Video Monetization

The Importance of Building a Membership Community & How to Do It

By Eden Metzler
10 Min Read
A group of content creators streaming live and discussing with their membership community.

Skateparks. Yoga studios. Living rooms.


These are all dedicated spaces where groups of like-minded folks gather to connect over something they love.

So, where does your community get together?

If you’re still figuring that out, then this article might have the answer:

An online membership community provides a dedicated space for your biggest fans to engage with you and your exclusive content in exchange for a recurring fee. 

Even better, it’s a platform that you own, so you can say goodbye to the algorithm anxiety that comes with hosting your community on social media channels.

In this article, we’ll unpack why the membership business model is so important for creators…

And then explore each step that you need to take to launch your very own online membership community (the right way).

Let’s get started!

What is a Membership Community?

A membership community allows you to provide a dedicated space where people with a shared interest can interact, collaborate, and support one another. And, best of all, it’s a way to earn recurring revenue.

Members sign up to a creator’s membership community and pay a recurring membership fee (usually monthly or annual). In exchange, they receive access to your exclusive community and premium content. 

More and more creators are choosing to monetize their content and online following through a membership community.

Let’s look at a few of the reasons behind the business model’s growing popularity…

3 Reasons to Launch an Online Membership Community

Your own paid membership community could unlock recurring revenue for you and provide a great experience for your fans.

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular reasons why creators everywhere are launching their online membership communities!

Why Creators Are Building Paid Membership Communities

Your own paid membership community could unlock recurring revenue for you and provide a great experience for your fans.

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular reasons why creators everywhere are launching their online membership communities!

1. Create an Exclusive Community Space

When the creator economy was still developing, creators underestimated the value of what they had built. 

But, very few people in the world are able to draw in likeminded people and create a thriving community around a common interest, which is why creators today are realizing that what they offer is rare, and extremely valuable. 

So valuable, that it’s worth putting behind a paywall and charging a monthly fee in exchange for access. 

The benefit? Besides providing creators with a recurring source of revenue month after month, a paywalled community increases the quality of the community itself, since everyone in the community has  shown that they’re willing to pay to be there. 

And, that exclusivity can guarantee a safe space for members to connect with you and one another, making it easier to nurture your relationship with members and create loyal, paying members.

The best part is that at a certain point, this collaborative environment can even become self-sustaining, meaning your members will consistently start and participate in conversations, freeing up time and energy for you to work on other things!

Speaking of freeing up time, let’s look at another reason why creators are launching their membership communities…

2. Earn Recurring Revenue

Recurring revenue is the holy grail for independent creators.

Heck, it is for most people!

That’s because it can help ease some financial anxiety, and give you the time, space and resources you need to:

  • re-invest in your content.
  • plan ahead and scale your operations.
  • create a more sustainable work/life balance.

Unlike one-off purchases for products like merch and online courses, paid communities can create a stable and reliable revenue stream (that takes less work to maintain).

Here’s a revenue growth comparison between an online course community priced at $299 once-off, and a monthly community membership priced at $15 per month:

A graphic of revenue growth 12 month projection on a comparison between online courses and membership businesses.

Thanks to the power of recurring revenue, compounding growth, and customer retention, memberships tend to outperform one-off products (by quite a lot).

  1. Ditch the Algorithm and Gain Creative Freedom

When you build a membership community, you’re building your own platform.

That means you get:

  • A much bigger share of the revenue you generate. Say goodbye to platforms taking 45%+ of your ad-revenue.
  • Direct and secure access to your audience. No more algorithm blackouts and temporary account bans.
  • Total control over your brand and content. Stop compromising on what you can create.

Plus, with all of that creative freedom at your fingertips, you’re able to connect with and delight your superfans.

These are the folks in your audience who consistently engage with your content and can never seem to get enough. (Think: Kevin Kelly’s 1000 True Fans.)

A membership community allows you to wow your fans with the extra content they’re looking for alongside a totally exclusive community experience. 

In fact, a bunch of people specifically seek out and are willing to pay for that private platform experience because of things like social media fatigue that make public platforms less fun to interact with.

A pay-to-access membership community platform gives your audience meaningful social connection mixed with exclusive content. 

So, ready to learn how to build your own platform?

How to Build a Membership Community the Right Way

You’re ready to start creating your new membership community if you have either:

  1. an active online community hosted on a free-to-access platform (think Facebook Groups or Discord).
  2. a ready-to-monetize group of superfans in your audience.

To build your membership community the right way, make sure you’re using a platform that supports your business goals and gives your members the best experience. 

Let’s jump into how you can launch the perfect membership community!

Select the Right Membership Platform for Your Community

The right membership community platform needs to support your community’s goals, provide a seamless user experience, and make managing your business a breeze.

Uscreen’s platform makes building a membership easy. Our platform supports video-first creators who care about giving their communities the ultimate experience.

Chemmunity is an online learning community for college students studying Organic Chemistry.

Take Chemmunity as an example: an online learning community for college students studying Organic Chemistry. 

Each member gets access to step-by-step video lessons, practice problems, and exams. Plus, they’re able to receive support and top tips from experts and other members in the community area.

Image of post in a community built on Uscreen.

With Uscreen, you can easily build and fully customize your membership site with our gallery of website templates, and our drag-and-drop builder.

Plus, we have a range of built-in marketing tools so you can reach new members, and stay connected with existing members, without having to switch between a bunch of different platforms.

Our platform makes membership management easy, allowing you to focus your time and attention on creating your best content and connecting with your paid community.

Want to learn more about how to launch your community on Uscreen? This video has everything you need to know:

If you’re looking to grow, manage, and monetize your membership community all in one place, Uscreen has all of the bells and whistles you need.

It’s simple with Uscreen.

Build, launch and manage your membership, all in one place.

Define Your Membership Tiers and Pricing Options

Different membership tiers give your audience more choice. You can offer a range of access levels to fit their budget and needs while making sure you still make a profit.

Where do you start? Figure out how many tiers you want to offer. 

We recommend keeping it simple with 2-3 options. Here’s an example from Abundance Plus:

A screenshot of membership tiers and pricing plans from Abundance Plus.

They offer 3 types of monthly plans, each with different levels of access and perks.  

Once you’ve landed on a number of tiers, it’s time to decide on the features for each one.

Clearly outline the benefits that each membership tier will include. These may include access to extra exclusive content, live streams, virtual events, community, or member-only resources. 

Make sure each tier offers a clear value proposition and aligns with the needs and wants of your audience. 

Now you’ll need to set your pricing. 

Establish pricing for each membership tier based on what your members get access to. Then price your tiers in a way that encourages users to sign up to a higher tier or commit for longer. 

A popular way to do this is through an upsell, where you offer a longer-term membership option at a discounted rate. From what we’ve seen, a good discount amount equals about 1 free month per year.

Here’s how TheWKOUT do it:

A screenshot of membership tiers and pricing plans from the WKOUT TV.

To find a price that works for your goals and your community’s budget, ask yourself these 2 questions: 

  1. what content and resources do your members get? 
  2. what do other communities in my niche charge? 

These answers will give you helpful guidelines as you figure out the right number!

Develop Your Content Library

Once your membership tiers are sorted, the next step in creating your membership site is to develop and organize your content library. 

A well-structured and organized content library – especially for video-centric membership websites – lets your members find exactly what they’re looking for in just a few clicks.

To get this step right, start off by creating your content categories.

Decide what the main categories or topics in your content library will be. This could be based on different themes, formats, or levels of expertise. 

Here’s an example from Elite Guitarist:

A screenshot shows the content library from Elite Guitarist.

The distinct categories in their video catalogue help members navigate their content quickly and easily.

Next up: plan out your content creation! 

A solid content creation strategy lets you add a steady flow of relevant and valuable content to your library. 

Besides videos and live streams, you could expand your content formats and create:

  • articles and newsletters.
  • audio podcasts.
  • downloadable resources like templates and guides.

Work to align your content creation plan (think topics and frequency) with the interests and needs of your target audience, and you’ll be golden! 

It’s simple with Uscreen.

Build, launch and manage your membership, all in one place.

Create a Marketing Launch Plan 

This is the final step before you launch, and it’s a big one! Your launch strategy sets the foundation for your successful community-building and a successful membership site launch. 

While that sounds like a lot of pressure, the good news is that we recommend you keep things simple. 

It’s tempting to get carried away with all of the tools and all of the strategies, but we’ve seen that launching with a simple and focused plan is what sets membership sites up for success in the long term.

So, let’s unpack how to generate awareness, attract new members, and create excitement around your community’s value proposition.

Speaking of… that’s exactly where you’ll start when putting this plan together!

Your ‘value proposition’ is just a fancy way to refer to the value and benefits your membership offers. 

To craft a compelling value proposition, you need to highlight what sets your membership apart from other options available to your target audience. 

Emphasize the exclusive content, community, and other features members get when they join. But most importantly, tell them how your membership will improve their lives.

Here’s how BTRIBALFIT do it:

A screenshot of BTRIBAL FIT's marketing launch for membership.

They highlight all of the benefits and real value that community members get access to as they join, as well as the outcome of joining their membership.

If you’re unsure how to figure out your unique value proposition, you can use this simple formula:

My community will help [specific type of people you’re trying to attract] with achieving/finding [2 or 3 benefits/positive results].

Next, you want to build anticipation for your membership community, and direct potential members to a simple sign-up journey.

Once you’ve nailed down the value and benefits your paid community will offer members, you can start to use this messaging to build up excitement and curiosity among your followers.

Then, direct this audience from your most engaged social media platforms to a landing page where you can collect their emails. You can simply get them to sign up for a waiting list, or you can offer a free downloadable in return. 

Either way, this helps secure direct access to people interested in your paid community!

Then, use your email list to communicate promotions, showcase testimonials, and give sneak-peeks of your premium content and community.

Email lists are underrated, but they’re incredibly powerful for driving organic growth.

And on that note of underrated strategies, let’s look at the final step of building a thriving membership community: showing up.

Keep Your Membership Community Engaged

It might sound obvious, but community engagement is a huge factor in building a successful membership community.

In the early days, when your community is a small group of just a few members, your presence will be crucial to help set the pace for each member who joins your paid community.

But, as your community grows, it can become a self-sustaining space where active members take the lead to ask and answer questions, post new ideas, and share their own experiences.

Take Your Book of Memories as an example. Their membership offers members follow-along tutorials for creating DIY albums and scrapbooks.

Image of digital products sold through an online membership.

Founder and creator, Frances, posts new tutorials regularly and is an active voice in the community channel. But, thanks to the pace she has set over time, her members feel encouraged and supported to post their own community content – unprompted.

Image of a community post in a membership built on Uscreen.

If your goal is to create a self-sustaining, active community, here are our top tips to make that happen:

  • Set the pace and lead by example. If you’re active in your own community (even if it feels like you’re posting into the void at first) other members will feel safe to join in.
  • Incorporate community into new member onboarding. As each new member joins, direct them to your community space to build the habit from day one.
  • Provide regular prompts for engagement. Ask questions, create challenges, and float new ideas to reengage your members.
  • Be consistent. Showing up is half the battle, even if you don’t have anything particularly interesting to say. Your members just want to know that you’re around and looking to connect.

If you want to dive deeper into how you can build an active, engaged, and thriving paid community, check out our expert guide:

Community Playbook: Cultivate Real and Long-lasting Connections Within Your Membership

Closing Thoughts on Community

An online membership community is a win-win for both you and your members.

The paid membership model lets you monetize your community, own your audience on your exclusive platform, and earn predictable recurring revenue.

So let your audience enjoy an elevated community experience built just for them, with more access to you, your content, and like-minded contributors.

FAQs about Membership Community

What is a community membership?

A community membership is a monetization model for online communities, where members pay a recurring subscription fee for access to the community and exclusive content.

How do I start a paid community membership?

1. Select the right membership platform.
2. Define your membership tiers.
3. Develop your content library.
4. Create a retention marketing plan.
5. Plan and execute your launch strategy.

What are the attributes of a community membership?

A paid community membership often includes additional content and perks beyond those of a free membership, such as access to exclusive videos and live streams, specialized resources, and unique opportunities. It fosters a sense of value and reciprocity, providing members with enhanced experiences and incentives for their financial contribution.