Membership websites have become increasingly popular in recent years, and for good reason. They offer a sustainable way for businesses to generate recurring revenue, while also providing valuable content and resources to customers.
With the rise of eCommerce and digital subscriptions, the global eCommerce subscription market is projected to have a value of $904.28 billion by 2026, according to The Business Research Company.
This is further backed up by the research put out by the International Data Corporation (IDC) in 2021, which showed that 53% of all software revenue will be generated through the subscription model, as reported by the Digitalist Magazine.
It makes sense then why more businesses are flocking to the membership site model as a great way to capitalize on this trend.
- Why starting a membership site is a good idea
- How to select a membership site idea that works for you
- 14 powerful membership site ideas to consider
- 1. Provide access to premium content
- 2. Eliminate ads
- 3. One-on-one coaching sessions
- 4. Access to assets
- 5. Digital library or training access
- 6. Access to tools
- 7. Subscription-based services
- 8. Online forums and communities
- 9. PLR subscriptions
- 10. Niche community and fan sites
- 11. Classifieds
- 12. Entertainment access
- 13. Serial content
- 14. Workshops
- Set up your own membership site with SureMembers
With all that in mind, we’re going to explore 14 powerful membership website ideas your business can consider in 2023.
Why starting a membership site is a good idea
As the world becomes more digitized, many businesses are turning to subscription models as a way to generate recurring revenue and provide value to customers.
Up to 70% of businesses see memberships and subscription models as the key to future business growth, as reported by Manifesto Growth Architects.
Creators also start a membership for several different reasons.
The biggest reason is to achieve financial goals, of course. While 58.1% of people want to make more money, a similar percentage of people (58.6%) want to create a stable income source, according to the Online Membership Industry Report.
No matter the reason, diving into memberships could be a successful path to extra profit.
How to select a membership site idea that works for you
When it comes to selecting a membership site idea, there are a few important factors to consider.
- Look at the needs of your target audience and see how you can fulfill them: What content or resources could you provide that would be valuable to your customers?
- Think strategically about how you can monetize the membership: Look at how you can structure the pricing of memberships and the additional services you offer to make it a profitable venture.
- Consider how much time and effort you are willing to commit: A membership site requires maintenance and upkeep. Make sure you’re prepared to invest the time and resources necessary.
- Think about the problems or pain points that your customers face: How can you provide solutions that help overcome unique challenges?
- Think outside the box in terms of how to offer premium content: Membership websites often use several methods to keep members engaged (premium content or courses).
- Look for creative ways to offer additional value: Think hard about how you can offer extra value to members. This could be through additional resources, webinars, or personalized coaching.
Now that you know what factors to consider when selecting a membership site idea, if you want to create a membership website, the SureMembers plugin can help.
This plugin provides all the features you need to set up a membership site in no time.
You may also wish to use a Starter Template along with the Astra Theme that caters specifically to memberships.
These templates are ideal for setting up online courses, forums, and digital libraries for a wide variety of niches.
We’ll discuss SureMembers in more detail later. For now, let’s turn our attention to some fantastic ideas you can incorporate this year.
14 powerful membership site ideas to consider
In this section, we will explore 14 different ideas for membership sites that businesses can consider in 2023.
From providing access to premium content to offering one-on-one coaching sessions, there are many ways to create value for your customers and generate recurring revenue using a membership model.
1. Provide access to premium content
Premium content membership sites offer exclusive or special articles or videos to members.
These types of membership sites can be a great way to attract customers who are interested in high-quality or specialized content.
How it works: Customers pay a monthly or annual fee to access the premium content. The content is typically only available to members and is not published elsewhere.
Why people might be interested: Individuals seeking detailed or particular information may be willing to invest in top-notch articles and videos. Membership sites can also provide this content while providing customers with a sense of exclusivity and being part of a dedicated community.
What you need to do: To keep your target audience engaged and coming back for more, you’ll need to offer up-to-date, high-quality material that is both relevant and appealing. Think of ways to make the membership experience personal and exciting as well.
The New York Times offers a digital subscription that gives members access to all of their articles, as well as exclusive content and events.
It also offers members a special rate for print editions.
2. Eliminate ads
Ad-free membership sites offer customers the option to pay a monthly fee to remove ads from the service.
These types of membership sites can be especially appealing to customers who are tired of being interrupted by ads while using a service.
How it works: Customers pay a subscription fee to access the content without advertisements. Non-subscribers can usually still use the service for free, but will have to deal with ads.
Why people might be interested: For those who can’t stand ads interrupting their usage, a paid membership might be a worthwhile investment for an ad-free experience. Not only that, but these sites often provide a more streamlined and pleasant experience for the user.
What you need to do: It’s important to make sure that what you offer for a membership fee is worth it. Consider giving members additional features or privileges that can’t be found in the free version of the service to make the subscription more attractive.
Spotify offers a premium subscription that removes ads from the service and provides additional features like offline listening and improved sound quality.
This model has proven to be very successful for Spotify and other digital services.
3. One-on-one coaching sessions
One-on-one coaching membership sites offer exclusive, one-on-one classes, video chat, or training sessions with an expert instructor.
These types of membership sites can be especially appealing to customers who are looking for personalized coaching or instruction.
How it works: Individuals can pay a fee, either monthly or annually, to gain access to personalized coaching sessions. Whether it’s done virtually through video chat or in-person, these sessions are tailored to suit the needs of every individual customer.
Why people might be interested: Those seeking personalized instruction may be willing to pay to get the chance to work closely with a seasoned expert. Not only can these membership sites provide individuals with an exclusive experience, it also allows for members to receive individualized attention.
What you need to do: For a successful one-on-one coaching experience, the quality of the sessions and the value they offer should be top priority. Additionally, think of ways to make the coaching engaging and interactive for maximum benefit.
Glo offers monthly or yearly membership packages that include one-on-one video coaching sessions with experienced instructors.
The sessions are tailored to the individual needs of each customer and focus on helping them reach their goals.
4. Access to assets
Some membership sites offer access to assets of some kind. Think of things like templates, stock photos or videos, and graphics.
These types of membership sites can be especially appealing to customers who are looking for high-quality assets for their own creative projects.
How it works: Subscribers pay a recurring fee in order to have access to the site’s assets. These assets are not available anywhere else and are only accessible to members.
Why people might be interested: Customers who are seeking out premium or specialized resources to create their own projects may be interested in paying for a membership that grants access to a library. These sorts of sites also offer convenience by not requiring members to purchase or search for individual resources.
What you need to do: To offer something worthwhile to customers, be sure to only have assets of the highest quality on your site.
Envato Elements is a subscription service that provides access to a library of digital assets like templates, graphics, and photos.
Customers can access the library of assets for a monthly fee and use them for their own designs.
5. Digital library or training access
Digital library and training membership sites offer a content subscription to resources like online courses, training materials, and exclusive books or articles.
Membership websites like these offer an alluring opportunity for customers who desire to sharpen their skills or expand their understanding in a specific area.
How it works: You can pay a monthly or yearly fee to gain access to the site’s digital library and training resources. These are typically only available for members and can’t be found published elsewhere.
Why people might be interested: Those looking to learn new skills or improve their knowledge in a particular subject may be willing to pay for access to a library of digital resources. These types of membership sites can also offer convenience and flexibility, as members can access the resources at their own pace and from any location.
What you need to do: It is essential for the content on your site to remain current, precise, and useful for customers. Think about providing exclusive material or resources that can only be acquired from your platform.
Udemy is an online learning platform that offers a wide range of courses and training materials to premium members.
6. Access to tools
Tool access membership sites offer premium features or access to tools that become accessible to members.
These types of membership sites can be especially appealing to customers who are looking to improve their productivity or efficiency.
How it works: Customers can opt for a monthly or yearly membership to access special features or tools exclusive to members that are unavailable to non-members.
Why people might be interested: Those looking to maximize productivity or efficiency might be willing to purchase access to additional features or tools available on membership sites. Not only does this offer the convenience of not having to purchase or subscribe to each tool separately, but it also gives members exclusive access.
What you need to do: Make sure the offerings on your site are attractive to customers by providing exclusive tools and features unavailable anywhere else.
Canva is a graphic design platform that offers a subscription service that includes access to a wide range of premium templates and features.
7. Subscription-based services
Subscription-based service memberships can be a great option for customers searching for consistent support or help with any task.
These memberships provide a range of services, such as content production, graphics design and WordPress maintenance.
They are an ideal way to ensure that you have the right kind of assistance without having to invest in additional staff or resources.
How it works: Customers have the option to pay a monthly or annual fee for access to the subscription-based services. These services are only available exclusively to members, ensuring them special perks and benefits that non-members cannot take advantage of.
Why people might be interested: Those searching for long-term support or help with a specific task may be willing to pay for access to subscription-based services. Membership sites can provide convenience, allowing members to access the resources they need without needing to locate and hire individual service providers.
What you need to do: You’ll need to ensure that the services on your site are of real value to customers. Consider offering exclusive bonuses or added features that are not available elsewhere and that aim to simplify their lives in some way. Convenience is key.
Kinsta is a managed WordPress hosting service. It offers a subscription service that includes access to managed services including backups, security scans and performance optimization.
8. Online forums and communities
Online forums and communities can be a great way to bring together like-minded individuals who share similar interests.
These memberships allow customers to engage in conversations within the forum or community and gain access to exclusive resources.
In fact, hosting a forum or online community is a popular choice for boosting site engagement.
According to the Zuora Subscription Economy Index Report, 65.5% of sites indicated that hosting an online community is their top engagement strategy.
How it works: Customers pay a monthly or annual fee to access exclusive forums and message boards. They are typically only available to members and are not available to non-members.
Why people might be interested: People who are looking for a supportive, like-minded community or exclusive access to industry professionals may be willing to pay for access to the forums and message boards.
These types of membership sites can also offer convenience, as members do not need to search for other communities or resources.
What you need to do: Besides offering exclusivity, you’ll also need to provide members with a true sense of belonging and actual community. Make it clear what the point of the exclusivity is. Is it access to expert-level feedback? Is it the ability to join in conversation with industry professionals or something else?
Experts Exchange is a membership site focused on providing IT professionals with access to an online community and exclusive resources.
The site provides access to an exclusive forum where tech experts can answer your questions.
9. PLR subscriptions
PLR subscription sites offer access to private label rights content, which can be used to create your own businesses or products.
These types of membership sites can be especially appealing to customers who are looking for pre-made content or resources to use for their own projects.
How it works: Customers pay a monthly or annual fee to access the PLR content they can then use to populate their own sites and resources.
Why people might be interested: Customers looking for pre-made content or resources to use for their own projects may be willing to pay for access to PLR content. These types of membership sites can also offer convenience and time-saving benefits, as members do not need to create the content from scratch.
What you need to do: You’ll need to make the selling point clear here. Ensure that the content on your site is of value to customers in both its quality and availability. Perhaps consider offering content in underexplored niches as well.
MasterPLR is a PLR membership site that offers a wide range of content, including articles, ebooks, graphics, and more.
Members pay a monthly fee to access all of the content on the site to use however they’d like.
10. Niche community and fan sites
Niche communities and fan membership sites, such as Ravelry, Craftsy, DeviantArt and Patreon-type memberships are a great way to engage customers who have an avid interest in certain topics or hobbies.
These websites offer everything from hobby sites to fan wikis that provide fans with exclusive content not found anywhere else.
How it works: Those who sign up to the membership site typically pay a monthly or annual fee to access the exclusive content and resources. Sometimes this garners access to experts in a particular niche, discussion boards or forums, and other community-based activities.
Why people might be interested: Customers who are passionate about a particular subject or hobby may be willing to pay for access to a community of like-minded individuals. These types of membership sites can also offer a sense of belonging and support to members.
What you need to do: If this is the type of membership site you opt for, be sure to make the selling point clear here. Ensure that the content and resources on your site are of value to customers who share a similar interest as well as offering a real feeling of exclusivity. Prospects should feel as though they’re missing out by not signing up.
Ravelry is a membership site for knitters and crocheters that offers access to a community of like-minded individuals, as well as patterns, tutorials, and forums.
This site provides an invaluable resource for knitters and crocheters and is popular amongst enthusiasts of the craft.
Another related example is Craftsy, a site that offers online classes and resources related to a wide range of crafting topics.
Members pay a monthly fee to access the classes, tutorials, and other resources available on the site.
Whether you’re seeking employment, looking for a special online community, hiring service providers, submitting your work to journals or exploring the dating scene – classified membership sites provide access to niche listings at an affordable cost.
This type of membership site can be especially appealing to customers who are seeking a specific type of service or connection.
How it works: People sign up to the membership site and pay either a monthly or annual fee. The fee allows them access to all of the classified listings available on the site, which are usually exclusive to the platform.
Why people might be interested: Customers who are looking for job postings, niche community opportunities, or service providers may be willing to pay for access to a targeted list of classifieds. These types of membership sites can also offer convenience, as members do not need to search for listings individually.
What you need to do: To compete in this space, make sure the classifieds you offer are of greater value than what is found elsewhere. Offer exclusive resources customers won’t find elsewhere. Consider also offering a money back guarantee to increase trust and confidence in the platform.
Angi is a membership website that provides access to a list of service providers in the US and Canada.
Members pay a monthly fee to access classified listings and can search for service providers in their local area that have received the platform’s seal of approval.
12. Entertainment access
Entertainment access membership sites are an ideal option for customers who want special access to their favorite show, network, or series.
For those passionate about a particular program or genre of entertainment, these types of memberships offer the perfect solution.
How it works: People sign up to the membership site and pay either a monthly or annual fee. The fee allows them access to exclusive content such as behind-the-scenes footage, sneak peeks of upcoming episodes, and other entertainment related resources.
Why people might be interested: For fans of a certain show or genre, exclusive access to content or early access to new episodes can be worth paying for. A membership site also brings convenience, as members do not have to purchase single episodes, seasons, installments or issues separately.
What you need to do: You’ll need to ensure that the content on your site is of value. Consider offering exclusive episodes, bonus content, or early access to new episodes that are not available elsewhere.
Netflix is a streaming service that offers a subscription service that includes access to a wide range of TV shows, movies, and documentaries.
Members pay a monthly fee to access the content on the site and are able to stream it anywhere with an internet connection.
Netflix also offers exclusive shows and content that are only available to subscribers.
13. Serial content
Serial content membership sites provide members with an ongoing subscription to a wide variety of magazines, podcasts, fiction stories, newsletters and newspapers.
Such offerings can be especially enticing for customers seeking continuous access to specific types of content.
How it works: People sign up to the membership site and pay either a monthly or annual fee. The fee allows them access to all of the serial content available on the site, including old episodes or issues.
Why people might be interested: Customers looking for specific types of content such as magazines, podcasts or newsletters may be willing to pay for access to a subscription to ongoing installments. If your content becomes a part of their regular routine — listening while driving to work or reading an issue before bed — they’ll come to depend on it.
What you need to do: To compete in this space, make sure the content you offer is of greater value than what is found on other sites. Consider offering exclusive content that customers won’t find elsewhere, as well as curated collections that are organized by theme or specific interests.
Premium podcasts are a great example of the kind of serialized content we’re talking about here.
Customers can pay for a subscription to access exclusive episodes and content from their favorite podcasters. A popular offering is the TED Talks Daily podcast.
Workshop membership sites offer limited-time (or one-time) events or classes to members.
These could be in-person or online, and could be focused on a particular topic or skill. These types of membership sites can be especially appealing to customers who are looking for focused, intensive learning opportunities.
How it works: Customers pay a fee to access the workshop event or class. The workshop is typically only available to members and is not open to non-members.
Why people might be interested: Customers looking for focused, intensive learning opportunities may be willing to pay for access to a workshop or class. This type of membership site could also be appealing to customers who are looking for a one-time event or class that won’t require them to commit to a long-term subscription.
What you need to do: You’ll need to ensure that the workshop content on your site is of value to customers. Consider offering exclusive workshops or bonus content that is not available elsewhere.
The Writer’s Center offers an online workshop membership site that provides members with access to exclusive classes, events, and workshops.
These are all focused on writing, and customers can pay a fee to gain access to the one-time event.
Set up your own membership site with SureMembers
SureMembers is a WordPress plugin that allows you to easily set up and manage your own membership website.
With SureMembers, we’ve made it so you can create membership levels, manage subscriptions and protect content with ease.
Unlike other membership plugins, SureMembers doesn’t rely on other plugins for payment functionality, instead offering robust payment options built directly into its core features.
The plugin also supports subscription and recurring payments out of the box, eliminating the need for separate and expensive add-ons that other membership plugins may require.
Here’s how it works in simple steps:
Step 1. Install the plugin
To install SureMembers, first purchase it from the official website. Then, log in to your WordPress dashboard and go to Plugins > Add New.
Click Upload Plugin then select the appropriate zip file from your computer.
Once the plugin is installed, click Activate.
Step 2. Add your license key
Back on the SureMembers site, go to your account and copy the license key for the plugin.
Then go back to your WordPress dashboard, click SureMembers, then paste the license key into the appropriate field when prompted.
Step 3. Create an access group
After activating SureMembers, you can create Access Groups with all the necessary details: name, price and duration.
Even free trials are available if you’d like to offer them. Plus, you can decide what content each group has access to.
Step 4. Specify protected content
When creating a group with SureMembers, you can decide exactly what content you’d like to protect.
Opt for protecting all posts and pages or choose specific ones based on taxonomies. If there are any posts or pages that should remain outside the rule’s scope, you have the option to exclude them.
Step 5. Drip content
SureMembers lets you determine the pace of content delivery. You can plan out what and when your members should have access to the content, allowing for a gradual progression through an online course.
This way, members are only able to view relevant pieces of information one at a time, instead of all at once.
Step 6. Set up unauthorized access parameters
Determine what happens when someone visits your content who isn’t part of the Access Group.
You can choose to redirect them to another page or show them a message. You can use HTML in your message and advanced content editor will be available in the future.
Step 7. Managing members
If you need to check which members belong to a specific Access Group, you can use the Access Groups admin page or simply navigate to WordPress’ Users page.
SureMembers adds filtering options as well as extra info next to each user’s name and email address that indicates which groups they’re part of.
Clicking into their profile will allow you to manage their associated Access Groups and figure out when they were added.
Installing SureMembers is simple and straightforward, and once activated you can quickly set up your membership levels, manage subscriptions, and protect content.
This plugin makes it so easy to create and administer your own website with a membership system.
For more details on setting up and using SureMembers, check out this in-depth guide or watch this video.
There are many different types of membership sites that businesses can consider in 2023.
From providing access to premium content to offering one-on-one coaching sessions, there are many ways to create value for your customers and generate recurring revenue through a membership model.
By carefully considering your target audience and the type of content or services that you can offer, you can choose a membership site idea that works for your business.
Don’t forget to utilize the resources available to you. Starter Templates can save you a ton of WordPress design and development work. SureMembers can streamline the membership management process, which is the icing on the cake.
Good luck out there!
Do you run a membership website? Have any tips for anyone planning to start one? Tell us about them below if you do!