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Find the best price for your membership site (+ Calculator)

Don’t know how to price your membership site? Feeling overwhelmed by options? Follow our step-by-step guide.

Having a stable income as a side-hustler is daunting. Some days you’ve got too many projects, but on other days, it’s tumbleweeds.

Selling memberships online is a great way to add some security to your life. You’ll have money you can count on every month.

But how do you get your membership website pricing right? Price it too high, and your audience might not follow. Price it too low, and you’ll exhaust yourself for not much return.

It’s a tricky balance, but we’re here to help.

In this article, we’ll walk through all the steps necessary to come up with a foolproof pricing strategy.

We believe good pricing comes from knowing your audience. This is why a good place to start is with competitor research.

Step #1: Research your competitors’ membership prices

Choosing your different membership tiers and their pricing is like an epic quest, but unlike a quest, there isn’t a single magical answer.

Some benchmarks say the average member pays $12 a month. Others say the normal price is $25-$49 a month for memberships. So who’s right?

These averages aren’t helpful without context, which is why you need to do some competitor research.

Competitor research is a great place to start for a couple of reasons. It helps you work out where you are in comparison to others and can spark some ideas.

Instead of picking a price out of thin air, spend a few hours researching your competitors.

Checklist for competitor research:

  • How many pricing tiers do they have?

  • Are the subscriptions monthly, lifetime, or annual memberships?

  • What benefits do they offer at each pricing tier?

To make your life easier, here’s a template for competitor research you can copy or download.

But competitor research comes with its warnings, too: don’t stop there. Just because a price point works for your competitors doesn’t mean it’s perfect for your customers.

Time to research. Let’s say you want to create a membership site for healthy recipes.

A good place to start your research is through Google. Type your industry + membership to see what comes up. In this case, I typed “healthy recipes membership”.

The first result that comes up is Healthy Grocery Girl. Open up the competitor research template to take notes on her page.

She has just one membership tier and offers a lifetime membership at $99. Membership includes recipe guides and shopping lists, community support, and video courses.

That’s one competitor covered, but don’t stop there. Try to gather at least 10–15 examples to have a decent sample size.

Further examples could include The Food Witch’s Virtual Kitchen ($10 monthly membership) or, at a higher price range, Kathy’s Cooking Club. Kathy offers a $50 monthly membership (or $500 a year).

After having filled out the spreadsheet with your research, some patterns should hopefully emerge.

In this case, my research in the healthy recipe space concluded that the average membership fee is around $25-$30, with the cheapest at $4.99.

So where do you position yourself in that range? This depends on how established you are in the space.

If you’re a newcomer, a good strategy would be to start low to attract more customers. You can always increase your prices as your reputation grows.

Remember that what’s a lower price in one industry isn’t in another. This is why your pricing model needs to be grounded in research.

If you’re a recognized name with engaged followers, you can start at a higher price.

Engaged is the key word here. You don’t need thousands of social media followers to command a premium price.

The customer will accept higher prices if they trust you and can see how it’ll benefit them directly.

For example, Alana Terry’s Successful Writer Membership is $247 per month. The membership helps authors grow their business with Facebook and Amazon ads.

Alana lists every benefit and their corresponding cost. It’s a great way to prove the value of the membership tier.

Caitlin Fisher’s Passion Pacers Group Mentorship also focuses on the cost of each perk vs. the monthly fee.

Outlining costs helps visitors realize the huge savings they’ll get. Just take care that you’re not overdoing it — three to five cost-benefit demonstrations are more than enough.

And if they’re not, your customers will let you know — providing you’re following the next step.

Step #2: Consult with your customers and followers

The best way to know what your customers think of as a “fair price” is to ask them.

Make your customers feel included in your journey. It’s an opportunity missed by 90% of businesses who fail to ask their customers for feedback.

Here’s how to ask them for their input.

Create a customer survey

Build your survey in a free form builder such as Typeform or Jot Form.

Here’s one I made earlier in Google Forms with three simple questions.

First, ask your audience what they’d like to get out of the membership site. Populate this section with the options you’re considering.

Get them excited about what they could be getting, then ask them “how much?”

As we saw in competitor research, a fair price for a newcomer in the healthy recipe space would be around $5-$10 a month. So I’ve included higher options to see how that target audience reacts.

There is also an “Other” option if your customers want to suggest what they think of as a fair price.

Bear in mind your customers will likely choose your lowest membership option. One study found customers’ perception of a fair price will skew lower than what it is. Offering different tiers mitigates this bias.

Finally, the form ends with a follow-up questions request.

If anyone fills this section, it’s a sign that they’re excited about your future membership site. Let them know when the site goes live.

Send this survey by email to existing and past customers.

Other places you could share it include Reddit, relevant Facebook groups, and Slack. Don’t forget to share it on your social media platforms.

The key to convincing people to fill out your survey is two-fold:

  1. Ask for their advice. For example: “Hey folks, I need advice on how to design my new membership site. Can you vote on a couple of options for me?”

  2. Emphasize how short it is. For example: “It’ll take you 30 seconds max. There are just two easy questions”.

How can anyone refuse such an offer?

From their answers, you’ll have a ballpark idea of what price range is acceptable to them.

But, and this is a big caveat, your customers’ votes are not the final answer. Your sweet spot sits somewhere between your competitor research, customer research, and your costs. Let’s look at the next piece of the puzzle.

Step #3: Calculate your pricing model

How much does it cost to run a membership site? That’s the question you need to ask yourself, as nothing in life is free.

So take a breath before you pick the price you think is right.

We’ve created a calculator to plug in your various costs. It’ll estimate how many customers you need, your expenses, and help you price your membership for your income goals.

If you’re a Podia user, you can create as many membership tiers as you want for as many customers as you can land. You won’t be penalized for being successful, and neither will your members, so your marketing fees stay the same no matter how big you grow.

Join us at our weekly demo to see how easy it is to set up and use.

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Speaking of demos, what will you be sharing with your members? Let’s cover the perks and the value you’ll deliver.

Step #4: Choose your types of membership perks

It’s not all about the money. Subscribers need to want what you’re offering.

If a customer believes your product will benefit them, they’ll be happier to pay more money for it.

You need to know what you’re offering before filling in the details, such as naming your membership levels.

The sky’s the limit for what type of membership site content you can include. And this is true for different levels of membership too. But they’ll generally fall into one of two categories: passive or active.

Passive perks

Passive perks are evergreen and don’t require much maintenance.

They include things like:

Photography Marketing Membership from Signature Edits offers exclusively passive perks. It includes courses, presets, tools, and templates on a lifetime membership of $197.

Their landing page details every item included and their real cost. It shows what a great deal members get.

Joe Kuhn Basketball’s membership scheme also links each perk to a product. Visitors can see the value of each one (which individually far exceeds the $7.99).

If you’ve got limited spare time, passive perks are a no-brainer. But if you want to increase your cash flow, know that you can charge more for active perks.

Active perks

As the name suggests, active perks are more interactive. They need your regular input.

They include:

  • One-on-one coaching

  • Personalized feedback

  • Progress check-ins

  • Community forums (e.g., Facebook groups)

  • Live classes

  • Podcasts

  • Guest experts

The 10K Club from Natalie Sisson is an example of an online membership using predominantly active perks. They run weekly Facebook Live, a monthly moaching call (mentoring + coaching), and a monthly mastermind session. All that for $197 a month.

Most memberships mix and match and offer both active and passive perks. Take Vanessa Ryan’s membership scheme. She shares Canva templates as well as micro workshops for $50 a month.

You’ll need to decide for yourself what balance of passive and active perks your membership type will include.

To assess your perks, ask yourself: which will be most valuable to your audience? And, which perks do you have the time and resources to deliver?

Once those decisions are made, you’re well on your way to creating a brilliant membership site.

Price your membership site easily

Choosing a membership price can be stressful. With these steps, you’re removing the guesswork from the equation.

In order, the steps are:

  • Research your competitors to know what prices are acceptable in your industry. Take note of what perks they offer.

  • Get your customers’ input to find out what they’re prepared to pay and what they want out of a membership.

  • Calculate your running costs and anticipate what you’ll need to earn.

  • Decide what to include in your membership to add value to your customers.

Ultimately, your business is unique, so your pricing should be too. These four steps will increase your chances of success and help you create a membership site your audience will love.

If you’re looking for an easy membership website solution that reduces your costs, then you’re in luck. Try Podia for free today.

About the author

Claire Trévien is a content writer for Podia, an all-in-one platform where online courses, digital downloads, and membership websites – alongside their creators – thrive. Claire also enjoys writing poetry, painting landscapes, and watching the world go by on the terrace of a café.