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:
Essential Steps to Create Your Membership Site
Prevent Students from Purchasing Standalone Courses
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 Membership Package
Combine the learning products you want to offer as part of your Membership. Learn more about this in How to Create a Membership Site.
Did you know that you can create Private or Hidden Products for more control over who can access or enroll in your Membership?
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 Membership.
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 Membership 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 to streamline your sales funnel.
If you'd like to continue to allow students to purchase individual products outside of the subscription-based membership, then you'll want to keep your home page as a directory for visitors (this is the default).
Prevent Students from Purchasing Standalone Products
If you only want students to be able to enroll in your membership, and not purchase your standalone products, you can set those courses to Private.
By setting a product to Private, you’ll disable the ability to enroll in the individual product from your public facing pages. We recommend adding a call-to-action buy button to all of your individual product landing pages that you have marked Private, that directs students to your membership product checkout.
We're busy making updates to Memberships behind the scenes, but if you have feedback about what you'd like to see with your Memberships, we want to know! Please send us a quick email to let us know what functionality would be most valuable to you!
Take It a Step Further
The items listed above are all essential parts of creating an all-access membership site built with Thinkific. However, there are still a variety of other features you can choose from to give your customers the best value for their membership!
Custom Pages For Members Only
Create Private Custom Pages that only students who are enrolled in your Membership can gain access to. These are useful for anything you’d like to offer members that doesn’t fit into a course or community space.
For example, one of your Custom Pages could display a course roadmap - so students can see what you’re working on and what you will be releasing next; another Custom Page could display a schedule of events you’re hosting (like webinars, Q&A sessions, etc.) for members only.
Learn more about members-only Private Custom Pages.
Organize Your Community With Spaces
Spaces are areas within your Community where you can manage posts, curate topics, and create individual areas in the community for conversations. Spaces make it easier for you and your students to find relevant content, and keep things organized as your community grows and becomes more active!
Learn more in Organize Your Community With Spaces.
Link to Your Social Media Communities
Give students a quick and easy way to access your social media platforms and/or community by including those links on your membership site landing page.
Depending on how you want the links to appear, there are two ways you can link to your external social media platform/community:
- Using a custom button
- Creating a header link
Create a Drip Schedule
A Drip Schedule allows you to control when students will have access to your course content.
The Drip can be based on when your student first enrolls into your course, so each student will have their own schedule based on their unique start date! This feature is based on lessons within a course, so it is currently limited to courses.
Learn more about Drip Schedules.
Subscription Pricing Tiers
Some creators choose to create a multi-level subscription for members to choose from when signing up.
For example, a membership site could offer Bronze, Silver, and Gold packages. A Bronze package may only offer access to certain courses and a private community, while the Gold package would offer access to all courses, a private community, 1-on-1 coaching sessions, and exclusive discounts for products you’re affiliated with.
To do this, we recommend creating each tiered package as a separate Membership. Then, when crafting your home page, display the Memberships using an Additional Products section in Site Builder.
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. Whereas a Membership site contains other offerings like: access to private products, live Q&A sessions with you, and/or other exclusive, member-only content.