Build Predictable Recurring Revenue with Membership Communities (and Live the Life You Want), with Shane Sams

FREE EPISODE WORKSHEET:
CONTENT CPR

#52: Our guest today is Shane Sams, co-founder of Flipped Lifestyle and an expert on building recurring revenue with membership communities.

In this episode, we cover why memberships are the best method for creating a predictable and sustainable online business, the three ways to create massive growth for your membership site, and how to build a community that people never want to leave.

If you’re the type of person who wants to make more money by working less hours and helping people live their best life, you’ll definitely want to listen this episode.

FREE EPISODE WORKSHEET:
CONTENT CPR

Content Heroes Book

If you listened to Episode 50 a couple of weeks ago, you know that I’m releasing a BOOK next month.

I’m sharing the lessons learned from 50 episodes and interviews with other business leaders whose approach to content marketing catapulted them to influential leader status in their niches.

Based on real-world conversations, experience, and insight from over 40 influential business leaders, this is not your average business book.

If you’re serious about growing your business and influence in your niche, join the waitlist at contentheroes.com/book and be the first to get your hands on it later this month.

Podcast Episode Summary

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • The reasons why Shane decided to leave his job and become self-employed;
  • Why memberships are the best method for creating a predictable and sustainable online business;
  • How you can wrap community around your membership;
  • The 3 ways to create massive growth for your membership site;
  • How to create a community that people won’t want to leave;
  • 3 tips for being successful in any online business.

Quotables

In eras of bygone past, we were schoolteachers. I was a social studies teacher and football coach; my wife was an elementary school librarian. That’s what we grew up wanting to do. (3:50)

Life was pretty good, good enough. We had a paycheque, we had health insurance, the 2.2 kids, the 2.2 cars, a house in a cookie cutter neighbourhood. Everything was okay. Then, something happened to my son. (4:40)

I said, ‘I don’t know what’s going on, but I have to go deal with this.’ I remember her slowly taking her glasses off and placing them on the table, leaning back in her chair, and she said ‘Mr. Sams, I cannot watch your class. I don’t have the time. There are no spare substitutes and I can’t call one in this late. You’re going to have to handle your personal problems after work. I know your son needs you but your job needs you too.’ (9:15)

I was really mad at myself. I was really pissed that I was looking in the mirror at someone who had traded their life for a secure paycheque. (10:46)

I made a promise to myself that day. ‘I am going to find a way to become self-employed, to say what I want, do what I want, and never have to answer to anyone ever again.’ (11:13)

That’s how you do it. That’s how you get 100 people to pay you $50 a month and make $60,000 a year and become self-employed. You sell information on the internet. You sell community. You sell memberships. (13:48)

I sent content out into the world and somebody, somehow, somewhere, sent money back. This is real, it’s really real. If it can be 11 cents it can be $11 or it can be $50 a month.  (19:37)

We started blogging about things we knew, blogging about areas of expertise, creating digital products and opt ins and lead magnets to get the list growing, and the ball really started rolling fast. (20:50)

We realized we already had a year of lesson plans and could sell it all it once, and we could charge a lot for it. We could even set up a membership where we got people to join and they paid us every month so we wouldn’t have to go through this sales cycle every 30 days. Sell it once, they pay you forever. (24:00)

Content is everywhere. The world is oozing and dripping in content. Whatever you are teaching, whatever you are talking about, whatever content you are creating is out there for free and someone can go find it. (26:54)

The membership model, you sell it once, people pay you every month and they get all your content. Content is the core; content is the heartbeat. Content is what draws people in. People come for courses but they stay for people. (27:17)

If you can wrap community around your content, they’ll stay forever because people don’t leave their friends. (28:00)

What’s your mission? You have to have something out there in the world to create an audience and you have to have a plan to get you attention. (32:18)

Focus on the three pillars of any good membership. The first is a path or a blueprint. You can curate content into a blue print. (33:20)

The second big pillar is community. You’ve got to figure out a way that connects your people in your membership so that they have each other. Then, you have to show up for your people. (34:43)

Be there, be present, be visible. (36:23)

If you really want to be successful, not only in online business but with memberships, you have to do 3 things: you have to be consistent, prolific and relentless. (38:10)

Links You Want to Click

Find out more about Shane Sams and Flipped Lifestyle here: https://flippedlifestyle.com

The Flipped Lifestyle Podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-flipped-lifestyle-podcast/id902645131

Sign up for the wait list for the Content Heroes book here: https://contentheroes.com/book

Download this episode’s WORKSHEET here: https://contentheroes.com/worksheet52

Join the Content Heroes Facebook Community here: https://contentheroes.com/facebook

Content Heroes 052 - Build Predictable Recurring Revenue with Membership Communities (and Live the Life You Want), with Shane Sams

Shane Sams: [00:00:00] Content is everywhere. The world is oozing and dripping and content, but whatever you are teaching, whatever you're talking about, whatever content you're creating is out there for free. And someone can go find, and I don't like to compete with free stuff, right? The membership model, you sell it. Once people pay you every month, content is what draws people in people come for courses, but they stay for people.
Josiah Goff: [00:00:30] Welcome to content heroes, everyone. We're back with another great conversation to help you build a profitable business on your own terms by creating content online.
Our guest today is Shane Sams, co founder of flipped lifestyle and an expert on building recurring revenue with membership communities.
In this episode, we cover why memberships are the best method for creating a predictable and sustainable online business. The three ways to create massive growth for your membership site and how to build a community that people never want to leave.
If you're the type of person who wants to make more money by working less hours and helping people live their best life, you'll definitely want to stick around for the rest of this episode.
But first I have a quick announcement. If you listen to episode 50, a couple of weeks ago, you know that I'm releasing a book next month in it I'm sharing the lessons learned from 50 episodes and interviews with other business leaders whose approach content marketing, catapulted them to the influential leader status in their niches.
Based on real world conversations, experience and insight from over 40 influential business leaders, this is not your average business book.
If you're serious about growing your business and influence in your niche, then join the waitlist at contentheroes.com/book. And be the first to get your hands on it later this month, once again, that's contentheroes.com/book to join the waitlist.
Now it's time to talk about how to build recurring revenue with membership communities with Shane Sams. So let's jump in.
Announcer: [00:01:52] You're listening to the content heroes podcast, where entrepreneurs and marketers and creatives share how they build profitable businesses on their own terms by creating content online.
And now your host Josiah Goff.
Josiah Goff: [00:02:09] I'm here with. Shane Sams. Who's the host of the flipped lifestyle podcast. And I am super pumped about this conversation and to talk about all things, a membership site. So Shane, thanks so much for being on the show today.
Shane Sams: [00:02:21] Pumped it is good to see you again at my friend.
It's hard to believe that we started 2020 and didn't even know each other. And then we end up at the same live event together and I get a text it's like, Hey, if anybody wants to take an Uber. I'll be downstairs. I'll be like, I'll go meet this random stranger we get in this Uber and we didn't leave each other besides like 72 hours now.
Pretty awful though. So good to talk to you again, buddy.
Josiah Goff: [00:02:42] YouTube, man. And it's kind of crazy to think
that that was the last
live event that probably any of us went to. Cause it was the end of February and it's just been, it feels like a whole lifetime has passed since then.
Shane Sams: [00:02:53] It feels like that was 10 years ago.
I mean, as soon as we got home, I remember. As I was coming back from San Diego, I was in Charlotte, I think, or maybe I was in the San Diego airport and I'm looking around and people are kind of sitting far apart and nervous and we're watching what's happening with the virus, but it wasn't here yet. Right.
I texted my wife and I said, you think they're not telling us something? And then it was like, bam, two weeks later, Armageddon, you know, like, so, but we're surviving. We're all coming out of it, man. We're going to, we're going to be all right. We're all going to be all right. Yup.
Josiah Goff: [00:03:24] So Shane you and your wife run flip lifestyle.com and the podcast.
And I definitely want to dig into membership sites and your approach to all of that. But before you started this business, you two were both educators. And so before we dig into the membership sites piece,
I'd love to
hear more about your story. I've become familiar with it, getting to know you, but I'd love for you to share that with the audience,
Shane Sams: [00:03:50] because it's a great story.
You want the long version of the short version. Tell the long version. I just want, you gave me the mic, bro. I'm not stopping you. All right. Yeah, man. My name is Shane Sams. I'm the host of the flipped lifestyle podcast and I, my wife and I founded a site called flip-flop style.com back in 2014. But before that in era's of bygone past, we were school teachers, man.
I was a social studies teacher. And a football coach and my wife was an elementary school librarian. And, you know, that's what we grew up wanting to do what, you know, my wife and I met in college over at the university of Kentucky. And I knew I was going to be a teacher. She did something else for a while, a bunch of business stuff.
But then when I realized I had summers off and football was fun, she said, Hey, I'll be a teacher too. And so she got her library specialist master degree, and there we were a man. We were both working in the same school district. We were working about 30 minutes apart though. So we had a pretty long commute away from each other.
We were kind of the ships in the night. People, you know, I'm going this way. She's going that long. It was pretty good. Life was good enough. We had a paycheck, but it was one of those paychecks that you got paid on Friday. And it ran out on Thursday. Everybody knows that kind of paycheck, you know, but you know, we had health insurance and we had the 2.2 kids, 2.2 cars had the, you know, little house in the little cookie cutter neighborhood with the above ground pool, man.
We were classic. You know what I'm saying? And everything was okay, but then something happened. With my son, we were just like a lot of other people who were working full time and raising kids. Yes. We had to use daycare and we had this amazing daycare facility for our son that was ran by this sweet little old lady.
And for a while, everything was perfect. I mean, she took care of our kid. The staff was amazing when she was about to retire. She turned it over to a couple of the newer employees. We didn't know as well, but they were hired by her. So we thought, Hey. This is going to be fine. We're just going to keep going.
Everything's going to be okay. And things went downhill pretty quickly, man. And my son was about three years old at the time and he started getting really agitated and upset and he would have a great fear of the dark, but he's three. You think kids are afraid of the dark, right? And he would, all of a sudden would not go into bathrooms.
And he just would not walk into a bathroom. We had to literally pull him in, or we had to bring the little potty out so that he would use the bathroom in the hallway and we couldn't figure out what was going on. But start again, potty training. We suck at this right. Parents were new parents. We don't know what we're doing and it got worse and worse.
And then he started not wanting to go into the daycare center. He would fight, he would hold. And one morning I was in the parking lot and I was dropping Isaac off at the daycare and same thing, five, five, five, but Isaac was just starting to get verbal at the time. Right. He was just starting to say some things.
And he basically said she hurts me. And I was like, what? He's like, yeah. She locks me in the bathroom. I'm like, what, how long? And then he's like long time. And we would find out when we put all the pieces together later that a worker at the daycare facility was locking kids in the, the bathroom with no windows and no lights for hours at a time to punish them for parties, training accidents.
And we've heard all kinds of other horror stories like. One of the workers at the facility actually got arrested because she was holding kids down under a beanbag chair and sitting on them to keep them under control if they were wild or running around. And there was just all kinds of other ridiculous things that were going on and social services got involved and.
And this happened so fast. I mean, it went from perfect dream daycare with great. I am all running the show and cooking eggs for the kids for breakfast to just hell on earth, you know, and while I didn't understand the full picture of the story in that moment. I knew that I could not take Isaac inside. I knew something was wrong.
I didn't really understand what he was saying, but I knew there was a problem and I could not leave him there, but, but here I was standing at six 37 in the morning. I couldn't get ahold of Jocelyn. I couldn't get ahold of anybody else. And I've got to, I'm a high school history teacher. There's 30 juniors walking into the classroom, ready to burn down the building.
If I'm not there, you know what I mean? And I said, I don't know what to do. So I went, I took Isaac. Over to another facility. Our little girl at the time was a baby. She was literally still in like a car seat. So she was at a different facility, but they weren't allowed to keep kids that were like over two or something like that.
And I begged one of the ladies there who had kept Isaac when he was a baby. I was like, look, let me just leave him here. I can't get ahold of my principal. Can't get ahold of you. My, my family Jocelyn's school's out of service out in the country and I need to go tell my principal that I can't be we'll work today.
I've got to deal with this. So I took him over there. Left him with someone I trusted, but they were like, you gotta come back. You can't stay gone all day. We can't keep him here. If the state were to come in, we would be in trouble, right. For our license. So I was like, okay. So I ran in my car and I drove, you know, it was like 30 minute commute to get there.
And I was just speeding the whole way. He probably did it in 25 30 and I walked in like right when the bell was ringing a random, my room told her by sit down, be quiet for a minute. And I asked my neighbor, I said, Hey, will you stand in the hallway to watch both classes? I just gave him the nutshell version.
Like something happened. I got it. We'll deal with this. I go down to my principal's office, the main principal's not there that day. It was an assistant principal. I was actually an interim assistant principal that was filling in for a vacant spot. And she was like, this old hardcore used to be a principal military run the tight ship kind of leader, you know?
So I go in and I tell her this exact same story I told you mean this person had kids. Surely they would understand this. And I remember after I got done. I said, I don't know what's going on, but I know I've got to go deal with this today. I remember her taking off her glasses really slowly and laying them down and leaning back in her chair.
And she said, mr. Sams, I cannot watch your class. I don't have time. There's no more subs. And I can't call one in this light. You're going to have to handle your personal problems after work. I know your son needs you, but your job needs you to, you have a duty to be in your classroom. So let's deal with this later.
And I just, I was froze. I was like, well, I was stunned that this person not only didn't have the compassion and empathy, but I hope they would have right then and there, but literally word for word told me that my job was as important or more important. Then my son and I said, what's gonna happen if I leave.
I said, that's not acceptable. I'm not gonna do it. And she's like, well, you could be in trouble. It's derelict of duty. You're leaving kids in the classroom and I'm like, find somebody else then, and we'll deal with it later. So I left, I was a football coach and I knew that they probably couldn't fire me in the middle of the season.
So I thought, okay, I've got a little shield here, you know, and I left and I got my car and I drove back to my son. To deal with this problem. And dude, I remember looking in the rear view mirror right in my own eyes. I mean, I locked myself right in the eyes and I just remember being really angry, like really, really mad and like not mad, not mad at the worker and their ignorance, not mad at the vice principal who I think in her heart, I think in her ignorance, she was like, Hey, I need to teach this young man a lesson.
You know what I mean? Like he needs to learn how to balance his life better or whatever. But I was really mad at myself. I was really pissed off that I was looking in the mirror as someone who had. Traded their life for a steady paycheck and a little bit of health insurance and the good job and the cookie cutter house and the, it was okay.
You know, I had made that deal with the devil so that I could have my income. Okay. And I was secure and stable and safe. But here it was, man. I'd really realized that I'd given up my freedom to choose my family, my freedom, to choose freedom, my freedom to choose my time and how I spent it and the freedom to be there when my son needed me the most, you know, and dude, I made a promise to myself that day.
I said, I am going to find a way to become and stay self-employed. I'm going to find a way to be able to say what I want, do what I want when I want and never have to answer to anyone ever again. And I didn't know how I was going to do it. I had spent my entire first 30 years of my life, 35 years of my life, man, going through school master's degree teachers on the road to retirement.
I was 10 years, nine, 10 years into my job. And I said, no, it's over today. So down at journeyman, where I started exploring alternative, you know, of how to. How to make money, how to become self-employed. How to, how do people do this? This is ridiculous. I thought you had to go get a job. Someone gave you money.
You know, one day I was, as I went through my search, we went through all the boxes. Everybody goes through MLM. Oh, that's a scam. I can't do that. That's a pyramid scheme. Oh, we'll start a real world business. Oh man, you got to buy a rent and you gotta pay a light bill. That's expensive. And one day I was listening to a podcast called the smart, passive income podcast with Pat Flynn and.
The reason I listened to that podcast is because Pat had a son that was my son's age. I went to his website and I saw him holding his son. And I was like, that's my kid. I want to be that guy holding their son on their blog or whatever he's doing. And just the week before was in the car, really upset.
Cause I couldn't find a way to make money. I couldn't figure out how to become and stay self employed. And I. Look over at Jocelyn in the car. And I said, man, I wish I could get a hundred people to give me $50. She said why? I said, because that will be $5,000 a month. And if we could just find a hundred people on the plan at earth, out of all the 7 billion of us running around on this rock, that would be like 60 grand a year.
Like if we could do that, Man through the internet or something, we could quit our jobs when we could be self employed and we could have control of our lives. And she's like, well, we have a, how are you going to do that? And I don't know I'm working on it. Let me alone. And when I listened to this podcast, I happened to tune in to the one where Pat told his story of where he used to be an architect, lost his job, created a PDF study guide for a course and sold it for like 49 bucks.
And the first time he emailed it to his list, he made like $9,000 and I was on that lawnmower, bro. And I hit the brakes and I fish tail, not about drove off my Hill and killed myself. I was like, Oh my gosh. I was like, that's it. That's how you can get a hundred people to pay $50 a month to make $60,000 a year and become and stay self-employed.
You just sell things on the internet. You sell information, you sell community, you sell memberships, you sell. PDFs, you sell whatever, but you deliver it over the internet and they pay you through PayPal or, or whatever. Right. So I jump off fan and I run inside and I tell Jocelyn, I got it. I figured it out.
Finally, it's clicked, you know, she's over there making lunch and she's looking at me and I'm pouring sweat covered in grass and dirt and smell terrible. And, and I was like, I'm going to sell people emails. That's exactly how I said it. And she looked at me and she just squinted and she was like, could you finish smelling the grass?
We gotta eat lunch. So, so that's, that's what sent me down this rabbit hole, man, of trying to discover how to start an online business. How do you use the internet to leverage things? And that's what led to us starting our first couple of companies before we started flipped lifestyle.
Josiah Goff: [00:14:31] Oh, man. I need to pause just to like, let the, let the emotion out, dude, man, I admire you so much
Shane Sams: [00:14:39] for
Josiah Goff: [00:14:40] standing up for your family
Shane Sams: [00:14:44] and for
Josiah Goff: [00:14:45] making that tough decision to put the family first, because I know personally, I, I went through a similar situation, but not nearly as intense of just there comes a time where you you're faced with
Shane Sams: [00:14:58] two very clear options.
Josiah Goff: [00:15:00] And it can be super
Shane Sams: [00:15:02] scary.
Josiah Goff: [00:15:03] Yeah. But. You obviously pick the right one,
Shane Sams: [00:15:10] right? Right. Yeah. Yeah. It didn't work out in the beginning though. I was a miserable failure at this game, dude, like in the first three to five months I was trying it, you know? Cause I didn't know, it was so funny. Like it clicked with me. Like, Hey, if I sold a hundred of those for 50 bucks a month, I'd make 5,000 bucks.
Right? Like it clicked, but I didn't go that route. I started going down the rabbit hole and listening to every podcast and I got all these ideas and one gurus saying to make money this way. And one saying that, and I just got really overwhelmed and confused, and I started a couple blogs, man. And I, this was back when you could still really SEO.
This is before some of the biggest. Google slaps and stuff. And you know, so I was trying to write, like I started a dad blog called toddler apocalypse, where my son was getting into stuff and I, you know, you'd be, it'd be bust open the flower and you take the picture. And like, and I started like some sites around content.
Like I started a site called U S history worksheets was one of my first blogs where I would just. Share free worksheets. And now it's surrounded with Google and hope that someone would accidentally Lee click the Google ad and I could get some traffic and maybe do that. And plastered, Amazon affiliate links everywhere and all this.
And so like, I really went down the rabbit hole the wrong way. And man, I was making nothing. I mean, my wife was so mad at me for like three or four months, dude. I was learning WordPress and I wouldn't talk to her. And, um, Every minute of my life was on websites though. You know, people probably know that, you know, I bought like five domains.
Nobody didn't have $50 to buy them, you know? And she was mad at me and I, as I was going down this rabbit hole, I kept looking at my Google ad sense and I was like, Ooh, did I make money today? Nope. Oh, did I make money today? Nope. And it kinda got to, did I make any freaking money today? You know, like it kinda just got worse and worse.
And I got to the point where I almost quit back in like 2012, somewhere around June, maybe. July or somewhere like that, probably around June or may. I don't remember exactly the month, but I really felt depressed. I was like, man, this is not working either. I'm not good, good enough. Or those people are scamming me and it's not true.
Right. That's kind of how it felt. So one night I was laying there and it was about midnight. It was really, really late at night. Jocelyn was the bed, reading a book. The kids were asleep. And I was like in that ultra depressed computer mode, you know, like when you're laying flat on your back and your chin, like.
And your neck and you got the computer, like on your chest and you're like, huh? Laminate like a caveman, you know? And I was like, checking ad sense. And seeing if anybody had accidentally clicked the spammy link or whatever, you know, cause I was creating all this content and nobody was sending money back.
And I looked down and said, zero again, I just slammed my computer and tossed it off and walked into the bathroom, like to go to sleep or brush my teeth and get ready for bed. And I didn't even turn the light on pressed. I was like, I just walked in the bathroom, dark all. I got to Moonlight coming through the freaking blondes over the toilet.
And I'm like brushing my teeth in the dark. Right. And I got the light kind of barely coming in from Jocelyn's lamp over in the bedroom. And I looked at myself in the mirror and I just stopped brushing my teeth and I pulled, well, my toothbrush out and just started shaking my head. And I prayed, man. I prayed really hard.
I just thought God, is this real? Is that Pat Flint guy full of crap? Like, is any of this actually true? Cause man, I can't work any harder. I can't, I can't try any harder than I'm trying right now. I can't. So give me a son. I have been working for months and I haven't made a dime. I haven't made a penny. I ain't made nothing.
I've made no money. So tell me, give me a sign. If it's not true, give me a sign. I'll just go back to work. I'll put my 27 and a half years in. I'll suffer through bad bosses and job losses and I'll deal with it. But if it is true, give me hope, give me something to keep me moving forward. And I walked back in and I looked over at my wife and she was still reading her book and I was about to lay down and go to sleep.
And I reached down to move my computer where I left it on the bed. And then I said, you know what? I'm going to check one more time. Let me check one more time. I opened my computer and right there, you know, probably by this time it's 12, 15, 1230 in the night is really late. Hit refresh when the computer loaded back up.
And whereas zero had been there before there was 11 cents. I mean, there was 11 cents in my ad sense account, man. And I was like, It's true. I was like, Oh my God. I asked for it. I, and you gave me a dominant penny, like, Oh my goodness. Like I was like, there was 11 cents, like in this account right then, and there was not before.
Right. And I jumped up in the air and started screaming, hollering, like celebrating. And my wife's looking at me over a book like. Who are you? Why did I marry, you know, like that kind of spare you get from your wife sometimes. And I turned the computer around and I was in tears and I was like, look, I sent content out into the world and somebody somehow somewhere sent.
Money back. This is real. Like, this is really real. Like, and if it can be 11 cents, then it can be $11 or it can be $50 a month. And if we can find one person to do that, surely we can find a hundred people to do that. If you can find one, you could find a hundred, one, there's gotta be people out there. We just have to do this better.
And as I'm saying it, I kind of was like every note when he say something and you know, you're saying something that sounds totally ridiculous to your wife. And like, you're just waiting for the shut up or go to bed. You know what I mean? But Jocelyn's head kind of tilted and her eyes kind of opened up and then she kind of narrowed them and said, what else could we do?
And you know what I mean? And I was like, Oh, here we go. And we had a really good conversation that night, late into the morning and early, the next day we said, well, how does Flint or somebody else, how did they make 9,000? And I made 11, let's watch the magician's hands a little bit. And we kind of deconstructed all, they created a digital product.
I got it. Well, what can we create? Well, you're a football coach create playbooks. Oh, well, you're an elementary librarian. Create lesson plans. Ooh. On that note, you're a history teacher. You create some Muslim brands too. So that's what we started doing. We started blogging things. We knew blogging about areas of expertise, creating digital products and opt in and lead magnets to get a list growing.
And the ball rolled fast because I had spent six months learning how to do WordPress and all this stuff. I could build sites really fast. And like I could throw things up there to test new ideas, to all that work where I wasn't making anything really paid off because we could try two or three ideas really fast.
And we really weren't. Hard on Jocelyn's site because she started a Facebook page and really started getting some traction. She got other elementary librarians added elementary librarians, and her little list grew to about 200, a hundred, 250. And I said, Hey, do you think that people would buy these lesson plans from you?
She said, I don't know, but I don't want to make all these lesson plans for a year if no, one's going to buy them. And I say, well, Let's just make a sales page and not make them. And if anyone gives us money, we'll make them real fast. And she said, okay, so we made a sales page and we had a little list of about $250 and it was around July.
And she said, Hey, I've got an, a full month of lesson plans for August 20 days, four weeks. And this is what's inside it. She just positioned it like it was already made. Right. And she wrote down the list of everything that was. Doing it. And she emailed her list and said, here you go. And we just, I think we just send them to a PayPal button or something, dude, like first batch.
I'm pretty sure we emailed to each individual person. We didn't have like automated delivery and all that fancy stuff. Right. She sends out this email in July of 2012 to this little list of 200, 250 people. And we made over $2,500. In one email. And that was literally one of our salaries in a month. I mean, I'm a school teacher from Southeast Kentucky.
I don't make bank, you know, it's a good job. It's a great job. But like, man, come on. That's ridiculous. It was life changing. And then we said, Oh no, no, we have to make this. So then we spent the next three weeks making the lesson plans. Right. But then we looked up and it was coming up on September and we, they got their August lesson plans and we said, Hey, September lesson pack coming out.
And. We made over $3,000 and we went and then that cycle continued from September to October to November. And we're just, huh. Sale bake sale make sell, make, but the revenue keeps growing and it's like 3030 500, 4,005,000. And we're like, what is happening? And in may, I was kind of gung ho like let's quit our jobs.
And Jocelyn's like, this may not happen again. You know, like we were freaking out a little bit, but it was growing. And we said, okay, let's at least position ourselves where we can quit our jobs. So at that point we'd sold our house. We sold our house in may of 2013. To half our mortgage. I had this really nice, like I said earlier, I had a 2,400 square foot house above ground pool, nice neighborhood.
And we sold that house and we moved to a, kind of a smaller house in a, not as good of a part of town. I want a bad part down, but it wasn't as nice as this house was built in the thirties, in the seventies. And it still looked like the carpet, you know? So we moved into this house. And we downsized, which totally freed up a huge amount of money in our budget, gave us a lot more security.
And we said, Hey, at the end of 2013, 14 school year, we're going to try, quit our jobs. But then July of 2013 happened, we realized that we already had a year of lesson plans, but could sell the whole year at once. And then we could charge a lot for it. Right. We could, even if we wanted to set up a membership or we just got people to join and they paid us every month, so we wouldn't have to go through the sales cycle every 30 days.
Right. Like sell it once they pay you forever. And we started selling that. And in, in July of 2013, we made $15,000 on the internet. This is just one year after we launched our website. Then I launched my coaching program that made $7,500 out of the gate for football coaches. And then in August of 2013, we made $36,000.
I mean, we were just sitting there. I mean, we, I remember sitting stunned and not talking for like 10 minutes one day. And I looked over at Jocelyn. I said, if we can do this part time, We could do this full time. Well, what could happen if we put all of our time and energy in to this? And we went in, in September and in the same office that person told me, no, I turned in my letter of resignation and I said, we're quitting back on September 27th, 2013, we became self employed and we've never looked back.
We never looked back since then.
Josiah Goff: [00:25:08] How would you like to be the first to get your hands on the content marketing book of the year and learn the secret to great in content that fuels your business growth? My content heroes podcast grew my business and influence in my niche exponentially taking me from content here at a business hero in just 12 months.
And in this book, I'm sharing the lessons learned from 50 episodes and interviews with other business leaders
Shane Sams: [00:25:30] that use content to catapult
Josiah Goff: [00:25:32] them to influential leader status and their respective niches. So if you're serious about growing your business and influence in your niche, that head on over to content heroes.com/book and join the waitlist to be the first to get your hands on a copy once a day.
Again, that is content heroes.com/book. So I really, really want to dig into the membership sites and your, your approach to that because when you and I hung out that weekend, I went into the weekend with a lot of preconceived opinions about membership sites.
Shane Sams: [00:26:03] Most people do.
Josiah Goff: [00:26:04] And basically after spending 72 hours with you walked away, like
Shane Sams: [00:26:08] super pumped and fired up about a membership membership site.
Right. That's right. That's right. That's right.
Josiah Goff: [00:26:14] So I guess the first. Question I would have for you. The audience is probably wondering it's like, why would I go about starting a membership site rather than just selling like one off courses or one-off digital
Shane Sams: [00:26:28] products? Well, for one thing, it's a lot lower energy.
Like it's hard to sell expensive courses. Like it's hard to sell something for 500 a thousand. You've got to put a lot of work into it. You've got to live launch the launch. You've got a network and try to get affiliates. You've got to go out and do the live webinar because the evergreen doesn't convert as good.
Cause that's a lot of money for someone to part with on a recording. So the energy that's involved in it is one of the biggest things. Number two is. Content is everywhere. The world is oozing and dripping and content. And I hate to tell, well, I'll use special people out there that think you've created the next mouse trap.
Right. But whatever you are teaching, whatever you are talking about, whatever content you are creating is out there for free. Someone can go find it. And I don't like it to compete with free stuff. Right. The membership model, you sell it once people pay you every month and they get all your content, like content is the core content is like the heartbeat, right?
Content is what draws people in people come for courses, but they stay for people. They stay because someone hears them. They stay because someone's listening and someone's with them and they're not alone. So if you can wrap a community. A true membership community around your product. And you can lead that community.
That doesn't mean you're showing up every day. My wife and I put about 10 to 15 hours into our membership every single month. Right. And it's infinitely scalable because it's just people buying into this course community and member calls a couple of times a month or one time a month. Right. But if you can wrap community around your content, they'll stay forever because people don't leave their friends.
People don't leave their leaders who care about them, but they will leave content. And that's the big myth about memberships. I'll just do my courses and here in charge of subscription. No, that's a subscription. That's soulless, right? There's no power there, but if you can get some attention out in the marketplace and you can turn that attention into an audience, say with some content and you can turn that audience into a subscriber.
On your list or your podcast or somewhere else where they're really keeping up with you. And then you can get that subscriber to become what we want. Call a member like I'm going to join. I'm going to pay Shane and Jocelyn $79 a month. This is now on my place where I am a member, but then that's where most people stop.
You got to go one step farther and say, I'm going to turn my members. Into a community and I'm going to make sure that they know they're not alone and that we're here for them and we're going to invest in them. And they're going to invest back in us forever. Like that's the difference in a membership and you can build that around any product.
We've seen hundreds of different niches in our community over the flip, your life, community, everything from. Teachers selling lesson plans to a lady in North Dakota who shears sheep, and teaches people how to needle felt the wool into statues. And she made so much money doing that, that she bought an old school to have retreats where people fly to North Dakota to sow sheep shearing bull together.
Right. I got a backyard chicken guy in San Diego. Right. We got, I mean, nurses I've seen accountants do that. I mean, you credible. How you can really build community around content if you lead them. And like that, that's the power of the membership, man. It's low energy. You know, I get up every day and I do what content creators and what normal nine to fivers cannot do.
I can give myself a raise every day. If I go sell five new monthly members at $50 a month, I just gave myself a $250 a month. Right now you go do that with your boss. If you're a nine to five or out there, or if you're a content creator, Just randomly sell $250 worth of courses without doing a webinar and an email launch and all this nonsense ever go open and close your course and see how much money you make.
But I can stack every month. If I have a hundred members pay me $50 a month, I'm making you know, $5,000 a month. But what if at the end of this month, I add 20 members. I just gave myself a thousand dollar raise, what, a hundred more members. And I get the 200, I'm making 120 grand a year selling $50 memberships.
So it's low energy. It's easier. It's more fun. You get to think of promotional strategies and you don't have to open, close everything all the time. And there's not as much stress. And you don't have to realize so much on content. Like I've got the best content on the planet. No, you'd found someone, those exact same words, somewhere else for free on YouTube or their blog.
So that's the, really the key to it. And that's why we love it so much. You know, we were feast or famine there for the first year as we were selling these, it was hard. It was high energy. It really hurt. Like, I mean, you had to put so much effort and there was so much uncertainty in your stomach. Like, Oh my God, I hope they buy it next month.
Right. But when we switched to the membership model, it was like, wow, we opened our first membership. And I think we did $60,000, like in the first week or something. And that was like, that's recurring. They're going to pay again next month. You know what I mean? Like, so it's like, it's just so much easier.
It's so much more fun. And it's so much better for the balance in your life between work and family, that I would never, never do anything. But the membership model right now online,
Josiah Goff: [00:31:22] See that turns everything on its head of what I, like I mentioned, the preconceived notions coming into that conversation with you because in my head membership always felt like it was way more
Shane Sams: [00:31:34] work ways.
Cause
Josiah Goff: [00:31:35] I thought in my head, like I just have to create a course and then. People will buy it, but obviously that is not true. There's so much work after the course creation that goes into selling the course that most people don't consider. And so even if you create something that's a really valuable course, you have to figure out how to get people to find out about it.
And then you've got to figure out how to get people to no, like, and trust you. So that they'll trust you enough to actually like. Pay your money. And then you've got all of that and maintaining that whole system just for one sale. And so I, I love, I love that. I love this approach that you've taken to it.
So what do I need to know going into this too start and run a successful membership?
Shane Sams: [00:32:18] Sure. It's based on your public free message. Like, what's your mission? Like you have content heroes, podcast, you know what I'm saying? Like this is where it starts, you know? You have to have something out there in the world to create an audience.
Right. And you have to have a plan for getting attention. Do you know? I don't spend a dime on ads almost like we've just the eyes, everything we've done is grown organically just through creating blogs, creating podcasts, going on, guest appearances, like I'm doing right now. Like, you know, just putting in a little time, man, and getting a little attention and getting a little audience and then getting that audience to subscribe to your list.
That's the first thing, you know, like, but you heard what I just said. We had 250 people on our first list. And from that moment on, we never made than $2,500 from that little bitty baby list. Right? Because if I get 20 of those people to join my $50 membership, guess what? I've got a thousand dollars a month.
If I get 20 of them the next month, and my list grows to 300, now I've got 40 people paying me $50 in my right. So it stacks and it grows. So it's so much easier. You don't need as much attention and much audience, a bigger list to grow a membership. And the next thing you do is have to just like focus on the three pillars of any good membership.
The first one is a path or a blueprint. We call ours the flip, your life blueprint, and that's like the roadmap to success. Right. So the content that we do is not, we're going to make this content. You do exactly what we say. It's more like a strategic blueprint, and then you can ask questions under it, to fill in the gaps of your unique niche.
That's kind of how we teach. So you want to have that blueprint because you can curate content into a blueprint. And people can follow it. And that actually is proprietary. That is, this is my plan. This is how we do things. Not just here's my course on artist. Start a website. Right? Come on. Anybody can teach that, but it's your plan.
It's your thing. It's your organization. That's really, the structure is what you're selling. So you put your content into a structure and you sell that structure. You say, Hey, here is the blueprint. I'm your guide. I've got a Lander and we're going to walk down the gravel road together. I'm going to show you all the potholes and the snakes and where everything bad hides.
And I'm going to walk you straight to success. Right? So create a blueprint. For your people. That's the first thing you gotta do. Don't just tell a course. You want to sell a blueprint. If you go into our community, it says phase one, phase two, phase three, phase four, like it's a numbered, organized path, right?
If you go into my us history teacher website, where I sell lesson plans to teachers, you're going to see curriculum and maps and dates and times, and it says day one, teach this day to teach it's autopilot. Put them on autopilot. The second big pillar is community. You've got to figure out a way how to connect your people in your membership so that they have each other.
That's where the stress and pressure comes off of you. You can do that through Facebook groups, we do it in community forums. You can even do in your comment areas. You can do it with member calls, but you've got to connect your people to each other. That's when the magic happens is when you build community and then you've got to show up.
Like you do have to show up. You just don't have to show up as much as you do in the other kinds of businesses. I have two member calls a month for our people and we do that. They're an hour and a half each call, but I can have hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people in my membership and sure.
Twice that's a big deal. Right. We scale our leadership. We can have a team that we built or we can go in an hour a day and answer questions, right? There's not going to be that many. You can have a thousand people. You'll probably get 15 questions a day, right in your membership. So just show up. For your people.
If you can do that, if you can use all three of those pillars and you can take your structured curated content. And put it into a blueprint and then you can build the community around that process, not around the video, it's the process that you're selling. Right? And then you can unite that community together where they can talk each other.
Always let them have access to each other. Don't be the King on the Hill. We're sitting in a public square Knights of the round table. You just happened to be running the meeting. Okay. And then you can show up for your people. And that can be as little, I've got one member she's got like a $200 a month membership.
She only does a quarterly call. Right. She does one quarterly call because there's so much community built in. They talk to each other so much, she's scaled back to one, call a quarter. So there's so many ways to do that. But if you do those three things, those three pillars, curated content community. And you show up, you show up, be there, be present, be visible, not necessarily working 50 hours a week, then a membership conform around anything that you want to create.
Ah, I love that.
Josiah Goff: [00:36:31] So Shane, I'd love to dig into the growth strategy for membership sites. You mentioned that pretty much. Most of what you've done is organic growth. What are some of the main strategies that have really are tactics that have really made the biggest impact?
Shane Sams: [00:36:46] Sure. I mean, I think we look at everything kind of from, you know, we want to see the forest.
We don't just want to focus on the tree. You know, one tactic that might work for me won't work for you. It's just not, that's not the same thing. What works at for U S history teachers doesn't even closely work for flip your life, the flip lifestyle podcast, or the flip your life community. Just, it's not even the same thing, you know, like why build community.
Here's how I figured out how to build community for my history teachers. I didn't really want to talk to each other. They just wanted to hang out and laugh together because it's really stressful being a teacher and all that stuff. So we actually, all we do every day is share a meme and then we get hundreds of hundreds of likes and hearts and comments and all this stuff.
And we just share like a funny meme about teaching and that's literally how we built community and that whole business, like they don't talk to each other and forums and have their little Facebook group. We just go into the Facebook page and we say, all right. All our teachers that follow us and buy our lesson plans.
Here's something funny and they all laugh and they say, it's true. And they tag their friends. And so we built community that way to make them only love are, wow, these are really good lessons, but I can use to put my classroom on autopilot and go home at three o'clock and be with my kids, laugh every day with this community of other teachers, they get me.
Right. But that's okay. Tactic would never work for like a serious business, like flip your life where we're trying to help you change your family's future. Right. It's a different world, you know? So we focused on three strategic things, and this is in our core values of our company. This is something that we teach to all of our new employees.
This is something that we really stress inside the community. And really, I want to be successful not only in online business, but with memberships, you gotta do three things. You have to be consistent, prolific and relentless. Okay, so consistent for us, is that correct? Tent creation. And that really focuses.
It says a lot on the public side of things. Once you've got your curated path, once you've got your blueprint, you should create it in a way that's pretty evergreen got the stuff that you got to change all the time. Right? It may only be 80% of the actual path, but you're going to solve the 20% on member calls and in your community.
Right. But they want to focus on being consistent with your reach, consistent with your content. That's how you grow that attention into an audience. You know, if someone listens to us on content and then they come and listen to me on the flipped lifestyle podcast, but then I don't show up for them next week.
And not every Tuesday we have podcasts, but then next Tuesday, there's not one. My inconsistency will crush my audience. It will dissolve all of that attention that I came here to here. Right. So be consistent with your content, you know, do what you say you're going to do. And at least me creating content weekly.
I actually don't push people to do like daily content or twice, three times a week. Like one really quality podcast. Post YouTube video is probably yeah. Enough to put out in the marketplace because the second part is being prolific. You gotta promote your stuff. Every day, you know, we release a podcast on Tuesday, I've got a director of content and she makes a video every Monday, hyping that podcast.
And we release a version of that podcast on every social media. We can, we cut it down into a short episode. We pushed the link back to iTunes. We pushed that on Tuesday. Okay. Wednesday we share on all the other social media networks on Thursday. I email the list on Friday. We air another version of the podcast backstage issue, you know, that people can watch.
And then Saturday is just all out everything we can do. Twitter takeover to push links everywhere we can to get that one podcast it's promotion. You've gotta be prolific with your promotion, your daily promotion. If you're going to be yeah. Able to get some attention and turn it into an audience. And the next thing is to be relentless, especially in the beginning, when we say you've gotta be relentless, that's the sales part of it.
Right. You've got to sell every day. You've got to sell every PS. I email my list every, almost every single day. Right. People freak out. When I say that, they're like, well, I only say mine once a week. I'm like, no. Since 2015, I've averaged sending an email, but segment of my list, every 1.8 days broadcast y'all I ain't scheduling this stuff.
I'm rotten emails Monday through Friday. Well, it's on my mind and it always says PS joined the community, right? So like we're constantly being relentless in the sales part of our job, because I want to give myself a raise every day. I want to give my family a better future. You know, I want to leave an inheritance to my children's children.
I ain't got time to play. So you gotta be consistent once you're consistent, be prolific, once you're consistent and prolific, you've got to be relentless about following up with your people about getting in front of them more times, it takes seven times before anybody even remembers your name. Right.
Some of you listening right now are going to be like, I heard this country guy from Kentucky, but you ain't going to remember Shane Sams for another month and a half, unless you go join my email list that I email you every day. Right? So like you gotta be relentless in the sales part, relentless and the attention part, because it's a crowded space.
The world is a weird place right now. So much going on in the news. So many people online, you know, you gotta go out and you gotta be relentless with the people who do notice you so that you can follow up. Cause that's where the fortune is. It's in the followup. So. Really don't worry about necessarily what trick or tactic or fad.
I ain't never had a messenger bot. I ain't never had a Snapchat. I never, none, none of that stuff. Y'all I ain't never done none of that stuff. I've created consistent content for like eight years. I have prolifically promoted that content to the right people. Right dude. I used to lay in bed at night on Twitter and I would search football coach.
And then I would scroll through the accounts and look for it. Anyone that was standing next to a football player had coached in their name and I would follow them, send them a message. When they replied back, I'd send them a link to my playbook. That's relentless, that's prolific. Right. But if you're consistent, prolific and relentless, that's what will work.
Over time. And also too, one more, one more thing on this, pick a path, everything works. There's millionaires on Facebook ads. There's millionaires on YouTube ads. There's millionaires on Twitter ads. There's millionaire sending paper flyers to people. I have a paper newsletter. I have 16 pieces of paper. I send out every single month.
It costs $197 a month to get that paper newsletter. And I have people in 36 States and like eight countries that subscribed to it. Right. So anything will work. There's paper, millionaires, there's real estate millionaires or whatever. You're doing, whatever you're creating. If you are consistent with one thing and you are prolific by promoting that one thing, and you are relentless with your followup to those people who find your one thing, we'll eventually do it.
You will eventually make your money online. You'll become self employed.
Josiah Goff: [00:42:49] Consistent prolific,
Shane Sams: [00:42:51] relentless, relentless CPR, baby, got to pull up a life, get a brace in life. And that business will CPR consistent, prolific, relentless.
Josiah Goff: [00:42:58] Well, Shane, this has been absolutely fantastic. Always a pleasure before we hop off here.
Can you share with everyone where they can connect with you online?
Shane Sams: [00:43:07] Check out the flipped lifestyle podcast. That's FLI P P E D lifestyle podcast. Go subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts. We have new episodes every Tuesday, and we actually don't interview experts on our show. We bring real members from the flip your life community onto the show.
They ask us questions and we give them a live coaching call on the air, and we let you be a fly on the wall so that you can learn how to take your membership business to the next level as well. And if anybody out there would like to get started with memberships or online business, go to flipped.
Style.com/free. And you can try our course and our community and our member calls for 30 days. Absolutely. For free everything's open. We don't drip, any content, we don't hide anything that's access to every course, every member call and everything that we do inside the flip your life community. That's flipped lifestyle.com.
Slash free. We'll take care of you.
Josiah Goff: [00:43:54] Fantastic. Thanks so much for being on the show and to everyone out there listening. Go be a hero. Hey everyone. Thank you for listening to the content heroes podcast. I just wanted to take a second and let you know that we have some amazing guests planned for the coming weeks.
So if you haven't already go ahead and hit subscribe so you can make sure to catch every episode. And if you enjoyed today's episode, go ahead and leave a five star review to help make it easier for other content creators to find and enjoy the show. Lastly, I'd like to invite you. Are you to join our content heroes, Facebook community, where you can connect with other online content creators to share, learn, grow, and have fun to join the group.
Just visit content kiros.com/facebook. Once again, that is content heroes.com/facebook.

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