7 Things to Know Before Starting A Membership Business

The right kind of membership site could be your next jackpot as a content creator. And, if you are good at digging the web, you can easily find the best membership ideas.

There has never been a shortage of buzz around the word ‘membership site' as a successful monetary model. Many will show you how to make good money with it and propel your success to the next level.

Also, there's a chance you may overlook some needful considerations only a few will mention. Today, we will be your guide highlighting things you should check before starting a membership site.

Why Should You Start A Membership Business

Why Should You Start A Membership Business

Let's keep it simple. You want to create a membership business site because you would love to build an online community surrounding your content creation. An obvious reason, don't you agree?

A loyal community helps you establish your brand, and authority and spread it to a deeper region among users. Overall, a membership site can generate profit, keep improving the retention rate, and help make your venture sustainable.

Given that, the top three reasons for starting a membership site business are –

1. Recurring Income: With a successful membership site, you will be earning a recurring profit from subscribers. According to marketing geeks, most membership businesses earn less than $50000 per year, some of which make the number so big that the average yearly earning of membership site business is nearly $200000 per year.

2. High Engagement: A continuous and fruitful engagement rate helps to create a loyal fanbase, and good word of mouth for your content subscription. If you have a solid membership business site with a flexible subscription plan, you can easily grow your profit margin and get inspiration to improve your service simultaneously.

3. Strong Membership Community: Another beautiful part of a membership website is that your members will develop connections with each other. Once they start getting help from your content and achieve their goal, more people will be interested, seeking help, and sharing knowledge and support.

These are only the tip of the iceberg; if you start counting, you can find many more benefits and reasons to start your membership site business in no time.

7 Things to Check to Start a Membership Site

Ways to choose the best membership plugins

Here come the things we were talking about in the beginning. Before you go for a membership business, check the following considerations first –

1. It May Take More Time Than You Think

Building a membership site requires all the measures you need to develop and launch a new product in a market. A website with all the features that help members to purchase subscriptions, and do other activities is hard to build.

There are several things you are going to streamline – a technical team of engineers and designers, an ideanist (which could be you or other members of the team), support professionals, etc. Maintaining these elements, and making them work together could be time-consuming, and a product market fit isn't a piece of cake.

You may need more time than you think to keep the boat floating and sailing. All you need is to keep a little patience and make your mind clear about the changes or prolonging of the process.

So, when you plan your product roadmap, be calm and make some space to do it with a cool approach. Don't rush things.

2. You Will Have a Lot of Tech Issues to Solve

It's OK if you aren't a technical person. On the other hand, as a content creator, technology is essential, and being tech-savvy can give you an edge.

When you are going to build a membership website, technicality could be an issue because you can't hand over everything to your team and just sit and focus on other things. If you do so, there are possibilities of misdirection, and you may end up developing something that won't be worth the effort.

So, your job here is to learn the basics of how a membership site works, which CMS platform your technical team is using (for example, WordPress), and details about the features, functionalities, UX, etc.

Only then, you can put your remarks on the progression, delicate your vision, and make it a reality.

And one more thing, a website is all about continuous maintenance. Sometimes it fails measurably like server time out or glitches that hamper user experience, buggy features, and SEO gone wrong. You need to fix all these with the help of your team.

What if you don't have a team, and have a plan to initiate a membership site all alone? You can do it in WordPress with a custom-built theme and a plugin like WP User Frontend to add frontend features for your subscribers. In such cases, you still need to consult with the WPUF support team, industry experts, or the community to solve your issues.

3. The Membership Business Market Isn't Static

First, check this example. Dunbar Academy is a membership site for Dog lovers (usually those who pet dogs). They sell courses to improve the experience with your dog like – essential puppy training courses, reliability and games dog training workshops, etc.

If Dunbar Academy's one course is too successful, can they stick to it and expect it will make them a lot of profit for the next 10 years? And, assuming that, should they stop learning about the trend of the marketing, and stop creating more innovative new courses? We guess not.

Like life, any business isn't static. So, if you succeed with a formula once, it won't be the same every time. Taste and trends change, and so does the market.

Before starting a membership business, the more you are open to new ideas, and keep exploring – the chances of success increase.

The idea of membership business is always evolving, adding up new technologies, and embodying the nature of subscribers – as it also evolves with time. There is no finished product, once you bring something, your job will keep improving with each day.

4. Listen to Your Audience

Fan service – it sounds funny. But it's also essential to be on-per with your audience's demand. You can produce any type of content you want. If you provide the desired value, your product going to hit the sweet spot. Then what, you keep producing, and the subscriber do their job.

It happened with friends in a meetup, if you can sing well, you'll get a lot of requests to sing a song they love. Audiences are a kind of family, despite the fact they are paying you for your content, they can grow an expectation. There are hundreds of other membership sites, and they choose yours – it's not a small thing. Your game is to meet that expectation sometimes.

It's not possible to listen to all of them. But when you look closely, you shall find out what most of them are asking you to create. It's like movie sequels, it's like Cleganbowl (the final fight between the hound and the mountain in Game of Thrones).

You should listen to your audience and seek their suggestions to improve your part.

5. Your Appearance Will Be Required

For a membership site, you're the one who worked behind everything. You are creating helpful content because you possess expertise, and that shines through your work. You can't detach yourself from the process of the business, and as an integral part – you should be closely connected to your subscribers.

What does it mean anyway? Are you going to share everything about the trade or share your personal experience regularly? Or is it sharing your phone number so that everyone can reach you whenever they want?

It's not like that. Making an appearance is making your subscriber believe in trusting you, making them believe that you are there for all of their trouble related to the subscription, courses, or any type of content you are giving them.

To do this, you can do the following –

  • Arrange a weekly Q&A video and interact directly with your subscribers (via YouTube or Facebook Live)
  • Be there at member meetings, forum discussions, even reply to anything on the comments section of your blog, etc

There are many ways to make yourself accessible and also, to keep a limit. It will help your membership subscriber become enthusiastic, and a possible surge of good reviews, positive word-of-mouth, and overall branding for your social media appearances too.

6. Be Aware of Cancellation and Refund Request

refund and cancellation in membership

Cancellation and refund requests are things you don't want as a membership business owner. The fact: it's inevitable, and a normality. Even, it's also isn't static. There will be times when you may see a lot of cancellation requests and a surge in the number of people onboarding.

For example, 56% of digital subscribers of digital products canceled at least one subscription in 2023, whereas it was 63% in 2022 (Toolkits).

So, if you have a lot of subscribers, or experience a surge, do not take it for granted. People often unsubscribe and ask to return their money. If you are prepared for this to happen, you will also be developing backup plans.

For example, a cancellation doesn't mean you lost that subscriber forever. It might be temporary, so you can keep them in the loop, or send a re-engagement email following a break. Just be aware of that, and the cancellation won't be an issue that could threaten your business.

7. Membership is a Long Term Business Model

Starting a membership business isn't hard. The hard part begins only after you enter the field. It's a long-term game, and you can't expect to make a profit overnight.

This indicates one thing: you have to have a mindset that can see the big picture, and think long-term.

You should keep your strategy clear and smart, keep patience, and see the gradual growth of your membership business.

Some alluring things could be this kind of YouTube video title: “How I made 10K/month in only 6 months from my membership site” or such articles with fantastic headlines.

We're not saying this isn't possible. Some membership models like selling online courses can bring huge growth in revenue, but it only happens once or twice. Especially, we saw this type of growth during the years of covid pandemic.

If you can see the bigger picture, and understand the importance of a sustainable business model, your game is to go for recurring revenue.

Top Membership Business Models for Long-Term Success

Membership Business Models

Throughout this article, we've advocated for a sustaining membership business site.

If you are going to invest your talent, money, and time – why not do something that lasts and brings you a solid career? And, before starting a membership business website, choosing the right kind of business model is quintessential.

Here are some of the best membership business models to inspire your own –

Selling Digital Goods: A subscription/membership model can be a game-changer if you want to sell digital goods like music, photography, software, designs-paintings, online courses, etc.

Premium Newsletter Service: You can develop a newsletter platform and ask writers/content creators using your platform to send their content through premium (paid) newsletters. Some of the best examples could be Substack, Patreon, Ghost, etc.

Content Library: In a content library, users can get eBooks, videos, resources for many things, templates, and toolkits for their educational or entertainment purposes.

Subscription Boxes & Digital Membership: It's one of the recurring models. Members once subscribe and pay the monthly fees, can get a monthly gift box and keep excited for more.

Online Community Membership: It's like building a niche community membership site with a monthly/yearly subscription fee, and letting them engage to solve their professional issues and share tools or other helps.

Besides that, there are online coaching models, paid membership directory listings, accountability membership sites, and many more to get your inspiration.

Membership Business is Challenging and Fun…

Did the aforementioned things make you think twice? Don't worry, these considerations are there only to make your membership business plan stronger.

You may never find such business ideas that don't come up with their risk factors and challenges. This article is all about making you ready for the challenges you need to cope with while establishing a successful membership site.

In this journey, you're not alone. There are tips and tools. Building your membership site with WordPress would be the right decision.

Using WordPress frontend tools like WP User Frontend only makes your membership site compatible with all the frontend features like frontend dashboards, content restrictions, payment gateways, and much more.

Kaji Enamul Islam
Written by

Kaji Enamul Islam

Enamul is an author of fiction, eCommerce, digital business, and WordPress. Addicted to stories, facts, movies, and books. Loves traveling to unusual places.

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