How Esthetician Christine Byer Created a Paid Membership Site That Proves There’s Beauty in Community

Featured in this Story of Awesome:

Launched on a Mighty Network in June 2019, the Christine Byer Beauty Club is a paid membership site for both professional estheticians and beauty enthusiasts to learn about skin care and aging in a safe, science-based, and judgment-free space.

Christine’s Mighty Moment:
As women who want to age gracefully, and as estheticians who want to use science-based products and practices to get our clients the best results, there’s no better way for us to learn than from each others’ expertise and experiences.”

Christine Byer was flat-out exhausted.

The master esthetician had spent years working herself to the bone growing and managing her following on Facebook and YouTube, where she had been posting video tutorials about skin care and aging gracefully.

Although her YouTube tutorials had started out as a way for her to build her business, she discovered something surprising in the process. Social media was far from a community where her followers were able to get to know each other. In fact, the reason she was exhausted is that she was answering everything herself.

It wasn’t sustainable.

Gradually, she saw a need and opportunity to create a dedicated online community all her own. Could she build a safe, science-based community of women sharing their skin care stories and experiences as they navigated aging gracefully together?

Christine’s background made her the right person to fill this role. Her extensive training and thriving skin care practice offered a different point-of-view than many other makeup artists and product-junkie vloggers.

She was covering skin care topics they rarely addressed, like facial massage, facial muscle lifting, facial toning, and tools like microcurrent machines. She also set herself apart by emphasizing aging gracefully without resorting to fillers or plastic surgery:

“I had people from places like Australia who would watch the tutorials and write to me about using their own microcurrent machines (typically dug out from under their beds!) to get the same results I showed in my tutorials. Their responses definitely reinforced the feeling that I was onto something with this.”

Soon, Christine launched an online storeand had a healthy ecommerce business. From the way things were taking off, it seemed like she was living the social media dream.

But that’s not the way it felt.

While her audience was growing on YouTube and Facebook, she was worn out. She knew there had to be a better way to serve the women she wanted to support.

Building an Audience - But Lacking a Community

More than anything, Christine wanted to build a safe space for women to share their concerns about aging, as well as pool and share their expertise about what was working inside and out:

“I wanted to create a non-judgemental, open community where women could share what was working for them. It was critical for me that members felt safe, confident, and supported. Aging is a charged issue for so many of us. We needed a place to have a different kind of conversation.”

With YouTube, she realized that the only way for her audience to connect with each other was in the comments sections on her individual videos. YouTube’s setup also meant discussions became fractured, got lost, or were abandoned altogether as more videos were inevitably posted.

The interface simply wasn’t built for meaningful conversations to evolve.

Over in her Facebook group, things weren’t much better. Keeping conversations among her 900-plus members focused and on topic was proving to be a major timesuck.

To top it off, she was giving away her professional expertise for free:

“My business manager Kathy has always said, ‘Value yourself. You are giving away the farm in this Facebook group, and you're running yourself ragged trying to keep up with every single post and comment.’ She was right. I was putting in too much work to maintain each audience on each platform. And I wasn’t seeing a dime from it.”

It was Kathy who provided the idea for Christine’s next—and biggest—step yet.

From Free Tutorials to a Paid Membership Site

Kathy had begun using Mighty Networks with previous clients years before and knew it potentially offered Christine the platform she was looking for.

A Mighty Network would exist away from the noise of social media’s latest click-bait skin care headline and would create a safe space for Christine to share with her members and, even more importantly, for these women to share with each other their experiences embracing science-backed beauty.

With a membership site that subscribers paid to access, Christine could continue to educate them on all things skin care and esthetics through her tutorials, which would feature the products Christine trusted as a professional and sold in her online store. Plus, for the first time, they’d meet each other.

But there was one obstacle they couldn’t ignore. A survey in Christine’s Facebook group indicated that the overwhelming majority of them weren’t willing to pay for the content—not after getting it for free for so long.

Christine and Kathy knew that the key to transforming those followers into paid subscribers was figuring out how to differentiate what they were offering as a paid subscription from what Christine had previously given away for free.

They decided to keep things simple by pricing membership fees the same for both estheticians and laypeople. They would offer a subscription for $9.99 per month or $89.99 for the year to the Christine Beyer Beauty Club that would include:

  • Exclusive new videos and tutorials with Christine’s expert science-based techniques, tips, and recommendations
  • Topic areas where subscribers can pool expertise, share recommendations, and trade tips
  • An esthetician-only section for pros to connect, swap information, and share ideas
  • Invites to “Ask Me Anything”-style live video chats with Christine
  • Sales on products and tools at Christine’s online store
  • Access to an organized archive of hundreds of Christine’s videos, featuring how-tos for tools plus tips on skin care and age gracefully

Quality, Not Quantity: Finding the Right Members for The Beauty Club

As in any large Facebook group like Christine’s, there were a subset of members who were the most active. In making the leap to a paid membership site, Christine was realistic about who would be willing to join:

“Our members love that they have all the resources I’ve created in one place, but there’s more. Our Mighty Network has a personal dynamic to it that just wasn’t there in our Facebook group.”

Within two weeks of the Christine Byer Beauty Club’s launch, 175 members had bought a subscription.

Christine and Kathy had set up a promotion where anyone coming from the Facebook group would receive 30 days free (the free trial period is now two weeks). Christine trusted that members would see the value in the club, and she was right.

The site quickly hit 200 members, and the numbers haven’t dipped since. Christine’s Beauty Club is currently at 355 paying members and counting, with one-third of members buying the annual pass:

“It's like taking your best clients and putting them in a group where you can talk directly to them—and they’re able to talk to each other and share their expertise, too. It's bliss. I love it.”

Kathy puts out a monthly newsletter, available to customers who have purchased a product from Christine Byer Esthetics, which also drives subscribers to their membership site. One of its sections, “Highlights of the Club,” promotes the benefits of signing up: the ability to take part in valuable conversations, information about the next live Q&A, sale, or a contest:

“They see there's relevant, important stuff going on in the Christine Byer Beauty Club that makes it well worth paying for. It’s also exclusive. They can’t get the same fantastic information and connections by just following along on Facebook or a YouTube channel.”

Creating a Warm and Welcoming Community For Ageless Beauty

One thing that Christine and Kathy didn’t expect is how well their new membership site would bring her different audiences together under one roof. It’s been an area where their Mighty Network has truly delivered. With a community that involves women of all ages, estheticians and laypeople, they have been able to give people their own spaces while also creating common areas for members to gather and share their expertise:

“One thing the estheticians who subscribe really love is the separate group within our membership site that’s just for them. They needed their own space to ask pro-level questions without alienating the general members, and they can also ask me their super-detailed questions and connect with each other during live Q&As I host just for them. It’s working beautifully.”

Thanks to their Mighty Network’s polls and questions feature, Christine can also listen to different groups of subscribers—whether estheticians or laypeople—to create content about the exact topics with the exact information they’re looking for.

Because Christine’s beauty tutorials tackle aging—and therefore appeal to women across a wide range of years—she and Kathy also made it a point to use features to help older customers easily navigate their Mighty Network.

Kathy sends new members personalized emails to say hello and show them how to find their way around. Another feature that’s proved popular is the Discovery page, where customers can find tips on how to navigate content in the “Welcome” section, then go immediately to featured videos:

“Our Mighty Network’s features have allowed us to tailor our content for each section of our community and lead people to content we think they’ll love in a way we couldn’t have done on any other platform.

People get excited when they find content that resonates with them, and we love it when we see them post about videos they’ve seen on the site or talk about how well a certain technique has worked for them. ”

Content is Great, But It’s About Connecting Women to Each Other

Within the Christine Byer Beauty Club, conversations unfold with the ease of friends swapping their favorite tricks, and Christine drops in from time to time too:

“Conversations on our Mighty Network are evolving in some pretty unique ways across the activity feed and our different groups. Sure, we provide the content, but our subscribers have made this the community it is.”

Christine’s Mighty Network also lets them reward and motivate the subscribers who contribute the most. Kathy uses the analytics feature to identify the community’s 10 most-engaged subscribers each month and does a drawing for one of them to win a free consultation with Christine. In other contests, members have shared the victories they’ve achieved through the knowledge they’ve gained from Christine’s tutorials or from other users—like before-and-after pictures of stubborn fine lines they’ve finally gotten rid of:

“Our site has a one-two punch for estheticians and anyone interested in taking care of their skin as they age: Not only do we gather all the science-backed resources they need in one place, but we’ve created a sacred space on the Internet where subscribers genuinely feel free to ask the questions and get the information they need.”

The Numbers Don’t Lie and Integrations Make Things Easy

The numbers speak to Christine’s success. The club has an 85% return rate and a 76% retention rate. Her newsletter has an open rate of 40%, and the mailing list—an additional revenue generator—has doubled to more than 4,000 subscribers.

Plus, even as the business is growing at a healthy pace, the work to manage what she’s built isn’t growing at the same rate. Thanks to the integrations available on their Mighty Network, it’s been easy to connect to the blog on WordPress, the store on Shopify, and the newsletter on MailChimp.

Christine’s membership site on a Mighty Network is the heart and soul of her large business, giving both her and Kathy the energy, creativity, and inspiration to grow the science-backed beauty community she always envisioned for both women and professionals:

“As women who want to age gracefully, and as estheticians who embrace the concept of science-backed, ageless beauty, there’s no better way for us to learn than from each other. A space like this couldn’t exist anywhere else—and because we can all candidly share our expertise, our collective knowledge base gets stronger and stronger with every subscriber who joins.”

3 Key Takeaways From Christine’s Story of Awesome:

  1. Don’t be afraid to monetize content you’ve offered for free—loyal fans will follow. Although a survey said most of her followers didn’t want to start paying for content, Christine had faith that if she differentiated her offering in terms of quality of the experience, privacy, and the ability to make real connections, that her loyal fans would come along–and they did.
  2. Recognize your niche—and stake your claim.Christine was able to build an audience early and quickly because she expertly focused on science-backed beauty and aging. As a result, she quickly became a unique, trusted resource for women hungry for the information she had.
  3. Uniting different audiences in the same space can enhance, not detract, from the overall community. By creating a club where pros and laypeople benefit from sharing conversations and ideas with each other, as well as a separate group within it just for pros to connect, each segment of Christine’s subscribers has the info it needs—and can learn from others’ experiences.

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