A membership is a subscription-based product that lets you charge your audience a monthly or annual fee in exchange for access to your membership site.
There are many different types of content, products, or services you can offer on that private site (more on that later), but the key is that the site is “gated” and only available to members.
Some memberships include additional components like webinars, private Facebook groups or Slack channels, and offline events.
You could also offer a membership subscription for free, in which case it’s like having an email list on steroids, as the features of most membership platforms (like Podia) — including comments, “likes” and the ability to easily browse past updates — make it far more interactive and intimate than a traditional newsletter list.
But memberships have some unique benefits over other product types:
Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to choose one type of product for your business.
Memberships, courses, and downloads can be — and often are — complementary parts of a successful creator’s product mix.
As Travis Northcutt of MemberUp explains, memberships offer multiple benefits to creators:
“From a business perspective, the biggest benefit is the potential for steady monthly revenue, plus ongoing opportunities for upselling your customers in the future. You're also likely to generate additional product/course/membership ideas, since you'll likely be interacting with your members a lot more than if they made a one-off purchase.
From a satisfaction standpoint, many people who run membership sites with communities (forums, Slack or Facebook groups, etc.) find doing so very fulfilling, and often build close relationships they wouldn't have otherwise.”
If you're still struggling to decide, see our guide on whether you should choose create an online course or a membership site.
Otherwise, below are a few of the scenarios where a membership might be a great tool for you:
Who benefits from memberships?
Creating a membership website allows you to solve your customers’ problems over the long-term, but it requires some planning. In the second chapter of this guide, we’ll look at 8 of the most popular membership site models alongside some real-world examples of the best memberships the web has to offer.
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