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3 Ways to Sell Online Memberships for Monthly Recurring Income

Membership sites have the potential to be one of the most lucrative revenue streams for your business.

The membership site model is designed to help you scale your business and reach a larger audience that wouldn’t be possible if you exclusively work with your members within your online community.

As you scale a monthly membership site your revenue will steadily increase over time, resulting in even higher profits for your business.

Let’s take a closer look at 3 popular strategies to sell online memberships and how to deliver your content inside them.

Pro Tip: any of these subscription options can be moved upmarket to sell bulk course enrollments or bulk memberships for teams or groups!

Model 1: Evergreen Monthly Content

sell online memberships evergreen

Selling online memberships with the evergreen content model means that the monthly content is released in the same sequence, no matter when they join.

For example, a member who joins right away in January will receive the “Month #1” content immediately. In February they’ll receive Month #2 content, and so on. A member who joins the program in February will be one month “behind” the other member (for lack of a better word), since they’ll receive Month #1 in February, and Month #2 in March.

With an evergreen online membership format, the content is always released sequentially based on each individual’s join date, regardless of the month/time of year.

This model works best when…

Since every member goes through the same chronological progression, this model works really great for more traditional online course formats. If you’ve looked at how to teach online and make it a viable profession, then you know that recurring revenue can go a long way to making it work.

This model is great for drip fed content that builds on the material from the previous lesson or module. Each module is essentially a pre-requisite for the next, and in some cases must be completed before accessing future lessons and material.

Challenges to overcome:

With an evergreen online membership model, each user moves at their own pace, and might not be on the same page with students who began a few months earlier. This can pose a challenge if you want to offer group coaching and support, since more advanced members might ask questions that are totally irrelevant to new members.

To ensure members are digesting the material and progressing through your course successfully, use progress-tracking and completion objectives to keep your members motivated to complete each lesson, or take a quiz to move on to the next lesson or module.

Model 2: Start at sign up + going forward

sell online memberships evergreen

With this membership model, new content is released to the entire program each month.

For example, members who first sign up for your program in July will receive the same content that month as members who have been around since January. All members receive access to new monthly materials going forward. However, the “new” member who signs up in July won’t have access to content that was released in prior months, though they can always choose to purchase the prior content separately.

This model works best when…

This format of selling online memberships creates a lot of opportunities for you to increase your customer lifetime value through multiple revenue streams.

Not only will you earn recurring revenue from each member’s monthly recurring subscription, but you can also invite potential customers to pay to unlock past months’ content, adding to your membership site profits. Take a look at how to implement this upsell strategy here.

It works really well when you have a solid foundation of quality content and it is varied and doesn’t build sequentially on past months’ materials. For example, a painting instructor who does a step-by-step art tutorial each month might gravitate towards this model, since each month’s tutorial can stand on its own feet and it is perceived as “quality content” by its members.

AccessAlly user, Staci Ann Lowry of has built an incredibly successful online membership business using this model.

This model is also really powerful when you want to host group calls, live challenges, and other membership-wide engagement efforts. Your members will be going through the same content at the same time, so their questions and discussions will be focused around the same topic.

Challenges to overcome …

You have to be mindful not to build each month’s new content on knowledge members would have received the month before, when selling this type of online membership since all members won’t necessarily have access to it based on their join date.

It might also be a challenge to present your upsells in a positive light, as some members might be resistant to paying “extra” to unlock past course content. This is an area where strategic wording and high-value content will help immensely.

Model 3: All access + new monthly content

sell online memberships all access

This online memberships site format gives your members access to all of your content from the past, plus any new content released as long as they remain an active member.

This is a great example of a buffet style type of online memberships.

This model works best when…

This membership site setup is great if you offer a variety of courses and content where the main draw for your ideal customer is that they’ll receive access to everything, including any new content added over time. Your target market will feel like they are getting a lot of bang for their buck with this style membership.

It also allows you to foster lasting relationships with your audience, as they continue to engage with your content and community on a regular basis.

Challenges to overcome:

Unfortunately, this approach to sell online memberships can result in information overload since there is so much for members to digest. Course dashboards can quickly become crowded, leading to confusion and a loss of focus.

You’ll also want to remember this member retention advice: if people feel like they aren’t able to take advantage of all your content, they might cancel.

One way to combat this is by creating a personality-type quiz that guides each member to the material that’s most beneficial for them, based on their unique scenario. Add this quiz to the main page and encourage users to revisit it on a regular basis.

Another option is to “lock” older content, while offering your membership base free credits that they can use to slowly unlock access over time. This creates a “shopping” mentality, and encourages members to slow down and focus on the course at hand, rather then getting lost in the excitement of too many options.

Finally, you might simply choose to tuck old content into a library or “archive” area, letting users peruse through the materials as they choose, while keeping the main dashboard page focused on the current month’s content.

Choose the format that best supports your goals

Each of these formats used to sell online memberships is unique in its own way, and it’s up to you to determine which one will best support your strong relationships with your membership base.

Regardless of which format you, you’ll want to ensure the tech stack you use supports your needs, and is designed to scale as you reach each new milestone in your business.

The Online Membership Plugin For Industry Leaders

Because of its versatility and powerful automation capabilities, AccessAlly makes it possible to create a program using any (or all!) of the 3 monthly membership models.

With its built-in e-commerce functionality and advanced email marketing integrations, AccessAlly has a robust membership plugin built-in and it gives you all the functionality you need to sell online memberships, without having to purchase any expensive add-ons.

With AccessAlly’s built-in e-commerce functionality and advanced automation integrations, you can effectively attract and convert potential clients, enabling you to generate any of these 3 types of online memberships.

Moreover, the ability to offer exclusive content to your members will entice them to stay engaged and committed to your community, fostering loyalty and long-term success.

We understand how unique each business is, and we’re here to help you create a custom profitable membership site experience for your members, without the hassle of duct-taped tech stacks.

Nathalie Lussier

I’m a writer, technologist, and regenerative farmer. I founded AccessAlly with my husband in one frantic weekend to solve my immediate course platform issues. Over a decade later the company has grown, and our product has evolved to serve millions of learners across the globe.

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