Normally, when you think about a membership site the first thing that comes to mind is a site with some educational videos. However, membership sites are not limited to online courses and they don’t have to be subscription based subscription based. In this article, I’ll discuss different types of membership sites that one can build.
We can classify membership sites into below broad categories:
- Content Delivery Membership Sites
- Skill Development Membership Sites
- Service Provider Membership Sites
- Community Membership Sites
- Special Membership Sites
The majority of membership sites that you encounter fall under content delivery membership sites that offer digital content on a particular topic. These type of membership sites mostly focus on a niche such as digital marketing,
If you’re an expert in a particular field and you think you can help people learn what you’re doing you can consider creating a content delivery membership site. A content delivery membership site can be created for any field such as Digital Marketing or Tennis. The difference between the two types of content is the need for physical activity.
For convenience in this section, we will discuss fields that don’t require physical activity.
- How to use a particular software, e.g. Final Cut Pro, Keap
- Information on an academic subject, e.g. Philosophy, History, Psychology,
- Soft skill training, e.g. Leadership
- Profession specific Training, e.g. Digital Marketing,
- Technical Training, e.g. Building Website, Setting up online stores
For a content delivery membership site, the most important aspect is the outcome since you’re teaching one specific course. You must have a very specific promise as an end goal that your audience is expected to achieve. For example, if you’re teaching how to use video editing software, your members must be able to edit videos after completing your course.
You can deliver content in 4 different formats for content delivery websites:
- Articles or blog posts
- Downloadable content
Video is the most popular content format as it’s easy to consume and follow, however, depending on the subject and nature of your content you can use other format types as well or use the mixture of above mentioned formats.
You can follow 2 structures based on the nature of your content. For courses that explain the basics and concepts and don’t require any activity, you can go with Eat All structure, meaning the user can consume as much content as he wants.
On the other hand, when you want users to take specific action based on your content such as building a website or editing a photograph provided by you to ensure they’re learning, you can consider Drip Feeding. Drip Feeding means releasing content at regular intervals so the users have sufficient time to implement what they’ve learned.
The content delivery membership sites mostly provide info products so as a membership site owner you can test whether the user has understood the concepts correctly. A simple quiz after each section of the course will help users to measure their own progress.
Some fields require more practical teaching and involve physical activity such as playing guitar, yoga, gym training, or soccer training. These types of membership programs are a bit more challenging since the end result is precisely measurable meaning a person will be able to identify clearly if he has learned to play guitar after going through your course.
- How to play a musical instrument, e.g. Guitar, Violin, Piano
- How to play a sport, e.g Soccer, Tennis
- Physical Training programs, e.g. Yoga, Gym Training, Martial Arts Training
- Performing art training, e.g. Dance, Acting
- Personal care and pet care training, e.g. Pet Grooming, Haircut, and Makeup training, Massage training
For a skill development type of membership program, it is important that your users can see the difference in their skills as they progress in your course. These type of courses or membership programs needs to be designed carefully because if the users won’t see the improvement they will get discouraged easily and drop out.
Video format is the most useful for skill development programs so users can see the movements themselves and learn.
You can consider making smaller videos so the users can follow and drip feed the videos for ensuring the users are practicing as well. If users will consume lots of videos without practicing they won’t actually improve and soon they’ll think your program is not working for them. On the contrary, if they will be able to achieve smaller moves and techniques such as a single dance move or a single guitar chord, they will be motivated to learn further.
The ideal way to measure the progress of your users for a skill development program is to have them complete a practical task. You can ask them to submit a photo or a video based on what works for you to verify the result. If you have a community, you can share these photos and videos with them to encourage other users. The same can be posted on your social media accounts as well, as social proof for building trust in new incoming leads and prospects.
If you’re a service provider who offers done for you service, you can think of turn your service into a membership program. Technically this works for all types of services such as car wash or lawn removal to content writing. The benefit of providing digital services such as providing custom graphic designs or Keynote presentations is that you can target a larger audience since the deliverable is in digital format.
- Digital Services, e.g. graphic design, customer support service, website maintenance
- Convenience Services, e.g. Lawn Removal, Car Wash, Pet Hosteling
You can let your users login to your membership site and assign them credits based on their membership. The users can book an appointment online or submit requirements in case of digital service using their credits.
You don’t really need to create a lot of content for done for your membership sites, however relevant blog posts and videos can help attract new leads.
Since you’re practically doing the job on the clients’ behalf, you can measure the effectiveness of your membership program in terms of customer satisfaction.
A community focused membership site provides a laser focused platform to the users who share the same goal or complement each other. For example, a community membership site for a Catholic Christians group will be a much better forum for the users to discuss their faith with like minded members, instead of the usual social medial platform such as Facebook.
A community focused membership site can be much more compelling if it has members who are difficult to reach otherwise, such as writers, filmmakers, management gurus, etc.
- Religious Forums
- Academic Forums, e.g. Research Students Forum
- Business Forums, e.g. The Startup Investors Forum,
- Artistic Forums, e.g. Emerging Musicians Group, Art Collectors Community
For a community focused membership site, a unique community itself is a USP. But it’s important that the community is bustling and the members actively communicating. A community membership site with few members and no conversations loses its charm quickly.
Since the members of the community are focused on a niche, they’ll be happy to consume detailed articles or blog posts on the subject. It is not necessary that you create all the content for the site, you can invite the experts to write posts or create videos for the community.
You can give full access to all the content to the members so they can continuously consume content and remain active in the community. A live webinar on a specific topic at regular intervals can also help to motivate the members and start new conversations and discussions.
There are membership sites that don’t fit into the aforementioned categories. We’ll categorize them as special membership sites. For example, there can be a membership site that compiles all the discount codes or best offers for their members so they can save on their purchases. Another example could be members listing sites that give opportunities to members to list on the site so that customers in need can find them.
These types of membership sites may not need content but a blog may help for SEO ranking and lead generation.
You can turn almost any service into a membership program, all you need to figure out is what will be the USP (unique selling proposition) of your program and how you’ll market your program to your target audience. If you need help in identifying which membership site model you can use for your business, you can contact one of our certified partners here.