The $300K Niche Membership Site with Ian McConnell

May 29, 2013 , 23 Comments

How lucrative is a niche market like “model trains” for someone who’s new to online marketing?

As Ian McConnell shares in this podcast episode, the answer is: VERY lucrative. At least, if you play your cards right.

Listen in and you’ll discover a brilliant traffic generation strategy that Ian used to drive the right kind of visitors to his offer. Plus, you’ll see how he built a very successful business in small, minimum-risk steps.

Podcast Video

[thrive_borderless type=’custom_code’]


Podcast Audio

Click here to download this epsiode in mp3 format.


Do you have questions or feedback on this episode? Let us know by leaving a comment!
Shane's Signature

About ​Shane Melaugh

I'm the founder of ActiveGrowth and Thrive Themes and over the last years, I've created and marketed a dozen different software, information and SaaS products. Apart from running my business, I spend most of my time reading, learning, developing skills and helping other people develop theirs. On ActiveGrowth, I want to help you become a better entrepreneur and product creator. Read more about my story here.

​Related Articles

  • Hey Shane, I just joined your e-mailing list and purchased hybrid-connector. I just stopped working for an employer to build my own business, and I just wanted to express my appreciation for your quality content. It helps to have direction in such a massive confusing web :p

  • Thanks for the post.
    One day,… I will be honored to be your guest.
    Lot’s of work till then.

    After this great video, I feel a bit out of line asking a question
    that doesn’t directly relate to it, but…

    I was wondering what is the audio player plugin you are using.
    I was struggling to fine one that works on all platforms, browsers, mobile and couldn’t so far.


    • I’d love to have you on. Make it happen. :)

      The plugin is called “audio player”. It’s very basic and gets the job done. I always also include a download link, so that all bases are covered.

  • Hey Shane, good stuff as usual. Just wanted to note that your social share buttons on the page itself have reverted to short code. Only noticed it when I went to tweet it.

    • Shortcodes + icons have left the building from where I’m standing!

  • What a breath of fresh air this interview is. I love Ian’s down-to-earth approach and real-world business sense.

    More interviews like this please!



  • PS One question for Ian: How come he sold such a successful business? Why not keep running it, or employ someone to run it?

    Seems like he would have made more money from annual sales than from the one-off sale of the business.

    thanks again,


    • Hi Leo,

      Great question and something we didn’t cover in the interview.

      When I sold the site I was effectively getting the next 2 years of profit upfront and I got all my time back. So, as long as I could build a new membership site, and have it make a similar monthly profit within 2 years, I would be in front.

      Now I can set up a new membership site (ready to take orders) within a week (I only need 1 month’s worth of content before opening the doors). So my business model is to build a membership site, get some good sales history (at least 2 years to maximise the sale price), sell it for 6 figures and then rinse and repeat.

      The lump sum payment every 2 or 3 years is VERY nice. It gives you great funding to hire top writers, copywriters, designers, etc. And it completely eliminates the boredom of being in one niche.

      I tried outsourcing but then I just became a manager of people and the time I was saving wasn’t worth it. I prefer just getting rid of the asset and starting with a clean slate… It makes it exciting!


  • Ian´s voice is a little bit weak. Next time, make sure the person you interview has his mic closer to his mouth.

    • Sorry Juan, the lapel mic was as close as I could get it.

      I might have to upgrade…


    • I think this might have been a GoToMeeting issue. Next time, I’ll try a different method for recording, to see if I can get better quality.

      • After reading the other comments I listened again and, although your voice is much clearer, I found Ian quite easy to understand. His voice certainly is a bit fuzzier compared to the sharpness of your voice, which I suspect is a tech issue.

        But I also wonder if there is a cross-cultural factor? I’m a Brit and find the Aussie/South African accent easy to listen to. Could it be that other cultures find it much harder to make out the words when spoken with that accent? Just a thought.

  • Have to say that my ears are not what they were and I often struggle to hear what peeps say. But had no problems at all listening to Ian. And I was doing yoga at the same time! :-)

    Could it be your audio settings, Juan?

  • Great info but wondered if you could go into detail on a further podcast about the technology used, which membership script you used and what you found good/bad. Also alternatives to clickback, I am going the clickbank route at present but I have heard several people say that many customers do like the payment interface and shy away from it.


    • Hi Paul,

      I go into great technical detail over at but basically I used WordPress with Wishlist, Aweber for the autoresponder and payment processing by Clickbank.

      When starting out you could just use an autoresponder with Paypal to test the idea. If it converts and looks like a winner then upgrade to a membership script with Clickbank or some other payment processing.


  • hmmm… must be my audio settings too.

    I too found it very difficult to hear what he is saying…
    though you sound perfectly clear Shane.

    I don’t know if it is the mic he used or perhaps his accent or both, but it definitely wasn’t a volume issue, cause I could turn my volume up while he was speaking and it really didn’t help.


  • Sorry Don, the Zimbabwean/Australian accent can be tough to understand at times.

    Maybe a good podcasting mic will help…


    • Thanks for participating and answering everyone’s questions, Ian! Much appreciated. :)

  • Great podcast.

    It just goes to show you that you can be profitable in any niche. you just have to work the right angle to make it successful.

    I thought this was pretty cool because I use to rock model trains a bit when I was younger. I never got into it in a crazy way, more dabbling.

    Having a business background sounded like it helped a lot. I’m working on developing my business experience now.


    • Thanks Iain,

      You probably could be profitable in any niche, but it’s the level of profit for the effort you put in that you should be focused on.

      The amount of effort required to sell the model train ebook on it’s own was about the same as the effort required to sell the membership.

      But, the average income of the ebook was $27, while the membership was about $129.00. Same effort required, but the return was about 377% more. That’s a BIG increase in hourly rate…

      Model trains is like IM… There is always new stuff to buy and there is always new stuff to learn. If you do the right thing for your customers (think Shane Melaugh) you will always have a great lifetime customer value.

      Business is SO much easier when you acquire and RETAIN customers.


      • That’s a really important point you made there Ian. Customer retention is more important the customer acquisition. Particularly in this case.

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

    ​Develop the Ultimate Entrepreneurial Superpower: Productivity!

    ​Countless "wantrepreneurs" fail to achieve their business goals - not because of a lack of knowledge, but because of a lack of productive, effective implementation. Don't be one of them.