Meredith and Shui Hankinson is a mother-daughter team that likes to travel to different countries and explore local cultures. They’re planning to create websites where they can document their adventures, both in travel and in self-improvement. However, they’re not sure of what content management program they can use that would offer templates and something that would work well with a subscription model. Ken Courtright gives out his suggestions on the best program to use, as well as the best ways to market your subscription model website.
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I’ve got a series of questions from Meridith and Schui Hankenson. I met Meridith a couple of years ago in Las Vegas. I was brought out there to do some mentoring to a small group of Mastermind students and met Meridith. I found out what she was up to and it turned out to be fantastic. Meridith heard the episode that said, “If you’ve got some questions and you want to submit them, feel free.” I’ve got six to seven questions between Meridith and her daughter, Schui. Schui, a couple of years ago, had a pretty critical accident while traveling. It derailed both Schui and Meridith for a little bit but they both came back strong. They’re both about to launch different websites. One is in the travel space. Schui loves traveling. She wants to start a website so when she’s traveling the world, she can ask the locals their favorite hotspots, hangouts, things to eat and things like that. She can log those. Meridith on the flipside is about to launch ILoveMyImpossible.com and talks about the power of perseverance, strength and the, “Nothing is impossible,” mindset. They’ve got some fantastic questions. I was going to do two different episodes and I said, “These are so close.” I’m going to mesh them together because everybody reading this is going to be able to grab on to some of this and possibly even make some changes. Let’s jump right in.
The first is on Schui’s side. Her question is, “Are there startup template programs that can accommodate the project we want to build, meaning, a website where we can go around the world traveling, asking people their local favorites?” In short, they want to create a mini National Geographic type of website where it has local flavor from everywhere. If she’s on the eastern side of France, we want that page in that section to look and feel like the eastern side of France. If she’s in Las Vegas or Canada, you want that page to be representative and the like. The specific question is about a startup template. We have to define that. We have 800-plus revenue-generating websites. Almost all of them are on the framework called WordPress. WordPress is a CMS framework that stands for Content Management System. WordPress is the most popular and easiest to use of those formats. They come in what are called templates. These are prebuilt mini websites. You can add on to them with what are called plugins. A plugin is the same thing as the apps you add to your smartphone. It doesn’t matter if you have an Android or a Google phone. You go to the Play Store, the Google Store or the Apple Store and you download an app. An app is a plugin. We use almost exclusively WordPress. Schui’s question is, “Is there a good starter template out there for a travel site?”The fear of loss is always greater than the desire for gain. Click To Tweet
What I did is I opened my two favorite template stores, TemplateMonster and ThemeForest. In both cases, they have a search bar. I went into the search bar and put “travel” and “mobile responsive.” I want a theme that is both travel-related but also mobile responsive. I found a template called Travel OP. It’s number 58534. It’s in TemplateMonster. I looked at a number of them, but I chose that one because one, it’s relatively inexpensive. I think it was only $50. Two, it had responsive in the title. It was called a responsive WordPress theme. Let me define responsive, the single most important criteria. This is their next question. The single most important criteria in determining what theme or template to use is, “Is it mobile responsive?” Meaning if we build on this template, will every facet, feature, post, picture, video and advertisement show up on a tablet or a smartphone? If it’s mobile-ready, it won’t. If it’s mobile responsive, it will. The first and foremost thing we’re going to look for is a mobile-responsive theme. In both cases, TemplateMonster and ThemeForest, you want to start by clicking into the WordPress category. There are Joomla and Drupal. You want to avoid those and go straight to WordPress.
Once you click into the WordPress family of TemplateMonster, you want to drill down and look for some travel-related themes. I found eight to ten of them. They’re all in a row. I looked through them and I found the one I felt comfortable with. What I judged for comfort is the following. There are four criteria I use. The second question is, “How do you decide upon the look and the layout of a website?” I use four criteria. Number one is mobile responsive. Number two is a large or rotating header space. This is where you can put a very large photographic image on the homepage so when the website opens, there’s a very large HD photo that you can overlay text and/or some video. We typically want to see those changed on a quarterly basis. Number three is strong reviews. You have to check the reviews. I don’t care how sexy and good-looking that theme looks. You’ve got to read the reviews. The reason is that these theme-forest TemplateMonster websites will take anything that anybody submits as long as it meets fundamental criteria. If you don’t read the reviews, you might get unlucky and catch a brand new theme by a first-time theme builder. There’s no evidence it’s even going to work or load right. Read the reviews. After people have downloaded them and used them themselves, what are they saying? They should say things like, “It’s fantastic, easy to use. It loads great. It looks gorgeous.”
The fourth thing I want to look for is, it’s a little bit of a customer service thing and in this case, it has it, does it have a ready-to-use website feature? Once you click on Travel OP, which is number 58534, if you look on the right side of how they’re selling this theme, there’s a bunch of little options you can pick from. You can pick the most common plugins that people end up getting later. You can do an installation feature for $40 or $50. What I like is called Website In A Box. For $249, the person that built the theme will load the site finished on a server for you so that it’s pretty much plug and play. You just add pictures and text, hit publish and it’s done. The reason I like that feature is that it shows that the person that built the theme has not just built the theme but built it all the way to the finish line of putting it on a server and testing it. That’s what I look for in a theme.
Let’s go right next into Meridith’s question. The first couple of questions came from Schui herself. Here’s a series of questions. Number one, “Will the content that I create within the subscription area be picked up by Google and count as weekly or daily new content?” Meridith is not going to do a travel site. She’s going to start a website called ILoveMyImpossible.com. If I remember correctly, she’s even going to launch it on the anniversary of Schui’s accident. The question is, “If and when Meridith writes content or if and when the users of Meridith’s site right content, maybe as a comment or a content submission, will Google count those posts as unique content? Will they count as an article of the week?” First and foremost, Meridith is going to build this website as a subscription model. It’s for people that are looking for some uplifting information, motivational information, peak performance information and sharpen their skills and improve their self-image information. I’ll call it a Tony Robbins type of build yourself from the inside out type of website. Meridith is a very creative person. She’s a leader.You don’t get people to your website. You have to find a way to bring your site to people. Click To Tweet
With that, she’s going to use a subscription model. She referenced in her email to me that she’s going to model it after Lynda.com, which is sold to LinkedIn for $1.5 billion. Lynda.com uses a $9 a month or a $29 or $39 a month subscription model. When people pay a monthly fee, they can access thousands of teaching and tutorial videos to better themselves. Meridith is going to model that. Let’s go back to the number one question, “Will the content that I create within the subscription area be picked up by Google and count?” The answer is unequivocal yes. The reason it’s going to count is the same reason that we exclusively use WordPress for our websites. If we didn’t use WordPress and we used a traditional HTML, GoDaddy, Wix or anything you can pay $9 a month for, those are HTML-framed websites. There’s a physical frame around the website. The way Google spiders can tell what’s inside a website is they physically come in. They crawl the site and read the site. They can’t physically read English, but they can technically read it and count the characters and know what word is what word.
With a GoDaddy type of site that you pay monthly for, it’s plugin play. If Meridith writes article after article, the Google spiders can’t get into that content and read what’s in there. GoDaddy and these websites and Wix sites give you the option to tag your content. They give you a box and you can go in there and fill out the tags. You can put 20 to 40 tags. You can tell Google what’s inside that piece of content. The spiders can only come in and read what’s in the tag box. With WordPress, no matter what theme you pick, it doesn’t matter. There is no frame around that website. They’re physically frameless. I call them seamless. The spiders come in and physically trip over all your content. They cannot not read it. They come in and look first at your title. It’s called an h1 tag. The spiders go back to Google’s database and sourced the title, then they start digging in.
The first time, they’re going to read the first few sentences and source you for that. Every week they come back, they’re going to go deeper and deeper into your content as long as you continually add new content. The question is, will it count? If you’re writing on a consistent basis, Google is going to source every single piece of content you write. If you build what’s called a user-generated site like Facebook or even Google per se, they’re going to source it all because it’s frameless. It is exactly why we use WordPress. “Anything particularly critical that I should keep in mind when creating a subscription site?” Yes, if you’re going to do a subscription site, the question is, why are people going to pay you? First, did you test with the world that they’re willing to pay for a subscription model in this space? Are you going with your gut or did you physically try to sell this already? Let’s say you didn’t but you know in your gut it’s going to go and you’re going to do it anyway, you’ve got to rely on what’s called a lead magnet to get people to pay monthly. I did an episode on this. On the chance I didn’t, I know how my brain’s wired so that could have been a few years ago.
The way it works is this. I would recommend that Meridith creates a 90-minute killer teaching video that teaches on five to ten points of building self-image, people’s personal presence, how to quickly build some confidence within five minutes or anything like that. I would put it on your website for sale for $699. It’s like getting a 90-minute DVD for $700, some of the most powerful information that Meridith knows. The whole point of this is not to ever sell one of those. If she sells some, great. The point is you want it on the homepage. Specifically, you want it built into the large header of the theme on the homepage. You want that $700 right in front of people’s face for a month or two. After a month or two, you launch your subscription model at $5 a month, $19 a month or $39 a month. The price is all relevant to what people are willing to pay. The more they pay, the more they pay attention. The less they pay, the less they pay attention. Pricing is marketing.
Let’s pick $19 a month for the sake of argument. There are probably a number of people that if they see the $699 video, they want it. They just don’t have $700. All of a sudden, Meridith comes out with a tripwire, a lead magnet that says, “That $700 thing has been dangling in front of you for the past couple of months, I’ll make you a deal. If you sign up for my monthly subscription, there are no questions asked and no monthly contract, I’m going to put out a couple of pieces of killer content that only goes to the people that have signed up for my premium content model. You’re going to get that. On top of that, for those of you that sign up, I’m going to give you my $699 video for free.” Is there anything particularly critical I should keep in mind when creating a subscription site? Yes. The fear of loss is always greater than the desire for gain. The fear of people losing $700 for the desire of what they might gain by Meridith’s incredible wisdom inside that 90-minute DVD is going to outweigh the value that’s in there unless it was edified by Tony Robbins or somebody else.
However, when you build value and hold value, you have to hold that price for at least a month for it to be considered real. When you lower the price, it’s a real value. It wasn’t put up there one day and lower the next day. It’s real and substantiated. You’re going to trigger that whole concept of selling, meaning you drop the price and people go, “I’ve got to get this.” Let’s go to the last one. “Is there anything I might not have thought of asking that you would be willing to share?” That is by far the best question Meridith asked. I have an answer. Number one is I would have asked, “What key episodes should we review to guarantee the search bars, pick up our new websites and people find us?” You can build a website. It could be the best in the world but nobody’s going to find it. The reality is you don’t get people to your website. You have to find a way to bring your site to people. You have to find a way to bring the site into the search bar. You’ve got to find a way to get it to come up on page one. You’ve got to find a way to get your website into social media. I have a series of episodes from way back that are specifically built for a website to be found.
Episode 2: Rookie to Expert. This goes to both Schui and Meridith. It’s not an option. You’ve got to read it. Episode 4: Trust Trumps Everything. Inside that episode, I go into great detail of why do people buy from you and why won’t they buy from you. Episode 7: How Google Ranks. Episode 16: Stop SEO and Grow. It means to get offline. Here’s a series of things you can do offline to make your website crank. Episode 20, 21 and 22, what are the three types of competition? Who will you be competing with both online and offline with your websites? Episode 91 and 92: Website to People. You don’t bring people to a website. That’s not how it works. You bring websites to people. I want you to finish with Episode 39: Build Gravity. How do you become a magnet? How do you get people, social media websites and experts to want to bring people to you? How do you create gravity? That is the question that I would have asked. I hope this helps.
- Rookie to Expert – previous episode
- Trust Trumps Everything – previous episode
- How Google Ranks – previous episode
- Stop SEO and Grow – previous episode
- Episode 20 – previous episode
- 21 – previous episode
- 22 – previous episode
- Episode 91 – previous episode
- 92 – previous episode
- Build Gravity – previous episode