How Might You Structure Your Membership?

in Product Development

Membership IconAs you consider starting a membership, you’ll need to decide which membership model you will choose. This is based on both the type and amount of content you will provide, as well as your preference and willingness to continuously generate new content.

Here are some of the possibilities:

Ongoing, monthly

In this model, members pay per month “forever”. This sounds terrific! Sell once and earn money every month until you sell your business for seven figures, right? Not so fast.

First, this model requires that you create new content every month “forever”. There are a number of possible components of a membership and some aren’t as hard to generate month after month than others. Still, it’s a big and fairly permanent commitment, so be sure you’re up for it before you choose this model. And if you do choose it, carefully decide on what you’ll deliver each month so you know you’ll be able to consistently produce it.

Second, the dirty little secret of ongoing memberships is that the average time a member pays until they leave the membership is 3 months. I’ve seen memberships designed and supported in a such a way that members stay engaged much longer. But you need to realize that if you have a goal of X members per month, you won’t be able to rest on your laurels once you reach that level since you will have attrition and will always need to be attracting new members.

Pro: ongoing recurring income, although average length is 3 months
Con: must create new content every month “forever”

Fixed term

A fixed term membership lasts for 30 weeks or six months, or any set amount of time. They tend to be between 3 months and 12 months’ duration and content is usually delivered weekly. The content in the membership, whatever it is or however it’s delivered, is also fixed. The topic of a fixed term membership tends to be quite focused on a topic. Members can pay monthly or in one payment.

People start receiving the content from the beginning no matter when they join the membership. So at any given time, you will have members of a year-long program on week 1 and week 7 and week 35 and so on. A key aspect of most memberships of this type is that if a member cancels his membership and wants to restart it, he will start back at the beginning. This encourages members to just stick with it.

This model is attractive to both you as the creator as well as to your potential members. For your part, you know exactly how much content you’ll need ahead of time. You can plan it out. Heck, you can even have it all created before even launching the membership! This might be good for you if you’re worried about creating new content under time pressure.

On the other hand, you can create the first few bits of content, launch your membership to start bringing in money, and then create the remainder before they need to be disseminated to members.

This membership model can be more attractive to potential members since the topic and breadth of the material is clear upfront, as is the total cost.

While you won’t have an ongoing, “forever” stream of income from each member, you may find that members do stay longer since they’ve committed to a certain length of membership in the beginning. Of course, your content needs to be valuable enough that they don’t walk away before the end.

And as long as your membership material is evergreen, you can continuously market your membership and be bringing on new members without needing to create any new content. That sounds pretty good!

So if you’re considering a fixed term membership model, do try to pick a topic that will continue to be of interest and where the relevant material won’t go out of date too quickly.

Pros: clear benefit, know investment, all content can be created ahead of time
Con: must consistently attract new members, should pick a topic and material that will remain evergreen

There are more membership models to consider, but these are two of the most popular.

ackersa.com April 17, 2015 at 10:51 am

First of all I want to say awesome blog! I had a quick question which I’d like
to ask if you don’t mind. I was curious to find out how you center yourself and clear your mind prior to writing.
I’ve had a hard time clearing my mind in getting my thoughts out.

I truly do take pleasure in writing however it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are generally lost simply just trying to figure
out how to begin. Any recommendations or tips? Thank you!

Peggy April 17, 2015 at 4:42 pm

Thank you!

If I have trouble getting started, I don’t start at the beginning. Assuming you know what topic you want to write about, you can start by outlining your 3-7 main points and then go back to write the introductory and concluding text. This is a trick I learned junior year in high school when writing essays and it still works. 🙂