Why We’re Not Playing The Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) Game Any Longer

Wandering Aimfully Through Creative Business

Why We’re Not Playing The Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) Game Any Longer

We wanted to play the monthly recurring revenue (MRR) game like everyone else, but we’re not like everyone else.
Jason ZookJason Zook Jason ZookJason Zook

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Jason Zook

After 12 months of trial and error, we’re switching our Wandering Aimfully Monthly Membership ($100 per month, ongoing) to Wandering Aimfully Lifetime Membership ($2,000 total, never pay us again… ever).

Let’s back up for just a moment and talk about where our monthly recurring revenue (MRR) journey began…

In October of 2017, we had a 3+ hour meeting where we brainstormed what would eventually become Wandering Aimfully. The two biggest parts of that brainstorming session were 1) combining our previous businesses together into one entity with an ethos you could get behind and 2) moving to a monthly membership (MRR) model and away from selling individual products.

2017 Initial Wandering Aimfully Planning Meeting

We whiteboard’ed the heck out of that whiteboard!

You may already know how #1 (ethos) turned out since you’re reading this! If you don’t, feel free to check out our About page.

For #2 (membership model), we wanted to move from selling individual digital products to a membership model. We’d experimented with this in 2015-2016 as BuyMyFuture and in 2016-2018 with BuyOurFuture. With Wandering Aimfully, we wanted to try to capture more consistent and predictable monthly income (the coveted, MRR).

We’ve learned A TON these past 12 months building, selling, and running a monthly membership community but something just never felt quite right.

Selling our Wandering Aimfully Membership as an ongoing monthly membership product was a great experiment. And, all things considered, we DID grow our MRR from $0 per month in May 2018 to ~$9,000 per month in May 2019 (not bad, at all).

Wandering Aimfully MRR

However, a monthly membership model, one where customers have to think about committing to pay each month, in perpetuity, is a BIG ask. And as we saw over the course of 12 months, a high percentage of our monthly members didn’t want to be paying us monthly forever.

Over a 12-month period, we sold 146 Wandering Aimfully Monthly Memberships but ended up losing 45 of those paying members. That’s a 31% membership churn, which isn’t good.

If you want to dive deep into the last 12 months of our business and our MRR adventures, feel free to read our extremely detailed “Journey to 330” post.

 


Where MRR is Concerned, 4% “Churn” is WAY Better Than 31% Churn

It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, but when we sold our BuyMyFuture and BuyOurFuture products, we only lost 4% of our customers (using a lifetime pricing model). That 27% difference was enough to get us to take a hard look at continuing to use a monthly membership model or to switch Wandering Aimfully over to a lifetime pricing model.

If we look at the average value of a lifetime pricing customer (BuyMyFuture or BuyOurFuture) it’s $1,500 per person.

If we look at the average value of a monthly membership customer (Wandering Aimfully the past 12 months), the maximum total value per member could only have been as high as $1,000.

The final comparison for the financial side of monthly memberships versus our lifetime membership model:

When we compared our monthly vs lifetime membership, the numbers were pretty damn clear.

The huge caveat here is that we don’t have 30 months of monthly membership data to compare with. That being said, we don’t need the full 30 months to make the right decision for us (we know what data we have NOW and aren’t interested in waiting around any longer to make a change).

The MRR and ARR numbers speak for themselves but when I broke down the customers acquired per month to reach each set of numbers it’s pretty incredible that it’s only a difference of TWO customers! Only needing two more customers to have 4x the MRR?? That’s crazy!

Aside from the stark financial differences, there are also some emotional and time-investment differences we had to consider.

We’re 100% aware of the fact that this comparison isn’t perfect but it was enough data to show us the writing on the wall. Plus, there’s a whole other side of this equation.

The emotional aspect of what you sell.

When we sold our BuyMy/BuyOurFuture product with lifetime pricing I knew the person buying that product was committed to us. They were essentially raising their hand and saying, “YES! I believe in you Zooks… for life! 🙋🏻‍♀️”

When we sold our WAIM monthly memberships these past 12 months it felt more like, “Yes, I believe in you Zooks, but it’s probably temporary. 🤷🏻‍♂️” We absolutely LOVE our monthly members but there’s a certain reality based on the data and the high churn percentage.

Just that emotional shift alone was a factor worth exploring when it came to the idea of switching from monthly to lifetime pricing.

How much time were we spending each month to acquire AND retain customers?

This was another big AH-HA moment when trying to decide to switch from monthly to lifetime pricing.

Because our cancelation rate was so low with our BuyMy/BuyOurFuture products, we had to spend a lot less time focused on retaining customers. We didn’t have to prove our value every month to a customer who was committing for life.

As opposed to our monthly membership customer, with each month they had to evaluate if the membership was still worth paying for. At the same time, we felt a bit like we were on a never-ending hamster wheel of content and product creation to retain our monthly customers.

The Zooks!

Basically, us.

Keeping up with MRR is a royal pain in the ass when you’re selling something like a membership community and a suite of tools. It’s not a utility like, say, a software product is. It’s harder for someone to convince themselves to continue to pay monthly forever. Meaning, you have to spend a lot more time trying to keep someone a paying subscriber when they can’t see the immediate monthly value.

 


How Our Lifetime Pricing Will Work Moving Forward…

Starting May 2019 we are switching our monthly membership to a lifetime membership offer. The total investment for a Wandering Aimfully Lifetime Membership is $2,000.

Our customers get to decide how they want to pay for that membership. We offer a flexible monthly pricing plan ($100) or a buy-it-now option ($2,000).

Wandering Aimfully Lifetime Membership Pricing

We do not penalize people and charge you more if someone wants to pay via monthly payments. We also aren’t playing any psychological pricing games charging $99/month or $1,999 dollars.

How our Wandering Aimfully Lifetime Membership is different is that once you hit $2,000 you NEVER PAY US AGAIN. Ever. You will continue to get everything we make in the future at no extra cost. Be that in two years or 10 years, you’ll continue to get value from us… forever!

You get maximum value from us and we don’t have to continue thinking about monthly payments from you.

Our lifetime pricing model is still MRR, it’s just a defined lifetime value (LTV).

This is a bit of a tomato/tom-ah-to situation. As we outlined in the comparison above of the lifetime membership versus monthly membership, the revenue we generate still comes in on a monthly basis.

The big shift with our lifetime pricing model is that the lifetime value of a customer’s MRR is defined: It’s 20 months ($2,000). As opposed to our monthly membership which was indefinite and solely based on the customer’s decision to stay subscribed. This graph shows our average customer lifetime value (LTV) for the past 12 months:

Wandering Aimfully Member Lifetime Value

Aren’t beautiful charts just great?

We should be able to increase our average customer LTV by 44% by switching to lifetime pricing!

Anytime you can see an increase of 44% in business, you take it! If every member we sign up from this point forward has a lifetime value of $2,000, as opposed to $1,277, it’s a WIN.

What do we need to change and how are we going to sell our lifetime membership?

In the grand scheme of things, there wasn’t a TON of stuff for us to change:

  1. We’ve updated the copy and positioning on our sales page
  2. We’ve updated the copy on our post-checkout pages
  3. We’ve updated the copy in our 8-email onboarding sequence for new customers
  4. We’ve reworded our $100 per month pricing plan to explain when it stops
  5. We’ve switched our Annual Plan to a Buy-It-Now Plan ($2,000)
  6. We’ve let all our existing monthly members know we’re switching

The biggest change moving forward will be how we sell the Wandering Aimfully Lifetime Membership.

For the next 12 months, we’ll use a hybrid selling strategy of what we’ve been doing and what worked during the BuyMy/BuyOurFuture timeline (read: bi-annual launches in Spring and Fall).

I talk about this hybrid marketing and selling strategy starting at the 21:28 mark in this unedited meeting we recorded:

 
We’re going to continue using content creation as our main form of marketing. Our podcast, YouTube videos, Instagram updates, helpful articles, and hopefully some fun and weird stuff scattered in the mix.

 


Is A Wandering Aimfully Lifetime Membership Right For YOU?

Now that we’ve broken down the changes to our business model it’s a good time to see if this fancy Wandering Aimfully Lifetime Membership is the right fit for you, dear reader!

Is your answer YESSS to any of the following questions:

  1. Do you want more freedom and flexibility in your work life?
  2. Do you want to put systems in place now that can benefit your business in the future?
  3. Do you want to spend less time working with clients and shift to digital products (courses, et al)?
  4. Do you wish you had a group of like-minded people to share the ups and downs with?
  5. Do you want to invest in yourself and your business (you know you can’t teach yourself everything)?
  6. Do you see us as two people who run their lives and businesses in a way you want?
  7. You are NOT afraid of putting in some elbow-grease and having an experimenter’s mindset?

If you read through those and were physically nodding your head up and down, then we believe a Wandering Aimfully Lifetime Membership is right for you!

We’ve been at this entrepreneurial game for many years and if there’s one thing we’ve realized, it’s that we’re better together. And while you may think that just means us (Caroline and Jason), we actually mean we’re better together with YOU.

Running your own business is hard.
Creating your first product is hard.
Getting your first customer is hard.
Recording your first podcast episode is hard.
Sharing your art for the first time is hard.
Getting out of debt is hard.
Building systems and processes that continue to work for you is hard!

So many other things that have to do with owning your own business and generating revenue from your creative skills are just plain difficult to do alone.

But, you don’t have to do those things alone anymore. Whether you’re at the very beginning of your own entrepreneurial journey, or you simply want to start doing something with all that creative energy and all those ideas swirling around in your head, Wandering Aimfully is here to help.

Wandering Aimfully Lifetime Membership

We know it’s not easy making a living from your creativity.

If it was, not a single person would sit in traffic commuting to a soulless job. We’ve been there. We remember what is was like to spend hours in a car every day before podcasts existed (!), and constantly wonder if there was a way out of the grind of the 9-5 world.

We want to help you on your journey because we’ve been in your shoes (whether they’re loafers, dress shoes, or fancy heels – although, Jason is going to struggle big time in those heels).

We know what it feels like to want to chase a big dream. We remember feeling like we were meant to do something bigger than what a “normal” job had to offer.

It can feel damn lonely trying to chase your dreams. Your friends don’t get it. Your family thinks you’re crazy. Everyone you follow on social media is already succeeding and you feel completely stuck at the starting blocks.

That’s where we come in. That’s what we’ve spent the past 5+ years figuring out and working directly with thousands of creative folks just like you who want something more out of life (especially your work-life).

The Wandering Aimfully Lifetime Membership was created to help you earn more, so you can live more. Plain and simple we want to give you all the products, services, and knowledge you need to overcome any challenges that stand in your way. And most importantly, you’re joining a group of 500+ like-minded creative folks who are also on their own journeys. Oh, and we’re also in the Wandering Aimfully Lifetime Membership community, you know, if you enjoy chatting with us.

The Wandering Aimfully Lifetime Membership will help you:

LEARN

Learn everything you need to earn more with your talents including selling, business basics, branding, art, podcasting, writing, audience building, website design and more. These aren’t secondhand theories we read on other people’s blogs. We give you our real-world experience, lessons learned, and practical steps you can take right now to cultivate a wide skill set and avoid common mistakes. And as we create more resources, workshops, courses, etc in the future, you get those included and will never pay for them!

BUILD

Knowledge is one thing, but it’s what you DO with that knowledge that counts. We’re ALL about taking action within Wandering Aimfully. You’ll take what you learn in our courses and video workshops and put them into practice with a suite of software products and step-by-step interactive roadmaps that will cut down on overwhelm and give you the clarity you need to start making real strides in your creative business. Included in your Lifetime Membership is a lifetime account to Teachery, the online course building software Jason created (which is $49/mo by itself!)

CONNECT

Want an accountability partner? Looking for someone who has experience with a problem you’re facing? This established community of amazing creative humans has your back. Think of Wandering Aimfully as group coaching, without all the pressure. Support and connection is the final piece of the entrepreneurial puzzle that will help you stay motivated and inspired to reach your business and life goals. That also means direct access to us whenever you need it, along with monthly live calls and behind the scenes videos.

One of the best parts about the Wandering Aimfully Lifetime Membership is that it’s not some shiny, new, unproven product. Since 2015 this creative community has evolved and grown. What started as BuyMyFuture, then turned into BuyOurFuture, is now the Wandering Aimfully Lifetime Membership and we want you to be part of it!
 


 
 

Why We’re Not Playing The Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) Game Any Longer

(Big Fat Takeaway)

We wanted to play the monthly recurring revenue (MRR) game like everyone else, but we’re not like everyone else.

IT IT

This article written by

Jason Zook

Co-head-hancho of this Wandering Aimfully thing. I used to wear t-shirts for a living, now I just wear them because I'm not a nudist. You can usually find me baking vegan biscuits, watching Jean-Claude Van Damme movies, or reading Calvin & Hobbes comics. Also, I miss my GeoCities website that was dedicated to Dragon Ball Z.

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