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You need to define your target audience — the category of people that will be willing to pay to gain access to the type of content or services you plan to offer on your site.

I will assume that you already have an idea of the type of value you want to provide to your community and the type of people that could be interested in what you are offering.

Make sure you are offering something unique or better than other alternatives in your niche.

For example, someone that is trying to start a membership platform to help software engineers find jobs may discover that there are already several sites doing the same.

A solution will be to focus on an emerging tech hub like Austin, Texas that hosts major tech companies and yet has a much lower cost of living and other advantages than the silicon valley area.

The site owner will be able to attract people that are interested in such a platform but can’t get help because existing platforms are mainly focused on silicon valley and other traditional tech hubs.

Once you settle on an idea, you should validate it to be sure that there are people out there that will be interested in joining your site.

You research your competition to see whether other people have successfully attracted the same audience and if they have been able to monetize their services.

The existence of competition shouldn’t discourage you. It gives you an opportunity to learn from their strengths and capitalize on their weaknesses.

You should also reach out to your target audience. You can organize an online survey with a platform like SurveyMonkey where you ask them if they will be willing to pay to join the membership features you are planning.

You should also visit relevant Facebook groups and Quora forums to get a feel of what people will like to see.