It’s a good time to start a membership site. Whether you’re looking for a place to bring a small group of people together OR if you have a ginormous social following you’re trying to monetize, membership sites just work.
With a membership site, you can create a dedicated, unique space that’s all your own. And with the beauty of recurring revenue, it’s an awesome business model too. Especially if you add a course into the mix.
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 up 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, a 3-step process to help you come up with your own amazing site, and 15 membership site ideas to get you started.
If you want more support in building your online course and community, come join OUR Mighty Community for free and meet other new and established community owners! We’d love to meet you. Join for free!
In this article...
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.
This is what a membership site looks like that's built on Mighty Networks.
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.
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.
Have a clear Big Purpose
The best membership site ideas start with a clear purpose (aka a Big 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 teaches millennials 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.
We have a free training on creating your Big Purpose in our Mighty Community, and it's free to join!
Know your Ideal Member
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.
We have a free training on finding your Ideal Member too!
Choosing your idea
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.
15 membership site ideas
1. Fitness and Exercise
Fitness and exercise membership sites are huge right now. As much as it can be a challenge to try to build a fitness practice on your own, adding in a membership community can create accountability, teaching, and give you friends to go through your transformation with.
One example of an awesome membership site devoted to fitness (and mindfulness too) is FWFG (Find What Feels Good). Created by Adriene Mishler as a membership site connected to her massively-successful YouTube Channel, Yoga with Adriene, FWFG lets members go deeper into the yoga practice with challenges, lessons, and of course, meeting friends.
Another really cool fitness-based membership site is the Slow AF Run Club. Created by Martinus Evans, it’s based on his Instagram account (@300poundsandrunning). It’s a running club for the people who were usually in the back of the race, and creates a non-intimidating fitness community where all types of runners are welcome!
2. Influencer or Creator-Focused
Some of the biggest membership sites out there are hosted by influencers or creators – and memberships are a fantastic way to monetize a social media following. While there could be overlap with other functions on this list, creator-driven membership sites are often about the fun of connecting to them, going deeper and having more face-time with an influencer, and sometimes learning from them.
3. Travel and Adventure
Membership sites could be based on the love of travel and adventure! Bringing people together around the shared love of finding a new spot somewhere far away or even in your own backyard can be an amazing thing!
One really cool example that’s built with Mighty Pro is Drew Binsky’s set of travel apps, JUST GO. Drew is a world explorer who’s taken his audience to 197 countries and amassed a huge social media following as he traveled.
His apps create spaces for nomads of all kinds to learn about travel, trade off their tips and tricks, and attend meet-ups.
Another example we love is the community Outwild Hub, dedicated to getting people outdoors again.
4. Faith and Spirituality
Sadie Robertson Huff is a New York Times best-selling author, speaker, TV star, and one of the world's most influential voices for young Christian women today. She has 4.6 million+ Instagram followers, speaks to huge crowds, and hosts a top-ranking podcast called, WHOA, That’s Good.
In March 2019, she launched a membership site called LO sister. It’s a space for young women to come together, grow in their faith, and meet friends.
LO sister is an example of how a community based around shared faith or spirituality can work, and it has some passionate followers.
5. Wellness and Mindfulness
Another great membership site idea is to dedicate your space to wellness or mindfulness. For example, 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 and adapting to his audience’s needs as it grew, he’s built a thriving community.
Elisha 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.
Some of the greatest membership sites are dedicated to bringing entrepreneurs together. The entrepreneurial life can be lonely, whether you’ve founded a company or you’re trying to make a go of your own side hustle. From mastermind groups to courses to workshops, there are a ton of different membership site features to help entrepreneurs grow thriving businesses.
One of our Mighty Hosts, Tara McMullin, runs a membership site for entrepreneurs, bringing them together to learn from each other. The What Works Network hosts quarterly virtual conferences too, and members get a ton of value from the time spent together.
7. 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.
While the line between personal and professional development isn’t perfectly clear, usually professional development is growing skills and abilities that will build your career.
For example, Aliza Licht, known to her million+ followers as DKNY PR GIRL built a membership community for young professionals. Spinning off her best-selling book and podcast named Leave Your Mark, the community with boot camps, networking, and even job opportunities for young professionals is an energetic, exciting professional development space.
The best membership site ideas for professional development often also include a networking component. And there are membership sites dedicated almost entirely to building your network and leveraging connections into new opportunities. 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.
Rae realized the importance of creating a virtual community that grows and changes as more members join in.
She centered affordability and accessibility as key components in her membership site which allowed her to reach a wider audience. The strong networking component to the community helps members connect and learn from people in the industry.
8. Personal Development
Again, it’s not completely different from professional development, but there are sites dedicated to personal development that have nothing to do with careers.
For example, Elizabeth DiAlto had a passion for reclaiming and redefining what womanhood meant to her. She created a membership site, the Institute for EMBODIED Living, to help women navigate self-love, healing, wholeness, and liberation.
9. Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Some of the powerful work around Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) is being done in – you guessed it – membership sites! A membership site can bring together people who are passionate about building DEI in their organization. It can connect people beyond their local context, to practitioners around the country.
One example we love is the ExD Community. It was created by Caroline Hill, a former high school principal who wanted to bring together race and equity work WITH the concept of world designing – creating new ways of being for ourselves (recognizing that the old ways of being are not equitable).
As Caroline says:
The racism that we’re experiencing now and every day in this country is a product of design. Not just in our policies and practices and communities, but also in our relationships. So with equityXdesign, we’re creating a premise that says, ‘If racism and equity have been designed one way, they can be redesigned another way. And we can position ourselves as the designers.’
The community became a space to connect educators who were doing this vital work and to empower them.
10. Arts & Crafts
There’s a whole set of membership ideas we haven’t touched on yet, and it’s arts and crafts! We have a ton of great Mighty Hosts launching successful membership sites around a shared love of arts and crafts.
ArtSnacks Mix is one such online community built to connect artists together. It was created by sibling artists, Lee and Sarah Rubenstein, after they started selling art boxes on Instagram and realized that they wanted space for people to connect and learn to use the supplies.
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.
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.
Not all of us are naturally organized people, whether it’s our life, our thoughts, or our ideas. That’s why one of the cool membership site ideas is for people to learn about organization.
It could be focusing on things in your house that “spark joy.” But we want to focus on Doug Neill’s membership site- Verbal to Visual. It’s a site dedicated to a method of visual notetaking, a process called “sketch noting.” It helps to organize and share ideas!
Building on Doug’s background as a teacher, sketch noting helps to take words and turn them into images. It’s great for note-takers of all types, but with Doug’s background, one of the really neat applications is in the classroom.
12. Personal Finance
Another membership site idea that’s going gangbusters is personal finance communities. The journey to wealth can be a long one, and it’s hard to stay committed along the way. That’s why a membership site can work so well – not only for teaching skills but also for keeping you accountable and offering support.
That’s what Wealth Without Wall Street does. It was created by Russ Morgan and Joey Mure who want to show people that you can build financial freedom without trying to guess what the next massive growth stock is.
Another tasty membership site idea we’d love to throw at you is… FOOD! There are some awesome membership site ideas about food (some of which intersect a bit with what’s already on this list).
How about Mind Cake Vault, where Tiffany Johnston took her love of cake pops and created a sweet community dedicated to them – both baking them AND building successful cake pop businesses?
Or how about PLANTSTRONG, the community dedicated to eating a plant-based diet? A movement started by a former firefighter who realized his cholesterol was too high, the community brings together 20,000 people who want to eat in a way that makes them feel great.
14. Vocational and Professional Memberships
We talked about professional development above, but there are lots of communities that work dedicated to specific vocations and professions. We’ve seen different ones, but one great example is Nurses Inspire Nurses. It’s a place where over 1,500 nurses come together to share their experiences and find a community in a profession that, let’s be honest, has seen a few rough years.
A vocational membership site is a great place for professional development that’s specific to your given career path, and with a zillion different career types out there, there’s lots of room for a niche site based on yours.
A community based on… community? That’s meta.
But in our Mighty Community, we do just this. We have an AMAZING and rich community that comes together to master the art of building membership communities. It’s a supportive place to learn and grow how to grow your membership site.
Oh, and by the way, it’s free! Come and join us and get more inspiration from 1,000s of members who are building amazing things + lots of great free training.
Ready to start?
We hope these 15 ideas have you PUMPED to get started with your own membership site. If you’re looking for a great place to build, come check out Mighty Networks! We’ve built a platform that combines an engaged community with exciting courses, with features like live streaming, subgroups, easy-to-create plans and bundles, member chats, and more. It’s a one-stop solution for a thriving membership site.
Don’t take our word for it. Come try it for free for 14 days and see what you can build! No credit card is required.