Sneak Behind This WordPress Members Only Area to Learn From a Successful Online Membership System

laptop with screenshot of Rachel Feldman's membership site

Not every business owner anticipates running a membership site when they launch their business.

But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be open to the possibility.

Today's case study is going to show you how a membership site can transform your business, especially when you start planning early.

From 1:1 Services to an Online Membership System

successful online membership system

Rachel Feldman didn’t start out as a health and wellness guru. In fact, before she became a coach, she worked as a real estate agent. It was only later that she decided to take her life in a totally different direction, first launching her business as a health and wellness coach.

But, like many entrepreneurs, she struggled with wearing all of the hats required to keep her business thriving.

She was committed to coaching her clients to receive the best results possible, which often meant spending days (if not weeks!) experimenting with recipes in her own kitchen. The amount of time it took to create the content, market, and build her business was overwhelming, especially in the early stages.

When Rachel began getting attention from other health and wellness coaches who were interested in the quality of content she was creating for her own clients, she identified an opportunity to totally pivot her business.

She realized that other coaches were struggling to provide the same high-quality resources to their own clients … and saw a need in the marketplace that she could fill.

So Rachel pivoted her business model and began creating done-for-you programs and content for other health and wellness professionals in a WordPress members only area.

Rachel has since expanded her offerings from 1 course to 180 programs, and now serves thousands of coaches worldwide, allowing her expertise and research to benefit hundreds of thousands of people as a result.

Meet Rachel:
Rachel Feldman is a wellness momma and business niche strategy coach. Rachel helps her clients to build profitable and sustainable businesses so they can build successful businesses online and offline. After only earning 13K her first year in coaching, she knew she needed to learn how to create a sustainable business built with a solid sales funnel. Rachel went from making 13K to 72K by year 2 1/2 and then broke six figures in her third year of business. Today, Rachel teaches the same system she built her successful health coaching practice to other health and wellness professionals. She's helped more than 8,000 health coaches rock their biz to the next level by nailing down their niche and creating a signature business with strategy.

Grab some free tools at rachelafeldman.com and build your biz stat at yourhealthcoachbiz.com.

5 Hard Won Lessons of Running a Membership Site

When we sat down to chat with Rachel and her developer Sonja, we wanted to know what the process of building a robust, successful membership site looked like from the inside. Here’s what they had to say:

1. Find a developer that gets your vision.

successful online membership site

The AccessAlly Expert Directory is a list of our specially-trained experts that you can connect with for your membership site project.

When Rachel transitioned to the world of online courses as her primary business model, she struggled to find the right fit to bring her vision to life. She worked with developer after developer, but there was always a disconnect between her vision and how it looked on the website.

Finally, she reached out through her network and met with Sonja Bannon, founder of daringdesign.co. It was the perfect fit, the beginning of a long-lasting partnership.

Learn More about the Developer: Sonja Bannon - Founder of Daring Design Co

online membership systemI create Done For You WordPress Themes, Templates and Systems for Health & Wellness Pros and Course Creators.

With 10+ years of design, coding, funnel strategy and conversion experience for the web, I’ve got the skills to take you out of frustration and into freedom and profitability, regardless of where you’re starting from.

I treat your business as if it were my own, so you get not only a designer, developer, and strategist, but someone fully invested in your growth and 100% committed to the success of your biz.

I design websites and branding that represent you perfectly. I build sales pages and landing pages that convert consistently. I create tools and systems for your business that never expire. I automate your business so you can make money while you sleep.
Because you need solutions you can count on to get you through the next big launch, to grow with you as your business grows, and to always sell your offers with ease.

Dare to launch your dream business!

2. Invest in a solid tech stack.

Rachel’s first courses were setup on Wishlist, however she had outgrown the tool, and it was crippling her user’s experience.

Customer service inquiries were constantly increasing and her team was constantly troubleshooting tech issues. At the time, the only other “big player” available for integration with Infusionsoft, Rachel’s marketing automation system of choice was Memberium. However, that plugin was still in its infancy, and Rachel’s website continually bumped up against technical issues that couldn’t be resolved.

Fortunately, Sonja was already familiar with AccessAlly, and recommended they switch to that solution, since all of the features Rachel needed were built-in and market-ready. AccessAlly was--and is--in active development with a team that’s dedicated to clean coding and ongoing feature upgrades, so they were both confident it was a solution that would fit them long term.

Pro tip: Don’t just look at where you are now - look at your potential growth and weigh the pros and cons of investing in sophisticated tech early or migrating later.
“I can rest easy knowing that if ever we have an issue, that either me or Sonja can’t resolve, AccessAlly’s customer service is there ready and waiting to resolve it right away.” - Rachel Feldman

sell online memberships demo

3. Create a solid plan.

successful online membership site checklistIf you’re running a membership site flying by the seat of your pants, you’re doomed to a hamster wheel of content creation, last-minute pivots, and frantic backpedalling. Instead, map out the content for each offer and program, think through what it will look like, spend time on the design and layout, and really focus on the customer journey.

Here, Sonja shares some insight from a developer's side of the process: the more she knows of Rachel’s long-term plan, the more effectively she can implement each piece along the way.

A good developer is agile, but every bit of functionality might be built in a different way, depending on where you want to keep growing and expanding.
Pro tip: When you’ve created a system and plan that’s built to be flexible long-term, each program or course that you add to the mix will save you time and money during setup because the process will be a rinse and repeat of what you’ve done previously.

4. Communication between your tech tools is key.

Communication between your tech tools can make or break your online membership system. AccessAlly is brilliant and due to its built-in advanced tagging functionality it governs everything from an organization standpoint. It’s the hub for your course setup and organization and your CRM or marketing automation system works in the background in conjunction with it.

online membership system

As growth happens, If you don’t have a well-organized foundation for your online membership system, you can say hello to a lot of chaos.

Sonja, Rachel’s developer has worked with a lot of membership plugins and platforms, including Kajabi, Teachable, Kartra, and always says, “AccessAlly is the best platform ever - nothing else is as flexible and complete as AccessAlly.”

5. Measure success through customer experience.

This is not to downplay the importance of metrics and financial success of your membership site, because those pieces are certainly necessary for growth, but for Rachel, customer experience is the measure of everything she’s working towards.

She recognizes that her business is thriving and growing because of the experience and quality of content she delivers every day to her clients.

running a members only area

“It wasn’t about the financial stats, it was about what I’d hear about my users’ experience.

I wanted to create less anxiety for my buyers, and reduce the need for as much customer service. I have a lot of return customers because we overdeliver.

What’s reflective of our success is how happy our users are having an easy to access hub for everything.”

-Rachel Feldman

Rachel’s team has invested a lot of time in getting the setup conducive for their members’ success. Let’s take a look.

[VIDEO] Behind The Scenes of a Successful Online Membership System

Takeaway #1: Navigation is important.

Some people will only look above the fold and never scroll down when they land on your membership site dashboard. Be sure to utilize a flexible theme, so you can add menus in different areas inside your membership site. This can help avoid customer service issues and tailor to all types of learning behavior/habits.

Takeaway #2: Branding matters.

Keep all courses and programs inside your membership site on brand. While you can--and should--give each course its own unique identity (so your participants know where they are inside your membership and what course they’re working through), it’s important to stay consistent with colors, patterns, and layout.

Takeaway #3: Listen to what your members want.

Rachel spends a lot of time thinking through what’s going to take her business and her clients’ businesses to the next level. She listens to the pain points the coaches inside her courses and membership share, and what they’re asking her to create next.

“Running a membership site is very hands-on, it takes having your hands in your business to be successful.” - Rachel Feldman
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