025: Building a Membership Site Around Health and Happiness

Ward chats with Melissa Stephenson, founder of Four Wellness Co. about using pricing as a tool to attract higher quality members, why less is more when it comes to content marketing and what she’s learned from making her membership available across multiple platforms.

Show Notes

Show Transcript

Ward: [00:00:00] Hey Melissa, thanks for joining me.

Melissa: [00:00:01] Hi . Glad to be here.

Ward: [00:00:03] All right. So once you give everybody a little bit of background about your membership business and in your case businesses.

Melissa: [00:00:11] Yes, so I actually use memberspace into different businesses that I run a wellness company and a web design company. My wellness company is called fourwellness.co and it’s an integrative nutrition Health coaching and corporate Consulting business that helps busy professionals bring more Wellness into their daily lives. It’s my passion project. And right now it’s in more of a development phase. But I’m using memberspace to grow my audience and my list as I’m developing the company, which I can talk more about later. And then my web design company is called fivedesign.co and I really fell into that kind of accidentally. I have no formal training as a web designer, but over the years I’ve built and maintained many websites for different purposes. I spent years as a wellness blogger. I also formerly worked as a marketing manager in healthcare and then over the years just taught myself how to code and now I help other entrepreneurs build and maintain websites for their own businesses. So yeah, I can share how I use membership programs in both my own business on the wellness company side, and then how I’ve helped set up a membership businesses for my web design clients in their own businesses. In my wellness company I have a membership program in which I host a wellness library for my audience. It’s a free library of Healthy Living guides and resources for busy professionals who want to eat better find new ways to stay active in their busy lifestyle. Learn how to choose healthy products for their home etcetera. Without having to research each of those things independently. So the guys kind of bring it all together for them comprehensively. They’re more detailed and more valuable than my publicly available blog posts, which is why they’re in my membership protected library, and I’m using them as an opt-in gift to grow my audience and my list for the future products and services. That will be offered through the wellness company. So in that case the wellness library is free and it’s used primarily as a tool to build my list for larger programs and services down the road and then on the web design side, I’ve helped clients set it up for their current membership businesses. One example is but it’s being used to protect the member portal for an educational group that offers video trainings and other resources for their members. I design on Squarespace. So I built this entire portion of the website that’s specifically for the members of this group. It looks and functions differently from the public side of the website. And so once members sign up for a free trial that can then be extended into a paid membership. Then they’re in the back end of this member portal accessing the video trainings on that site.

Ward: [00:03:09] Cool. So for for forwellness right now, like you said, it’s still kind of in the development phase went for people to get those detailed guides. They do need to become a member but it’s a free membership right?

Melissa: [00:03:19] Right, right.

Ward: [00:03:21] Gotcha. And when you do you have any plans for as when you think you might actually launch that?

Melissa: [00:03:26] Yes, so it does take much longer to set up health related businesses than one might expect but I am planning to launch both self-paced courses and start getting into corporate Wellness Consulting in 2020.

Ward: [00:03:43] ForThe course do you have any idea what you’re gonna be charging?

Melissa: [00:03:47] Great questions. So my. Current plan for the courses that I’m building out our to have sort of a tiered pricing scheme, so there would be. More of an intro course so to speak that would be in a more accessible rate and this is a little kitschy but because my business is have numbers and their names. I’ve been enjoying using numbers and other aspects. So using numbers like $40 for more of an intro course versus 400 for more of a in-depth course.

Ward: [00:04:23] Yeah, I think I think that you know at that it’s got a fun, right? Yeah, it’s all part of the brand, you know using that word for I guess fine. I think that works. All right, so 40 for an intro and then 400 for the for the more in-depth one.

Melissa: [00:04:37] And then eventually down the road. I mean for particularly with the health coaching side of things 4,000 is even a possibility down the road, but. Kind of raining things in right now. Not even for that one quite yet.

Ward: [00:04:53] Yeah, but it’s always there right now another for with more zeros. Okay. And as far as the pricing were deducted that come from anywhere like what’s that based on?

Melissa: [00:05:03] Yeah, I have been part of a couple different entrepreneur groups along the way in building both of these businesses and just cut my my eyes open about the cost of other programs with people are mentioning in there with their own businesses and what’s successful. So I do something that I have really connected with is this idea that people your programs need to be valued at a dollar amount that makes people think about whether they’re going to use it or not. So if I sold a program for four dollars, which would be I guess the first option that I would have if I’m going with the the for scheme for dollars is an amount that people could get excited about purchasing a product and then. Might be easier for them to forget about it and not come back to it and I’ll get there their money’s worth out of that. And so I think that in whatever level of product you’re developing kind of finding that balance between what is an accessible dollar amount for your audience to be able to purchase your product at versus you know, Kind of on the other end of that Spectrum. What’s an amount that really makes them want to use it because they don’t want to waste that money.

Ward: [00:06:29] Yeah, I think that’s a good way to think about it right because money does Drive Behavior, right? If it’s too low people don’t really care. But if you have to do it like you said if I think that’s a smart move. Do you plan on potentially raising that price at some point or do you feel pretty comfortable is kind of sticking there for them?

Melissa: [00:06:47] You know, I took a training recently that. Told me that whatever you’re planning to charge for your course is too low and that you should double it because particularly for new course creators. We start off too low. We don’t value our courses highly enough and that really most of us could stand to raise our prices rather than bring them down. So I would definitely be open to raising them. And after they’re launched and then beta tested really taking a good long look at what they’re worth and like I’ve just mentioned that kind of Sweet Spot between what feels accessible and comfortable to people but also what really stretches them a little bit so that they’re really feeling that they’ve invested in something.

Ward: [00:07:37] Yeah. I think there’s a caveat with you know, as far as charge more exits definitely common advice on the internet. Various things but charge more if the values there is kind of the asterisk there because if you launch your course and your hearing, you know mazing feedback and be you’re changing people’s lives, they’re losing weight, etc. Etc. Then it’s like okay. Yeah, there’s there’s proof here. Right? I know what this is helping people and that and I know providing that little help is worth more than $40 more than 400. But you know, let’s say worst case scenario. You don’t hear that people say oh this is really makes sense or I didn’t find it that helpful, whatever whatever and in that case the next move I would argue is not to raise the price the move is to figure out how to deliver more value before and then in the future. If you can get the correct kind of feedback from customers then raise the price.

Melissa: [00:08:21] Exactly.

Ward: [00:08:24] So what have you done so far to kind of build up your audience?

Melissa: [00:08:28] So the primary way that I have been building an audience is content Marketing in both of my businesses both the wellness company in the web design company. I publish regular blog posts on topics of interest for those audiences and then most of my blog posts in some way promote a Content upgrade like one of the Healthy Living guides in my Wellness Library. And then I use Pinterest to Market both those publicly accessible blog posts and the more comprehensive resources that our membership protected and this has worked really well for me and drives consistent traffic to the resources on my website, whether that’s a blog post that has an often attached to it or it’s an opt-in landing page itself. Each of these resources that’s receiving traffic includes an offer to join my membership program and thus helps to build my audience.

Ward: [00:09:24] Right. So Pinterest you mention is that just one of the social social networks that you’re using or is that the main one that’s working for you?

Melissa: [00:09:32] That is a great question and I will say that in general. I have not had much success with social media driving traffic to my business. Part of that is definitely because I haven’t tried as much as I could have with other channels outside of Pinterest, but I find that other social media channels and I’m not including Pinterest in that but Instagram Facebook Twitter what not. I’m really not able to spend the time on them that It would be it would be required of me to be successful in those platforms. So I am on more of the Elder side of millennial and because of that and have to admit I am not very good at being attached to my phone or documenting the parts of life that really make a compelling social media presence. So I have personally felt that the amount of time it takes to grow an authentic community on Instagram for example is above and beyond what myself for many entrepreneurs are able to invest in the early stages of our businesses. So sure if you have a dedicated social media manager on your team, or you have a team in general that’s a line at a time and creative energy to engage on social media that’s great. But realistically many entrepreneurs just starting out or solopreneurs and have to make choices about how to invest our time and you have to play to your strengths and what’s most likely to get you the farthest and for me, I’m a former blogger and writer. I don’t spend a lot of time on social media and my personal life. So it just made sense for me to focus more on writing journalistic blog content. Then on sharing a bunch of personal Instagram stories and Pinterest happens to be the best tool. I have found for sharing that blog content in the social Arena.

Ward: [00:11:21] Yeah, I know. I think that’s great. And you know, I don’t think it’s anything to feel bad about their especially about not being attached to your phone. That’s probably makes you healthier than most people. Yeah, I mean a lot of people that I’ve spoken to. I have definitely had success with Instagram but there’s also a lot of people that happen and you’re right. It takes to Serious time commitment. Nothing if you want do something. Well, it’s not going to be easy and it’s not going to be quick. So it’s something that is that the best use of your time is that something that gives you energy and that you enjoy doing it. These are all things to consider that just because other people have been successful with it with Instagram for example, doesn’t mean that’s what you should do or that that is the right thing to do. So, I think that’s a good point that you’re making let’s shift a little bit so it’s go to our deeper question here as far as you know, what would you say is the most effective membership strategy that you think listeners could learn from the either, you know of or that you’ve read about or that you’ve done in the past.

Melissa: [00:12:13] Well, like you just mentioned with social media and there is a little bit of variation based on the business owner themselves and what their strengths are and what their business and tells different things might work best for. Different circumstances, but what has worked really well for me and building membership businesses as giving my audience plenty of opportunities to join my membership program across many different parts of my website. So if I just had one sales page for any given resource that I’m promoting, I’d only Reach people who I could funnel into that one page. So putting sign up opportunities throughout my entire site has been really helpful. In my case because my membership program is an archive of Wellness guides and resources. I promote them and link to them on each of my blog posts as a free content upgrade. So if someone is interested in my blog post on let’s say improving their indoor air quality. They may be interested in my guide on healthy clean supplies that don’t pollute your indoor air quality. Or if they’re reading an article on weekday meal planning all include a little promo off of offer for the free meal planning worksheet. So, of course these little subscription opportunities throughout the site might be more doable with a small or free resource. Then they would be with a larger more complex paid resource that really needs more sales copy to describe it fully but I think the same principles apply regardless of how your membership program is structured. If you’re offering a valuable resource that your audience finds useful and truly wants I think the more simple you can keep your sign up process the better. And a lot of entrepreneurs myself included sometimes I can fall into those more is more way of thinking but we can actually go so much further with a less-is-more mentality and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen an enrollment button that is hidden under eight paragraphs of sales copy and that sales copy can be truly great, but being good does not mean that it’s needed and often you just need to give people an opportunity to easily find and click through to what they want.

Ward: [00:14:26] Yeah, I think there’s a lot to unpack there as far as you know one the way I would summarize it is multiple calls to action throughout the website throughout the pages. Then also kind of like the cross-linking of you know, repurposing content that you’ve already created. Even if it’s free, you know that that makes sense because if if it’s a free piece of content that leads to someone joining your email list that’s still worth something because that’s someone who could potentially buy your paid membership offering in the future. So it’s still it’s still worth something and I think that’s a good idea to think about how you can recycle your content. If you also like you make something once and assuming it’s good and you put effort into it and actually is helping people, you know, just because you launched it once and tweeted about it or put it on Pinterest. That doesn’t mean okay that it’s gone now and you never have to talk about it again, and we should never mention again that that’s something that is an asset now that lives on your website and you’re right. You should figure out ways to surface that for people because you never know when someone’s coming to you. They might have just heard. Yesterday’s they don’t even know you wrote that unless it’s referenced in a future piece of content. Exactly.

Melissa: [00:15:30] And I also try to think of my blog posts as being smaller quicker more easily digestible bits of my larger resources. So someone can land on a blog post and get an introduction to a topic that then they’re offered a more complete resource if they’re interested in it.

Ward: [00:15:48] So when you see a more complete resource, what do you mean exactly?

Melissa: [00:15:52] So for example, the membership protected resource? That I have in the wellness Library they cover a range of topics that might take up five or six different blog posts. So I have a healthy home guide that multiple different blog posts on my website are all linking to and promoting because they’re each little little pieces of the Healthy Home guide, so a little piece on air quality or unhealthy cookware for your kitchen or unhealthy cleaning supplies. They they are all ultimately driving people to this full resource where they can get much more detailed information on any of those topics, but the blogpost present this really broad very complicated Topic in a much more brief and more. Easy to access way.

Ward: [00:16:47] Yeah, that’s another smart point, you know, not everyone’s busy. Right? Everyone’s got a million things going on million things were thinking about make your content has adjustable as possible and give people the opportunity opportunity to go deeper when they want to is smart maybe having a condensed or summarized version. The beginning is probably a good idea. It makes a lot of sense. So yeah and kind of in closing here, are there any membership resources that you recommend to people listening and by resources I mean, you know other blogs maybe podcast you’ve listen to books you’ve read courses you’ve taken or that, you know about that, you know specifically would help people trying to build membership businesses.

Melissa: [00:17:27] Uh-huh. I can’t think of something that’s membership specific. But what I will say that has really helped me in building a membership based business is a Pinterest course that I took and I mentioned earlier how I use that in my content marketing, but I originally was not using Pinterest for my business. I saw no reason to. Then I happened upon a webinar about using Pinterest. I took Jenna Kutcher’s course, but I know Melissa Griffin also has a good one and I would just recommend one of these courses to anyone who is not currently using Pinterest in their business. Like I said, I was not on the bandwagon at first I did not I told you how I felt about social media, so I was not really rushing to get involved with another platform, but now 85. 90% of my website traffic comes from Pinterest. So that has been huge for me. It was a huge resource and definitely worth my investment and taking a Pinterest course.

Ward: [00:18:29] Fantastic great and how do people get in touch with you if you want to learn more about you or your businesses.

Melissa: [00:18:35] Yes, I am online. Hey, my wellness company is for wellness.com go and my web design company is five design.com go and the numbers are spelled out in each of those.

Ward: [00:18:46] Great. I’m Lissa. Well, thanks for taking some time to talk with us Melissa.

Melissa: [00:18:50] Thank you Ward.