Looking to make recurring revenue as a blogger or online entrepreneur? Here’s exactly how to set up an easy online membership so you can serve your audience and earn predictable income.
An online paid membership is a fantastic way to monetize what you know. Plus you get to build closer relationships with your community and help your members improve their lives.
Also, a paid membership can be easily added to your existing blog or online business, because a membership is really just a community based off of your expertise and your content.
If you have built a community, whether it be on social media like Instagram, Facebook, YouTube or TikTok, or you have an email list, you’re missing out on a serious new income stream.
Stop giving away your premium content for free. I’ll show you how to get paid for it!
Table of Contents
Benefits of creating an online paid membership business
Recurring revenue is not the only benefit of starting a membership. Other benefits of the membership model include:
- Building your authority and credibility and being seen as an expert in your space
- Creating a more intimate relationships with your audience. If you treat your members as your VIPs and offer them perks with member-only content, they will become your evangelists and your R&D team.
- A membership is an easy, inexpensive way to create and launch a new product
- Memberships are much easier to create than online courses and they provide consistent revenue. You’re not always looking for the new sale.
Let’s start with the basics…
What is an online paid membership business?
An online membership business is where you provide exclusive content to your members at regular intervals, and they pay you at regular intervals to consume that content.
The operative word here is “exclusive” or members-only content. And usually in addition to exclusive content, you are selling exclusive access to you.
Types of online membership businesses I could start:
- A community, usually with you at the center
- A daily, weekly, or monthly newsletter where you drip content
- A series of articles
- Video series
- Private Zoom sessions
- Access to courses and other content
- Digital downloads (pdfs, songs, etc.)
In reality, most memberships offer a combination of these types of subscription offerings.
But at its most basic, Netflix is a membership or subscription business model. You get access to movies and TV shows for a recurring fee.
The most popular membership configuration:
- Zoom for teaching sessions and Q&A
- Private FB group or Discord server for questions and community
- MiloTreeCart for recurring payments and customer management
- Mailchimp to stay in contact with your members
Do I need an expensive membership platform or like Kajabi, Mighty Networks, Wild Apricot, Teachable or a membership website builder like Memberpress?
These platforms claims to offer easy “all-in-one solutions,” but our research indicates that easy all-in-one solutions don’t exist.
They are expensive, clunky, hard to navigate, overly complex, and they don’t even have all the features customers want so many entrepreneurs end up hacking solutions together using expensive and unreliable sevices like Zapier.
Plus, adding another WordPress plugin to your site is never a good ideas because of its effects on website speed and safety.
Here’s why we don’t recommend “all-in-one” solutions:
- Cost-effectiveness: Utilizing Zoom, Facebook or Discord, Mailchimp, and MiloTreeCart is typically more affordable than investing in an expensive, all-in-one platform. This can be particularly important for small businesses or individuals starting out with limited budgets.
- Familiarity: Many people are already familiar with platforms like Zoom, Facebook, and Mailchimp, making it easier for both you and your members to navigate and engage with the content and community.
- Flexibility: By using separate platforms for different aspects of your membership, you have the freedom to pick and choose the tools that best suit your specific needs, instead of being locked into the features offered by an all-in-one platform.
- Easy setup: Setting up a Zoom meeting, creating a private Facebook group or Discord server, and integrating Mailchimp and MiloTreeCart is simple, allowing you to get started quickly without a steep learning curve.
- Customizability: With separate platforms, you can customize each tool according to your preferences and requirements, providing a more tailored experience for your members.
- Large user base: Facebook and Discord have a massive user base, increasing the chances of your target audience already having accounts on these platforms. This makes it easier for them to join and engage with your community.
- Integration options: Many of these platforms have integration capabilities, allowing you to connect your chosen tools and streamline your workflows without the need for a more expensive, centralized platform.
- Proven success: Numerous successful online memberships and communities have been built using these cost-effective tools, demonstrating that it is possible to achieve success without investing in an expensive platform.
By leveraging these more accessible platforms, you can create a successful paid membership without the need for a costly all-in-one solution.
All you need to run your membership is a payment platform like MiloTreeCart. And that’s why we built it.
It’s built for non-techies and enables you to set up your membership exactly how you want in about 10 minutes.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for where to host your membership (and our hosting recommendations are below).
We help with the rest… selling, credit card payments, subscriber management!
Why MiloTreeCart is so easy and flexible
With MiloTreeCart you get:
- Unlimited free hosted sales pages to market your membership to your audience
- Easy and reliable payouts because MiloTreeCart integrates with Stripe
- A robust dashboard to manage subscribers and customers
- Easy integration with all major email service providers to stay in close contact with your customers (Mailchimp, ConvertKit, MailerLite, etc.)
- The ability to sell other digital products like paid workshops, coaching, and digital downloads through the platform.
- A library of marketing resources to help guarantee your success!
What does a MiloTreeCart free hosted sales page look like?
One of the best thing about MiloTreeCart are our free hosted, fill-in-the-blank sales pages. You can fill yours out and be selling in 10 minutes.
You can find our MiloTree free membership sales page template here.
Here’s an image of the header section.
You can also create a sales page for your membership on your own domain and use your MiloTreeCart payment link for purchases.
How do I attract customers to my paid membership?
Here are some key ways to attract customers to your online paid membership:
- Conduct free webinars to provide a sneak peak ad showcase the benefits of your membership program. Don’t be scared to give away valuable information.
- Create engaging blog posts that highlight the value of your membership program and attract potential customers to your website. You can put a MiloTreeCart payment button on your blog posts to entice people to join.
- Use email marketing to communicate with existing subscribers and potential customers, offering exclusive promotions and updates about your membership program.
- Leverage social media to reach a broader audience and build a community around your membership program, posting engaging content in your niche and interacting with followers.
- If you can afford it, targeted advertising on social media to attract new customers and build your brand awareness.
- Provide excellent customer service and support to ensure members are satisfied with their membership experience and encourage them to refer others to your program.
What’s the best place to host my online membership?
My recommendation is to use a platform people are familiar with. This is why a private Facebook group is such a popular option.
People are familiar with Facebook.
And you don’t want to have to ask your members to download a special app they’ve never heard of to access your content.
Make everything easy for your members, no added tech to learn. This is how you keep them engaged so they stick around.
If you’re offering teaching sessions or community sessions, I recommend you meet on Zoom. You can record the sessions and upload them into your Facebook group.
You can also store any teaching assignments, pdfs, or other digital files in your FB group.
Private Facebook group
Use a private Facebook group to go live in your group, have discussions, post prompts, and set up “teaching” units where you can organize content and host videos and pdfs.
Weekly email newsletter
Send content weekly to your members through your email service provider to keep them up to date on what’s going on in the membership and share links to new content.
Host weekly live sessions or community events on Zoom. Download the recordings and upload them to Facebook, YouTube, or Google Drive and share links to your members.
Set up a private podcast feed in your podcast host (like Libsyn where I host mine) and share it with your members.
Private Instagram account
Share content with your members through live IGTV, recorded video, posts, Stories, DMs, and commenting.
Private Discord server
Use chat, video, and channels on Discord. Also, add your files directly to your server.
Invite members to a free Slack channel to host discussions and share files.
Store content in a Personal Pro account for $4/month. Invite unlimited members. Think of this as the content and connection hub of your membership.
Again, most people use a combination of platforms to host their memberships.
The most popular combination is a private Facebook group + email + Zoom.
Other combinations include a private Facebook group + YouTube (creating and sharing unlisted videos) + email.
Do I need a library of content to start a membership?
The truth is the majority of your members are showing up for you and the community. They are not showing up for your library of content.
You do not need to build a library before starting your membership. Most people will never go back and consume it.
Therefore, the best thing you can do is start your membership!
Think of your content library as things you create for the group going forward. These could be video recordings of the Zoom sessions you create or digital downloads you create for a certain lesson.
So, again, no. You don’t need a library of content to start your membership!
Do I need a WordPress membership plugin to store my content?
No! You don’t need a WordPress membership plugin to store your content or manage your subscribers.
Unless you are a WordPress whiz, you will probably find these plugins clunky and hard to manage. Plus, they can significantly slow down your WordPress site and leave your site vulnerable to hackers.
It’s not worth the investment to try to install a WordPress membership plugin. Save yourself the headache.
The goal here is to run a lean membership!
Here are a couple of free (or mostly free) options for hosting my content:
In a private Facebook group (free)
You can upload videos and pdfs and organize them in “Guides” in your group. Then you can send links to the files in email.
In a Google Drive or Dropbox (both around $10/month)
You can upload videos and pdfs to Google Drive or Dropbox and share links to your content in emails or in your Facebook group.
On YouTube as unlisted videos (free)
Upload your videos to YouTube and make the links unlisted. Then share them in emails or in your Facebook group.
On Vimeo for videos ($7/month)
Upload your videos to Vimeo and use links to share in email or in your Facebook group.
As email attachments (free with certain email service provider)
Many email providers allow you to upload attachments to their platforms and send them directly to your members.
In Notion ($4/month)
A cool place where you can store all your content and invite conversation is on Notion.
As long as you’ve got links to your content that you can share with your members, you’re good to go.
You do not need an expensive platform to run a successful membership! It’s all about you showing up as yourself, and solving problems for your members.
How much content should I create in my membership and how do I set it up?
The old adage is true: Less is more!!
People will cancel their membership if they are overwhelmed, and feel like they can’t keep up.
So your job is to deliver value in small, digestible bites, and to show your members that they are making progress.
For example, in our coaching group, David and I host live Zoom sessions twice a month for one hour each.
The first session of the month is a workshop where David and I teach on a specific business building topic.
After the session, I assign optional homework. There’s no pressure to complete it, but if members do, I review it and give personalized feedback (I motivate with a carrot, not a stick).
The second session is a Q&A session where our members can ask us anything about business building, and we do a “check in” to see where people are in their businesses. This is such a great way to build community!!
I download both live Zoom sessions and upload them to our private Facebook group.
I send emails to all our members with links to the videos for people who couldn’t be there live.
Super easy for people to consume!
Also, we are always available in our Facebook group for questions and encouragement and by email.
But notice, we are very limited in what we offer. Our goal is to show up with high-value content that is easily consumable for our members.
And our members typically stay because we’ve bonded as a group.
You can run your memberships however you like, but I don’t recommend delivering more than 4 unique pieces of content per month.
I actually believe the sweet spot is more like 2, while you nurture the informal parts of your membership.
Remember, people join for the content, but stay for the community!
Make sure to highlight your members’ growth. They need to be moving forward on their journey.
But please don’t burn yourself or your members out.
This is a long game!
Quick Membership Set-Up Strategy
This is how we structure our membership and it is super successful!
- Meet twice a month (like first and third Wednesday of the month) for one hour each time on Zoom
- Teach live on a specific topic on Zoom in the first live session and do live Q&A in the second
- Download the Zoom videos and upload them to YouTube as “unlisted” videos
- After each session email everyone in the group with a link to the most recent video
- BONUS: Offer optional homework or an assignment in the first session due by the end of the month. Review people’s homework and send personal feedback.
- Email everyone the first day of the month to give people the topic for the month and the reminder dates for the Zoom session.
- Create a private FB group for questions and community. Pop into the Facebook group once a week and add a prompt to get people sharing and talking.
How to price my membership
Pricing is always a challenge at the beginning.
With MiloTreeCart, we recommend different membership tiers
- You can offer an ongoing monthly price for an ongoing membership
- You can offer an annual price (usually people take their monthly price and multiply it by 10 to get their discounted annual price) for an ongoing membership
- You can offer your membership for a set period of time (not ongoing), like a three month membership to get in shape, for example using a one-time price
I recommend you offer an introductory price with an expiration date so people are incentivized to join. These will become your “founding members,” so let them know how special they are to you. Let them know they will play a critical role helping you create the membership.
One way to determine your price is to figure out how much you’d like to make from your membership, then back into how much you’d need to charge.
Also, look for memberships in your niche, and do some competitor analysis to see if you’re in the range.
Assume pricing is something that you will continue to experiment with and adjust as your membership evolves. Continue to run pricing experiments on new customers. And we do recommend you have different membership levels.
Here’s how easy it is to set your price in your MiloTreeCart dashboard.
How do I retain my membership subscribers?
As I mentioned above, people come for the content, but stay for the community.
Think of yourself as the camp counselor of the group. Not only are you teaching and helping your members solve their problems, but you’re also nurturing the group dynamic, like a camp counselor leading everyone in song.
Make sure to interact with your new members, address their questions and concerns, but also be mindful of how they are interacting with each other.
Put effort into creating a positive, inclusive environment, where your members feel seen and heard.
Cultivate the different personalities and see everyone as having a different role in the group.
Also, make sure you continue to shake things up by adding content that “surprises and delights.” You can do this through special bonuses, contests, sneak peaks, or special access to you! Don’t underestimate how much people value to you!
Keep your members excited so they want to continue to come back for more.
Yes I want personalized help setting up my online membership!
Great, we’re here to help!!
If you would like someone to walk you through setting your membership up with MiloTreeCart, we’d love to help you!
And we promise, with MiloTreeCart, the whole thing is simple and straightforward.
Just book a free call with me and I’ll walk you through the entire process. It’ll be fun!
A powerful, new income stream is waiting for you, so tap into it now!
A powerful, new income stream is waiting for you, so tap into it now!