Do you want to build a stable, recurring revenue stream for your online business?

If yes, have you considered creating a membership site?

Membership sites are different than traditional online courses, because instead of creating one set curriculum, you’ll continuously add new content to update your site.

You create content on an ongoing basis and your loyal community members will pay a recurring fee to access the content.

The type of content people create for their membership site varies from videos to downloadable worksheets to blog posts and more. There is often an interactive element of membership sites where members get to engage with you regularly.

However, creating a successful membership site is no easy task! For me, the real roadblock is the tech side of building and running a membership site. Most content creators find the tech to be unnecessarily complex and they hardly get time to focus on content creation and growing their community.

Fortunately, you can use the Teachable platform to build a membership site. While most people focus on the benefits of using Teachable as an online course platform, Teachable is an equally good solution for creating and running a membership site.

Over the past two years, I’ve worked with several content creators and helped them build and grow their membership sites on Teachable. Here’s what I’ve learned from helping them:

#1: Leverage the ‘course bundle’ feature to sell membership subscriptions and manage content access

The four most essential things that you need to do in order to create a membership site are:

  1. Organize your membership site content
  2. Sell your paid content as a subscription
  3. Restrict access to your paid content
  4. Manage content on an ongoing basis

And the feature that allows you to do all these things and do them very effectively on the Teachable platform is course bundles.

The course bundle feature allows you to group multiple courses and sell them together. You can either sell your course bundle as a monthly or a yearly subscription or offer multiple payment plan options.

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Carl and  Kenya run their membership based Love Academy on Teachable

If someone purchases a bundle subscription, they will be granted access to all the child courses and if a member’s subscription expires, their access to the courses is revoked.

In order to push new content to your members, you can either add the content to a new course or you can add it to an existing course and the content will be added to the membership area immediately. In a similar manner, you can remove and archive your courses.

If you want to learn more about creating bundles, you can check this tutorial from Teachable.

PRO TIP: If you don’t want to sell your courses individually, you can remove the pricing plans from the courses and allow only the bundle to have a pricing. You can even unpublish the courses so they aren’t visible in the course directory.

#2: Offer a free/paid trial to new members

One of the most effective ways to market your membership site is by offering subscription trials. Offering a trial allows you to directly tackle a lot of the questions that a user would have otherwise.

When it comes to executing this strategy, you have two options: you can either create a free trial or you can create a low-cost trial (e.g. $1 trial).

On Teachable, you can create a trial offer using coupons. Teachable allows you to create a coupon code that applies only to the first payment.

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If you want to offer a free trial, you can enter the subscription price as the discount amount. Otherwise, you can enter the required discount amount to lower the payment to $1. The important thing is to make sure that the coupon applies only to the first payment.

 As far as deciding between a free trial and a paid trial is concerned, it depends on who you’re promoting your offer to.

If you’re presenting your trial offer to cold traffic, it’s better to offer a free trial while if you’re presenting your offer to warm traffic (e.g. your email list), I would recommend offering a paid trial.

And you can always test what works better for you!

#3: Create multiple subscription levels for your membership site

There are only two ways to make more money: you either get more customers or you make each customer spend more. Here we will focus on the second option.

A really smart strategy to increase average spend per member is to create multiple membership levels. For example, you might consider offering 2 or 3 membership levels to your site and you might call them bronze, silver, and gold.

In one membership level, you might give access to just the core content while in another level(s), you can consider offering monthly webinars, group coaching etc.

The number of levels, how you name them and what you will include in each of them, it all depends on your business and what you want to achieve with multiple membership levels.

In fact, I was recently working with a client who runs a popular membership site on Teachable (ProductiveMuslimAcademy.com) and I helped him create an additional level for his membership site.

So, rather than just offering an all access membership, he now offers two membership levels: ‘Basic Access’ and ‘Premium Access’.

The Basic Access costs users $99/year and gives them access to the core content while the ‘Premium Access’ costs users $149/year and gives them access to webinars, a book club etc. on top of the core content.

This simple change in strategy has helped him improve the average transaction size and thus the overall revenues!

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The next question is: how do you create multiple membership levels like this on Teachable?

It’s easy! You just need to duplicate your existing bundle and add or remove courses based on what you want to include in that level. You can then grab the checkout link and place it behind a button on your main sales page.

That’s it and you’re ready to sell multiple subscription levels of your membership site.

#4: Upsell members to increase their average spend

Another strategy to make your members spend more and increase your revenue is to upsell. In order to have an effective upsell strategy for your membership site, you need to answer three important questions: what to upsell, who to upsell to and when to upsell.

‘What’ and ‘who’ aspects of your upselling strategy are interrelated and here are a few ideas to ponder:

  • Upsell yearly subscription to your monthly members
  • Upsell gold membership level to your silver members
  • Upsell premium 1-on-1 coaching program to the gold members
  • Upsell other courses and programs

The next question that you need to answer is: when should you present your upsell offer?

You can present your upsell offer on the post-purchase thank you page. In fact, Teachable makes it really easy for you to add 1-click upsell offers on your thank you page.

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1-click upsell offer on Thank You Page

You can also upsell by creating bonus lectures within your courses. So, you might want to create a bonus lecture at the end, add the course details and then include a call to action which will take them directly to the checkout page.

Another important way to upsell is using email marketing! You can easily set up course completion emails to go out via Zapier and you can include your upsell offer in the completion email itself.

#5: Create a learning path for your students

You want your students to follow a certain learning path in the membership area and you would want to do this so as not to overwhelm your students and allow them to complete your courses in small steps.

This eventually leads to improved completion rates and better student engagement.

So, how do you create a restricted learning path in Teachable?

The first option that you have is to drip out your course content. You can set the sections in your courses to drip out after a certain number of days of enrollment.

This option works pretty well if you want to create a flexible learning path and the courses will drip out irrespective of whether the students has completed the course or not.

You can also set up notification emails to let the students know that the course content is now available.

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Note: You can create a drip schedule at the section level and not the course level. So, in order to drip a course out on a particular day, you will have to set all the sections to drip on the same day.

Drip isn’t available on the free plan, but it is for every other Teachable plan.

The other option is an advanced hack and I recommend using it only if the first option doesn’t work for you at all.

Say you have 3 courses—beginner, intermediate and advanced—and you want your students to get access to the next course only if they have completed the previous course(s).

This is a ‘strict’ learning path and there is no native way to do it in Teachable. But you can create something similar using Zapier.

Basically what you will do is, track user’s progress using Zapier and then send them an email with a 100% discount coupon to enroll in the next course.

To do this, go to your Zapier dashboard and create a new zap. Add Teachable as your trigger app and select ‘Course Completed’ as the trigger.

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Click on the ‘Save’ button and test the trigger app.

Next, you need to create a Filter app so that the Zap is fired only when a particular course is completed.

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There is one more step that needs to be created before you can email the enrollment link to your students. You can tag your students in your email service provider (e.g., ConvertKit) and then you can send an email using the same service.

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Click on continue and your zap will be ready to use. Make sure to test it before making it live.

Now you can use your email service provider to send an email to the user and include a 100% off coupon code. Make sure that you send a link to the checkout page rather than the sales page so that the user will be enrolled in the course just by clicking on the link.

PRO TIP: Irrespective of the type of learning path you create, you should set up automated follow up emails (ideally one per week) to go out to your members with details about their progress, what they can do next and also notifications about your webinars and events.

#6: Create multiple content types for your membership site

The core of your membership site is your content. If you can deliver actual value to your audience while keeping them engaged, they will not just continue their subscription payments but they will actually come to you asking for more products and courses.

So it won’t be wrong if I say that content is king as far as membership sites are concerned. And one of the major benefits of using Teachable is that it makes it really easy to add multiple content types to your membership.

So what content can you actually include in your membership in order to ensure your members get real value out of it?

  • Videos - Videos are one of the most engaging forms of content delivery and you must include them in your membership
  • Resources and downloads - You can add all sorts of workbooks, cheat sheets etc. to support your main content. And you can add them as PDF to your Teachable site and also allow students to download them.
  • Live Webinars - You must consider including webinars into your content strategy as webinars are perceived as premium content and can hook your subscribers to your membership. If you use YouTube live for webinars, you can embed the webinar on your Teachable site. Otherwise, you can create a link to your webinar event.
  • Quizzes - Depending on your niche, it can be a wise strategy to include quizzes to test your learner’s progress from time to time.
  • Assignments - If you wish to collect assignments from your members, you can use your Dropbox account. You can create a file request and then your members can upload their assignments which will be stored in your Dropbox account.

I would recommend you try different content formats and see what works best with your audience.

#7: Leverage Teachable’s Native Comment System to Engage Your Members

One of the most important factors that decide the success of a membership site is how engaged your community is. An engaged community can help you:

  • Increase retention rates
  • Bring new referrals to your site
  • Promote your other products and businesses

In order to build a community, it’s really important to facilitate discussions among the students as well as between the students and the instructor.

Teachable allows you to add native comments to your lectures where students can ask questions, share feedback and even engage with their peers. At the same time, the instructor can answer the questions and facilitate the discussions.

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You can either add comments to all individual lectures below the videos or your content or you can create one lecture per course or per section where students can leave comments.

Both the students and instructors get a notification when someone leaves a comment and as an instructor, you can even moderate it.

A lot of instructors also use Facebook groups or external forum solutions like Muut to manage their community and it really depends on what your requirements are.

#8: Reward your members for taking action

Not everyone is equally motivated to learn and take action. If you sell online courses or run a membership site, you probably know that people need extrinsic motivation to take action.

So, you should have a strategy in place to reward your members. This will not just help you motivate the members but will also help build loyalty.

There are different ways in which you can reward your members:

  • Give them a certificate via a third party
  • Give them a special discount
  • Give them access to exclusive content

Now you can send these rewards to your members when they reach specific milestones like completing a particular course or completing 1 year as a member etc.

If you want to send an email on their membership anniversary, you’ll have to do a little more work. You’ll need to create a new Zap with ‘New Sale’ in Teachable as your trigger and you will pass the user information to Google Sheets.

You can then use Google Sheets to trigger an email on their anniversary. Check this article on Teachable blog for some ideas on how to do this.

#9: Survey members to gather feedback and also generate content ideas

The mistake that a lot of membership site owners and course creators make is that they don’t collect any sort of feedback from their members.

Your membership site isn’t supposed to be a one-way communication and you should survey your members from time to time. Your members’ feedback will not just help you improve your product but can also generate content ideas for you on autopilot.

So, how do you create a survey and add it your course?

In order to create a survey, you will need to use a free solution like Google Forms or JotForm. You can very easily create a feedback form and then embed it on Teachable.

The first step is to create your form in your form solution and grab the embed code.

Once you have the embed code, you can go to the lecture where you want to add the survey. Add a ‘text’ type content in the lecture, go to the html mode and then paste the embed code in the html mode.

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This is how your form looks once embedded within the lecture and you’re now ready to collect feedback from your members.

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#10: Create an affiliate program to reward those who refer people to you

In this guide, I have talked about how an engaged community is one of the most important aspects of running a membership site. Your members are more than just paying customers, they’re your brand ambassadors.

And it makes sense to reward your brand ambassadors for referring people to your site. Basically you turn your members into affiliates who refer people to your membership and in return earn a commission.

Depending on your niche as well your commitment level, you can either keep your affiliate program exclusive to your members or you can open it to public. I would recommend keeping it exclusive to your members in the beginning as it will be easier to manage the overall process. The affiliate program is available on basic plans and higher.

As far as commission rate is concerned, you can offer a 25-30% (standard range for membership sites) commission to your affiliates for successful referrals.

With Teachable, you can very easily make your existing members affiliate for your site. To do that, go to Admin -> Users and select the user you want to make an affiliate.

After that, turn the toggle on and set a commission % in the box and click on the ‘Save’ button.

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That’s it, the user has now been added as an affiliate and they can start promoting your site. 

Conclusion

Membership sites can be incredibly powerful. They’re a great way to build a recurring revenue stream for your business and also establish a loyal fan base.

Teachable is a great platform for building membership sites and If you’re thinking of starting one, it’s time for you to put the strategies discussed in this guide into action. Let us know in the comments below if anything is holding you back.

If you already have a membership site on Teachable, please share your top tips for creating and running memberships in the comments below.

Either way, leave a comment below!

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Baidhurya Mani

Written by Baidhurya Mani

Baidhurya Mani is the founder of SellCoursesOnline.com. He is passionate about helping content creators sell online and specializes in building course websites and sales funnels. He has been working with Teachable instructors for more than 2 years and he regularly shares tip & tutorials for Teachable instructors on his blog.