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Membership Site Ideas: 8 Ways To Build Your Own Online Empire

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A well-made membership site is like a licence to print money (and save your own sanity). 

Think about it: how much time, energy and money could you save by skipping the traditional sales model? 

Instead of chasing one-off purchases in a crowded market, you’d have a guaranteed stream of income and a captive audience. 

If it sounds like a no-brainer, that’s because it is – but you will have to make one important decision: 

What type of membership site should you create? 

We’ll cover nine different types in this blog – and if, after reading this, you still can’t figure it out, go and have a shower. There’s nothing like standing under running water to help you find clarity. 

Here are the 9 types of membership site:

1. Evergreen

Evergreen courses are DIY or ‘drip-feed’ automated courses. You load all the content in, whack it up for sale, and whenever people stumble upon it, the material makes its way through to them on autopilot.

Evergreen style courses are great because they can run pretty much independently. The only downside is that eventually the content will run out and the student will stop paying you (boo). Once you reach that point, you’ll need to win your loyal customers over with a monthly subscription model.

2. Community-based membership site

Community-based memberships are fantastic for people who need to be held accountable, so these work well for any lifestyle changes where people repeatedly fall off the wagon. 

Fitness courses are perfect examples of community-based courses because they rely on participants to create a buzz. 

This also extends to movements like Dry July (because everyone is miserable and sober at the same time) and our awesome clients Mindful in May (because even silent meditation is more fun with friends).

3. Course-based membership site

If you’re going for the scarcity angle (which is a very good angle to go for, btw), the course-based model is for you. These are usually ‘live’ courses that run over set dates and build up a truckload of anticipation right before the intake opens. 

If you already have evergreen content in your bag of tricks, you can convert it into an “OMG I have to buy now or I’ll miss out” course without much trouble. All you have to do is create a countdown timer and set the doors to open and close at a set time. 

Wanna see this approach in action? Pay a visit to one of our fabulous clients Kelly Diels here.

4. Pick and mix

Do you have loads of courses and an enormous, highly engaged community of customers and clients? 

Well, then, this might be the perfect membership model for you. 

The “pick-and-mix” model allows customers and clients to choose whatever courses they want from your site (think sites like Masterclass and Craftsy). 

It sounds great, right? The thing is, it’s not usually a good fit for people with a small list or a modest community.


Because you want people to be engaged in all areas of your content. And allowing people to opt out of paying for parts of your offering is like giving a cafe customer a refund for only drinking half of their coffee.

5. ‘Live’ online

In some ways, signing up for a membership platform is like joining a gym. The act of signing up gives you an instant rush of endorphins and the promise of a brighter future…

But if 20 weeks later, you still haven’t actually used the membership, the effect has probably completely worn off. 

Basically, you have to be there at the given time, or you just miss out. The content is time-sensitive and typically held over a few days to a week, and when the course is completed, it will often disappear. 

If your members have a gym membership they’re not using, a live online membership might just give them the kick they need to make like Nike and Just Participate In The Course They Paid For.

6. Free mini-course

Usually used to lead people into a paid course, free seven-day boot camp-style memberships can create solid leads. Giving people a free peek into your member’s section might just entice them to stick around for the paid version, and it’s a great buzz-builder when you’re in launch mode. You can also do a free trial where you take their credit card details, and they’re automatically charged after seven days if they don’t unsubscribe.

7. Collective membership site

Collective membership sites like Pencil Kings, Teachable, and Marie Forleo are pretty awesome for two reasons: 

  1. They provide connections with lots of different professionals across a broad range of niches. Hello, networking opportunities and potential business partnerships! 
  2. They allow you to get your products in front of fresh eyes.

Let’s say you’re in the copywriting niche. You could start a collective with other copywriters where you would bundle all of your classes together, sell them at a discounted rate, and get a whole lot of new eyes on your site.

That idea is so clever, it doesn’t even need fancy copy to sell it.

8. Mastermind membership site

These are premium memberships for a select group of people who want more focused attention (who doesn’t?), and they’re particularly popular in life and business coaching niches. For example, a business coach might run an Evergreen membership for $199 and then have an up-sell offer of $1000 for a premium monthly mastermind with 1:1 calls and coaching.

Hey, if it’s good enough for Tracy Harris, then it’s good enough for us! 

After all this talk about membership sites, you’re probably in one of two camps: 

  1. “I’ve got a membership site already, and now I’m ready to take another look at my strategy.”


  1. “I don’t have a membership site, but now I desperately want one ASAP.” 

If you can see yourself in either of those camps, we’ve got just the thing for you! Our Membership Lab Essentials package includes everything you need to get your ecourse off the ground in the most stylish way possible. 

Check it out here.


Opt In Ideas To Mega Boost Your Email List

Take all the guesswork out of planning your next email list builder with this definitive list of opt in ideas. No matter what kind of content you do, what your niche is or your preferred method of delivery, your perfect opt in is on this list. Guaranteed.

opt-in ideas

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