A guest article by Ada. You too can be part of this great knowledge sharing community. Take a look at our guest blogging guidelines.
You have spent long months to create your WordPress membership site and you have just launched it but to your (unpleasant) surprise, it doesn’t attract the attention you thought it would. While for newly launched sites low numbers of visitors in the beginning are just normal, if you want to make your site popular faster, you have a secret weapon – free content.
Free content must be your companion not only in the beginning. In fact, throughout the whole lifecycle of your membership site, free content is something you can’t go without. This might sound illogical but as I will explain in the next sections, your paid membership site can’t be successful without lots of free content with top quality.
Free Content Isn’t Cannibalizing Your Paid Content
Many inexperienced webmasters of membership sites will frown at the idea to have huge amounts of free content because they think it will jeopardize their paid content. The logic is that nobody will pay when he or she can get something for free.
However, this isn’t so. Your free content and your paid content are not competitors – or at least your task is to make them non-competitors. You don’t offer the same stuff for free and for a fee. For free you offer the basics, for a fee you offer the more advanced stuff.
If you are familiar with the open source model, the model you need to apply is similar to the model of open source software – great free functionality and paid extras. Depending on the type of your WordPress membership site, the free and the paid components can vary.
For instance, if you have a membership forum, you can allow everybody to register for free, read threads and post in them but reserve access to more advanced areas, such as a job board or a marketplace for paid members only. As you see, the two functionalities aren’t competitors; in fact, the paid ones supplement the free one.
Free Content Helps to Attract New Members
Maybe you still don’t see why you need free content. If we continue the above example with the membership forum, your free content will be visible to everybody on the Web and the people who are looking for a solution will find the threads where their problems are discussed. It is true that many of them will solve their problem for free by reading the publicly accessible areas of your site but if they are pleased with the quality, they might become your regular visitors.
Most of these free members will never upgrade – this is a fact. Still, don’t regard free content as a loss of valuable resources. Even if 1-2% of your free members upgrade, for a site with huge traffic this is enough to become sustainable. Additionally, if you place ads on your site, you do profit from your free members, too (very often you might profit from them more than from your paid ones), so there is no reason to consider the free sections of your site to be lost profit.
Free Content Promotes Your Site
Finally, in today’s competitive world, no business can be successful without promotion. You just need to accept that a certain portion of your budget will go for promotion. You can launch a dedicated ad campaign and pay for it but your free content does a great job in promoting your site without having to pay extra fees.
If your free content is top quality, this increases the chance to rank well with search engines. Search engines are still the best alternative to get free quality traffic and you can’t miss such an opportunity.
There might be a bunch of paid membership sites that offer no free content and still are successful but more often than not, this approach doesn’t work. Free content with superb quality is a must for a membership site – this is how the business goes.