Tales from the launch of our own membership site – Part Two
Last week we opened the doors to our own membership community – the Membership Academy.
The reception has been fantastic so far and we’ve had nothing but great feedback from our members; so obviously we’re pretty darn pleased right now.
However we were far from all-smiles in the build up to the launch, as we’ll explain in part two of our Launch Diary (If you missed it, click here to read part one)
Now, where were we?
2 Weeks Before Launch
So as we explained, the entire month leading up to the launch of the Academy was timed to coincide with our 30 Day Membership Challenge – a free email course focused on the process of planning a membership site through to creating and launching it.
Initially conceived as something far more basic than it turned into, we had prepared 10 days of content in advance to give ourselves a head-start, with the plan being to create the remaining content as the month progressed.
As it turned out that was a bit of a mistake, as it ended up being something we went so in-depth with (which we should have known was inevitable as we both tend to want to over deliver on what we do) that the added workload of creating all of that content from scratch put a lot of strain on everything else we were working on building up to launch.
The offshoot of that, however, was that the end result was extensive enough for us to actually include it as its own course within the Academy. Plus we’re already considering turning that challenge into a fully-fledged book, so it wasn’t all bad – it would just have been smarter to have created everything in advance looking back.
Ultimately everything takes longer than you expect it to…
That’s definitely true when it comes to recording and editing videos!
One thing we certainly underestimated was how long it would take to produce the videos and materials for our courses.
Our plans for launch content were ambitious to begin with, but they became pretty much unrealistic when accounting for just how long the production process takes.
While we’ve been heavily involved in countless successful membership site launches in the past – the one aspect where we’re usually not as hands on is in the creation of the actual course material itself; so that was definitely a lesson learned for us (and we’re now somewhat more sympathetic with our clients too!)
Speaking of clients – as we mentioned in the first part of our launch diary, in order to make sure we could focus on the Academy we had scaled back the client work we took on for a few months; so the coast was clear for us to give the project the attention it needed in the build-up to launch.
Or so we thought…
A few weeks before our launch date, one of our biggest clients dropped a bit of a spanner in the works with a short-notice project that needed our attention. That was actually a fully-fledged product launch that needed to be turned around within a matter of weeks, so suddenly our clear path towards launch took a bit of a fork.
This wasn’t something we could really so no to; so now on top of the already hectic pre-launch schedule and the extra workload of the 30-day challenge; we now had this huge project to work on too.
Best laid plans, and all of that!
Now I previously mentioned that we’d timed our launch to come at the end of the 30 day challenge – providing a natural lead in from that to our membership. However we actually had to be ready one week before that; as we planned to run a short private beta with a selection of our clients and business connections – followed by an early-access weekend for people who had signed up to our waiting list.
So, now one week away from launch and with around 90% of the site and the training material complete, we started our private beta. Thankfully it was relatively painless and the feedback was great – although one or two people who had offered to help out ultimately didn’t so much as log in once, which was a bit of a disappointment.
Still, beta testing was going well and now being a day or two away from our early-access weekend we were feeling positive and happy to be wrapping things up ready to launch.
Then the proverbial hit the fan…
But you’ll have to wait until next time for that!
Until then let’s round up the lessons learned from the weeks leading up to the Academy launch:
- Everything takes longer than you expect. Especially when it comes to creating content – which is obviously the most important piece of the puzzle! However long you’ve given yourself for this part of the process, double it!
- Expect the unexpected. The short-notice project which needed our attention was totally out of left field, from a great client where we usually have months notice of anything big they want doing. We didn’t grumble or complain as obviously we need to take care of our clients; but it was a definite roadbump in our progress, despite us doing everything to lighten our workload in advance.
- Don’t take support for granted. It was certainly disheartening when some people who had ‘pledged their support’ for our private beta didn’t come through. Remember other people aren’t going to be as invested in this as you are, so don’t take the support of your network and your connections for granted, and be sure to have backup options when it comes to testing.
The next part of our journey will be looking at a manic 48 hours before our early access weekend, through to the actual launch – where we’ll be talking about the various tactics we used when opening the doors to the Academy.
In the meantime, we invite you to check out the Membership Academy for yourselves; and see why it’s an absolutely essential resource for anyone planning, creating or growing a successful membership website.