Gated content can be an incredible way to monetize your work as a creator. So, what is gated content you may ask? It’s exclusive content that is behind a “barrier” - allowing your fans to either pay or trade up their contact information in order to access it.
The opposite of gated content is...you guessed it...ungated content. This is the content you offer your fans for free. Offering free content may have been the right choice when you first started as a creator, but adding gated content to your mix can have amazing benefits for growing your fan-base (and ultimately your business).
Once you monetize your content, more doors open for you. You can become a full-time creator (creating for a living? Sign me up!) or even invest the support back into your content to make it better. You get to choose exactly how you want to use the support your fans give you.
So, how can you gate your content?
These days it’s easy! Membership sites are one of the best ways to offer gated content to your fans. These sites give your paid subscribers otherwise known as members, access to your exclusive content and special offers.
What kinds of creators should gate their content?
If you’re wondering if you check off all the right boxes for monetizing your content, we’re here to do some mythbusting! The truth is anyone can gate their content, it’s not just for the cool kids.
If you’re just starting your journey as a creator and don’t have a large audience, there’s still an opportunity to reap the benefits of membership sites. No matter how small your audience is, there will always be a few people willing to pay to access your content.
The key is to not only offer valuable, high-quality content that your fans are dying to get their hands on, but to also be strategic by gating it on a membership site that your fans will
enjoy love using.
Now that you know the value of membership sites, and how you can benefit from gating your content, here are 5 top membership sites for beginners:
Top 5 Membership Sites
1. Memberful (Standard)
Memberful is a solution that is added to your website, and can be integrated with WordPress via plugin to keep your membership experience on your own site.
If you already have a large and engaged audience then Memberful is a good option, since it works best when you’re already driving traffic to your site. In other words you can scale your list of followers with Memberful if you already have people visiting your site regularly.
Yet, if you’re not at that stage where you regularly get organic visitors to your site then you may have difficulties getting the most out of Memberful.
Also, because it only works with certain CMS, this could lock you into a specific platform which means you won’t be able to change your mind later on if you decide you want to switch.
Overall, Memberful seems to not be as robust with features compared to other membership sites and may require more technical know-how.
2. Buy Me a Coffee (Creator friendly)
The membership experience on our platform is fun and your fans will love using it. It’s particularly great for beginner creators since all features are user friendly.
It was designed for your fans to support your work, while feeling less like a transaction and more like a gesture of appreciation.
With features like Extras, Posts, and messaging options there are so many ways fans can show their favourite creators some love. BMC even gives your fans the flexibility to give a one-off donation if they’re not ready to commit to a full membership.
Isn’t it exciting when someone buys you a coffee and feeds your caffeine addiction? BMC is a friendly way to ask your fans for support.
In just a couple of taps your fans can make a payment - without needing to make an account. There are no monthly fees or paywall features, so it’s easy for your fans to pay you. Payments are automatically transferred to your account instantly - which means you get paid faster, hassle-free.
Podia offers an all in one marketing platform including a full membership site. It allows creators to offer their members webinars, online courses, downloads, memberships, and more.
For those who want an easy to use platform - Podia’s emphasis on user experience is evident. There are several customization features to help you deliver your content to fans just the way you like it.
However, other communication tools like email marketing functionalities are not as extensive as options like Mailchimp or Drip.
While, similar to other membership sites, tracking and reporting features are not very comprehensive to get a full view of performance.
Kajabi allows you to sell a variety of content to your fans and is truly a one-stop-shop for a lot of features that can be valuable for your business.
There are many functionalities for you to experiment with and it can easily support larger companies' needs as well.
Although, non-technical folks may experience a decent learning curve to get up to speed on using this membership site. Fortunately, their customer service has been notes as top-notch to answer any questions.
If you want to fully customize your membership experience to your unique style or branding, then Kajabi may not be the best choice. There are limited customizations for typography, layout, and formatting.
Kajabi also lacks when it comes to tracking and metrics to determine the performance of your efforts. If you’re watching your wallet- then keep in mind that Kajabi is considered a more expensive option compared to other membership sites.
Substack allows creators to create email newsletters while charging a subscription fee to their audiences.
There’s no experience required to be a creator on the platform, anybody can start a Substack and they have the freedom to write about any topic they want.
For those not keen on tech, the easy to use drag and drop platform can streamline the newsletter creation process.
This is a great option for writers, but other types of creators won’t be able to take advantage of Substack offerings. If you have other types of content that you want to gate then you’re out of luck, Substack is strictly for newsletters.
Also, if you don’t already have an engaged audience then it’ll be challenging to monetize your newsletter.
MemberSpace allows you to lock any page on your website to automatically gate content and create a “space” for your members.
Everything occurs on your own site, so you have full-control and ownership of the process.
Their easy to use platform is ideal for non-technical people who want to launch and grow on any website.
Unlike other membership sites, MemberSpace is compatible with a variety of CMS options. This means you aren’t locked into a few options based on what the membership site can integrate with.
The depth of analytics is quite shallow on this membership site. In order to determine levels of engagement with fans, this can be difficult without a robust dashboard for tracking and reporting.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Membership Site
Easy to Set Up
There are a lot of moving pieces when it comes to interacting with your fans. Depending on the membership site, various features may require technical skills to get set-up. Choose a membership site that makes it easy to use all their features to the max!
- High-Quality User Experience for Your Fans
Look at the platform from your fans perspective. When it’s simple to use and the user experience is as smooth as butter on toast (to go with your morning coffee) then you’ll increase memberships and donations.
- Simple, Straightforward Payment Process
Since membership sites are an important way to monetize, understanding how platforms will help you boost sales and collect payments, can ensure you get paid faster.
- Do They Make Site Improvements Regularly?
Are the site developers always adding new exciting features or improving existing ones? It’s important to stay on top of trends to receive more engagement from your fans. As a creator, new and better ways to interact with your fans can truly be the key to success.
Finding the right membership site is like finding the perfect match! Explore your options and you’ll soon discover how BMC gives your fans an incredible membership experience.