Are paid niche communities the next cash cow?
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Membership communities can be cash cows
Evan started a membership community focused on a niche value investment strategy. The core of the strategy is buying cheap stocks, incredibly cheap stocks.
The first version of the site definitely hit the “if you’re not embarrassed, you shipped too late” button hard. He mocked something up in WordPress and sold access to a single list of company names. It was really bad. And this usually is a good sign.
Once they got 3 customers at about $15 each in the first month is when he knew he was onto something.
Today they have a stable cash cow ($12K/mo) that requires little in the way of daily work. All of their business processes have been written down and they’ve hired admin support to carry them out. Definitely, a much better place to be than when Evan was originally working 12 hour days.
If this sounds like the kind of business you’d like to start, here I’ve put together some Pros and Cons of starting a membership community.
But Evan is the last of many entrepreneurs we’ve talked to that have built a successful business thanks to memberships:
Ellen was able to scale her membership program to $10K/mo in 90 days without any ad spend by partnering with businesses that serve a similar audience but from a complementary angle.
Members of Dean’s platform get exclusive access to summaries of best-selling books, articles, courses, members-only podcast episodes, and audio-training programs on a variety of personal development topics to help them get ahead in life. He has been able to grow to $100K/mo thanks to guest blogging, SEO and leveraging Quora.
Plus, anyone working on a membership community will probably need a software to run it. And that’s what made Mitch launch his business. During a 3-month stay in Spain, he created a SaaS platform that helps organizations sell and track their memberships that now generates $40K/mo.
Over 100,000 sites run Jason’s WordPress membership plugin. 6000 of which pay them for premium add ons and support. These crazy numbers should tell you that there’s a huge business in the space of membership communities.
The $60K/mo startup factory
Lasse is the founder of VIPERdev, which started like a CTO-as-a-service kind of thing and by now is basically an accelerator program, where founders go in with an idea and exit with a product and with their first customers paying for it.
Why don’t they call themselves an agency? Because they don’t want to simply bill hours.
They’re currently releasing about 2-5 products per month. And this is how they’re meeting so many founders:
- Make sure that every project is a success story. If a project cannot be a success story for them, they don’t want to work with that customer. This leads to referrals from founders and generating more revenue maintenance, further development jobs and working on future projects.
- Network a lot via LinkedIn. Any 15-minute call with anyone on LinkedIn that calls themselves ‘Founder’ on their profile yields at least one of three results: new customer, a recommendation to a fellow founder or learning something that can help in future calls.
- Content and Ads. As with every interaction, their strategy is to be so good, that potential customers want to work with them to get even better rather than withholding anything that could help them.
Founders can be experts in their field, but oftentimes they don’t have the resources to take on all the work involved in launching a startup.
- Phil started a $30K/mo mobile application development agency. They have a pretty cool 6-steps methodology to ensure the successful development and launch of an application.
- Ty started a $62K/mo web design and development agency. You can learn everything you need to know in our awesome guide on how to start a web development agency (costs, pricing strategies, etc)
- You can focus on a very specific need that is hard to have in-house, like Gabriele, who started a $40K/mo Pay Per Click (PPC) agency.
- SEO is another of those services that companies usually outsource. Alan started a $10K/mo SEO link building agency and his interview is one of the coolest we’ve ever done. Check our detailed guide to start an SEO agency if you want to follow this path.
And the list of possibilities could continue! You could start a growth agency, a marketing agency, etc. Anything that you’re passionate about and can provide value to other companies. But remember, all these stories have one thing in common: this is a space where personal relationships matter a lot. Word of mouth and referrals can give you a great push or sink you to the bottom of the sea.
Quote of the week
“You must make sure that you are not just an employee of a law firm that happens to be named after you. Understand the difference between working “on” your business and working “in” your business.”
Ross Albers, Founder - Albers & Associates ($150K/mo Law firm)
Start a 5-figure food tour business
Nico and Oliver are the founders of a global food tour company with tours in more than 50 cities worldwide.
The thing that I love about them is how they approached their validation process. Before spending too much time on the project they created a website for a food tour in Paris in just a couple of hours, not the greatest website but good enough for a test, and started a Google Ads campaign. Within a few hours, the first ticket was sold and Secret Food Tours was born.
The last months have been absolutely horrible for the food tour companies, but don’t get it wrong, this is a great business.
Joe makes $20K/mo offering walking food tours just in downtown Santa Fe and Albuquerque. It ranked as the #1 tour in Santa Fe on TripAdvisor and was named by USAToday as one of the 10 Must-Try Food Tours in North America.
Do you want another example to see that you can stay local and still have a very profitable business in this industry? Delicious Denver Food Tours is Jessica’s company and it generates $30K/mo connecting locals and visitors to the city’s food scene. Her story is amazing, she drops so many gems.
Dig deeper in this niche with this super detailed report I’ve put together.
Pete & Pedro ($6M/year men’s grooming brand) needs writers for their men’s style, fashion and grooming blog.
Manta Sleep ($800K/mo sleeping masks) is looking to fill the following roles SEO marketing, Product design and Product development.
Ark7 ($8M real estate investment platform) is hiring a Customer Success Specialist.
Cozmoslabs (premium WordPress plugins) has opportunities for WordPress Developer, Happiness Engineer and Content Marketing Manager.
Dope Dog ($25K/mo dog treats business) is looking for support in community building, for things like planning partnerships and managing their ambassador program. And also on the hunt for a co-host for a Dope Dog podcast.
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