Whether you want to start an online industry group, an exclusive network, a purpose-driven non-profit, or a subscription delivery startup, you must somehow build a website that brings this club to life in the digital realm.
There are four steps to consider when building a website to ensure you’re providing a distinct and valuable service to those who join.
- Content for your Club.
- User Experience for Club members.
- Marketing yourself as a Club.
- Monetizing your Club.
Content: A website with high-quality content is key to building a loyal and engaged community. Content can come in many forms, starting with blog posts which can be repurposed into emailed newsletters and/or social media posts.
The homepage and other web copy are equally important because the tone and voice establishes the culture and branding of the club. The “about us” section for example is a great place to introduce the founder or director of the group, and explain the mission or purpose of the community. In ilovetosail.club, founder Yuri Chumak shares his story, and how he dreamt of building a network that would make planning yachting vacations easier. Be prepared to share your club’s “story” and raison d’etre. After all, every club needs a leader.
In addition to quality content, it’s critical to be consistent about publishing. Stick to an editorial calendar that produces content regularly and on schedule. Aim to publish at least one piece of new content on a weekly basis, and keep your members coming back for more.
User experience/UX: When it comes to user experience, there are key ingredients that differentiate a club website from any website destination or ecommerce.
Think about content and UX in two distinct categories: which content will live on the public website for web visitors and prospective members, and which content will live behind the login walls.
Clubs, no matter how inclusive or exclusive, should have a user experience that is easy to navigate for prospective and existing members. Start with a new member and event registration page so you can easily garner new members.
Back to the https://ilovetosail.club/en/ example, the upper right banner has a clear call-to-action for existing members to login. But the rest of the website offers a wide range of free and valuable content explaining its business offerings and general information. Aim to strike that balance of public and exclusive features.
In addition to providing secure logins for existing members, provide pages such as a calendar of events, online member directory, and other resources to which they would need regular access.
Marketing: Let visitors know you’re a club before they ever land on your webpage. The ilovetosail.club for instance uses a .club domain in its URL so visitors know that the unique benefits and resources are available to those who join. Branding a business as a club from the start immediately gives members a sense of belonging and community, even on a global scale.
Monetization: You want to figure out how to monetize the club and its content. Even if you’re a nonprofit, you want to make sure there’s a seamless donations page.
Think of the business model: Will members pay annually or monthly? What are the income streams? Can you launch webinars, online classes or special perks that can bring in more revenue?
The following aspects of your club website will help you think this through:
- online event registration
- payment pages
- a page for accepting donations
- a customer/member database for communicating with members
At the end of the day, any online club will need to offer a sense of community to keep people engaged, loyal, and willing to renew membership year-after-year.