Day 7: The Wheels are in Motion

Every once and a while, I need to make a Seinfeld reference.

Jerry: Babu, I'm gonna fix everything! I have a lawyer who knows someone in the Immigration Department, they're gonna straighten the whole thing out, the wheels are in motion, things are happening even as we speak!

Babu: The wheels are in motion?

Jerry: The wheels are in motion, things are happening!

Today, I really felt like the “wheels were in motion” with the new part of my business I'm trying to establish with this membership site and related courses.

A good friend of mine contacted me and wanted to talk about working together. Having to get prepared for this call forced me to sit down and really explain what my business was, what my message to students was, and what unique value I really offered that people could not get anywhere else.

I really had a moment of clarity that made me feel like I was closer to having something to offer.

It was refreshing to think so long about the future and plan the steps to get there. I felt like some missing pieces came together.

Didn't do any work on the site, per se, but I'm counting 3 hours of planning as a day anyways. It's coming together. I'm getting excited by the potential.

I did listen to an interesting interview that recommended a different forum software instead of bbPress. I'm curious. So I'll have to check out IPS Community Suite sometime soon.

 

Day 6: bbPress Forums

So I guess there's not much to this one. I love it when the decision is easy like this.

bbPress is a free and popular forum software for WordPress. I've read reports of people using it with their membership sites.

So in a few mouse clicks, I installed bbPress on my membership site.  And just like that, I had my first basic general discussion board. I *think* it's protected from general visitors and only members can access, but that is still to be tested.

Also today I think I decided to continue with thinkific for the course hosting platform.  Saves me having to host the courses myself. If anything was to happen with thinkific, I would be able to move the courses and still have my membership site as the base. It's not a bad decision.

Still to decide, how payment will work. Will I collect the money on my site, or let the student subscribe on thinkific. Or support both. TBD.

What I have so far:

  • Domain name, site name
  • WordPress
  • OptimizePress with OptimizeMember
  • Google Analytics
  • Facebook Ads Pixel
  • Link to Paypal
  • Membership levels and pricing
  • Registration and payment is possible
  • Forum software – bbPress
  • How and where to post the courses – likely Thinkific

Next steps:

  • The site is really not slick and needs design
  • Integrating thinkific and my site for a seamless experience
  • Upgrading to a thinkific paid plan
  • Content
  • Free downloads and giveaways

Day 5: No Straight Line to Success

As you can tell, I am only working on this project every few days. This is the fifth day I am spending thinking and working on this project, but not five days in a row. 🙂

As I started putting the pieces together, I started to realize how unconnected everything was and would probably be for students.

First, my website design is absolutely horrible. It's not easy to get a website landing page that is both functional as a “hello and welcome” page and also sells the benefits of membership. I almost need to hire a designer to get this crucial first page right.

Then, of course, I started thinking about course hosting and how that piece is going to work with OptimizePress. And then I started thinking of a forum or group that would be the real value to members and the real reason people would want to pay money every month to me. Then I started thinking about hackers, and what I would have to do if my site were to get hacked. Or if it were to break in the middle of the night.

Coincidentally, I remembered Thinkific. I have set up a course on both Teachable and Thinkific as an experiment in the past but chose to stick to Udemy ultimately. And in hindsight, it was the right decision.

But the other day I went back to Teachable and Thinkific. I looked at the Facebook groups. I searched for information about people running memberships through there. I searched for integration with blogs and forums.

And before I knew it, I had uploaded not one but three of my courses to Thinkific.  It took about a day to get all three courses loaded. One of the top deciding factors was the number of unanswered technical problems posted in the Teachable forum. It seems things break a lot there, and go unsolved for weeks.

To paraphrase a certain President, “I prefer sites that don't break.”

What if I loaded the courses on a site like Thinkific, charged a membership price, and included all the benefits on my own site for those people?

So I could set up a group on my site and simply “gate” access to it.

It's a much simpler solution. Saves me having to worry about charging people and course hosting, only leaving the other benefits that can be behind a wall on the site.

Still thinking on it. But as of now, I have a Thinkific site that I can start driving traffic to.

What I have so far:

  • Domain name, site name
  • WordPress
  • OptimizePress with OptimizeMember
  • Google Analytics
  • Facebook Ads Pixel
  • Link to Paypal
  • Membership levels and pricing
  • Registration and payment is possible

Next steps:

  • How and where to post the courses – likely Thinkific
  • Forum software
  • The site is really not slick, and needs design

Day 4: Membership Levels and Pricing

Now we're getting into the harder bits.

I have WordPress installed and have chosen OptimizePress (with OptimizeMember) to control access to the site.  I've hooked up a brand new Paypal account to it, and theoretically, it should all be working except I haven't tested it.

I do need to decide on membership levels and pricing, and what comes with each level.

If I was smart, I might just have a single level. Pay $X per month and receive everything inside the membership site. And when you stop paying, you lose it. Keep it simple, Scott. I definitely don't want to launch something complex that takes a lot more effort to support.

But then again, there is some appeal to having a few different levels, however.

I like being able to charge more for people willing to pay more. So if I had two levels – $19 per month and $79 per month – there will be some people who think $19 is a good price and some who don't mind paying $79, and I am happy to accommodate them both. Fundamentally, it seems having 2 or 3 different prices is the way to go.

It's also a good way to make things seem like a good deal.

It's well-known in behavior psychology that offering people choices allows people to compare relative value between the options. Even the naming is important. I will have a part of that in my offering.

My site will have a “coffee shop” theme. Not sure why, but I love coffee personally and I think coffee shops are a lot more friendly than “membership sites” or “clubs”. I'm not yet revealing the site name or URL, but my logo (which I shared last time), has a coffee element and the site will draw from that.

And so my membership levels will be:

  • Guest (free access)
  • Espresso$19 per month or $199 per year ($99 launch special)
  • Americano$299 per year ($149 launch special)
  • Cappuccino$499 per year ($199 launch special)

For the Guest level, there might be cases where I have free content that requires an email address to access. Haven't decided entirely what that will be, but I can allow someone to have an account on my site without them being a paying member or having access to the paying member areas. It basically integrates an email list with a membership.

The Espresso level is level 1. Americano is level 2. And Cappuccino is level 3. Each level entitles the member to more benefits.

  • Access to the forum/community
  • Access to courses (mine and possibly others)
  • A weekly and/or monthly newsletter relevant to the industry
  • Access to me (questions and options to buy time)

I will need to do more research on things I can offer.

I will probably have to do some type of launch special pricing. So I will have in mind a final pricing but it will take me a while to get to that as I sign up members.

One of the keys to a successful membership site, to me, is having a good base of paying members to keep the site active. I imagine I will need 100+ members in the forums for the forums to be a good place for people to ask questions and get answers. I will also have to be active. Or have a moderator I pay to keep close tabs on that.

If I had 100 people paying $199-$499 per year to be part of this, that would be a nice start to this. Then I can grow that to 500 over time.

Today I set up the membership levels in OptimizeMember. I set up the Paypal buttons with pricing for each level, and created an ugly looking WordPress page to outline the levels with links to sign up.

I have a membership site that people can sign up for.

Now, a missing piece is of course not having any courses up nor a forum or anything inside my membership site. But somehow, the pricing/sign-up page feels like a great accomplishment. 🙂

What I have so far:

  • Domain name, site name
  • WordPress
  • OptimizePress with OptimizeMember
  • Google Analytics
  • Facebook Ads Pixel
  • Link to Paypal
  • Membership levels and pricing
  • Registration and payment is possible

Next steps:

  • How and where to post the courses
  • Forum software
  • The site is really not slick, and needs design

 

Day 3: Setting Up a Paypal Business Account

Perhaps it doesn't seem like a big decision, but I decided to set up a separate Paypal Business account for this, instead of upgrading my main personal account.

I didn't like the idea of never being able to downgrade my Paypal account to a personal account again (although I guess I could have set up a new personal account).

Anyways, new account created. And the Paypal API details were added into OptimizePress.

So now, at a basic level, I have a website that supports membership levels, can accept payment, and will automatically add/remove people to that membership level on payment.

Now I haven't even decided on the names of the membership levels or what they will contain.

What I have so far:

  • Domain name, site name
  • WordPress
  • OptimizePress
  • Google Analytics
  • Facebook Ads Pixel
  • Link to Paypal

Next steps:

  • Decide and set up membership levels
  • A touch better on the design