For more than a decade, the Internet has been called “the great equalizer.” Anyone who has access to a computer and a connection to the Internet now has the entire world at their fingertips. It bridges continents and oceans and brings people together. Since the mid-90s, when the Internet became available for use by consumers, websites containing useful information and entertainment have drawn the most views.
The rapid explosion of online presence has also brought about the phenomenon of social networking. Social networking is both advanced and human. It’s advanced because it transmits information at lightning speed and it’s human because it can harness the human potential to connect, communicate, and share.
Many enterprising people have also started sites that require paid membership. These sites contain information that is otherwise inaccessible to others. Discussion forums are another form of network that allows the sharing of ideas and concepts with people who have similar passions and interests.
Despite the popularity of social networks, paid membership sites aren’t going away any time soon. In fact, they are expanding at an unprecedented rate with more members-only websites being started. Membership websites capitalize on the fact that people are willing to pay for any information that they find useful, and that by associating and communicating with other people who share their passions, they add to the general wealth of information and knowledge that the Internet plays host.
Membership only sites charge a minimal fee, however, with membership numbers in the hundreds or thousands, they provide a steady stream of revenue for owners, advertisers, and content generators. They have also spawned an entire industry of web developers who look to create the next big thing in content and payments management.
Membership sites offer a distinct advantage over those sites that offer free content. Blog entries and other content are strictly moderated, as well as the interactions between members, which helps to lessen the risk of conflict. Plus, each member feels an exclusivity that is otherwise missing in similar, more open sites.
For owners of membership sites, the advantages can be summarized in two words: Cash Flow. Compared to the brick-and-mortar business, membership websites take relatively little effort to establish and have low overhead, while having almost nonexistent physical limitations. The only thing that they are limited by is the imagination of the owner and the members of the website.
Owners of membership sites will find that every new member brings in not just money, but the possibility of more members coming in due to referrals. This means that the most successful membership websites find ways to constantly re-invent themselves, by introducing new content whenever they feel a change is needed.