Membership programs are an increasingly popular way to offer your students access to ongoing content for a subscription price - providing you with a steady stream of predictable income, and providing value to your customers with stable, recurring pricing, and a variety of learning products. Read more about how to set up your membership site below!
In this article:
What is a membership site?
A membership site is a subscription-based website, containing content that is available only to members. Basically, a membership site will provide your learners with ongoing access to your content and (optionally) even your time as the expert!
Membership sites differ from other learning product based websites in four ways:
- Recurring Revenue
Rather than a one-time only purchase, your customers will subscribe to your site and pay a recurring fee. This will provide you with a steadier source of income, without the financial highs and lows that can come from selling your online products for one-time only fees.
- Ongoing Services
You’ll be responsible for consistently creating new content and offering new benefits to your members.
- Building a Community
Access to a community of like-minded people is a major selling point for most membership sites. Engagement can be just as valuable as currency!
- Emphasis on Retention
The membership model relies on keeping customers subscribed for as long as possible. In other words, with a membership site, the sale is just the beginning of your relationship with your audience.
For expert advice, read our strategy guide on how to create a membership site.
Essential Steps to Create Your Membership Site
You can create a membership site in Thinkific today by following the steps listed below. Expand the dropdowns to learn more about what you'll need to do in each step.
Plan Your Product Offering
Decide what type of products you want to offer in your Membership Site:
...or a combination of both!
One of the key components of a membership site is to offer your customers regularly updated content, so you don't have to commit to just one type of product. As your memberships grow, you can create new products to add to your site!
Create a Product Bundle
Combine the products you want to offer as part of your membership in to one easy to access Bundle. Learn more about this in How to Create a Bundle for Your Membership Site.
Did you know that you can create Private or Hidden Bundles for more control over who can access or enroll in your bundles?
Set Up Recurring Payments
To charge a recurring subscription price for your membership site, first you'll need to set up your payment processor. Using Thinkific Payments (part of our TCommerce suite of business tools), you can set a custom subscription price for your bundle.
Things to consider when setting up your recurring subscription fee include:
- What payment frequency do you want to set? (with Thinkific Payments you can set daily and weekly recurrences, otherwise you will be able to choose from monthly or yearly)
- Do you want to offer a free trial period?
- Will you offer customers the option to make a one time custom first payment?
Design your Membership Site landing page
Design your bundle landing page.
The goal with this page is to market and sell your membership to visitors. When setting up and designing your site, make sure to include key details about the membership (information like pricing and billing frequency), plus any important selling points (will members have access to a private Community? What kind of exclusive content and/or events will customers secure with a membership?). Additionally, including your instructor bio is a great way to introduce yourself to potential members, and outline the value you bring to your subject matter!
Need a refresher on how to use Site Pages to create course landing pages? Get detailed instructions.
Redirecting Your Home Page
If you only want to offer your subscription-based membership, then we recommend redirecting your home page to your membership site’s landing page (also called your bundle landing page) to streamline your sales funnel.
If you'd like to continue to allow students to purchase individual courses and bundles outside of the subscription-based membership, then you'll want to keep your home page as a course directory for visitors (this is the default).
Prevent Students from Purchasing Standalone Courses
If you only want students to be able to enroll in your membership, and not purchase your standalone courses, you can set those courses to Private.
By setting a course to Private, you’ll disable the ability to enroll in the individual course from your public facing pages. We recommend adding a call-to-action buy button to all of your individual course landing pages that you have marked Private, that directs students to your membership product checkout.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use external sales pages?
Yes! If you are using external sales pages to convert your leads, you will probably need to restrict access and make some minor adjustments to your site. Learn more about Using External Sales Pages with Your Thinkific Checkout.
How are membership sites different from product bundles?
A Product Bundle is a package of multiple courses sold as a single product. Bundles are typically one element of a membership site, along with other offerings like: access to private products, live Q&A sessions with you, and/or other exclusive, member-only content.