My 5 Biggest Failures Growing My Membership Sites
Failures are the only way you grow, right? I’ve learned from every single failure even though some were pretty hard to take.
Running a membership site is not easy. It’s not for everyone. But it is for me. I tried and tried to build my membership sites until things finally came into place in 2016 thanks to my incredible membership site mentor, Stu McLaren. Stu is the founder of Wishlist Member which is a software I have been using in my business and for all of my online courses since I started seven years ago. He’s also the creator of the very BEST training program out there on starting and growing a profitable membership site called TRIBE.
You can sign up for his free workshop now at www.classycareergirl.com/tribeworkshop
My 5 Biggest Failures Growing My Membership Sites
Failure #1: Quitting My First Membership Site in 2014
In March 2014, I failed. I was 6 months pregnant and decided that I had no choice but to quit a membership site called The Get Ahead Club that I had started a year ago in 2013. It had 50 members. People were engaged. I had no problem getting guests to interview for the membership site. People were leaving the membership but people were also coming so I was staying at a steady number.
But, I wasn’t growing. I was plateauing.
The price to become a member was only $15 per month. Let’s do the math. I was making $750 per month which is a great side income but I needed to quit my day job. I needed to stay home with my baby I was about to give birth to and watch her grow. I worked too damn hard on my blog over the last 5 years. I did not want to go back to my draining day job after maternity leave. I had to figure something out.
My husband thought I was crazy to quit something he viewed as passive income. It was far from passive though. I was stressed keeping that membership site running and it kept me up at night. I was coordinating our guest calls. I was handling the member questions and the credit card payments and the administrative craziness that comes with managing a membership site. Someone didn’t have access to a level they were supposed to have access to and I had to fix it. Someone else needed to change their credit card and I had to fix it while also still planning the content that was going to be on the membership site for the members next week. It was craziness and all while I was launching a book and preparing for my daughter to enter the world.
I just couldn’t keep up especially trying to figure out how I was going to take a month or two off when my daughter came. I had no one to help me and I was tired. I didn’t love it anymore and I just couldn’t keep up. The $750 per month was just not worth it when I wasn’t growing. So I failed and closed the doors.
Failure #2: Completely Overwhelming Myself and ALL of My Members
When I started creating membership sites, I thought there was just one type of membership.
Thanks to my mentor, Stu Mclaren, I have now learned that there are PLENTY of different kinds of membership sites and you can create one that fits you and your personality the best. The only membership I knew was the type of membership where you have to publish new content on a weekly or monthly basis for your members. So I thought that I had to give hour-long trainings on a weekly basis and give juicy stuff for my members to stay and feel like they got their money’s worth.
Here’s basically what I was praying and saying, “Please stay! Here’s more content!! Please stay! Here’s more content!!”
Here’s what happened instead though….It backfired because the very second that a member gets overwhelmed and feels like they can’t do it, they leave. When you have a membership site, you have to simplify things and only give a little bit each week or month.
My failure was that I overwhelmed my members big time. I love to teach so give me an hour and a video recorder and I will overwhelm you and tell you ever single thing you need to do. Some of my hour-long trainings could have been broken down into 8-week courses. For real!
Not only was I overwhelming my members, I was overwhelming myself. I couldn’t keep up with trying to create new content each week for two membership sites at the same time. Something had to give and that’s when you plateau. When you are barely keeping up each week and you can’t even take a week off to give yourself a break. I couldn’t focus and work on the actual marketing campaign to launch and grow my membership site because I was just trying to keep up with creating content for our members.
I needed space. I learned from Stu, if you are overwhelmed it means your members are overwhelmed too.
Make sure you sign-up for Stu McLaren’s Recurring Revolution free workshop at www.classycareergirl.com/tribeworkshop
3. Doing Everything Myself and Being Scared To Delegate
I think this is a very common mistake for many entrepreneurs. Can anyone do anything better than you? This business is your baby, how can you trust someone else to do a good job? Just because I can do everything, doesn’t mean I should. It took me a long time to ask for help growing and managing my membership site. Most of the reason that my first membership site (see #1) had to be stopped was because I couldn’t do it all by myself. Especially, when the community is growing you really need help to start getting engagement from members.
I have since hired so many people to help me out. And guest what, things work and your membership will grow when you aren’t running around trying to do everything yourself. That’s a recipe for burnout, failure and disaster. It’s tough but putting together a training plan and teaching others everything you know frees you up to do what you do best. If you’ve mastered it and it’s something that others can do, it’s time to let it go and move on.
Looking back, in order for that first membership site to succeed, instead of closing it, I just needed to hire help. So to me that’s even more of a leadership failure. Not being able to get the right people on the boat to help you sail. That’s what I have done differently now with my two membership sites. I have the right people to help me so that I can work on providing as much value as possible to our members.
4. Starting a Membership For Myself Not For My Members
To run a membership site, you have to keep giving your members what they want. But, what if you don’t even know what they want? Then, you’re in trouble like I was. I started a membership site for the passive income. It sounded cool. To have monthly recurring income was the dream. That would be amazing. So I started a membership site the next day. Luckily it worked because we did quickly grow to 25 members paying $10 per month right when I started. I thought I had it made until…it…just…never…grew.
Plateauing is not fun. My mistake was that I started it for me. I thought it would be cool to have this passive income stream. I never researched my ideal clients. I didn’t even have an ideal client. My monthly membership content was on a large variety of topics. There was no success path taking them to where they wanted to be. If they didn’t like the content I had planned for the next month, they quit. That was that.
This was before I split out my trainings into two target markets, women who are job searching and women who want to start businesses. If you want to start a business, you don’t want resume tips right? Well, in my first membership site, you got resume tips that you could care less about. Ugh, it still makes me cringe.
Now that I have the two separate membership sites, you can join Corporate Rescue Plan if you want to start a business and Love Your Career Formula if you want job searching and resume tips. It’s a lot to have two at once and I don’t recommend it to start but the marketing is SO MUCH simpler now because my customers aren’t confused with random content that doesn’t apply to them. Not only that but each membership now has a very clear success path leading them to where they are when they start to where they want to be. It’s all laid out and there are even checklists so they know what they need to do next. See how much can be learned by my first horrible failure!
5. Lazy Marketing and Too Scared To Launch
There’s really no other words to describe this besides lazy marketing. I had no marketing plan. There was no plan with my first membership site to launch throughout the year. It was just open and I would occasionally blog about it and hold teleseminars. No wonder it didn’t grow!!
You might think this is crazy that I didn’t have a marketing plan in 2013 because you all know I love to plan. I have free planners all over this blog you are reading right now. I am a planner. I plan my meals, my workouts, my schedule and my to-do list. But planning my marketing was icky. I didn’t know how to do it at all.
I also didn’t think I liked launching. I actually stopped launching anything for a year because I hated launching. I thought I didn’t have the personality to do a big launch that includes video series and open and closing the cart. When I did it previously, I just got so stressed because I was doing the entire launch by myself while also still trying to take care of current members.
There were way too many balls in the air. I have since learned how to launch and had a very successful launch in January welcoming 70 wonderful new members to Corporate Rescue Plan after the Freedom Workshop. Here’s another thing, that launch was the most fun I have ever had. I followed exactly the launch model that Stu teaches and I’ll be telling you more about his free workshop coming up soon so stay tuned!
When you have a plan, launches aren’t hard. When you create space and time to launch the right way so you aren’t stressed and overwhelmed writing emails and creating facebook ads last minute, you surpass your goals. Gone are the days of launching something next week. Everything we do now is carefully planned out and I am not scared to launch anymore because launches are fun.
Note: Make sure you download a brand new Ebook I just created called The 6 Secrets to a Successful Membership Site. You can download the free Ebook here. This Ebook contains all of my success strategies that grew my membership sites from 100 members to 470 members in just 6 months.
Also, make sure you sign-up for Stu’s Recurring Revolution free workshop at www.classycareergirl.com/tribeworkshop