Business models based on weekly, monthly or yearly subscriptions are all the rage these days. From online memberships to subscription boxes, there are many types – just as there are many reasons to start a membership for your own business.

In this article, I aim to give a short overview of different ways a membership can create recurring income for your business.

1. Product-based subscription boxes

If you have a product-based business, you can showcase new or seasonal products to your members. Possibilities range from weekly vegetable crates – to monthly chocolate or wine assortments.

This model has three big perks:

  • People who enjoy your products won’t forget to order more when they’re out – you’ll be sending them out on a schedule
  • Your clients can get an overview of ALL the good things you have to offer; you ensure they’ll get a variety of products
  • Since you’re delivering products on a schedule, clients will be less inclined to buy with someone else.  

2. Service-based memberships, maintenance contracts and retainer packages

People can pay a weekly, monthly or yearly flat fee to use your services.

Take the example of this car wash: like many others in their line of business, they charge a monthly flat fee, and members get to come in and wash their cars as often as they like… On the long run, they won’t wash their cars much more often than they do now, but the idea that they can come by at any time is comforting enough – and that idea will entice them to get a membership with you, instead of paying per washing at your competitor’s.

The same goes for maintenance – many companies already offer maintenance contracts. It’s recurring income for the company, and the client enjoys reliable and trustworthy support.

Retainers and monthly packages are ideal for virtual services like translations, copywriting, admin support, social media management, graphic design and many others. There are two main types:

  • You can package some services into monthly recurring services. Think of posting a specific amount of content to social media every week, a number of blog posts every month, monthly updates & maintenance for your website,…
  • If your work is based on hourly rates, pre-selling a certain number of hours every month can ensure you know beforehand how much money is coming in (and you can plan your working hours accordingly) – and the client knows how much they’ll spend, and what they’ll get for that money.  

3. Entertainment subscriptions and memberships

When we think of entertainment subscriptions, we first think of big companies like Netflix of Amazon prime. Their offering is extremely scalable; whether 100.000 or a million people would subscribe, it wouldn’t mean more work for them – but it does mean more income.

Memberships can apply to many different types of entertainment; you can become a member of an attraction park or zoo and visit it as much as you’d like – which saves you money (compared to paying for individual visits), and at the same time provides the park with regular, recurring income.

  1. Information-based subscriptions (online and on paper)

4. Information-based subscriptions (online and on paper)

The same goes for anyone offering learning materials or information;

  • Magazines and newspapers
  • Specialist information – like crochet patterns or monthly gardening instructions
  • Paid newsletters – e.g. a newsletter with the latest news about stock exchange.

These subscriptions can be digital or “on paper”. Businesses offering these are fulfilling a need their audience has – whether that’s a need to know what’s going on in the world, the desire to learn new crochet techniques or the wish to grow their own food.

5. Coaching and consultancy upsells

Coaching and consultancy is another type of business that can easily be scaled by combining it with a membership. Most coaches or consultants will work with clients one on one; either in real life, or online. A membership can give people some kind of intensive support. This could be in the form of extra materials, or even more direct access to the coach – providing said coach with extra income (for a limited amount of extra work). This often gets offered in the form of a community like a paid Facebook group, or group coaching.

6. Community-based memberships

Sometimes, all people want is to connect with their peers. For networking, for social interaction, for support, for inspiration,… They might want a safe and private environment to help each other overcome obstacles – or a high-end group to create professional bonds that last. If you can be the person who brings those communities together, it can bring you the recurring income you’ve been looking for.

7. Support-based memberships

Charities, causes and other community-oriented organisations often offer a “membership” option for recurring donations, to ensure a continuous influx of money.

From virtually “adopting” a child in need to a monthly contribution to help save the rain forest – we all want to make the world a better place (in our own way), and organisations we love are doing us a favour by helping us help them.

Not sure what type of membership would fit your business best? Let us know what type of business you have, and we’ll try and give you a few examples of subscription systems that could work for you!

About the author

Sandrine Ferwerda Coosemans helps coaches, course creators and virtual service providers find their ideal followers & create a strategy that turns them into clients. As a TRIBE graduate, she helps her clients create, market and launch online courses and memberships. She’s also a co-founder of the Farmish Collective, a collaboration of experts who help online entrepreneurs grow a business that fits and supports a freedom lifestyle. In her free time, she enjoys sitting with her chickens and alpacas or tend to her veggie garden at her off-grid property in Spain.