You have a membership site or digital course academy, and you’ve decided to include content from guest experts in your industry or tangential industries.
Being able to bring outside teachers and content creators into your membership site experience means your students get to sample different teaching styles and information.
Plus, you get to take yourself off the content creation hamster wheel for a while.
Let’s start by taking a look at where you can find and how to attract guest experts to contribute to your online courses and memberships.
5 Ways to Attract Guest Experts
Although you know your topic and industry well, when looking to attract guest experts to help produce content for your membership program, it’s not always easy to find complementary experts.
Existing network and peers
Start with the people who are most likely to say yes: your existing professional network.
If you already have a relationship with this expert, it’s a lot easier to explain how you’d like to feature them and their content inside your course or membership.
Reaching out can be as simple as writing an email or jumping on a quick call. It’s also a great idea to ask each guest expert if they know anyone else who might be interested in contributing, so you’re always expanding your network of peer experts.
If you’re starting from scratch or you’re stumped on where to go next for new teaching talent, look no further than LinkedIn.
You can search and ask for introductions from your existing network on LinkedIn. It’s also a great place to join professional groups and get to know other experts in your field and tangential industries.
The best part about using LinkedIn to find guest teachers is that you can see their experience and read their resume before you even reach out to them. You might even see who regularly contributes to other platforms, and start with them.
It’s easier to get new guest experts to contribute when you’ve already had a successful experience with a past guest to showcase.
If I only had one tool in my tool belt to find guest experts, I’d want it to a highly targeted Facebook group. It’s easy to spot the other experts in a Facebook group because they tend to be the ones who can answer tough questions, and who know what they’re talking about.
Sometimes it can be hit or miss to find the right Facebook communities, so don’t give up if you’re not finding any experts immediately.
You might also benefit from asking group owners themselves if they’d like to be guests, or if they know anyone else who might be a good fit for your particular membership community.
There are professional match making services to help you find talent in almost every industry you can imagine. From services helping to match podcast guests, in-person speakers, and yes online trainers, too.
If you don’t know which guest speaker placement companies operate in your industry, a quick Google search should pull up some places to start.
One way to help you get started might be to look at some of the authors of your favorite books in your industry and complementary industries. Chances are these authors have an agent, press contacts, and maybe even a booking service.
Last but not least, why not ask your existing members to contribute if they have a topic of expertise that you don’t currently cover?
Sometimes you can find the best and most motivated teachers right under your nose! These existing members already know, like, and trust you and they’re also interested in your topic.
They also better understand your member community as a whole, so they’re more likely to be able to develop teaching material that speaks to them directly.
5 Different Ways to Run a Multi-Expert Membership Site Business
If your membership includes bundles and training from guest experts, how do you compensate them for their time and expertise?
The good news is that you’re the business owner, and you get to decide what’s best for you and your goals!
Your decision might be affected by how you’ve set up your membership site, and if you’re heavily involved in the delivery of content through a membership plugins like AccessAlly.
If you offer new content every month, you’ll want to standardize how you compensate guest experts because it could affect the profitability of the membership program.
Similarly, if you run an online course and you have other teachers participating in the process, it’s a great idea to have expectations laid out and written down so there are no miscommunications or claims on your revenue down the line.
Please note that I’m not a lawyer, and I’m just sharing some options to help you make the best decision for your particular business.
Let’s look at our guest teacher compensation options!
1. No Compensation – Experts Get Exposure
If you’ve got a large and engaged paid membership community, then it can be worthwhile for another expert to offer their content and materials to your group for free.
In this case, you’re not offering any form of payment but the expert is going to gain more exposure.
If you’ve got a smaller community, it may not make sense for the expert to create content or teach for free. But they may still do it as a favor, because they’re just getting started, or because they believe in you and your mission.
It doesn’t hurt to ask, but be clear upfront with anyone so that there are no miscommunications about future profits being shared.
This is one of the most common ways of getting more content for your recurring membership site or having bonuses added to your core course curriculum. It’s so common because it’s the easiest and most affordable for you as the business owner.
Be upfront with anyone you approach about being a guest teacher and don’t expect everyone to say yes. It doesn’t mean they don’t support your mission, but they may just be too busy with their own projects to contribute.
The BossBabe Société membership site offers guest expert success kits each month.
2. Offer a One Time Honorarium Payment
If the expert that you’d like to have contribute to your site is busy running their own business, you might want to thank them for their time by giving them an honorarium payment.
An honorarium payment is a payment made without any liability or legal obligation. It is a common payment practice in schools, sports clubs, teachers, and coaches.
Maybe it’s the cost of the time they could have spent with clients, or another agreed upon amount.
This doesn’t tend to be truly reflective of the value of their content or time, but more of a way of saying thank you and making it worth their while.
Think of it as a paid speaking gig. Once you’ve paid them, and they’ve delivered, that’s it.
You’ll want to make it very clear that this is an honorarium compensation and that they are allowing you to use their content within your course or membership site, and for how long.
Some expects may grant you indefinite permission to use their materials, while others will only want it used for a few years.
Regardless of the amount you pay another expert, you’ll still want to link out and promote their work because that’s another way of compensating them (like in option #1).
3. Provide an Affiliate Commission
Another very common and effective way of compensating guest teachers is to give them an affiliate account and allow them to earn a commission on any sales they refer.
This way the guest expert only gets paid when they refer new members or customers, and you can be generous with the commission you offer. Maybe it’s a 50% commission of the total price, or you could go higher as a thank you for their contributions to the content.
It depends on how much content each guest is contributing, and also how many people they might be able to refer.
One thing to watch out for in this particular type of payment is that you’re asking someone to create content for you, and also asking them to sell it to their own audience.
That’s a big ask. The expert may wonder why they don’t just sell online membership content directly to their own audience, without giving up a percentage.
One way to make it more enticing is to make sure that your course or membership is such a no-brainer high-value offering, and the expert knows it will benefit their audience as well.
It also helps to find a complementary topic or industry, so you’re not asking the guest expert to cannibalize their own course or program sales.
This can also work well for experts who don’t have a course or membership of their own, and the benefit to them is to be able to earn a bit more leveraged income.
If you’re not sure what affiliate plugin to use for this, consider AccessAlly and its’ built-in payment management and LMS functionality for WordPress.
4. Keep Track of Individual Course Sales
If you want to open a can of worms, you’re welcome to keep track of course or membership sales specifically for this guest expert’s content.
For example, if you have 10 courses and each of them is taught by guest teachers you could keep track of how many sales each of these causes got and then pay the teachers each month or quarter.
The reason this is tricky is because it adds a lot more accounting and administration work. You also need to keep track of course refunds, manage a lot of the infrastructure for the course platform, and you are tasked with adding the new content from your guest teachers.
Keeping track of individual course sales can be done! It’s just a matter of deciding if you really want this to be your business or membership model or not.
If you want to be the person who “owns the store” but all of the content is provided by other people, then you’ll need to assume the work that goes with managing the store.
This method adds a lot of complexity and is not for the faint of heart.
5. Joint Venture with Another Expert
Finally, there’s one more way for compensating guest experts that you collaborate with on your course and membership program.
It’s to form a formal Joint Venture agreement where you decide on a percentage upfront that each person “owns” in the course or membership business.
This is the least recommended option, and let me explain why.
You will give a percentage of the sales to your joint venture partner, and this is usually done when you go into a project from the get-go with the intention of sharing revenue and ownership.
In this format, you need to decide ahead of time who will be responsible for what and what kind of financial and time investment each party will contribute.
It’s best to have a written contract, so there are no hurt feelings and miscommunications.
It’s also extremely important to decide what happens when one of the partners wants to move on to another project or stop working on this course or product. Perhaps one partner can buy the other one out and take ownership of the content, member list, and other assets.
For example, two people might bring different skillsets to the table so get clear on who is responsible for bringing in the sales, paying for advertising or marketing services, and so on.
This is one of the compensation methods that require a lawyer to be involved, to make sure that everything is clear and that no one gets shortchanged.
How will you choose to compensate your experts?
I’d love to know which of these methods resonates the most for you, and how you plan to compensate any guest experts or teachers you bring on!