wishlist, which is a WordPress plugin actually, so you have to be using the WordPress platform for this to work and integrate with what you're doing. But it does integrate quite nicely with WordPress websites obviously . . . email service providers like AWeber, Mailchimp, Infusionsoft, and other payment solutions when you click payments like Paypal and One Shopping Cart. Most of the top membership software solutions, they do all that. And what works best for you is really based on personal preference. [Full Disclosure: As an affiliate, I receive compensation if you purchase through these links.]
But I like WP Wishlist. It’s run by a guy named Stu McLaren. I love that guy. He's one of the nicest guys I know. You can check him out at Stu.me if you want to learn more about him and what he does. He's one of the nicest guys I know. He invited me once to go to Africa with him to help build schools. He does that every year I think, which is awesome. I like that in a company founder. I know him personally, which is why I recommend him. I just wanted to let you know.
There are other pieces of software out there. I asked my audience, I asked a lot of people I trust what they use for their membership sites, and there's three other ones I want to mention here. There's one called Digital Access Pass, or DAP, Digital Access Pass, which I one I know a lot of people use as well and enjoy.
I got word from the guys over at Fizzle.co, which is Corbett Barr, Chase Reeves, and Caleb Wojcik. They use a membership site software called PM Pro, which stands for Paid Memberships Pro. If you got to PaidMembershipsPro.com you can check that out. That's not an affiliate link, I've never used that, and I don't promote anything as an affiliate if I've never used it before. But you can check that out, and I trust those guys' recommendation. PaidMembershipsPro.com. And again they run a great membership site over there at Fizzle.co.
They also mentioned they heard good things about Member Mouse at MemberMouse.com. And somebody I trust also, her name is Kim Roach, she mentioned how much she enjoys membermouse.com as well. It's a WordPress plugin just like WP Wishlist.
So I recommend you go to each of those websites and watch their videos and see what might work best for you. See what resonates with you the most and has the features that you want for your specific audience. Talk to their support if you have any questions, and if they respond obviously that's a great sign in some company that you might potentially want to work with.
It's great to have a ton of options. It’s always better for us as a customer, but these are the four I'm going to recommend based on my experience and talking with others that I trust: WP Wishlist, Digital Access Pass, Paid Memberships Pro, and Member Mouse.
Thanks to the guys from Fizzle.co for their help in recommendations with this, and again you can learn more about Fizzle and Honest Online Video Training for your online business at SmartPassiveIncome.com/fizzle. [Full Disclosure: As an affiliate, I receive compensation if you purchase through these links.]
Juliet, thank you so much for your question. I hope this helps you. There are many great solutions, and like I said, these are the four that I would do further research on. Best of luck to you and, of course, an AskPat t-shirt is coming your way for having your question featured on the show.
For those of you listening, if you have a question you'd like potentially featured on the show, head on over to AskPat.com and I'll see you there.
And finally, the quote of the day, this is by Eric Ries in a quote from his book The Lean Startup, which is one of my favorites. [Full Disclosure: As an Amazon affiliate, I receive compensation if you purchase through this link.] He says, “Build not only a product that can sell well, but a platform through which to deliver it.” So beyond the information that you're going to be providing in your membership site, you really want to make sure that the platform where that content is housed, or is located, is something that is also great for your user as well.
Cheers, have an awesome day, and I'll see you on the next episode of AskPat.