In previous years, many business owners have focused more on course creation, which is usually a “one and done” interaction. Now, more people are considering subscription-based models, like membership sites.
Membership sites can be a great solution, but it’s critical to have airtight policies that ensure your site is legally covered for a wide variety of potential scenarios.
Let’s take a look at some of the benefits and legal needs of a membership site.
Benefits of a Membership Site
Setting the legal needs aside for a moment, there are plenty of benefits to building a membership site.
One of the most appealing aspects of membership sites is the opportunity to reach a larger audience. Creating a successful membership site is all about providing value to your members, and by doing so, you can create a loyal following. Offering a membership site also provides more value to your clients, as you’re giving them additional options to continue working with you in a different way.
Your members can also act as a pool of pre-qualified buyers for future sales of products or services. They know you and your business, and they can already see the benefits of what you offer, so that makes them ideal candidates for buying from you again and again.
With a platform to share content and interact with your audience, you’re also giving yourself a dedicated platform to showcase your expertise. Potential customers are drawn to people viewed as an authority, and what better way to leverage your skills and knowledge than offering valuable content in service of others?
Of course, a big draw for membership sites is generating monthly recurring revenue for your business. Booking more clients or selling more products is one way to increase your profitability, but a membership site can provide a reliable monthly income in addition to your other revenue streams. Membership sites often have a lower monthly fee, but you can serve a greater number of people at once through the membership, increasing your earning potential exponentially.
Finally, business owners are often in a never-ending quest to free up time for revenue generating activities. While membership sites often require a significant amount of work at the start, with the right platforms, you can automate many parts of the process. This automation means you’re not responsible for the same task over and over, giving you time back in your busy day.
What Legal Policies Do You Need for a Membership Site?
While ensuring that intellectual property is appropriately protected is usually a primary concern of someone setting up a membership site, there are other legal policies that should be included. While it may be tempting to avoid the legal side of things, avoidance only creates the potential for headaches later.
When I work with clients who are setting up membership sites, we run through the list of legal items I’m sharing below.
Site Terms and Conditions
Site terms and conditions cover several different aspects of the membership site, and act as the contract between you, the owner of the membership site, and your members. This is the fine print that people may not read. However, it’s absolutely necessary to have this all outlined so should any dispute occur, you have a guide for how it should be handled.
When looking to build your membership site terms and conditions, I suggest considering the following areas:
- All relevant details of the purchase and what happens after the purchase
- Example: How much will they be billed and how often?
- An overview of how refunds are handled
- Example: Do you offer refunds? How can a member submit a request? When will refunds be processed?
- All the steps and policies related to cancelling the membership
- Example: Can membership be canceled at any time? How much notice is required for cancellation?
- All guidelines that govern the use of the membership including the parameters for a member being removed from the membership site/group
- Example: What kind of conduct is expected of the group members?
License for IP
- Governs the use of your intellectual property on the membership site
- Example: Can content be shared or replicated in any way?
A disclaimer is a policy that can help protect a membership site owner for liability related to the publication of content on the website. The disclaimer acts as a notice to members that the content you are providing is solely for informational purposes.
Depending on the nature of your content, your disclaimer may also need to include language about the viewer’s use of certain content. For example, if your membership site includes discussions about medical, nutrition, fitness, legal or financial matters, members should be directed to contact certain professionals for additional information before following the advice on the membership site.
Group Participation Policies
Many membership sites use a discussion forum or Facebook Group as a place to continue the conversation, ask questions, and share resources. However, it can end up being like the wild west if you don’t have some rules in place. Having rules that outline what is and isn’t acceptable means everyone is on a level playing field and is clear on any expectations.
Leveraging Legal to Protect Your Membership Site
There’s no denying that building a membership site can potentially be a great decision for your business, but like any other business decision, handling your legal needs is a must.
With the right information, a little planning, and a great lawyer who understands the unique needs of an entrepreneur, you can create a membership site with the confidence you’ve covered your business in all the right ways.
Are you setting up a membership site and looking to ensure all of your legal needs are handled?
Book a consult and we can get started.