July 11, 2023

When trying to decide how to best support your clients, and have recurring income, a membership might seem like a good idea. Memberships have many benefits for you and your clients, but there are also downsides.

Membership Formats

There are several formats your membership can take. What works best will depend on your business.

Back end membership

In this model you offer a membership to provide ongoing support for clients after they have completed your main program. This works well for weight loss programs. If you have a 12 week weight loss program, but clients find they still need support after the 12 weeks is complete, you can offer ongoing monthly support as a membership.

A habit based program would be a good model for this type of membership. Include the key habits in the main program, then add more advanced habits to the membership.

The advantage to this type of membership is the basics are provided in the front end program and the membership can concentrate more on ongoing support. Clients have already seen the worth of your program so are more likely to commit to a membership.

Standalone Evergreen Membership

An evergreen membership is always available. This means that people can join at any time. The advantage to this is that it’s available when your clients need it.

Standalone Closed Access Membership

In this type of membership, you only open access to the membership a few times a year. This allows you to have people going through at the same time so you'll have more people at the same stage in the membership. But you'll still need to support the previous cohorts to prevent a lot of turnover in the membership.

Memberships in your wellness business

Things to include in your membership

What you include in your membership will depend on the type of membership, and your business focus.

A Great Client Experience

Having a great client experience is important for anything you offer, but if you want to retain clients past the first month of your membership, it is especially important. Check out this free guide for things to NOT do to have a great client experience.

5 Things That Hurt Client Experience

In your online wellness programs


Community

Community is an important aspect of any membership. While members will appreciate your support they will also get support from other members going through the same thing they are. Having a community can mean that you have to answer fewer questions and provide less ongoing support. But you’ll want to monitor things closely to make sure that incorrect answers, or non supportive comments don’t happen.

Content

Content will depend on the nature of your membership. This could include live or recorded videos, pdf handouts, or a private podcast. The type of content you include will depend on the type of membership you have.

Group coaching calls

Group coaching calls can be the cornerstone of your membership. These can be a similar format to your group coaching programs, but you might be able to cover different topics, especially with a back end membership.

Guest speakers

If you have a large enough group you can start to offer things like guest speakers who could talk on topics that your group is interested in, but you might not have expertise.

Memberships vs group programs

The biggest difference between a membership and group program is the commitment required by the client. A group program will usually have a set timeline, maybe 6, 8 or 12 weeks, but a membership is ongoing. So a membership is more suited to something where clients want ongoing support. Some examples could be fitness videos, meditations, recipes or habits.

Memberships don’t work as well for situations where the time frame is limited (pregnancy comes to mind). But if you’re fine with members coming and going, then it could work. 

However a membership, like a group program, needs to have an outcome. Whether it is providing workout videos to help improve fitness, habits to help improve overall health, or meditations to help your clients find inner piece, the outcome should be clear.

Tech required for memberships

The tech required for memberships is similar to online courses. And can actually be quite simple. But if using your course platform make sure that it supports memberships with recurring payment options. You’ll also need somewhere to host a community if you decide to have one.

If you are hosting a fitness based membership then a workout platform like PT Distinction or Trainerize will work well. For other types of memberships (and group programs) I recommend MemberVault. They make it easy to take recurring payments, have a community option and allow you to customize your offerings to fit your needs.

Membership training

You might want to consider taking some training on creating a membership before you set it up. Two popular trainings for setting up a membership are The Membership Experience (formery Tribe) with Stu McLaren and The Membership Academy run by the Membership Guys. The Membership Academy is much cheaper to join and you can join at any time and since it’s a membership you can also quit at any time. Many people have had positive results from The Membership Experience, but you might not want to wait for it to open. Both Stu McLaren and the Membership guys have podcasts so you can check them out to see if you like their styles.

Client Onboarding Toolkit

For Creating Happy and Successful Clients


What to charge for a membership

This question can’t be easily answered. What you charge will depend on how much access they have to you, what your clients are willing to pay, and what you charge for the front end program. It will also depend on the transformation that you promise.

Should members have access to past content?

With many course platforms removing access to past content is difficult, but can be done if you really want. Most memberships I’ve joined allow access to past content, but if you feel it can be too confusing, then you might want to remove it. 

Disadvantages of memberships

Memberships can be useful in your business, but there are some disadvantages:

  • You’ll usually need to keep creating content of some form which can be challenging
  • Memberships can require more ongoing support because you’ll have more member turnover
  • The tech involved with creating a membership can be daunting, but I have seen simple memberships work quite well.
  • Clients can be scared of an ongoing monthly commitment. For this reason you might want to offer 3 month, 6 month and anual payment options. You can also include some bonuses for these options. 
  • If you don’t have a large audience, it can be difficult to sell enough memberships, to make the monthly commitment worth while.

Summary

Memberships can be a good part of your wellness business, but you’ll want to consider the amount of work that goes into it and the pros and cons of having a membership before you decide.

About the Author

As a personal trainer, nutrition coach and virtual assistant I know what it takes to be successful in the wellness industry.


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