Cooking up a successful membership site.
How Workweek Lunch found the recipe for membership success.
“I used to be a health journalist. I was on the other side writing dieting articles and I knew all along, ‘this is not right, I hate telling people this.’ I just hated that I was writing stuff that I knew was negative. There are so many ways to go about being healthy that have nothing to do with trying to lose weight. I wanted to teach people that there are better or more important things to accomplish in life than losing 50 pounds then regaining it.” That was the original mission behind Talia Koren’s Instagram account, Workweek Lunch, where she shares menus, meal plans, and advice with thousands of healthy food lovers. “The Instagram took off because it was easy to stand out in a place where people were just hearing the same things over and over again — counting calories and whatever else people don’t want to do because they know it doesn’t work. I came in with my intuitive eating and anti-diet and it was really refreshing for people.” Standing out gave Koren the opportunity to amass 140k engaged Instagram followers, however, she had no idea at the time that she could convert those followers into paying subscribers. “I knew that monetization was always part of it from day one, but didn’t know that a membership would be part of it.” After learning about subscription and membership site models earlier this year, Koren took the leap toward monetization by launching the Workweek Lunch meal prep program.
First, the test kitchen.
Instead of jumping in and immediately trying to convert her followers into subscribers Koren focused on experimentation and beta testing before launching her subscription site. Her test gave her valuable insights that made it easier to launch, and in her opinion, any creator starting a membership site should not only test whether or not their followers are willing to become subscribers, but also make sure they have the bandwidth to keep up the content needed to maintain the membership site. “My advice is to treat everything like a test. Try different things, take small groups and test things. I did a beta test of the subscription without Memberful first. I took 50 email subscribers that I chose for a free trial and did that for three weeks before I launched to see if it was sticky and to see if I could come up with a meal plan every week.” Koren also shared eBooks and one-off downloads with her followers to see if they were interested in downloading content long before she decided on subscriptions.
One of the strategies Koren used as she came closer to the official launch was boosting follower and subscriber excitement by hinting at what she was about to share. “I built up a lot of anticipation prior to the launch. I made [my followers] guess at what I was going to launch and they were all like ‘cookbook!’ They had no idea what I was going to launch, I kept it a secret and put it together in just two months.” Koren also put all of her pre-launch research into play by using what she had learned from her beta test and by taking advantage of her growing email list and social media followers. “It took a lot of planning and I made sure to use both channels available to me— email and Instagram. I also gave my customers a bonus for signing up in the first week and I got three hundred sign-ups in those first weeks.”
Pricing the menu.
Although Koren knew she was ready to start driving revenue for Workweek Lunch, she was still nervous about how her followers would react to her new membership plan, and whether or not they would be turned off by asking them to pay for her meal plans. “That was really hard to get over because I’d been giving away recipes away for free for two years. I just kept telling myself that [my followers] were basically on a two-year free trial. They saw what I had to offer and the people who really supported me jumped at the opportunity to buy a membership." Because of Koren’s testing, engagement, and willingness to experiment with what her subscribers wanted, she quickly found success after launching her membership. “I have 750 members in just two months. It grew way faster than I thought it would grow.”