If you've got the necessary talent, creativity, motivational drive, and technical prowess, then running a paid subscription site can be a great business model. But once you get past the initial excitement and first wave of subscribers, most companies experience a lull or slump around the six month mark.
In this blog, we'll explain what typically goes wrong so you can prepare for these challenges before they ever set in.
Running low on new content ideas
Remember all those great content ideas you had in mind when planning your site? Where did they all go?
Writer's block is a common, yet unfortunately reality for many copywriters. The best solution in this respect is to create an editorial calendar. Basically, you want to sit down and map out all of your ideas over the course of a month without actually creating any content. Just select the topics and different kinds of formats (blog, video, infographic, ebook, etc.). Create a monthly schedule that determines when you'll create and share your content.
Of course, the other side of the coin here is that content creation is hard. Many businesses eventually accept that they simply don't have enough time to write their own blogs and articles.
Low subscriber numbers
At the six month mark, maybe 1 in 100 businesses with paid subscription sites will think they have too many subscribers. The rest will be wondering why that number isn't higher.
If this is the case with your business, then it sounds like you need to do two things -- reevaluate your marketing campaign and find new ways to create value for subscribers. This Forbes article, for example, explains how Netflix keeps creating more and more value by adding exclusive original series:
But more than just an on-demand online streaming service, Netflix has created an exclusive club. It offers members content that can’t be found anywhere else – popular shows such as House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, among many others.
It's a fantastic business model. Shows like House of Cards are so good that subscribers are happy to pay their monthly subscription fee. And the best part is that you can't watch them on any other platform. That's one of the best ways a paid subscription service has created value in the last ten years.
Poor site ranking on Google
Most of your prospective subscribers will start out as searchers. They'll navigate to Google, type some of their interests in, and see what comes out on the other end.
In this respect, having a good site ranking on Google is critical. The first position in Google's search engine results pages gets as much as 33% of search traffic.
The good news here is that there are ways to increase your site ranking. If you know your HTML, then there are few things you can change to optimize your site for search engines.
Clogs in the buying process
If your paid subscription site is going to work, then it needs to have virtually zero clogs in the buying process. Unfortunately, that's the exact reason why many of these sites never grow.
This VentureBeat article gives a classic example of a clog -- credit card expiration dates:
"Because renewals are often billed using payment details provided for the initial purchase, subscription billing is more vulnerable to payment detail changes such as credit card expiration. Renewal billing using prepaid cards (growing in popularity) fails after the card is “spent” unless the customer provides completely new payment details, requiring more effort (and reducing renewals) compared to updating a credit card expiration date."
Pretty much any subscription website is going to rely on periodic credit card payments. If someone forgets to update their information, then you can lose out on a subscriber. For this reason, some businesses kindly ask their subscribers to update their credit card information before their card expires.
The user experience refers to how someone feels when using your website. Everything from your content to the amount of white space on your site affects the UX.
One problem here is that you can't really plan a UX, you can only plan for it. You can't tell users how they should feel, but you can plan your site in a way that will likely evoke certain emotions. Even for web designers, however, this is a difficult task.
A better UX indicates a better overall experience for users. This can have a significant effect on your lead conversion and retention rates.
A lot of things need to go right in order for your paid subscription site to take off. Luckily, you have control over all of those aspects, even if they require some level of expertise.