Wecome to the
Professional Creative Podcast
See more episodes
46: Membership Sites for Creatives 101

See the show notes for this Episode here.

This transcript has been automatically generated.


If I had waited until I had all of those little things figured out, it would've been years and I would've been missing out on all of the connection and the value I provided and the income that I created for our family, which was life changing.

I'm Bonnie Christine, and this is where all things, creativity, design, business, and marketing unite. I'm a mama living in a tiny town, tucked right inside the Smokey Mountains, running a multi seven figure business, doing the most creative and impactful work of my life. When I first set out to become an entrepreneur, I was struggling to make ends meet and wrestling with how to accomplish my biggest dream of becoming a fabric designer. Fast forward to today, I'm not only licensing my artwork all over the world, but also teaching others how to design their creative life and experience the same success. I'm here to help you spend your life doing something that lights you up. I'll help you build a creative business that also creates an impact, changes people's lives, gives you all of the freedom you want and is wildly profitable.

Welcome to the Professional Creative Podcast. In light of our last episode with Stu McLaren, the membership guy. That was episode number 45. I wanted to record this episode really for you. It's about membership sites for creatives, and I wanna give you a little bit more in depth overview of my own membership. Now, if you want to learn more about the world of subscription services and membership sites with tons of examples of creatives crushing it in this industry, make sure to go listen to episode number 45. Again, that's with Stu McLaren. Stu is my mentor. He's an incredible entrepreneur, and he's also an expert when it comes to membership sites, so make sure to listen to that one. But in summary of that episode, really we talk about the beauty of membership services, not only for the entrepreneur, but for the consumer as well. So for the entrepreneur, a membership service creates so much predictability in your business, which is a really hard thing to come by when you are a creative entrepreneur. So my whole world changed when I started my membership in 2012, which we'll go into a little bit more as we get into this episode, but it really is an incredible opportunity.

There are many, many different ways that you can infuse this business model into your world, into your business, and so we're gonna dive into that today. This concept of recurring revenue is what really builds stability and honestly freedom in your business. It's also a beautiful way to really stay connected with your community. You know, really the main reason that I began my membership back in 2012 was that I felt this gaping hole in the online space for a community filled with people who thought like I did and worked like I did, and spoke the language that I spoke as an artist and a designer. And so it's been the most life giving thing that I've ever done, definitely for me and for my members, so many of my members as well. But before we really dive into today's episode, I wanna tell you about the download that I have waiting for you. It's so good.

So I'm calling it the idea vault, but this is what it is. I think that so many times when we start to consider a membership for our business, we oftentimes get stuck on, well, what would I be giving members? What kind of content would I be sending out? And oftentimes we call this deliverable. So in my membership, there are four or five deliverables a month.

It's once a week. And so sometimes this can be hard to think about at the very beginning, like, what are, what are my options? What am I gonna send? And so the free download for today's episode is a list of 50 ideas for content deliverables specific to the creative entrepreneur, and it's so good. So you're gonna go over and get [email protected]. It's absolutely free, and I think it's gonna just give you so many ideas for this. Once we get going.

Now, I want you to take a second and just think about what subscription services you are currently using. No doubt there are more than you can think of. And I have gotten to a place where for many, many things, I actually quite prefer a subscription-based model. So I'm on subscription for everything from Adobe Creative Cloud for using Adobe Illustrator to things like Netflix, to things like My favorite soap just gets delivered and everything from my beauty care products to my dog food. But more so I love subscription services in the education space or the creative space as well. So I've been a part of many subscriptions for my children, craft boxes, and you know, craft and painting video tutorials. I've been a part of many memberships myself that really, really drive me and inspire me to maintain consistent progress. And sometimes I join memberships just so that I can absolutely have them when I need them, meaning I want access to that community so that I can come in and research topics and ask questions and connect with others when I need it.

So just pause, think about the subscription-based services that you are a part of. Next, I want you to just think about how could you apply any of this, any of these models to your own creative business. There are many different types of subscription-based or membership-based businesses. The first one is one that you're probably already thinking of, and that's content based.

So number one is content based. This means that you're getting exclusive content, resources, tutorials and all of that kind of thing inside the membership. So an example that we're all familiar with is something like Netflix that's content based, but also my membership, which is called Flourish, that's for alumni of my course is also content-based, meaning you have to be a member to get access to this exclusive kind of higher end content.

The next type is a community-based membership. And so this really provides access to a private and supportive network generally around a common theme. So like-minded people inside that community. And sometimes it's only community, sometimes it's only content. And then sometimes there's a hybrid mix of both. My membership is actually a hybrid. You get both content and community, so you can combine multiple things.

And then the other probably most popular subscription-based business that I see is product-based. So think about subscription boxes or something that arrives on a regular interval like every week or every month, and it's something that's actually physical that arrives to you at your house. So many, many different types of product-based models as well, which can be such a fun way to build in predictable recurring revenue into your business.

So we're gonna talk about how to get started. And in doing so, I want to tell you how I got started. So this story goes back to 2012 when I got my start as a blogger, I was blogging, I was gaining momentum, I was having many thousands of people hit my page every single day to read my blog. And I was making a little bit of money.

I don't know if you remember those like sidebar ads on blogs. I was probably making like 500, maybe a thousand dollars a month based on that. Not super consistent, but enough for me to feel like, you know, the blog was kind of worth it. And I'll never forget that we were working with a family that was really, really just wise, like incredible entrepreneurs. And just to paint the picture here, my husband and I were combined making around $30,000 a year in 2012. And so my husband, David, was a cycling coach. And so he had many athletes who he coached, he coached them remotely, but many times they would have him come out and ride with him in person. And so that's what we were doing and we were, we were really young, we didn't have kids yet, we were married, but sometimes I would get to go with them and I would do something called sag. Do you know what this means? So if I s sagged for them, what that meant was that I drove a car behind them and I had like spare tires and extra set of clothes and water and supplements and food and things like that in the car.

But oftentimes these rides were a hundred miles in a day, and the bicycles are not very fast. So you know, it's like six plus hours driving behind these cyclists. And oftentimes we would also have a pretty long drive to even get to where they started. And so David was writing, he was training someone that he worked with and this guy was just incredibly smart, like the smartest person, so kind, so humble and very, very successful. And I loved talking business with him. And he said, remember in 2012, I can't remember, I was, I was in my young twenties, we'll still say that and I'll never forget that. He said, you know, your numbers like how many people are reading your blog are really impressive, but that's not really translating to your bank account. And I was like, you don't say. And he said, if you could just decide on something that some people would be willing to pay for and then put it into a recurring revenue model. And this just kind of like blew my mind. This was the first time that the concept of not just trading time for money and sort of like making money while you sleep was presented to me.

And I'll never forget that day as I drove the car behind them, I just started brainstorming all of the things that I, I thought I could create that someone would be willing to pay for. And so I had a notebook, and the way the SAG works is sometimes you drive away ahead and pull over and you wait for them to catch up. And so I had a lot of time in the car and I would sit and just brain dump all of these ideas that I had.

And it was like two months later that I launched my membership for the very first time. Now it was really, really simple. And so that's what I wanna talk about is keeping it really simple at the beginning. There are so many different membership, you know, site platforms and payment options and bells and whistles. But listen to what I did. Okay, I announced it in a blog post and I put a link to a PayPal recurring subscription in there for $5 a month, and that's all. And then I sent an email every Friday to anybody who had signed up and it, so it was only five bucks a month, and that was four emails. And there was no membership platform. There was no login.

If you wanted something, you had to find it in your email. I'm not saying it was awesome, but I am saying that that's how I got started. And I had 200 people sign up on the very first time that I launched it, which was a thousand dollars in recurring revenue in my business a month for the first time ever. And from there,

it has just grown and of course improved. Today we have a really robust membership site with a login and all of those things, and it also costs more than $5. So today it's $47 a month, but I still have some people who are still paying $5 a month because once you come in at a certain price, you kind of lock it in forever.

So that's how I got started. And we celebrated our 10th year anniversary just last year. So this is our 11th year, and I've never missed a week and it's been the most fulfilling thing that I've ever done. We serve 4,000 members today, and my membership as of this past year hit a seven figure membership for the first time. Now everyone, like I said, isn't at that $47 a month price, so I've got people kind of scattered out. So you can't do the math quite as easily as you'd like to, but it ha, it has hit a seven figure a year membership, which is incredible. And I have to say that all of that was made possible by what I learned from Stu McLaren. So again, make sure that you catch that episode. It's worth every moment of your time. Again, that's episode number 45. And so really what happened was I took that in 2019 for the first time. And so I was seven years into my membership, but I decided to take his course. And before that, my income kind of looked like spikes like mountains on a chart.

It would go up, down, up, down, up, down, up, down. And then after I implemented everything that I learned from Stu, my graph completely changed from spikes to a stairstep. So it would go up when we opened registration and then it would kind of level off it maybe go down a little bit, but the next time it would go up and then level off a little bit and then go up.

So it began to stairstep and none of that would've ever happened had I not known what I didn't learn. And the membership experience. There are so many ways to tweak your membership to make it really, really beneficial for members. So I highly suggest that course. Are you tired of spending hours crafting the perfect email only to be met with crickets in your inbox or worth having your emails end up in your subscriber's spam folders?

I know that feeling, which is why I switched to Convert Kit as my email service provider many years ago. Convert Kit is the email marketing platform built by creators for creators. With Convert Kit, you can easily create and send beautiful personalized emails that your subscribers are not only going to open but also love. They have a drag and drop email editor that makes it easy to design emails that look and feel professional without any coding.

Plus, they're powerful automation tools make it easy to send the right message to the right person at the right time. But that's really not all Convert Kit tagging and segmenting tools make it so easy to send targeted messages to your subscribers based on their interests and behaviors. So for example, you can imagine that on my email list, I have people who are interested in buying my fabric to use in their projects, and then also people who want to learn how to design their own fabric. And so through Convert Kits tagging system, I can communicate to those two different groups of people so that I don't ever have to worry if I'm bugging the other group with something that they're not interested in. You can also use Convert Kit to actually build out a page and a form so that you can easily grow your email list and turn subscribers into customers.

So you know that we always want you to be growing your email list, and I can tell you that if you dive into Convert Kit, you can start adding subscribers to your email list within a day of focused effort. It's not that difficult. It's super easy to set up, build a landing page, put an opt-in in, and then start getting people on your list.

So if you are ready to take your email marketing to the next level, I want you to head on over to bonnie christine.com/resources and sign up for a free trial on Convert Kit today. You can go ahead and dive in and get familiar with the program. Their support is amazing and see what you think. This is truly an email service provider who can grow with you from one subscriber to 500,000.

So again, head on over to bonnie christine.com/resources and check out Convert Kit today. Okay, so let's go back to keeping it simple. Again, there are so many different options out there, I just don't want you to be overwhelmed. Keep it as simple as you possibly can. The most important thing is that you focus on providing value and building community to your audience.

And so as long as you do those two things, you build value, you knock their socks off, you give them something incredible, and then you also work on building community and connection, then you are going to be just fine whether you've got all the tech part figured out or not. Now, I know some of you are wondering what I use today.

And so I'll tell you today, the platform that I use is called Cajabi. Actually use cajabi for just about everything. I use it for my membership, my courses, all my landing pages, actually my entire website, as well as the website that the professional creative website is on. So if you wanna go see it in action, you can go to bonnie christine.com

or professional creative.com and we'll also link up cajabi in today's episodes so that you can go check it out if you want. The takeaway that I really want you to have is how important it is to simply start. Because if I had waited until I had all of those little things figured out, it would've been years and I would've been missing out on all of the connection and the value I provided and the income that I created for our family, which was life changing. So don't wait until you have it all figured out, just get going. Now, of course your membership is going to change and evolve over time, and so I also want you to just have the permission to get started and figure it out as you go, because people will be completely fine with that. I always just try to communicate any changes that I'm going to make and make them really clear to the membership.

But we've morphed the membership quite a lot over the years. We've done complete overhauls on the design, we've removed old content, we've tried new features, we've taken features that weren't working away, but it all comes down to prioritizing member happiness. And so the number one way that we do this is through feedback. We really just simply ask our members what they're loving, what they could, you know, live without, what changes they might wanna see, what do they want to learn next? And all of this really helps shape and form any changes that we make, and we back them up by knowing for sure what our members want. Now, I did an entire episode based on how to ask your audience, ask your people what they want.

And so I would absolutely go listen to that. That's number 37. So episode number 37 will give you my overview into how to formulate surveys and ask your audience for all types of different feedback. So I'm wondering if this has any of your gears turning? What in your business could you offer on a regular interval that people would be interested in? I can think of so many things.

This could be education-based, it could be product-based, it could be inspiration based. And so again, I wanna make sure that you go get today's free download. It's called the Idea Vault, and it's 50 ideas for content and deliverables that you could put in your membership. So if you want to really sit down and have a brainstorming session about all the things that you're doing that perhaps someone would be willing to pay for, then make sure to go get that free download. I would love for you to brainstorm ideas about your own subscription service or your own membership site and you know, take some time to research existing membership sites specifically if you have any in your niche already. Figure out what people are doing and what's working and maybe what's not working as well. And then finally, just remember to keep it simple. So we dipped our toes in today to explore the world of membership sites and how they can really offer you the creative entrepreneur, an incredible opportunity to build recurring revenue, a loving and supportive community, and share your talent and your content with your members. Remember, starting small and simple is key. It's really the key to everything in life, and it's absolutely key to launching a successful membership site. You do not need all the bells and muscles from day number one. It's all about providing value to your members and building that strong community. So as you move forward, take these next action steps and ha, they'll help you kind of wrap your mind around the possibilities. So step one is to reflect on what subscription services do you use and how can you adapt this to your own creative business.

Step two is to brainstorm ideas for your own membership site. And you can consider the different types that we covered, but kind of do what I did on that sunny day when I was sagging for David and his client and just brain dump everything that you have that you think someone would be willing to pay for. Feel free to also research existing membership sites and your niche.

And remember to keep it simple, you can use tools like PayPal and email at the beginning, or you could move into something more advanced like Kajabi. But if you're ready, if you're really ready, I cannot suggest taking the membership experience highly enough. I take it year after year, it uplevels my membership every time. Stu McLaren is an absolute expert in this arena.

So if you're thinking about it, make sure to join his free workshop. Also, listen to our last episode where Stu joins me to talk about memberships and he shares so many examples from the creative industry that you can listen to and be inspired by. That is episode number 45, and we have everything linked up for you [email protected]. I want you to unlock the potential of subscriptions or membership sites and experience this really incredible stability and most importantly, the freedom that comes with this kind of business model. Don't let overwhelm hold you back. Just embrace the journey and remember that every successful membership site started with a single step. Go get the Idea Bank your free download [email protected] and I will see you next time. Same place my friends, create the beauty that you want to see come alive in the world.

And remember there's room for you. I'll see you next time. Bye for now.



Download as txt file
I'm Bonnie Christine.


Thanks for joining me in this journey. I can't wait to help you to craft a career you love!

Let's be friends!

see you on instagram