The Innovator

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Courses | Memberships

When you’re thinking of creating an online course or membership, you’ll find lots of software claiming to be the easiest, smartest, prettiest. I’m a trained Certified Partner with AccessAlly, software I believe is the smartest and prettiest by far (not the easiest, which is why I’m trained) — for building online courses and membership sites. I’m also an affiliate. 

AccessAlly is a sophisticated WordPress plugin that talks to your CRM (customer relationship management) software to log client activity in a brilliantly smooth process and tags clients so you can drill down to their wants and needs.

I use the Divi WordPress theme for its superb capabilities that let you design and develop anything you can imagine.

AccessAlly connects participants to your site via one of many tag-based CRMs (customer relationship software). My preferred CRM is Ontraport. 

Using AccessAlly with WordPress and Divi means your site can look and function how you want it to, as opposed to cookie-cutter templates or pre-determined systems that leave out precisely what makes you special — and isn’t that the whole point of going deeper with your clients and creating a course or membership site in the first place?!

Here’s a diagram of how your CRM integrates with your membership site and AccessAlly.

How Participant Info Syncs

Go with the Flow.

You may use or have heard about sales funnels. Courses and membership sites usually incorporate a sales or marketing funnel. A funnel is simply a flow of steps you structure to take people from first encounter to getting to know your product or service to purchasing and participating. It can seem confusing at first but once you start a project, the pieces you need make themselves known. It’s always helpful to have a plan and structure to guide you so here’s a visual.

Flow Example

NOTE: Pricing varies based on complexity. We'll finalize cost before starting work.

YOU MAY WANT TO KNOW

Coourses Vs. Memberships

The usual order for entrepreneurs is to first create a course and then, once you’ve developed a loyal following, offer an ongoing membership. You may have a natural desire to create one or the other. They’re similar with key distinctions. 

Both help bring in recurring revenue once created. A course is more “set it and forget it” than a membership, which usually involves at least monthly additional new items for members and some live interaction. 

For long-term community building, you’ll likely want to create a membership site. Memberships require getting clever with ways to keep people sticking around, which can be fun as well as challenging. 

When you’ve got your fans’ attention, you can talk to them, learn from them, sell them your latest offerings, grow together. Membership sites can also repurpose content you’ve previously created. It’s new to your audience so you get double duty from it. 

Granting Access

To set up your course or membership site using WordPress and AccessAlly, you integrate with a CRM (customer relationship management), software that communicates between your membership site and customers to keep client information accurately stored and up to date. 

Your CRM captures contact and payment information and “tags” clients with access permissions and purchase information. It also revokes access when needed.

AccessAlly works with several “tag-based” CRMs. You’ll need to pick one. Ontraport is my preferred CRM. (I’m an affiliate. Ask me about signing up.) Together, AccessAlly and Ontraport give you big business power. 

Domains & Branding

A course or membership site can either live in its own domain or in a subdomain. You don’t want to put it in the same installation as your main site because it’s too resource-intensive and will create a tangled mess.

The reasons to use a separate domain or subdomain are based on branding primarily since they’re both entirely separate sites. You don’t have to purchase a subdomain whereas you have to buy a separate domain (around $20/yr).

A course / membership site is normally connected to a business with a well-developed identity. As a seasoned brand designer, I’ll create a sub-brand for your membership site or create complementary brand elements for your well-designed existing brand. Naming, colors, typography and brand art are all coordinated.

Accepting Payments

AccessAlly integrates with Stripe and PayPal Payments Pro. AccessAlly order forms are simple and elegant. 

If for some reason, you’ve got a more complex setup, you can also use Ontraport’s e-commerce order forms. Or you can use a third party shopping cart such as ThriveCart or SamCart but I prefer to use AccessAlly’s built-in solution and find it usually works better too. 

Some Free, Some Paid Model

Another option is to have one layer of free content to pique people’s interest and another layer that requires payment. I love this approach. It lets you market and sell using the same site.

Offering prizes is also fun and draws people in. You can give away memberships to fans who may have hung around a long time.

BTW, you can also use AccessAlly order forms to sell additional products you may have to offer.

Dripped Vs. All at Once

Your content can be released either as soon as someone pays / gets access or you can drip-release it based on either a date or completion of previous content. There are great reasons to do both and I can help you decide what will work best for your situation.

Protected Content

AccessAlly allows you to upload all commonly-used forms of content, including video, audio and PDFs. Importantly, you can protect linked content so it can’t be accessed without being a member of your site and won’t be searchable online for free downloads. Note that you can also allow pages on your AccessAlly site to be accessed without logging in if you want to. For instance, if you want a free level and a paid level, you can do that. 

Gamification for Engagement

Gamification with courses is the ability to score people and check off tasks while completing a course. It’s been proven to increase participants’ focus, enjoyment and ability to finish modules. This means fewer people dropping off along the way.

AccessAllyPro includes ProgressAlly, which allows for the creation of these features:

  • PROGRESS TRACKING — beautiful checklists and graphs
  • VIDEO BOOKMARKS — with tagging automation on completion
  • QUIZZES — three flexible quiz types with tagging
  • CERTIFICATES — drag-and-drop certificates of completion
  • PRIVATE NOTES — plus ability for students to upload homework
  • REWARDS — built-in social sharing and rewards e.g. for achievements

These tools help your members becomes more involved than they would otherwise, which translates into more revenue for you.

Collaborator & Developer
How I'm Different

A strategic connector, I work well with left brain / right brain, people-oriented visionaries. I can help you make sense of all the possibilities.

I love helping you figure out your content as well as putting together your well-constructed course. Most developers require that you hand them off ready-to-go copy and assets (images, videos) — I’m here to help you figure out what everything should be, if you need that help.

Design, Copy, Tech

I’m a seasoned brand designer who talks tech and is a trained developer. You’d usually have to hire separate companies for this. Your site will look as great as it works.

It’s All in How You Say It

You also have the option to take advantage of my writing and/or editing skills. I love words as much as design. I’m a grammar nut who knows when to use — and when to eschew — proper grammar.

business genius

Katie’s an inspiring blend of wordsmith wizard, graphic ninja and business genius

Kari Samuels, Coach
Carlsbad, CA

The Best developer

Katie’s communication skills are what sold me… I’ve got the best web developer in the world with Katie…

Gary Turner, Financial Advisor
Vancouver, WA

MAD SKILLS

Katie has MAD SKILLS. Thank you Katie so, so, so much for your brilliance and talent.

Kat Frati, Coach
Manchester by the Sea, NH

Make magic and money

You don’t have to design your course or membership all at once. Letting your audience tell you what they like most will help you shape your site organically over time. You can start with an outline and let it grow from there. Makes it feel less daunting, no?

I’m psyched to talk with you about what you envision. Online courses and memberships let you create deeply rewarding experiences for your customers and for you. If we’re a match, it’ll be my honor to help you create an online home that’s the most fun you’ve ever had in business. You’ll say, “I can’t believe I get to do this for a living!”

Give me a call. I’m here to make the whole process easier, more fun and more beautiful for you.

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