Keys to Keeping A Membership Thriving

Welcome to episode 362 of Hit the Mic with The Stacey Harris.

We are celebrating. Yes, that’s right. This month marks two years since the launch of Hit the Mic Backstage, so we’re starting the whole month celebrating the anniversary. I wanted to talk about what I have learned and has taken for me and the lessons I’ve had in running this community for the last two years and in continuing to run this community.

I see a lot of the membership sites that started just after I launched or in the year after I launched, a lot of them aren’t around anymore. I think a lot of that comes from not really being super clear on what it takes to maintain a membership site. We spend a lot of time curious about what it will take to launch, what tech we need to build it on, and how big our list size needs to be and how to process recurring payments and all of those things.

Sometimes, I know this was definitely true for me, I didn’t think nearly as much about what it would take to run a membership site. That’s one of the things I love and you’re going to hear me shout these guys out probably several times during this episode, The Membership Guys, who have a great podcast. Mike and Callie are fantastic. They have a great membership site I’m a part of.

They also have done masterminds that I’ve been a part of and live events that I’ve attended and they’re friends of mine. They’re just fantastic people who genuinely know their stuff. They spend a lot of time in their community and in their marketing talking about not just what it takes to launch, but what it takes to run.

They’re doing a really good job of educating us on this stuff. I wanted to tell you from somebody who doesn’t teach this day to day what my experience has been, my lessons have been, maybe a couple of things I wish I would have known earlier. We’re going to focus on three or four main areas and we’ll dive in in that way.

The first thing I want to talk about though is commitment.

You really have to be committed to growing this membership site.

One of the things that I had to choose very early is if I wanted to have launch periods and I wanted to launch multiple times per year or if I wanted to have it open all of the time. I chose to have it open all of the time, which basically means I’m always in some way in launch mode. Instead of having the collective stress of a very intense launch over a week or two weeks and the work it takes to do that both before the actual two week open period and then during that two week period, I have a slightly lesser version of that all the time.

I’m always selling the membership site. We have put in place a lot of pieces so that the membership site can always be in launch mode. It can always be in sales mode. That means little stuff like budgeting for Facebook ads all the time, meaning I don’t have a launch budget that’s XYZ and it scales down for the month afterwards. No. I have a budget for 12 months and there’s a monthly budget for Backstage.

In addition to that, there’s a monthly budget for anything that I do have a launch period around. Earlier this year, we launched the Backstage Amplifier Mastermind, which I will talk more about later because we’re changing it up a little bit. That was a more focused launch period. It had an open and it had a close. In addition to my always going Backstage budget, I needed an additional budget for that.

That’s something to consider if you’re going to have a membership site that sits alongside more traditionally launched courses or programs or opportunities. That’s something to consider, but also things like my sales funnels. Being aware of having to keep those both working but also fresh. We’ve got a Facebook ads training that we do, which full transparency here, guys, sells Hit the Mic Backstage.

Shocker. As much there’s value in there, the next steps are in the membership site, right? I have to keep that fresh in the sense that I have to keep it updated. That’s something to consider. It’s not a set it and forget it, it’s got to get revamped. Same thing goes for the courses inside the membership site. I built a membership site largely because I was selling programs that I was having to keep updated.

However, I had charged one lifetime price, meaning I was no longer getting paid but I was still having to basically completely redo those courses at least once per year. Again, that’s at a minimum of once per year. Having a membership site, I’m able to monetize that redo over and over again. That’s helpful from a business model perspective, but again, that takes commitment. I’m committed to keeping that stuff current, to keeping that stuff going.

That’s something to really, really consider when you look at, “Is this for me?”

Number two, and it’s in that same vein, this is not passive income.

100%. Passive income for me honestly is affiliate revenue because I don’t do a ton to sell it and then I don’t have to deliver anything. Now there are absolutely exceptions to that rule like all of the others. For example, sometimes I’ll go really into a launch as an affiliate.

A great example of that is Denise Duffield-Thomas launched a new course over the summer which I was a part of. Because I was going to be doing this live course in there, I really wanted to get some of you guys in it with me. I had a really solid email series and I ran some ads for it. That wasn’t 100% passive, but nine times out of ten, my affiliate revenue really comes from, I’ve talked about it in this podcast and there’s an affiliate link, or I’ve got a resource page with affiliate links.

You guys will find what you need there. Click on it, purchase it, and then I get a check. That’s, for me, passive income. The membership site is not. I spend a ton of hours every month not just engaging with community and monitoring things that way, handling customer service issues, but also creating content. We have two trainings, one live, one recorded every month.

I’m revamping old trainings, I’m redoing funnel videos for the sales process, I’m revamping the website. The website has looked different. We’ve had a website redo I think three or four times in two years because I’m always trying to make that community better. I’m always trying to grow that community from the sense of a user experience. I want it to be better all the time. It’s not perfect now.

Full disclosure, I’m not entirely sure it will ever be perfect because there’s always something that I want to make better. You know what? Partially The Membership Guys are to blame for that. Callie and Mike put out some amazing content and have an amazing community. They always have me thinking of ways that I can make the experience better for my community and for my membership.

Again, this is all about growing and helping my community get from problem to solution like any offering we have is. I want to make that better and better and better and better, so again, this is something that is not passive. I spent a ton of hours. I think that’s one of the most common reasons when I’ve talked to membership site owners who have ditched their membership site, who have closed it out, the most common reason why is “I thought it would be passive income.”

“I was looking for something to add passive recurring revenue to my business and that was not what that was.” Again, there’s exceptions to every rule. There are absolutely people who build 100% or 95% passive revenue in a membership model. Congratulations. I have not yet figured out how to do that, nor is that something I really have an interest in. For me, I would like my membership site to be taking up more and more of my time as far as the time I spend in my business, a percentage of time I spend in my business.

As it grows, it becomes more and more of the primary offering of my business. That’s what it’s structured to do. That’s what it was created to do. I spend less and less time working one-on-one and that gets more and more high level which, again, we’ll talk about very soon. It becomes more the way I work, so it’s instead of being a passive, it’s a one-to-many. It is leveraged time in a way that one-on-one isn’t, but it’s not passive.

Number three though can help that, which is automation helps, so does a team.

We have a team in place that helps and that role will be growing more and more over the next, I don’t know, several years. Definitely this year over the next several months. We’ve got Charles and me and the VA team we have. They help me with everything from customer service to some of the tech stuff.

We also have contract people who come in when there’s a tech issue that I could maybe someday figure out, but I’m not going to very quickly. Even once I figure out what the problem is, I probably don’t have the expertise to solve said problem, so I have a team. On the flip side of that, I have automation. There is a sequence of things that happens when people sign up for a training to be sold into Backstage.

I’m not doing this through sales calls. I’m not doing this through cold calling or something like that. There is an automation sequence in place. Again, I’m leveraging my time by leaning on these tools and these team members to help me get to more people, to help me get more results from my time. Again, like when we’re talking about passive income versus leveraged time income, I’m talking about leveraging these tools to help make more of my hours.

Automation helps in a big, big way. It also helps the deliverability standpoint. When I think about what I am trying to do with this community, when I think about what I am trying to serve people and what I’m trying to change for them, I think about things like instant access. I think about things like fast responses and an easy, easy access.

I have to have automation in mind and I have to have team members in mind so that I can, ensuring that they’re getting what they need right when they need it, not two or three days later. One of my big goals with Backstage was replacing Google as your default, “Is this new? Where do I need to have … Where do I find …” I want to make sure you’re getting accurate information when you need it and so things like when you purchase, you are automatically sent your login information so you can get in right then.

When you request to join the Facebook group that we have as a part of the community, someone will let you in relatively quickly. If it’s not me, it’s a team member. Someone’s paying attention to that, not 24 hours a day because we don’t have a global team. All of our team members are here in the States. If you request to do it at 2:00 a.m. my time, then yes, there will very likely be a delay before you are given access.

You will be given access as soon as somebody is awake and online the next day. I have to lean on these support systems, these support pieces, again, whether that’s automation or whether that’s people to ensure that I am delivering on that promise and on that expectation that I’ve set for the community to be easy access, easy to take action on. That’s why I spend so much time in our VIP lounge, which is the the forum community we have right on the site and our Facebook group.

A, I want it to be accessible in wherever they prefer to spend their time and, B, I want to make sure I’m there when they need me. Again, that’s why this is being built and being structured and evolving to being more and more and more of the time spent in my business. I want to be accessible. This is the way for my people, my customers, my clients, my community to get direct access to me as often as possible.

That’s why it’s priced the way it is and that’s why we have the options we have as far as membership. I want this to be the way you get help when you it. It’s as simple as that. I want it to be something that is there for you when you need it, whether that’s through an automated sequence or a direct person, all right? Off my soapbox. I feel like I’m getting all fired up on that one.

The last thing I want to talk about and this really speaks to what I was talking about earlier, but change is a requirement.

You’re going to be spending a lot of time learning as you build this community. That means things may change. A great, great example of that is in the course of the two years, we actually changed how we offer our monthly training. For a long time, we had a recorded training and a live training on totally new content.

Then we had two recorded trainings for a little while, again, on totally new content. It shifted to having a recorded training that is either new or a revamped version. Whether it’s a completely new training, whether it’s something we’ve … an updated version of what we did before, for example, we relaunched at the beginning of this year all of the Facebook videos in our Facebook course it’s a part of.

We have a six module Facebook program that’s a part of membership site and I redid that whole program top to bottom. Since then, we’ve updated videos in there as part of the monthly training. We have a new bot training that went live this month, we have had Facebook ads trainings that have been updated because there have been changes throughout the year. Instead of inundating my audience with just more and more and more, sometimes we simply are updating.

Sometimes we are simply making sure that what’s there is current and accurate and reflective of what’s happening right now and what you need to know right now. I realized that doing more and more and more was not actually better. Doing better and better and better and keeping it updated was a much better way to be of service. Then we shifted to a record, and this is what we do right now, so we have that recorded training that’s either new or an updated and then we have a live training every month.

That’s traditionally an Ask Me Anything, so it’s just my audience, my members’ chance to ask me questions live on video versus in one of the forums. Sometimes we have extra content in there. We’ll dig deeper on one of the things we talked about in recorded training or I’ll be working ahead. For example in July on our Ask Me Anything live training, I actually worked ahead a little bit.

I primed them for what was happening in August with bot stuff. It was some very basic intro bot stuff ahead of us talking bots in 20, or I’m sorry, in 2017, in August. That varies, but it’s always a live training built for me to be immediately accessible to anyone who wants to ask questions in the chat box. Things will change. Again, the layout of our site has changed three or four times in two years.

It will change again later this year. More realistically, probably early 2018 because, again, I’m always trying to make it better, make it easier to use, make it more consumable, make it more actionable, make it easier for people to implement stuff. Change is a requirement. Get comfortable with it. Enjoy it. You learn so much about running a membership site by running a membership site.

The things that I thought people would find really easy with the first design really stuck people and were like, “I don’t know where to find such-and-such.” I’m like, “Oh, well, it’s right there.” No, it wasn’t as simple as I thought it was. That’s why I have things like heat mapping and I can actually see. I use a tool called Lucky Orange, but you can use HotJar or a ton of other tools to do this.

I could really record how people engage on the site. I can see how people are using the, and there’s not a name or anything, so I don’t know who they are. I could see where they’re from, but that doesn’t necessarily help me. I can’t see what they type in, so I don’t see passwords or anything like that, but I do see how they’re engaging, how they’re moving through the site, what they’re clicking on.

I can see, is it intuitive? Is it easy to use? Is it structured so it’s helping get people from problem to solution? Change is important. Okay, so that’s it. That’s what I’ve got. Your four things as a recap. Commitment. Requirement. This is not passive income. Automation helps, so does having a team. Change is also a requirement right up there with commitment, a commitment to make changes. That’s what I’ve learned in the last two years aside from the fact that I really freaking love doing this.

It’s hands down my favorite part of my business. I have the most fun doing it and the most fun engaging with my community this way. That’s why it’s growing. That’s why we’re actually expanding in a little bit. I mentioned earlier that earlier this year, earlier in 2017, I think it was the summer, we launched it originally or early in the summer we launched it. BAM. Backstage Amplifier Mastermind.

We opened it up to a few people and it was going to run for six months and that’s how it’s been structured. I learned that I wanted to shift that a little bit. Now what we’re doing is we still have a cap on how many people can be in, but it’s no longer a term commitment. People can actually get BAM as a VIP level offering for as long or as little time as they need it.

You could join us for BAM level membership or the VIP level membership, which is called BAM again for one month or you could do it full time 12 months a year. It’s totally up to you. What’s really cool is it’s everything in the membership site amplified because you also get one-on-one time with me and direct access in the forum with me, meaning there is a private area of the forum that only you and I can see and you can ask me questions there any time.

You can ask questions that maybe you’re not comfortable asking in the public forum. They’re really specific to your business or because they’re based on a conversation we had when we had our monthly one-on-one call. It’s really the most direct access you can get from me because it’s essentially one-on-one plus. Now what’s really cool about this is generally speaking, my one-on-one calls are $297 right now at the time of the recording.

That could change at any time. I never know. I mean, I do know how much they are, but that changes from time to time. For me, one-on-one one time, $297. That includes a call recording, but it includes no follow up. You don’t have an email access to me unlimited for a month or anything like that and you don’t have Backstage unless you happen to also be a Backstage member.

With this VIP option with BAM, you’re going to get that follow up time, that one-on-one call, and the $40 per month Backstage membership all for, that’s right, $350 per month. You’re essentially getting the one-on-one call with me and the Backstage membership. For an additional, I think it works out to $10 per month, you’re getting unlimited direct access to ask me questions in our private forum that’s just you and me.

It’s an incredible value for this price point. Again, it’s $350 per month and it’s hands down something I think everyone will love and get from because there’s accountability. Yeah. It’s not just, “Oh, I signed up for the membership and I’ll do it as I have time”, no. You have a one-on-one call with me. You have direct access to me, which means I have direct access to you.

I can say, “Hey, how is this going? Hey, we tested this. How’s it working? Hey, have you implemented that? Hey, you went live on Facebook today. I saw it because yes, I pay attention in a whole different way when you’re client like this. How’s that going? That looked great. Let’s try this next time. Hey, you forgot the call to action.” Whatever it is. That’s powerful and that’s a game-changer.

This is going to be a really incredible value for people who join in. Again, we are capping it at a very, very small number. Literally, I only have so much bandwidth because I do still have some one-on-one consulting clients and we’ve got the management team we’re growing right now. I only have so much time. There’s only so many people that I can deliver to at this level. There are a limited number of spots, but they are open now. If you join us, go to hitthemicbackstage.com, you’ll see all three levels.

By all three levels, I mean our monthly level at $40 a month, our annual level at $400 per year, and this new BAM monthly option. Again, that’s $350 per month. I’m really excited for this. I hope that a few of you join us. If you have any questions though, email backstage@thestaceyharris.com. Someone on the team will answer it. Probably me for these kind of questions. I look forward to seeing you Backstage and of course, one-on-one through BAM. All right? I will see you very, very soon. Talk soon. Bye.

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