On today’s episode of Nutrition for Your Business, we’re talking about how to generate recurring revenue with a meal planning membership site.
In Episode 7, we talked about how to scale your business to serve hundreds of clients, and one of the methods we discussed was a meal planning membership site where people can subscribe to receive continuous content from you.
We know you guys want to learn more about this revenue stream, so we’re going to take a much deeper dive into it today.
Health professionals are in a really great position to create a super valuable and profitable membership site because after clients are done working with you, they are often looking for a way to maintain their progress and a meal planning membership site will help them do that. They might not need one-on-one support anymore, but they would still love access to your guidance and expertise. Putting together a membership site that gives them access to things like meal plans and recipes allows them to continue working with you in a more informal way, and also gives them new helpful content month-over-month so they can continue to reach their health goals.
Also, some clients might go straight to your meal planning membership site without working with you one-on-one, or before they commit to working with you one on one. It is a great, low-cost way for potential clients to get to know you.
Another cool thing about a meal planning membership site is that it generates recurring revenue. Your members will subscribe, meaning they automatically pay a fee every month. Unlike one-off consultations that might fill your calendar one month and be lacking the next, recurring revenue is more predictable and locked in.
So having a membership site that generates recurring revenue obviously sounds like the dream, right? But, you have to consider some really important things before you dive headfirst into it.
Do your clients have a nutrition-related problem that a meal planning membership site could solve?
First, your membership site must be solving a problem that your ideal client is experiencing. People can get meal plans and recipes online for free with a simple Google search. Creating a membership site that offers something that people can get anywhere and that doesn’t really address a problem will not be successful. You can trust us on that.
You must create a membership site that offers a solution to a problem that your ideal client has. For example, let’s say you are a nutritionist who specializes in helping women lose weight through the keto diet, and you have recognized that many of them struggle with crunching their macros to stay in ketosis. You could create a membership site that offers weekly keto meal plans with recipes, grocery lists and balanced macros that takes the guesswork out of living a keto lifestyle and makes it simple and fun.
Or maybe you work with Autoimmune clients and they struggle to stay compliant after their coaching package ends because they get bored. You could create a membership site that gives them access to monthly AIP-compliant recipe books to stay inspired and on-plan.
See how these membership sites would solve a problem for a very specific group of people and save them time and money? They offer a solution that they would be willing to pay for.
Have you built a big enough audience to support a meal planning membership site?
Another thing you must consider is if you have built up a big-enough audience to support a membership site. A membership site isn’t one of those things where if you build it, they will come. Health professionals who have launched successful membership sites have spent time building an audience so that when they launch it, they have a community of people who already know, like and trust them and are primed to join.
Running a membership site is only profitable if you have enough members to support it. You need to consider the costs associated with creating the site, maintaining it, growing it and giving tech support. You need to make sure your business is at a point to support a revenue stream like this and that you will be able to attract enough members to not only cover your time and expenses but also make a profit.
To put this into perspective, let’s say your meal planning membership costs $40 for the month to join. The tech associated with your membership site costs $240 per month, and it requires about 30 hours of your time every month to create the content, engage with your members and market your membership site. When we do some simple math, you can see that in order to cover your expenses and earn $60/hour, you’d need to have at least 51 members every month.
In order to attract 51 paying members, you better have a large audience built up to market to!
We want to be real with you. Once it is built, a membership site is something you are in for the long haul. You need to consistently create amazing content to make your members happy, engage with them and also be marketing the membership site to attract new members. It’s a lot of ongoing work but when done right, a meal planning membership site can really help your nutrition business scale and the return on investment can be massive.
So going back to our example, if you attracted 51 members, that is $2,040 in revenue per month. But imagine you grew that to 250 members. That would be $10,000 in recurring revenue per month for that same time investment.
The potential is huge. So let’s say you are ready for this. You have been building up your nutrition business, you’ve graduated tons of successful clients, and you are feeling ready and committed to taking your business to the next level with a meal planning membership site. Here's how to get started:
Step 1: Get Clear on the Problem Your Meal Planning Membership Site Solves
Who are your ideal members? And what type of meal plans are you going to create that will make their lives better? Determining this is so important. If your meal planning membership site doesn’t solve a problem for your ideal client, they will not join. We’ve actually seen health professionals build out entire membership sites only to have no one buy because they aren’t catering to a real need.
You know your clients best and you know what they struggle with when it comes to nutrition. Spend some time ensuring that your membership site provides meal plans that solve a problem.
Step 2: Decide What Content Your Members Will Have Access To
Now that you know what problem your membership site solves, decide what content your members will have access to that will help them solve it.
Remember. We’re talking about a meal planning membership site here. So how will these meal plans be designed by you to solve their problems? Will they save them time? Money Help them feel awesome? All of the above?
How many meal plans will they receive every month with their membership? Weekly? Bi-weekly? Monthly?
Then on top of meal plans, you may also want to provide other perks to your members that will help them to reach their goals like recipe books, coaching calls, a private Facebook group or at-home workouts.
You need to make sure your content will constantly be engaging your members so that they will stick around for more and not cancel their membership.
While dreaming up this content is great, you need to also ensure it is realistic for you to create on an ongoing basis. If your members are paying a monthly fee to join, they will expect to be getting more value every month. Now is the time to determine how you will deliver that to them.
Step 3: Decide How You Will Deliver the Content
This is the step that often totally derails most health professionals when it comes to their membership site. We see it all the time. You have a vision of the content you will create and the problem it solves, but the tech aspect of setting it all up is totally overwhelming.
We get it, and that is why we suggest you start out super simple with something called an MVP for your meal planning membership site. MVP stands for minimal viable product.
A minimal viable product is a small version of your membership site that will help you validate the need for the service before investing a ton of time and money into it. It is a great way to test that the demand for what you’re offering exists, and it will allow you to build as you go based on feedback.
Call us crazy, but we actually recommend that the MVP of your membership site is no membership site at all. At the start, you can have people email you to join, set up recurring payments through whatever service you use to collect payments and then simply email the content out to your members.
Your inner perfectionist might be cringing right now. We know you are probably thinking that you want this beautiful meal planning membership site where everything flows and is automated right off the bat. But starting small allows you to get started quickly and iterate as you go. It will save you a ton of time and money. Then, once your idea is validated, you can justify investing in a membership site platform because at that point you know you have the interest to support it.
Think of your meal planning membership site as a constant work in progress. A wise entrepreneur once said, “If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you've launched too late.” Don’t try to make your meal planning membership site perfect right off the bat or you’ll never launch. Put together an MVP, get it out there and build from there.
Step 4: Decide What to Charge
Pricing your meal planning membership site isn’t easy. There are several things you need to take into consideration to ensure your price is fair and will allow you to be profitable.
A great place to start is to look at what similar services are charging and consider how what you offer compares. But you also need to take into consideration what running and marketing your meal planning membership site will cost and what profit margin you want to make on top of that. The price will also depend on what is included and the time it takes you to deliver it. The more support you offer, the more you can charge.
Watch this episode to learn more about how to price your services and programs with confidence.
Step 5: Launch & Market Your Meal Planning Membership Site
While your meal planning membership site will likely grow slowly over time, a solid launch strategy can really give you momentum with an influx of early members so you can start off on the right foot.
A few weeks before you launch, start creating as much buzz as possible about your meal planning membership site by giving sneak peeks at the content members receive, talking about the value and sending teasers. Countdown the days until your launch to create anticipation.
While attracting members is awesome, what happens after a member joins matters more than the sale itself. So once the doors to your membership site open, your focus needs to shift to making your members’ experience as amazing as possible.
Retaining your members is absolutely critical to the long-term success of your membership site. Invest as much into getting them to stay as you do in getting them to join. You need to be providing an amazing experience if you want your members to stay subscribed month over month.
Ensure they get up and running with your membership site as quickly as possible by staying in close contact. You’ll also want to ensure you are delivering on the value you promised.
Creating a community around your membership site will keep your members engaged. We’ve seen a lot of health professionals do this through Facebook groups, which are free to use.
You also need to have a strategy in place for continuous marketing of your membership site so that you can continue to grow the number of members and increase your recurring revenue. Consider what you will do on an ongoing basis to consistently attract new members whether that is content marketing, social media, testimonials, paid advertising or referrals.
We really recommend mapping out a launch and marketing strategy in advance to stay organized, on track and ensure you are ready to grow.
A meal planning membership site is a lot of work but also really opens up a world of opportunities for you to scale your nutrition business. You can serve hundreds, even thousands of clients if you are offering a powerful solution, creating an amazing experience, keeping your members engaged and marketing the membership like a pro.
Be ready to continuously evolve and improve your membership site as you grow and collect feedback. Remember: Your membership site is a continual work in progress, so commit and get after it.
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