For many people in the music world, it can be a struggle to monetize their skills to the point where they can make a reliable living, but Will Doggett has cracked the code – with a little help from Restrict Content Pro!
Based out of Austin, Texas, Will is an Ableton Live Certified Trainer, sound designer, musician, and author who runs his own membership site: From Studio to Stage. With Will’s membership, performers get access to a whole community, with content and tools designed to help them learn music production software Ableton Live and integrate it with live performances.
“I love teaching, training, and making complex things simple, so creating training and content that makes people feel like they can accomplish something that previously seemed impossible is incredibly fulfilling,” Will says.
This is one of the unique things about a membership site – it’s the perfect springboard for creating an entire ecosystem around your content that helps to better the lives of your members.
Like many membership site owners, Will came from a professional background that wasn’t quite fulfilling enough.
“At the previous company I worked for, I found myself in a role where I was leading a team and leading product development. It was fun, but it was taking me away from my core competency: Teaching and creating content, and making complex things simple.”
Will wanted to do something that would engage his passions, provide value for others, and bring in revenue all at the same time. Fortunately, he had plenty of offline skills that could be monetized online.
Will’s musical background and experience as an Ableton Live Certified Trainer and content creator gave him everything he needed to transform his work into a digital business. So, he decided to build a membership site around what he already did best!
The membership solution
Once Will decided on the membership model, he wanted to find a technical solution that aligned with his motto: making complex things simple.
“I’m a solo-preneur and not a developer, so as I was preparing to launch my site, I needed a solution I could easily implement to protect my content and manage subscriptions. There are a lot of pre-made subscription / e-learning solutions available, but the cost to get started can be high, and you’re running your company on someone else’s platform.”
Looking for something he could easily manage in-house without significant technical expertise, Will turned to Restrict Content Pro.
“What was so great about RCP was that I had the ability to implement the plugin easily and get started quickly without the help of a developer. I’m also not stuck in someone else’s ecosystem.”
“I liked that I wasn’t forced into a full fledged LMS (learning management system) with quizzes, badges, and prerequisites. With the click of a few buttons in RCP settings, my site is protected and recurring revenue comes in each month without a headache – and without all the extra “fluff” other solutions provide.”
From Studio to Stage
With plenty of inspiration and interesting content, plus a membership platform that enabled him to create a business that suited his needs and goals, From Studio to Stage came to life.
The core of Will’s membership business is subscription training for individuals and groups, paid monthly or annually. Subscribers get access to over 30 on-demand courses (he adds a new course every month), a monthly subscriber-only Zoom call, a private Facebook group, plus access to exclusive content and discounts.
“I have a passion for helping artists and bands tell their story on stage with technology. I believe that the technology should disappear and get out of the way of creating music. You shouldn’t feel restricted when you’re using technology on stage, and I believe it shouldn’t be difficult.”
The real benefits
“Success for me is freedom, flexibility, autonomy, and serving others.”Will Doggett
We’ve discussed the benefits of running a membership site and how you can amplify your existing business with memberships – and one of the recurring themes is the increased freedom and flexibility that the membership model can provide business owners like Will.
“I don’t want a business that means I have to be ‘on-call’,” Will says. “I work really well in batches, and can create enormous amounts of content in a short amount of time. Because of that, I get the benefit and flexibility to spend time with my family and go to lunch with my wife.”
Memberships also provide the opportunity to make a business about more than just the exchange of money and content. Community and relationships are often at the center of things.
“Having a subscription based business means I get to build relationships with customers and create content that serves them, and I have the flexibility to do that without having to be in an office 9-5 everyday.”
For many, that’s the dream!
The challenge of focus
With any digital business that allows for independent remote working comes the challenge of staying focused. Will says that this is a current goal he is working toward.
“As a solo-preneur my biggest struggle is deciding what to do next. I don’t have a team to help get things done, so I need to make sure I’m doing what provides the most value to my subscribers. Every day I try to choose the 1-3 most important things I should be working on.”
The seemingly limitless possibilities that membership businesses can provide create somewhat of a double-edged sword; Many digital business owners struggle to stay productive, organized, and relevant, and choose the right things to work on.
This can be especially true for creative people, who tend to find inspiration everywhere!
“It’s easy to get distracted with small website tweaks and miss the opportunity to create content,” Will says.
What can you take away from this? As a membership site owner, it’s crucial to find ways to structure your time and efforts – and measure your results.
Metrics are essential
“From a business perspective, I’m constantly testing and optimizing to try and increase MRR, decrease churn, and increase the trial conversion rate. From optimizing emails, testing pricing and improving messaging, it all adds up to affect those numbers.”
Keeping track of these kinds of metrics is an important element of running a membership site, so we asked Will if he had any specifics to share.
“I have 139 students enrolled and MRR (member retention rate) is up 44% from last year. One of the benefits of a subscription based business is that you don’t start at zero each month.
With the current pandemic that we’re in I saw my churn rate and cancellations almost double for a short amount of time. What was amazing though is at the same time my amount of new sign-ups and trials has made up for that change, so not much has changed!
Plus, after about 4 weeks I’m starting to see churn rates decrease and start to normalize. That’s the beauty of a subscription-based business.”
Restrict Content Pro add-ons
To understand the scope of Will’s membership site and experience with Restrict Content Pro, we wanted to know which add-ons he uses. Of course, needs vary based on the type of content that membership site owners create.
With the nature of Will’s work, group memberships and customizable login and registration URLs are the top priorities.
“The Group Accounts add on is essential. While most of my students are individuals, I also work alot with churches that want to give their team of musicians and worship leaders access to the training. Group Accounts allows me to create custom group tiers that allow them to manage their teams and give them access to the content.
Pairing that with the Custom Redirects add-on is great, as it allows me to redirect each subscription signup to a specific page for that level. For instance, I have specific group signup and welcome pages for groups that show them how to quickly set up and manage their groups. I don’t want to show that info to individual accounts, and Custom Redirects lets me help onboard different subscribers in different ways.”
Will’s story is a testament to what’s possible when you channel your real-world skills into digital form and create a membership business around your passions. So, we asked him for two pieces of advice for people who are starting their own membership sites.
“ 1) Create buckets for your revenue
I started this a few months into launching the business and it’s the #1 thing that has helped me. When you receive a paycheck as an employee you don’t think about this.
For example, if you receive $1,000 from a client or in MRR, you didn’t “make” (think net) $1,000. You need to consider taxes, income, and expenses.
I personally split all revenue 4 ways. 50% goes to an income account where I pay myself a fixed amount twice a month. 15% goes into a Tax account that I pay taxes from. 30% goes into an expenses account that I pay bills and expenses from, and 5% goes into a savings account that I pay myself as a quarterly bonus.
Profit First by Mike Michalowicz is an incredible resource to help get started. This forces you to “live-off” of less than you make, and naturally causes you to build up savings. In this model you’re making a profit from day one, and as your business grows, you get security and don’t out-grow your ability.
2) Diversify your revenue streams
My MRR is a piece of my business. I’m trying to scale it as much as possible, but I also have other revenue streams as well. I offer consulting, in-person training events, and sell partnerships (sponsorships) for content to companies. During months were one stream decreases, the others are there to fill in the gaps.”
We love to see people succeed with their membership sites, and we encourage you to contact us if you want to share your story! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us how you’ve transformed your own business with Restrict Content Pro!
Illustration by Jessica Johnston.