What is a membership site?


When you’re considering different types of online businesses, it pays to think about membership sites.

Also known as subscription sites, they’re a great way of generating steady revenue for your business from the very first day.

In this article, we’ll explain what a membership site is, and how it can help you generate more revenue than a regular website. 

Let’s take a look!

What is a membership site?


A membership website is a website with a restricted section only available to paying subscribers.

For example, let’s say you were to sell access to courses and informative material. 

You’d place that on a membership site. If someone wanted access to your courses and posts, they’d have to become a paying subscriber.

The formula is easy: you have the knowledge your audience wants, and they’re willing to pay for it.

You can have a portion of your website that’s available to everyone, to draw paying customers in. 

Then, when they’re convinced of your content’s value, they’ll be more willing to become paying subscribers in exchange for receiving access to exclusive content.

Membership site examples

For example, Food Blogger Pro is a membership website that offers access to some of the most delicious (and Instagram-worthy) recipes out there. 

And in addition to their free blog, they offer courses for potential food bloggers that cover everything from recipes to food photography.


Similarly, Dribbble Pro’s membership offers access to thousands of employers like Google and Dropbox to artists promoting their work on the free version of the platform.


Both of these membership websites have free versions, but they’re also offering a lot more for people who want to upgrade to a paid subscription.

The benefits of membership sites

There are plenty of benefits to operating a membership site:

It’s (almost) passive income

When you set up your website and create your content, you’ll be able to sell an unlimited number of subscriptions. Especially if you’re selling longer content like courses.

You don’t have to constantly monitor your business. If you use a platform like Systeme.io, you can automate everything.

You have access to a community

With time, your members will turn into a community. This gives you access to a lot of people to up-sell and cross-sell to, as well as position yourself as a thought influencer. 

Gaining traction for your next venture will become a lot easier.

Steady revenue 

If you’re running a membership business, you don’t have to rely on performing services. 

You have products that practically sell themselves. 

And if you’re offering enough value continuously, you’ll earn revenue from recurring subscriptions.

Keeping it digital

Let’s be real: physical products are a lot of hassle. With ordering, shipping and ticketing, it almost makes you want to move to Peru and become a llama.

This is not a problem with membership sites.

You upload your material and it’s always online, available to members. 

All you have to do is make sure you update it. 

Traffic and marketing

Members who find value in your membership site won’t hesitate to provide you with their contact information. 

In turn, this gives you a great chance to target them with email drip campaigns and set up a sales funnel that will make it incredibly easy to increase their lifetime value.

How to build a membership site


The main obstacle to creating membership sites so far has been the technical side of things. 

You had to be the Steve Jobs of code to create a barrier stopping unpaying members from accessing your exclusive content.

However, with Systeme.io, you can create a beautiful and highly-engaging membership site in a few minutes.

No coding skills required.

If you’re ready to get your business up and running with Systeme.io, here are the steps you should follow:

1. Validate your membership site idea

Membership sites work best if they speak to a highly-targeted audience.

For example, a membership site for marketers would encompass a lot of topics. 

You couldn’t personalize for anyone.

But a membership site for content marketers would get you very far, as that’s a particular niche. 

Additionally, being a specialist at something will help you increase your influence and authority.

Then, take a look at your skills:

  • Do you have the necessary skills to create membership site content for your target niche? 
  • Do you have any means of obtaining them? For example, by hiring skilled independent contractors?

If you do, it’s time to run a competitive analysis.

Are there other businesses running membership sites that cater to the same niche?

If there are, and they’re well-established in a relatively small niche, you may have trouble getting through to people. 

We’re not saying it’s impossible, but it’s going to take more work, which is something to keep in mind when you’re evaluating your business idea.

If you’re not seeing any competitors, be careful. Maybe the niche isn’t profitable. 

A good way to gauge interest is by taking a look at similar content catering to the same niche:

  • Are there a lot of courses and workshops?
  • Is the niche prone to changes and developments?
  • Does your target audience have to stay updated because it’s a hobby, or because it’s their profession?

All of these can factor into whether your membership site will be profitable.

2. What kind of content will you offer?

The second step on your membership site journey is deciding on the type of content you will offer to your members.

Typically, membership sites use some of the following formats:

  • Videos
  • Courses
  • E-books
  • Podcasts
  • In-depth how-to guides

If you’ve already built up authority in your niche, you could even put your blog posts behind a paywall. However, make sure that they’re extremely informative.

Make sure your content type is the content type your audience wants to see.

For example, a yoga membership site should use video content. 

Similarly, if you’re speaking to professionals who need to stay ahead of their game, you could send out email newsletters and publish how-to guides.

Choose topics that are evergreen to begin with. 

These will be your cash-cows; they will always be interesting to new members. 

Then, make sure you also cover new developments to keep the old members returning. 

3. How will you attract members?

After you’ve decided on your content types and topics, it’s time to start thinking about attracting members.

The easiest way to reach potential members is by providing some of the material for free.

For example, you can use blog posts and search engine optimization to get more traffic to your website. Just make sure you provide enough value that is indicative of the membership value. 

Similarly, you could also enhance your social media presence and offer bits of wisdom. 

Anecdotes go a long way, so if you can build up a personal brand as you build up your professional brand, you will go a lot farther.

If you already have access to your target audience (for example, from a previous business venture), make sure you use them. 

The best way to do it is through a mailing list

Simply shoot your subscribers an email, notifying them of your membership site.

You can also use this to validate your site idea. If enough people are interested and they convert from the get-go, you’ve got yourself a profitable business!

Consider paid advertising, as well. 

Make sure you narrow in on bottom-funnel keywords signifying that searchers have the intent to purchase or sign up. 

For example, if you’re running a yoga membership site, you’d target keywords such as: “yoga membership site” or “yoga videos.” 

You wouldn’t target generic “yoga,” as it wouldn’t bring you the maximum amount of conversions. Someone could be browsing that keyword because they want to know what yoga is, not because they’re open to subscribing to a membership site. 

If you know of other entrepreneurs in similar or overlapping niches, why not partner with them? 

You’ll both be expanding your audience by cross-marketing. 

4. Set up your membership site

Fortunately, the fourth step is a really simple one.

Simply head on over to Systeme.io and set up your membership site in a few clicks. 

If you also want to promote your site and increase your revenue, Systeme.io gives you the options to:

  • Build sales funnels
  • Use email marketing
  • Build blogs
  • Run affiliate programs
  • Automate your business

5. Keep your community engaged

The key to a successful membership site is not only in providing valuable content, but having an engaged community.

Add extra value to existing members.

Stay updated on the niche and ask for your members’ feedback. 

A good membership site always keeps members’ needs in mind when moving forward. 

Don’t just make decisions you think your customers are going to like.

Ask them what they need.

Add new features and content.

Make sure you freshen up your membership site every once in a while, even if you’ve prepared a lot of content ahead. 

No one likes seeing a membership site with static content that hasn’t been updated in months.

Instead, keep tweaking and showing that you’re there and thinking of your members.

Run events

To keep your community engaged and active, consider running events

For example, you could give away rewards and discounts. 

Even something as simple as giving members a 10% discount for inviting a lot of friends will go a long way to ensuring your customers are happy.

And when your members are happy, your business will be profitable too. 

Other posts about membership site tools:

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