Back in the early nineties, The Wall Street Journal featured a story about sports-lover Don Schoenewald. After thirteen paid team mascot jobs and four mascot character creations (including ones for the New Jersey Devils and the San Jose Sharks), Don went on to start the first professional training school for mascots in the world. Since then several other schools have popped up and Schoenewald has moved on to other things. Still, it is a great example of an entrepreneur tapping into the best capital there is – his own intellectual capital!
Training others to do what you do is a great way to “monetize” your knowledge and experience. But it’s not the only way. There are lots of different ways to “package” and sell what you know − teaching on- or off-line classes, getting your own syndicated radio show, writing a book and so on. But there is another lesser-known way to turn your interests into income. And, it’s the only way I know that is actually designed to generate a steady and relatively predictable flow of income on a monthly basis.
If You Want a Continuous Stream of Income, Create a “Continuity” Program
From the book of the month club of my youth to the Netflix automatic DVD rental model of today, member clubs have always been popular with consumers, often referred to as “continuity” or “subscription” programs. It’s easy to see the appeal. Members like the idea that for a flat monthly fee they’re guaranteed exclusive access to a continuous flow of information, resources, entertainment, support, or products of interest.
Continuity programs also provide two other things consumers want – convenience and affordability. Traditionally, if you wanted to join a professional association or subscribe to a magazine, you paid your annual dues or subscription upfront. However, thanks to the Internet, organizations like Consumer Reports Magazine will automatically bill your credit card in smaller monthly installments. In exchange, subscribers get exclusive online access to product reports not available to non-members.
If you’re tuned into the Internet marketing world, then it will come as no surprise that continuity programs are all the rage. It may surprise you to learn that some of the most successful member programs have nothing whatsoever to do with Internet marketing. People are running member programs in such diverse niches as embroidery, jazz guitar…even sky diving!
What about the benefits to you as an entrepreneur? By far the biggest benefit of operating a member program is money. Or, more specifically, the consistency of cash flow. As long as you make good on your promise to consistently deliver quality content, as a member program owner, you’ll receive a steady flow of revenue in the form of member fees. We’ll talk more about income potential in a minute.
Anyone Can Start a Member Program
What I want you to understand is that anyone can start a member program. Even you! Not too long ago Ryan Lee was struggling to get by as a physical education teacher in the Bronx. Today he runs 48 different membership sites − all in the health, fitness, and sports training field − and by all accounts Ryan is a millionaire.
I learned about Ryan through Tim Kerber, the co-creator of a membership software company called Member Gate. Over the past eight years, Tim’s company has helped over 400 clients start member sites. A little over a year ago, Tim wisely decided to build on his own expertise, and that of people like Ryan and other subject matter experts, to start (are you ready?) a membership site for membership site owners. MembershipSiteOwner.com is a great place for new member site owners like me to continue to grow and learn.
Then, last spring, Ryan and Tim pooled their knowledge at a two-day Membership Site Bootcamp in West Palm Beach, Florida. Despite the $2,500 price tag, the event sold out quickly. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make the bootcamp. But I was excited to hear that they are busy packaging up all of the course content (and more) into some sort of step-by-step self-study program.
In the meantime, Ryan and Tim have produced a series of short (and free) videos based on the live workshop. The videos are a way to raise awareness about the revenue potential of member sites, to share some meaty content from their live event, and to generate excitement prior to the launch of the self-study program later this summer. Of course, when you hear some of the numbers, it’s hard not to be excited!
When you watch the first video, you’ll see some monthly revenue stats from actual member sites. Some are making $5,000 a month while others are making significantly more. Although making upwards of $208,000 a month may seem like a lot of hype, I’ve met enough people in this business to know that these kinds of numbers – while at the top of the income curve − are entirely plausible.
Numbers make my head hurt (just ask Lisa). So I particularly appreciate the part in the video where Tim uses the analogy of compound interest to explain how adding just one new member a day can pretty rapidly grow a relatively small member list into a very robust program. But what really got my attention was when he points out how having a member site increases the future re-sell value of your business!
For people who enjoy feeling a part of a larger community as I do, running a member program also provides a less tangible, but nonetheless important, benefit. Depending on how you structure your member program, you will feel a certain kinship between yourself and others who share your particular interest or passion. While I certainly don’t “know” all 250+ members of the Fast Track Your Dream Community, I feel like I do!
Information Will Set You Free
If you have a tendency to stay stuck because of fear, then repeat after me: “I don’t have enough information right now to be afraid or excited.” When it comes to changing course, information will set you free. That’s because the greater your knowledge, the greater your options and the less risky change becomes.
So get informed. Sign up to watch these short videos now.
Like I said, information is what will set you free. So, as you watch the video series, I’d like you to do two things. One, jot down any questions and/or ideas you have about member programs. Two, pay attention to any inner dialogue that is self-enabling or self-defeating. Then fill in these blanks…
- The biggest question I have about starting and running a member program is….
- The first idea that springs to mind is….
- I know I can do this because…
- The reason I know I could never do this is…
In the next newsletter I’m going to talk about the “bad thinking” that may be keeping you from profiting from your experience. I’m also going to show you how a few different continuity programs work. And, I’ll tell you the one step you absolutely must take prior to launching ANY product or service – including a member program.
Whether your passion is salsa, gardening, art, or wrestling, there are a myriad of ways to turn what you already know into your livelihood. If you are drawn to the idea of a more regular, predictable income stream that has the potential to be extremely profitable, then running your own member site may be something worth exploring.