Memberships and Subscriptions: What’s The Best?

by | Nov 1, 2021 | Business

Memberships and subscriptions websites are a great way to monetize your website. Both options give you a source of recurring and predictable income. But what is the difference between a subscription-based website and a membership website? 

At first glance, they seem to be the same thing. However, there are differences between the two business models, memberships and subscriptions, that go beyond mere terminology. 

In this article, we’ll explain what those differences are and which business model is right for your website. 

What are Memberships Sites?

First, let’s explain what a membership site is. A membership site is a website where some content is reserved for members only. In other words, if you’re a regular visitor, you cannot access that content unless you become a member of the site.

Membership content can include: 

  • Masterclasses, workshops or trainings
  • Exclusive ebooks
  • Members-only courses
  • Private podcast episodes
  • Livestreams and members-only videos
  • Exclusive blog posts, articles or whitepapers
  • Industry-specific magazines or publications

In some cases, you can access the membership content simply by creating an account with the website. The membership doesn’t cost anything other than your email address. 

Other membership websites require you to pay an ongoing fee to be able to access the members’ content. The fee can be paid monthly, quarterly or yearly, depending on how the owner sets up the payment intervals. 

Some membership sites also offer a combination of free and paid membership content as well as different membership levels. 

A membership website often incorporates an element of community. By joining, you not only get access to the content but also other members. You can interact with other members online and some memberships also have networking opportunities or regular member meetups. 

A good example of a membership website is Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income Pro – a worldwide community of business owners that offers curated masterminds and exclusive content for their members. 

memberships and subscriptions

Benefits of Memberships and Subscriptions Websites

As mentioned earlier, a membership site can provide you with a predictable, recurring income every month. But, there are a couple of other benefits of having a membership site. 

Sense of Community

If you’re looking to build a community around your offers or your industry, a membership site is a great way to go. You can leverage the interaction between members to form friendships, business relationships, and create brand advocates. 

But to do that, you’ll need to be engaged within your community and encourage members to participate as well. 

Capitalize on Exclusivity

Memberships and Subscriptions are often associated with the feeling of belonging to an inner circle. The level of exclusivity is not necessarily attached to a price but more to the fact that as a member, you’re part of an insider community. This is especially true if you have an open/closed membership model where members can join only during specific times and in limited numbers.

Drive More Revenue Without Overhead Costs

Lastly, since membership sites revolve around gated content, you don’t have to worry about overhead costs typically associated with sites selling physical products. Digital products don’t require physical storage and there are no shipping costs either. 

What are Subscriptions Websites?

Now that we’ve covered what a nato membership website is, let’s define a subscription website. A subscription-based website is more focused on revenue generation. 

In essence, it’s a financial agreement between an individual and a website where the website grants access to either a service or a product for an ongoing fee. 

For example, Netflix is a subscription-based website. For an ongoing monthly fee, you get access to streaming service and all the entertainment content in their library. 

Envato Elements is another type of subscription-based website that grants you access to unlimited digital assets typically used in design. 

Memberships and Subscriptions: What's The Best? WordPress Membership Plugin | Membership Software | Ultimate Membership Pro

You pay for a subscription on a regular basis: monthly, quarterly, yearly or another predetermined interval. 

Unlike membership sites, subscription-based websites don’t have a community aspect attached to it. Therefore, there isn’t a sense of belonging associated with a subscription-based website. But the regular influx of fresh, new content is often beneficial enough for subscribers to continue paying for their subscription. 

Benefits of Subscription Websites

Like memberships sites, subscriptions websites can bring in additional income to your business. But that’s not the only benefit.  

Foster Brand Loyalty

If you provide your subscribers with a quality service or product, they’ll keep their subscription active and remain loyal to your brand. 

Attract More Customers

Subscription-based pricing is often more appealing to users. It lowers the barrier to your service or products as it’s easier to pay $25/mo than $500 at once. 

Earn More Through Upselling

You can use the subscription-based offers to give your subscribers a taste for what your services or products are like. This builds trust which allows you to continue marketing to them and upsell them into one of your higher priced programs or products. 

Membership and Subscription Website: Which One is Right For You?

Now that you know the difference between a membership site and a subscription website, you might be wondering which model is right for you. The ultimate choice comes down to your personal preferences but here are a couple of points to keep in mind. 

  • Since memberships sites often have a community element, you’ll need to engage and be active in your own community. If you can’t dedicate time for daily engagement, a subscription website might be a better choice
  • On the other hand, membership sites don’t necessarily require a constant stream of new content. They can thrive with pre-existing content and user generated content. 
  • You can charge more for a membership site due to the exclusivity associated with memberships.

How to Create Memberships and Subscriptions WordPress Websites?

Creating memberships and subscriptions WordPress websites is easy. All you need is the right plugin such as Ultimate Membership Pro. Ultimate Membership Pro allows you to create unlimited membership plans (including free and paid) as well as periodic subscriptions. 


It supports multiple payment gateways, member profiles, beautiful front-end, and powerful admin functionality that makes managing a membership or a subscription based website easy. 

In addition to that, you can release content on a drip schedule and restrict pages or posts in bulk. Your users can even have multiple subscriptions active and easily manage them from their account area. 

And thanks to the ability to allow access only during specific dates, you can easily make your membership site more exclusive. 

Final Thoughts

Both memberships and subscriptions websites add a recurring and predictable revenue stream to your business. Although often used interchangeably, the two business models are different. The differences might seem subtle but can have a crucial role in how you decide to operate your business. 

If you want to get the best of both worlds, combine memberships and subscriptions for a successful business model that boosts your bottom line. And as mentioned earlier, Ultimate Membership Pro can help you create both memberships and subscriptions sites. Get Ultimate Membership Pro today and monetize your membership site.