Episode 332

How to Create a Successful Membership Site with Melissa Love

Learn how to create a successful membership site with Melissa Love in this episode of LMScast hosted by Chris Badgett from LifterLMS. Melissa has been using LifterLMS for many years, and she’s been featured on LMScast before. We have a case study with her and a webinar as well. So be sure to look those up after you listen to her episode here. She’s also featured on our latest Enroll Summit online course where you can learn about getting your first 10 enrollments on your course site.

When you’re first starting out in your business and you don’t have a lot of extra cash, it’s important to take accountability for your planning. You may not have the funds to spend $5,000 per month to invest in a coach to keep you accountable, but mapping out annual goals and quarterly planning in addition to your daily workflow will help keep you on track for where you want to go in your business.

One of the things Chris has noticed about people who are successful with LifterLMS is that they have a clear customer. That customer can change over time, but having a clear target market (photographers in Melissa’s case) enables you to create a specific premium offer for that market. Melissa has launched some other business ventures for people who offer website design services to others. But keeping your mindset in each business focused will really help amplify your ability to have success in the market.

Many course creators and membership site owners can struggle on their launch of a course, or even the launch of freebies and lead magnets. The main reason for that in most cases is that they don’t do market research and instead launch what they think the market needs. If you can ask five key questions of your market to determine what they need, it’s a lot easier to position offers in that market that they’ll find valuable and purchase.

Melissa has some helpful tools you can find here:

How to Create a Successful Membership Site with Melissa Love

To learn more about Melissa Love be sure to head to TheDesignSpace.co where you can learn how to build stunning websites as a creative entrepreneur. Also be sure to check out our last LMScast featuring Melissa and her case study about how she found success in the online space here. We’ve done a webinar with Melissa, and if you’re using the Divi Theme alongside LifterLMS, the webinar Melissa did will give you some great advanced tips. We also have our Enroll Summit on getting your first 10 enrollments live now featuring Melissa Love – Get Access Now.

And at LifterLMS.com you can learn more about new developments and how you can use LifterLMS to build online courses and membership sites. Subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. If you like this episode of LMScast, you can browse more episodes here. Thank you for joining us!

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Chris Badgett: You’ve come to the right place if you’re looking to create, launch, and scale a high-value online training program. I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I’m the co-founder of LifterLMS, the most powerful learning management system for WordPress. Stay to the end, I’ve got something special for you. Enjoy the show.

Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. My name is Chris Badgett. I’m joined by a special guest. Her name is Melissa Love. She’s been on the podcast before, so if you like what you hear, I want you to go check out her other episode. We’ve also done a webinar training with Melissa Love, that was really good, about design, about launching a membership, and all kinds of different stuff. We’re going to get into that. She’s also a theme creator. As a designer, she has an amazing theme for training-based membership sites and those types of businesses called Tribe. Welcome back, Melissa, to the show.

Melissa Love: Thank you. Lovely to be back. Always a pleasure.

Chris Badgett: Awesome. And her website, where to go find Melissa, is that thedesignspace.co? Geez, where are we going to start? Where are we going to start? One of the things that you embody before we get into some more tactical stuff and lessons learned that has always just impressed me about you as a course creator, but also as a designer and, more broadly, an entrepreneur, is you seem to be able to really have this right brain creativity. I mean, obviously, you’re a fantastic designer. But then you also have all these systems and you have these logical workflows and checklists. You seem like you flow between right and left brain just so easily and maybe that’s an old, outdated way of thinking. But how do you exist so well on both ends of this spectrum there?

Melissa Love: That’s such a good question. I didn’t use to be that kind of person. I was very much the creative who was a bit disorganized and a bit scatty and I kind of took a weird pride in that, like ooh, I’m so creative and I haven’t got time for all this practical stuff and I would totally wing it. Because my work was good, I was happy [inaudible] to work with me, but I wasn’t working with very smart. I was just wasting time. And when you don’t think tactically, you can’t scale your business. And it just got to the point where I was so burnt out and so ready to scale, I thought, “You have to sort this out. You can’t just go with a to-do list that gets me shorter and no strategy. You’re not outsourcing anything.” I just [inaudible], “Get over yourself.”

And then, actually, I fell in love with marketing my business and understanding my numbers. And actually, I prefer that to the creative in some respects so much so that I created a membership around marketing, which if you told me I was going to do that, I don’t know, 10 years ago, I would’ve laughed my head off because I was not that kind of person that had time for any of that.

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. It’s an emblematic of an open mind. I call it discovering a new area of the bookstore that you didn’t realize like, “Oh, wait a second, there’s a whole other thing here that I’m interested in and I can explore.” That’s awesome.

Melissa Love: But I think we also live up to the stereotypes that people give us or that we encounter, which is that creatives aren’t techy. I’ve worked with a lot of photographers, as you know, and I can’t believe the numbers [inaudible]. I’m just really not very techy. You operate a really complicated $5,000 piece of equipment, then you put all the photos on a computer and you edit them all, and export them. You’re very techy and you can apply those skills to other areas of your business.

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Yeah, I love that. Getting outside of the stereotype. A related question to that, I call it the five hats problem where to do these types of training-based websites, online learning platforms, coaching businesses, all this stuff online at scale through the internet, you have to be an entrepreneur, an instructional designer, a community builder, a techie, and an educator. I think I got that right. But anyways, the whole point is you have to wear a lot of hats and it’s really easy to get stressed out. So how do you know what to focus on and where to be strategic? How do you prioritize in this type of business where you have an online business, at the most broad level with the online business, how do you do that? Do you do quarterly planning and stuff? I know it’s really hard to say no to things. I mean, that’s a big part of it, but how do you focus?

Melissa Love: Well, the first thing is you have to learn to… I think what’s really hard is when you’re just starting out and you don’t have a lot of extra cash in your business. It’s all well and good for someone me to say, “Oh, you should just outsource or you need to invest in a coach to keep you accountable,” but that’s $5,000 and you might not have that thinking around your business. I think in those days, you have to take accountability for your planning. Not only do I do annual goals and quarterly planning, I have it all in my workflow and ClickUp, which is a tool I love. I make my whole community to do it with me.

So I do my planning during their sessions. We have a workflow we get out every quarter and I give them ClickUp template. I give them a Google Sheets if they don’t have that or they can just use a pen and paper. We all do it together. Then they submit their goals for the next quarter, then I check back with them about halfway through the course just to see how they’re getting on. Normally, they go on it or, “Oh my God, how embarrassing.”

So it’s vital because then that gives you a set… And then I think what a lot of people do is they do their planning and they just put it in a dusty drawer and they don’t have it as something that they check in with daily. So I have mine pinned to my homepage of ClickUp, my key goals, and I look at them and I think, “Even if I just do one tiny thing to move myself bigger to my goals, say, what’s it going to be?” And it might be pitching someone or a five-minute job for each of those big goals, it might be doing another page in a template, it might be sending a pitch email to someone to be on a podcast. It might be writing a piece of content that that needs to get done. But I always try and keep them at the front, otherwise all is lost if you do the planning, but don’t do the follow-through.

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. One of the things I’ve noticed about people that are successful with our tool or just more broadly in the industry is they have a clear customer. Maybe that changes over time. Like I know you’ve done a lot with photographers and now you do a lot with marketing professionals and you have these clear customers, like this avatar. And then the other thing I see in people that are the most successful is that they surround that person with support. And it’s not always just one thing, just a video training or just some service or, in your case, it’s really cool because you have coaching opportunities, but you also have your themes. So when I see Tribe, that theme, I’m like, “Wow, this saves a lot of time for people to have great design, great site.” It helps a clear customer, a web designer trying to build this type of site have an extreme time advantage. Tell us about where Tribe came from and how that bubbled up as a project to invest in.

Melissa Love: Well, it’s interesting. Once I launched the membership, I had quite a few people reaching out and saying, “Oh, my god, your site’s amazing. How did you build it? Can you give us a tour? Oh, we’ve been on the fence. We didn’t know whether to choose a third-party platform, the like of [inaudible] or whatever people are using. We’re actually working this, but that seems really daunting.” So I ended up giving a lot tools and behind the scenes little tutorials to people. And then people started joining my membership just to get access to some coaching around that.

So I thought there’s clearly demand there and I know that, as you know, when I first started using Lifter, I’m in the group all the time asking a gazillion questions. How can you do that? How can I make this look better? Why doesn’t this work this? Just generally being annoying. So I just thought, “Well, actually, now I know how to do all of those things, I think it would be really good to share that knowledge and then to fast track it,” because I think there’s always a middle way. And this is the thing, there’s a lot of things you want to do in your business. You might want to hire a professional like me to build you your own all singing, all dancing [inaudible] site, but that is going to cost you $10,000 or you could try and do it yourself from scratch, but you’re probably not going to get the result you want.

But as a middle way, which I call the Ikea way, which is I could try and build a beautiful dining table and sure, it would be functional, you might be able to eat food off it, but it would look terrible. But I can go to Ikea and buy something that’s good design, I can put it together myself and it costs somewhere in the middle. So I just think whatever it is, whatever you want, whether it’s a really expensive coaching program, there’s probably going to be a stepping stone to what ultimately you might be able to afford in the long run for your business. I’m in a couple of memberships, have been for the last couple of years, which put me in the right environment. I’ve only, this year, just invested in a much more high-ticket coaching program for a whole year, which I’ve never done before, but it took me a few other steps to get there.

So I think that’s why for me, Tribe fills that middle gap for people who if you’re on your fifth membership and you’ve done a lot of launches, you can probably afford to hire the $10,000 designer. But if you haven’t, if this is your first one, you want it to look good, but you don’t want to risk everything, it’s a good solution.

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. If you’re looking at a site for somebody who’s building a community or a tribe or coaching program, as a marketer yourself, what’s the simplest marketing funnel for somebody to think of without flying off the tracks of what needs to happen on the site? Let’s say they have some free YouTube content and they’re sending people traffic to the site. They’ve got some good content, which we’re going to talk about in a little bit, about how to make zero-waste content. But what is a marketing funnel for people? I guess I see a lot of people get in the weeds and overly complex. How do you see the website parts of the funnel operating?

Melissa Love: Good question. Just to take one [inaudible], I see in own peopleship and my membership, people actually agonize over that lead magnet content or their freebies. They’re like, “Is the marketing saturated? Has one of my competitors done this?” It doesn’t matter. Because people want to hear it from you, they need to know that you’re the expert. It doesn’t matter how many… I’ve just built a DIY website checklist. There’s going to be a gazillion checklist out there, but none of them are written by me. None of them have my authority behind it. My audience want to hear from me. They don’t want to hear from someone else. They want to have to Google it. They want me to say, “Do these things in this order. That all you need.”

So I think that’s where you have to get over yourself a bit. It’s always going to be a bit embarrassing to launch a freebie and maybe there’s crickets, no one wants it. But the thing is you don’t have to guess. I’m a massive proponent of doing a ton of research. I call it emotion-based research. I can give you a link to that blog post about it where I call them the five magic questions. They’re all emotion-based. They’re all if you could wave a magic wand and have your LifterLMS website built for you tomorrow, what would be the top three things you’d need? So they’re going to answer these questions and they’re going to basically tell you what their most pressing need is. And then you can create the piece of content around it that’s going to answer that. They’ve told you they want it. It’s a no-brainer.

So once you have your piece of content, what I like to do, we’ll come on to this shortly, is I actually create my piece of content in tiny chunks. We’ll talk about this in a second. So I gather a lot of organic feedback as we go along. I drip it out in paragraphs on Instagram and see what questions I get and in my Facebook group and I think, “That needs tweaking,” before I bundle it all together to become the piece of content that it’s ultimately going to be. So once you’ve got confidence in your piece of content, this is where I think a lot of people get a bit panicky and they think, “I need to buy lead pages or click funnels,” and they go off into another tech, $99 a month subscription, which they don’t need. If you’ve got WordPress, that’s literally all you need.

And again, I think the other thing you have to do is keep driving them back to your site. So it’s a little psychological flow, as I call it. So email sign up on your own website, not on any other thing like click funnels or lead pages. You redirect them to a thank you page. So you don’t just give them a thank you success message. Obviously, if you’re ever going to do paid traffic, you need a thank you page where you can measure how many people get to the thank you page. And I think a lot of people boost post, don’t have a thank you page, feel they’ve just burnt a $50 note when they do that. So that’s a real basic, which when you’re just starting out, it’s easy to not know about. Then on that thank you page is where you start to relationship build with the video, a thank you, drive them to your Facebook group, wherever you want them to go next, keep an eye on your inbox.

And then they’re going to get an email, an automated email. Hopefully, you’ve signed up to MailerLite or ActiveCampaign. And in that email, it has to, again… you don’t just give them the freebie in the email where they can download it straight. You want to get them to go back to the website to a delivery page. The reasons you want to know how many people click through to see how many people are consuming your content, but also, it’s a little psychological trick. They start to think, “Ooh, email from Melissa. There’ll be linked some good content on her website.” You’re building that little neurological firing of excitement that every time they get an email from you, it leads to something good.

And then you drive them back to that beautiful delivery page where you’ve embedded it so they can flick through it or they can download it. You’re giving them options. So if they’re on a phone and they don’t go, “Yeah, I don’t want to download a 16-gigabyte PDF onto my phone when I can just flick through it with my finger right here and consume the content.” There’s lots of good reasons to keep driving them back to your website.

Chris Badgett: Wow. That’s really, really good funnel wisdom there. That’s awesome. Before we go to a zero-waste content, I wanted to ask you, a thing I see people struggle with a lot of things you do well are the opposite of what I see people struggle with and one of those is perfectionism. And I’m sure perhaps you have some perfectionist qualities or whatever, but when you develop in public, like you’re getting feedback and you’re asking questions, you may want it to be perfect, but you’re okay with iterating as you go to make sure it’s good. And you’re even talking about setting up a funnel with feedback loops in it like how many people are clicking through, how well is this thing working? You’re open to it not being perfect.

It seems like with you that you and, just in general, the people I see that are the most successful, everything is a work in progress all the time. It’s never done. It’s never a perfect. Giddy up, let’s go. How did you get there? Did you ever have problems with perfectionism or is that just something you figured out early on?

Melissa Love: That’s such a good question. I used to definitely procrastinate more. As you do turn to the marketplace, I think once I started to sell things online, move into more… and I don’t like to get user passive income, but more subscription-based income or online sales. I had to get over myself because at first, you think, “God, I’ve got competitors. They’re all going to look at this,” and you can talk yourself out of doing it. But actually, what I found is brutal honesty works best. One of my first blog posts I ever wrote when I launched my community was Done is Better Than Perfect. And I said, “Look, we’re going to make mistakes on the way. But the great thing about the internet is you can edit it whenever you like.” I say, “So when I make mistakes, please let me know.” And people are like, “Hey, Melissa, I just wanted to let you know, this looks weird on mobile.” I’m like, “Thanks. Got it. Good spot.”

As long as you’re not going to be defensive about it… I mean, I do all the best of my checks, the best of my ability, and I’m not saying I rush things, but I don’t stall anymore because there’s always something else. I think this is the thing you think, back in the day, I thought, “Well, if I could just launch a range of templates, that’d be brilliant. I would have gotten to where I want to be.” But of course, then there’s another summit and you get to talk about that and there’s another thing that you’re excited about. So you just have to get on with it, chip it, and you might have to revise it. But then there’s always something for me, glimmering on the horizon. So that stops me from getting stuck in perfectionism.

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Well, another one of those two-sided swords is, I mean, it goes by a lot of names, expertitest or whatever you like, especially if you’re really passionate about something or had a lot of life experience in it, you know a lot and sometimes it’s hard, there’s just so much there and you also have a drive to help people and whatnot to chunk things down into usable bits that are useful and whatnot.

So one of the things I’ve noticed with you also do well is you have a chunking process. One way I describe it is problem resolved and then there’s tools in the middle to help people… just like any piece of content or a training or something, the good stuff really starts with a core problem and then we solve it. So that being said, I just wanted to use that as a tie-in to how do you do zero-waste content? Do you start with a problem or how do you get efficient with content? Because course creators, coaches, website designers, marketing agencies, if they’re in the content game at all, there’s so much we could write or do or whatever. How do we do it and then also use it effectively, ideally for both marketing and inside their products, and communities, and stuff?

Melissa Love: This has taken me a while to get to this stage where I see this now with much more clarity. But for me, it really starts with doing your emotion-based research and from that, if you use the magic questions, which are all emotion-based, I just use a Google form or a type form, they both spit out a nice Google sheet with all of the answers in a big grid. So you can look down, it might take a little high-low to I’m like, “Right, that’s falling into that bucket. That’s falling into that bucket.” These are people’s real words like, “I feel overwhelmed and I don’t know how to approach this because of X, Y, and Z. I wish someone could do this for me.” This is the kind of answer you’re getting, which are absolute gold’.

So I Normally silo them into three or three key pillars and everyone should have their three key pillars. You’re going to talk about that in everything you do, from your sales page. These are the big problems that your course is going to solve, your content is going to solve. And if you find yourself, if you can’t relate what you’re working on back to these three pillars, you shouldn’t be writing it, basically.

Chris Badgett: Hey, just for example, real quick, what are the marketing fix three pillars>

Melissa Love: They are overwhelm and time management. They are imposter syndrome and they are tool confusion. When it comes to marketing, they didn’t want choose.

Chris Badgett: I love that. That’s awesome.

Melissa Love: Over the last year, overwhelm and time management weren’t a thing anymore because everybody had loads of time because a lot of people weren’t working. So suddenly, I had to park there and it was how to pivot your business and not rely on one income stream became a pillar for me over the last year. I can put that back on its shelf and people are going to get time poor and feel overwhelmed again. So they can change, but not very often. I would say it’s not very often, we have a global pandemic, so that was exceptional. But I thought, “Oh, things are changing. I need to tell people to stop how to manage their time.”

So once you’ve got your three pillars, that three key pillars, that unlocks a lot of structure. So you’re going to test your goals against them. You’re going to test your course content against them. I look at my big goals for the year and I think right, from that, I have to make sure those big goals relate to these things, otherwise it’s not going to have a resonance with my audience. But then when you’ve got your pillars, what I’ve got is I’ve got ideas list where I can then break those down into lots of different topic ideas. So I need to make sure they’re covered in my course, but also, that’s the kind of content I’m going to create.

The thing is, this is how I used to think anyway, I don’t know whether I’d say people go wrong, but I used to see them as three separate activities, blogging, social media, and creating paid for content. I’d think, “Well, I’ve got to create the paid content. It’s got to be amazing, obviously. But then I have to blog about it in a way that doesn’t give the game away. But then I also have to do some social media as well. It feels there’s so much to do.” Then I realized it’s all the same. It’s all the same content. So what I do now is it doesn’t matter whether it was a piece of paid content or a free lead magnet or social media content. I now spend 15 minutes every single day, chunking a topic down into five points. And at the end of the week, that’s rounded up into a blog post. And if it’s suitable for it to be or maybe I’ve done it deliberately to be a piece of paid content, I’ll make a tutorial video and then that’s a module in my course.

Now, in theory, I suppose, you could go through my blog, and my YouTube videos, and my free courses, and my Instagram and probably piece together everything that’s in my paid content, but it’d be a hell of a job to try and find it all in the right order. So I think my biggest piece of advice is don’t worry. It’s almost impossible to give the game away. Your paid content, people pay for your expertise, your coaching, your support to have the right things in the right order. Sometimes I hold some bits back, but often it’s nothing. I don’t. And I use this opportunity to organically test everything. So in the last few weeks, I’ve produced two new lead magnet pieces of content just by dripping out every day 15 minutes of writing a day, put it into a blog post, turn it into a PDF on the Friday, job done. It means I’ve been able to test all the content organically.

So I’m now about to embark on a massive redesign of some of my main flagship course, but I’ll be using it to update blog post, drip it out, get feedback on the content, see if I’ve missed anything, and then re-record the video at the end of that week. I also then, normally, on a Friday, talk through the points on Instagram Live, save it to Instagram TV. If I’ve got time, it gets those five chances, make five different pins to go on Pinterest. It’s just repurposing to the max and not being precious about your content because you are the only person that sees all of your contents.

There’s no way someone, unless they are obsessively following you and reading all your stuff, there’s no way they’re going to put it all together and think, “Well, yeah, I think I’ve read it. I think she’s taught me everything she could possibly have to teach me in Instagram captions.” No one’s ever going to say that. So I think it only helps and I’m someone who’s pretty generous with free content anyway. So for me, it really massively helped me to quickly develop a large amount of content and test it, validate it, and then it finds its place in my paid content.

Chris Badgett: Wow, that’s awesome. If you were to just back at the napkin guess, what percentage of your time is spent making content versus a repurposing/distribution or marketing of the content, if you will? So the actual content creation and then all that other stuff, what’s the split?

Melissa Love: That’s a good question. If I think about it, let’s say interacting in groups and managing the content, I probably spend a day a week, but that paid content, probably another day creating design, resources, themes, and other things. But I write, first of all, in a Google document and my team actually repurpose it into the social media posts and the Pinterest pins. So actually, this is a [inaudible] we were able to get here is in the last three months that we’ve got this workflow down, I relaxed enough to just give everyone the power to do it and me to take a step back. So all I’m really doing is creating a Google document and a video on a Friday and the rest now happens pretty seamlessly. All my emails get sent out. They’re written by my marketing manager.

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome.

Melissa Love: Yeah. And even things that I used to do independently, if you’re on my list or in any of my groups, you’ll get an email every Monday called Motivational Mindset Monday, I think it is, and it’s normally a funny story that relates to a business principle or a design principle. I used to write that every week and now, that has become the intro to the blog post that introduces the whole week. It goes out to my whole list. I often deliver it in an Instagram story. So I’ve just suddenly wised up to the back page the same.

And then once you get your workflow down and you can outsource a little bit of your graphic and copywriting that goes in emails and socials to other, then suddenly, you really accelerate what you can achieve with the time you’ve got. When you’re not doing all the jobs like write the content, create the graphic, chunk it, get it in the right format for this platform and that one, that would probably be another day’s work for me if I wasn’t outsourcing that.

Chris Badgett: So you were saying that when you’re giving out all this content, you discovered that you weren’t fearful around giving all this stuff away because inside your paid areas, there’s so much other value that comes in getting the right thing at the right time with support and coaching or just that curation aspect.

Melissa Love: Yeah.

Chris Badgett: I just wanted you to know, I, a hundred percent, have seen, agree with. It works. In some coaching programs I’m in, the order is just as important as the volume of stuff and you don’t need everything instantly all at once. So just that guide through the content or through the methods to the right tool at the right time is super important. So in that light, what have you learned running a membership site on how to do onboarding and activate to avoid overwhelm in your members? It just helped. I know that’s a big question, but what are some tips there?

Melissa Love: Well, I don’t know if we’ve talked about this before, but when I launched the membership, and I still use it as a [inaudible], it was very much join the membership, we’ll help manage and not to be overwhelm. We’ll show you what to do and when.

Chris Badgett: That’s funny, that was literally in your messaging. I just now remembered that. That’s awesome. Yeah.

Melissa Love: In the past intake, 200 people joined and instantly, they’re overwhelmed. They were like, “We’re overwhelmed.” I’m like, “Oh, my god [crosstalk].” This is not why [crosstalk]. I don’t know where to start. So what I did was I placed a lot of the content at getting start to track the first three mini courses. I completely redid you the dashboard. We’ve got a 28-day onboarding series of emails and it was good. That killed it dead because I said, “Well, you have to watch this video,” and it lays out the first three to six months of what they should do in what order, what assets they should go to first on the dashboard. I then thought, “Do you know what? The onboarding is so crucial and it’s almost indistinguishable from retention.” So we worked out if they don’t join the Facebook group and they don’t meet one of us in a call within these 10 days, we’re probably not going to retain them, especially when we get people coming on a one-pound trial for their first month.

So we do two things. They get a Bonjoro or actually, I’ve changed that to VideoAsk when they first joined. It’s a personal thing for me and it just says hey, I saw you joined the membership. Just wanted to let you know-You know-

Chris Badgett: What’s a VideoAsk? Is that a strategy or a tool?

Melissa Love: It’s a tool. It’s from the team behind Typeform. So if you go onto the design space and you go… I don’t think it’s on the homepage, it’s certainly on the info page. There’s a little video and you press it and I say, “Hey, do you want to ask me a question?” And I get the notification on my phone. I just reply back with a video. So it’s asynchronous video messaging. [crosstalk] as well, but that’s going really well. But I’ve got a blast one that goes out to them when they first register and it’s just me literally in my yoga clothes. It’s really informal and it’s really fun and a lot of people reply and go, “Wow, that was a cool video message.”

Then the other thing is I’ve got an automation running in my email software that if people have joined in the last seven days, they get an email two days before the Wednesday, inviting them to a new member call with two reminders because I really want them on that call. In that call, they tell me about that business. We mock up their next first three months. We make connection. I get them to commit to coming to a coworking session on a Tuesday or whatever the next thing is. We do invite them to the social event personally.

We welcome them into the group on a Thursday. I can then check, if they don’t show up to the welcome meeting, I’ll email them and say, “Listen, I missed you. I really want to get in a call with you. This is one of the key parts of the membership that you get an onboarding call. If you’re serious about this, take advantage of it. I’m here whenever you need me.” That helps you make a connection and they get very excited to once they have a personal relationship with you. Then they’re much more likely to come along to…

The real needle movers in our membership are things like, and this is another good one that I found really good for managing my time and my stress levels as well because the other thing we introduced was a 15-minute SOS call. If it’s not something you can ask in a group because it’s too personal or you just need to speak to me about it, you can book a one-to-one 15-minute call at any time. So at first, I thought, “I’m going to get thousands of these and it’s going to be a disaster.” Actually. I probably only do one or two a month because at the same time, we introduced a three-hour coworking session every Tuesday from 1:00 ’til 4:00 PM. It covers both the UK and US time zones, which is good, and it’s a big, long chunk of time. I know I’m busy every week for three hours, but in that three hours, we’re here on Zoom, sound off, everyone’s head down working. I tell them to come and work and their marketing fixed stuff, but I’ve got assigned rooms. I can take them to a little room, get them unstuck.

So a lot of people now known to save up their questions and problems either for coworking or the monthly hot seat calls. So that has just been brilliant and the people who turned up regularly to that are the ones who are real action-takers, the ones who they’re week in, week out getting their value and turning it into coworking just on it. They’re always member of the month. It’s normally someone who I see a lot, who I see really performing.

So all those interactive sticky elements and we also have member of the month, they win a big hamper and it’s all very exciting. So all of those things that make people feel that they can get to you, even though you’re managing that process quite carefully so that it doesn’t take over your life, those are the things that you can tell people about if you onboard them properly. And they think, “Ah, okay. I know I can get help whenever I need it. I’ll stop panicking.” People panickly zone out and they don’t engage, then they’re like, “I’m not getting value. I haven’t had time to use this because it all seems too much.”

Chris Badgett: Wow. I think I’m going to turn that into eBook and give you credit for that. If you’re listening in your earbuds or you’re watching this on YouTube, I would encourage you to rewind, go back and just write down that list of what Melissa said because what I think a good coach does is they compress decades into days. So through lots of experience, trial and error, things that work, things that didn’t work, you just rattled off a list that took you like a long time and a lot of iterations to figure out and it’s still a work in progress, but that’s some really good tips there. It was so good, I want to go to the other side of the conversion point.

So I think of a funnel as two sides, the marketing funnel and then the onboarding, activation, advocacy funnel on the other side. But if we go back through the conversion point, what advice do you have for people to go from let’s say they’re an expert, they’re building their tribe and they want to put their flag in the ground. They’re super passionate. They’re like, “I’m going to be here for a long time,” but maybe they’re not great. Have a big business, marketing background. How do you go from zero to 10 enrollments? What’s some tips you have there. And I know that’s a broad question, but if you could give somebody some advice without overwhelming them, how do you get your first 10 people to enroll?

Melissa Love: Well, you do have to have an audience and if you’re very lucky, you’ll enroll 1% of your audience, of [inaudible] audience.

Chris Badgett: So would it be fair to say that you would not recommend even messing with the site, the membership site, and the e-commerce, and all that stuff until you’ve started building audience for free, follow your content, email, all that?

Melissa Love: Yeah. I mean, depends on how big a splash you wanted to do. I mean, the easiest thing to do is to build a very small audience, it can just be a hundred or so people, who are very loyal and very active and you can get some people on board for a cheap or free beta test to get into your program. If you bring 10 people through at half price, you’ll get takers for cheaper for you or near as. You’ve then got testimonials, and you’ve had your tires kicked, and you’ve worked out what works and what doesn’t, and you’ve got advocates, you can sign up as affiliates. So you can start really small, but you’ve got to find a way of at least getting your beta testers in and the way you’re going to do that is with some really good free content where they can trust that they’re not going to waste their time by giving you their time.

I’d say a fairly big marketing name saying lead magnets and list building is dead. This was one of his ads this week. And I thought, “Well, I’m pulling in 200 subscribers a week with my lead magnets, so I don’t think it’s dead. Sorry.” Not in my humble experience. So they work if it’s something that people want. So all free content that people might sign up for is 100% based on the emotion-based research that I do. So I know people are struggling with these things.

Chris Badgett: Can you sprinkle a little color on that from your personal story? Because it sounds like, if I understand your history correctly, there was a moment where you, and maybe that happened in parallel, but where you were really focused on photographers and then you started focusing on designers and agencies. So at some point, that designer agency group was small in the beginning. When did you like all right, there’s something here? Why did that pivot happen or what was the genesis of building that community?

Melissa Love: I think I was very lucky. I was a fairly early adopter of Divi and when it first… I don’t know, let’s say years ago, it was a smaller community. So from a sharing sites they’ve built and people go, “Wow, your site’s really different. I’ve not really seen anything like that before. That’s great. How did you do that? And how did you do that?” So I’d get a lot of… and then it would be a thing like, “What are you working on? I can’t wait ’til you post your next site. We love seeing what you do.”

And then I got featured by Divi and I was one of their featured designers. And so I started getting lots of traffic from their blog, on their site and lots of people started approaching me saying, “Do you do business mentoring?” Then I launched the Divi templates and I was the first person to ever sell a third-party Divi product. Now it’s a huge industry. So I think I just got a lot of interest in well, I’d like to do that. I’d like to sell. I’d like to have more passive income and I’d like to know how you got from one-to-one to more one-to-many.

So it was more like people ask me a lot and so I started a Facebook group, which I still run today, called Build Your Website Business with Melissa Love. We do regular training in there. I do have a program for web designers, which I took about 20 people through, beta tested it. Decided high-ticket coaching wasn’t for me. I enjoyed it, but it was intense. I did feel I wanted a more inclusive membership style. So when I built the membership, it was with a view to building those people in as well. So it did happen very organically. I didn’t set out to target the message.

Chris Badgett: But it sounds like you were sharing what you were doing. You were being… what’s the word for it? You were sharing what you were up to. In order to attract people, you have to be doing something, like you have to have some content out there. I’ve seen that work for a lot of people where they’re just sharing their journey and their community literally comes to them. It’s not like here, you’re convincing people. They just like what they’re seeing.

Melissa Love: I think something that’s happened over the last year, and I’ve certainly taken it on board, is it’s really good to share the absolute highs and lows of your story. I don’t know if I’ve told you this story, but my very first business wasn’t in design, I invested and so did my husband, kindly, we were doing organic food box deliveries and we lost a ton of money, and imagine that, I think it was like pound £25,000 in that first business. It failed terribly and one of the reasons it failed because I actually… we had to pay someone nearly £10,000 to build this e-commerce website. Obviously, I don’t know [crosstalk].

But it’s a great story that I’ve only just started telling me in the last few months and people say, “It’s so good to hear that you have failed massively and you carried on.” And I think what’s happened in the last year globally has been quite good for honesty and people really truth-telling and saying, “Actually, you can pivot your business. You can pick yourself up off the ground.” It is okay to share your stories and your ups and downs because it’s helpful to people who… if you’re saying join my community because I can give you a shortcut, you have to also say, “My journey was pretty rough at times and these are some of the places I stumbled, so you won’t have to, and you can only really get genuine buy-in if you’re genuinely honest about things that haven’t worked for you.” So I say, “Don’t worry about sharing your story. It’s all learning.”

Chris Badgett: Yeah, that’s great advice. You brushed over something real quick. I just want to go back and park on this. It sounds like you were debating between high-ticket coaching, which I think I would say is something like over $10,000 a year or something maybe 20, maybe even 30 and up, but you said you decided to do more of a membership style, which is more inclusive, meaning it wasn’t necessarily for rich people or something like that. It’s more approachable for everybody. I totally get that. So tell us more about that, just your head space when you were like, “Okay, I can put a course on Udemy and make 50 bucks. I can be a $30,000 a year coach per client or I can do something in the middle with a membership site.” What was your thinking around there?

Melissa Love: Well, it’s interesting. I’m not going to say it got swept away with it, but I was in a coaching program, it’s a very well-known one, which I think it costs around $11,000, the biggest investment I’ve ever made in coaching. It was pretty full on people and it was little like how many calls you’re doing. How much money he’s ever made today? People who had setters and closers. It didn’t sit well with me because I wasn’t prepared to outsource my sales calls, but I was doing lots of them, and I was closing them quite well, and they were coming on to my beta program. But I didn’t enjoy doing it. I wanted something to be so good that it sold itself. But nothing sells itself when it’s 10,000. I was selling mine for about $3,000, the beta price. Nothing sells itself at that price without a call.

And then in the call, you’re not meant to try and solve their problems. You’re just focused on the sale. I know how to structure a sales call. I [inaudible] enjoy it. I’m just going to help people. So actually, I took my first lot through my program, which was great because that repaid my investment. And then I thought, “I don’t want to do this. I know it. I don’t like this competitive, these high-ticket marketers. It’s not my jam at all.” I went to Mike and Kelly’s conference for the membership guides and I can’t remember what it was called now, Retain, that’s it, thinking, “Well, I’ve got a course already. I’ve tried the high-ticket, wasn’t for me. What I’m definitely not going to do is start a membership because that sounds like really hard work.” So by the end of the week, end of the conference, I was like, “I’m starting a membership.” I was like, ‘This is for me.”

It was just the most amazing thing because in the coffee breaks with Kaye, actually, and my friend, Lisa, here is also member of the group. I’m like, “Who did you meet at coffee break,” and I’m like I met a guy who helps people rescue frogs. He’s got 20,000 members. We were coming back at coffee break and these people are amazing. I met someone who coaches people how to win ultimate Frisbee. I mean, just brilliant things that people were doing and that all of them talked about I love running my community. I love the people in it. And I thought, “That’s what I want,” where someone might just join because £35, it’s not a life-or-death situation. You don’t need an hour sales call. I happily jump on with people all the time for 15 minutes just to talk through what it is, they tell me that problems. I don’t sell something. I say, “Yup, we’ve got resources that can meet those needs. I think you should jump in. Cool, let’s do it.”

That kind of thing I can do. If you’ve ever been on sales call for high-ticket coaching, you know what they’re doing, they’re closing you. I’ve never felt like I wanted to put anyone in a position where they say, “I don’t want people to say, “Oh, I have to ask my partner,” or all of those things. You don’t need to do that. Just get your credit card out now. It’s just not me. I’m like the anti-sales person. So for me, a membership is a really good blend of… it’s not even, like selling my previous course for $249, which was still a bargain, but it’s still not even that. Saying that, I’m now getting quite a few people joining at my full annual price, which is amazing without a sales call or anything and I really appreciate that. And most of those people will say, “Hey, I just joined. I’m so excited because I’ve been reading your blogs for ages,” or, “Following on Instagram,” or, “I’m in your group.”

So I know that the free content works. I know that I’ve proven myself again, and again, and again because I give away so much for free. But when they get to the point where it’s just like, is $35 too much? No way. It’s a no-brainer because they trust you already.

Chris Badgett: And as of this recording, you have a £1 trial as well too, right?

Melissa Love: I do.

Chris Badgett: Which is like the ultimate sales person.

Melissa Love: Yeah.

Chris Badgett: Okay, well take a dollar, take it for a test drive. If you like it stay, if not, no hard feelings or whatever. I mean, it’s the most low-pressure sale there is. I love that. I love that.

Melissa Love: And they get everything for the pound as well. I send them a personal note in the post. I send them the video message. They get on a call. They get the strategy.

Chris Badgett: I love that you have an abundance mindset because it’s easy, with these types of sites, to have the scarcity mindset. Not that that’s bad, you need to protect your stuff, and protect your assets, and your content is valuable, but that’s cool to hear that you hook them up. You’re assuming they’re going to stay, so give them the good stuff. I love that.

Melissa Love: I think for me now, there’s enough that I’ve just hired, we’ve just taken on a community manager. And as we go along, she’s just been getting used to scheduling events and doing that stuff. I need to get hiring as well as do personal things, more personal check-ins. So it’s not just me taking some of the pressure off because I still think there’s another level of if we don’t get them there, we need to get them in and get them to see and feel how good it is to take action, to have people you can go to, to be in community. So there’s more work to do there in terms of retention for us, but you’re right, the abundance mindset is reading because people feel it. If they’re just a tribal member and they know it, t’s not like being part of the proper gang.

Chris Badgett: Yeah, yeah, that’s was true. That’s true. Well, in the spirit of giving, do you have some free resources? What are some free resources people listening to this want to go into your world? What do you recommend?

Melissa Love: Well, just as we’ve been talking about content creation, you might find it interesting to see how I’ve done these, but I’m really focusing at the moment on content upgrades on my blog because that’s what my coach has told me I have to do, so I’m doing it. I’m in a coaching program too and I always do what I’m told and breaking it through. The first one is the DIY Your Website eBook. If you’ve ever built your own website and you think it’s all right, but there’s something about it that’s not very polished-

Chris Badgett: Well, I can’t put my finger on it. I don’t know what it is.

Melissa Love: Yeah.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Melissa Love: This book puts your finger on it. And the second one is DIY Your Website Launch and Build Checklist. So if you ever think, “Should I do this first in WordPress or should I do this in my hosting or should I do this first,” this will tell you exactly what to do so you don’t forget anything, in what order, right through to launching, and security, and SEO, and all that kind of stuff. So it’s my personal workflow when I’m building sites, but both of these I created over the course of a week, mostly on Instagram. So if you download them both, we’ll put links in the show notes, I’m sure. You can follow it back over my Instagram from a few weeks ago and seeing how I chunked it down into tiny micro bits of content and then gathered it all together at the end of the week and turn it into either a PDF or a blog post.

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. And tell us one more time about the Tribe theme and how people can get it.

Melissa Love: Right. So the Tribe theme is for Divi and it’s also for Elemental, which we’re just releasing at the moment. What it is, it’s got every page. You can conceivably need for a coaching website. It’s got about pages, information, testimonials, sales pages, email signup, email thank you, lead magnet integrate. Plus, I’ve done all the templates for the Lifter areas. So single lesson course, membership pages, and they were styled using all the different Lifter shortcodes. So if you’re using a page builder, it unlocks A, the magic of shortcodes, but B, it’s going to just save you a ton of time.

And as Chris knows, I like control, really like control over the design of how things look. So this takes advantage of some of the really cool things, which you might not notice like instead of using the course pages, your sales page, you can redirect it to any other page in your site and of course, that’s when you redirect it to your beautiful sales page. It also includes leave comments, so it’ll start out with the product area. So I know lots of people they might sell a mix of things like digital downloads or t-shirts, and courses, and events. So I wanted to leave comments with people who are going to potentially have a really varied basket fits in one transaction. SO that’s all done as well for you.

Chris Badgett: That’s really cool. I want to just send people out on one final question here. Since you’ve been at this in a while, I’m trying to mine all the value I can for the listener, who may be a coach of some kind or aspiring, expert in some niche or it could be a website building professional who maybe has a client like that or a marketer. So there’s lots of different kind of people, types of people that listen to this audience, but in all these cases, it’s possible for business and entrepreneurship to take over life. What would you advise for people so that the business doesn’t take over everything?

Melissa Love: That’s such a good question. I’ve got two pieces of advice here. The first one is just be yourself in your business, so then you don’t feel like it’s work like I need to switch in and out of different personalities. I really enjoy having really quite an informal presence online. So just having a bit of fun with it instead of feeling like you have to present some front [inaudible].

Secondly, I always think there’s three types of people you want in your life. I have a couple friends, [inaudible] and Lisa, you need people who are on the same journey as you so that you can test ideas. So you can say to me, “A quick sanity check, is this crazy? I’m thinking of doing this, what do you guys think?” You can just pour out the stresses of where you are. So I’ve found that yes, I’ve got great friends, very close friends. I switch off every Friday at 3:00 and I head to the beach for drinks. I’ve got close friends, but I also have those business friends who understand what it’s like to juggle a business. So have some people who are on that journey with you.

And the other thing I find really helps, obviously, I would say is the page widgets. Get into a membership or coaching program. It doesn’t have to cost you. I belong to just fairly low-cost ones, but I really value them for being able to get answers and help and just seeing there are friends on the same journey really relaxes me. Seeing that everyone has the same struggles because it can be a bit lonely. When you look around you think, “Gosh, that person is really successful. I’m falling behind.” That to me is a stressor. So I’ve engineered my business life to give me reassurance, obviously, as well as spending time with my family and friends.

Chris Badgett: Another round of words of wisdom from Melissa Love. You can find her at thedesignspace.co. Thank you so much for coming on another episode of LMScast. I really appreciate it.

Melissa Love: Love it. I’ll be back soon, I’m sure. I love it.

Chris Badgett: All right.

And that’s a wrap for this episode of LMScast. Did you enjoy that episode? Tell your friends, and be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss the next episode. And I’ve got a gift for you over at lifterlms.com/gift. Go to lifterlms.com/gift. Keep learning, keep taking action, and I’ll see you in the next episode.

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