20+ Year Membership Veteran Shares How to Build a Successful Membership Site or Online Course in 2023

Featuring Dobbin Buck - GetUWired Co-Founder & Memberium Certified Partner since 2016

In this video, you’ll hear from Dobbin Buck, co-owner of GetUWired – a full service agency and Memberium Certified Partner.

Dobbin doesn’t hold anything back as he shares his advice on starting and running a successful membership site or online course. Both beginners and seasoned membership site owners will glean something from this video.

You’ll learn about Dobbin’s approach to creating successful membership sites, emphasizing the importance of having a plan for traffic generation first. You’ll also hear about his favorite membership site he’s seen recently and why it stands out (read: things you should replicate today).

If you’re looking to take your membership site to the next level, be sure to check out this video and connect with Dobbin Buck on Instagram (@dobbin), Facebook, or through the contact form on GetUWired’s website: https://www.getuwired.com/

Check out GetUWired’s Certified Partner Listing Here

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Here are some key highlights from the interview:

2:30 – What is one of the best Membership sites you’ve seen?

It’s a site about RBT (Rubber Band Therapy). Teaching people how to exercise from home using resistance / rubber bands. He was doing exceedingly well pre-COVID but when the pandemic hit, his business completely blew up in a good way.

The secret to his site isn’t that he has the best rubber bands, it’s that he is prolific in creating content. Dobbin has watched this business grow from a side-hustle all the way to both the founder and his wife quitting their jobs to focus on the membership site business.

Dobbins would attribute all of that success to the way this membership site owner was able to gate content, target what people actually wanted to accomplish, and create content that actually gets people to make changes.

To clarify, he is matching up digital content with physical products. All of it being tailored to exactly where that member is in their exercise journey.

He is able to do this because he’s using a membership site with Memberium. The membership acts as a guide to show people only what they need at that moment.

8:00 – How to Combine Physical Goods with Digital Goods to Beat Out the Competition

Dobbin shares that this client sells both the rubber bands needed to do the exercises along with the actual training.

When someone purchases the bands, they get access to a set of content as part of that purchase for free. This gets them involved in the membership site.

As they progress, there is a continuity program or subscription tier that gives them access to more content on an ongoing basis.

Dobbin makes a point that this membership site owner really is focused on helping people as his primary goal with the monetary side being secondary to that. The physical bands he’s selling are really high quality and he wants them to last for people – not having a mindset of “how can I squeeze another dime out of these people” but genuinely trying to see how he can deliver more for them so they can see better, faster results.

He does this because he knows if he overdelivers, they’ll tell 5 of their friends.

13:30 – If you were just starting out, what would you do?

Dobbin’s approach would immediately start networking with people who have an audience. He goes on to say that he wouldn’t invest in anything without a plan for traffic generation.

Instead, he would rather partner with someone who already has the audience. This could be a joint venture, sponsorship, business partnership, etc.

So, the start would be making sure he’d actually have traffic to reach his MVP. Dobbin has seen so many times people who drop tons of money into building a membership site only for there to be no traffic making it to the site.

In his experience, “build it and they will come” hasn’t lived up to be true.

On creating an MVP (minimum viable product membership site), instead of building a huge, grand membership site, start with an extremely basic plan. Possibly even start with free content just to get people reliant on your content or teaching and then expand into paid coaching or content.

21:00 – Dobbin’s Advice for All Membership Site Owners: Optimization

Dobbin contends that he could take ANY business and find an area where a membership site could optimize their business. 

Whether it’s…

  • Classic membership site or online course
  • Using it internally for operations such as a team training portal
  • Hiring process
  • Welcoming clients
  • Tracking internally of employees
  • Educating clients on what you’re able to provide

Dobbin is working on building out an affiliate program for a client which falls into this.

He is using the membership site to build a portal for affiliates that is designed to actually motivate them and excite them to refer more business.

Compared to having just a super basic portal without much optimization, this takes it to the next level by having multiple tiers, all their links, images, and more.

But even more than just affiliates, Dobbin is talking about using a membership site to facilitate experiences like these for all types of interactions you have within your business (which includes traditional membership sites or online courses).

Full Video Transcript:

[Micah: 00:04]

Hey everybody, it’s Micah with Memberium and today we get to talk to a man who didn’t win this award because it didn’t exist, but he should have and it should have existed, and that is Dobbin Buck. He should have won Partner of the Decade from Keap. So if you don’t know who Dobbin is or Keap, you know, stay tuned, you’ll learn more about that but he’s been so influential in the Keap space. He and his company GetUWired. They’ve won many Partner of the Year awards and I’m sure all sorts of other awards, but he’s really just a solid guy, good guy. He’s been my very dear friend for over a decade, and I think he’s about to be one of your very good friends, so please welcome Mr. Snoop DOBB, aka the Dobbs, aka, the Fisher of Business, Mr. Dobbin Buck, thank you for joining us. 


[Dobbin: 00:46]

All right on, man, that’s the best yet. Thanks, Micah. Killer. 


[Micah: 00:52]

Yeah, man. Well, so you and I, you know, we’ve known each other a long time and I think I kind of get you, but I’m gonna give like a short sketch of kind of who you are a little bit, and then if you’ll add onto it, that’ll be great. So, Dobbin, he and his company, they’re in Georgia, so you know, he is got kind of the beard. Dobbin loves fishing but they build all sorts of projects for Keap, I’m sure for other systems. But, you know, he has coders, designers, all sorts of people. How many people are in your company now Dobbin? 


[Dobbin: 01:23]

I don’t know exactly, but I think it’s around 54-55, somewhere there. 


[Micah: 01:32]

Gotcha. So, um and you’ve been doing this, how long have you been with GetUWired? 


[Dobbin: 01:38]

Well, I was notified the other day that we’re like 20 years old now. So, Yeah, that’s a long journey, isn’t it?


[Micah: 01:51]

Yeah, but that’s cool because you have a lot of experience, a lot of knowledge. So, I wanna talk to you about kind of membership sites and courses, but from a little bit of a different angle because I know, you know so many of the big influencers and you kind of know what the launches are all about and all that kind of stuff but there’s also beginners, and I know you probably don’t deal with as much of them, so just try to, if you can, bridge the gap a little bit and we’ll shoot for somewhere in the middle. So my first question is, you know, what is one of the best membership sites you’ve seen and why? Like, what comes to mind when you think of, oh, that’s great, like a membership site or course?


[Dobbin: 02:31]

Well, I’m really fond of this one particular site, and it’s right in the middle where you asked me to be RBT. So we have a Memberium membership site that, is for rubber band therapy. Dave Schmitz is the influencer on that one. And so he’s the rubber band guy and he teaches people how to exercise using a variety of different strength rubber bands in the comforts of their own home and he was doing exceedingly well pre covid when Covid hit and everybody needed to exercise from home and I mean, everything blew up for this guy. I think he was trying to figure out how to get containers of rubber bands from Asia, because he was selling out a important factor in this is not that he does have great rubber bands, by the way, but he’s prolific in creating content and different routines and different methodology, and he has tons of free resources, video resources for people, and then also paid resources.


And so I’ve been able to see his business grow from, He and his wife leaving their jobs to begin this business to becoming an exceedingly successful brand with a huge following and I would personally attribute a great deal of that to the way that he has been able to gate leverage content, get content at the appropriate times in front of people with the appropriate bands, with the appropriate physiology of people and what they’re trying to accomplish with their bodies. And that really attends a lot to the way that we’re able to filter content inappropriate strategic manners to his audience. And to keep that stickiness and to keep people first of all on their exercise programs, keep them interested with new things and to help them to elevate into, you know, heightened levels of transactional relationships with him.


[Micah: 04:58]

You covered a lot of ground there, so let me try to restate it or at least a little bit of it. So, you’re talking about how he’s got the content game down, but he’s also got physical products and then he’s matching that stuff up with people based on them and where they’re at. How is he facilitating that much complexity? You know, how do you not make it over complex? 


[Dobbin: 05:25]

Well, within the context of the membership site, you’re actually able to do that. In other words, if you just tell someone, oh, go to my YouTube channel, and by the way, he has a great YouTube channel too, but you’ve got like 6 years of content there that you sort of have to wind your way through and find what you’re looking for ultimately within the context of the membership site, we’re able to break down, you know, different exercises for different parts of the body, for different types of strength, for different types of mobility, all of that to where really wherever you’re at in your exercise routine, that you can find your place within the context of that educational material.

So it’s really crucial. I couldn’t imagine. I mean, this guy has shot thousands of videos to like to try and wind your way through his content without a guide, and that’s really what the membership is. It’s a gated, structured strategic guide to help people. Then there’s also, you know, the gated aspect and different levels of membership within the site. But, it’s just been super successful. And you’re right, it’s interesting because it is the technology tethered to a physical product. It’s amazing. 


[Micah: 06:55]

It’s so cool. So I’m gonna take a simple guess at it and help me fill in some of the gaps. When a member signs up, do they take some sort of assessment? Do they take multiple assessments? Like how does the matching kind of take place from a user’s perspective? 


[Dobbin: 07:10]

There is an assessment, but there is, a lot of it is programmatic. In other words, it’s fed to them when they’re a new, you know, they’re getting in new to the programming that ultimately there is a, it’s not really a choose your own adventure, It’s guided to working because as you start doing exercises and I’m by, no, you can take one look at me, You can tell I’m not an expert at exercise here, but, it’s really, you can, there are different channels that you can go down for, you know, where you are, you know if you’re a senior citizen or you’re, you know, if you are, you know, depending on where you’re coming from. But he’s got it all dialed in. Like, this guy has really figured it out. Okay. 


[Micah: 08:00]

So they’re just like self-selecting, but it’s organized in such a way that they can end up where they want to be. 


[Dobbin: 08:07]

Yeah, you have to find your way. You’re going through programming and then at some point you can, you know, you can, you branch off into the areas that you want to focus on more.


[Micah: 08:19]

Gotcha. So in that situation, let’s, let’s say somebody does end up in the area they want to be in, and they’re, is it a membership, is it a course, like a one-time fee? Or is it a subscription? 


[Dobbin: 08:31]

Well, there is free, one thing he believes in is giving very powerful and useful free content because ultimately you’re making the investment in his physical product. So you’ve made an investment to have those rubber bands, to begin with. But then yes, then there is a tiered subscription approved that can occur after that. 


[Micah: 08:58]

Gotcha. That makes a lot of sense. In his case, especially with the content, he can beat out 

any just content person cuz he is selling the product. Right? His users just buy a certain number of bands and they’re done? Is there any sort of consumable, ongoing purchasing of the physical goods or is it just like an initial, Hey, you got your kit? 


[Dobbin: 09:18]

Well, there is a kit that you can buy that has multi, there are different thicknesses and strengths of the bands, and I believe there are several options there, but I think most people would buy them. He has a fancy bag that you put ’em all in and, you know, keeps ’em, keeps ’em organized. But probably if you’re working out, those rubber bands all the time, you know, you might find that you know, over a period of time that they get worn out. But I don’t think that’s where his mindset is. It isn’t like a disposable product. Like this is a high-quality rubber band that’s supposed to last a long time and really, I mean, this guy is just like a really genuine person that cares about people and cares about his clients and just wants them to see them have the best life that they can for himself. It’s not like, oh, where can I squeeze another dime out of these people? It’s not like that. It’s like, how can I give these people an amazing experience where they tell five of their friends about this American experience and they join in the party? 


[Micah: 10:28]

Gotcha. I’m trying to be too business technical here but so that’s kind of like, let’s call that the dream right? That probably most membership people have when they come in is something along the lines of what you just said. They’re gonna get this resonance with their market and they’re gonna over-deliver and people are gonna respond by buying their premium stuff. How often do you think that’s the case or when it’s not? What happened, you know, like if somebody’s trying to overdeliver and they’re not getting people to buy the premium end, you know, what would you tell them? 


[Dobbin: 11:06]

I would say reevaluate what you’re delivering and also pay close attention to your audience. Generally, if you’re that far off the mark to where you’re getting people in, and then ultimately you’re not getting a conversion to the premium offering. It’s really some strategic work that needs to be done on the messaging, the product, and how you’re moving people through there. It might need to put another step in the process to graduate them. There is any number of different things, cuz you asked a very simple question, but where my mind goes is that there could be a number of different answers, but to me, it would be to go back and reevaluate the customer journey, the messaging, and look very closely at the conversion data that you have.


So what was the, you know, what was the roadmap for the individuals that did graduate to the premium product? You know, what differentiates them and the data, and when I say data, I’m referring to, you know, in your CRM, the conversion data, the marketing data, you know, what was the lead source? Where did they, you know, what was their attribution coming into this? Where did they come from? And this is really important. What content did they absorb inside the membership site? Were they prolific in their absorption Of the educational material or were they dipping and dabbling all over the place? Were they following a prescribed plan or were they going off all roads within the system?

If we’re setting up our membership sites correctly, we should be getting a feedback loop on how people are consuming our educational or instructional material to the point that then we can use that as data to help define what cons, and what behavior constitutes conversion to premium. 


[Micah: 13:15]

Gotcha. And I love that I can throw challenging questions at you and get such good answers and not that my question was good, your answer was good cuz the question’s kind of vague and open and broad. Let’s take a little bit of a different direction for a minute. You are a fisherman, so let’s say you were gonna start a membership site all about fishing, right? And you’re gonna become the world’s foremost fishing expert. You’ve got all this experience and let’s put more to the scenario. Let’s say that like, okay, you have to start over, you’re broke and you know, you gotta make this thing successful, right? What are you gonna do? Like, are you gonna build a mini-course? Are you gonna go network with all the biggest fishing people? Like What’s the Dobbin approach with all your experience? 


[Dobbin: 14:00]

The Dobbin approach and you hit it there at the end, is that I would be networking with people, with an audience. So I’m assuming with your question that I am, I have a modest or small audience or no audience and I’m trying to break into this. So I generally don’t get into, I don’t invest into anything that I don’t have a plan for traffic generation and I will be the first person to tell you that I am not the, let me go throw a bunch of money onto Facebook ads and try and drive people to something. It’s just not my way and it. My clients do it. I’ve seen a lot of people do it. 


I’m more of a relationship person to where I want to partner with someone that has the ideal audience for my material, for my product, and convince them, you know, though, I maybe not have anything to show them, but you know, it’s a narrative form that, Hey, if I can put this together, if I can get this, you know, into some semblance of an MVP, then would you be interested in participating in this? And that could be in a joint venture, that could be in a sponsorship, that could be in a partnership, that could be in a, I just like you deal, you know? But structure is generally important because there are a lot of people out there that say, yeah man, I’d love to help you out and then cut them. When the rubber hits the road, you know, nothing’s happening.


So, I do like to approach a structure, but that is where I would begin, making sure that I had something to get off the ground with, because this is where I see and I wanna get back to MVP, but where I see a lot of great ideas not reach their potential or even begin to reach their potential is because people throw tons of money into developing an educational portal, whatever we want to call it, our membership site and then they’re sort of in this field of dreams mentality of build it and they will come. I’m here to tell you folks that has not been my experience, that we really need to plan for how we’re gonna drive people, how we’re gonna get people into it. We can make assumptions that the content’s gonna be great, the programming is gonna be great, and we can always start off something that’s not overcomplicated. Mvp, back to the MVP. I’ll be quiet for just one second cuz I’m getting old and I forget things. I see people coming in having a vision and they want to take every cent they have and build this grand vision from the start of a membership site and without the plan for, you know, the traffic without how to build up to that, and it really isn’t necessary.

Ultimately, I think that the more successful sites really start with a basic plan, get something up that they can get some traction enough to start marketing and generating interest in it. Then it could be free, it could be the non-transactional freemium version of getting people reliant on your voice and your education, and then expand them into the more grand paid, you know, paid version and then coaching and masterminding or whatever you wanna add onto the tail end of it. But I’ve seen way too many people going overboard. And you have a great, in-your-deck presentation on membership sites about the different levels of people coming into membership sites. And my project managers all have a screenshot from your presentation of that. And we have used that time and time again to say, let’s just tap the breaks for a second here. You aren’t ready for this. We need to start here. And we learned that from you. 


[Micah: 18:40]

Dude. I’m glad that was helpful. As you were talking, I’m like, yeah, yeah, I’m just nodding my head right along with you, everything you were saying, cuz I believe the same thing. You know, everybody does, just like you were saying, they overdo it and I wanna compliment you on when I threw this fishing question, you didn’t get lured in, pardon the pun, to like, oh, here’s how I would structure my content. And here, you know, I would make this course and that course and I love flight, you know. It was, Hey, where are we gonna get the audience from? And it almost sounds like you’re saying you would go in kind of n, maybe not fully negotiate, but at least do everything you can to rearrange all of that so that then when you’re making your course, you know exactly who it’s being sold to and how, you know that it’s gonna be worth it and so on, which I think is just genius. Once you say it, it makes perfect sense, right? In hindsight but I wouldn’t have expected that answer, you know, I haven’t gotten that answer from anyone. So yeah, like you know, the MVP side of it and then also the arranging the audience, I think if anybody has a shot at succeeding in a space, your approach is probably the best. Find an audience, arrange an MVP, and test it out. If you can’t sell, a good MVP to somebody else’s warm audience, you know, what are you gonna do? 


[Dobbin: 19:59]

Yeah, yeah. Exactly.


[Micah: 20:02]

So, all right, let’s change directions a little bit. Let’s talk for a second and I may end up only allowing certified partners to watch this part, but let, let’s talk a little bit about them.


[Micah: 20:29]

Well, we’ll stop the partner part right there. To get back to the wider audience, the bigger membership course audience any final thoughts for them? Like if you had a room full of ’em and you could get up and say whatever you want, what would it be?


[Dobbin: 20:51]

Since you and I were in Austin at an event, a single word has been echoing through my mind over and over again, and the word is optimization. And when I think about membership sites and all of the applications and how I’ve used them internally at my company and what I’ve done for my clients, it’s really boundless and so I could take any small business, any small business, and find an application to where a membership site could optimize their business, whether it’s on the operational side, the internal, the hiring, the training, the tracking internally of employees, whether it’s educating, you know, educating your clients, welcoming your clients, expanding your clients’ knowledge of your what you’re able to provide them. I mean, the list goes on and then into, you know, training courses and, you know, transactional types of systems. But it’s amazing. One thing that I was like, I’m really excited about, and I probably shouldn’t even talk about it, but you know, I can’t resist is I am doing this really advanced affiliate and referral partner system for somebody, and I’m embedding it into Memberium and if you pull all the data from your CRM system or if you’re collecting money from another system, you could pull it from there but ultimately, you can pull tons of data into a SQL database. You can manipulate it, you can do any sort of mathematic gymnastics that you want to it, and then you can send it over and display that data time-based however you want.


Broken down into multi-tier structures inside of Memberium and really give people an elegant, friendly experience that was designed to excite them, that was designed to motivate them, to refer more business, you know? And so with all the data, if you can pull it out and then deliver it into your member portal, your referral portal, your affiliate portal, which by the way also has all their swipe copy, their custom links, everything else that you need for them, all in one handy dandy spot. It’s like a match made in heaven. And I’ve seen, I’ve done this a bunch of times, reproducing, you know, a lot of the functions from that.

But what I’m talking about here is taking some things to the next level. With additional tiers and other things that, we’ve had to work into the formula and I’m just really excited about it. And I hear a lot of people, especially when you’re, if you’re dealing with influencers that are, need to send my, you know, they’re speaking from the stage, they need to send money here, they need to send money here for the people that are supporting them for their referral partners and everything. It can get really complex. So that is something that has been on my mind a lot that I’m really enthused about. 


[Micah: 24:42]

So that genuinely excites me because you know, those of you listening, if you remember back when Dobbin basically said he would go out and he would network, or he would find the audience or whatever, right? That’s what we’re talking about here. And when he talks about serving that experience on a silver platter, I would argue and have before that, giving your affiliates and referral partners a better experience is the highest point of leverage because they can bring you a thousand clients. Right? And of course, you want to create an amazing experience for your clients, but a lot of people, their affiliate experience sucks, you know, people try to get me to promote things and sometimes they do, but often it’s like, here’s your link and then you don’t know what happened or where, like you have to go hunt down everything and if I’m envisioning what you’re saying a little bit, It’s that the affiliate can go in and they can say, well, how much did I make this month or last week, or on this product, or get more specific Versus what normally comes along with a lot of systems is somewhat simplified data.


So I know, well you went out into, you used a bunch of technical words, right? And, but the win that Dobbin, I think is talking about if you get that nailed down is so big, you know, the, you can have your customers become affiliates, referral partners, whatever. You can go and recruit those people but having the experience to bring them into is what it’s all about. Even if you build a good relationship, if you don’t have that, I don’t know what you’d call it, experience, portal mechanism, it could easily fall down. And, I guess to try to put it more plainly, for those of you listening, cuz Dobbin, I know you know this, it’s that you wanna make it as easy and friendly and fun for them as possible because they could decide not to send your email. They could decide, you know, Hey, I’m just not feeling it and suddenly those thousand sales don’t appear. So anyways, I love it, Dobbin, and I’m hearing what you’re saying and I just wanted to re-emphasize it for people because that’s huge. 


[Dobbin: 26:50]

Yeah, the only limitation, you know, going back to the core of membership sites, you know, is just our own creativity because like I said, sales, operations, marketing, Education, it being the product itself. Every sector of our companies or our client’s companies can somehow benefit and give somebody along that journey wherever they are in that experience a better more useful time-saving, organized experience. And applies to employees too. When things are organized and they can go through, they can retrieve data from a knowledge base and an organized search bar where they can pull up, you know, it’s limitless. You can go into our knowledge base, you can’t, but my employees can and search for, you know, integrations between very strange things. And all of a sudden, you know, from two years ago, a developer entered in their notes about how they integrated software A with software C, you know, and that’s all in, that’s all in our knowledge portal. And it’s all built in a, you know, in that membership framework. So it’s really, really useful stuff. 


[Micah: 28:23]

Well, being that it is Valentine’s Day Dobbin, and you have shown the love to me and to our audience, how can people show you some love? How do people connect with you, with, GetUWired if they’re interested in talking to you or working with you?


[Dobbin: 28:39]

Sure. Well, as I may have mentioned earlier, I’m very easy to find personally, if you wanna see fishing pictures of me go to Instagram, I’m @Dobbin, I was an early adopter of Instagram, so I actually got my first name and you can message me there, you can message me on Facebook. You can go to the GetUWired website and fill out a contact form and say, Hey, I heard Dobbin on the, you know, talking with Micah Memberium. We’d love to connect with him. There my team will put you in touch with me and I’m not that difficult of a guy to get ahold of. And we’d love to help people with that. We’re a full-service marketing agency, so we love to help people with their automation, their web properties, their membership sites, API integrations between systems, advanced coding, you name it. My crazy crew does it. And for other partners of Memberium or Keap, a lot of you know me, but I’m always interested in sharing ideas, making friendships, potential joint ventures, and anything. Just hit me up and we’ll see what we can roll with. 


[Micah: 30:00]

Beautiful. Well Dobbin, thank you so much. 


[Dobbin: 30:01]

Thanks for having me, Micah. Always a pleasure. 


[Micah: 30:05]

Yes, sir.


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