A Membership Site is a website that only allows members to visit.  These sites usually require members to pay a monthly fee to belong.  The common thread among the members is passion for a particular topic.  That topic may be about a particular car, or a particular type of cooking, or a particular hobby.  The owner of the membership site is usually perceived as an expert on the topic.  Although most members join the site because of the promise of information on their niche, many of them continue paying for their membership because of a sense of community.  If you are passionate about a particular topic, there are probably thousands of people in the Internet universe who are also passionate about that topic.  If this describes you, you can operate that membership site.

Why would someone want to operate a membership site?  I am sure that some people answer that question by saying that their passion drove them to begin the site.  However, I am sure that many people do it simply for the money.  Those passionate members are each paying a monthly fee to belong.  Even if it is only $10 per month, a site with 250 members results in an income of $2,500 per month.  Once the site is active, and you have those members, the time cost of maintaining this site is a part time job.

What does it take to start a membership site?

1. First you need a topic.  In particular, a niche topic.  As we have already stated, it is best if you are passionate about this topic.

2. Secondly, content.  You must have high quality content in order to both attract and retain your members.  Don’t forget, they are spending money every month and expect quality in return.

3. Third, you need some technical expertise.  The membership site will require software to maintain memberships.  The forum will also require special software.  Knowing how to install and maintain the various types of software will be a valuable ability.

There are alternatives to running your own membership site.

1. Find a partner.  If you have the niche idea, you can find a technical partner.  This obviously would require some legal papers in order to determine how work and profits are shared.

2. Find a membership site that offers an affiliate program.  The site owner has already created this site and will share the profits with people who do the marketing.  Your job would be to find potential members and in return receive a monthly residual income for all that join. That residual income is quite often 50% of the membership fee, but may be a different percentage as well.

3. There is another model that borrows from the first two. In this model you pay an up front fee, and you then get to keep all the monthly fees from the members you find.  In addition to the fee you pay to join, there may be a monthly fee as well.  Again, you find new members, and the site’s owner finds a topic, content, and a technical support team.

A great example of this structure is the new MemberSnap system started by Eric Louviere. You can read  more about the inner workings of this method by going to the MemberSnap site.

In summary, the beauty of a Membership Site is the ongoing, or residual income model that is used.  Keep your members happy with fresh, quality content. Keep your members feeling part of a community and they will gladly pay their membership fee for many months to come.

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