Tips for driving signups of free accounts to paid?

Hi MM Community -

I'm relatively new to running a membership service. So far my guitar lesson site -- -- has been pretty successful in getting people to signup for our basic membership (which is free). We've been getting 15-30 signups/day consistently for our first few weeks.

That said, we haven't had much luck converting our Basic members into Premium Members ($19/mo or $99/year).

My assumption is that we are either not making it clear why users should upgrade or we are giving too much content away, so people don't have a big enough incentive to pay for the rest of our content.

Anyone have advice on how to better incentivize users to start paying instead of just taking the freebies?


First, be patient. When we launched many years ago we had 300+ free subscribers to our industry-specific newsletter. We were cranking out a lot of great content each day. When we announced it would no longer be free and that the price would be $25 a month we lost 275 subscribers in our first month. But each month we grew a bit.

Also, be sure what you're selling is better than what's free. I know zip about guitars or instruments but if I were thinking of learning to play my first thought would be YouTube. So, what do you offer that YouTube creators don't?

On that note, are you putting some stuff on YouTube? It is, after all, the #2 search engine. Create a channel that builds credibility and trust and then give them a reason to visit your site and sign up.
Answer Hey Ben,
My biggest impression with your site is that you aren't really setting the expectation that "premium content = paid" anywhere.

Your home page is only pushing the Free membership.
Your home page slider for your "Main Features" has buttons that don't work.

My advice is this:
1.) Get rid of the sign-up form for the Free membership in your header. Instead, replace it with a button "Sign Up Here"
2.) Link up all the buttons on the Home page to go to your Pricing page.
3.) Your pricing comparison chart could be a lot stronger - it could better differentiate the Free vs. Paid options.

By doing these things you are letting them know right from the beginning that there is Paid content available.

I haven't seen inside your site, but you really want to tease them as much as possible if they are a Free member - tease them with related Premium content.

Right off the bat that is what I would suggest you try.

I am available for consultations, just check me out over at
Thanks Steve.

Good to hear that our problem isn't unusual.

I think that offer a higher quality product that is more comprehensive than what can be found on YouTube and we have some stuff on YT that serves as a marketing tool.

That said, I'm not sure if I need to focus my attention more on our onsite or offsite experience. One of my concerns is that people don't understand what the paid membership is for as opposed to deciding that they need to buy it .

Were there specific changes or tactics that you used other than regularly reaching out to your subscribers via email that helped you start to convert visitors into paying members?
I'd second the idea of adding, as part of the conversation, teasers to your premium content. Pre-selling is very powerful. Are you also emailing your members? Some people will check their email more often than they'll check a membership site. In your newsletter you can also mention some of the content that's available in the premium site, without being salesy - just as part of the conversation.
Hey! Nice looking site. I a agree with the comments that you cannot see any premium anywhere. My recommendations are as follows:

1) Remove the drop down menu from the main nav. This is great for now and if you are not going to add any more lessons then keep it, but you don't want it to be too long - maybe using something like Ubermenu perhaps. I would leave it and make them see ALL your lessons to see how big your site is
2) Make only some lessons free and have "FREE" label on some of the lesson boxes so they can see, or have a filter to display all free lessons. You can still have the content text for SEO but just block the video with teh smart tags and have an image saying this lesson is for paid customers for example
3) I wouldn't make the lessons open up in a new window
4) Maybe just have 1 course available for free which will require a signup. The"(FREE -- 6 Videos -- 9 Minutes)" made no sense to me. Maybe a different colour box for a free course/a sign up box for 1 free course only (not 4 free videos) so users can get an idea of what your site is like and that they have to pay for the rest.

This is just me thinking out loud as I was looking at your site.
I have the exact same scenario that you do with Most of our content is premium, and that's clear from the outset.

We get about 30 subscribers per day to our FREE product.

In exchange for people getting your free content, you're capturing their email as well.

If you aren't already taking email, specifically auto responders seriously, then you must do so right away. I'm assuming you're doing list capture already. It's pretty standard these days.

From there, things get REALLY fancy. You can do all sorts of amazing things with MemberMouse that you can't do anywhere else, i.e., sending script that can talk to Mailchimp and update your list on a continuous basis.

I have such a script that updates our user profiles on Mailchimp based on what products they're signed up for on MemberMouse.

This means I can send very specific targeted campaigns to these users. And, I can do so in an automated way.

Free doesn't mean you don't capture these people. But you DO need to communicate next steps, always. Email is still a super powerful platform to do that.

Benjamin, your site looks great.

I'm encouraged to hear that MemberMouse is helping you build your first level engagement.

In addition to the many great suggestions already offered, I would also suggest asking your growing base what value they're looking for (i.e. polling for their challenges and unmet needs).

In the competitive model, we craft our marketing and sales strategies behind closed doors and then try to rope customers in. In a co-creative model, you can partner with your would-be customers to offer something that makes your value clear and meets their otherwise unmet needs, without having to engage in head-to-head competition with what I can only imagine are hundreds of free and paid online resources for guitar lessons. In other words, get out of the commodity-game.

I would also look at where your prospects are coming from. Are you using SEO, SEM, social or some other means? What keywords are bringing them by? Not all site visitors or members are created equal. If you narrow your search terms, you might get less visitors and sign-ups but of a higher quality.

To your growing success.
Hey Ben,

Nice site! Looks good. Functions good. Gives value. Right now, it seems geared to getting freeloaders to sign up. My experience is that its really hard to get freeloaders to buy anything because they just don't care. All they want are the freebies and they wont do anything else... unless you slap them in the face with a killer offer.

Notice how I said "offer", not "product". They already know what the product is. They already know it can help them. But if you present them with a killer offer (which might just include a premium membership, exclusive bonus ebooks/reports, a monthly online group event where you teach everyone who attends something simple/special/advanced, a one-time 20-minute phone consult, and anything else that can obviously, blatantly and immediately increase the perceived value of the offer), you'll run a much better chance at making sales. Plus, you can charge more! But if you want to offer something cheaper, just remove some of those personal bonuses that you'd have to put face-time into.

To get things rolling, I'd recommend setting up a squeeze page for new freeloaders where they give you their email address in exchange for something of value. Perhaps 3 video lessons immediately on the ThankYou page. Then, as a bonus, you can send them an email with an unannounced video that you "happened to make because people wanted more". Then, because of "people going crazy over your last video", you start sending them emails about a "limited-time special offer" (remember the "offer" I just recommended earlier?) to really drive it home that they NEED to buy from you NOW or else they'll fail miserably at guitar and miss out on life-altering experiences.

As long as you're not pushing freeloaders to buy from you and not kicking them out after a while, they'll suck you dry. You'll have a membership site of over 10,000 freeloaders who don't do jack. With this in mind, a quick-fix to what you've already got going could be changing your "free membership" to a "14-day free trial" that starts autobilling every month for $8 an day 15. This will totally sift freeloaders out and generate more sales. They'll want to keep what they've already gotten from you, and if they don't pay $8, they're out.

Anyway, those are just some of my random thoughts. You've got an awesome product, but you're risking not making any money by letting the freeloaders take over. Keep them in control, or they'll control you and make you throw in the towel.
@Chris Palmer if you have a script that you would be willing to share/sell which gives that level of customisation between membermouse and mailchimp I would be grateful to hear from you! Thanks :)
Your annual membership says $99/month should it not be $99/Year
Hi Benjamin - how have things gone since you've implemented the great advice here? Sweet site, by the way, very nicely done.

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