Membership sites are ALL the rage right now, but many businesses remain sceptical about this model.
‘Aren’t subscription models kind of dodgy?’
‘Do customers really keep paying for things like that?’
‘How many chicken nuggets are too many chicken nuggets?
The answers to these questions are no, yes and more than you think.
The fact is, subscription models of payment are really the only way savvy businesses can stay afloat in a continually changing market. Single purchase items (like books) were great 50 years ago because you could charge a lot of money for them, the market was less saturated, and the barrier to entry was very high; you had to convince someone to take a risk and publish your book. Also, books were the internet back then, so it was the only option if you wanted to learn a new skill without the cost and time constraints of attending local classes. Books are still great but they become outdated very quickly, they’re expensive to produce and they don’t have any videos of people falling over which is problematic for a variety of reasons.
These days, you can have book-like content published on the web in a matter of minutes. Which is good and bad. It’s bad, because anyone can do it and that means there’s a lot of crap out there and it’s harder for your customers to sift through it to find you. It’s good, because if you’re fantastic at what you do (and I’ve heard rumours that you are), you can set up a membership site teaching the thing you’re good at and get recurring revenue month after month, year after year. Unlike a book or one-time purchase online course.
But how do you justify charging people month after month, year after year?
- You create fresh content regularly
- You keep your user interface easy to use and fast (believe me, people will pay for this)
- You build a valuable, can’t-live-without-it community
If you’re still struggling with wrapping your head around the particulars of membership sites, here are a few membership sites that might inspire you, because they make actual money and have a very loyal customer base. Also, the people who run them are ace, and you should try to be internet friends with them.
Kate Mckibbin ran a successful fashion blog for six years, but when she saw the blogging sponsorship sector becoming a touch murky for her liking, she switched directions and started a new business helping bloggers and online entrepreneurs create loyal and dynamic followings that lead to sales. Her customers pay a monthly fee to be a part of the Boss Squad, where small business owners go to workshop ideas and collectively freak out over the latest Facebook algorithm change. Good times.
Takeaway tip: Teach people how to do a thing you’ve already done.
When professional musician Scott Devine developed a neurological condition that caused spasms in his hands, his career came to a sudden dead end. He couldn’t play the guitar for longer than 5 minutes at a time which is really not great news for a professional musician. He knew he had to do something, so he started Scott’s Bass Lessons. It’s an online academy he set up in 2013, and he now has more than 15,000 paying subscribers generating revenue of about $2.5 million per year, which is probably* a lot more than he was making as a cruise ship performer.
Takeaway tip: Those who can’t do, teach… and make a shite load more money doing it.
*It’s definitely more. Like, heaps and HEAPS more.
When Carly Jacobs re-vamped her love of crocheting as an adult, she couldn’t keep up with requests from her friends to teach them how to crochet. So she set up Crochet Coach in 2016. It’s an online crochet school catering for beginner to advanced crocheters, with hundreds of members around the world. Members can pay a monthly or a yearly membership fee for a new pattern release each month, full access to all resources as well as membership to the exclusive Facebook group. Prune juice and digestive biscuits are not provided.
Takeaway tip: You don’t have to teach online business to have a successful online business.
Artist Mitch Bowler was frustrated at the scattered and unhelpful information available online for artists who wanted to make money from their skills. It seemed like luck was the only way to get there but Mitch knew if he compiled the right resources he could create a community for artists to hone their talents, manage their businesses and support each other… and he did. None of this information was new or groundbreaking, it just wasn’t in one place before Mitch came along.
Takeaway tip: People will pay for the curation of existing free and available information.
Brigit Esselmont from Biddy Tarot has turned her love of tarot card reading into a profitable business by creating a membership site for her customers. They pay a subscription for lessons and community access, and with over 1000 members, it’s a highly profitable enterprise.
Takeaway tip: Teaching people how to make money from the skills you taught them = dollar, dollar bills.
Seamwork is a monthly membership that helps new and advanced sewers build a custom wardrobe. Buyers get access to a library of wardrobe-building patterns, updated with new designs every month. This is an off-shoot of the existing brand, Colette patterns which is a very clever move. They’ve taken existing content and packaged it into a targeted product – a collection of patterns for people who want to sew their own wardrobe of clothes.
Takeaway tip: You might already have a whole course worth of content just sitting on a blog or YouTube channel. Give it a wee little makeover, spruce it up and start charging for it.
Personal trainer Kim Beach loved working with clients and helping people achieve their weight-loss and fitness goals, but one on one clients were difficult to gain and manage with regularity. Kim decided to launch an online weight loss program with a Facebook community for added support. Over the last few years, she’s helped thousands of people reach their weight-loss goals, and she’s recently expanded her business to the UK. She can help more people at a more affordable price by offering an online membership.
Takeaway tip: If you have a skill that relies on the one-on-one model, turn those skills into an online membership site to expand more than you ever could if you stuck to your in-person model.
If you have a fabulous skill like fire-twirling or playing the ukulele, you should hook yourself up with a membership site. We can sort you out with Brand Express. If you just want a site that looks as PROFESH as possible, as SOON as possible and you don’t want to waste time faffing around with colours and copy we can have your website up and functioning in 5 days. That’s our most excellent promise.