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Launch a membership site in 30 days

For creators who want to launch a membership site, get this guide on how to do it in 30 days. We show you, week by week, how to go from membership idea to launch.

October 2, 2020 by Cyn Meyer

You’ve been working hard at growing an audience for your online business ideas

This includes your social media following and email list. 

Nice work. 

Now, it’s time to monetize. 

If you’re exploring profitable digital product ideas, and want to create a membership site for your growing audience, you’ve landed in the right place. 

Today, we tell you everything you need to do to launch a successful membership site in 30 days. 

From vetting your ideas to recruiting members, our guide lays out all the steps you need, plus a coinciding timeframe, for creating a thriving membership site.

Without further ado, let’s get to it.

How to launch a membership site in 30 days

Week #1. Validate your ideas and plan your content

The first week of launching your membership site is all about vetting your ideas and mapping out your content. 

From days 1-7, we recommend getting in touch with your audience and conducting customer research to find out the best ways your membership program can serve your audience. 

To start, you can reach out to people on your email list and social channels and ask them to give feedback in a simple survey. 

Ask them questions about their problems and needs, like:

  • What are your biggest challenges when it comes to [topic]?
  • What do you want to learn more about?
  • How can I help you succeed?
  • What’s one thing that you need to succeed in [topic]?

To build your survey, you can use free tools like Typeform, SurveyMonkey, or Google Forms.

From there, send out your survey link through email and posting on your social channels.

Another effective way to better understand your audience’s needs is to hunt down relevant info from online forums, groups, and databases. This type of secondary research can work wonders for finding out what’s generally available on the market for your topic.

You can check out relevant discussions and chats in Facebook groups and online forums, like Reddit, to glean any useful insights into what people in your niche need and want. 

Let’s run through an example.

Suppose that you’re in the health niche and want to explore ideas for starting a yoga workout membership. A simple query for “yoga workouts” turns up a community with over 24,000 members on Reddit that you can tap into for intel. 

You can peruse through discussion threads and learn about any gaps on your niche topic. 

Better yet, join in on conversations and ask people directly about their desires and experiences. 

This information is gold, especially if you use it to inform how you serve your members. 

When it comes to creating content for your membership program, here’s our recommendation -- once you have a handle on what your audience needs and wants, you can tailor your membership content to help solve their problems. 

As you plan out your membership content, start by brain-dumping all of your ideas and then organize them into cohesive themes that outline your helpful content. 

Then, figure out the best formats for delivering your content.

For instance, Signature Edit’s Photography Marketing Membership program includes all access to specialty templates, presets, and online training courses. 

On the other hand, Open Studio Jazz’s All-Access Pass membership provides its members with access to unlimited courses by top jazz artists and downloadable PDFs of lead sheets, worksheets, and practice resources.

Needless to say, what’s important here is that you customize your membership content to suit your members’ needs. 

In sum:

During your first week of creating your membership, dive into your audience’s perspective by asking them directly about their needs and problems and conducting market research. 

After that, brainstorm ways your membership site will help solve their problems and decide on formats for delivering your content.  

Next up is putting all the details together. 

Week #2. Create your content and membership site

During your second week of building your membership site, it’s time to piece together your content and backend logistics. 

As a creator, this should be the fun part -- even with the heavy lifting involved. 

If it feels overwhelming, no worries. We’ve got some creation guides to reference covering a wide variety of content formats:

What’s important here isn’t as much the formats you choose, but rather, creating content that helps your members achieve their desired result -- which you can do by focusing on walking them step-by-step to their goal.

And if you don’t ace the content creation part of your membership straight out of the gate, that’s OK.

The beauty of running a membership site is it’s an ever-evolving digital product, where you can add and release new content regularly over time. This gives you breathing room to ship pieces of helpful content incrementally and cater to your members’ needs as you go.

Particularly if you’re a perfectionist, this takes some pressure off, no?

As far as creating a home for all of your helpful membership content, that’s a much more straightforward step -- especially if you use a streamlined platform like Podia. 

(But don’t take my word for it. You can test the all-in-one dashboard for yourself using this 14-day no-obligation trial.) 

To create a membership site using Podia, head over to the “Memberships” menu and click on the “Plans” tab.

Then, click “Add new plan”.

Next, add a name, set a price, and select the digital products you want your members to have access to. Finally, hit “Publish plan” when you’re ready. 

You can also add updated posts by heading to the “Posts” tab and clicking “Create a post” to add your latest content. 

Pretty straightforward, right?

Whether or not you go with an all-in-one platform, the main takeaway is to create valuable membership content, and then upload it to a membership site management platform that lets you easily provide your members access to it.  

Once your membership home is all tidied up, it’s time to invite your first visitors.

Week #3. Invite beta members and iterate based on their feedback

From days 15 to about 22, focus on testing out your new membership with beta members. 

This is an ideal time to engage with live members and gather feedback from them to tweak and improve your membership before officially launching to everyone else.

A great way to beta launch your membership program is to invite people who are already a big fan of your brand to join. 

You can incentivize their participation with a discounted offer and make them feel like a VIP. 

After all, 60% of consumers love to receive digital coupons and another 68% think they generate loyalty.

Plus, since you already have a great relationship with your super users and best customers, turning them into beta members who are willing to provide honest feedback about your newest digital product is a natural fit.

If you’re using Podia, you can create a trial membership level for your beta users, and set a special beta price for a week-long membership. Check it out:

With or without a trial membership though, after inviting your beta users to join your new site, you need to engage and ask for feedback.

If you’re wondering how many beta members to shoot for, a small group between 5-15 people is sufficient to gauge their overall member experience.

As far as how to gather your data, no need to reinvent the wheel here. You can follow the same format from your customer research during the first week and ask your beta users for feedback in a survey. 

Some feedback questions to ask your beta members are:

  • Do they think your membership delivers what you promised?
  • Is everything easy to understand? Easy to navigate?
  • What can you improve?
  • What do they like best? Least?

Since there’s a smaller audience size in your beta member group, you can hop on a phone call or live chat and have one-on-one conversations about their customer experience. 

Either way, once you have feedback from your beta members, you’ll know exactly where to iterate and improve your membership before officially launching it to the public.

While it may seem like a lot of energy to invest upfront, gathering these details about your customer experience is vital. So much so that customer experience is expected to overtake both price and product as a key way to differentiate brands.

What’s more, 86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience, so optimizing the customer experience in your new membership program is a pretty big deal.

All in all:

Your third week of creating your membership site is all about engaging with your beta users and testing the waters. With their golden feedback, you can tweak and improve your membership, so it’s ready for your official launch. 

Now for the home stretch.  

Week #4. Announce, promote, and launch your membership site

With a shiny new membership site that’s been fine-tuned to your audience’s liking, you’re ready to accept new members. 

During your final week before launch date, focus on creating buzz and marketing your membership all the way up to day 30.

What’s the best way to get the word out?

We’ve got two main recommendations for you -- email and social media. 

Let’s start with the first. These days, email marketing is still the uncontested king. 

With 59% of consumers claiming marketing emails influence their purchase decisions, and over 50% purchasing from marketing emails at least once a month, it’s vital to deploy an email sequence that entices your audience to join your membership.

If you’re looking for an email series to follow, we’ve got your back with these product launch email templates

Otherwise, these are the types of emails you need:

  • Pre-launch emails - build up excitement and anticipation
  • Launch emails - announce the big reveal and build trust in your membership
  • Follow-up emails - answer questions and overcome objections

The other major marketing channel to tackle is social media marketing. 

Follow the same pattern as your launch email sequence and build up hype among your social audience, which primes your audience for your big launch day. 

Then, continue to create buzz as you announce and launch your membership in social posts and live videos. 

Check out how founder of The Elevate Membership, Deep Bajwa, hosts a Facebook Live video to announce her membership launch to her audience in the wedding industry.

One social post with 324 comments is pretty impressive for building hype around her membership launch, right?

Beyond your organic (a.k.a., free) methods of announcing and promoting your new membership, if you have the room in your ad budget, consider slicing out some ad dollars and putting it toward social media ads.

If you’re wondering where to invest your ad spend, first, test out ad campaigns on the platform that your audience frequents the most. 

So, if you’re a big YouTuber, consider YouTube ads. If your following is the largest on Facebook, head to Facebook’s Ads Manager before spending on other channels. You get the gist.

It’s worth mentioning, though, that regardless of which platform has the biggest following for your brand, chances are, you’ll attract new members to your program using Facebook. 

Facebook is still the most widely used social channel, with 68% of U.S. adults reporting to use the platform.

If your largest audience is on a channel outside of Facebook -- say, Pinterest -- a good strategy is to purchase a Pinterest campaign and then retarget people who engage with your ad on Facebook. 

Ad strategies aside, the extra exposure to ideal members could be worth the ad spend, especially if you get your targeting right. 

Targeting options are pretty robust on today’s social ad platforms, so if you know enough about your ideal members and clients, you can pinpoint specific demographic details about the audience you want to attract. 

You can even target custom audiences of people who have visited specific pages on social channel king, Facebook, as an example. 

(Sidenote: For more social media details, check out our comprehensive guide on social media for small businesses.)

Whether you use paid or organic marketing tactics, the gist of it is this:

Announce and promote your exciting new membership using email and social media marketing all the way up until launch day. 

After that, congrats to you -- it’s time to relish in your new membership community, which can only grow and improve from here, so long as you continue to focus on better understanding and serving your members’ needs.

See why Podia is the best platform for selling memberships

Join a live demo to see how Podia's all-in-one platform can help you grow your business. Every Tuesday at 4PM ET.

Ready, set, launch your membership site in 30 days from now   

Creating, promoting, and launching a membership site doesn’t have to be an overwhelming project if you stay on pace with a guided timeline. 

Here’s our proposed four-week membership launch agenda for you:

  • Week #1. Validate your membership ideas among your current audience and map out your content.
  • Week #2. Determine your content formats and create your membership content. Then choose a membership site platform and upload your content.
  • Week #3. Test your membership site with live beta students and actively engage with them and gather feedback to improve your program.
  • Week #4. Use email and social media marketing to announce and promote your new membership up until launch date.

Excited to launch your membership site? We’re excited for you.

May you have the best 30 days creating and making it happen.  

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