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How to Start, Run, Promote & Profit From Your Own Membership Website
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How to Sell Online content - The transition from free to "pay-for-content" is taking the Internet by storm
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How to Sell Online content - The transition from free to "pay-for-content" is taking the Internet by storm

Want to sell subscriptions for online content with your own membership  site? Selling online content via a password protected website has become big business. Not only is it fast to set up (with the right tools), but the start-up and running costs are minimal. Work from home entrepreneurs and big businesses alike are lapping up this new found revenue source.

 People are willing to pay for online content. In fact, the "Online  Publishers Association" revealed that pay-for content is emerging as a hot  revenue model. Business content, personals/match making, and entertainment  are the hottest niches. But even smaller niches, like DVD authoring, sports  coaching, marketing services, and dieting are producing profits.

 Internet users spend $300 Million in 4 Months for Online Content

 U.S. consumer spending for online content in the first 4 months of 2002  was $300 million, a growth of 155% over the first quarter of 2001 (and  that?s post-September 11th). It?s apparent that online users will pay for  content on their passion or profession.

 Subscribers are paying anywhere from $9.95 a month to $19.95, and in some  cases up to $200 a month ? depending on the nature of the content. Annual  subscription renewals hold a solid 72%, giving site owners an impressive  recurring residual income. Renewals accounted for nearly half of paid  content sales in 2001.

 A Rapidly Growing Market

 Less than 9% of online users currently pay for online content. This means  the market is wide open for the savvy entrepreneur. Paying for content in  2002 was more than 5 times what it was in 2001. That?s a massive 500%  growth! Those who capture the market first in their niche will have the  obvious advantage. It?s an international market, so anyone can play.

 Starting your own Membership Site

 There are 4 key elements to starting a subscription based membership  site, says Ansel Gough, Editor of MembershipSiteAdvisor.com ? an Australian  based membership site, teaching others how to start and run membership  sites.

 Target the right market: Find a market that is passionate about a  subject, and then build your membership site around it. There are so many  topics to choose from. Doing a key word search will reveal what people are  searching for online. You can know before you even launch a membership site  if there?s a big enough market.  Make it unique: Ideally potential subscribers shouldn?t be able to find  the same information elsewhere for free online. Your job is to search  online (and in some case offline) for content, and provide it in a  convenient manner for your subscribers. Being unique could just mean having  exclusive interviews with experts in your field. If you?ve done the  interview, then that?s unique. Finding experts (and even famous people) to  interview is not hard. In fact, as your site grows in popularity they are  likely to contact you. This situation gives you a two-fold advantage. It  gives you credibility or an endorsement, and it gives you exclusive  content. Of course your exclusive content may be from your own specialized  knowledge!  Finding Subscribers: If you?ve started off targeting the right market,  then finding traffic and subscribers aren?t as difficult as some people  believe. The best methods for generating quality traffic to your  website  include: Search engine positioning (including pay-per-click), Internet  Joint Venture Marketing, Ezines (online newsletters), affiliate programs,  and viral marketing (accelerated word of mouth marketing).  Add tools or services: To enhance your membership site try including  simple software, tools, ebooks, resources, etc. as a give-away. These can
 usually be found for free or at a very low cost online.  "Marrying services, resources or tools with content can dramatically  boost your subscription rates," Gough says. "However it?s best to include  something that doesn?t take up your time. Giving people a reason to return
 to your members only area is critical ? tools, resources, discussion forums  and quality content will do that!

 "The exciting thing is, you can take your hobby, specialized knowledge or  profession and turn it into a profitable membership site. Your challenge  will be finding exclusive content. You can start it part time ? something I  did myself, while working a full time job. As your subscriptions increase  you can plan on full time involvement in your area of interest."

 Starting and running a membership site can be a lot of fun and very  fulfilling, however you need to know what?s involved in setting one up, and  then managing it effectively. Planning and allowing for auto-responders,  automated sign-ups, credit card processing, automated cancellations, etc is  all part of a successful membership website.

 As complex as this seems, many companies offer a low cost, easy-to-use  software solution. A few companies, like MembershipSiteAdvisor.com offer a  free software membership management tool to subscribers, allowing them to  manage all of these routine tasks. This makes it possible for almost anyone  to start and market a membership site for next to nothing.

 Gough is quick to challenge that "Paying for online content is  inevitable. You can either be the one paying for it, or the one profiting  from it. Ideally you?ll do both, and learn a great deal in the process."

 For more information, resources and tools for starting and running a  membership site, visit http://www.MembershipSiteAdvisor.com

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