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 is too many?
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 high. 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.
These days, you can have book-like content published on the web in a matter of minutes, which is both good and bad. It’s bad because anyone can do it, which 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.
But how do you justify charging people month after month, year after year?
- Create fresh content regularly.
- Keep your user interface fast and easy to use.
- 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.
Kate Mckibbin ran a successful fashion blog for six years, but when the blogging sponsorship sector became a touch murky for her liking, she switched directions and started a new business helping bloggers and online entrepreneurs create loyal, dynamic followings and prime them for 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.
Teach people how to do a thing you’ve already done. It’s kind of a no-brainer.
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. Then 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.
Those who can’t do, teach… and make a shite load more money doing it.
*It’s definitely more. Like, HEAPS more.
When Carly Jacobs rediscovered 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.
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 that 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.
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.
Teaching people how to make money from the skills you taught them = dollar, dollar bills.
A monthly membership that helps new and advanced sewers build a custom wardrobe? Where have you been all our lives? 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.
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. The problem was that one-on-one clients were difficult to gain and manage on the regular. 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. She’s even expanded her business to the UK, and it’s all thanks to the magic of membership sites.
If you have a skill that relies on the one-on-one model, turn it into an online membership site and get expanding!
So, what are you into? Fire-twirling? Playing the ukulele? Anything goes in the world of online memberships. All you need is a (really good-looking) membership platform – and it just so happens that we can deliver!
Click here to find out more about our Membership Lab Essentials offer.
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