Revenue on Repeat Summit

One of the best things about running your own business is the freedom, am I right?

But when I first started my business a few years ago, I traded regular work hours and a steady paycheck for working wayyy more hours with variable income.

To be honest – I missed some of the predictability that comes with having a more traditional 9-5 job.

Like many creative entrepreneurs, I originally started my business by freelancing / offering one-to-one services. But I quickly realized that my time – and more importantly, my income – was limited. I wanted to leverage my time by creating something once and then selling it over and over again. Back in 2016, it seemed like “everyone” was creating online courses, so I did too. And from a revenue standpoint, it was great! I put a ton of work into creating and launching courses, marketed the hell out of them, and had $30k+ launches. And I did it over and over again earning more $$$ each time.

While that that might seem “successful” on the outside – I kinda hated the business I was building. I felt like my business (and my worth) was only as good as my last launch. And honestly, I was exhausted.

What I really wanted was recurring revenue.

In 2016 decided to create a subscription-based offer – and thus, the Styled Stock Society was born.

Creating a subscription-based offer was literally the thing that changed my business and enabled me to work fewer hours while earning more consistent recurring revenue

When you’re running a service based business, it can feel like a constant hamster wheel of finding new clients, doing one-off projects, and then starting over to find new clients again – because at the end of the day, you’re still trading your time for money.

You’ve probably thought about ways that you could scale your biz – like creating templates or launching a course – but ya know what’s better than one-off revenue from digital product sales?

RECURRING REVENUE.

If you can solve an ongoing problem for your clients, wouldn’t it be great to get paid on an ongoing basis too?

I’ve run my stock photography membership for almost 3 years now, and since last Fall I’ve worked with over a dozen entrepreneurs to basically teach them everything I know! I’ve also shared several blog posts from the mistakes I’ve made running my membership to how I market + grow my membership.

BUT… I’m not an expert in everything.

That’s why I’m so excited to partner with 14 other business owners for the Revenue on Repeat Summit.

I created the Revenue on Repeat Summit specifically to help service-based business owners scale their biz and create recurring revenue by launching a digital subscription offer. During this 3 day virtual summit, we’ll teach you how to create, launch, and grow a digital subscription business that actually brings in recurring revenue month after month.

GET YOUR FREE TICKET NOW

The summit is totally virtual (so you can show up in your yoga pants) + there is going to be SO much value packed into just a few days – I’m so excited!

I’ll be speaking on How to Increase Member Retention + Decrease Churn for Long-Term Growth, and the other presentations will cover everything from branding, copywriting, sales pages, social media, collaborations, and more!

I’ll also be doing additional free trainings in the summit Facebook group throughout this month, so make sure to join (you’ll get the group link after you register for the summit).

So if you’re thinking “YES, PLEASE!” to the idea of recurring revenue, grab your FREE ticket the summit now!

How I Market And Grow My Membership On Autopilot Every Month

One of the great things about creating a membership is that you can streamline #allthethings (operations / content / marketing / sales / etc) under one main offer. When I sold courses and digital products, my marketing was very launch-centric and I would plan my marketing calendar around webinars, launches, and strategic partnerships. Now that my focus is on marketing just ONE thing, I’m NEVER in launch mode. There are no crazy ups and downs (with the exception of our big semi-annual sales) – instead, we’re just in steady growth and maintenance mode year round which means I’m wayyy less stressed.

And because I’m focused on selling only ONE thing, my marketing is super focused as well. I plan my biz quarterly and, in each quarter there are three months, so each month we focus on one of three things: 1) increasing leads 2) increasing conversions 3) increasing value.

For example, in months where we’re focused on increasing leads, that might mean focusing on our affiliate marketing strategy or stepping up our Pinterest promotions. In months where we’re focused on increasing conversions, that might mean working on sales funnel copy or optimizing our sales page design. And in months where we’re focused on increasing value, that might mean creating bonus resources for our members or other special promotions. The point is, we’re focused on doing ONE thing better at a time to market and grow the Styled Stock Society membership.

So that’s the big picture overview of our membership marketing strategy but when it comes to specific implementation we have a number of different marketing systems + processes that are constantly running in the background (and are also constantly being tweaked + optimized as needed).

How I market and grow my membership each month

There are 3 main marketing tools that work in conjunction to grow our membership each month. These are the 3 things that work on autopilot to grow the Styled Stock Society membership – so even if we’re not doing any active marketing or promotions, even if I take a full month off from work because I’m in the hospital or on vacation or sitting on my couch watching Bravo, we still attract new members every. single. month.

Content marketing (top of the funnel)

Obviously for people to become Styled Stock Society members, they need to know that the Styled Stock Society exists and somehow make their way to our website where they can join. Our main content platform is our blog however, we repurpose content for emails and social media posts as well. While in an IDEAL world we’d be blogging regularly, sending weekly emails, and showing up on social media every single day – the reality is that doesn’t always happen. But here’s the thing – even when we’ve gone months without publishing a new blog post we still see traffic growth and new membership signups because we’re constantly sharing and re-sharing old blog posts. We use Tailwind to automate sharing on Pinterest and SmarterQueue to automate sharing on Facebook and Twitter so that we’re always getting new eyes on our content (even if the content itself is old)!

So yes, best case scenario you have a set schedule for creating new content to market your business and you show up regularly to share, promote, and connect with new people… but even if you can’t commit to creating some form of new content regularly (blogging / vlogging / podcasting / etc.), you can still create 5-10 value-filled pieces of content that you can repurpose, re-share, and use to grow your membership. Consistency is (almost) always better, but don’t let the fear of being inconsistent hold you back from creating anything at all!

Lead magnet + automated email sequence (middle of the funnel)

Once we’ve actually gotten people to our website via our content marketing strategies, some people may take the time to learn about our membership and join right away, but more often it takes people a little bit more time to get to know us and what we have to offer before they invest. So, in the next part of our funnel, we want them to take the next step and get on our email list. We have a number of opt-in offers, but our main lead magnet is a set of 20 free stock photos which we give away in exchange for email addresses. After a new subscriber downloads these free stock photos, they then get an automated email sequence which helps them understand how they can use stock photos for their business, why investing in a stock photography membership can help them grow their business, and how our current members have been able to save time + money by investing in a Styled Stock Society membership.

We also use this automated email sequence to share more details about what’s included in the Styled Stock Society membership and answer any potential questions someone might have about joining. So essentially this part of our funnel helps us build the “like/trust” part of the know/like/trust factor – and because it’s automated, it’s constantly working (even when I’m not).

Affiliates

Last but not least, we also have a Styled Stock Society affiliate program through which we offer a 25%+ commission in exchange for our affiliates referring new members. We have an automated sequence that invites our members to become affiliates and then an automated sequence set up so that our affiliates are armed with helpful tips for how they can promote their affiliate links as well as done-for-them promo graphics and swipe copy to help make it as easy as possible for them. Because this part of our marketing really relies on our affiliates to do the “hard work” by building trust with their audience, this is a relatively passive marketing strategy that allows us to get in front of new audiences every day.

So those are 3 ways I market and grow my membership on autopilot every month. While these strategies are mostly “passive” after the initial set up, there are definitely other more “active” strategies that we use more tactically to market and grow our membership like collaborations, special promotions, and press features – but I’ll share those in a future blog post!

5 Mistakes I Made Running My Membership

I’ve learned a lot of things from running the Styled Stock Society over the past few years and nothing teaches you a lesson more than making mistakes…

5 membership site mistakes

It’s easier to share the tips + strategies, but sharing the mistakes can be even more helpful – so that you can avoid making them too!

I didn’t choose a membership platform that I could grow with

When I first had the idea to launch a subscription, I had no idea if it was going to take off (or if it was something I really wanted to do long term). So I spent a couple of hours researching the various platforms to sell a subscription, and ultimately I picked SendOwl because it seemed simple and affordable (subscription plans start at $24/month). At the time, I was really just looking for a tool that had the ability to give people access to content and charge them on a recurring basis for that access. Honestly, there’s nothing wrong with SendOwl. I *almost* considered leaving this one out because I think it was less a mistake, and more the result of making a quick (and affordable) decision in order to launch quickly.

BUT – I wouldn’t recommend SendOwl to anyone who wants to create a membership site (because it’s not what it’s built for). While I didn’t plan to create a membership site when I first started my business (I really had no idea what I was doing), I realized after running my subscription for a few months that I wanted the subscription to evolve, but unfortunately, that meant finding a different platform. I moved my subscription over to a WordPress site using MemberPress to run the subscription component, and we ended up having to migrate 400+ members to the new system which was not ideal! If I had to start over again, I would potentially choose a different platform in the beginning – one that I could grow with as my subscription evolved – but I don’t regret starting out with SendOwl and I would still recommend it to anyone who wants to start a simple subscription (where you are only delivering a single thing on a recurring basis) and wants something easy to set up.

I created too many membership options

A couple of years ago I had two different membership levels – a “standard” level which included a set number of downloads per month and a “luxe” level which is our current all-access level. That doesn’t sound like too many options, but when you consider that each of those had monthly / quarterly / annual plans, it was a bit confusing on the back end and also confused potential subscribers.

I think when you have too many different options it can cause potential buyers to have analysis paralysis – aka, overanalyzing to the point that they don’t make a decision. We streamlined our membership options (based on the types that were most popular), and immediately saw a difference in conversion rates on our membership page. In general, I’d recommend having no more than 3 or 4 different membership options so you don’t confuse potential subscribers.

I ignored membership cancellations for a whole year

Not gonna lie – when I got my first subscription cancellations I took them kinda personally. And for the first year or so of running my subscription, I hated the idea of cancellations so much that I tried to ignore them. <– Don’t do that! I realize now that cancellations are just a part of running a subscription business. Some people will join for a few months and cancel, some will stick around for a year or so, and some might be loyal from the beginning – but depending on where people are in their business/life they probably won’t need your subscription FOREVER – and that’s ok.

Separating my emotions for cancellations probably took more time than I’d like to admit, but ultimately I realized that understanding WHY people cancel their membership is such a valuable tool. I eventually added an “exit survey” asking members at the time of cancellation why they were making that choice and our survey results have been extremely helpful in growing the membership and also retaining future members. I also realized that people weren’t cancelling because they hated the photos (which is what I initially thought) but usually, it was because they had all the photos they needed at the moment or they were moving in a different direction with their business or they needed to cut down on expenses. All of those reasons are totally legit and definitely made me feel less like I was “failing” anytime someone cancelled their membership.

I focused on growth rather than retention

Speaking of cancellations… while I was “ignoring them” I was mainly focused on growing my membership. And that makes sense to a point, but here’s the thing: recurring revenue only recurs if your members stay happy. So while my membership was growing, I was also losing members regularly – which is to be expected – but our churn rate was higher than I wanted it to be.

Once we started asking our existing members more questions like… “What collections do you love? What’s missing from the library? How can we make the site better? What other resources would be helpful for you?” we were able to better understand what our members wanted and give it to them. And happier members = paying members. Don’t forget that it’s easier (and more cost-effective) to keep existing customers happy than it is to attract new customers!

Trying to do it all alone

This one could apply to almost any type of business, but I definitely don’t recommend running a membership site without help! If you have a client-based business, you probably don’t have to spend too much time responding to potential or existing client emails. But with a membership site (or any one-to-many type subscription business), it’s a numbers game. You can help an unlimited number of people, but that also means an unlimited number of emails popping in your inbox from potential and/or existing members. Customer service alone can suck up so much of your time (especially with complicated tech or membership site issues), so I definitely recommend hiring someone to help with customer support ASAP!

When I first started my business, I did everything on my own. But hiring a membership coordinator (and setting up a separate support inbox for her), not only took work off my plate but also increased my overall productivity because I never get distracted by support emails anymore.

So those are 5 membership site mistakes I’ve made over the past few years – and now YOU can avoid them!