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Talking Memberships, Podcasts and the Power of Email with Ryan Carruthers

04/29/21 | Dana LaRieal Morales

Ryan Carruthers is the first male of the season on the podcast.  He is a Digital entrepreneur with a history of scaling and automating businesses.  He is currently working with course creators, bloggers and coaches to build, launch and scale their membership website.  During this episode, we talk about memberships, Facebook groups, podcasts and email.  A few things to know about Ryan is he loves peanut butter and his cats, Joshua and Lily, and he is scared of spiders.

Ryan is a digital entrepreneur and fell into the membership world many years ago.

Charged people 15 lb a month to be on his email list then he would send them information in a particular niche every single day that he researched.

He has always been entrepreneurial but digital marketing is an entirely different thing.  He loves it and helping people.  The membership he started and has done it for over 10 years.  He still has that membership but now he has a team that handles that.  Once we went into lockdown he built out Membership Mastery so he could help other people with their memberships.

Connect with Ryan

Email: ryan@themembershipmastery.com 

Lessons Learned with Ryan Carruthers

How and why did you make the decision to close your Facebook Group?   

I'm all about culture, it's really important and is key to your business.  It drives your business and where you want to go as an individual as well.  I decided to shut down the free group because I felt there was a little bit of a mismatch between the paid membership and that group as well.  I love talking and helping people, so if people asked a question I'd get sucked in and I'd help.  I was always creating content for that group plus my membership group and I felt like I was on a hamster wheel.  

I looked back at what I did with the previous membership and it wasn't sexy but it was simple.  We have a YouTube channel, a podcast, then we drive people to a page where they opt-in, we warm them up via emails and then we make an offer to them.  If they don't buy we ask them why and then they stay and we continue to give them really good content or they get off the list.  

As I began to get overwhelmed, I began really talking to the community.  I determined that people were finding me from the podcast.  So I doubled down on the podcast and email.  

The free group became a campground.  People don't want to join the membership and they just want to sit in the free group.  I put a post out there to say I'm thinking about closing this group, to see if I'd get more engagement.  Even though I knew it was closing, I posted it anyway to start a dialogue.  To those who responded to my post, I reached out to open conversations with them about the membership and/or podcast and email.

The audio element of Ryan's podcast meets the needs of his audience.  The decision and the movement to close actually gave him a sense of freedom and he was able to get new signups to the membership after making the decision.

So tell me about your podcasting experience and process

I got into podcasting a long time ago and I really loved it.  Even if people send me an email a lot of times they will get a video back because I'm not great at grammar.  I can get my personality across with my podcast more than I can with email.  I can also do something while I'm listening to it.  Podcasts are also something you choose to listen to.  Ultimately, you have the choice to give real value to your audience in that moment on the podcast.  They are a really great way to build connections.

As far as equipment, I have a blue yeti nano (sitting on the blue Yeti box), then I have a pair of Bose noise-canceling headphones.  I use the laptop to record and edit with Garage Band (loved how Ryan said this word) and I bought a royalty-free track off ThemeForest as my intro.  I used to use Anchor, but now I moved to Buzzsprout because I prefer their player and they allow you to do audio snippets.  Ultimately, I wanted to batch a lot of my content. 

So on the podcast, I help people grow, retain and engage their members.  My process allows me to batch an entire month of content on each topic.  Right now I want to get three months recorded so I have them all done for my new baby in April (obviously the baby has been born now, we pray everything went smoothly with the birth and that mommy and baby are doing well!).  My episodes are planned through Airtable (pretty much a sexy spreadsheet).  My advice is if you are thinking about doing a podcast, keep it simple.

The first podcast I did I just used my cell phone and the only reason I bought a mic is because I got a free gift voucher from Amazon and decided to get a mic with it.

What does your podcast distribution process look like?

I'm an email geek so when you download something from me I give you what you asked for and then the second email you get is pushing you to the podcast.  Every week on Friday I send you out a best of the week, and I promote the podcast.  I ask myself, if I have to stop you doing what you are doing to listen to this podcast, what would I tell you about this podcast, and I put it in the email.  

I've played around using ads with snippets but they do better with video.  I, however, put so much effort into my emails that it is what works for me.

As far as social media distribution, I have most of the social media accounts, but I don't use them.  I deleted IG from my phone, and I only really use FB for business.  If people are interested in reaching out to me they can find me with my name, but email is best.  I've come to realize that lots of different media come and go but your target market is pretty much on one site anyway so I am most focused on Facebook because that is where membership people live.  I'd ultimately much rather reach out to my audience via email and I want to provide value to them so they always open my emails.

If you understand your customer and you understand where they are, where you want to get them to, then email is just the bridge to get them there.  

My best performing emails are those where I just opened my phone and started typing like I'm talking to a friend.  Don't talk one way in your email and another in your videos/product.  Also, don't try to talk to everyone.  

When you are trying to talk to everybody, that's when you are trying to be perfect.  When you realize that a small group of people are where you should start anyway and get that right. All you are really doing is saying hey guys I'm Ryan...I've created this thing that I like and I've used and I think is really good.  I think you might like it. What do you think? and then if you get it wrong just ask them, why did I get that wrong, what about that was wrong...and keep going.

If you are struggling to identify your "avatar", just ask yourself, who are the people you actually enjoy speaking to. Usually, after you've spoken to that group of people you come away energized.  There's a reason for that.   Find more of those people.

When you find the right people, they will start marketing and spreading the word for you.

It makes writing your content and the words to use so much easier too.

What is your podcast and what is it about?

My podcast is The Membership Mastery.  On it I talk about memberships and everything that goes along with it.  It has evolved to be really for people who already have a membership and are looking to grow it.  My archives actually go into the how-to of building a membership site, so if you don't already have one they can help you, but I have moved more into helping people grow, engage and retain their memberships.