Membership site handbook
A practical guide to building a successful subscription business.
Chapter Five: Launching
You’ve done the research, grown an audience, set your pricing, and built your site — now it’s time to share it with the world. We get it, this can be an intimidating time. You’ve most likely spent years, money, and, not to mention, a ton of effort in establishing your online presence and now you might be asking, “What if I don't get any subscribers once I go live?" We hear you and we want to help! Here are a few foolproof strategies to get you moving forward confidently and successfully launch your membership site.
Test the waters before jumping in
At the point of launch, you should be well past your initial market research but that doesn’t mean you should stop experimenting. Releasing a “beta” style version of your membership can cue you into what subscribers are looking for, how much they’re willing to pay, and even help you tweak things like your content delivery method.
Talia Koren, of meal plan subscription site Workweek Lunch recently shared that before launching her meal plan-based membership site, she not only tested whether or not her subscribers would purchase her membership, but she tested her own ability to create fresh content to keep up with the subscription. Koren shared, “I did a beta test of the subscription without Memberful, first. I took 50 email subscribers that I chose for this free trial and did that for three weeks before I launched just to see if it was sticky and to see if I could come up with a new meal plan every week."
Don’t be afraid to charge
We know it can feel icky to ask for money, but it’s important to realize that building revenue through your business not only makes it possible for you to sustain a living, it makes it possible for you to provide better tools, better resources, and better quality content to your audience. If you’ve been seeding your website with content for years like Hayden Hill at PianoGroove did, chances are you’ve already given your audience quality information while working for free, and they’d love to return the favor by paying for your content.
Another way of looking at building revenue from your site is that you’re simply ending a free trial. That’s how Talia Koren got over the hump of asking subscribers to pay for meal plans that were previously free: “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 they 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 do that with buying a membership.”
If you’re worried about pushing some subscribers away, you can always offer a free version of your content and services while still making money from gated premium options.
Build excitement with engagement
Think of your official launch like a summer blockbuster movie. Months before, you start to see teaser trailers, interviews with the stars and hints at what the movie is about which make you want to show up on the premiere day. This same approach can be used when rolling out your membership site! Here are some ideas we’ve seen creators use to get their audience excited and engaged in their launch:
- Post a countdown on social media so that followers who engage with you are privy to your launch.
- Email your subscribers that something big is coming, but instead of giving the details, tease information so that they become more and more interested in what the big news is.
- Offer limited discounts and bonuses to followers who sign up for your subscription on launch day.
- Give a few loyal followers free access to your membership offering so that you can gather testimonials and/or case studies for social proof.
Be patient, but don’t wait
There’s a sweet spot between growing your audience, planning your launch, and actually launching. All of the strategies listed in this post can help you confidently launch but remember: don’t get so in the weeds of how you can start that you’re afraid to start at all.