A Guide to Coming up with Membership Site Ideas

If you’re having trouble getting your membership site started, we have a guide for you.

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re stuck at home trying to come up with membership site ideas.

Maybe lost your job due to the pandemic. Or maybe you’re trying to switch careers and share your perspective. Whatever the case may be, membership sites are a great way to build a community of like-minded people and monetize your experience, expertise, or curiosities.  Even if you’re not sure where to start.

We know that sometimes, the hardest part of starting something new is coming with an idea for what you want to do. And we’re here to help! Ahead, we’re going to explore what membership sites are, and how to come up with the best membership site ideas.

What is a membership site?

A membership site is practically any website that offers paid subscriptions in order for people to gain access to your content.

In order for people to view your content, they need to have an active member account on your website. If they do, they can log in to the members-only area and view the content you’ve created for them.

Depending on the model you choose, a membership site can have both paid and free members. It can also have different tiers with unique access based on membership levels. No matter the structure, the value of a membership site is that you can charge people on a recurring (monthly, semi-annual, yearly, etc.) basis for continued access to your content.

So, knowing that, the best membership ideas will be one that can grow with you as your gain members, create new content, and build your business.

Ahead, we’ll look at some key aspects to consider when coming up with your membership website idea.

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3 Steps for coming up with the best membership site ideas

If you’re struggling to come up with a profitable membership site idea, you may need to break down your process a bit more.

Now, for the good news: We’ve done some of that work for you by creating a 3 step guide for membership site idea creation. It should get your old idea factory going.

1. Have a clear purpose for your membership

The best membership site ideas start with a clear purpose in mind. It might not be rocket science, but being able to concisely describe the motivation behind your membership site isn’t always easy.

But it is important: Having a clear purpose will make your membership site idea more specific. Additionally, when you know what the purpose of your membership site is, it’s much easier to build out content and nail down what your audience looks like.

For example, saying, “I want a membership site that teaches people about health and wellness,” isn’t a great membership site idea. That description can mean…a lot of things. There are many aspects and approaches to teaching people about health. And there are around a zillion different ways to teach fitness.

A better example would be something like, “I want to create a membership site that shows people the health benefits of calisthenics and gives them a workout regimen to help them improve their health.” This is a much more specific purpose. And it also acknowledges it will use a unique method—calisthenics—as a means to help members achieve their health goals.

2. Know who your people are

The next step in coming up with the best membership site ideas is knowing who you’re trying to reach.

When you know who your people are, you can create content that speaks to them. Remember, your people are basically your “ideal” members. They are the ones that will be most enthusiastic about your membership site.

You can figure this out by asking yourself these questions:

  • Who am I trying to reach and what do they want?
  • How can I help them reach their goals?
  • Why can’t they reach them by themselves?

Once you’ve got these questions answered, you’ll be one step closer to honing in on your membership site idea.

3. Choosing a membership site idea that can grow with you

We’ve been talking a lot about being specific when cultivating your membership website ideas. But you should also have some wiggle room.

Having a membership website idea that is flexible will allow you to scale your business as you learn more about what your people really want. Up until this point in the process, you’ll be doing a lot of speculation: What do my potential members want? How can I help them? Etc.

While it’s important to plan ahead, people can be pretty unpredictable sometimes. A good membership site idea can be molded into a few different angles depending on what your members end up wanting.

Don’t fret if you’re a little off base at the start. Course correcting just means that you care about your members’ needs and are willing to try and help them achieve their goals no matter what.

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Great categories for choosing a membership website ideas

It never hurts to get a bit of inspiration from people who are already succeeding at what you’re trying to accomplish. Below, we’re going to look at the three most common categories for membership website ideas.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s a great place to start.

Health and Wellness

Because there are always people looking for ways to improve their health, health and wellness is a great place to start developing membership website ideas. Typically, these memberships run the gamut, focusing on people that want to change their eating habits,  start working out, or improve their mental health.

See a trend there? Health and wellness can lead to great membership site ideas because it’s a versatile category with plenty of room for you to find your niche of people.

Let’s take a look at an example of someone who is slaying the game in the health and wellness membership site world:

Mindful Living Collective is a health and wellness group that focuses on mindful living and meaningful human connection.

Its founder, Elisha Goldstein, learned that his members wanted more than online courses. By being flexible with his membership site ideas, his audience grew.

Goldstein realized that his members needed more than just online courses to see sustaining results for their wellness goals. Coming up with a membership website idea allowed him to create a space for his members to convene and share their experiences.

Goldstein still offers his online courses, but by being flexible with his membership idea he was able to unlock even more value from his skills.

Professional Development

A classic category for membership website ideas revolves around professional development. This, just like health and wellness, is a broad space that will give you a lot of room to work with when coming up with your idea.

Most membership sites revolve around a group of people coming together to accomplish a goal. When it comes to professional development, that goal centers around gaining skills, knowledge, or experience that will advance members forward in their careers.

The best membership site ideas for professional development will create a space for members to learn and network with like-minded professionals. Here’s an example of a group we love:

In the Cut is a membership site for marginalized folks looking to break into the film and television industry.

The founder of the group, Rae Benjamin, is a Black writer who found recent success in the television industry. Her membership site idea centers around demystifying the process of breaking into the industry as a person of color.

In the Cut is a great example of a professional development membership site idea because Benjamin realized the importance of creating a virtual community that grows and changes as more members join in.

Benjamin centered affordability and accessibility as key components in her membership site idea which allowed her to reach a wider audience.

Professional development is more than just gaining new skills, it’s also about networking with people and forming connections. By offering more than just an online course with her membership site, Benjamin exemplifies what you can do in this category.

Personal Development

There are plenty of people out there wanting to learn new skills and experience new things. Personal development is a great space to consider because you’ll be dealing with very passionate and motivated people who want to find community and support.

Personal development is an incredibly broad category as well. Whether you’d like to focus on the arts, self-improvement, or something else, the best membership sites join great content with an engaged community.

The best part is that often those two things end up supporting each other. When you’ve got great content, people will want to join in. Let’s take a look at a group that’s excelling in this department:

ArtSnacks Mix is an online community built to connect arts together.

Brother and sister artists Lee and Sarah Rubenstein started off selling an art subscription box. When they saw how quickly their idea took off, they began thinking of how they could do more.

After starting a successful hashtag on Instagram, they realized the sheer magnitude of their community. Once it was clear how big their reach was, they started thinking of membership site ideas to bring everyone together.

What Lee and Sarah found is that creating a community space gave their members an opportunity to more easily interact with each other. This meant artists could share feedback, post what they’ve been working on, and participate in friendly challenges with each other.

ArtSnacks Mix is a great example of a personal development membership site because Lee and Sarah were willing to experiment with what works. By listening to their members and being flexible with their membership site idea, they’ve been able to reach more people and create a thriving community.

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Time to get that idea factory going!

Okay, we’ve covered a lot of important aspects for you to consider when coming up with a membership site idea. But none of that matters unless you actually start doing the work.

The ideation phase doesn’t have to be a drag. In fact, it’s one of the most rewarding parts of anything you create. Coming up with an idea for a membership site can be fun, intellectually stimulating, and we bet, pretty eye-opening.

All that’s left for you to do is to get started achieving your goals. We’re excited about what you’re going to create.

What kind of membership site are you going to make?

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