I'm a huge fan of the celebration of success. When something great happens, revel in it! But real growth comes from taking a hard look at the mistakes behind the curtain of success.

Nearly three months ago, I launched my first membership site.

Overall, I thought the launch went very well:

  1. I found the perfect harmony of software to use,
  2. I designed a high-converting landing page, and
  3. I hit my initial goal of $10,000 in sales.

Not too shabby!

In fact, I’m quite pleased with the results (and already gearing up for a second launch later this year).

But looking back, I’ve realized that there’s so much that I could have done differently.

Here are six lessons I learned (from six launch mistakes) during my first membership site launch:

  1. Serve the crap out of your beta user team. I sold beta access to my course at a discount before it was complete, in exchange for the willingness to provide feedback before the launch. Once inside, the beta members loved the course. I took that as gold and ran with it, never coming back to ask specific questions about what I could improve.
  2. Engage your whole team with support. Throughout the launch, I had live chat (through Olark) up on my site anytime that I was online. At least four people bought the course while we were still chatting, but I did it alone—which meant many late nights, early mornings, and mid-day breaks that I spent sitting at my desk.
  3. Be wary of offering payment plans. On a whim, I offered payment plans for the last 24 hours of registration and made just over $1,000 in payment plan sales. The boost was nice, but manually creating accounts was not, and I've already had to deal with two payment failures only three months in.
  4. Maintain engagement with audience influencers. When it came time to launch, I reached out to past clients and a few influencers to offer them discounted course access and ask for their promotion support. A few of these contacts shared a link to my course (Michael Hyatt most of all), but only one signed up—I think because I failed to keep in touch with details well before the launch.
  5. Block out time to finish your content. I finished two-thirds of the course content before I published my membership site, with the plan to finish the rest within the following two months. Three months later, I've barely made progress—and my wife's now due to have a baby this week! I've learned my lesson, and won’t launch again until the course is at least 95% complete.
  6. Spend less time in research and more time getting work done. I literally spent months comparing membership site formats and software, putting off the inevitable task of getting work done. I called it “research”, but I’m pretty sure it's “procrastination” that the dictionary defines as “putting work off“.

If I’d spent half as much time creating content as I did “researching”, my course would have been done before that first launch, and my time could now be spent improving the content, format, or software—instead of just trying to catch up.

If you're thinking about launching a membership site, stop thinking and do it.

“The more time you spend in your head, the less real change you create.”

Go out there and make the world a better place!


John Meese is the author of the #1 bestseller Survive and Thrive: How to Build a Profitable Business in Any Economy (Including This One). An entrepreneur himself, John is on a mission to eradicate generational poverty by equipping entrepreneurs with the tools and training they need to build thriving businesses from scratch. He is the CEO of Cowork Inc, co-founder of Notable, and regularly publishes interviews and insight at JohnMeese.com.

2 thoughts on “The Mistakes I Made During My First Membership Site Launch

  1. You are to be admired and did great. It seems like most things of importance have a leaning curve. Learning by mistakes, the learning by taking risks and having the perseverance of maintaining the course, is what it is all about. Look at me who has great intelligence and long successful career behind me, who decided to master building a blog, which ended up taking many more months than anticipated, with many high and low points and that was with a web designer. I know now that I would, if I could do it over, have gotten the Get Notice Theme and taken your course. But I am proud of your accomplishment and also of my rag tag blog as it now exists – next year maybe I will upgrade the theme and take your course. Best of luck to you – The next course and ones after that will each go quicker, be easier to do and drawl more students. It is always a growth and spiritual endeavor, whatever we do, and hopefully for the both the small and higher purposes. Check out my new blog and see if I made a mistake in retiring from my day job too soon. Just kidding – I love the challenge, but wish I could better master getting: not distracted by the research and not trying to master what I should delegate to others. By the way one of first post was on ADHD and that is really a picture of my desk. Ron new blog: http://ronparksmd.com/

    1. Thank you for the kind words, Ron! I did take a quick look at your blog. It’s way nicer than the first iteration of mine. You’re on the right path, just continuously improve indefinitely.

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