Dustin Heiner is a fellow podcaster and today we are helping him grow his high-ticket membership site. Back in February before the COVID-19 pandemic (when people could still travel) Shane traveled to California to attend a book-writing event that was going on during Social Media Marketing World. That is where Shane met today’s guest, Dustin Heiner of the Master Passive Income podcast about real estate investing.
During a dinner with other entrepreneurs Shane overheard Dustin Heiner saying he would never start a membership site. Well, we all know what happened next! Shane asked why and then the next hour and a half convincing Dustin to launch a membership site – which he did! Now just a few months later Dustin Heiner has 15 members paying him $189/month. Not bad for a guy who thought membership sites wouldn’t work! His next goal is to build a team to help his membership site grow to 100 members and beyond.
In today’s episode Shane helps Dustin design a team that will help Dustin turn his new membership site into another source of passive income!
Dustin Heiner has built memberships before. He has helped others through all of the tech and every detail of memberships before. The biggest reason he was so hesitant this time around was his time. He has so many business and things going that he thought he had to have loads and loads of extra time to devote to coaching calls or member calls. I told him one story of Joe Nicoletti of LearnScrivenerFast who has a membership where all he does is set a timer and gets paid for it – that is when Dustin knew he could do this too!
Dustin has 30+ properties after he starting investing in properties back in 2005. He bought enough of them that he was able to quit his job because of that passive income. Back in 2014 he didn’t know a lot about online business so he used his time doing 1-on-1 help with his family and friends and allowing them to quit their jobs too. After doing that for a while he realized how much time that was taking up so he spent it building masterpassiveincome.com so he can teach his ideas to a wider audience at the same time. The whole site was devoted to helping people get buy and hold rental properties. He loves the term “just over broke” to talk about people’s jobs, hints the “j-o-b” in “just over broke.” In 2015 he began writing his first book and shortly after his podcast.
Let’s fast forward to 2020 when we met. Dustin Heiner and I met around February. Dustin was doing 1-on-1 coaching and had courses for his online business. He thought the task of doing group coaching or running a membership would be too time consuming. He already had the courses and a community – all he needed was a little bit of coaching.
In about of week of getting started Dustin has his entire membership launched and rolling! He charges a join fee of $599 for the first month and every month after is $189/month. Right now he has 15 members, even better he launched during the COVID-19 pandemic! The pandemic had just started and it was about a week and a half in. Dustin texted me freaked out because the plan was for him to launch and of course I told him to go ahead and do it anyways! Dustin really loved helping people and I could really feel that. His online business is a passion project where passion and profit come together. I remember telling him before he started his membership that he was limiting the reach and number of lives he could change. You could never teach everyone 1-on-1. You could never teach enough $5,000 courses. (not everybody can get into them). A membership creates a path, a more affordable option that you can scale responsibly and be able to serve the masses!
I remembers Dustin Heiner questioning if launching his membership during the pandemic was the right move. The thing about a membership that allowed him to do that was that in a membership you more or less open the doors rather than what typically think of a launch to be. The people that came in became a baseline and wave that he could ride out. Waves will come anytime you have an online business – sometimes the waves are big, this one just happened to be like nothing we’ve ever experienced in our lifetime. But, those 15 people that joined were probably helped in getting through the pandemic because Dustin Heiner cast his stone and opened the doors to his membership!
What You’ll Learn:
The control you have over your membership. (25:00)
How do you handle multiple memberships? (31:45)
How do you build a membership with a personality? (35:45)
How do you scale multiple memberships? (46:45)
Growing your membership into a brand. (1:21:50)
The control you have over your membership.
Often times people are like Dustin Heiner was and think that memberships take a lot of time. He was thinking he had to jump on a member call 2 or 3 times a week, when in reality he only needed to do one once or twice a month!
You can send out emails saying you’re l=going live in a hour on a whim because you want to. You don’t have to over-deliver! You can actually control a membership more than you can other things. When somebody buys into a course often times they feel like they own you – good or bad that’s just the way it is. With a membership it’s different though because it is a continuum instead of a transactional “you owe me.” Instead it’s, “were in this together. Here’s the times this is going to start, this is when it ends,’ and you’re working together.
How do you handle multiple memberships?
Dustin Heiner has the technical and business parts of his membership down. He just doesn’t have the time to be the personality for every single membership. Guess who happens to have run multiple memberships at the same time? You guessed it – my wife Jocelyn and I actually ran up to 5 memberships at one point! I’m going to lie it wasn’t easy.
The first that you’ve got to do to scale multiple memberships is simply plan. Right now technically I run about 3 1/2 memberships (one is a high-ticket recurring membership that doesn’t require as much time). The other three memberships are an education-based membership, Flipped Lifestyle, and Membership Masters. To juggle all of this you really have to be focused on batching. Ex. I only do interview on Thursdays so I can batch them up ahead. On another day I batch out my emails for all of the memberships.
You don’t have to be the face every single day or even at all. Nobody knows my face at ushistoryteachers.com. I may decide how the content flows but that entire brand is built on sharing teacher memes on Facebook, I have nearly 10,000 people that follow me on that brand on Facebook. I scheduled 400 memes and they just rotate one a day. We created a content stream that can batch and invested, almost like investing your money. If I’m going to invest in my content, even if it’s an email that I’m sending out today we have to think, “how can we use this later?” Ex. We just did a fourth of July sale. The only thing I changed form last year was the offer. Instead of a 30-day trial I did a 45-day because I wanted to see if it would convert. The biggest thing is changing that mindset and just realizing that you can put as little or as much time into the membership as you want to!
How do you build a membership with a personality?
The general is not on the battlefield, the corporals are. One thing anyone that does not want to be the face of their membership can is have leadership in your community. You can provide leadership in different ways. We have a Director of Retention, we have a system in place. When we reach certain amount of members we hire a new community manager. By doing that we’re providing leadership. Another great example, the Flip Your Life Blueprint is a path not just a bunch of courses. It leads people to their individual next steps so we have built-in curation and leadership into the membership. That eliminates have your workload – onboarding is super important.
We are actually working right now on a new onboarding sequence. We’ve got all of our data from the last 4 years and we’re re-building it to where we know it will eliminate customer service. That way we know it will help with retention and that part is over. Strategically guiding people through your content through automation makes you not the general anymore – it’s just the general’s orders and the general doesn’t have to be there.
You want to start from the jump withdrawn from being the personality, use your first ten members not as profit but to hire someone to manage some part of that leadership component. It’s easier than it sounds because most people in your membership want to be heard more than anything else. I usually go into my forums by the direction of my team and where they tell me to go. My Director of Retention answers 40 messages in the forums a week and tells me which ones would be really great for my input and I show up. For Dustin Heiner, that is as simple as guiding people to the other courses he has created that answer those topics. Then, those people feel like you answered those questions for them.
Find the top ten questions that most people are asking you, make courses that answer them, answer them in member calls, that will elevate some that pressure so that you can grow!
How do you scale multiple memberships?
There are three teams that you have to build to be able to do what you want to do.
- Director of Retention – This is basically your customer service area of your membership, answer all of your Zendesk tickets and login troubleshooting questions, point people to your courses to help answer their questions, reminding people of member calls. Your retention if your first hire because you can’t have a bucket with a bunch of holes in it. If you’re retaining people longer each member is worth so much more. Community mangers fall under category too. Keri our Director of Retention answers these questions for every one of our businesses, not just Flipped Lifestyle! (Your person over this part of your businesses may need a team eventually and that is totally okay – that’s our long-term goal too)!
- Director of Content (or content team) – The second position you need to hire is for your content. You are going to have to create content and create an “omni-present” illusion that you are always there, always teaching, always available so that you get that feel that the general is with them. Of course you can’t be with everyone just like General Washington couldn’t be at every battle but they felt like he was there because of the leadership. The Director of Content does the research for you, the leg work for you, they schedule for you, they do all of the things you really shouldn’t be doing. Not because you’re too good for it but because the division of labor works!
- Sales and Marketing – For our team we have someone that we work with on sales and marketing on our team. I enjoy the strategy I just let someone else do the tactical building. I love the Q&As but she does all the SEO research and gets them up onto YouTube and turning them into funnels that lead to lead magnets.
If you want to run multiple memberships you (again, I do NOT recommend multiple memberships for true beginners), you need to have someone to run retention, content, and sales and marketing. The only reason I am talking about this with Dustin is because he has multiple businesses both online and off.
As he was building his real estate business he needed to hire people because he kept buying property and knew he couldn’t keep cup with everything. Dustin Heiner is very frugal and he knows what his passive income is because he has allotted the amount of money he needs to hire these different people for his business. When he looks at Master Passive Income or Successfully Unemployed (our interview with Dustin here), he thought since he bootstrapped it from the beginning he thought he could run it by himself for their membership components. But, by explaining to him that those members coming in could be used to hire more people and grow the business.
Here’s how we figure it:
- Don’t count your join fees towards the amount you need to hire someone. Think about monthly members but don’t count annual members. Join fees and annuals are one-off purchases or renew so low so we look at those more of like a course.
Let’s say Dustin wanted to hire a marketer.
- This person’s package is worth $4,000/month. That seems like a lot of money, right? Not really. $4,000/$189 (his monthly membership price)=21 members. All Dustin has to do now is to go and get 21 new members himself so that that person he hires can than takeover that part of his business for him.
You’ve got to lead your team so you’ve go to hire people that are going to do their job. This doesn’t have to necessarily be the most talented person. I feel like every single person on our team is a good person – they’re really in the brand. I feel like if they weren’t going a great job they would feel like they were letting me down. I don’t have to micro-manage them because I can count on them.
But if Dustin Heiner goes out right now and uses the 21 members to hire one person and they’re a good person, then you can use the next 21 members to hire another person. Then he can start investing his time with his team. I invest my time with my team from 11:00 am – 1:30 pm every Monday. We meet together and ask how we can get each other unstuck, I meet individually with everyone to understand what they’re doing that week and how they’re executing the battle plan. When we’re done with the meetings I can then go out and do the things that I need to do, things that only I can do. My two hours then turn into 160 hours of the 4 people who I meet with.
That’s where your growth comes in. Each new person you add onto the team adds that many more hours. Your two hours turns into 240 hours, 2 1/2 hours turn into 300 hours all together. The team doesn’t have to grow that big. You only need a few people. You can build the team however you want too – you don’t have to go by those guidelines. Dustin Heiner may just need a community manager and one other person (video editor, someone to set up funnels when he has ideas).
The first time we ever crossed 1,000 people we had two part-time virtual assistants. You don’t have to have a huge company, you can still have your freedom. You just have to have good people that you can lead top-down, they execute and lead your community for you, and everybody feels like they’re winning.
Shameless plug – there is a great book called “Who?” by Geoff Smart that we read that helped us build out our team. That book helps you write out score cards for roles and that’s how we developed what our roles look like on our team. Until I read that boo every single person I hired sucked and quit – like nearly 90%. I read that book and the next three people I hired are awesome! It’s designed to tell you what you need but identify what you want to build and how to properly hire the right person for that role.
Growing your membership into a brand.
You can truly take your membership and turn it into a brand. Pepsi is a brand but Pepsi sells Mountain Dew. They didn’t just stay a cola. Any niche could probably support a 5,000 person membership. If there’s 100,000 people in the world doing something you can probably get 5,000 of them in your membership. There’s about 100,000 elementary librarians and we built a million dollar company on it. We probably only had 10% of the market! Think about this: if I knew how to build this company and they kind of looked the same, what if I had 10 different memberships with 5,000 members? That’s 50,000 members.
Let’s just look at how we could scale our brand. What are we most known for? Teaching people how memberships. What else are we known for? We’re also known for teaching work-life balance. That’s really the difference between our brand and other people’s brands. We’re not about driving a Lamborghini, living on a beach. We’re all about our family. What does that look like? Marriage, parenting, faith – these are all memberships. That doesn’t mean I’m leading them I might hire someone to help me build a parenting brand. I might create brands but each of those brands could have 1,000 members and that’s a lot of money. Don’t miss the forrest for your trees!