The Definitive Guide to Membership Websites You Can Build

Whether you have an idea for a business that you want to fund and run via a membership format, or you want to work on your own business that generates a sustainable amount of revenue and profit from its members, but you’re unsure where to begin, you’ll be happy to know there are plenty of membership options you can try out.

While not every membership model is right for every business, knowing and understanding your options and then choosing the one that’s right for you is a great way to boost your chances for success, as well as giving your customers access to a membership service that’s designed to work for them.

With all this in mind, today we will explore all the different kinds of membership models your website can implement, what makes each model, the pros and cons of each, and basically everything you need to know to know.

The Drip Feed Membership Site

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Hand’s down the most popular method of using membership foundations on a website is known as drip-feeding, or the ‘content drip’ model. As the title suggests, this is a membership model that gives content to its users in a drip-fed way that means they’re not overwhelmed with content.

Usually, members will pay either a monthly or annual subscription fee to grant access to the site, but the content will have a schedule in which it’s updated. It’s important to note that customers won’t typically have access to other content, nor will they have access to it all at once, only at the agreed intervals.

This is a great model to use since users won’t feel overloaded with content, which can cause a huge increase in content engagement rates and can increase retention rates, and there’s the fact you can be open for subscriptions all year round, not just at specific times.

The Online Course Membership Website

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There’s no denying that the online course membership model is one of the most popular and most widespread. The concept is simple. Members sign up to your website for a monthly or annual fee, maybe even a fixed price offer, and then they can access your online course content. That’s really all there is to it.

Within your content, you’re probably going to have text articles, videos, worksheets, downloadable resources and information, and all the standard stuff that online courses contain, all accessible in one easy place where the member can work at their own place.

The choice is really up to you how you this membership model. You may give everybody access to everything right off the bat so they can work at their own pace. You may restrict movement while having everyone work together with you, which is ideal if you’re offering live webinar content. You may restrict people by having them carry out a test before they can move onto the next section. 

In short, there’s a lot of flexibility you can have here, especially when combining this model with some other models on our list, which is all completely up to you and what experience you want to achieve.

The Paid, Exclusive Membership Website

Think about social network websites and platforms. Many of them are free, but if you want an exclusive community free from the problems that social networks suffer from, such as trolls and malicious users, a paid networking or community website is for you.

Now, these may not be as common as most membership models, but they do exist, and they can do really well. You can have a network on any topic, private chatrooms and message boards, forums, and you may even wish to provide specialist content that your users can have access too, such as downloadable content or specialists coming in to talk about said topics.

This is a great way to build up a community about a special niche or topic, especially when you know that people paying for access are going to be passionate about the subject. The only real problems come with monitoring the network to make sure the rules are met, and the community is kept safe and secure.

The Hybrid Membership Website

As the name of this model suggests, a hybrid membership website is a collection of different models compared, meaning you’ll be offering your users and potential members the ability to choose a membership experience that will work for them. Of course, while this makes your membership website a lot more accessible to a lot more people, it can take a lot of work to set up and manage.

Obviously, you’re not going to want to overcomplicate things where you can, but as an example, you may offer a monthly option for your online meal plan course where you offer recipes, workout routines, and 1-2-1 guidance and advice. However, you may offer a ton of the content that’s available for free as a lifetime access package.

“If you have an app, you may want to offer a subscription service and then offer different access levels per subscription (meal plans, routines, advice, and then all of the above) as different subscription tiers. You could also have time frame membership options for those who want to only use your service for a set amount of time,” explains Ben Harper, a business writer at Draftbeyond and Researchpapersuk.

You bring all these models together; you’ve got yourself a hybrid membership website. With this model, it’s all about finding what works for you. Don’t be afraid to try different models and different approaches, even if only on a test basis, to see what works for you and your business, and ultimately you’ll end up with a custom model that offers the experience you want to be offering your customers.

The Product Collection Membership Website

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If you offer downloadable content, a service, a digital product, or some kind of physical product (but mainly digital content is used in this membership model), a product membership is all you need. Think about software applications like Adobe Cloud, most DJ software applications, or subscription-based games like World of Warcraft or EVE Online.

Throughout this membership, you get not only access to the digital product, but also the content surrounding that product, such as tutorial resources and videos, support and help access, themes, plugins, resources, and much more.

“Usually, monthly or annual fee options are available with cancel anytime availability, or some may have a lifetime access option, such as dating apps, meditation apps, or for a bundle collection of plugins. You’ll usually need to manage everything through the creation of a unique product license key that will be connected to one user, so they won’t be able to use it or give it to anyone else, ensuring you’re able to protect your product,” explains Sarah Kinstry, a blogger at Writinity and Last Minute Writing.

The All-Access Pass Membership Website

The polar opposite to the content drip feed model, the all-access pass gives your members access to absolutely everything in one go from the moment they sign up, which is ideal if you’re offering content like online courses or resource packages that people want access to straight away.

More often than not, your members will pay a one-time fee, and that’s it, although this could be a yearly one-time fee, or you may have a lifetime option. This is ideal for learning platforms because it allows your members to work and learn when they want to learn, and you may update the content as and when you need too.

The Time Frame Membership Website

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The final membership model we have today comes in the form of the time frame model, a type of model that uses a predetermined amount of time and only offers access to the subscription for this amount of time. Most of the time, this time period will range from around a week but could last up to several months.

This is because time frame memberships usually come with a goal, which is the main reason the members will sign up in the first place. Think 6-week or several month-long weight loss programs, or plans to get people fit and active, like the Couch to 5K app. You may even have something like a 30-day writing challenge. You are only limited by your imagination.

Compared to other models on our list, these models are easy to manage and require a lot less work because it’s easy to get people to sign up for specific dates, and you don’t have to constantly manage many members for many years. If you’re creating your very membership website and you want to try it out, this is a great model to start with.

Ashley Halsey is a professional business writer at Do My Assignment and Gumessays.com, who has been involved in many start-up projects around the world. Mother of two children, she enjoys traveling, reading, and attending business training courses.

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