How To Start a Money Making Membership Site – Part 2

Before we dive into the part two of this coaching series, read part 1 if you haven’t already done so.

Ready? Let’s talk about selecting a market for your membership site in this lesson. This is going to be a long lesson (up to 10 pages), so roll up your sleeves and dive…

Choosing Your Target Market

Choosing the right market is essential – and take it from someone who has launched a bundle of info-products of his own only to see them flop in the most embarrassing manner imaginable.

Effective market research is critical to the success of any product – and FTM sites especially so. As you will see in a moment, membership sites of this kind are a profoundly different marketing proposition from regular information products.

How to Find Potential Niches

Finding niches – profitable or not – is one of the biggest challenges of aspiring marketers. Go to any IM forum and you will find hundreds of posters all ranting about the profit potential of an untapped niche. But how do you actually find them?

Amazon – Personally, I always prefer to start with Amazon – for the simple reason that, if books are being published on this subject, then it’s probably because there’s demand for information. For example, head to Amazon and select Books -> Crafts & Hobbies. Here’s just a sample of topics that you will immediately find there:

  • Baskets
  • Candlemaking
  • Knitting
  • Origami
  • Scrapbooking – An alternative way to discover potential niches is to take a look at magazine publications. These are, as you know, multimillion dollar businesses that rely primarily on advertising for their revenues. And where there’s advertising, there’s also an audience that’s able to buy and manufacturer’s willing to sell – in short, a potentially lucrative market.

The site I usually use for magazine research is – not only can you see all the major magazines there as well as the categories they belong to, but you can also buy digital versions of them for as little as $3.99! This makes niche research both cheaper and more convenient.

By the way – if you do buy a magazine this way, take a good hard look at all the advertisements you find inside. If you see an advertisement for, say, anti-wrinkle cream, then it usually means that there are millions of people out there all wondering how to get rid of wrinkles. A quick Google Keywords search reveals that 135,000 people a month search for “anti wrinkle” – how’s that for a market with high demand?

Lastly, when examining advertisements, be on the lookout for the unique selling proposition that the advertisers are trying to communicate (how they seek to differentiate themselves from the competition). Differentiation strategies are strong indicators of niches – for example, if an advertiser emphasizes organic anti-wrinkle creams, then it’s usually because there is a niche for natural wrinkle solutions.

Forums and Online Communities

Forums are great for finding lucrative, laser-targeted niches, provided that you’re willing to invest some time into research. Once you have decided what broad market you want to work in (e.g., parenting), spend some time on relevant forums to see what questions users ask and what needs they seem to have.

Look for threads along the lines of:

  • “How do I…?”
  • “How can I…?”
  • “How to…?”

For example, sticking with the parenting example above, a quick scan of parenting forums reveals the following potential niches:

  • How to potty-train your child
  • How to help your 6-year old with social problems at kindergarten/early school
  • How to deal with bullying/reverse bullying

This list of potentially very profitable niches (remember, most parents are absolutely crazy about their kids and will happily spend as much money as needed on them) took me all 10 minutes to come up with, and that’s in a market I have absolutely no experience in.

Another way to use forums for niche research is to actually involve other forum members and get them to tell you what problems they have that need solving. For the parenting example above, you can simply make a post on the forum and ask people what the number one problem with their three-year old was. Before you know it, you will have hundreds of people all sharing stories, complaints and experiences – and even providing solutions!

Market Segmentation

Another great way to find lucrative niches is to segment your market. Professional marketers use this term to describe the process of breaking an otherwise big market down into smaller, manageable chunks.

For example, let’s say you want to release an FTM site in the dating market. As you know, this represents an enormous group of customers – in fact, every single adolescent and adult person in the world is a potential customer!

However, let’s see if we can segment the market somewhat by identifying groups of customers. The most obvious way to do it is by gender – after all, there’s a world of difference between dating advice for men and for women.

This leaves us with a market of approximately 3 billion customers, so let’s segment it further still. If we were to look at our potential male customers, how can we divide the group even further? The following criteria come to mind:

  • Age
  • Ethnicity
  • Sexual Orientation

Let’s apply the criteria above – dating advice for men would clearly be a market segment, and an enormous one at that. But what about dating advice for homosexual Asian men over 40? In just one fell swoop, we narrowed our target market from an unmanageable 6 billion to a small, niche segment.

Beating the Competition

This is by far the most challenging way of finding niches – simply because, while identifying one should be pretty easy, taking action and penetrating the market will be a downright nightmare.

If you really, really find yourself without any ideas on lucrative market niches, then sometimes it pays to look no further than your competition. Visit Clickbank and see what products are in high demand (they are usually the same products that hold leading marketplace positions).

The idea here is very simple – figure out what your competition is doing, and then do it better. Oftentimes, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel, since there’s usually always room for more than one contender in any given niche.

Niches and Markets

One of the biggest problems with online market research is the ongoing confusion of terminology. A lot of marketers claim to show you how to find profitable niches – when in reality what they’re pointing you towards are markets.

The difference between the two terms is profound – and important to grasp. A niche is a small subset of the market – one that oftentimes remains unclaimed by existing product manufacturers.

For example, “beauty care” is a market. “Pet care” is a market. Wrinkle treatments and dog training are still market segments, with tens of millions of customers and fierce competition.

In comparison, wrinkle treatments for women aged 50 and over is a niche. Dog training for naturally aggressive dogs is a niche. The difference, as you can see, is the extent to which you narrow down your target market, until you identify a small segment untapped by existing offerings and fellow marketers.

So next time someone tells you that they have an info product in the dating niche, feel free to laugh in their faces and tell them to study the fundamentals of marketing – dating is a market (and an enormous one at that), and not a niche.

Profitability Factors

As hinted earlier, FTM sites are a very different beast as compared to traditional information products. In fact, I’ll even go one step further and say that traditional indicators of a potentially profitable niche – such as a desperate audience – are not necessarily applicable to FTM sites.

Luckily, in this section I have compiled a list of 5 main factors that can help determine whether the niche you have in mind is suitable for an FTM site. Simply use this litmus test before you start developing your membership site, and you will never end up with a commercial flop on your hands!

Why a Desperate Audience Isn’t Necessary

If you’ve been around the block in Internet Marketing, then you’ve probably heard all about the concept of a desperate, hungry audience looking for an immediate solution to their problem. Such an audience is routinely described as the key element of any marketing campaign – if you find such prospective customers, then everything else will fall into place. After all, they have a burning need to solve a pressing problem, and you’re offering the solution. How could you go wrong?

This approach works almost every time – except for FTM sites. Of their nature, FTM sites spread the solution to the problem over a period of time – and it can be as long as 12 months.

So, for example, let’s take one of the hottest markets out there – acne. Every day, millions of acne suffers wake up to a terrible reflection in the mirror. There’s nothing they wouldn’t give for a magic solution that got rid of their acne in a week.

These people have a desperate problem – but would they be willing to spend a year’s worth of membership fees just to figure out how to get rid of acne? Clearly not – they want a solution, yes, but they also want it right now.

FTM sites do not easily lend themselves to solving immediate problems. Instead, when creating a FTM site, you’re better off focusing on areas of improvements. For example, a course showing you how to improve your copywriting skills and maybe even find your first few clients would be a great concept for a FTM site – simply because anyone who’s serious about copywriting knows that it is a learned skill that takes years to master. Similarly, a membership site showing how to improve your golf skills would be another example of a site that people would be happy to pay for – because any serious golfer knows that this kind of improvement just doesn’t happen overnight.

In this respect, then, FTM sites go against the conventional wisdom of Internet marketing. Instead of focusing on a burning problem that requires immediate solution, they concentrate on long-term opportunities for improvement.

Memberships as a Concept

Not all markets are equally accepting of membership sites as a concept. For example, if you have spent your entire online career solely in Internet marketing, then you’ve probably seen many membership sites come and go. In your mind, they’re nothing new – and you might not have a problem paying for one, so long as it continued to create value for you during the subscription period.

In contrast, a lot of people outside IM have never encountered a membership site, much less paid for one. This, in turn, makes selling memberships to them exceptionally difficult.

This, then, forms the second component of your market analysis – how likely is the target market to accept the concept of a membership site in the first place? One good way to do it is to identify such markets is to find problems that require a long process to resolve.

For example, consider weight loss – you clearly can’t lose weight overnight. To shed those extra pounds, you’ll need to embark on a long process that will take you six months at the very least. And, precisely because the solution to this problem is a process rather than a quick fix, you will find it much easier to explain to prospective customers why you’re offering a membership site rather than a one-off e-book.

Real Disposable Income

No matter how you slice it, membership sites are expensive. Even if you charge $9.95 a month – which is pretty cheap as far as memberships go – that still works out to an impressive $$119.40 a year.

In turn, this means that another important factor you need to keep in mind when deciding on the market for your site is whether your potential customers have sufficient real disposal income to afford your service in the first place. For instance, you’d be hard-pressed to sell a job-hunting site or a frugal living membership solution to the unemployed; but you could easily get away with a golf training membership site, simply because your target market is likely to be relatively upscale and affluent.

Personal Expertise

Do you have enough knowledge of the subject matter to keep producing valuable content month after month?

As any ghostwriter will tell you, you don’t need to be an expert to produce a winning, in-depth e-book that delivers value and solves your customers’ problems. All you have to do is spend a few weeks conductive exhaustive research – and soon you’ll have more material than you can shake a stick at.

Unlike e-books, however, membership sites aren’t one-off affairs. You don’t just have to create valuable content once – you have to keep churning it out week after week, month after month. And if you don’t know the first thing about the subject matter, then there’s only so much information you can provide to your subscribers before you run out of things to say (and, soon, out of subscribers as well, as the quality of content starts going downhill).

Keyword Research

How popular is your market? Are there enough people looking for information on this topic to justify developing a full-fledged FTM solution?

Keyword research is a great way to answer this question. As you know, there are many keyword research tools out there – some are paid, while others are free. While all have their own advantages and drawbacks, I personally am not a fan of paying for keyword research data that I can already get for free.

This is the reason why I always stick with the Google Keywords Tool. Of course, it’s not 100% accurate – no keyword tool is – but it enables you to pull data directly from the Big G, instead of relying on metacrawlers.

With this, we conclude the part-2 of this membership mastery coaching. Don’t sit back and forget what you have just read. Until you take action and narrow down the niche for your FTM site, the next week lesson won’t help you. You have full one week to research and come up with your niche.

If you require any help in determining the niche for your FTM site, then feel free to ask your question(s) by commenting below. Alternatively, you can ask your question(s) on my blog.

Next Week: Setting Up an FTM Site

If you’ve never put together a site before, then the prospect of assembling a membership website may sound daunting. Luckily, from the technical point of view, FTM sites are very easy to set up. And I will uncover every aspect of it in my next week’s lesson. I will even show you the exact scripts that you can use and a case study of a FTM site that charges $3400 a year. So stay tuned.

You can meet Deep Arora, read more of his tips & tricks and watch some of his free videos at