How To Launch A Membership Site – Part 1: Build Your Preeminence

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Preminent DuckThis is the first part of a series of articles reviewing the steps to launch your own membership site online. The inspiration for this series comes from my recent experience launching Blog Mastermind. I will recount my journey leading up to the present, approximately one month after the successful release of my blog mentoring program, which uses a membership model.

I’ve been a huge fan of the membership business model because it creates a dependable income stream. I like this for the obvious reason – your cash flow is more consistent – but also because the reliable income lets you invest serious time and energy in your customers, because you are well rewarded on an ongoing basis for doing so.

Compare this to a one time product sale, where your inclination might be to make a big bang, generate the majority of your sales during the first few days – weeks at best – and then watch your income drop to a trickle. Once the income drys up you have little interest in improving your product and most marketers move on to their next product rather than nurture their current customers.

While some commodity or essential products always have demand, when you enter these markets you face intense competition, often based on price, and you don’t want to compete in a market where the lowest price wins, because unless you have the systems of Wal Mart, you don’t make money.

I like the stability, the sense of running a real business and the pleasure of constant interaction with your clients, that comes from managing a membership site. It’s certainly not easy work – I’m definitely working a lot harder now than I was before – but the role is very enjoyable and the intrinsic rewards – the positive feedback and the ongoing relationships – make it a fantastic business to be in.

It’s taken a long time for me to get to this point, with several stalled starts along the way and much learning too, but I’m pleased to say that I feel a great sense of comfort with my current position. Now let me pass on to you what I have learned in the grand tradition of the Entrepreneur’s Journey….

Preeminence

I’ve written several times on the topic of preeminence. If this is the first time you have heard this term you may want to look up the teachings of Jay Abraham, since his name is often be credited as the best source of information on the topic of business preeminence. You can also read through my previous article that reviewed how Richard Schefren established preeminence in the Internet marketing industry very quickly by aligning himself with some of the most high profiled Internet marketers.

Preeminence is essentially a perception. It simply means that people believe you are the best or one of the best or at least better than most others, at what you do. It’s because of preeminence that people choose your business over the competition, that you can charge higher prices and why people seek you out instead of you needing to solicit clients.

Preeminence is established by association with other people who have preeminence, by placing yourself in a position to create the perception of preeminence (for example coverage in the media, presenting at an event) or by delivering so much value that people refer to your materials as definitive.

In my case I started building preeminence to help with the launch of Blog Mastermind long before I even had the idea of creating a mentoring program for professional bloggers. It really began the first day I started learning about business, but perhaps it’s more tangible to say that the day I started a blog was the first day I began establishing preeminence in the industry I now work in.

Demonstrate Proof

Social proof is a key principle for a successful membership launch and the root cause why social proof works in a business context, is because it contributes to your preeminence. In my case I used many proof elements when releasing my membership site, some of which were planned and some were developed over time without realizing they would eventually contribute to the success of a new business.

In hindsight it makes complete sense that by giving away lots of great information on a blog, leading to building a large readership and thus making good money as a professional blogger, is the best demonstration of proof I could make to convince people that I would make a good mentor, but I was certainly not thinking this two and a half years ago when I started my blog.

The important point here is that right now you are learning and if you can take what you learn and translate that knowledge into value for other people, you then have the key ingredients for preeminence. It’s by helping others and constantly being proof of your own hype, that you build your credibility and become an expert in your field.

Preeminence Is A Deal Breaker

There are thousands of people who will read this article, many of who have the skills, the resources and the knowledge to fill a membership site with great content and to genuinely help people with what they can teach. Unfortunately for most of these people they lack preeminence in their industry, meaning that it will be difficult to successfully launch a membership site.

Preeminence is what helps you form relationships with other preeminent experts, and it’s through relationships with other experts – many of whom have access to thousands of people – that you gain the advantage of leverage and credibility transference.

When an expert recommends you as an expert you enjoy a credibility transference and access to the influence they have over their constituents. If you can’t currently call on colleagues who have real sway in their industry, then you lack the necessary resources to spread your message and build your preeminence.

Right now if you start with absolutely nothing available to the public, no relationships with preeminent experts and all you know is buried within your own experience and knowledge, then your next step to start establishing preeminence, is to offer value for free. In the information marketing world that means you need to start publishing your best work and wowing people with what you know, giving real resources people can use to enhance what they do.

My Preeminence

In my case, the Blog Profits Blueprint is a key tool for building preeminence. It offers a concise and powerful review of the knowledge I gained through two and a half years of successful blogging. While it was my years of experience that brought me to the point where I could write a document like the Blueprint, the end product – the value I offered people through the Blueprint itself – that really created my preeminence.

The Blueprint, combined with the success of my blog and a recommendation from many other preeminent bloggers, positioned me as an expert in my field and gave me enough preeminence to go to market with a membership site and enjoy tremendous success.

If you plan to go to market with a membership site you better have established preeminence and a means to spread your message far through the communication channels of your preeminent partners, or you may face a situation where despite the quality of your information, you lack any means to convince people to work with you or even attract attention in the first place.

Blogging as a Path to Preeminence

One of the best ways you can begin to build your preeminence is through blogging. My blog is the communication tool I used to build my preeminence. A blog full of case studies and how-to articles is THE perfect tool in today’s online business world to facilitate the foundation of your expertise, spread your message far and link you with the right people.

In the future if you would like to release a membership site based on information from a credible expert source, that expertise must be established prior to launch, or at the very least you better have some previous success stories ready to be told to convince people of your preeminence.

Remember that right now you may be on a path to becoming an expert at something, you may not know exactly what yet, but it definitely pays to always produce content and offer value to people, form relationships and learn, as one day you make just wake up as the preeminent expert in your field. At that point the rest of the process of launching a membership site is simply a matter of going through the motions and calling on your established resources and connections.

Yaro Starak
Member

About Yaro Starak

Yaro Starak is the author of the Blog Profits Blueprint, a report you can download instantly to learn how to make $10,000 a month, from only blogging 2 hours per day. You can find Yaro on Facebook, Twitter and .

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36 Comments

  • Yaro, you are so right. Value is a fickle sort of thing. As you probably know, Robert Cialdini does a great job of explaining social proof in his book, The Psychology of Persuasion. I am about mid way through the book and the material in this post is a perfect practical example of what he talks about. You have spent a lot of time interviewing people and getting your name associated with theirs. Personally I think you’ve done a great job of creating value around those interviews. That helps to keep it real and not just a show for the microphone, so to speak. I can say from personal experience that the value you bring and the associations you keep was what first brought me to your blog and what ultimately encouraged me to join your Blog Master Mind. I’m not sure I would have invested my time, money, and engery into a program like that if I didn’t have some supporting reasons. I look forward to the next part in this series.

    Take care,

    Charles McKeever
    OpenSourceMarketer.com

  • Preeminence isn’t a word you hear every day. Though you have done a marvelous job of writing about it.

    I would argue though, that preeminence extends beyond member sites and the blogosphere. It is necessary for anything you promote. As a software designer and developer, I wouldn’t be anywhere as successful if it wasn’t for some big named code monkeys telling others I have “mad skillz.”

    Of course, there is a necessary step of doing what you are wanting to be known for. An expert won’t usually promote someone as an expert unless they can deliver.

  • I have an idea for a new business and I would like to build it around a membership site. I also think membership sites a great revenue model, both for your business and for encouraging affiliates to promote your program. Everyone loves recurring commissions! You might lose a few members each month but you should gain more over time.

  • I’m in the process of planning my own membership site. I’m really excited about it but realistically it wont be ready for about five years (for numerous reasons). While I’d love to have it now already, I do think that I should be able to use those five years wisely and build up my preeminence. If I don’t have it by that time, well, I’ll obviously be doing something wrong!

    Congrats to the success of your Blog Mastermind program! I’ll be sticking around for a little while more – at least :)

  • You’re definitely right about the preeminence and that a blog is definitely the easiest way to do so – it’s worked very well for you and I’m so glad that you’re seeing the big rewards after working so hard here at E-J.

    Content may be the easy part as you say, but it’s getting the Big Dawgs in the industry to write about you which is the hard part, and which will inevitably bring you your rewards much quicker.

    Congatulations again Yaro – a true entrepreneur and go getter!

  • Hi Yaro,

    I was having coffee with a couple of friends in Manila, last week. One owns an IT solutions company while the other is a telecoms entrepreneur. Those two are lazy writers but they have both been to this blog and agree with what they’ve read. Preeminence? You undoubtedly have it.

  • Hey Yaro,

    I agree that an Internet preeminence is very important to a successful launch and it’s not just limited to membership sites.

    The successful launch of any site has a direct relation to how well known the person is behind the launch.

    Take for example Auctionads.com (Shoemoney) or Income.com (John Reese). These sites are instant successes because of both Shoemoney and Reese are well known. People trust them and therefore it adds instant creditability to the new sites.

    I’m in the process of launching a site myself, but I suspect it won’t be an instant success because I don’t have a wide following. Although instant success would be nice, I would rather a consistent increase in traffic and customers so the site can improve and grow in accordance to it’s needs. An instant success can be a disaster just as much as it can be a blessing. Especially if the instant success is too much for the site to handle and everything crashes causing irreversible damage to the site’s (and the owner’s) creditability.

    Have a great day,
    Shannon
    http://www.s-cole.com

    p.s. Congratulations on the success of your membership site by the way. and.. oh.. excellent post too. ;)

    p.p.s I noticed you’re using WordPress. We should talk, drop me an email. I may have something (free of course) you might find useful. shannon(at)s-cole.com

  • Rubber duckies! (Sorry, I’m easily distracted by things like that.)

    I know for sure I wouldn’t have joined the Blog Mastermind program if it hadn’t been mentioned over at ProBlogger. The Blueprint really helped sway me, as did signing up for a newsletter that reminded me when the program would launch. I wouldn’t have been very interested if the only thing I saw was the sign-up promotional page.

  • Anxious to read this entire series since I’ve got 20k doctors lined up… well.. maybe not lined up, but definately there.

    But I AM anxious to read this thread.

  • Yaro, this is a superb article. We’re just discussing social proof over at my blog, and pre-eminence is the eventual result of that social proof.

    Actually, a mastermind group is also another way of creating social proof, as previous commentators demonstrate. (Although, you already have it, Yaro! Social proof, that is :) )

    Best,

    Paul Hancox

    P.S: If you get a moment, perhaps you could drop by my blog and post a comment, because I’d really appreciate it and I’m sure you’d have something relevant to say.

  • Sweet. Looking forward to it!

  • Great reading. The ducklings photo perfectly illustrates the idea :)

  • Great article – looking forward to part 2!

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  • I am so glad you started this simple tutorial, I have a small group of business owners and an idea I can put it to good use for. I am also a member of the blog mastermind and I love the content. I don’t see how you find the time, motivation, and ideas to do what you do…

  • [...] must establish yourself as an expert in your niche. You must build your preeminence. This takes a lot of time and a titanic amount of very hard work. We are talking [...]

  • Interesting one, this is correct for any business anywhere, not only in blogging or online businesses.

  • I loved this post, thanks so much! I am planning on venturing in a project like the one you are describing so I’ll be using a lot of this information.

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  • You’re keeping it real with this post Yaro, and I appreciate that.

    It’s easy to focus on the recurring revenue angle of membership sites and want to build one right away. But with what foundation?

    Preeminence, as you call it. Others call it Author, Credibility, Sway, Persuasive Power, or something else, but it’s all the same–and just as unsexy to build it, regardless of how sexy the words we use to describe it are.

    You’ve done a wonderful job offering huge value for free. I consider you my preeminent model to follow for someone who’s in service to others and reaping the returns for it.

  • OK i like your article but how about make a free site first and when you gain popularity then just charge little bit initially. Otherwise how you gonna tell ask people to buy content from who they don’t know and have not read anything written by that particular person. Hope you understand what i am talking about. Thanks

  • Thanks for sharing your post. I am in the process of creating a membership site, so this article is very timely for me.
    Blessings,
    Deborah H. Bateman

  • Like your article very much and looking forward to hearing more.

  • [...] cooler and way more popular than anyone would like to admit  and you could prove it by starting a membership site built around all things crochet and [...]

  • One big issue with membership site is getting the sticky idea that keeps members on for long. I’ll be following your series on ;

  • Mike

    Hi, just thought you’d want to know your link to Tim Kerber’s Membership Site Bootcamp is now broken.

    Cheers

    • Thanks for the heads up Mike – that course was released a long time ago so I am not surprised it’s not working.

      Yaro

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