How to tell if you’re ready for memberships

Last step we saw how easy it is to start offering memberships. In this step we ask: Is a membership program right for your project? How can you tell if memberships will work for you? There are just two things you need to start a membership program:

  • You need to be publishing content regularly. You can only expect sustainable support for regular output.
  • You needs to have a dedicated community that appreciates your work.

If you can tick both boxes, then get started right away. If not, you’ll find some more tips below.

3 questions to ask yourself

Your community includes all readers, listeners, page visitors (even those who visit irregularly), social media fans, newsletter subscribers, etc. Your community is considered “engaged” when it cares about you. So how do you figure that out?

1. What value do I add?

If you are a clickbait king, you won’t move many people. But if you are important to your community as a person, or if you add concrete value – a strong point-of-view and mission or unique content – then more people will potentially want to support you. Sometimes projects with smaller, but very loyal communities will receive more support than projects with broader audiences but weaker connections.

2. Do I have a newsletter?

In our experience, many of your newsletter subscribers are very likely to support you. Those who subscribe to a newsletter demonstrate commitment and usually a higher level of loyalty than Facebook fans, for example. In addition, you can use your mailing list to ask for support directly, personally and independently of algorithms. So: How many people are on your mailing list? And how many of them actually open your emails?

3. How is the overall usage behavior?

The more active your community is, the better. How often are your posts, articles or videos commented on and to what degree of quality? How many people share your work? How many returning users do you have? How long does your community spend on your content, on average? Do you sometimes conduct surveys? How many people take part in them?

Bonus tip

You can simply ask your community if they would support you – for example with a small (confidential) survey on your social media channels or in your newsletter. This is quick and easy to do with Typeform. Let me know if you need any help!

How Deine Korrespondentin managed to double their membership figures

On Steady’s blog Pauline Tillmann talks about Deine Korrespondentin, why community building is so important and how she finally managed to gain almost 200 members.

…and on that note:

Kristin Hare writes about what all those who want to start a membership program should consider, for the Poynter Institute.

Emily Goligoski from the Membership Puzzle Project explains when a membership program may not be such a good choice for a publication.

Feel like your project isn’t reaching enough people to start a membership program just yet? Then join our Independent Media Community! There you will find helpful tools for increasing your reach and successful publishers ready to share what they’ve learned.

Still have questions?

Send Manuel a message!
He wrote the crash course and will be happy to help you.

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