Selling memberships is a great way of monetizing your content and digital products. At Buy Me A Coffee, we don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t be able to earn a living doing what you love. And we know that no matter what type of content you create, your loyal fans love to show their support for you.
Memberships mean your supporters subscribe to you and your content by making regular financial donations. There are a number of different ways to optimize selling memberships for your type of content and your audience.
That being said, we’ve created this handy step-by-step guide to help you discover how to sell memberships online. By understanding what your fans want and the value of your content, you can tailor how to monetize your content to create a sustainable membership business model. So, let’s dive right in...
Why Sell Memberships Online in the First Place?
There are numerous great reasons to sell memberships online, starting with the fact that you need to make a living as a content creator. Selling memberships is a great way to monetize your content and digital products, and generate a reliable, recurring income from your fans.
Selling memberships to your online content allows your community to show support for what you do. You, in turn, can reward their loyalty by offering exclusive content, services and experiences. This paid content has the added benefit of building authority and demonstrating your expertise in your field.
Not only that, but using membership platforms like Buy Me a Coffee also facilitates more personalized communication with your fan base. They can leave feedback after offering a tip, so you can learn what digital content they appreciate most and make more of it - thereby generating more potential income!
It’s a great alternative to earning money through sponsored brand content or by selling additional products that don’t always align with your content strategy. Selling memberships online allows you to make money from your content in an organic, authentic way, with no pressure from external sponsors.
There Are Different Ways to Sell Memberships
Depending how you want to monetize your content, there are different ways to sell memberships online:
Donations are a great, simple way to accept one-time payments (aka coffees, or whatever else you like!) from your fans. Fun, easy donate buttons like Buy Me A Coffee’s allow your community to show their support for your content without commitment. Making these one-time purchases is also a good way to see what content they like the most, through comprehensive reports on your earnings and page views.
Extras are a way to sell particular aspects of your content to your audience and demonstrate your expertise in your field. There’s really no limit to what you can offer as an extra. Whether it’s a one-on-one consultation, an invitation to a Zoom event, an eBook or physical merchandise, your fans can make one-off donations to access the exclusive content and other digital products they want to see.
Memberships allow your community to support you on a regular basis. You get a recurring income and they get an ongoing subscription to your content. Selling different online membership levels makes regular donations accessible to all of your supporters. They can choose how much to spend and you can offer different perks depending on their donation amounts.
How To Sell Memberships: A Step-By-Step Guide
So now you know all the benefits of monetizing your content, let’s delve into how to sell memberships online:
#1 Study Other Competitors
Essential when selling anything, competitor analysis is your first step in monetizing your content or digital products and to grow your membership base is to see what you should be offering compared to the rest. Check out your competitors’ websites, membership base and social media to understand how content creators like you are selling their memberships.
It’s also useful to see what other, non-competing creators are doing to inspire your online membership selling strategy. Take a look at Buy Me a Coffee’s explore page, where you can search for individual creators or their type of content to discover how they sell memberships:
- Are other creators incentivizing their fans to buy their memberships? What type of extras do they offer?
- What rates are their online memberships/encouraged donations? Do they have different membership tiers?
- What online membership software or platform do they use? Is it the right one for you? Read up on the top membership sites for beginners.
- Where do your competitors ask for donations and advertise their memberships?
- Is there a button on their homepage/profile/about page or do they mention memberships throughout their content?
- Do they promote their memberships on social media?
- Are they doing email marketing campaigns?
Having studied your competitors, you’ll probably have certain questions you can’t find answers to. Why not send cold emails to non-competing content creators to find your answers? Ask them what they find to be most effective in selling memberships and introducing their supporters to the idea of an improved experience. You could even buy them a coffee to say thanks!
#2 Plan Your Memberships
Once you’ve done your competitor analysis and researched the best platforms to sell memberships online, the next step is to strategize how to tell your community about it. To ensure you’re introducing the idea of selling memberships to your entire fan base, you need to consider your distribution channels. What platforms do you use already to share your content?
- Send a newsletter to your email marketing list to tell them about your membership options. Your email list is your best bet into getting paid members, as they have opted in to receive email from you.
- Post a message in relevant forums and groups you contribute to - advertise your expertise and show the value of buying a membership
- Mention your paid memberships in specialist publications to appeal to certain audiences
- Share the news on social media: wherever you have followers, they should know about your memberships (Twitter, IG, FB, Linkedin, etc.)
Next, you need to decide how you’re going to optimize the introduction of your paid memberships. You want to show your supporters they’re getting value for their money and incentivize them to invest in you. Consider the following strategies:
- Offer a discounted or free trial to encourage subscriptions e.g. 50% discount on a year’s membership for the first 10 people
- Give supporters a taste for why they should subscribe: share a sample of your premium content or offer bonus digital products as a free gift when they sign up
- Emphasize exclusivity by opening your site to membership for a limited period of time; add a countdown to your marketing campaign to create a sense of urgency
- Make it easy to become a member. You don't want to ruin all your hard work by having a complicated checkout process. BMC makes the process fun and user-friendly by offering simple, 1-click payments with no need for members to set up an account.
- Equally, make it easy to cancel subscriptions. Obviously, we hope your fans don’t want to stop supporting you, but it’s important for people to know they can unsubscribe if their circumstances change.
Finally, decide how you want to distribute exclusive content to your members and create your premium content calendar. Do you want members to get full access to your past and future exclusive content or digital products from the moment they subscribe?
If you feel this could overwhelm them, perhaps it’s best for you to drip-feed members new content on a regular basis. This way, you could also maximize the possibility for upsells by charging extra for previously released exclusive content and digital products.
Membership tiers are a great compromise here, as you can offer different levels of access to your content depending how much supporters pay. Which brings us to...
#3 Introduce Membership Rewards Based on Your Research
Creating membership rewards is a great way to incentivize your supporters to sign up. From your content strategies and research, and even from data from existing donations, you’ll know what type of content your fans want. So use this information to tailor your rewards program to your content and supporters:
- Offer exclusive written content: blogs, eBooks, how-to guides. You can even schedule members-only blog articles to post automatically on BMC to simplify this process.
- Demonstrate your expertise with a consultancy program - offer 1-to-1 sessions to coach your subscribers.
- Give access to a one-off online course that members can learn from at their own pace.
- Make your subscribers members of a community or forum where they can enjoy personal interaction with you.
- Show exclusivity by giving members and customers access to private social media accounts, membership content or features like “close friends” on Instagram stories.
Membership rewards show that you value your customers' support. It entices new fans to buy your membership and existing customers to keep subscribing. With different levels of gated content, you can also convince them to upgrade to the next membership tier.
#4 Encourage Engagement and Word-of-Mouth Traction
Just as engagement is essential in your content creation, it’s essential in selling memberships too. Building and maintaining a relationship with your supporters and demonstrating your value to them means they’ll be happy to continue supporting you when the time comes round to renew their membership.
Moreover, if they love your premium content, they’ll be the first to recommend it to their friends and family. One of the easiest ways to expand your audience, and thereby increase your profitability, is through word-of-mouth marketing.
Ensuring you’re optimizing engagement is key throughout your members’ journey. Here’s what you need to consider:
- Onboarding your members. When they sign up, thank and welcome them with bonus content that isn’t just an email confirmation. Start off your relationship with members on the right foot by making sure they see something that shows your value to them as soon as they subscribe.
- Be open and accessible. Tell your fans why you’re selling memberships - everyone has to earn a living and they’ll appreciate your honesty and paying for your expertise. Especially when memberships are packaged in such a way as Buy Me A Coffee, it’s easy for your fans to see how simply donating the amount they would spend on a hot drink or glass of wine each month can make a difference to you, while also benefiting them with your premium content.
- Interact with your supporters. Make their experience memorable. Personalize your emails to them, reply to their comments across your platforms and ensure you’re using a membership site that offers support service. You need to have adequate help when platform-related issues arise.
- Encourage feedback from your members. Knowing what content they want is key to selling memberships. This can be as simple as a few quizzes on your Instagram stories to see if they’re interested in a behind-the-scenes video of your work, doing a live Ask Me Anything or asking them to leave comments when they donate.
- Keep supporters updated. Continue to promote the added value of your memberships by notifying your audience about new premium content across your website, social media, email marketing campaigns and any other platforms. Not only does this encourage new memberships, it also engages existing members, reminding them of the benefits of supporting you and of how great your content is.
- Consider a referral program. Offer membership upgrades or discounts to existing members who recommend a friend to sign up to encourage word-of-mouth traction and build your paying audience.
#5 Analyze Your Bottom Line
The final step in successfully monetizing your content is making your earnings sustainable. BMC gives users access to statistics reports so you can know how many members you have and how much you’re earning.
Our stats page even shows you the sources of your donations, including what countries your supporters are in. See how many fans become members via links shared on your website, social media profiles or directly on BMC and adapt your strategies accordingly.
Selling memberships online can easily become a sustainable business model. The more content you create that you know your fans will love, the more attractive your memberships will become, and the more you’ll sell. There’s a reason that many users earn a 6-figure income with BMC!
Turn Your Loyal Fans Into Members
Selling memberships online is a highly successful way of monetizing your content, engaging your fans and earning money doing what you love.
Understanding the value you offer your audience allows you to tailor subscriptions to their demand. In doing so, you create a sustainable business model that gives you recurring income and your members the content they want.
So now you’ve discovered how to sell memberships online, what are you waiting for? Buy Me a Coffee offers great features and integrations for selling memberships. Get earning some coffees!