You already have a blog or site that's well followed in your niche. Now you want to give your community a new way to support your work, so you're thinking about starting a membership website.
You're excited (you should be!) so you start planning a huge catalogue of members only content. You also start writing an outline for a new members only ebook and designing some t-shirts.
Planning a complex strategy and writing members only content is the last thing you need to do right now. Why?
Your most avid supporters and readers are going to sign up anyway, even if you offer them nothing in return.
Yes, you read that correctly. They'll pay you because they want to support your work. Nothing more. Every day you wait to start your membership site is potentially costing you money.
The first step is to get some simple membership software like Memberful set up with your website, and announce that option to your loyal supporters. Use the announcement post to plan out what you'll offer and solicit some feedback from your community. Most importantly, this will get you selling right away. It will also lay the ground work for offering some paid content in the future.
Now leverage your existing content
Now that you've got your membership software set up and you've sold through to your most loyal readers, you can write your first members only blog post, and start planning a strategy for your membership site.
Pick a topic that's been popular on your blog in the past and write something comprehensive and helpful around that subject. Take some time to analyze some of your previous content, but don't stress about writing the perfect post. Your goal is to write these posts on a regular schedule and slowly build your membership by offering ongoing and demonstrated value to your community.
If you're using Memberful, it's easy to protect WordPress content. Select a paid plan and write out a quick pitch to anyone who hasn't yet become a member. Active members will automatically see the paid content, and everyone else will see your pitch. It's a good idea to include some kind of teaser content in the pitch itself, so your audience can get a real taste of what the whole article will offer.
Once you get started, it's important to commit to offering regular paid content on your blog. The more ongoing value and special access your members feel they're getting, the happier they'll be paying you each month or each year.
As your membership grows keep thinking of new ideas for your membership site. If you're using WordPress and Memberful, adding a members only discussion forum with bbPress is incredibly simple. As you grow, you may even want to use a more complete community building tool like BuddyPress, which also works right out of the box with Memberful and WordPress.
Remember, the important part is to start offering memberships now. You don't need a complex plan. Paid content and all of these extras can be added over time as you build value around your membership site.