Thinking About Launching A Paid Membership Community? Read This First

Longtime subscriber “Alex” is hustling to quit his day job and start a business in an unrelated niche.

He has a successful podcast and growing email list of around 3,000 subscribers.

He's been pursing gigs as a freelancer, but then a new opportunity popped up.

Alex writes:

My plans are starting to diverge off the path a bit and want your help to help me clarify my plan.

This is regarding my path to $10K/month in revenue…

I had two interactions this past week that could be either shiny objects or legit insights that I should use to update my plan.

[Alex describes how 2 different people told him he needs to start a paid membership group]

To recap: You and I discussed last week about starting a Facebook group, inviting my past podcast guests (all successful businesses). In the group I would provide a lot of free value and make it known that I offer paid services.

After these conversations I was thinking about changing the plan to this:
– Invite my past podcast guests first
– A couple months of seeding the content and getting convos going
– Start selling access to this group to the rest of my list ($25 to $49 price point)
– Start adding in monthly trainings around a specific topic which comes for free with access to the group. I’ll most likely bring in experts to co-host the trainings.

Do you think this is a good adjustment to the plan or a distraction?

Here's what I told Alex:

Your goal is to hit $10K a month. That means you'll need 400 subscribers.

I'll go out on a limb and say you could probably hit 100-150 with your current list and a good product launch.

That nets you to $3-4K a month.

And with the way your list is growing now, you could probably add 15-20 subscribers a month.

(Selling a monthly subscription is MUCH harder than making a 1-time sale. People don't like to make ongoing commitments. I know of several world-class marketing “blackbelts” who struggle to make their membership programs work.)

On top of that, you're also going to lose people every month. The average subscriber lifetime for these paid membership communities is about 3 months.

People get bored. Their credit cards expire.

With the churn, it's likely that it'll take you a couple of years at least to hit the 400 subscribers you need to quit your job.

My buddy Derick Bailey has a subscription screencasting service for programmers. He's spent the past 2-3 years building it up, and he's just now at 420 subscribers.

Now you COULD get lucky with some great joint ventures or something and hit your goal a lot sooner. But that's not something you can really bank on.

Also keep in mind that once you launch something like this, you're on the hook to produce great content month in and month out.

AND on top of that you have to work on growing your traffic…

All while holding down your day job.

I do agree that creating a community like this could be a great idea for you—down the road a bit.

Step 1 is getting free of your day job in the most efficient manner possible.

When you do this, you can spend most of your working hours gaining the experience you need to create really valuable information products for your niche.

I can count on one hand the number of people I know who went straight from a 9-5 job to an information business in a different industry in a single bound.

Almost everyone who successfully makes the transition does it by freelancing or consulting first.

With consulting, you don't need 400 customers—you need 2-3.

Bottom line:

Continuity is awesome. It's also tougher to sell than most people think.

You'll be more likely to succeed if you start by consulting and continuing to build your audience…

THEN creating an info business to replace your consulting income.

This path is not as “sexy” — but your chances of success go way up.