A membership website can be a very lucrative way to expand your online product selection, provide more value to your students, and increase your profit. And what’s best is that this business model works for so many different industries and niches, that any content creator can find a way to take advantage of it.
Let’s talk about how a membership product can complement your online courses or digital downloads, and why you might want to consider creating one.
5 ways a membership website can complement your online course
What is a membership?
A membership is a business model where customers pay a fee for content that’s exclusive to the membership. That fee can happen on a monthly, quarterly, annual, or any other cadence schedule.
There are many different successful businesses in various niches that operate on a membership or subscription basis. Netflix, HBO Max, and BossBabe (a business membership for women entrepreneurs) all fall under the membership website umbrella.
Why create a membership website to accompany your online course
Most often content creators opt for either creating an online course or running a membership. However, there are many benefits to creating both—an online course, and a membership to accompany the course.
Let’s discuss some of the key benefits of why that’s a good idea for your business:
The membership site makes for a good upsell
As a business owner, you want to make sure that you have as many valuable offers available for your audience as possible to maximize your profit. Upsells are one of the most effective strategies to increase your profit. And a membership can be a fantastic upsell for people who are interested in your offers.
Add a paid tier to your online course
Another very effective way you can use a membership to increase your online course business profit is to use it to add tiers to your pricing.
Let’s say you sell an online course about product photography. Here’s how you can break down your pricing into tiers:
- Tier 1: for $200, students get access to course material
- Tier 2: for $500, students get access to course material + one-off 30-minute consultation with you
- Tier 3: for $900, students get access to course material + one-off 30-minute consultation with you + access to an exclusive membership site
With one course alone you can create many more opportunities to increase your profit. Plus an opportunity to provide your students with more value.
Engage your audience with ongoing challenges
One key component of a membership is the community it creates. A community of people who are all interested in the same topic and are seeking to find solutions to their problems is a very powerful tool.
Running a membership allows you to engage with your audience in a much more personal manner, and help them accomplish their goals by offering ongoing challenges.
For example, let’s say you sell online courses teaching people how to achieve various fitness goals like a handstand, a split, etc. You could create a membership site, where every month students can participate in fitness challenges based on your fitness programs. Plus, they would be able to communicate with one another and share their highs and lows on their journey.
This will allow your students to utilize the course materials you offer much better, find a supportive community of like-minded people, and have a way to receive guidance from you.
Keep your students accountable
Another wonderful way to use a membership website to complement your online courses is to use it as an accountability system. The American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) found that if you’re committed to someone and have an accountability appointment with them, you’re 95% more likely to accomplish your goals.
When you sell your online courses you’re really selling a transformation or a promise of a transformation. A membership that serves as an accountability system is a great way to deliver on that promise. It can also help increase overall student satisfaction with your programs.
You can also offer your time as an accountability buddy through your membership. Or you can connect your students through the membership site and take on the role of an accountability matchmaker.
Provide a place for students to connect and network
Depending on what industry you’re in, you can utilize a membership as a way to connect your students to one another. This can also help them find work and other opportunities.
For example, if you’re teaching online courses on web design and development. Your courses provide a way for people to learn a skill, and a membership product could provide tools to find a job or build a career with their newly learned skills.
So, within your membership website, you could offer multiple benefits. Like coaching sessions with you, networking events, a job board, and other valuable materials to help people utilize the skill they just learned.
Membership website examples
Let’s take a look at a few great examples of successful membership websites that complement other parts of the creator’s businesses:
The Virtual Savvy
The Virtual Savvy offers online courses that teach people how to build their virtual assistant businesses. After listening to their community, they decided to add a membership site for $47/month where they offer additional useful training for their members.
When you join their membership website, you get access to all the previous content, as well as every new training that they add every month.
Allasyummyfood is another great example of a content creator using a membership website to complement their online courses. They sell courses on making cakes and individual live cake-baking workshops.
In addition to that, they have a membership website where members get access to a community, new recipes, and live sessions with the founder every quarter.
Live Richer Academy
The creator of The Budgetnista doesn’t sell online courses, but she does sell books on personal finance. And in addition to that, she has created a membership website that gives people a place to learn about finance and build wealth and find like-minded people.
Membership website models
So, as we already briefly touched on before, there are many different ways to run a membership website. You can offer different forms of content and choose to engage your community in multiple ways:
- A fixed membership period: this type of membership works best for limited-time challenges, like 30/60/90-day fitness, wellness, or personal finance challenges. People pay a membership fee for the duration of the challenge to get access to content, accountability system, and everything else.
- Product membership: this type of membership provides the members with access to exclusive content. It’s often delivered in small chunks, giving people time to process the content before receiving a new update.
- Coaching membership: this type of membership gives the members access to the creator, either in a coaching or accountability format.
Depending on your content, niche, and business goals you might choose to mix and match all these membership types and offer your audience a little bit of everything. There are really no rules as to how you have to run your membership. So it’s best to choose a model that works for your business.
How to keep your members engaged
Creating a membership website and onboarding new members is just the start. You want to make sure that your members are engaged and get value out of their subscriptions. Here’s how you can do that:
- Engage with them: it’s essential to engage with your community and show up consistently. You can share valuable, inspirational, or motivational short-form content, answer questions or simply offer encouragement where needed.
- Refresh content: a successful membership website always offers new, valuable content. So, make sure that you’re supplying your members with regular new content in the form of webinars, blog posts, YouTube videos, workshops, and everything in between.
- Run challenges: if it works with your niche and business model, a very effective way to engage your members is to run challenges consistently and invite people to participate. Take it a step further and offer incentives for finishing challenges–gifts, discounts, or special swag.
- Listen to feedback: your members will tell you what sort of content they want to see more, what struggles they are facing and need help with, and how you can better help them achieve their goals or solve their problems.
Start your community
Now that you know about the benefits of community, you might want to take a change and build your own. A great place to start is by surveying or asking your students what they would want out of a community. Then build it around the most common answers they give. Good luck!