How to Pick the Right Membership Model for Your Goals

by | Jun 30, 2023 | How To

Building a successful membership site is an exciting venture that allows you to generate revenue while providing exclusive value to your audience. Before you jump right into it, however, remember that one crucial aspect of setting up a membership site is choosing the right membership model.

In this article, we will explore different membership site models and guide you through the process of selecting the most suitable model for your revenue-driven membership site.

What Is a Membership Site?

A membership site is a private online platform where individuals pay a recurring fee to access exclusive content, products, services, or a community related to a particular niche or industry. When deciding on a membership model, it’s essential to understand the various options available.

A Membership Model for Every Need: Types of Membership Business Models to Consider

When you understand the different types of membership site models, it allows you to be strategic about the way you build yours. Instead of jumping head-first, you will have a clear overview of what you want to do with your membership site — and where you want to go with it.

Here are some of the most popular membership site models

Tiered Membership Model

A tiered membership model involves offering different membership tiers with varying levels of access, benefits, and pricing. This model works well when you have diverse target audience segments with varying needs and budgets.

For instance, a Basic tier can provide access to essential content and limited features, while a Premium tier offers advanced content, exclusive resources, and personalized support. This approach allows you to cater to different customer segments and generate revenue through tier upgrades and cross-selling opportunities.

Use Case 1

A fitness membership site can offer a Basic tier with access to workout videos and nutrition tips, while a Pro tier provides personalized workout plans and direct coaching. This model appeals to both fitness enthusiasts seeking basic guidance and those looking for personalized support.

Use Case 2

A software training membership site can offer a Starter tier with access to beginner-level tutorials, an Intermediate tier with more in-depth lessons, and an Expert tier with advanced training and live webinars. This tiered approach accommodates learners at different skill levels and allows for progressive learning and membership site revenue growth.

Content Drip Membership Model

The content drip model focuses on gradually releasing content over time to keep members engaged and subscribed for longer periods. This model works well when you want to provide a structured learning experience or maintain member interest through a steady stream of valuable content.

For example, a language learning membership site can release weekly lessons, quizzes, and cultural insights to keep members engaged and motivated over an extended period.


Use Case 1

An online course membership site can adopt the content drip model by releasing modules and assignments on a predetermined schedule. This approach helps learners stay focused, complete the course, and remain active members throughout their learning journey.

Use Case 2

A personal development membership site can deliver monthly self-improvement challenges, inspirational articles, and exclusive interviews with experts. By releasing content in a controlled manner, members experience continuous growth, leading to long-term engagement and loyalty.

Course-Based Membership Model

The course-based model is ideal for those who want to deliver structured educational content and create a learning environment within their membership site. This model works best when you have in-depth knowledge or expertise to share and when members seek comprehensive learning experiences.

Use Case 1

A photography membership site can provide a series of modules covering various photography techniques, editing software tutorials, and assignments for members to practice and receive feedback. This model appeals to photography enthusiasts looking to enhance their skills and knowledge in a structured manner.

Use Case 2

A business coaching membership site can offer courses on topics like marketing strategies, leadership development, and sales techniques. The course-based model allows members to acquire specialized knowledge from industry experts, empowering them to grow their businesses.

Product-Based Membership Model

The product-based model offers exclusive products or digital downloads as part of the membership benefits. This model works well when you have valuable digital assets to share or when your target audience seeks access to unique resources.

Use Case 1

A graphic design membership site can provide exclusive design templates, stock photos, and fonts to its members. By offering a range of high-quality design resources, the site adds value to the membership and attracts graphic designers and creative professionals.

Use Case 2

A music production membership site can offer premium sound samples, virtual instruments, and audio plugins to its members. This product-based model appeals to musicians and producers who rely on high-quality resources to enhance their music production workflow.

How to Choose a Membership Site Model

OK, now that you understand the different types of membership site models, it’s time to decide which model is best for your business. Here are some essential elements to consider:

Your Goals

Consider your primary goals for the membership site. Are you looking to share your expertise, build a community, or generate revenue? Or maybe all three? What are the specifics of your goals? How many members you want to bring together at once — and how much time will you allow yourself to get there? What are your financial goals?

Based on your objectives, select a membership model that aligns with your desired outcomes.


Your Target Audience

To make sure you choose a successful membership model, take the time to understand the needs, preferences, and demographics of your target audience. Determine which membership model will resonate most with them and provide the most value. Tailoring your membership site to your audience’s preferences increases the likelihood of attracting and retaining members.

For instance, a fitness community might opt for a tiered membership model, while a photography course site may choose the course-based model. Your chosen membership model should mirror your community’s needs.

Time Availability:

Evaluate the time you can dedicate to content creation, management, and member engagement. Choose a membership model that matches your available resources without compromising on the quality of the experience you provide to your members.

It is worth mentioning that nothing happens overnight — and nothing is fully “passive” either. Any membership site requires effort and dedication to build a successful business. However, a repeat customer drip content-based membership model may be less time-consuming than, say, a one-on-one training membership model.


Type of Content

Consider the type of content you want to produce and the frequency of updates. Ensure that your chosen membership model aligns with your content strategy and supports your ability to consistently deliver valuable content to your members.

Some of the most common types of content include courses, community-driven content, videos (e.g., trainings), and one-on-one coaching sessions.

Revenue Generation

Decide on the revenue sources for your membership site, such as subscription fees, product sales, or advertising opportunities. Assess the potential income streams of each membership model and choose one that aligns with your revenue objectives and monetization strategies. Doing this will help you choose a membership model that fits your financial goals.

Emphasis on Community

Assess the importance of fostering a sense of community and interaction among your members. Determine whether a robust community aspect aligns with your goals and whether you have the resources and ability to manage and facilitate member engagement effectively.


Selecting the right membership business model is a critical decision that can significantly impact the success of your revenue-driven membership site. You want to be 100% focused on your goals, so knowing exactly which model is more likely to succeed is the most important first step you should make when building your membership site strategy.

And if you’ve already decided on your membership model and are ready to take the plunge, check out Ultimate Membership Pro. For $35 (one-time price!), you get access to the most comprehensive package of membership site features on the market:

  • Restrict content any way you want
  • Access to multiple payment gateways
  • User management
  • Membership levels and discounts
  • Analytics and reporting tools.

And if you want to take it up a notch, you can always get the Pro Addons Bundle — a set of addons ready to supercharge your membership site and boost your revenue.

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