As a consultant, personal coach or professional services provider, you meet with clients day in and day out, sharing your advice and techniques to help them reach their goals, whether it is finding their first home, launching their new business or holistically treating their autoimmune disease.

Due to the nature of your business, you work with individual clients and, with only an eight-hour work day, that means you’re limited by the number of people you can support.

But what if you could package your advice, which you’re likely often repeating for each client anyway, into online videos or courses and share them with a broader audience? That’s what membership sites enable. These types of sites are ideal for one-to-one service businesses: You’ve already got the expertise and knowledge and have already proven there’s a demand for it. Now it’s just a matter of scaling.

Most Entrepreneurs Are Held Back by Fear

You may be thinking that going online will diminish your best quality, which is your ability to personally help and connect with each client. And the idea of building a membership site sounds daunting, not to mention the time and effort involved in maintaining it.

Those fears are enough to keep many entrepreneurs from taking the leap and starting their first membership site. In fact, overcoming this fear is one of the most frequently mentioned topics in membership site “how to” articles, such as this one by Copyblogger.

With modern platforms and plugins built specifically to support business owners in launching membership sites, setting up and running your site doesn’t need to be so technologically overwhelming. Thanks to that same technology, you can deliver your services via your membership site in a way that still feels like a one-on-one interaction.

In fact, according to the Scale With a Membership Site guide, “With membership sites, your members still feel like they are getting one-to-one treatment and are part of a special, supportive community.”

It’s All About How You Deliver

There are several types of membership sites and ways you can deliver your content so that you can best communicate your information while keeping a personal connection.

For example, some sites involve community forums where your clients can ask each other questions, discuss important topics, or even provide each other with support. Some sites are focused around training and education, where members progress through courses. Others serve as repositories of information that members can view and consume on their own time.

You can tailor your content to reach different audiences or serve different pain points. You can also use a variety of mediums, such as video, podcasts or interactive webinars, that allow you to show your personality and connect with clients on a human level even without being in the same room as them.  

Membership sites are not meant to take away your connection with clients; they’re meant to enable connections with even more clients. Once you set up your site, it’s important to continue to update content and engage with members to keep them active. Contrary to popular belief, membership sites aren’t exactly “set it and forget it.” You’ll earn recurring, mostly passive revenue but you’ll also continue serving clients in individual ways.

Membership Sites Actually Work, Especially for Service Businesses

Trading your time for money working one-on-one with clients often leads to burnout and challenges reaching a sustainable income. Membership sites have proven to be an effective way to eliminate those issues for personal service providers.

Donna Moritz of Socially Sorted said, “I was able to double my revenue, as well as flip from consulting income to almost 90% leveraged income from affiliate and program sales … that was my biggest ‘aha’ about the power of online courses.”

Socially Sorted isn’t the only business that has successfully grown by incorporating a membership site. Book More Brides also used a membership site to boost its annual customer base by almost 2,000%.

In addition to the ability to reach more people worldwide with your knowledge and service, membership sites allow you to:

  • Build a community among your clients so that they feel a sense of belonging and support
  • Serve customers without being limited by your busy schedule
  • Position yourself as an authority in your industry or field of expertise, opening opportunities for media coverage, speaking opportunities or partnerships
  • Track your customers’ experiences to better understand their needs and provide them — and future customers — with better experiences
  • Document your knowledge so that you can reduce the need to repeat it and easily update or expand on it
  • Earn recurring revenue by charging a monthly or annual fee for your exclusive membership

Determining the type of site, creating your content, and choosing a site platform are the first steps in launching a membership site. If you’re looking for step-by-step instructions and details about each of those important tasks, check out the Scale With a Membership Site guide.

About Aslan Williams
Aslan Williams grew up in a small, southern town, tailgating at football games and watching sunsets over the Mississippi Delta. Since leaving her southern roots four years ago, she has lived in five countries, practicing yoga, teaching English and honing her marketing skills at various International internships. Now, as a recent graduate from UCSB, Aslan is applying her degrees in Communication and English in her role as Content Engagement Coordinator at Ontraport.