Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of mixergy.com, home of the ambitious upstart, and home of a cold, I guess. I don’t know that I have a cold. I’m just stuffy. Maybe I’m just overworked.
Here’s what this interview is about. I decided to build my business, to focus my life on membership sites. I feel like if I’m going to create content, there are a number of ways that I can go about bringing in money to pay for the people who help create the content, and talk to the audience, and make sure that we have support for people who are part of the community.
And I could have done advertising, and frankly, I do have one advertiser – Scott Edward Walker of Walker Corporate Law. But I decided that I didn’t want advertising to be my focus. I could have gone for affiliate sales, but again, it just didn’t feel right to me. The model that made sense to me was a membership business where if I create something, the audience either likes it and continues to pay, or they don’t like it and then they cancel and I understand that I need to improve.
And so, getting paid directly from the audience means to me that they love my work and that they like the way that I’m helping them with their lives. And building a membership site and having recurring revenue allows me to also hire a team of people who can count on getting paid week to week, month to month. And so that’s why I’ve chosen to do it. But, sometimes I feel kind of lost in the process. Sometimes I feel like I don’t know what I don’t know about doing a membership site right.
So frankly, because Stu McLaren is a friend of mine I was going to just have a private conversation with him, and then I said, “No, I’ve got an audience of other people who are going through this, who need to understand how to build a membership site and do it right. Why don’t we record it?”
So, Stu McLaren, who I mentioned is the founder of WishList Member, which is a membership plugin that turns WordPress sites into membership sites so you can ad recurring revenue or even just sell one-time content on your site. You can protect certain areas of the site just for members, or maybe the whole site. And so, he’s the guy who knows about it.
Beyond that he also runs his own membership community that I’ve been a part of for years. It’s called WishList Insider, and when we have a problem with how to run a membership site, I will often go on that message board and answer it. And so I figured, he runs a membership site, he creates a plugin for membership sites, he’s the guy for me to talk to and learn from, and if you have any interest in this, I think you’re going to benefit from this conversation.
And as you’ll see from, maybe the second question I’ll ask, even if you don’t have any interest in this, even if you don’t think it’s right for you, I’m going to show you that it could be, that it could just really change the way you think about your business and the kind of revenue that you have in there. So, Stu, that’s a really long conversation because we’ve had a really long friendship, and I just want to thank you for being here.
Stu: Dude, I’m excited. You know how much respect I have for you, the Larry King of online interviews, so this is a privilege.
Andrew: Thank you. We talked before we started about how, frankly, starting a membership site, for you, was kind of a way of dealing with a tough business situation. Where were you and what was the difficulty that the membership site helped you address?
Stu: So I always joke that we’re like the Hair Club for men because, not only did we create the product, but we use it too. But if we go back, that actually wasn’t necessarily the case. One of the original inceptions of WishList Member was to create a tool that I personally could use for my own outside, personal membership site, which was ultimately the reason that we started everything.
And, you know, my business partner, Tracy, had the genius idea of saying, “Hey, why don’t we create it together?” And so we did, and our third partner, Mike Lopez, was the mastermind behind it all. And initially I just used WishList Member for my own personal membership. But as the company of WishList grew, and we started to get so many more customers coming on board, we started to have to really ramp up our operation.
So we had to hire some more people to help with support. We had to hire some more people to help with development. And supporting the volume of customers that were buying our product really began to wear on me, you know, because I kind of wear – I don’t know if anybody, like you or your audience ever deal with this, but I wear the burden of responsibility.
When you bring on people, I start to think about, like, “Wow, we need to generate this much revenue to be able to afford all these people, and that’s responsible for putting food on their tables.” You know? So we got to the point where we had 15, 16, 17, now 18 full-time people, and that responsibility started to create a lot of stress for me. And so, what was happening was the business was depending on one-time transactions, meaning, people were coming, they were buying WishList Member, and that’s how we were paying our bills.
And, in addition to that, we were getting a lot of questions. Just like you were suggesting here, you have questions about building a membership site. And, the questions were not, necessarily around the technical aspect, but, they were also around the marketing aspect, the content aspect, retaining members, managing a community, things that aren’t necessarily related to the technical stuff, which is what we created, but, more about how to successfully drive a membership.
And so, what we ended up doing is taking that concept and creating our own membership site for our customers. It’s a paid membership site, it’s called WishList Insider, as you mentioned. And, what happened was it almost immediately took the burden of responsibility and stress off of my shoulders. Because, now, the vast majority of our overhead is covered by the monthly recurring subscriptions of people who had joined WishList Insider.
And I can’t tell you what that does in terms of relieving the stress of an entrepreneur. Having comfort in know you have your bases covered and everything else you do from that point forward is icing on the cake. Now, it changed the whole dimension, for me, in terms of managing the stress levels of the business.
Andrew: Wow. I want to emphasize that the vast majority of your overhead now is covered from recurring revenue that you can count on. So, you’re not starting every month saying to yourself, I’m starting at zero, how do I make enough sales to pay for all the people here? You’re starting every month with predictable revenue that allows you to bank on it and then build your business.
So the second question that I promised people was around, what if they don’t have an information based business the way that I do. Where I’m doing interviews and selling older interviews, where I’m doing courses, where entrepreneurs teach something that other entrepreneurs need to know. Not everyone gravitates towards content and information, what do you think about that?
Stu: Well, I think that there’s a real opportunity for all of us. When it comes to just taking a step back, looking at our business model, and asking ourselves, how can we go from a one-time transactional business to a recurring transactional business. Meaning, rather than depending on, you know, chasing new customers to make another sale. What if you could provide your products or services in such a way that the same customer continues to buy from you month after month after month?
And, there are some really good examples of companies that have taken very mundane products but, yet, they have completely flipped the business model upside down and have over-laid it with a recurring business model. Okay, one example would be Manpacks.com. Now, Manpacks, for those people who don’t know, is a membership site that you pay every single month to, and they ship, this is obviously for men, but they ship men’s underwear or you can get under-shirts sent. Because, one of the things that they found, is that men, for whatever reason, hate doing laundry, and, they would run out of underwear by the end of the month.
So, Manpacks said, hey wait a minute, why don’t we just solve that problem, and we’ll just create a recurring subscription for men’s’ underwear. And, we were talking about this in the pre-interview, and I had no idea when I brought it up, but, you said that you were actually wearing a pair of them.
Andrew: Truly, honestly, right now I’m wearing a pair. I interviewed one of the founders, and I liked the idea so much that I signed up. And I still wear their underwear.
Stu: Hilarious, right? So, I had no idea about that. So, that’s a good example. Another good example would be the dollar shave club. So, same concept, instead of relying on customers to come into the grocery store and buying new razors, these guys took a step back and said, wait a minute, this is something that men need every single month, why don’t we turn it into a subscription model. Which is what they did with dollar shave club. Huge success.
Andrew: We talked about this one too, before we started. Healthy foods, they send a box of healthy food every month, or every quarter, I think you can set it up. So, what about this though, for content, I just install WishList Member, and I don’t want this to be a commercial for WishList there are other plugins for it out there that do it, I prefer WishList. And, I can mark parts of my content for members only and I can say that certain sections of the site, or the forums just for members. When it comes to selling a healthy food, or razors, or underwear, isn’t the software involved in that much more complicated?
Stu: It doesn’t have to be, no. The key thing is that you’re looking for a way to be able to separate members from non-members. And then based on that, you can decide what members are going to see and what non-members are going to see or get. Now with WishList Member, in particular, we have an API, so if it was like a physical product per-se, you could have such a thing in place where every month at the end of the month, WishList Member sends all the member info over to a fulfillment company, which then fulfills whatever product or service that the members are getting each month.
Andrew: I see. Okay.
Stu: So, there are many ways to skin the cat, but essentially with information we do it slightly different, because we’re basically giving access or not giving access to the information, but the same thing could be done with a physical product, just sending the info to a fulfillment house.
Andrew: My friend Noah Kagan created a beef jerky subscription, and I think all he did was, he asked us to go to PayPal and sign up for a subscription, and then he sent us beef jerky via the mail. So, it can be even as simple as a PayPal account that uses recurring billing.
Andrew: Alright. So, I’ve got the sense of the possibilities here. Let’s talk about how to even get people in the door, and then once they’re in the door, what do we do to keep them engaged, and if they’re going to pay month to month, to keep them satisfied month to month. And I want to bring up a couple of issues that I have, specifically around message boards because they’re very new to me.
And I’m very nervous about the one that we built, and I need some advice there. And I’ve found that the best questions are the ones that the questioner really needs the answer to. But let’s start with the launch. You have a content business, or you have an idea for something that you want to sell. You need to get people in there. What do you do?
Stu: Well I think you definitely need to build some excitement for whatever membership that you are going to build. It’s just not effective to essentially, you know, get a site ready and just open the doors and just hope that people will find it and figure it out. You’ve got to build up anticipation. And you can look at similar examples, to when a new movie launches or a new show is coming out.
You know, people in the entertainment world, they understand the power of creating anticipation. And so you’ll see trailers well before you can actually go and view the movie in the movie theaters. Same with new shows. Like, I’m a big fan of House of Cards. So, we know way out in advance they were starting to release trailers and, you know, sneak peeks of that show to create anticipation. So, that’s really important. If you’re going to launch a new membership site, I would recommend probably doing a three part launch for it.
Stu: And the way that this is kind of structured is, the first part of it, we typically use video, it really outlines the opportunity. What is the opportunity in the marketplace that you’re going to help people take advantage of? So, in the first video, you’re really outlining the opportunity. In the second video, you’re really outlining problems, challenges that commonly will come up for people.
And you really want to give great value in these launch videos so that you’re demonstrating again, the value that you can provide. And the third video is really a more direct pitch, if you will, for people to join the membership. And basically, you don’t have to get super sales-y or hype-y or anything of that nature. You’re basically, if you understand your market, and you know problems, challenges, or frustrations that they’re experiencing, basically what you’re providing is the solution for that inside of your membership site.
So we usually, typically do a three part launch series. Video one is the opportunity, video two is outlining problems or challenges, and then, certainly, giving some solutions to that, and three is, again, emphasizing bigger problems or challenges that they may face taking the next steps…
Andrew: So it’s just three videos that you e-mail to your audience? No more than that?
Stu: Not when you’re launching. There is obviously going to be e-mail copy that follows up with this, but here’s the other big launch strategy that I really want to emphasize to people. During your first week, you want to provide as much of an incentive to sign up during that first week as possible. So, my recommendation, and something that I use all the time with client projects and partner projects, is we have an early bird discount during the first week. So, let’s just say, for example, you’re going to price your membership site at $50 a month.
What I would do is have an early bird discount, where it’s dramatically discounted, whether it be $35 a month or $40 a month. But there’s a significant savings for people to sign up during that first week. So that’s a real incentive for people and the other big incentive is that you will grandfather that price as long as they remain a member in good standing. So, they are fully aware that at the end of that first week the price is going to go up from $35 to $50 but as long as they stay a member their price will only be $35 a month, while everyone else at the regular rate is paying $50 a month.
Andrew: So then doesn’t everyone else feel like a sucker for coming in at the full price because suddenly the full price which seemed ordinarily okay seems too expensive?
Stu: Let me reposition that. Isn’t it a great thing to reward early adopters by grandfathering them in at an ongoing grandfather discount price because you are rewarding early action? They are the people that are taking, I wouldn’t say a risk, but they are the people that are taking chances on you.
Andrew: No question but don’t you get people coming back afterwards saying “Listen I had a flight I couldn’t really buy it before the closing bell and so can you give me that price” or “now this feels too expensive, why would I pay that when I know other people in the community?” Is that a problem?
Stu: You will have people like that, but it’s really important for you to stick to your guns on this because it sets a marketing precedence. If you do any type of promotion down the road and there is a deadline associated with it and you don’t stick to your guns early on with your earlier promotions, people will not take your deadlines or your promotions seriously.
They will be like, “Oh no big deal, Andrew is telling me there is a deadline here but I know he’s a softy. I’ll just shoot him an email and he will send me the discount I ask.” That is not the position that you want to be in. If you are going to establish boundaries for your marketing promotions, stick to them. Don’t waver on those because it is bad for you and it’s bad for your customers.
Andrew: Let me ask you this too. We are assuming the person who does this has a mailing list. If they don’t have a mailing list, is a membership site something they can start off with, with a link from the side of the site from integrating into the creation of the site. By the way I notice that you are very washed out, which is fine. I’m very dark which is not good. I’m just going to do this to help change wipeouts. How’s that? Maybe it is a little clearer. We will see.
Andrew: I think when I held up the box, the healthy surprise was so white, the Skype camera compensated by darkening things up and then it stayed that way. Do I look prettier now?
Stu: You look good. You look good. So your question was about anybody who doesn’t have an email list to be able to jump start.
Andrew: Yes, if they are just starting out should they do this before they have a big list.
Stu: I think that one of the things that you can do to really give yourself a leg up when you launch, is to build a pre-launch list. So if you have got a blog, a pod cast or what have you, I would be generating interest from your existing audience and have them sign up for pre- notification or something of that nature.
It is important to have a list ahead of time because you really want to give yourself as many as advantages as possible when you launch. Like I said, an early bird discount that gets grandfathered for people that joined you in that first week is a huge advantage because now you are going to give people a real incentive to join you in that first week, which gets the community really jump started. Right? There is a lot more people that are going to be joining; there is a lot more excitement during that first week which carries forward. Now that serves as social proof that this is a great place to be. There is lots of interaction and so forth.
Andrew: I see.
Stu: Where if you contrast that and you put a sign out that says “Hey I’m open for sale”, and you start slowly but surely to trickle members in, it doesn’t have the same impact as when somebody jumps in and they are all excited and they go to the forum and there’s nobody there.
Andrew: What if there’s no forum? See for me when I launched I always thought that I should have started charging earlier on to establish to people that this is a site where the content is so good that you are going to want to pay for it.
Stu: I agree.
Andrew: You know the older interviews, maybe I should have from the start said, “As soon as an interview is seven days old it goes into the membership site and you have to be a member in order to get it.” I feel like maybe I could have started that from the beginning and built up a customer base that way. What do you think of that?
Stu: I think your situation is kind of unique because when we first talked about it you definitely had reservations about charging for your content. Right?
Andrew: I was a chicken. Yes.
Stu: You had been producing high quality content and you were giving it away free for such a long time. To make that transition to paid content was a tough challenge but I want to commend you because you did a great job of still balancing free content and paid content. This is a lesson for everybody because you took that free content and said “Hey you know what, it’s still going to be free for everybody who wants to view it.”
But it’s only going to be free for the first seven days, then it gets moved to the archives, which is a brilliant strategy. And, that is a good example of being able to make that transition, from free to paid. And, so, I think, you did a great job of building an audience because of you free content. If you had started charging right from the get-go, you may not have had the reach that you do now. Because it wouldn’t have got out.
Andrew: Okay, then, if I would have done that, then it would have slowed down my growth, because all those older interviews were bringing in fans. And, once I had those fans, I could charge. Looking at a guy, you introduced me to his blog. I’ve known him for a long, but, did know how great Brian Harris’ blog is, blog.videofruit.com. Where he just breaks down people’s marketing.
And I feel like, he’s so good at growing his mailing list, I don’t know that it would hurt if he started charging for something on a recurring basis, even if it was, just, his best marketing advice, where every month he would sell it. And, then, he could learn what people like enough to keep paying, he could learn how to sell, just as he’s learning to write good copy, and, learning how to build his mailing list. What do you think about that, and I don’t want to spend too much time on it, but, what do you think?
Stu: I think it’s totally possible, I think at the end of the day, the model that everybody should be utilizing, regardless of where you’re at. Whether you’re just beginning, or whether you’re a seasoned pro, is you’ve got to think through a process of taking somebody who has a mild interest in you or your content. How do you take somebody from a mild interest to becoming a subscriber and eventually a paid customer?
Stu: That’s the process you’ve got to think through. Each one has its own purpose. You still want to be producing free content, because that’s a way of attracting new people who would never otherwise get exposed to you. You still want to have some incentive or some reason for people to sign up to your e-mail list. Because that’s your engine for marketing. That’s the way that you drive your business, and you still want to have a paid product, whether it be a subscription or a one-time course or what have you. Because that’s the revenue model, if you don’t have the revenue model, it’s very difficult to be able to sustain the free content.
Andrew: So, what’s free and available to anyone on-line, what’s free, but, you need to join the mailing list, and what’s paid, if it’s all, in my case anyway, and hopefully in Brian’s case, if it’s all content, how do you do it?
Stu: Okay, so, I’m going to give you three strategies, these are like frame works that I use when I’m producing content, that take people from viewing free content to wanting to naturally join your paid membership. You ready for this? Okay. So, the first one is called the WAH sandwich. So, it’s the WAH sandwich, and it stands for the what and how sandwich. And, here’s how it works.
Part one is the free content that you produce and it naturally sets up part 2 which is your paid content, which is inside your member’s area. And, so, the free part of this, is the what. Your free content teaches people what to do. And, your paid content shows people how to do it. So, again, free content teaches people what to do, paid content show people how to do it.
Andrew: So if I’m going to do, like, I’m just going to pick a really generic topic, weight-loss. Do I then tell them, lose weight in the free stuff, and in the membership site, then I tell them how to lose weight, that feels, like, who wants to read an article that just says what to do all the time.
Stu: No, I disagree, because people want direction, people are going on- line because they want things simplified for them. Example, you are about to have a baby, and, I hate to break it to you Andrew, but there’s a heck of a lot that you’re going to need to learn about parenting, right?
Stu: So, like, when I was starting, when I became a new father, goodness me, there was like, sleep-training, potty-training, teaching your son or daughter how to crawl, walk, and talk.
Andrew: Let’s look at potty-training, let’s suppose that I were going to start a business that taught new parents how to potty-train. What’s free, is the free stuff to say, hey, you should train your baby to go to the bathroom? Or, is it a little bit more how-to-y.
Stu: What you need to get in place to successfully potty-train your son or daughter. So, it could be, like, establish a routine, communicate, talk about going to the bathroom with mommy or daddy, all that kind of stuff. Purchase a potty for them, purchase a stool so they can step up to it. These types of things.
Now, the how part of that would be the types of things that you would say to your son or daughter, the types of schedules or routines to establish.
Andrew: I see.
Stu: So one naturally sets up the other. Just think of it this way. If somebody’s reading that article about what to do, their next logical question on the subconscious level in their mind is, “Well, how do I do that?” and that’s what naturally leads people to wanting your paid content.
Another good example, you’re a runner, Andrew. If you had a site about teaching people how to run better, faster, what article would be what to do to prepare for your first marathon. And it might be pick a race, find time in your schedule for training, create a training plan, and lastly create a meal plan. Inside of the members area on the paid side of things you could have a list of all the races throughout the country organized by state, by month or date, and organized by average finish times. So now that becomes way more valuable for somebody because now when it comes to picking a race they can quickly pick a race based on filters that they want to decide on.
Andrew: I see.
Stu: Training plans. You could actually create training plans, but you could create them for different levels of runners. For finding time in your schedule you could talk about strategies for an executive, you could talk about strategies for a work-at-home professional, you could talk about strategies for a mother. There are all kinds of ways to be able to take content, make it more convenient and easier for people to put into action.
Andrew: And it seems like it’s also a different level of commitment. Someone who’s going to the free stuff is not fully committed to doing it. Someone who’s paying is so committed that they need to know exactly what to do. All right, so that’s the wah sandwich, W-A-H sandwich.
Andrew: What? Free. How? Paid. What’s the other one?
Stu: The next one is called the incomplete loop.
Stu: So I’m a huge fan of shows like I mentioned House of Cards, the show 24, Breaking Bad, those kinds of things.
Andrew: Don’t give anything away in House of Cards. I’m still working through it.
Stu: Oh my goodness. That first episode. Ah, mind-blowing. Anyway, they use this incomplete loop really powerfully because what they do is they open a loop in one episode and so naturally as humans we want to figure out, we want to know how does that loop close and so we watch the next episode.
So 24 was a great example when that show was on. Jack Bauer would save the day, yay. World would feel great. Then right at the episode something catastrophic would happen and we’re sitting there as viewers going, “My God! I got to know what’s going to happen!” and so we watch the next episode. He would save the day, and then right at the end something catastrophic would happen. So they’re opening a loop, closing a loop. Opening a loop, closing a loop.
So with our content here’s how this works. With the incomplete loop in the free content, we want to give good, valuable information but in some way it’s incomplete. I’ll give you a couple examples in a minute. The paid content completes that loop. It gives the whole story, if you will.
Stu: So here’s an example. We are really, really good on the membership side of things when it comes to retention. So once somebody joins our membership sites we have a very high retention rate meaning a lot of people stay month after month after month. That’s not commonplace in a lot of membership site communities and so we get asked a lot to present on that subject. So I get asked, “Hey Stu, will you come to my conference? Will you talk about retention?” Absolutely.
Now there are 63 strategies that we’ve developed that increase retention rates within a membership site. Inevitably I can’t share all 63 strategies in a 30-minute, 60-minute, or even 90-minute presentation. So the incomplete part is I will give a free presentation where I outline ten retention strategies, but I make it obvious that the ten are part of a bigger subset of 63. So an example would be I wouldn’t just go, “Strategy number one. Strategy number two. Strategy number three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten.” I would start with, “Number three of 63 would be x. Number 22 of 63 would be x.”
Andrew: Got ya. So immediately my mind is thinking, “There are gaps here that I need to fill in” and so I go speaking up, “Is that somewhere on the site, on Insider?”
Stu: “No. So we have drizzled out a number of the strategies. We’ve talked about a number of them, but we’re actually going to probably put that into a complete course to kind of bring it all together.” But this is a good example, right? Yeah, so your mind naturally says, “Wait a minute. I have to fill those gaps.” I was exposed to this strategy a long time ago, ten, twelve years ago, when one of my mentors brilliantly had a home study course.
It was one of those courses that kind of sat up on your shelf. And, you could buy the DVDs one off, but when you’d put them up on the shelf, the spines, when you had them all together, were a picture of his face. But if you were missing two of the DVDs, it just felt totally incomplete, right?
Andrew: I see.
Stu: So, you wanted to complete that, and that’s certainly where the strategy becomes powerful. Here’s another example of where it’s being used. Clay Collins [SP] and his team at Lead Pages [SP] do a great job of this. So they have really great blog posts that share a really valuable story or a strategy and so forth. But really at the end of the day, if you want the convenience of being able to implement what they’re teaching you, you’ve really got to use their service.
Andrew: I see.
Stu: So, the strategy is really valuable, but it’s incomplete in some way. So, it’s useful, but it’s incomplete. And the way to complete that is to buy the service. And we follow the same thing with WishList Member, where we teach valuable membership site strategies, that are really good, but if you aren’t using WishList Member, they’re incomplete because you really need to buy WishList Member to get the benefit of it.
Andrew: You know, you did one of the early courses at Mixergy, back when we were still trying to figure out even what the courses would be, and I asked you to talk about retention because, you know, if I build a membership site, I need to increase retention. And one of the things you talked about, is once people are in, you still want to have open loops that close and open.
So anyway, I learned to do that, and I created a brand new membership site called True Mind, where we’d talk about focus and how to deal with the inner critic, and how to go towards your aim with clear focus, and it was seven different sections. I actually went to a studio and recorded them all.
And I remembered, Stu talked about opening a loop at the end of each section that you close at the next one, and then you open another loop at the end of the next section, and so on. So at the end of each section, I said, “Alright, now that you have this, I know it’s going to feel like it’s not complete. What we’re going to talk about next time is how to fill that in.” And it’s not just about retention.
People, I realized, want to know what’s coming up. How does this fit in with the overall puzzle? Now they may not necessarily want to complete your friend’s face, but they do want to have a complete understanding of what’s coming up, and if a membership site, or any content that you teach, is only giving one piece of information, I realized I owe it to them to tell them, ‘here is how it fits in with the rest, and the next part is going to et cetera’. And so, it’s hugely helpful.
Stu: Thanks for sharing. I mean, in any membership site or course, you want to create anticipation for the next lesson, the next episode, whatever it is. Because if you don’t, then your members are just left to guess that next month is going to be relevant to them. And so, you don’t want to leave things to hope. You don’t want to leave things to chance. You want to put the odds in your favor, that they are going to continue to get value, and that they’re going to continue to stay. And the way that you do that, as you said, open a loop, close a loop, open a loop, close a loop.
Andrew: Alright, there is so much more I want to get into. Let’s go to the third strategy for content.
Stu: Okay. So, the third strategy is called the convenient upgrade. Okay?
Stu: Let me share a quick story. A little while ago, one of my favorite bands of all time, Mumford and Sons, came to my little home town. I couldn’t believe it. I live in a tiny little town of about 5,000 people, and around me are like three or four other towns about the same size, so collectively, I think our community is around 25,000 to 30,000 people.
Stu: So Mumford and Sons, a huge band, who has won all kinds of awards, were coming to our town. So what they did was they had a tour called the Gentleman’s Tour, and they picked small rural communities across Canada, the U. S., and the U.K., and they would bring this huge festival to these small communities, and ours got picked.
I’ll never forget, the day that we went to the concert, I went with a buddy of mine, James Wegmore [SP], and there are more people at this festival than live in our entire community. There was over 30,000 plus people at this festival. And the line up to get t-shirts was enormous. There were thousands of people lined up to get t-shirts.
I really wanted to get a t-shirt, but I really didn’t want to wait in line. And we went up to one of the people that was near the front of the line and we said, “How long have you been waiting here?” And the girl said, “Well, we’ve been here for over two hours,” and I was like “Golly, I don’t want to wait that long.”
Andrew: Just for a t-shirt?
Stu: Just for a t-shirt. So, James pulled me aside and he’s like, “Dude, I know how to handle this.” I said, “Okay.” And he’s like, “Are you willing to spend an extra 15 bucks to skip the line and not have to wait?” And I said, “Absolutely, my time is definitely worth that.” So we went back to that girl, who was three people back from the front of the line, and James said to her, “We would like to buy your t-shirt.” And she said, “What?” And he’s like, “We would like to buy your t-shirt, if you place an order for our shirts, and we’ll give you the money for our shirts, and we’ll buy your shirts.” And she said, “Done deal.”
And so, James spent fifteen bucks, I spent an extra fifteen bucks, we bought her the two shirts that she was looking to get. She just placed the order for us. We didn’t have to wait two hours in line. We were happy. Everybody was happy. So, I share this story, because there are always a percentage of people that are willing to pay a premium to upgrade in some way. To save them time, to save them money, whatever it may be. And we see this all the time.
In this case it was just at the concert, right? I paid fifteen extra bucks so I wouldn’t have to wait in line two hours. You see this all the time with airlines, you know, where you can pay a higher fee to, you know, have the more cushy seat and more space and, you know, all that kind of stuff.
Andrew: Get on board faster?
Stu: Get on board faster. Same principles apply with the membership site. You know, years back I was providing a free marketing tele-seminar series, and I was giving this content away for free. Then I realized, “Well, wait a minute. I can’t keep giving it away for free if I’m not generating revenue from it.” It’s hard to justify doing something for free if it doesn’t tie back to revenue.
At the same time, I had a lot of people asking me, “Hey, Stu, can I get the MP3 recordings of this so I can listen to it later?” “Hey, can I get the transcript, so I can read? I’m more of a reader, so I’d love to be able to read through it faster.” Or, “Hey, Stu, do you have a summary of this presentation?” Or, “Hey, Stu, can I get the slides?” And I thought, “Wait a minute. This might be an opportunity.” This was a long time ago.
And so, I packaged all of that stuff together as a premium. So people could listen for free, but they had to show up live, so it was inconvenient. But if they wanted the convenience of being able to listen to the recordings, get the transcripts, the summary, they would pay a premium for that, and almost instantly, I started generating revenues from free tele-seminars.
Now fast-forward to today. Another good example of that being used would be through CreativeLive.com. They have the same model. They have highly produced trainings that last anywhere from a day, two days, or three days. And you can watch them absolutely free, streaming from your computer. The inconvenient part is you’ve got to show up and you’ve got to sit at your computer for two days, three days, and watch the whole thing. But if you want the convenience of being able to refer to that material again and again and again by the recordings, the videos, the supplementary documents, all that kind of stuff, then you pay for that.
And so, they have an early bird where if you buy during the live broadcast it’s $149 as an example. But if you buy after that, it’s $249. So they’ve built a very successful business model using this one strategy which is the convenience upgrade, because there’s a percentage of people that will always pay to be able to have the convenience of consuming it on their own time.
Andrew: Alright. Let me do a quick plug for Scott Edward Walker. Speaking of, I obviously am not a big advertising person for the site. And so I’ve been thinking, “Why do I have Scott as a sponsor?” And to be honest with you, when I started with sponsorship, the sponsorships paid for a large part of the expenses, and I felt like, alright, if there’s a problem and the membership site breaks, or you know, it’s illegal suddenly to charge for content now, I don’t know what – I thought, “I should always have a backup.”
And so, I stuck with sponsorship, and sponsorship was good that way. But then I thought, “You know, sponsorship now is such a small part of my overall revenue. I wonder if I should continue with it.” The only benefit that I have is that I feel like I should stay – I should open myself up to sponsorship in case something big or bad happens, or in case I decide that I want to try something new that only works with sponsorship.
And so, to be honest with you, there’s not much revenue coming to me from Scott. There are just two benefits. I feel like with Scott, no one is going to go to Scott and be disappointed. If you’re looking for a lawyer and you’re an entrepreneur, Scott is the guy to go to. Even if you don’t end up hiring him, he should be on your list, because he’s been doing this for years.
Unlike the big guys here in San Francisco who want a piece of your business or want a big portion of your cash, he’s charging a reasonable price, and he’ll help you grow your company, and he’ll set you up so that when you need to raise money, you’ll have a guy who knows how to do it, who is set up to do it. When you need to sell your company you’ll have a guy who is a transactions guy who knows how to sell a company, who knows the advice that you need, and knows the legal work you’re going to need because he’s done it.
And so, walkercorporatelaw.com is who I recommend, and the reason I do it is because I know he’ll take good care of you, and I feel like by being out there as someone who accepts advertising, I get to just, kind of other potential sponsors reach out to me and I get to have an understanding of how sponsorship works, and if I ever create a site that ever want to do just ads on. You know, and as I say this, I’m wondering, what do you think of that, Stu, am I having a plan “B” that I shouldn’t have, should I be all in on just membership?
Stu: I think there’s a balance. I think as long as the sponsorship doesn’t get in the way of the content that you’re providing, I don’t think it’s a disservice of any kind. You know, in this case like Scott, I mean he is a great asset to the community that you’re serving, right? I mean, I know that I’ve reached out to you on a personal note with my brother-in-law who was looking for help and you immediately said, “Scott, call Scott, here’s his info.”
And so it’s not just something that you’re recommending because he’s sponsoring, it’s something that you really do believe that will benefit your audience. So I don’t see a disservice there, but a disservice from a sponsorship standpoint would certainly be like if it was a product that your customers or your audience wouldn’t directly benefit from or it’s not really related, it’s just kind of there because that’s where the revenue’s coming from, that would be a disservice to the membership for sure.
Andrew: I always worry about the Huffington Post problem. I love the Huffington Post because I like to learn how they write headlines. I like to see how they make a story from the AP so interesting that I’ve got to click on it, but sometimes their ads are just too invasive, and I feel like if that’s winning in the ad space because they’re an ad-based business, then maybe that’s not for me. So that’s why like the integrity of doing a membership site.
By the way, speaking of that, you talked earlier on about you want to have a big group of people if you’re going to do a forum so that when they get in there there’s a big collection of people all talking at once and it feels active and it feels like the place to be. Some of that is a little scary to me. We did that on truemind.com. We have an active community, I’m so proud every time I see that people are in there because I think I might have told you I’m always nervous that I’ll create a message board and no one will show up and then everyone who signed up will say, “Look at that loser, he’s got no one in here! I want my money back because no one’s buying this!”
So it’s active, but now frankly, Stu, I’m worried, am I in there enough? It becomes like this, this other inbox, or not even another inbox; I feel like I need to be in there every day and if I’m not in there every day, do people feel left out? So how much should I be in there? How do I get in there in a useful way without driving myself crazy?
Stu: Well, let me break that question down. So number one, I think my answer, speaking of lawyers, my answer’s going to be a lawyer answer, yeah, it’s going to be, “It depends.” Because if you’re creating a community and this is your sole focus, I think that you do want to be active in that community on a very regular basis because this is your way of keeping your finger on the pulse of what’s happening inside for your audience.
Now with that said, there needs to be boundaries that you need to establish up front. So some days, Andrew, like you’re coming up where you and your wife, Olivia, are having a baby very soon, and so your time is going to be like, “Woops,” squished, especially for in the beginning. And so you want to manage expectations within any type of community so that your audience understands what they can expect from you on a regular basis.
So in the beginning, I think it’s beneficial for you to be active in a forum if that’s what you’re going to have inside of your community because I think it establishes trust and I think it establishes a level of respect that you have for your members, and I think it’s great opportunity for you to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s happening inside a community. Now as you grow, that’s not going to be feasible for you necessarily to be in there every single day, but it does need to be somebody’s responsibility.
So in the case of our site, that’s what happened. As my responsibility certainly lie in the areas of growing the company, being active every day in the forum was not something that I could commit to. And so we have somebody, his name is Ray, who that’s his primary responsibility is to manage the members area, and part of that management means that he’s in the forum and he’s keeping conversations going, he’s connecting people that he knows could help each other.
He is cherry-picking conversations that we want to highlight on the main site. He’s doing those things on a regular basis, and he does check in everyday. So if it’s not going to be you, it certainly should be somebody from your team so that that community and that discussion area can continue to flourish and it just doesn’t fall dead.
Andrew: I see Ray in there all the time. Actually, if you saw my eyes wander around right now as you were talking it’s because I wanted to go and see what he was doing in the community, and I had to get my password and login. …When he responds, let me see, I think he, I feel like he responds to me when I’m in there within hours. …Is there? What are the rules that you have for responding to people quickly?
Stu: …No rules, I mean Ray has a, he’s very routine. He’s got his schedule, he usually checks in, I think, in the morning. He checks in around noon he checks in at the end of the day. Weekends he’s not obviously going to be as active because those are his weekends. And so, but he’s laid those boundaries and those expectations are kind of set.
So I wouldn’t say, Andrew, that there is a rule of thumb where hey if somebody asks a question you got to respond within an hour, that’s certainly not it at all. It’s all about managing expectations, but eventually what you would like to do is you want to establish…you want to lead your community the way you want to see the community develop.
So, if you want people to be responsive when others ask questions be responsive yourself. You know, so that’ s a real important trait I think that a lot of membership site owners kind of forget, is that you’re a leader within your community and people look to you as far as “However Andrew is responding is how I should respond.” So just make sure that you are mindful of that especially in the beginning because that’s how, that’s kind of the precedence that you’ll ?? within your community. But eventually you’ll want to get it to a point where people are interacting with each other and it doesn’t need you to be able to jump in there and answer every question or participate in every conversation.
Andrew: Looking at the bottom of your site, do you have 4,365 members?
Stu: Not all of them are there, no. Because we do have, you know, drop off but…
Andrew: I see okay right, right. Members meaning how many people participate in the conversation.
Andrew: How many members do you have?
Stu: Well I don’t know that I’m…allowed to say that because I do have partners in it so that’s directly tied to revenue so…
Andrew: Is it more than 2,000 people?
Stu: It’s in the thousands, yes.
Andrew: It’s in the thousands of people.
Andrew: So 2,000 people, what do you charge 25 bucks 20 bucks?
Stu: We charge 25 dollars but that is actually going to change. So we are in the midst of overhauling our site right now as we speak and one of the things…
Andrew: I want to ask you the details about that because I want to see what you learned to do over, but let me just make sure that I’ve got this clear. You say thousands of members, that means at least 2,000 members right? Twenty five bucks a pop, I did the math, 50,000 dollars a month is coming in from just the membership part of the business.
Stu: This is your calculations. So I will say yes that we do make a healthy revenue a month. And we are looking to grow that, I mean there are things that quite frankly, Andrew, that growth is kind of stalled for us I would say over the last year. So just as many members were able to sustain our membership and grow at a marginal level but I want to make quantum leaps in growth and that’s really one of the reasons for us re-engineering how we are approaching the site in the upcoming months. Because I want to be able to make some real quantum leaps with that.
Andrew: Alright. So let’ learn from you. We talked about what you’ve done to get here, let’s talk about what you could have done better. And then talk about what you are going to do better in this next round. When you look back at the way that you launched and built WishList Insider in the early days. What are a couple mistakes, or a couple of things you could have done better?
Stu:…So one mistake would be too much content. You know we…I don’t know if you have ever struggled with this Andrew but I certainly did, where I feel that more content obviously means more value. And so I just want to make sure that people have a 10x return on their investment every month so I’m just going to, you know, pack as much great stuff into the membership site as possible.
Andrew: You mean into the, only the membership content that you produce you feel is too much. What kind of content do you produce in the membership area?
Stu: So we were producing something every single day. Something new every single day and the difference now is that I’m going to have one primary focus per week. So what I’m encouraging people to do now is when you are structuring your content break it into two categories. Primary content and secondary content.
The primary content I encourage you to have four pieces. And that it basically equates to one piece per week. And the reason that I like doing that is it provides tremendous focus for your members and it eliminates overwhelm for them and for you. Because what happened, and this is from experience, members come in to WishList Insider and they are like a deer in the headlights. They’re like “Oh my goodness there’s so much content here.”
And it doesn’t matter how we organize it, or how efficient it becomes there’s just so much content there that they don’t know where to start, or, what’s relevant for them, or, what to even focus on. Now, moving forward we’re going to restructure that so that we have one primary focus per week, and, that primary focus is going to be tied to something actionable that they should do inside of their membership site that they are going to see immediate benefit from. We have the benefit of being able to discuss membership sites with so many of our customers.
So we are able to learn from so many different people, and, pull in strategies from so many different industries. One of the things that we’ve learned is that, actually, more is not better. Less is better, and, because it provides more focus it gets your members into action, and, applying what you’re teaching, which is then going to translate into much bigger value, and, benefit for them.
Andrew: Less content, focus of the week, and, one actionable request of the members each week so, that they can go and implement what they’ve learned in the site.
Stu: Yup. Absolutely. That’s one big change that we’re making. Another big change that we’re making is actually on pricing. We are going to raise our price pretty significantly, and, one of the reasons for that is that I want to produce much higher quality content. In order to do that we need to have more revenue coming in from the membership, and, people will say well, Stu, why don’t you just get more members? Yeah.
We could definitely do that, but it’s harder to get more members than it is to take care of your existing members, and, just knock it out of the park for them. In order to do that we’re looking to raise our prices, and that will generate more revenue from the membership, which will allow us to have more money to invest back into producing higher quality content.
Andrew: Do you grandfather in the people who are already in the group?
Stu: Come on, Andrew. If there’s anything you’ve learned from me already it’s take care of the people who are taking care of you. So, absolutely.
Andrew: That’s one of the things that you taught in that course. You said, look, have a grandfather rule so, that you raise the prices, but all the older people get to keep their price, and, want to stay locked in.
Stu: Yeah. It’s a win, win for everybody. It’s a win for your existing members because they’re, like, hey, Andrews looking out for my best interests. He’s taking care of me. Absolutely. It’s a win for you because you know that there’s an incentive built in there for them to remain a member because if they cancel, and, want to join later it will be at the higher rates. So, they want to stay so, there’s an incentive for them, and, for you. It just creates a win, win all the way across the board.
We use that same strategy with Michael Hiets [SP]. We launched at $20.00 a month, and, then immediately went to 25, and, then later on in the year about 7 or 8 months later we raised the price again. We did a big promotion around that. We said, hey join before this date. You’ll be grandfathered in at the lower rate, after that point the price is going up.
Andrew: This, Michael Hiet, you’ve helped, Michael get started, or not helped him get started. You’ve helped him with his membership site. What is he selling for the 25 or so dollars a month?
Stu: Yes. His price is now at $30.00 a month, and he focuses on helping people build a following, a tribe if you will, and, then being able to build a business around that. He kind of shows the behind the scenes of how he’s done that. Transitioning from a corporate CEO of one of the largest publishing companies in the world to now essentially teaching what he’s learned in an online format.
Andrew: [??] Platform University. Once someone learns this, what’s the benefit of staying subscribed month after month. The reason I say that is, especially with some of the examples we’ve given earlier on, like, potty training. Once you’ve learned what you joined the community to learn what holds you in there month to month? Let’s talk about, Michael, with Platform University. Why would someone stay subscribed after they’ve learned it.
Stu: Well, let’s be honest, Andrew. There’s so much that people can learn, and, want to learn once they really get into it, right. An example would be in my [??] somebody might join in the beginning because they’re really interested in learning how to podcast. He’s got one of the top business podcast. They may be interested in learning from him about how to do that successfully, but inevitably once they get into it they realize podcast is just a slice of what, Michael does.
There’s the blogging. There’s the membership. There are the paid courses, and, products. There’s the speaking. There’s the publishing. Essentially it’s the same thing. He sharing his thoughts, his information, and, his wisdom just doing it in different ways, and, a podcaster inevitably may look at that, and, say, well, hang on a minute. There’s a whole lot more if I really want to grow this that I can learn, and, can do.
Andrew: I see. When we’re talking about the wah-sandwich, the how continues. You just keep teaching the next, and the next, to the next, and the next thing you learn. It, actually, frankly, Stu, it sounds to me very much the way a blogger might approach his work. Where he sits down, and, he says, what can I blog about today to teach my audience? The only difference is that someone who owns a membership site values it a little bit more, and, asks the audience to value it a little bit more by paying. Am I right?
Stu: Yeah. Absolutely. Let me ask you a question, Andrew. Where do bloggers usually get their ideas? They ask their . . .
Andrew: They go back to their audience, and, they ask em’.
Stu: Exactly. The same principles apply in a membership. You’re there to be of service to your members. So, the way to be of most value to them is to ask them, what do you need to learn? We do that all the time. I’m full disclosure. I’m a partner with, Michael, and Platform University, which is why I know so much about it. We ask the audience all the time. What do you want to learn more about?
One of the things that we discovered this year was they wanted to learn a lot more about his productivity strategies because he is a super busy guy, but gets a ton of stuff done. How does he do it? That’s what people wanted to know. So, we started doing more trainings around that kind of content.
Andrew: Michael, and you’ve introduced me to him that’s how I know him, always composed. He never looks like he’s off balance.
Stu: I know.
Andrew: Right. He not just productive, and, organized, and, I always look over his shoulder when I do a web cam with him because you had a mattress behind, I hope I’m not revealing anything, right.
Stu: No, no, no.
Andrew: [??] life. Michael, it’s just like a set, but it’s his house.
Stu: Everything is intentional with Michael. That’s one of the reasons why we all love learning from him because he’s just a great guy whose got life experience. He’s got great business experience, and, he uses those insights in everything that he does. He’s just a guy that builds, builds, builds on top of his experience. It just gets better, and, better, and, better. He’s very intentional about what he does, and, just like you said, everything is planned properly to meet his standards.
Andrew: Let me go off topic a bit with this, and, let me ask you this. We were in a web conversation with him, and, I cursed, and, then later on he talked about, Tony Robbins, and, how he like, Tony Robbins, but he didn’t appreciate the language that Tony has. Did Michael not hold it against me, but he must of been put off that I cursed. I try to curse when I’m in private to just let people know we’re in this inner circle. It’s locker room, right? I shouldn’t have, and, I didn’t realize it until then.
Stu: Dude, that didn’t even register for me. He’s not that type of guy.
Andrew: . . . [??] . . .
Stu: I think with, Tony Robbins, it’s totally different. Tony Robbins, is delivering seminars, and, every minute he’s using an f shot here there and everywhere.
Andrew: He does do that a lot.
Stu: A lot.
Andrew: Actually, you know, what I read once? I forget which article. It depends on the city that you watch him in. If he’s in a city, like, New York, oh, that’s where I saw him once. He just lets it riff, and, everyone, I guess, in the audience feels, like, he’s one of us, and, I wonder if he does that in the deep south to the same degree. Where’s my, Michael, located? What state?
Stu: He’s in Tennessee. Nashville, Tennessee. The thing that turns, Michael, off about, Tony, swearing is just that Tony does it so much. He does it so much from stage, and, I think Tony justifies it. If you remember the conversation, Michael, was saying that, Tony, justifies it because it snaps people back into what he’s saying, and, all this kind of stuff, but, Michael, just doesn’t feel it’s necessary.
He feels it does more harm than good. Michaels, not the kind of guy that makes judgment on people whether they swear, or, not. In that context he’s saying that this is a seminar that Tony’s producing, and so forth, and that there should be an element there of just being mindful of that. I think.
Andrew: I’m going to have, Michael hired on here because I want to learn from him. His stuff is so, organized. He is so, intentional, like, you said. That’s a good word to describe him. What should I be asking him to learn from him about how to put together a membership site.
Stu: I would ask him questions around what its meant to him to be able to have more revenue to be able to better serve his audience. You talked about it at the top of the call. This is a good question for you, and, for him, but one of the things you said was as you started generating more revenue you were able to hire more people to help you better the product that you were producing for your audience. Michael would say the same thing, and, it would be interesting to get his insights into that. It would also be interesting to get his insights into [??] . . .
Andrew: What should we learn from him. If we’re building a membership site, and, we turn to him as the guy who can teach us one or two things that will change our membership sites what would those one or two be?
Stu: I would ask him about how he produces his content for the membership site. So a lot of people with a membership site feel like it’s like a… essentially they’ve created a job for themselves where they’re responsible for new content on a regular basis. With Michael, the way that we structured his I knew from the onset that this was a guy that was super busy so he can’t be producing new content every single day or every single week.
So the way that we produced content for his site is we essentially have three, maybe four max video shoots per year. So we’ll come down and we’ll do three or four times a year, and we’ll do two-day shoots, sometimes three and we just record, record, record. And it takes a little bit of organization because we have to get what videos we need and make sure we get all the footage, but then after that he doesn’t have to produce any more content.
That gets edited and produced by a video editor who takes all that footage and puts it all together. And so Michael’s not cranking out content on a regular basis. He’s doing it intentionally by batching it all together.
Andrew: What about this? I was talking to my new friend Leslie Matheson last May about membership sites and what the quality should be in there. Michael Hyatt produces incredibly-polished videos partially because he’s doing a two to three-day shoot. I’m not doing that kind of quality.
I’m doing a Skype conversation and I feel strongly about the power of just coming into your home even if there’s something behind you I feel I’m getting to really know you. But I don’t want to be blinded by my habits. What are your opinions about super polished versus super casual like I do it?
Stu: I think it’s about managing expectations. If you were to come out of the gates with super polished and then drop down to something that was more casual, there’s a disconnect there. Your members were singing up expecting super polished and in return they’re getting something different than what they were promised, versus if you sell on the fact that this is down-to- earth, this is a very casual conversation but in the heart of it that’s what’s going to allow us to connect to the real meaningful conversations, that’s a different set of expectations.
So I think the important part there is managing those expectations up front, not promising more or less than what you’re going to provide, but being able to have your sales message in alignment with what you’re actually delivering.
Andrew: Let me do… actually tell people how they can follow up. We have, as I said throughout this program, we have multiple courses and interviews that are part of the Mixergy membership site and one of them is the course that Stu taught about how to retain customers once you’ve gotten them, right? As you said it’s so much easier to keep your current members happy than to keep hunting out for new members who are going to be unhappy and leave.
So I learned a lot from that and if you want a follow up, that’s the one to go to. The other thing is we did an interview where Stu talked about how he built his business, and you’d be amazed by how big the business is. I got a little bit more revenue out of him in the interview that we did before. So that interview is actually available publicly even to people who don’t want to be members, but there’s a convenience aspect to it.
If you’re someone who doesn’t want to join the membership you can read the transcript. I hire professional transcribers to do a transcript of every interview and it’s available for you to read. If you’d like to watch and listen to it at your convenience you can be a part of Mixergy Premium. When you are, you’ll get access to that interview in video and audio format and hundreds of other interviews with some of the people who you’ve admired, who you wish someone would ask some of the tougher, more detailed, more actionable questions on. So all those interviews are part of Mixergy Premium.
In addition to the courses like the one that Stu taught, Noah Fleming our mutual friend also taught one about how to on-board people and how to keep your members happy. We have multiple courses and interviews with people who built successful not just businesses but membership-based businesses. If you’re curious, if you want to take this to the next level, if you really want to take action and see how it’s done go to mixergypremium.com. I guarantee you’ll love it, I guarantee you’ll wonder why I’m charging too little, and I guarantee that if for some reason you’re not happy with it that you can ask for and receive a refund or you can cancel it anytime.
One of the things that I thrive on, that I couldn’t do my business without is the reputation that I have, not just with you the audience or with my customers but with the interviewees. You see high-quality people who would never be associated with me if I was the kind of person who would let you down, take your money, and run away. I know there’s a lot of questionable stuff out there.
This is, I think one of the most trusted places. If you’re not happy I’ll take care of you. If you are happy I’ll keep taking care of you, and, if you’re curious I urge you to go try it out. Go to mixergypremium.com, join up, and, you’ll see what it’s all about in there.
Stu: There’s a lot of [??] in what you just said there because you know how I know that, Andrew? People are proud to show the Mixergy logo on their blogs and websites. As seen on Mixergy. That’s a sign that you have so much credibility built up around your content, and, I want to acknowledge you for that, man.
Stu: Because it just shows what a great job you’ve done taking care of your audience over the years.
Andrew: When I was getting going I would see people with their TechCrunch logo on their site. As appeared on TechCrunch, even if TechCrunch ripped them down. We were still on TechCrunch.
Andrew: I would love to be that kind of brand. If someone would be so proud to have associated with it that they would put it on their site, and, yeah, you’re right. I love seeing that. I love seeing that, and, I love how guys like, Noah Kagan, who I mentioned. A good friend of mine would say, could you give me a testimonial to put on the site, or, do you have anything to say, and, I would like to put up on the site, and, I did, and, then he put it up on the home page, or, Pipe Drive would take my photo, and, put it on their pricing page. I loved them, and, I use them.
Stu: Wait. You’ve just done a great job of taking care of you audience, and, people like, Noah, and, companies like, Pipe Drive, they recognize what influence you have in the marketplace because you do such a good job of taking care of your audience, which keeps bringing people back. It’s just a testament to all the hard work you’ve put into this.
Andrew: Thanks, and I’m so proud of that I really am. I’ll continue instead of just beaming here, and ask you one final thing. You started something called world teacher aide, right. It’s not just about getting people in the door. It’s not just about membership sites. What is world teacher aide?
Stu: Well, thank you for asking. World teacher aide is something near and dear to my heart. My wife had the vision of starting a charity where we provide education to rural communities in third world countries. She was a traveler, and, she would travel off the beaten path, and, one of the things that she found as a teacher, there are a lot kids who want an education, but couldn’t afford to get it. Her goal was to bring those types of kids education.
Long story short we formed our own charity, a Canadian charity many years ago, and, we’ve just been doing our thing. Building schools in rural communities throughout Africa in particular. Particularly, in Kenya. When I think about membership sites one of the reasons that I’m so passionate about it, Andrew, is that when I’m there in Africa, and, we go once, or, twice a year to see our schools in the communities, one of the things that becomes really obvious is how far a dollar can go. How much impact $1.00, $2.00 on a child’s life, on a communities life et cetera.
For example, $100.00 essentially covers the first full time salary of a teacher each and every month. $100.00 to us doesn’t seem like that much money, but $100.00 there, that’s the full time salary of a teacher whose been educating 50, 60, 75 kids in a classroom sometimes, who then those kids are growing, and, learning, and, who knows what that ripple effect will have. For me it put business in a whole new perspective.
One of the things that I realized was with membership sites imagine the potential that we have as business owners if we have some type of a recurring revenue stream, and, a percentage of that is donated to a cause that we believe in, or, donated toward to causes people, or, things that we’re passionate about. Imagine the impact that we as entrepreneurs can have, and, for me, initially I started thinking about it well, wow, one more sale of I wish this member license could cover the salary of a full time teacher.
Andrew: Wow. Wow.
Stu: That was mind blowing to me. It costs essentially $2.00 a month to feed a child every single day in the communities that we’re helping. So, 2 bucks a month will feed a child every single day. If I generate one more sale of a $100 license that’s 50 kids that I’m able to feed every single day, it just puts a whole new dimension on what we’re doing as entrepreneurs.
That’s why I’m passionate about this because my hope is that through what I do, if I can help other people put that recurring revenue component into their business, that hopefully it stabilizes their business, inspires them to want to be able to give back and contribute to causes that they’re passionate about. Then that’s when we really start to have impact as entrepreneurs. The more money we make the more impact we can have. That’s what world teacher aide is all about, and, that’s why I’m so passionate about this whole revenue model.
Andrew: So while you were talking about it, if you saw my eyes just wander around the screen it’s because I was getting my credit card, and I just donated a $1000 to World Teacher Aid.
Stu: Dude, you’re amazing!
Andrew: It’s so interesting what you said is the way I felt when I started going over to the site right now. Because you helped me create a membership site, because you helped me build something that helps my community, and also makes this into a real business, this interviewing and courses that I’m so passionate about. You’ve allowed me to help other people, and now you’ve given me an opportunity to do it.
Stu: Dude . . .
Andrew: Which I did it on worldteacheraid.org and got a virtual [??]
Stu: I’m kind of blown away right now, dude. I really, really appreciate that, man. That’s going to help so many people, and I don’t even — I’m kind of speechless right now, Andrew. I really appreciate that, buddy.
Andrew: You guys do good work. I know that you’re not just sending things out into the world, and you know patting yourself on the back. You know you and your wife have flown out to Africa. You’ve actually invited me to come along. And I wish I had an opportunity to do it, but I didn’t. But knowing that you’re so involved as a family in this, that you’re so concerned with the results of it makes me just feel good that every dollar that I send over is in good hands.
And I just happened to do $1000, but it could have been even a dollar. It could have been $100. It could have been anything and I know that you guys would have put it to good use. I actually see right here that for as little as 20? a day, I can have a big impact. So I’m proud to be associated with you. I’m really appreciative.
Everything that you talked about here is going to help me with my membership site, and I hope that someone out there is going to use it and then get a chance to thank you the way that I do right now. If you’re thinking about building a membership site. If you’re building a membership site right now, do it. Keep working on it. It really pays off.
Some of the members who have been part of a Mixergy Premium, I’m thinking of guys like Derek Capo, who happened to come into my office just a few weeks ago. I’ve known him for years, and it’s such a good relationship. So much better than what most people advocate which is get Google Analytics on your site and spend all day trying to think about how you can make the chart go up, up, up because another hit is another satisfaction. It’s not about another hit me.
It’s about building a relationship with someone who values your work so much that they pay for it. Then having that money to go and do good things or to just hire a staff that will help you so that you’re not feeling as overwhelmed as I was when I was starting out. So go out there. Do it. Let Stu know. Let me know as you’re building it up. And Stu, thank you so much for being a part of the Mixergy community for so long.
Stu: My pleasure. Hit me up in the comments, if you’ve got questions. Happy to help! Thanks, Andrew.
Andrew: You do it. Do it, guys. It’s WishList Member. Thank you all for being a part of it. Bye.