I have been fortunate to work with membership sites of every size from sites with hundreds of members to the tens of thousands.

What I’ve learned from working all over the industry is that there is no one tactic or strategy that makes a great membership site, but rather it’s having an understanding of how all the pieces fit together.

I look at the five “big rocks” of growing a membership site as the different categories you need a handle on in order to grow and maintain a strong community no matter your market.

1. Foundation Strategy

This first “big rock” is all about getting clear on who you serve and how you help them. It needs to be specific enough that your network comes to know you as the person who solves that problem.

You want to be top of mind with your market and core audience. This level of clarity actually helps to determine how to structure your site.  
Every market is unique, and the “how” you plan to serve is just as key as the “who.”

2. Content Strategy

Content is one of the big areas where you can really go off the rails. A lot of people jump right on the crazy train of believing that the more content they throw out into their community, the better.


The value does not come from the volume of information, the value comes at the speed at which members can learn and apply the information. Say it with me!

What ends up happening time and time again is that you overwhelm your members. They feel like they cannot keep up with the pace of the content and a portion of them may use that as a justification for leaving your community.

With this in mind, it’s key how you structure and release your content to your community. So no more crazy trains, keep the info at a reasonable speed limit.

I recommend 4 pieces per month, or 1 per week.

That’s more than enough.

3. Marketing Strategy

Now we know who our market is and how we’re going to deliver content, but how do we get some eyeballs on our site? I take a different approach than a lot of other people in the industry and it took me some time to fully embrace it.

I recommend that most membership sites take a closed strategy and do not stay open for new members every month. For certain communities an open strategy is fine, but I’ve worked with tons of clients that were staying open continuously just out of fear.  
What I realized was that by doing less promotions a year and we were able to focus on larger and higher converting open periods. It gave us tons of breathing room to not be marketing all the time and allowed us to put an even greater focus on our current members. This leads me to the next “big rock.”

4. Retention Strategy

Retention is all about how to keep your members happy and paying month after month. There’s a common myth that most customers will only stay in an information based membership site for 3-4 months.


That’s a red flag that signals this person doesn’t understand the mechanics of a strong retention process.

How you onboard new members is key to retention. How they create a member profile and get introduced to the community leaves a lasting impression. Ideally you want them engaging and consuming as quickly as possible.

Additionally, how often and how openly you communicate with your members is the other major key to excellent retention. The bottom line is that is you want to be communicating with your members all the time! At least once a week.

Recap what’s been happening within the community, what’s coming up next, what people are talking about. This is what encourages relationships and community to grow within your membership.

5. Backend Systems

The last piece comes into play once your site is up and running and you want to scale your business. As you’re gaining traction you need to stay aware of your processes and your systems.

It’s time to start looking to outsource, hire, and automate various aspects of your site and business. The larger your membership grows the “less” you should be doing.

Again this isn’t an initial step and it pays dividends to get messy in the weeds to understand every facet of your business in the beginning. But as soon as you can let go of the non-essentials you’ll have more time and energy to stay connected to your members. That’s what membership sites are truly all about.

Action Steps

  1. Be known in your network for serving your specific audience.
  2. Stick to 4 pieces of new content monthly 1 per week.
  3. Decide on an open or closed marketing strategy. Only stay open if that gels with your niche otherwise use a closed strategy and focus on bigger launches less frequently.
  4. Onboard new members in a way that gets them active on the site ASAP.
  5. Communicate with your members minimum once a week.
  6. Create systems to run and scale aspects of your business and website.


Result You Will Get

The essential strategies for membership sites including the foundation, content, marketing, retention, and scaling.

Mentor: Stu McLaren

Co-Founder at WishList Products. Stu helps experts transform their knowledge and influence into recurring revenue by launching, growing and scaling 7 and 8-figure membership sites.

This article is based on an EHQ interview with the mentor.