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 Wednesday, July 23, 2014  
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Why I Created Memberstarô
 If you are thinking of starting a membership site or are currently running a site I think it is important to know how and why I created Memberstar™  .

It all started back in 1999 when I started a regular old fashioned print newsletter called The Business Fastlane. I researched and reported to my subscribers unusual business ideas and ways people were making money. It was an 8-10 page publication mailed out monthly.

I loved doing the research and the writing wasn't too bad but the fulfillment was a real drag. Ask anyone who has had to print, stuff, stamp and mail hundreds of 8-10 page newsletters month after month after month…how much fun it is. (not to mention the costs.)   In addition, do you know how much hassle it is to have subscribers in 5 different countries?  (some countries with as few as 1 or 2  subscribers?)  My wife and kids used to help me but I started to notice that when it got around the time of the month to fulfill the newsletter, my family would start avoiding me. 

I looked forward to the day when my subscriber base would grow to the point that I could farm out or have someone do all the fulfillment. This would have added to my costs but would have reduced my own manual labor.

During this time I found a story about a few people who were having success with websites that charged for access. It was a real novelty at the time since almost everyone else was giving away their information on free websites. (of course since then most of the free sites are out of business)  Since I was already taking subscriptions for my print newsletter online, the idea intrigued me. If I could put my newsletter online, I would eliminate my fulfillment hassles, reduce my costs and reach more people.

So in early 2001 I started to make the transition. First I looked for software that would make it easier. Since I had developed several websites by then I knew how much work it could be to build and maintain a website "manually", especially a site that would be full of changing content.

So I began the quest to find software that would make the job easier. I was disappointed in what I found. I found software that fit in 2 camps, low cost software that seemed to be written for hackers, only did part of the job, and was hard to use or complete software that ranged from $6,000 up and some even charged more if I exceeded a certain amount of members! 

Since I didn't have $6000- I started looking for a solution that would work. I'll spare you all the details but suffice it to say that I tried many different software scripts and services in my quest. My goal was to make it as easy as possible to build and manage my private membership/subscription website and take out the drudgery and "manual labor" of running it.

What I tried turned out to be a real nightmare. Even after spending months creating the website, I was still spending way too much time administering the site, adding new content, troubleshooting problems, etc.

Solutions that sounded like they would simplify things (like using a third party credit card processor) really didn't.

For example I found that when you involve several different pieces of software and different services you are much more likely to have problems. When problems did happen all the parties involved would say it was the other ones fault. In addition I found that when you use a 3rd party billing service you are totally at their mercy. They set the limits on how much, how little, or how often you could bill your subscribers. They kept your subscribers billing information so if you wanted to change services you couldn't (without asking your subscribers to re subscribe all over again).

Is that important? You bet it is. The 3rd party credit card processor I chose had a great reputation. However 6 months after I started using them, they were bought out by another company. Their service started going down hill from then on but they already had me "captive" since they had my customers billing information. If I would have changed companies and asked my subscribers to re subscribe again, I would have been lucky if 30% would have taken the time to do it. That's just human nature.

These 3rd party services were such big operations that if they changed something that affected you…well so what. Like the time my 3rd party  processors changed computer servers the day I went on vacation. No one could subscribe to my website until I came back from vacation, discovered the problem and notified them. (It was almost 2 weeks before it was corrected.) 

Note: At that time PayPal didn't allow recurring billing. Now they do and they have the low transaction fees for a 3rd party service. That's why we integrated our software to work with PayPal or your own merchant account.

Finally after almost pulling my hair out I decided I had 2 choices, throw in the towel or face the reality that the only way I was going to have an affordable way to build, manage and maintain a content driven membership/subscriber website was.to create it myself.

So I created a huge list of features that I wanted my dream software to have based on my frustrations and experience I encountered running my own membership website. Then I found an experienced, enthusiastic programming team to tackle the project.

Six months later Memberstar™ was born…the only affordable one stop solution for creating and managing subscription and paid membership websites created by someone who is running his own members site!

As soon as I started using it for my own website, I couldn't believe the difference. Using the built in templates I had a great looking website created in days…not weeks (without using any HTML programming.)  Adding content was a breeze. I just copied and pasted  articles from my old website. Adding the built in discussion board took about 5 minutes (versus hours or days installing a 3rd party board.) Adding more content was as simple as copying and pasting articles I wrote in MS Word or using the built in text editor.

Before Memberstar™ I wasted so much time managing my old pieced together system,  that I didn't spend nearly enough time doing the really important things, like marketing my site.  Within 3 weeks of changing to Memberstar™  I increased the number of my subscribers by 1/3 with almost no effort! Within a few months my  membership doubled and keeps on growing…all thanks to Memberstar™!

This is only the beginning. There will be many more features added to Memberstar™ in the future to make it even better.

So if you would like to start your own membership/subscriber website or convert your current one, I highly suggest you give Memberstar™ a closer look.

You won't be disappointed!

Ron Ruiz

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