Wondering how to make money through a membership site? Want to monetize your passion and your knowledge? We've go you covered. Read on to get the lowdown on creating recurring revenue from your website.
There are several types of membership websites you can create. They are usually divided into six categories:
- Content-based Membership Sites
- Groups or Communities
- Online Training & Certifications
- Membership-Based Services
- Online Boot Camps & Courses
- Personal Development
This article will dive deep into each one and how you can create a recurring income from each membership model. We will also talk briefly about how you can create a membership site, whether or not membership sites are profitable, and how you can set a price for your membership model.
6 Types of Membership Websites You Can Create
In today's volatile economy, you're probably thinking of different ways to earn a recurring income. One of the best ways to do that is by creating a membership website.
You've probably thought of this before. Hence why you're here. There's a popular pop-culture quote that says:
“If you're good at something, never do it for free.” – The Joker, Batman: The Dark Knight.
That is where membership websites come in. You can share your knowledge, experience, and expertise while making a recurring income.
Content-based Membership Sites
Blog and content membership sites are some of the most popular for the past decade.
If you think about it, direct mail marketing has been popular for many decades. People paid good money to be part of magazines and newspaper subscriptions.
Now that the internet is the primary source of entertainment for almost everyone, it only makes sense to switch.
You could do all types of content too. Here are some ideas for what content you can make:
- News articles
- Gossip blogs
- Fictional stories
- Comic books
- Video content
- Educational stories
- And more
You can do plenty of content based on your experience, niche, and expertise. The internet is a big platform with millions and millions of people who are always looking to read, watch or listen to something new.
Groups or Community-based Membership Websites
Groups and community-based membership websites provide members with a safe space to interact, socialize, learn and share their knowledge.
It's no secret that people thrive in communities. We need each other not just for support but for some; it's for survival.
There's a reason why social networking platforms are so popular. And while a lot of them have become toxic and unsafe, people still crave that sense of community online.
Now, monetizing a group or a community seems like an impossible task. After all, there are countless free options out there.
Still, plenty of online communities provide great value and make good money, too. You can do this by creating a niche-based community.
A group where members can come in, feel safe, and only get access to filtered information that they need. Your members will want a more structured group where they can have meaningful and safe conversations.
They will want to feel like they're absorbing and contributing knowledge without fear of trolls, bashers, and others' indifferent opinions.
Pro Tip: You can use WishList Member and BuddyBoss integration to create your community membership website.
Online Training and Certifications
Some of the most profitable membership websites today are based on online training and certifications.
There are always people looking to learn a skill, upgrade their skill set, and advance their careers. And if you're knowledgeable in your specific field, you can offer training and certifications.
You don't necessarily have to be an expert on something; you can also use other people's knowledge and expertise and then teach it to your members.
You can charge your members for a lot of different things when it comes to this membership type. These include, but are not limited to:
- Exclusive access to content libraries inside your membership site
- Paid certifications that they can put in their resume or portfolio
- Paid courses
- One-on-one video training
- Personalized training
In addition to that, you can also create upsells by offering your services. The possibilities are limitless!
Another type of profitable membership site is a services-based website. Here, you can offer your services to your members.
You can create a niche-based service website where you can have clients and customers send regular payments for your skills.
That applies to any skill, too. You can offer many different services, such as:
- Web-design Services
- SEO Services
- Language Tutoring
- Legal Services
- Life Coaching
- Financial Coaching
- Business Consulting
- Accounting Services
- Content Writing
- Digital Marketing Services
- Advertisement Services
- And more.
If you feel like your skill is marketable, then this is the right type of membership website for you.
Online Boot Camps and Courses
You can also offer online boot camps and online courses for your membership site. You've probably joined or seen a lot of offers for similar websites.
Boot camps are typically short courses filled with sprints for exercises, homework, and different activities for your members. On the other hand, courses are usually filled with lessons, quizzes, and homework that your members can do at their own pace.
Most boot camp instructors are more involved. That is because you want your members to focus and finish their tasks within the given time frame.
If you're interested in creating your own online course, you can try out the WishList Member + CourseCure bundle.
Lastly, there are personal development membership websites. Here, you can use your hobbies or any personal skills you may have and share your knowledge.
That is a great way to earn a recurring side income while doing what you love. You never know; it could be so successful that it becomes a full-time business.
Here are some examples of skills and hobbies you can try to sell on your membership platform:
- Arts and Craft Lessons
- Music Lessons
- Horse Riding
- Home Repairs
- Fitness and Nutrition
- Life Coaching
- And more
Keep in mind that when starting a membership website, you don't necessarily have to be an expert in your chosen niche. All you have to do is provide value to those who are starting out and those who are one step behind you.
Remember, your knowledge and experience are the foundation for your membership site. So start with what you know.
How Do I Create A Membership Website?
Contrary to what many believe, creating your own membership site is actually a lot easier than you think.
It usually requires four major components:
- The main website
- A membership section
- An access control system
- A payment portal.
If you have experience creating websites before, then you know you will also need a domain name, a hosting service, a content management system, and an SSL certificate.
However, most of the components mentioned above are already provided by WordPress.
If you're using WordPress for your membership site, then you will need an exceptional membership plugin to protect your content and manage your members.
This article provides you with a detailed step-by-step approach to building a great membership site.
It's a quick and simple 6-step guide to help you get started.
Are Membership Sites Profitable?
Yes, a great membership site can be highly profitable. Throughout the years, we have seen countless clients transition from having their membership site as a side business to making it their primary source of income.
Naturally, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to marketing and making your membership site profitable.
But after working with hundreds and thousands of similar sites, we have created a blueprint that has proven useful to some of our clients.
You can find that blueprint here.
Inside, you will find a blueprint and a training video that contains secrets on how the most successful membership sites get new members.
You will also find some really cool hacks, including:
- Proven tactics utilized by many of the internet's most popular sites to acquire new followers, leads, and members.
- Conversion tips learned from dealing with tens of thousands of membership site owners.
- BI, SS, and PP – A little-known marketing strategy employed in secret by some of the most successful online marketers and business owners.
Of course, we have also witnessed a lot of entrepreneurs who are hesitant to explore this option and build their membership site.
That's completely understandable.
Fortunately, you don't have to spend a lot of money on marketing and a lot of time on making your site perfect.
If you're just starting out, you can use the MVP technique to test the waters.
To learn more about this technique, read our blog post here.
Remember, your MVP doesn't have to be perfect. You don't have to spend a lot of time crafting the perfect course, program, or community. As they say, done is always better than perfect.
How Do I Price My Membership Site?
Pricing your membership site to maximize your profits is always tricky.
On the one hand, you'll go through the “imposter syndrome” phase where you feel like setting a certain price is too much.
On the other, there's still the need to make your membership site profitable so you can provide better services.
Again, there's no cookie-cutter answer for this. Every membership website model is different. And every niche, service, and skill is priced differently.
However, some tips can help guide you when it comes to pricing. One of those is understanding the different pricing models.
Pricing Models for Membership Sites
These pricing models are pretty much the common ground for every membership website. You'll see it in some way or another.
- One-Time Payment – this type of pricing model is usually best if you do not offer recurring content, support, or even delivery. For instance, you're offering your community a boot camp or a single lesson.
- Recurring Payment – usually, you can go with a recurring payment if your site provides a continuous solution or ongoing access to your members. You can find this pricing model on most membership websites because of the following reasons:
- Ongoing income for you
- Amortize your customer acquisition costs
- Less expensive option for your members.
- Freemium – Some membership sites offer freemium pricing. Some entrepreneurs provide free memberships with the basic value. In addition, they provide a paid membership section with advanced content. Ensure your free service is valuable enough to suggest your paid offering is much better. If your free product is of great quality, your members will be more confident in your paid solution.
- Membership Tiers – If your solution offers distinct degrees of support, you may be able to provide two or more premium membership tiers. A lower-priced tier may offer DIY options, while a higher-priced tier may offer personal consulting and a done-for-you, personalized solution. Your membership tiers may include “free.” Be careful of going over three membership tiers, though, as it may confuse your potential members.
Now, let's get down to the nitty-gritty.
Pricing Your Membership Website
The first step is to find out what problem you're trying to solve and who you're trying to help.
Any of the six types of membership websites mentioned above can help solve a specific, niched problem.
The next step would be choosing how a membership site will help you solve the problem. And the how-to guide on creating your membership site and the MVP model can help you figure this out.
In addition to that, you also need to make a list of what your competitors offer, how much they charge, how many customers they have, and how long they have been in business.
During our recent interview with Jan Koch for our Memberships and Courses podcast, he shares that you can easily find if your idea or your solution is profitable by making a quick Google or Amazon search.
In your research, you will find out if people are already doing the same thing and if they're making a profit.
Next, you'll need to figure out how much your membership solution will cost per month per member.
This will be your lowest price point. You will not create a profit if you price below your cost per member.
For this, there are two kinds of costs to think about: fixed and variable. Let's break it down below.
Fixed costs are charges you have to pay no matter how many subscribers you have. These things are:
- Cost of advertising
- Payment for any subscription software you use
- Employee salaries (if any)
- Fees for content to keep your membership site going
Remember that the bigger your member count, the more you can divide fixed costs among each member.
The variable costs usually refer to expenses directly associated with every new member or new subscriber.
It may include the following:
- Sales or affiliate commissions.
- Transaction fees (this depends on what payment software you're using.)
You should also value your time for each consulting session if you're offering consultation services.
To check out your approximate break-even membership price, you need to make three presumptions:
- The monthly variable costs for each member.
- Membership projections for the total number of monthly memberships you'll earn at the end of the first year. (Pro Tip: Use what you know about the competition to make an educated guess. Divide your competition's approximate number of members by the years they've been in business to get a rough idea of how many new members they gain each year. Reduce this by 50% since many membership sites speed up yearly growth as they produce results. Adjust your projection as you see fit.)
- Total set monthly costs for providing your solution.
That's a lot of math and numbers, but we're almost through the end.
The next ideal step is to calculate your break-even pricing floor. You need to find your fixed monthly cost per member to do this. Here's a quick formula:
Fixed Monthly Per Member Cost = Monthly Fixed Cost / Target Number of Members
Add your fixed cost per member/month to your variable cost per member/month.
The amount you get from these calculations will be your monthly price floor. Remember that this is the floor, and you will have to add profits.
Charging anything less than this number will cost you more money.
Another thing to remember is that your monthly pricing floor will only be as accurate as the presumptions you made above. So please take it as a rough estimate.
Here are some more pro tips to help you with pricing:
- Add the value of your membership program to your monthly pricing floor.
- Do your market research – through this; you'll find out what your target market is willing to pay for a course similar to yours.
- Study your competitor's pricing – if you're providing more value than your competitors, add more to the pricing.
- Be confident in the value and solution you're providing and set the price based on that.
- Value the time and effort you put out.
Bonus Content: Epic Content Blueprint for your Membership Site
If you're starting out and looking for different types of content you can put on your membership site; then you're in luck.
We have created an Epic Content Blueprint where you can find six different ways to make your content more entertaining, a step-by-step checklist on how you can create epic content, and more!
We also included a training video to guide you. Check it out here.