Looking to make recurring revenue as a blogger or online entrepreneur? Here’s exactly how to set up and easy online membership business so you can serve your audience and earn predictable income.
An online membership business is a fantastic way to monetize what you know. Plus you get to build closer relationships with your community, and help members improve their lives.
Also, a membership business can be easily added to your existing blog or online business, because a membership is really just a community around you, your expertise, and your content.
Table of Contents
Benefits of Creating an Online Membership Business
Recurring revenue is not the only benefit of starting a membership. Other benefits include:
- Building your authority and being seen as an expert in your space
- Creating a more intimate relationships with your audience. In addition to paying your money, the people in your membership become your evangelists and your R&D team.
- A membership is an easy, inexpensive way to create and launch new product
Let’s start with the basics…
What is an online membership business?
An online membership is typically where you providing 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.” And usually in addition to exclusive content, you are selling exclusive access to you.
Types of online membership businesses you could start:
- A community, usually with you at the center
- A daily, weekly, or monthly newsletter
- 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.
The most popular membership we’ve seen content creators create includes monthly private zoom teaching sessions + monthly private Zoom Q&A sessions + private Facebook group for questions and community.
I explain below exactly what this type of membership looks like below.
Do you need an expensive membership site like Kajabi, Mighty Networks, or Teachable to host your membership?
These platforms claim 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 sevices like Zapier.
All you need to run your membership is a payment platform like MiloTree Easy Payments. And that’s why we built it.
It’s user-friendly, easy tech, and enables you to set up your membership exactly how you want.
Host your membership how you like because there’s no one-size-fits-all solution (and our hosting recommendations are below). Then, we help with the rest… selling, payments, subscriber management!
With MiloTree Easy Payments, you get:
- Unlimited free hosted sales pages to market your membership to your audience
- An easy way for people to pay (MiloTree Easy Payments integrates with Stripe)
- A dashboard to manage subscribers and customers
- Easy integration with all major email service providers to stay in close contact with your customers
- No monthly fee! MiloTree Easy Payments charges a 5% transaction fee. We only make money when you do.
- The ability to sell other digital products like paid workshops, coaching, and digital downloads through the platform
What does a MiloTree Easy Payments Free Hosted Membership Sales Page Look Like?
You can find our MiloTr free membership sales page template here.
Here’s an image of the header section.
Wait… MiloTree Easy Payments Charges No Monthly Fee?
Our goal is to be 100% aligned with you. Therefore, we only charge a small (5% transaction fee) on sales. We only make money when you do!
This means setup is completely free on MiloTree Easy Payments, not like on those expensive platforms where, after your free trial period, you start paying whether you make sales or not.
We want to bet on you, the creator!
So what’s the best place to host my online membership?
Many people use a combination of free (or mostly free) platforms to host their memberships. 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.
Favorite free (or almost free) sites to host your membership business:
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 that members might have missed it or want to revisit, 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.
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 your 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.
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 tope 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 Your Membership
Pricing is always a challenge at the beginning.
With MiloTree Easy Payments, you have some pricing options.
- 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.
Here’s how easy it is to set your price in your MiloTree Easy Payments 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 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.
Want Personalized Help Setting Up Your Online Membership?
If you are having trouble setting up your online membership or just want someone to walk you through it, we’d love to help you!
And we promise, the whole thing can be quite simple, straightforward, and inexpensive.
Just contact us on our site and we’ll get on a call and walk you through the entire process. It’ll be fun!
A powerful, new income stream is waiting for you, so tap into it now!