What is a membership site (plus our top 3 examples)

Learn What is a Membership Site, its benefits, and explore our top 3 examples to inspire your own. Start building a community and recurring revenue stream.

Joanna Taylor

By Joanna Taylor  •  Updated 21 February 2024

What is a membership site

Are you an ambitious content creator, and would you like to have a dedicated community of individuals who want to hear from you and are ready to pay for your knowledge?

With a membership site, you will be able to bring your community together under a platform you control and earn recurring revenue from membership fees and any other monetization medium you want to use.

This article will help you discover how membership sites work, and it will also show you examples of thriving membership sites as well as the factors that helped them succeed.

What Is A Membership Site?

A membership site is a website that offers unique and exclusive content and provides access to that content to individuals who have met the necessary requirements to become members.

Often, this requirement is to pay a one-time or recurring subscription fee to gain access to the content. There can also be multiple membership levels, and the perks and content quality on offer will be different for each level.

As a site owner, you can choose to offer a free trial period to give people time to consume member-only content and decide if it's worth paying for.

You can offer any type of content on your membership site, depending on your niche and the preferences of your target audience. Below are the most common types of content offered on membership sites:

Videos: Exclusive videos, tutorials, and educational content that can be streamed or downloaded by members
Audio: Exclusive audio content, interviews, or podcasts that members can listen to or download.
Online Course: Online courses or educational modules on various subjects, often delivered through video lectures, quizzes, and assignments
Blog Posts: High-quality written content on specific topics that are relevant to the site's niche or industry.
Ebooks & Digital products: Members may have access to downloadable ebooks, PDF guides, templates, or other digital resources.
White Papers: In-depth and authoritative reports backed by verifiable facts and data to people who are already knowledgeable about the topic or are experts in the field.
Live Coaching Sessions: This format gives you an interactive medium where you can convey your knowledge to your audience and also receive their feedback and questions.
Newsletters: Regular newsletters or email updates that provide members with the latest news, insights, and content.
User-generated Content: This type of content depends on your ability to build a thriving community of people who are interested in a specific topic or a group of closely related topics. It must be a place where members can share their opinions with like-minded individuals in a conducive environment.
Live Webinars: Interactive sessions with experts or site creators where members can ask questions in real time.

You don’t have to restrict your membership site to one content type, and you can offer two or more types of content to your members. The key is to use a content format that is suitable for your topic and easily digestible by your target audience.

Membership Website Examples

You don’t have to restrict your membership site to one content type, and you can offer two or more types of content to your members. The key is to use a content format that is suitable for your topic and easily digestible by your target audience.

Hair In Motion - Course-based Membership Site

Hair In Motion - What Is A Membership Site

Charles Gray created the Hair In Motion membership site to be a platform for using his 12 years of experience in the hair and fashion industry to nurture the next generation of hair stylists. 

His knowledge and experience were leveraged to create over 154+ hair-cutting tutorials available on the membership website. The courses contain techniques, tips, and tricks to help professional hairstylists evolve and succeed in the industry.

The program also lets members schedule a personalized consultation with Charles Gray to be held at his studio in Manchester or at a location chosen by the member.

Reasons for Success

A Clearly Defined Niche: the platform is exclusively designed for professional hairstylists who want to make massive leaps in their careers. It's not for hobbyists or beginner stylists, and that clarity of purpose makes it easier to attract the right target audience.
Value for Money: the average price for each course on the website is £7.99 for non-members. In contrast, a subscribing member will pay £20 each month for access to all the courses, guest teachers, the exclusive app, and the 1:1 consultation program.
The Hair In Motion Blog: the constantly updated blog has been developed into a major source for the latest beauty trends and news in the British hair styling industry. The success of the blog has surely played a major role in raising awareness about the membership website.

Built By Bedson - Coaching Membership Site

Built By Bedson - What Is A Membership Site

In this coaching membership site example, members receive online training from elite coaches on bodybuilding, powerlifting, general nutrition, and strongman sports. 

The platform is for individuals who want to lose weight, build muscle, or prepare for a competitive sports program.

Reasons for Success

Superb Site Branding: the design of the site is professional, with consistent colors, patterns, and logos that are also used on the brand’s other online platforms. In addition, the use of the owner's name adds a personal touch to the brand, which is important in the coaching niche, where everything depends on the expertise of the trainer.
Above-the-fold Video: research shows that people retain 95% of a message in video format and just 10% of a message in text format. Using a video instead of large blocks of text to engage visitors the moment they land on the page is a masterstroke by Tyler Bedson.
Multiple Coaches: the availability of multiple trainers ensures that clients have the flexibility to pick and choose who they want to work with. There are male and female trainers for clients of each sex.

Harley Owners Group - Community-based Membership Site

Harley Owners Group - What Is A Membership Site

Every Harley Davidson owner automatically becomes a cherished member of a global community of like-minded individuals - people who share a love for riding. 

The Harley Owners Group membership site provides a platform for such individuals to come together and organize riding events and other shared activities.

People who subscribe to join this membership site are buying access to an online community of bike riders, instead of access to content like what entails in the two preceding examples. 

Every ride brings members together, and most Harley Owners Group branches are close-knit communities.

Reasons for Success

Generous Membership Benefits: apart from the main draw of camaraderie, members get 15% discounts at Hard Rock Cafes and Hard Rock Hotels in Europe. They also get free access to the Harley Davidson Museum.
Events and Prizes: a community must keep its members engaged if it wants to thrive, and multiple riding events are organized and posted on the group’s membership site each year. Members can also win prizes by pilling up points across the races held each year.

The School of Photography - Hybrid Membership Site

The School Of Photography - What Is A Membership Site

This hybrid membership site example combines an online academy with an eCommerce store. 

For $19 per month, members gain access to thousands of tutorial videos, raw files, competitions, live Q&A sessions, and a thriving community of photographers. The team has over 20 years of experience in the field, and they have trained close to 180,000 students. 

The content is aimed towards beginner photographers, and the site’s success speaks for itself. The online store also sells books, Ebooks, photography equipment, and the school’s merch.

Reasons for Success

Free Tutorials: the owners opted to provide value upfront for free to convince prospective members who want to test the waters to judge if it’s valuable content before making the commitment to pay a subscription fee. That decision has worked wonders for the school.
Lots of Social Proof: there are multiple sections on the membership site’s homepage displaying all kinds of social proof to help persuade visitors, including video reviews from happy members, social media ratings, and recommendations from reputable journals in the industry.
60-day Money-back Guarantee: the site owners have enough confidence in the quality and actionable utility of their content to offer to refund any paying subscriber who hasn’t learned anything from their courses. Many prospective members must have been convinced by that level of assurance.

Getting Started With Your Own Membership Site

You will first need to identify a niche or focus for your site and a way to consistently deliver high-quality, valuable content.

It is important to choose a membership model that suits your goals, whether it's offering exclusive content, community interaction, or a combination of both. Invest in a membership site platform that provides the necessary tools for content creation, payment processing, and member management. 

The Kourses platform is the best option if you are looking for an all-in-one platform with all the tools you need to create content and build a successful online business. 

It lets you easily create your courses, accept online payments, track the progress of your members, and integrate your existing email marketing and other digital tools with your membership site.

Create. Engage. Profit

Start building a better membership site.

The power to create beautiful membership portals that make your content the star of the show. Engaging experiences. Powerful business tools.