The membership model is popular among online business owners for a number of reasons.
For starters, you’re able to create a recurring income stream as opposed to servicing customers regularly on a one-on-one basis. Whether you’re a business coach, online consultant, or someone who provides services to customers or clients, chances are you’ll benefit from moving your service business to the membership model.
In this article, we’ll explain why you should switch your online business to a membership model instead of giving one-on-one services to your clients. We’ll also talk about some of the ways you can integrate memberships and subscriptions into your service business.
Let’s get started.
Disadvantages of the Service Business Model
The negatives of a service-based business outweigh the positives any given day.
For instance, it is more than likely that the amount of money you make will be in direct proportion to the time (and service) you provide your clients. This means that if you are not there, your business will cease to function.
Ask yourself if your customers really test your limits and help you step out your comfort zone enabling you to make full use of your knowledge and skills? If you’re like most service providers, the answer is probably not.
Nothing is more exasperating for entrepreneurs than their resources and skills being under-utilized or their work being under-appreciated. Having to pay taxes, not receiving invoice payments, dealing with complaining customers is easy to handle. But having to go through the rat race without an end goal will leave just about anyone disappointed.
Advantages of Switching to the Membership Model
Switching your service-based business over to the membership model certainly has its benefits. To name a few:
- You have more leverage. Making a membership website around a focused niche will enable you to make full use of your knowledge, skills, talents, and past experience. It gives you the freedom to share your knowledge with others through various platforms. For instance, your membership website can have video tutorials, a forum, and a community.
- You’re able to setup a reliable source of income. By offering your services to hundreds of customers at a small price, instead of depending on a small number of customers, you get a more stable and reliable source of revenue. This way you will not have to trade your time for money and you’ll be in a better position to think up of ways to deliver more value to your clients.
- You get more flexibility and control. By getting rid of annoying clients and hard-to-meet deadlines, you will be in more control of your business and won’t have to take orders from others. You are your own boss and you decide what you work on, where you work, and when you work.
Although, creating a successful membership-based business isn’t easy, you get the rare benefit of working on your own terms and doing work that gives you a sense of satisfaction.
Identifying Opportunities in Your Existing Business Model
There are two main ways you can move your business from a client-service model to offering memberships:
- By creating a membership-based business related to your existing business.
- By creating a membership-based business related to a skill or hobby aka a side business.
The benefit of going with the second option is that you can create a membership business that’s completely isolated from your regular business. However, if you’re looking to create a membership-based business related to your existing business, your first step will be to identify and explore the existing opportunities in your business that could possibly help you build a membership.
Here’s what you need to do:
#1: Identify Services That Are in High Demand
Which services your clients most commonly ask for? What are your clients’ most frequently asked questions?
By identifying the most common features of your offering and the demands of your customers, you will be in a good position to identify opportunities for creating a successful membership.
Think of it this way: you are not really selling graphic design, business consultancy, or language training.
You offer solutions to client’s problems.
What the most commonly occurring problems your existing clients face that you can offer solutions to? How will you offer solutions to your clients through selling memberships?
#2: Figure Out What Makes Your Business Unique
In what ways is your service (or solution) different than what other, similar businesses are offering?
If you’re a web designer, do you have a library of templates or landing pages that you use for client websites? If you’re an online course instructor, how are your courses different than your competitors? Do you offer more reading material, study notes, or quizzes?
If you haven’t done any of this until now, can you start now?
#3: Find Additional Services You Can Offer Clients
Many times when you are servicing clients one-on-one you end up delivering only a fraction of what you can actually offer your clients. And you might not even realize that they need other things, too. More often than not, it’s because of the client’s budgetary constraints or because you simply don’t have the time to offer more services through your existing business model.
For instance, if you’re an online course instructor, could your students benefit from one-on-one coaching?
But if you take a look at the complete picture, you can identify additional services that your client may need. Doing so will give you more areas to build and expand your membership business around.
#4: Share Your Business Knowledge
Many times, people who have expertise in a specific skill or are interested in a particular topic start an online business. The problem is that they don’t have a background in running an online business or digital marketing.
Can you use your own experience of creating and running a successful business to teach others how to do the same for themselves?
Moving Your Service Business to the Membership Model
By now you’ve decided to switch to a membership-based business and have identified opportunities in your existing business model that can translate to the membership model. Here’s what you need to do next:
Step #1: Ask Clients for Feedback
One of the best (and easiest) ways to validate your idea is by reaching out to existing clients and asking them for feedback.
Not only will you be able to get an outside opinion on your membership business, they might be able to give you some new ideas about solutions you can offer. After all, who better to ask than the people who have already used your services?
Step #2: Put Your Membership Model to the Test
As we mentioned above, all we’re trying to do is offer solutions to clients’ problems.
One of the best things you can do before you completely switch over to the membership model, is do a test run. Essentially, you’ll be building the foundation of the various solutions you’ll offer through your membership website without actually creating one. The key benefit here is that you’ll be able to emulate what your membership site would look like and see if your existing customers express interest.
For instance, if you’re planning to sell one-on-one coaching sessions to your students through your membership site, offer them as an add-on or additional service to your existing clients.
Step #3: Generate Leads
Before you begin revamping your membership website, you need to do some online marketing. Spend some time on generating leads and building your email list.
Once that’s done, you’ll need to get the word out about your new membership site. Blogging and engaging with prospective customers on social media platforms is a great way to get started with a step in the right direction.
Step #4: Create Your Membership Website
Having made the decision to switch from servicing clients to a membership-based business, all that’s left to do is put your plan into action.
Start off by setting a realistic deadline for launching your membership site and create milestones for yourself. Determine how much time you can devote to your new business on a daily (or weekly) basis and commit to it. Think of yourself as your most important customer and keep your membership plans on the top of your to-do list.
A membership business gives you a lot of flexibility and control over your business. By switching over to the membership model, you’ll be able to step out of your comfort zone and create products that are more valuable for both you and your customers.
Let’s quickly recap the main steps you need to take to move your service business to the membership model:
- Validate your switch to the membership model by asking clients for feedback.
- Put your membership model to the test and see if existing customers express interest.
- Generate leads for your new membership-based website and spread the word.
- Set deadlines and begin creating your membership website.
Do you have any questions about switching your service business to the membership model? Ask away in the comments section below!