A Beginner's Guide to Creating a Subscription Website

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If you want to earn recurring revenue or make money out of your content, then you need to give creating subscription websites a shot.

While starting a subscription site can be a lucrative endeavor, making sure your initiatives yield meaningful results isn’t always easy.

After all, there are lots of things you need to do right to have a successful subscription site.

For starters, you need exceptional content. Your site should also be optimized for mobile-first indexing so it can rank well in the SERPs and your web design should also be conversion-friendly.

If you don’t give careful thought to how you run your subscription website, you are bound to fail.

The good news is, we’re here to help. In this post, we’ll look into the nuts and bolts of a subscription website, how you can start one, and a few examples to inspire you.

Overview: What is a subscription website?

Membership or subscription websites are online hubs where members and exclusive communities can access content for a recurring fee.

Subscription websites are essentially similar to business websites. One major difference is that access to the site is protected by a login, so only paying members can view or get to the content.

The content needs to be valuable enough to entice website visitors into subscribing and paying the fee.

While valuable content can mean different things for various audiences, some of the most popular types of subscription content include:

  • Webinars, online courses, and guides
  • Newsletters and industry publications such as reports, surveys, whitepapers 
  • Private member directories, such as those for business groups and associations
  • Exclusive invites to conferences and events

A subscription site will help you build a community of engaged users, generate website traffic, and earn recurring revenue through paid premium content.

It’s a profitable idea for a website that opens many marketing opportunities since you have an existing audience to sell your new products, services, and affiliate offers to, increasing your revenue.

Types of subscription websites

Depending on your goals, you can choose from various subscription ecommerce models that suit your needs.

Online course

Some of the most common kinds of subscription websites are those that offer online courses. People can join as members to access online courses (typically in the form of videos) to learn about a specific area of interest or develop a particular skill.

You can offer several courses on related subjects and require a fee for all of them or allow members access and pay only for the next course when they finish the first or previous one.

You can also allow members to access your entire course library, letting them pick which lessons they want to follow and complete.

The best part is, regardless of the learning management system (LSI) you’re using, whether you’re using Kajabi, teachable, etc., the platforms often have built-in features that allow you to get monthly (or one-time) subscription fees from your subscribers easily.

That said, you can bill them easily and automatically, making your life as an online course creator a lot easier.

All in membership

An all-in membership model allows your members to pay a one-time flat fee to access all your content each month.

It’s great for simple membership programs and it lets you predict your revenue growth more accurately since all your members pay the same amount. 

All in memberships also work well if you have a huge library of content, and you would rather have members select the content they want themselves.

Freemium

A freemium subscription provides trial versions so your prospects can try out your content and offers for free before signing up for paid membership.

Freemium plans also allow members to start with a free subscription with limited access to some of your membership programs’ features and content.

It’s a great way to entice prospective members into signing up for paid membership plans by letting them experience and access some of your content and offers, helping them see your subscription program’s value.

Three examples of successful subscription websites

Get inspiration from these subscription websites and gain ideas about what they’re doing right that makes their site successful.

1. Samurai Carpenter

The Samurai Carpenter offers over 250 detailed instructional videos and more than 28 online courses for amateur woodworkers.

While the website offers free videos, you’ll need to sign up to access more detailed instructions on creating woodworking projects.

The website adds content monthly, giving members access to the latest projects. Samurai Carpenter offers clear value by providing members detailed How-to videos with step-by-step guides.

Samurai Carpenter uses its subscription blog to embed its free videos from their YouTube channel and includes calls-to-action encouraging audiences to sign up for premium content. 

2. Food Blogger Pro

The website is a premium membership community that helps its subscribers build and grow their food blog.

The website’s homepage provides comprehensive information about the value that members will get, such as the 21 key things you will learn from the site. This offers site visitors the clear benefits of becoming a member. 

Members can access the website’s premium course content and a community forum that allows them to interact with other Food Blogger Pro subscribers. 

3. AppSumo Plus

AppSumo Plus is a good example of using a subscription membership website for e-commerce.

AppSumo is an online marketplace where you can buy digital products at heavily discounted prices for a limited time, typically with lifetime access. Anyone can purchase daily deals on the AppSumo site without becoming a member.

However, an AppSumo Plus subscription will give better deals to members, such as providing extended access to public offers and KingSumo Giveaway Pro, and a 10% discount on AppSumo purchases. It’s a great way to use a subscription website to offer value other than your content.  

Tips to creating a subscription website

Creating a subscription website doesn’t have to be rocket science. Consider the tips below when you’re developing a subscription website.

1. Build a website plan

Create a mind map of various topics (or products and services) you wish to cover and offer on your website. This helps you formulate a plan for your site pages, such as the layout and what you need to include.

For instance, if you offer instructional videos on gardening, you might want to create individual pages for various plant categories, such as a page on How-to grow flowering plants and another page on growing vine or climbing plants.

Use a CMS platform with easily customizable pre-built templates to streamline building your subscription website’s structure, putting this process into practice more easily.

Doing so lets you create a logical order to your content, providing easy navigation for your visitors and members later on and helping you decide whether to use a dynamic or static website.

2. Iron out your subscription details

Outline the details of your website’s membership aspect and set objectives such as the income you want your site to make and the price of your subscription fees.

Plot your membership tiers and the content, products, and other offers that subscribers can get with each plan. 

Do the math so you can figure out the number of subscriptions you need to sell to meet your goal. This is also a crucial part of your business plan.

3. Find the right tools

Do some research on subscription website tools to help you find ones that meet your needs, such as the right software for your website marketing efforts.

For instance, look for tools that allow you to automate manual processes to streamline critical aspects of your operations.

Consider crucial factors such as the price, whether the software is hosted on the service provider’s platform, the support services you will get, and if you need to set up the tool on your site yourself. 

Less expensive options are often lacking in features so you need to check their features carefully before you make the purchase. Also, it pays to check if the provider offers in-depth tutorials or a comprehensive knowledge base and reliable support services to help you with the process. 

Start building your subscription website

A subscription website is an effective and engaging way of establishing a community loyal to your brand, earning recurring revenue, and monetizing your content.

It allows you to offer unique content and exclusive deals to encourage customers into a long-term relationship with your brand. Kickstart your subscription website creation and implementation with the tips in this guide.



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