Get the Inside Scoop on Membership Sites • New Tricks
 In WordPress

No doubt you remember the famous “12 records for a penny” promotion that put Columbia House Records on the map. Once you joined, you were sent a postcard each month listing the music they’d send if you didn’t send them the “no thanks” card. You only pay for the selections you keep, and at a substantial savings off the regular retail price.

Membership has its privileges… and pitfalls.

Columbia house built a huge enterprise around that “negative option” membership model. As returns started rising and membership started declining, they switched to a “positive option” – meaning clients didn’t get anything unless they specifically asked for it. Membership began to climb again, and a profitable membership program continued to thrive.

As you’re considering building a membership site of your own, think about the following key components:

  1. Client focus.
    What benefit does your membership site provide that can’t be found elsewhere? Perhaps your exclusive content, or convenient access make your site an obvious choice. Maybe you offer multi-media learning options or special discounts, like Columbia house. There needs to be a specific and valuable reason for potential members to join and stick around. A great introductory offer does not make a membership program profitable. A client-focused loyalty program does.
  2. Engagement.
    How will you or your team interact with your members? Clients don’t join a program. They join you. Columbia House sent out a monthly magazine highlighting musical artists, tour info and other industry-related news. Some sites, like facebook, count on the members to engage with each other. A solid engagement strategy keeps members in your program longer.
  3. User-friendly platform.
    Columbia House began with a direct mail platform to reach its members. Mail a postcard, ship a product. Now, they offer an online platform for clients to make their monthly selections and accept special discounts. As you’re building an online platform, I use and recommend Wishlist Member for WordPress-based membership sites.

There are few platforms that are as easy to use as WordPress, and wishlist member is effective for projects ranging from a simple, single tier program, to a more complex, multi-tier program with a “drip feed” feature.

Before you jump in feet first with a new membership program, these are just a few of the considerations you need to take into account. You might also consider how you’ll deliver content, what kind of client you want to work with, and how long you want your program to last. Term-limited programs often have better retention than open-ended ones.

Find out More

If you’re ready to learn more about building a profitable membership site,  join Lisa for a free teleclass on Friday, May 20 at 3pm ET. On this call, She’ll show you, step-by-step, how to build a small but profitable membership site using a free account. She’ll also give you details about her upcoming teleseries which digs into all these topics and more. Get registered at



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  • @lisarobbinyoung

    Thanks for sharing this with your community, Judi! I hope it's helpful!

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