There are many different ways to monetize a website. You can do affiliate marketing, sell advertising space, sell digital products, and offer services. All of these are great monetization models. However, another way to make money from your site is to create a membership section and charge a subscription for people who join.
The membership model has been around for a long time, and it’s very popular with both beginners and seasoned professionals. The reason it’s so popular is that the revenue is recurring – subscribers deliver revenue each month. That’s pretty cool!
Sound interesting? If so, keep reading to find out how you can take advantage of the membership model on your website.
But, before we jump into the meat and bones of this post lets first clarify what a membership site consists of:
What is a membership site?
A membership site is basically a section of your website where you offer premium content to subscribers. This might take the form of access to a selection of courses and other educational content – a hub, so to speak. A fantastic example of this can be found at Digital Marketer, where subscribers get access to the Lab.
Another example (but different) is that of Medium, where they charge users $5 per month to access their content. This is a model that many news publications adapt.
Ok. Now, that you know what a membership site is let’s look at the steps to set one up:
#1 Decide what you will offer
Depending on your niche, you might have different options to what you will offer members. If you already have a body of courses, webinars, and other educational materials, you can put them all under the one roof and bundle access to them in your member area.
Another way to go might be through an exclusive newsletter that premium members gain access too.
Whatever, you offer it needs to be exclusive and of value to the subscriber. If you’re not sure what to offer it’s time for some audience research – here are some tips:
- Email your audience and ask them
- Use Quora to determine what questions your audience are asking
- Join related Facebook groups and gain insights
- Use keyword research to see what your audience is searching for
#2 Create your content
Regardless of the type of membership model you decide to run with, you will need to support it with ongoing content. The basis of all membership sites is fresh, updated content.
If you’re creating an educational hub, you will need to make a lot of content upfront – if you already have such content, you’re ahead of the game.
For membership programs that offer weekly or monthly content, you will need to make sure you have it prepared in advance. If you miss even one publication date, you will lose subscribers.
#3 Build your platform
There are lots of plugins that you can use to build your membership area. These plugins make the process of setting up your membership site super easy. They will enable you to arrange your content, create forums, and manage payment processing. They will also give you access to other tools to manage subscribers.
For those of you who don’t use WordPress, don’t worry, you can still set-up a members area on your site using platforms like Teachable, Kajabi, and Thinkific.
#4 Decide what you will charge
The price you can realistically charge will depend on the value of the content you offer. For membership sites that give access to a tonne of material like courses and webinars, you can probably charge anywhere from between $45 to $99 per month.
For newsletters or premium content like exclusive blog posts, you can realistically charge $5 to $10 per month.
#5 Consider your branding
The branding for your membership site should align with the overall branding of your main website. There should be consistency between the two. If the site is new, then somethings you will need to consider include:
Brand colors – decide on the color palettes. The colors you use will help convey your brand personality – different colors say different things about your brand.
Brand voice & personality – how do you want to come across. While colors play a role in conveying your brand personality, how you talk to your customers (brand voice) is also essential – do you want to sound business-like and serious, or laid back and fun. Maybe a mix of both!
Logo design – Of course, no discussion about branding can be without a logo. It’s the linchpin of your brand identity. If you’re starting and funds are tight, design one using a logo maker, they are cheap, easy to use, and fast.
#6 Start getting subscribers
The last part of starting a membership site is getting subscribers. If you already have an audience and an email list, then start there. Send out an email blast and let your audience know.
Other ways to gain subscribers include:
- Use SEO and target keywords related to your membership topics
- Advertise on Facebook – Facebook ads work a treat
- Create a landing page on your website
- Use guest posting and write on other sites on related topics
What type of membership site will you build?
Creating a successful membership subscription site is one of the holy grails of website monetization. If done right, you are guaranteed regular income every month, and you don’t always have to chase new leads.
Of course, once you start building your subscriber base, you must keep them happy with quality content and fresh content.
So, know that you know how to start a membership site. The only question remaining is what type of membership site will you build.