Online Membership Sites - Should You Join One?

For those of you who aren't sure what a membership site is, it's a website where members pay to be a part of it, usually to get help in a particular area.

Depending on the gravity of the topic (how specific and severe a problem the site is focusing on) the prices vary drastically. There are some memberships at $5 annually, some at $5 per month, others are at $397 annually, and some thousands per month. As you can see, prices vary drastically.

Another factor in the pricing is the reputation of the owner (expert). Then there is also the amount of information and the services offered.  This all plays a part in membership pricing.

I just subscribed to a site that offered WordPress training (just to see if I could pick up a couple of tips), it was $10 a month or $24 per year. Being a former accountant, I did the cost efficient thing and opted for the $24.

The site consisted of around 20 videos, about 10 minutes each. They were on the very basics of WordPress – that was it.

Two Lessons Learned:

1. It might be a good idea to opt for the monthly fee, even if it's just for a month, so you can determine if the site has what you need. If it does, opt for the long-term, cheaper rate. If it doesn't, unsubscribe.

2. Don't underestimate your skills. There are a number of worthwhile programs, sites, and courses online that warrant the investment, but, before you jump in know exactly what you'll be getting. There will be those membership sites, programs, etc., that teach less than what you already know (sometimes much less).

Finding a ‘Good’ Membership Site

There are loads of experts out there vying for your ‘dollar.’ So, how do you pick a membership site that will provide you with what you need? A membership site that will move your forward in your area of choice.

First thing is to determine if you need a membership site. Can you get by with the information in an ebook, or maybe an ecourse? This is something you’ll need to figure out.

A lot of people like the connection and access to the expert/s, and want the ongoing and updated information. They also like the community of members who are like-minded and struggling to the same end. This allows for a much wider ‘help pool.’ Members often end up helping each other. There are also big organizational membership sites like the National Association of Professional Women – women join for the networking aspects.

Once you’ve decided you want to be part of a membership site, the first action step is to ask around for one that’s worth the cost. A good place to ask is ‘big’ sites in the topic or area you’re interested in. For example if you’re looking for writing and online marketing you might visit WOW! Women on Writing. Send a message asking for help through their contact page.

Site’s like this deal with a lot of professionals and will probably be able to recommend someone.

You can also do an online search.

Once you find a membership site you’re interested in, check out what’s being offered:

•    Is it member interactive – is there a member forum?
•    Is the information updated regularly with new helpful content to keep you moving forward?
•    Is the ‘expert’ active on the site – will she respond to hot topics and questions?
•    Will there be bonus content, like screen-sharing webinars or videos?

In her promotional material, the ‘expert’ should have a detailed outline of what you can expect. Then of course find out the cost. Many sites offer a monthly and yearly option, the yearly being less expensive.

Do your homework if you’re interested in a membership site to find one that’s right for you.

What do you think of membership sites? Would you join one?

P.S. Like this post? Please share it!


7 Elements of an Effective Landing Page Designed to Increase Your Mailing List P1
4 Tips to an Effective Subscriber Opt-in Email Box
Article Marketing – Reprint Strategies Pros and Cons


Kathleen Moulton said...

Karen, this is excellent information.

I was fortunate. The first membership site I joined helped me the way I needed to be helped. I live in a rural area and there aren't options for a writing group. That's one reason I joined. I needed something!

You are right. There's lots of good information out there you may not have to pay for. But as you pointed out, it's good to figure out what it is you need.


Unknown said...

Very informative post. I want to begin presenting ecourses. I thought a free membership site with a forum would be to the advantage of the people who paid money for the ecourse.

Karen Cioffi said...

Kathy, it's so true that if you find a quality membership site it can be tremendously helpful. Glad you found one that worked.

Karen Cioffi said...

Retha, I's so glad you found the post informative. LOL You can't be a free membership site for those who paid for the ecourse is a great idea - a valuable bonus.

It can also be done the other way around - subscription into a site for the ecourse and bonuses.

widdershins said...

Here's a blog chock-full of free wordpress stuff:

... and not just for beginners either!

Karen Cioffi said...

Widder, thanks for sharing!

Dr John Yeoman said...

As a man who runs a membership program at Writers' Village I must declare an interest. That said, I think you're spot on when you say that you get what you pay for. Plenty of writing programs (for example) are free but the quality of their advice tends, in my experience, to be babyish. One determinant of a worthwhile program is, as you point out, that the expert is visibly in the loop - answering questions and working on people's materials.

That might well justify a $300+ pa subscription. Where else could you get such help so cheaply? But make sure the program has not hidden the Cancel button! You need to feel you can test the program at a negligible cost and opt out at any time without penalty.

Vivian Zabel said...

Karen, one membership group of which I'm a member does have free membership, which does limit some access but still offers much. Then there are several levels of membership, each offering more portfolio storage and benefits:

Members range from rank beginners to published authors.

Morgan Mandel said...

I won't pay for an online membership site, except for EPIC, which has a nominal fee, and is actually an organization.

I also belong to local and national RWA, MWA and Sisters in Crime.

I also belong to tons of online groups that don't charge. The members there have been very generous with their pointers.

Morgan Mandel

Karen Cioffi said...

John, I agree, you do get what you pay for, or don't pay for. And, there should absolutely be a grace period if you find the membership site isn't what you thought it would be.

Interestingly, I'd like to know how to work that on a site that offers the information upfront. What's to stop someone from signing up and then leaving after a week, after downloading all the information.

Karen Cioffi said...

Vivian, That's actually a good idea, having the option of the level of involvement and payment.

I've heard of; I'll have to look into it.

Karen Cioffi said...

Morgan, I belong to three paid memberships sites, each in different fields. I find if I want 'expert' information and guidance it's usually necessary to pay for it. This is especially true if it's with someone who's knowledge and information I value.

That said, there are a number of free groups that are helpful and have much to offer - I belong to a number 'free' groups and find them very helpful.