October 05, 2021

While developing a membership website can be difficult (we make it easier, by the way) what determines the success of a membership website in the end is its pricing.

How do you price a membership site to make a profit without pushing away potential customers?

It comes down to the pricing strategy that works for you and your website.

Read on to learn how to price a membership site.

How Membership Sites Work

How To Price a Membership Site

Final Thoughts: How To Price a Membership Site — Finding the Sweet Spot

How Membership Sites Work

Membership websites are websites that offer exclusive content to their members. You can become a member by paying a fee (paid memberships) or doing something as simple as creating an account (free memberships). Common examples include streaming services, cooking clubs, and fitness websites.

Most membership websites generate revenue by acquiring subscribers. Even the initially free membership websites have paid plans that users can join to access premium content.

But how do you acquire subscribers?

It comes down to the pricing. You need to learn how to price your membership site to maximize profits and minimize customer churn (loss of customers).

A bullhorn with the words "register now"

How To Price a Membership Site

A subscription is a commitment.

Your customers would be spending both time and money to subscribe to your website.

With this in mind, let’s see what you should consider when first pricing your membership website.

Define Your Membership Website

What are you offering?

Once you know that, you can then determine what customers are willing to pay.

Don’t charge so low that customers perceive you as low value. Don’t charge so high that customers can’t afford it. You need to find your sweet spot.

Another question is: What kind of membership will you offer?

Usual membership websites come in:

  • Monthly membership — cooking lessons.
  • Yearly membership — discussion forums.
  • Lifetime membership — online courses.

For podcasts and cooking lessons, a monthly membership with recurring payments seems a better fit. On the other hand, courses have an endpoint. So an all-in-one upfront deal — or lifetime membership — fits.

A cartoon man shopping online at a desk.

Check Out the Competition

What are other websites charging for similar services?

This will let you know the going rate — what the customers are willing to pay for similar services.

Still, you should be unique as your unique selling proposition (USP) sets you apart. A competitor survey helps you understand how your competitors operate and how to differentiate yourself from them.

It also lets you know your audience’s expectations and how you can impress your audience.

Two men in a stairwell, one looks alarmed, the other has a cape and is flying.

Look at Your Profit Margins

You have to treat your membership website as an online business. You need to ensure that your membership website generates a healthy return on investment (ROI).

For example, let’s say you are an educational streamer producing regular online content. Your investment includes:

  • Desktop Computer: A $2000 setup puts you in the ballpark of $170 a month for the first year.
  • Equipment: Microphone, camera, chair, and lighting works out around $500, putting you at another $40 a month.
  • Time: It brings up the opportunity cost. How much would you be earning if you spent the same time on something else?

You need to find the right balance between the profit margins and the user’s retention and decide on a price point.

Price a Membership Site for Your Audience

A competitor survey may not always help you.

If you are providing something unique, you may not have the right competitors to look up to.

Suppose a market lacks premium brands. If you try to fill that void, you can’t copy your competitors.

Instead, you will have to rely on your audience and its disposable income.

For example, if you share jobs with the general audience, you can’t charge exorbitant fees as most of your audience is unemployed. In contrast, you can set a higher price if you share premium projects as your audience has money to burn.

In addition, gather data:

  • Use email lists and survey people to know what they are willing to pay.
  • Analyze your traffic on the pricing page — do your potential customers close your website right after visiting it?
  • Observe performance of your different offerings.

Cartoon people looking at their phones.

Select a Membership Pricing Strategy

Your membership pricing strategy decides how your audience reacts to your product.

For example, free memberships build your audience. You can offer sample content and draw in new members using free tiers. Once they know what you are offering, they will be inclined to pay for the premium content.

Common pricing models for a membership website include:

  • Tiered Pricing offers multiple membership levels with different benefits that

increase with the price increase. You can adjust your membership tiers according to your audience’s capacity to pay — free, premium, enterprise.

You can use WPQuickStart to implement it on your membership website. It also supports credit card, PayPal, and Stripe integrations.

  • Usage focuses on the quantity consumed. So a platform providing royalty-free music may limit the number of songs you can download according to your plan.
  • Per-User/Unit charges based on the number of members using the service. These packages are ideal for teams and businesses.
  • Flat-Rate Fixed subscriptions implement fixed annual or monthly fees.

Pricing options for a membership site.

Final Thoughts: How To Price a Membership Site — Finding the Sweet Spot

You now know how to price your membership site. You can calculate the return on investment on your idea and get to work.

Looking for a way to create a modern membership website?

Consider fully managed WordPress hosting from Nexcess. It’s optimized for WordPress, and smart monitoring tools are built-in to help you keep it that way.

Check out our WordPress plans to get started today. It’s the fastest and most affordable way to build a membership site on WordPress.


Nexcess, the premium hosting provider for WordPress, WooCommerce, and Magento, is optimized for your hosting needs. Nexcess provides a managed hosting infrastructure, curated tools, and a team of experts that make it easy to build, manage, and grow your business online. Serving SMBs and the designers, developers, and agencies who create for them, Nexcess has provided fully managed, high-performance cloud solutions for more than 22 years.

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