The Problem And Opportunity In Paid Membership Sites

Paid membership sites often follow a similar arc.

First, you realise that converting just 5% of your 10k audience into paying members (say, $25 per month) will generate $150k+ per year.

That doesn’t seem too hard!

So you start creating premium content to get people to subscribe. This works at first. People sign up. However, it never reaches 5% and the rate of growth slows after the first few months. When people’s credit cards expire, so does their membership.

One way to fight churn is to create even more content. But soon you’re spending all your time overwhelming people with content they never have time to read.

When content is the reason for people to join, you’re not selling a membership site, you’re selling an online magazine subscription.

The best paid membership sites create an environment that connects people in a way that adds indispensable value to people’s lives. They know the payment is a barrier that enables exciting interactions to happen. The most common are:

  • Privacy and emotional support. A place where people can speak more honestly and openly than anywhere else.
  • Status. A place where people can engage just with the top people in their field and have a high signal to noise ratio.
  • Collaboration. A place that brings people together to collaborate on specific issues and publish their results.

Once you realise you’re not selling content but emotional support, status, and a chance to collaborate on things that matter, you can spend less time crafting unread articles and more time weaving together the relationships that matter.

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