TMBA 060 (LBP60) – 2 Blogging Pitfalls and an Inside Look Into Our Membership Sites

TMBA 060 (LBP60) – 2 Blogging Pitfalls and an Inside Look Into Our Membership Sites post image

Dan and Ian talk about common traps and mistakes that people make when building an information marketing business. They also reveal the architecture of their upcoming membership sites. In the quick-tips, you’ll learn of a potentially life-changing read. Enjoy!

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Episode length: 35:47

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Published on 04.27.11
  • Morning guys!
    Great episode- as always!
    (although your photos of where you’re at pale in comparison to my suburban view of my neighbors house… ;-). )
    Just wanted to mention this affiliate platform if you haven’t seen it- it’s called ‘WP Affiliate- and is SUPER easy to use. It integrates w/paypal very easily too.
    They’ve got great support for their plugins as well!
    Have a great day!

  • Anonymous

    Wow Kim thanks for that I’m forwarding it on to the guy whos putting this all together… I appreciate you sharing the link. Have a great day too! I’m heading to bed ! :)

  • Oops. Accidentally posted the same thing twice.

  • I’d be super excited about some sort of Lifestyle Business private community. Or, maybe just a forum to talk to other like-minded entrepreneurs.

    Also, about this episode, there is another route in the world of content to go than building a brand around yourself and a specific niche (i.e., the Gary Vaynerchuck model). You can also build broader appeal website (I’ve built a site in the finance niche that gets 1 million unique per month) or do an SEO play (I’m trying this on an audiobook website). I’ve never had fantastic luck in “building a brand”, probably because I think I’m not all that interesting :-), but there’s money to be made without trying to be the next Tim Ferris or Gary Vaynerchuck.

  • Great episode. Dan, I think you are spot on about knowing whether you are succeeding in a content business IF you are talking about traditional blogging or podcasting. Most bloggers focus on their RSS subscribers and the number of page views and other less than important Google Analytics numbers.

    They should be focusing on turning an audience into customers instead. Even if those customers are just buying affiliate products from your site. You ain’t in business till you make a sale.

    I’ll definitely be listening to this one again (so I can rip it off and use it in my show).

  • Anonymous

    Wow you caught my attention ! :) I totally agree with your idea here… I think in general when people think about creating “brands” they should substitute the words “credibility” or “compelling offers” … I think we hear so much about branding et all but it doesn’t really make sense (in the way it makes sense for coke or nike) for most small to medium sized businesses

  • Anonymous

    Yes… I’m developing a philosophy of “blogging to a product” for aspiring bloggers… the landscape has really changed for new bloggers even in the past 2 years… most people with almost no traction think they “need to blog” … bleh… you need to SELL (and create something to sell…) so yeah man I hope you can riff further on this… we’ll do it together sometime!

  • I wrote for my members about not getting on the content hamster wheel. Most “blogging advice” talks about creating frequent & consistent content–kind of like trying to replicate a news organization.

    When you’re so busy trying to make life-changing content that you can’t actually make a product to sell, then you have a hobby–and one that will wear you out.

    I have had to reinforce with my members that even though Izzy and I talk about being Content Creators, our main focus is to sell something not blog, not podcast, but sell.

    Now that I have a high-end mic at home, we can get on skype anytime and record some killer shit.

  • Ian

    Kim, would like a photo please for the who/where section…

  • Hey guys, another great show! I think you’re right on with why it’s a good thing to post your sales revenue online. To me, it definitely reflects credibility and shows that you guys know what you’re doing. I also don’t think you’re doing it in a way that’s shoving it in our face or trying to sell some sort of “get rich quick” product.

    I’m definitely looking forward to checking out your membership sites, too!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks. I think this issue might be a bit of disconnect between the entrepreneurial and working mindsets. People in my family were always very hush hush about money, whereas with my entrepreneur friends we are very matter of fact about it. I think that attitude helps us de-mystify it and get to the bottom of how to make some of it!

    Also, If you want to get rich quick you can send me 97$ to my paypal account. The subsequent auto-responder will say “GET BACK TO WORK!!!!!!” :D

    Thanks for listening and saying hi!

  • Hey guys, as a developer myself I can completely agree with the tools you outlined. I love optimizepress and am wrapping that into a project I’m pushing out next week. I also love vanilla forums, although depending on how you want the integration to go it can be a challenge (as well as every forum software out there, IMHO). Amember needs a designer to come in and address their UI, but it is some pretty powerful software.

    For most projects I would use wordpress for sure, but what I’m working on right now for a couple projects is Expression Engine. It costs money, but the options, integration and forum are the best I’ve ever worked with. The downside is that you have to basically design (and sometimes program) all of the functions you want, so it isn’t anywhere near as easy to deploy as wordpress is, but you get EXACTLY what you want.

    One tip for those of you with some systems skills – Amazon is giving out free servers for new accounts on EC2, and I must say it’s the fastest responding server I’ve ever had. We’re also building out a mailing infrastructure using Amazon’s email service, which I’m hoping will reduce our costs significantly. So if you are comfortable tweaking servers check it out (not for the faint of heart if you’re not though).

  • Great, helpful stuff this time, you guys. Two points I especially appreciated:

    1. I couldn’t agree more about specificity in your marketing efforts. I’ve been preaching this for years to people who are trying to get into the voiceover business. The temptation is to say “I can do ANYTHING!”. But people aren’t looking for someone to do ANYTHING! They are looking for the guy next-door, or an authoritative narrator, a character voice, or the next Don LaFontaine or James Earl Jones. As that business continues to be transformed, I am really glad that I’ve developed a primary reputation as the go-to guy for voiceovers in support of web training modules…both for huge multinational companies and for one-off jobs.

    2. Thanks for the tips on the membership tools. Because the bulk of my successful sites are still built on the “free” model (yes, I know…I’m terribly out of date in this regard…but some things are convertible to a paid model and some are not), it’s hard to find people who I can pay to evaluate my business model and help advise me on the best tools (see point #1). I was actually going to hire a programmer to build a new structure for some of my sites…but your discussion of Amember helped me realize that I can do the same thing with a membership site…although it seems that Wishlist will be a better option for me because of it’s multi-site license. Now I just need to find out how to tie a single-purchase mailing list program to integrate into it. I can’t afford to shell out hundreds of dollars a month to Aweber to maintain a half-dozen lists with thousands of members each.


  • Anonymous

    Hey Chuck I’m super happy this one was useful and saved you a buck or two… since i’ve started talking about this marketing message thing we’ve got tons more examples, maybe even worthy of a while new episode….

    Don’t have a great idea regarding mailing lists right now… if you get any closer to a solution shoot me an email and i can run it by my tech guys to see if they have an opinion.

  • Anonymous

    GREAT tips Eric! pointing the folks in my forum to your comments regarding expression engine and EC2. Cheers! and thanks for listening…..

  • I agree about the costs of mailing services, they can be pretty steep when you get more than a few people on your lists… There are a couple things I would suggest to look into though:

    – MailChimp has free accounts up to 2k names, if you don’t have a list of more than that you could always open several accounts :O (as long as you’re not doing affiliate offers)
    – MailChimp also has a way to use it just to organize your lists for a really low price (I think like $10 a month or something), then pay per message… if you don’t mail much it can be a much bigger savings than a typical account
    – If you want to go ghetto you can always do your lists on your local computer using which uses Amazon’s email service to deliver the messages. I haven’t tried that out but it looks promising.
    – With some systems skills you could also setup a server based system like phplist and tie it into either a local mail server or Amazon’s service to send out. With the local mail server option what you gain in less $ you lose in having to monitor blacklists though.

    There are other options too, but most are much more expensive.


  • I love EE, but for a regular blog, product site, whatever I wouldn’t use it (unless you like to do that sort of stuff). Where it really shines is when you need something beyond what wordpress offers or is going to take a bunch of customization. To setup a membership type site with a forum and basic functionality will set you back probably $600+ for licenses (add-ons, etc.), so it isn’t cheap. It is just so damn flexible that you can pretty much do whatever you want.

    For someone starting out doing a simple membership site I would just point them to wordpress and optimizepress theme, then either wishlist member or one of the other membership packages to round it out. That gets you out of the gate, and if you make some money upgrade later.

    My biggest issue with wordpress right now is the forums… they all suck, to be honest. If you want the WP install to be the primary user database you have VERY few choices (even vanilla’s integration isn’t fully baked yet). Amember helps somewhat with that, but it’s still not all there.

    … keep up the good work guys, I really enjoy the podcast. Been listening since ~episode 12, wouldn’t miss it!


  • Anonymous

    Wow that’s rich.. I know some guys doing this kind of stuff in Drupal but for me that means a full time developer on staff for just a small fleet of sites, can’t really swing that at the time. Noted on the forums thing, we are having to do some hack together on it. Love their UI. It’s just amazing to me that the solutions for this problem are so thin…. I suppose its terribly complex (remember using wordpress 3 years ago!?)

    Can believe you’ve been around since 12! DAMN. That’s rad :)

  • Anonymous

    Just anecdotally I know a bunch of people using MailChimp and everyone seems to love it. They are emerging as a real alternative to Aweber. … all my dev friends recommend going it on your own but that’s a can of worms I’m not willing to open….. YET

  • Ian

    Thanks for weighing in Eric, this is super valuable info.

  • I moved from aweber to mailchimp and love it thus far

  • great sunset shots.
    steroids blog

  • Dan and Ian here is a dead simple way to set up recurring payments. You combine Recurly with Paypal Website Pro.

    Thats it.

    The signup page on my site, I configured using Recurly and Paypal Website Pro. If you have more questions about it I will love to help

  • Anonymous

    I’m using PayPal Website Standard to handle subscriptions to my paid newsletter. It seems to work pretty well. I’d be curious to know what Recurly adds to the table.

  • Anonymous

    Owen thanks man!! Team looking in to it now :) Really appreciate that.

  • If I can implement it, I think anyone can. Several big name SaaS companies are using Recurly to implement the recurring billing. Here are a list of their features

    Also they have one of the best documentations and step by step outline on how to configure their tool and awesome customer service; one that I am aspiring to have my own team model. Recurly also handle credit card Dunning management automatically on your behalf.
    @recurly:disqus please take it from here!

  • Anonymous

    BOOM! Thanks man we are checkin’ in out this morning…..

  • Anonymous

    I totally want to know how you get 1 million uniques in the finance niche! That’s awesome. All SEO?

  • Anonymous

    Agreed! That makes two of us :D

  • There’s a few things going for that site:

    – Investors love to get the latest bit of news about stocks they own
    – We have content from several providers (including video!)
    – Yahoo Finance Message Boards sends a lot of traffic
    – Our content is syndicated elsewhere on the internet
    – Traffic from news search engines (Google News, Topix)
    – Traffic from finance websites (Stock Twits, Google Finance)

  • Hey guys.

    Since you’ve started revealing stuff about your membership site, I thought I’d chip in.

    I’m using the following combo for membership sites:
    wordpress (why of course), wishlist member, optimize press, clickbank, mailchimp and everything integrates nicely and looks cool out of the box (which is super cool as I’m aesthetically challenged :)).

    As you know I also did a free ebook on how to set this up yourself (of course to build my list, but thought it might be relevant to some of your listeners).

    I’m even giving away a couple of wordpress plugins I had developed for one of my own sites. One of them enables content dripping something that Wishlist Member doesn’t really do that great out of the box.

    Other than that – great work and hope to see you in Thailand next winter :)

  • Anonymous

    FYI Matt, your new gravatar is very nice. Your old one had me scared. :)

  • Anonymous

    Speaking of wordpress, I know uses Drupal, if you’ve got PHP chops it’s a real option. 

    Mailchimp has been kicking so much ass lately. Any downsides there? Based on what I’ve been hearing from the network, if I started over today I might go with MailChimp, in fact I’m setting up my friends who want blogs with MailChimp.

    Thanks for sharing that link: it’s valuable stuff there. See you next Winter for sure.

  • Hi Dan, I discovered a membership tool that I will be trying out shortly, its called Kajabi, check them out as well

  • Anonymous

    I wouldn’t recommend Kajabi, as far as I understand the payments are recurring and your data is hosted on 3rd party servers. it was also developed primarily by marketers which i’m always suspect of.

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