12 Best Membership Site Examples 2023
Reviewing the most successful membership site examples is a smart way to learn how to grow your business.
Membership sites are one of the most excellent features industry leaders, community managers, and even famous personalities can offer to their audiences.
In this article, we’ll let you know what membership websites are and then provide you with some successful examples of membership sites.
Table of contents
- What Is a Membership site?
- Important Factors of a Successful Membership Site
- Membership Site Examples in Arts and Culture
- Membership Site Examples in Health, Sports, and Travelling
- Membership Site Examples in Education, Online Courses, and Training
- Membership Site Examples in Business, Marketing, and Finance
- Membership Site Examples in Blogging and Freelancing
- Membership Site Examples in Tech, Tools, and Skill Development
- A Simple Guide for Creating A Membership Site
- Final Thoughts
What Is a Membership site?
A membership site is a private section of your business or personal site that only a limited number of users can visit. In other words, the users must register, pay, or even have specific qualifications to see unique content on this platform, which is called a “Membership Site.”
Some membership sites are free but sometimes offer gated content in exchange for money. These monetized membership sites usually have the following items:
- Members-Only Area: this is where members access their profile and the exclusive material based on their payments.
- Online Payment Processor: Membership websites have to provide user-friend payment channels.
- Different Membership Levels: Membership sites define membership levels, from freemium to premium.
For example, if a clothing site encourages you to register for their VIP community in exchange for some discounts, it’s called a membership site, and if they charge you, it’s a monetized membership site.
What Membership Sites Offer
Content membership sites usually offer a variety of content to their members based on their niche and audience.
Here is the list of resources a membership site can offer:
- Physical products
- Audio content
- Digital products
- White papers
- Blog posts
- Online courses
- Virtual conferences
- Coaching sessions
Advantages of Membership Sites
Creating membership websites has become quite popular among businesses of all sizes and types. Here are some essential benefits of creating a membership site:
- Building a community: You can build a community that will regularly come to your site.
- Niche thought leadership: You can appear like a niche thought leader in your community by sharing gated content with your niche audience.
- Increasing brand loyalty: Your community members will become your loyal customers after a while. This creates new marketing opportunities so that when you launch a new product, you’ve already generated your leads.
- Having recurring revenue: When you offer paid content to your community, you’ll make a steady stream of income.
So it’s an excellent opportunity for brands to grow their business. That’s why many companies try to give their audience special offers to encourage them to register for their membership site.
For example, they create unique content about their products/services and share it only with registered users. Also, many offer discounts in return for inviting friends/family members to the membership site.
The Difference Between Membership vs. Subscription Sites
Membership and subscription sites might seem similar because both offer exclusive access to gated content for a monthly or yearly fee. However, they are not exactly the same.
Membership Sites Are Community-Based
The key difference is that subscription sites are merely transactional, but membership sites focus on building community.
In other words, subscribers on a subscription site like Netflix should pay a fee to access the content. They won’t get in touch with the person or team providing the content.
On the contrary, members of a membership site can engage with the community, discuss different matters with each other, and even attend face-to-face events or webinars.
Membership Sites Can Take Advantage of UGC
Moreover, subscription websites have to offer constant content to subscribers to retain their customers.
On the other hand, membership sites can even rely on UGC (User-Generated Content.) But, of course, the site owner is responsible for curating the content to ensure quality.
Important Factors of a Successful Membership Site
If you decide to have a membership site, you must pay special attention to some valuable factors. Several key characteristics seen on highly-used membership sites are outlined below:
Focused on a Specific Niche
Almost all membership sites have a specific niche in which they are experts. This is of great importance as you have to gain the trust of your niche audience, which is impossible unless you have excellent knowledge in that niche.
Therefore, try not to cover everything from the world but try to target a specific type of audience, for example, women, kids, bloggers, small businesses, travel lovers, etc.
Various Membership Models
All successful membership site examples offer a variety of models, from free trials to premium ones. You also have to provide a range of membership levels to satisfy all users. Here are some basic membership models different sites use:
- Freemium: Free content.
- Content Update: Regular content.
- Content Library: Access to a pre-published library of content.
- Group Coaching: Group coaching sessions.
- Professional Service: Pre-purchased content based on a recurring plan.
- Product Bundle: Purchasing digital products together.
- Community: Users learn from each other.
- Hybrid: A mix of two or more of any of these models.
Educational Downloadable Content
Offering members special content to download is central to a successful membership site. Remember that content is king, and if you want to make your audience continue their membership, you have to offer them informative content that they can’t find on Google!
So, you must provide detailed information about what they have to expect and what you’re not offering in that content.
One of the most critical matters in gaining members’ trust is offering brand-new ideas. In other words, you have to avoid repeating what other sites say. You’ll lose your audience if you try to copy content from the internet.
Remember that today’s people, especially Gen Z, will not bother to read long texts! That’s why a new video-sharing platform appears every day.
Videos and audios are now the most important types of content, and you have to use them as much as possible in your training content.
With the widespread use of multimedia-based social platforms like Instagram and TikTok, your membership site will not succeed if you want to rely solely on texts. So try to use visualized content to make your content attractive.
High Engagement Rates
The engagement rate is another critical metric for a successful membership site. The goal should be to make the users feel like they are part of the story. An immediate response to every comment is good for increasing your content engagement rates.
Live Streaming Group Sessions
A live session is what brings life to your community. It has the benefit of making members interact with each other. Also, if you schedule them correctly, you can reach out to a global audience.
Live membership sites offer streaming group sessions with recordings for those who might lose the live sessions.
Forums and Community Chat Platforms
Many membership sites offer forums, which are platforms where community members can discuss many things. Again, this is a great way to increase the interaction between audiences and you and your customers.
Here are some of the plugins you can use to create your forum:
- bbPress: this is the classic forum plugin and is the best option for you.
- BuddyPress: this allows you to create your social network on your membership site.
- ForumEngine: this is a theme on WordPress that offers a discussion forum.
Cross-Promotion on Social media Platforms and Blogs
Although the membership site’s content is only created for registered members, you can share it or part of it after a while.
Whether we like it or not, no content is perfectly ever-green, and other sites produce similar content or even share it for free. So it’s good to cross-promote your membership website on social media platforms or niche blogs to let others know what you’re sharing with your registered users.
Factors that Every Regular Site Should Have
Apart from the previous factors, membership sites should have many technical elements to perform well, just like regular websites. Here are some of these elements:
- Security: Just like other sites, membership sites should be secure. Of course, when it comes to online payments and your members’ personal information, security must come first.
- Speed: Remember that none of the internet users waits long for your site to load. Your membership site’s users want a fast-loading platform, so you have to use a good host and design to provide them with a good site speed.
- User-Interface: Your site should be user-friend and easy to use. Otherwise, users will not bother to keep following your content.
- Customer Service: Every business should have a responsive team of customer service.
- Search Engine Optimization: SEO is of great importance because without it, your site’s content will not be discovered by the internet users, and therefore, the chance of increasing your members will decrease.
Now that you’ve become familiar with different aspects of membership websites, you’d better get to know some successful examples.
We tried to gather and categorize the examples into six different niches:
- Arts and Culture
- Health, Sports, and Travelling
- Education, Online Courses, and Training
- Business, Marketing, and Finance
- Blogging and Freelancing
- Tech, Tools, and Skill Development
Membership Site Examples in Arts and Culture
Here are two great examples of membership sites in arts and culture.
The Script Lab
The Script Lab is a successful membership site that provides valuable blog posts, screenwriting competitions, free screenplay contests, and a huge library of scripts.
For example, ScreenCraft Short Film, Outstanding Screenplays, and Los Angeles International are perfect for beginners to start their writing journey. They accept TV pilots, features, and short screenplays in all genres and formats you like.
Of course, to access the script library, you have to register and become a member. You’ll have several membership choices with different features.
Here are their options:
- The First 20: $39 for a 3-day turnaround
- The First Draft: $79 for a 3-day turnaround
- The Final Draft: $119 for a 3-day turnaround
Bulletproof Musician is here to help musicians learn more and play even under pressure. In addition, they help you understand performance psychology to beat nerves when playing on stage.
This successful membership site example is excellent for sharing your experiences and learning from others. They offer self-paced and live courses, which are great for beginners in this industry. Bulletproof Musician’s performance coaching programs would also be useful in your career path.
There are many kinds of free resources on Bulletproof Musician, but you have to pay for private and group coaching, detailed courses, and some specialized content.
Some options they offer for paid users:
- Performance Psychology Essentials for Educators: $199
- Performance Psych Essentials: $199
Membership Site Examples in Health, Sports, and Travelling
If you’re looking for a membership site about health, sports, and traveling, you can look at the following examples.
Nomadic Matt is an exciting travel blog, and it’s great for those looking to have a trip while on a strict budget. This website provides valuable tips for travelers, resources, events, etc. For example, they teach you about saving for a trip, planning for your trip, getting accommodation, solo female traveling, and many other applicable tips.
Along with masses of free content, a premium membership program gives you access to specialized courses, guides, discounts, and giveaways.
- Superstar Business Masterclass: $99.00
- Superstar Writing Masterclass: From $79.00 / month
- 50% Off for Black Friday Sale!
The Fantasy Footballers
As it comes from the name, The Fantasy Footballers is a website focused on football. Its award-winning podcasts are sought-after among fans because they highlight exciting football matters. Also, the Rankings section on their site is popular as they provide visitors with various kinds of detailed rankings like quarterly, weekly, etc.
Along with great free content, they also have a perfect community where registered members can access exclusive podcasts, discounted store material, premium projections, premium rankings, and many other things.
You can join the FootClan to unlock the following:
- Premium Tools
- Advanced Stats
- Custom Scoring
- Bonus Weekly Episode
- Game Day Alerts
Membership Site Examples in Education, Online Courses, and Training
Membership sites are popular among those who work on online courses. Here are some perfect examples.
The Measured Mom
The Measured Mom is focused on children, providing child educators with literacy and math resources. They have all types of helpful blog posts, printables, lists of books, podcasts, etc. They have different sections, such as
- Reading: structured literacy, printable books, phonics, fluency, etc.
- Writing: grammar, handwriting, spelling, etc.
- Math: counting, number recognition, shapes, patterns, etc.
You can get a free math and literacy pack, but you have to pay for downloads and accessing the discounts, resource library, courses, and other offers.
Here are some of their new offers:
- Ultimate Collection of Phonics Word Lists: $15
- Sound Wall Printables: $18
- Decodable Books & Lessons Set 1b: $15
Teach Beside Me
Teach Beside Me was founded by a former teacher and is an excellent place for homeschoolers. This site offers fantastic online teaching ideas plus great podcasts that you can find on popular podcast platforms like Stitcher, Spotify, and Google Podcasts. You can find all kinds of ideas, such as:
- Educational Things to Do When Bored
- Winter Math: Snowman Fractions
- Easter Pattern Block Mats
Paid membership gives you access to teaching ideas and a vast content library about many things like Coloring Pages, History & Geography, Holidays, Homeschooling, Language Arts, Learning Games, Math, Parenting, Preschool, Science, etc.
Here are some of the products they sell at discounted prices:
- A Long Walk to Water Book Study for $4.50
- Blueprints and Architecture Templates for $5.50
- Chinese New Year Unit Study for $5.50
Membership Site Examples in Business, Marketing, and Finance
Do you want to join business communities and learn particular things about marketing and finance? Look at the following membership site examples.
Fizzle is also a great membership site example for those who want to create one. In addition, it’s popular among small business owners who want to build a solid online identity.
It’s a paid membership site where members can access premium content, live coaching webinars, and a great forum to chat and interact. However, it has some basic free content to gain the attention of potential audiences.
Fizzle membership includes many things, such as
- 35+ in-depth video courses
- 23+ founder stories interviews
- The 9-stage Fizzle Small Biz Roadmap to guide your journey
AppSumo Plus is a good membership site example in the eCommerce field, which is now on the rise. This website is a popular marketplace for buying digital products at heavily discounted prices. It is worth noting that everybody can purchase these products without needing to register for membership.
If you’re looking for more significant discounts, you need to sign up for its membership, which is a bit expensive. However, you’ll get 10% off AppSumo purchases, extending your access to the usual deals.
- Depositphotos: $69
- Formaloo: $99
- Bramework: $79
Membership Site Examples in Blogging and Freelancing
Bloggers and freelancers also have many membership sites. Here you can get familiar with two good examples.
The first successful membership site example on our list is Copyblogger. It’s a famous WordPress blog and is one of the oldest membership sites.
Copyblogger offers all types of articles in various niches, such as
- Content marketing
- Writing skills
- Email marketing
- Online business
The membership program empowers the companies writing service and is an excellent resource for new writers and content marketers.
Here is a summary of what they offer:
- Fundamentals: $4,000-$7,000 per month
- Scalable Growth: $7,000-$12,000 per month
- Virtual Content Marketing Department: $12,000+ per month
Online copywriters have several good membership site examples on our list. This one is Copyhackers, which is well-known for providing helpful blog posts, video clips, and other resources for creative copywriters.
They offer Copy School, a paid membership program, providing members with the best training courses on advertising, email marketing, building sales funnels, etc.
What members get:
- 400+ lessons on email
- Badge of completion
- One copy review per month
Membership Site Examples in Tech, Tools, and Skill Development
If you want to learn about tech, apps, tools, etc., you’d better use the following membership sites.
SkillCrush is a tech-based membership site example and is a tremendous online coding and design school. It’s helped many people become interested in tech and find their dream job. In addition, it provides valuable blog content for free, along with an online course.
They also have a free coding camp to help you start your coding for free without needing a credit card. It’s good to know that more than 95% of their students have received good jobs, which is great.
Of course, it’ll charge you for its membership academy because you can find a ton of unique online courses there. This is a perfect place for choosing your career and education paths.
Here are some of their offers:
- Skillcrush One-Time, Upfront Payment, $2499
- Monthly Installment Payments, affirm, $139/month
- Monthly Installment Payments, Leif, $146/month
- Monthly Installment Payments, Leif, $229/month
Toolshero is another skill-based community and is great for learning new skills. You can find valuable content like blog posts, original research, and video clips. This is great for your professional development and finding your future career path. Toolshero offers some free trials for professionals, teachers, and students. Also, you will have access to the following:
- More than 1,000 practical scientific articles
- Professional worksheets and templates
- Ad-free experiences
You must register for a premium membership program to access professional content, templates, questionnaires, worksheets, and other ad-free employment-based materials.
- FIRST EXPERIENCE, 1-week Membership, $5 per week
- MOST CHOSEN, PROFESSIONAL, 1-month Membership, $10 per month
- BEST DEAL, 1-year Membership, $100 per 12 months
A Simple Guide for Creating A Membership Site
Now that you’ve become familiar with successful examples of membership sites, it’s good to learn some basics of creating your membership site.
Most membership sites use WordPress because of its fantastic user interface and useful plugins. Here is a beginner guide to creating a membership site using WordPress.
1. Select a WordPress Plan
WordPress offers four different plans:
- Personal: It’s a free entry-level plan for beginners using a custom domain. The individual plan offers only 6 GB of data storage and some basic personalization features.
- Premium: It has more advanced options for professional site owners and bloggers. However, you must pay $8 monthly for the premium plan to access 13 GB storage and premium customizable themes.
- Business: This is perfect for companies and gives you access to premium themes and basic freelancer features. It charges you $25 per month.
- eCommerce: This is a perfect option for individuals and businesses needing full control over plugins and templates and complete SEO options. Of course, it’s a bit expensive ($45 per month.)
Note that making the right choice depends on your site’s niche and what you plan to do with it, but the eCommerce plan is ideal if you want to create an online store and make money.
2. Choose Your Domain Name
Step two is to select a name for your website that has not already been taken. It’s best to come up with a name that is easy to remember. Then register your domain via a domain registrar platform such as:
- NameCheap: This is an ICANN-accredited platform that provides domain name registration services.
- Domain.com: In addition to registering domain names, this company is also a top choice for web hosting and other services.
3. Choose the Hosting Provider
There are many hosting providers out there, but you should carefully make your choice because some of them don’t have good customer service. The best WordPress hosting providers are:
- WP Engine: This is one of the best options. It provides the fastest and most reliable WordPress hosting. It has been used by more than a whopping 1.5M+ websites.
- Bluehost: One of the major hosting companies is Bluehost. It’s trusted by millions of websites since it’s safe and secure.
Check this out if you want to compare the most popular web hosting providers,
4. Choose Your Site’s Theme
Your website should have a distinct theme if you want people to remember your website. Each theme offered on WordPress Theme Library contains different layouts, styles, colors, text fonts, and some visual features. Try to choose a theme that perfectly matches your brand culture.
If you’re just starting out and don’t know how to choose the best WordPress theme, leave it to an expert. You can also check out our list of WordPress membership themes.
For example, websites related to women tend to use specific colors like Pink or Red, so you have to choose themes accordingly. Here are some of the attractive themes for female users:
- Astra: It’s free and has a great collection of templates suitable for women.
- Blossom Feminine Pro: It has fantastic layout options and feminine features.
- Kleo: This one has the perfect design for females with great features.
5. Add the Paid Membership Plugin
Now, it’s time to install the membership plugin on your website. Fortunately, there are also some great membership plugins out there, such as:
- MemberPress: It’s straightforward to install, and content management is easy. However, it has limited payment options.
- LearnDash: This tool also has a great content restriction feature. The only disadvantage is limited membership options.
- Restrict Content Pro: It has various integrations and a superb support team. But it lacks an email service provider.
Also, make sure to check out the list of the best WordPress membership plugins.
6. Define Your Membership Models
As mentioned, you must define several membership levels to suit various users. The membership plugin you installed in the previous step lets you specify the membership levels. Here is how:
- Recognize your value: You have to know the value of your work. The best way is to conduct competitive research to see what others offer.
- Brainstorm your membership ideas: Create a sheet and write what you can provide to your registered users. For example, articles, educational services, online community, job offerings, events, discounts, etc.
- Plan out the membership structure: Remember that all successful membership models have more than two tiers. Some of them also offer free levels. Try to break down the membership structure to cover all types of interests. You can do that weekly, monthly, or annually. You can also split your plans for beginners, intermediate users, and professionals.
- Determine discounted prices: You can do this for individuals, bundle/family/friends, corporates, or even events like black Friday.
7. Put Restrictions on Your Content
Last but not least, you must restrict your content based on the models you offer to registered members. A content restriction menu on your plugin allows you to limit your content based on your membership plans.
Having a membership site is an excellent idea if you want to enhance your online presence. To build a community, you have to offer unique materials to those who are highly likely to become your loyal customers. A membership site is the best way to increase customer loyalty and appear like an industry leader.
The critical point is that you don’t have to speak like a vending machine on your membership site. Although membership sites are premium, you have to avoid monetizing everything.
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