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When you have a membership website, you essentially have a recurring revenue model that brings in money every month (or year).

In recent years, countless blogs and brands have started offering a membership model.

For example, brands such as Adobe and Microsoft now offer monthly plans and people no longer have to pay the hundreds or thousands of dollars up-front to use their products.

You can bring this same mindset into your blog.

If you’re skeptical about this business model, just keep reading for more info about how you can rake in cash with a membership website.

vector graphic showing an illustration of computer browser screens with membership portals on them

What are Membership Websites?

Membership websites are blogs or websites that contain information that lives behind a paywall.

Gated content uses a “gate” to limit access to your blog’s content to paying or registered members.

Once your members are inside your gated community, they have access to extra privileges and exclusive content.

How Does a Membership Model Work?

For a membership model to work for your blog, you need:

  • The mindset that your customer experience is the most important thing
  • Topical focus
  • Solid planning to know what’s involved in managing a membership site
  • The knowledge of how your topic can encourage growth or solve problems
  • A genuine dedication to your niche or topic
  • Energetic marketing

To create a membership site, you will need to use a WordPress plugin or third-party tool.

Types of Membership Sites

There are three primary types of membership sites: premium content, access to a blogger’s time, and community memberships.

1. Premium Content

If you have a blog about any topic, you can put your best exclusive content behind a paywall for your paying members.

One example is Food Blogger Pro.

Owned by the couple who runs the popular (and very profitable) Pinch of Yum food website, Food Blogger Pro offers an excellent free blog and podcast.

However, the company also offers a membership option for $350 per year.

Food Blogger Pro members enjoy access to online courses, a private community forum, support from experts in the food blogging niche, monthly live Q&A calls, discounts on recommended products and tools, and much more.

2. Access to Blogger’s Time

Some membership sites offer something even more valuable than excellent content: access to a blogger’s time.

This type of membership type is sometimes referred to as a coaching membership.

Like most of us, even the best of us have limited time to interact with followers.

And the big players experience even more of a demand on their time.

If you’re someone who has a lot to offer in terms of knowledge, having a membership site where you interact with your followers may be a great fit for you.

3. Community Memberships

Many membership sites focus on the community aspect of their site.

Building a membership site around your existing fanbase is the perfect way for them to interact not just with you but also with each other.

In many cases, subscribers will sign up to receive your content, but they will stay because they enjoy the community.

Here are some excellent and creative ideas for membership sites that you can add to your existing blog.

  • Content libraries
  • Image collections (stock videos, photos, or illustrations)
  • Website templates or WordPress themes
  • Cooking membership sites with free access to ebooks or webinars
  • Job boards and other classifieds
  • Serial content or fiction
  • Online courses
  • Meal plans
  • Services
  • DIY crafting project plans
  • Workout videos

How Much Can You Make With Membership Sites?

With membership sites, the sky is the limit in terms of how much money you can make.

You can collect membership fees in any of the following ways.

  • One-time fixed rate
  • Lifetime membership
  • Freemium
  • Recurring fixed rate
  • Custom rate
  • Installment plans
  • Tiered pricing
  • Pay what you want
  • Pay as you go

Which payment plan is best for you? It depends on what you offer.

If you have a blog and regularly produce new content, the recurring fixed rate is best for you.

If you offer extensive content such as online courses and ebooks, it may be profitable to have a tiered pricing plan.

Here are a few examples of membership sites that make their owners plenty of cash.

How Easy is it to Create and Promote a Membership Site?

A quick Google search will net you tons of results on how to build a membership website and how much money the big players make from their sites.

However, it’s important for you to know precisely how a membership website will work for your needs and your content.

Here are some of the most popular tools and plugins to help you build your membership site.

If you want to take your blog off WordPress and build on another membership or community platform, there are several different options.

You can read a full breakdown of each platform and tool in our Membership Portals and Community Platforms guides.

Promoting Your Membership Site

When you have a membership site, the “build it and they will come” mantra will only take you so far.

To grow your membership, you need to promote your community.

  • Participate in forums in your niche.
  • Join relevant Facebook groups and make yourself a valued member of the group. Don’t just spam your membership site. That can quickly get you kicked out of the group.
  • Blog on LinkedIn or Quora to establish yourself as an authority in your niche.
  • Put a banner in a prominent spot on your blog encouraging blog readers to join.
  • Add reminders to your email newsletters (don’t be pushy).
  • Ask your members to invite new members.
  • Create a promo video.
  • Collect testimonials from members who have found your membership site to be valuable.

Why is Building a Membership Site a Great Monetization Method?

Anytime you can reap revenue from the same customer over and over again, it’s a win for both of you.

While you may occasionally have a repeat “customer” when fans read your blog, making them love your content enough to pay for exclusive access is much more profitable.

Here are some of the advantages of having a membership site.

  • You’re building a community of devoted followers.
  • Recurring revenue is a stable addition to your revenue stream.
  • You continue to establish authority in your niche.
  • Even if other advertising methods experience a seasonal drop, your membership site will keep bringing in the cash.