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Updated Nov 06, 2023

Is a Subscription Website Right for Your Business?

Subscription sites are a great way to deliver high-quality content. Here's what you need to know.

Jared Atchison, Community Member
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Does your company consistently create highly sought-after and unique content? Do you have many loyal readers? If so, consider switching your website to a subscription model where subscribers pay to access your content. Subscription websites — also called membership websites — are an effective way for your business to deliver high-quality content to customers while generating recurring income. 

FYIDid you know
A subscription business model is also ideal for online learning companies, streaming entertainment, and beauty and health products.

What is a subscription website?

Subscription websites require visitors to pay a monthly membership fee to access premium content. Typically, some information is freely available, which allows first-time users to become familiar with the platform’s content and quality. However, in a subscription website pricing model, most content is behind a paywall; members input their login information to access it. 

Many people have been part of a membership site at some point. Subscription sites cover a wide variety of subjects, like baking or professional networking. People join subscription websites to learn and connect with their peers. 

Remember that when you create a website accessible only to members, your content is invisible on the internet. You’re creating gated pages that won’t appear on search results. 

A subscription website is a great idea if you have valuable content that can help a limited number of people. 

What are the main components of a subscription website?

Your business may be able to benefit from launching its own membership site. When you design a website based on a subscription model, content and community are the most critical factors. 

Content

If you have in-depth knowledge about a specific subject that will help people, starting a subscription site makes sense.

Content can include any of the following:

  • Articles
  • Video content and courses
  • Live video presentations
  • Podcasts
  • Webinars 
  • Tutorials
  • Counseling and coaching

A membership site helps you deliver content to specific people who have paid for it or signed up on your site. It gives you a way to share valuable content online without making that content accessible to the entire internet.

TipBottom line
You can repurpose older content by updating it, adding information vital to your target audience, and using a new platform. For example, retool an older blog post and use it as the basis for a new podcast episode.

Community

A subscription site makes sense if your business has a vital community component. If that’s the case, a membership site gives people a place to discuss your product or solution. They can ask each other questions and learn from interacting with others. 

A subscription site creates a unique place to discuss common interests and experiences without the rest of the world looking on. It can also form a support and motivation group that people can use to help each other. 

Examples of community-oriented membership sites include the following:

  • Health and fitness communities
  • Professional and industrial networking groups
  • Online coaching and counseling
  • Business and expert directories

Subscription sites often incorporate both content and a community platform. Building a community for your brand gives users a valuable resource when encountering problems. 

Did You Know?Did you know
Consider using an email marketing campaign that offers a free trial period to people interested in your subscription website. According to Recurly, free trials of seven days or less generate the highest conversion rate.

What are the benefits of a subscription site?

Content and community form the core of any membership website. However, consider the following additional benefits when deciding if this model is right for your business. 

Content protection

Your content is an asset that can generate profits over several years when you carefully protect and manage it. A membership site lets you create a secure platform that delivers content easily and automatically. This model makes it easier to prevent outsiders from stealing and misusing your content.

Additionally, a subscription site allows you to earn passive income from your content while providing value to customers. Customers will value your content more when they discover it’s available exclusively on your membership site.

Community platform

When you create a membership site, you build an online community where people can discuss a common interest. Your customers can get in-depth answers about your industry, business or product from expert users and your team.

Your membership site creates a place for discussions and education. People learn from each other by asking questions and sharing ideas while supporting and motivating each other. 

Subscription website platforms have built-in functionality to help you create and manage online communities. You can control who can access community discussions and Q&As. Diligent monitoring is especially important if users share pictures, stories and personal information. 

TipBottom line
Encourage user-generated content on your subscription website so users can share their unique experiences with your product or service.

Drip content management

Drip content is a content delivery method in which content is disseminated over a predefined period. A membership website is an excellent drip content management tool that helps you share abundant content or content that your audience needs in a specific order. 

Drip content features help you create, protect and manage your content. Many businesses share their drip content with automated email sequences via email marketing software. Others use email marketing integrations to membership plug-ins to accomplish this. 

Using drip content on your membership site prevents users from getting overwhelmed with too much information at once. It keeps them engaged and active on your site by making content available piece by piece. 

FYIDid you know
To justify charging for your content, make sure it’s in-depth, high-quality and unique. Paid content tends to be longer than free content, including longer articles and more detailed video content.

Automation

Automating business tasks allows you to carve more free time to create content and grow your business. Manually repeating tasks for each new customer is impractical — and if you have a membership site with hundreds or thousands of users, managing them without automation is impossible. 

You can use WordPress plug-ins and other tools to automate many time-consuming subscription website tasks, including the following: 

  • Allow users to become members and access content with a user registration form.
  • Send welcome emails, notifications and invoices automatically.
  • Automatically deliver content, like downloadable files, instructions or content links.
  • Allow users to set passwords, edit profiles, and recover accounts if they forget their password.
  • Create automatic payment systems to charge users for access to your site.
  • Manage user profiles to change their membership status, cancel their subscription, or carry out other admin work.

Automation frees up time you can use to address unexpected problems. You’ll also have more time to create top-notch content. You can focus on giving users a great customer experience and excellent value. 

Does a membership site make sense for your business?

If you have brilliant content to share with customers, creating a membership site will serve you well. It’s a great way to build a close, information-rich community of like-minded people. 

A membership website can help you leverage your expertise, especially if you have a niche product or work in a niche marketplace. It makes sense to start a website when specific content matters to a specific group. 

When you create a subscription website, content and community are your primary considerations. Focusing on excellent content and a vibrant community will set the stage for your subscription website’s success. 

Jennifer Dublino contributed to this article.

Jared Atchison, Community Member
Co-Founder of WPForms, one of the largest WordPress contact form plugins in the market. I have been programming for over a decade and enjoy creating plugins that help people create powerful web designs without touching code.
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