From Free to Paid: How to Transition Your Online Community to a Membership Website

Are you part of an online community that's looking to take things to the next level? Are you tired of relying on ad revenue or donations to keep your community afloat? It might be time to consider creating a membership website.

Membership websites offer a way for online communities to generate revenue while providing exclusive content and benefits to their members. With a membership website, you can create a dedicated space for your community to connect and engage with each other, while also offering valuable resources and perks to members who are willing to pay for access.

Membership websites can be a game-changer for online communities looking to monetize their content and build a sustainable business model. Unlike other forms of revenue generation like advertising or sponsorships, membership websites allow communities to offer exclusive access to content and benefits that are not available to non-members.

By creating a membership website, you can establish a dedicated space for your community to come together and engage with one another in a more meaningful way. This can lead to stronger relationships among members, increased engagement, and a greater sense of belonging to the community.

In addition to the community aspect, membership websites offer valuable resources and perks to members who are willing to pay for access. These could include exclusive content, early access to new products or services, member-only events, discounts on merchandise, and more. Providing incentives encourages your members to join and stay active in the community while helping create a valuable revenue stream for your business.

Overall, membership websites can provide a win-win situation for both the online community and its members. Communities can generate revenue and create a sustainable business model, while members can access exclusive content and perks that are not available to non-members. With the right platform and strategy in place, a membership website can be a powerful tool for building and growing an online community.

But how do you make the transition from a free community to a paid membership website? It can seem tedious, but with the right tools and strategies, it's definitely achievable.

In this article, we'll explore the steps you need to take to create a membership website, establish a membership model and subscription plan, and successfully transition your community to a paid membership model.

Let's start!

Establishing Your Membership Website

Now that you've decided to create a membership website, it's time to establish your online presence. The first step is to choose a platform that can support your membership website.

Choosing a Platform

There are segeral different platforms available for creating a membership website, but one of the most popular is Strikingly. Strikingly offers a user-friendly interface, a range of customizable templates, and a variety of features specifically designed for membership websites. Plus, with affordable pricing plans, it's a great option for communities that are just starting out.

Setting up Your Website

Once you've chosen your platform, it's time to set up your website. Strikingly makes this process simple and straightforward. It’s ridiculously easy to build a membership website with Strikingly–from selecting a template to adding content and customizing your site, Strikingly makes it easy to get your membership website up and running in no time.

Strikingly: Easy to use website builder for your membership website

Image taken from Strikingly

1. Sign up for an account. The first step in creating a membership website with Strikingly is to sign up for an account. This can be done for free or with a paid subscription, depending on your needs.

2. Choose your desired template. Once you have an account, you can choose a template that suits the needs of your membership website. Strikingly offers a variety of templates that are customizable and easy to use.

3. Set up membership features. Strikingly allows you to easily set up membership features, such as restricted content, member-only pages, and payment processing. These features are essential for creating a successful membership website.

4. Customize your website. With Strikingly's user-friendly editing tools, you can easily customize your website to match the branding and style of your online community. This includes adding your own logo, images, and text. You can also customize your members-only pages so it looks different than your regular public pages.

5. Launch your website. Once you have completed the customization process, you can launch your membership website and start promoting it to your community.

By following these steps, you can create a membership website with Strikingly that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing. With Strikingly's easy-to-use platform, you can focus on providing value to your members and growing your online community.

Personalize Your Website to Suit Your Community's Needs

Of course, you'll want your membership website to reflect the unique needs and interests of your community. Strikingly allows for a range of customization options, so you can tailor your site to suit your community's needs. From selecting a color scheme to adding custom graphics and content, you can make your membership website truly your own.

Creating a membership website is not just about choosing a platform and setting up a payment system. It's about creating a space that represents your brand and resonates with your community. With Strikingly, you have the flexibility to customize your site to fit your unique community's interests and preferences. For instance, you can add a contact form where your members can directly send you a message, add a live chat feature for real time support, or maybe add a booking section if they want to have one on one sessions with you.

Strikingly membership website template

Image taken from Strikingly

You can also customize your site's content to fit your community's needs. For example, you may want to include a member directory or discussion forum to foster interaction and connection among your members. You can also create exclusive content such as articles, videos, or webinars that only your paying members have access to.

Overall, customization is key when creating a membership website. With Strikingly, you have the tools to create a site that reflects your brand and provides a valuable experience for your members.

In the next section, we'll explore how to create a membership model and subscription plan that works for your community.

Creating a Membership Model

Now that your membership website is up and running, it's time to create a membership model that will incentivize your community members to become paid subscribers.

Determining Your Pricing Strategy

The first step is to determine your pricing strategy. There are a number of factors to consider when deciding on the price for your membership website. These include:

  • the value of the content and benefits you're offering
  • the cost of producing that content
  • the price points of comparable membership websites in your niche

By carefully considering these factors, you can establish a fair and competitive price point that will attract subscribers while also covering your costs.

Remote Joy Template: Pricing Section for your Membership website

Image taken from Strikingly

When creating a pricing strategy for your membership website, it's important to strike a balance between the value of your content and benefits and the cost of producing that content. You'll want to ensure that your pricing is competitive with other membership websites in your niche, but also that it covers your expenses and provides a reasonable profit margin.

One approach to pricing is to offer tiered subscription options with different levels of access and benefits at different price points. For example, you might offer a basic membership with limited access to content and perks for a lower price, while a premium membership offers more exclusive access and benefits for a higher price.

Another pricing strategy is to offer a free trial period or a lower-priced introductory offer to entice new members to join. This can be a good way to build interest and loyalty, but it's important to ensure that the introductory offer is sustainable and doesn't undermine the value of your membership website.

Ultimately, your pricing strategy will depend on a range of factors specific to your community and niche. By considering the value of your content and benefits, the cost of producing that content, and the price points of comparable membership websites, you can establish a pricing strategy that is both competitive and sustainable.

Choosing a Membership Model

Next, you'll need to choose a membership model. There are different models to choose from, including tiered membership levels, pay-per-view access, and recurring subscriptions. The right model for your community will depend on your goals, the type of content you're offering, and the needs and preferences of your community members.

Strategies for Incentivizing Members to Join Your Paid Community

Finally, it's important to offer compelling benefits to members who join your paid community. This could include exclusive content, early access to new products or services, members-only events or forums, and more. By offering valuable benefits, you can incentivize your community members to become paid subscribers and help your membership website grow.

Offering compelling benefits is key to attracting and retaining members in your paid community. Providing exclusive access to content, products, or services that aren't available to non-members can make the membership fee seem like a worthwhile investment. Members-only events or forums can also create a sense of community and exclusivity, making members feel like they're part of a special group. Other benefits could include discounts on products or services, access to expert advice, or personalized support.

Incentives encourages people to sign up on your membership website

Image taken from Strikingly

It's important to regularly evaluate the benefits you're offering and make adjustments as needed to ensure they continue to provide value to your members. By offering valuable benefits, you can foster a sense of loyalty among your members and help your membership website thrive.

Transitioning Your Community

Transitioning your community from a free model to a paid membership website can be a daunting task, but it's an important step for monetizing your online community and providing value to your members.

Communicating with Your Community

The first step is to communicate with your community about the upcoming changes. This can be done through a variety of channels, including email, social media, and in-platform messaging. It's important to be transparent about the reasons for the change, the benefits of paid membership, and any changes to the membership model.

Additionally, it's important to address any concerns or questions that members may have, and to provide support for those who may be experiencing difficulty with the transition.

Implementing the Transition

Once you've communicated the upcoming changes to your community, it's time to implement the transition. This may involve changes to your website design, the addition of payment processing tools, and updates to your content management system. Strikingly provides a user-friendly platform that makes it easy to implement these changes and makes the transition as seamless as possible.

Encouraging Members to Upgrade

Finally, it's important to encourage members to upgrade to paid membership. This can be done through a variety of strategies, including offering early-bird discounts, providing exclusive content for paid members, and highlighting the benefits of paid membership through your marketing efforts. By effectively promoting the benefits of membership subscription and making the transition as easy as possible, you can encourage more of your community members to make the switch and join your paid membership website.

Maintaining a Successful Membership Website

A membership subscription website is not just a set-it-and-forget-it operation. You need to keep it fresh and engaging for members to remain interested and keep subscribing. In this section, we'll cover the key things you need to do to keep your community thriving.

A. Creating Valuable Content

The foundation of a successful Membership Website is high-quality content that meets the needs of your audience. You need to create content that is engaging, informative, and relevant to your members. You can also consider diversifying your content by offering different formats such as videos, podcasts, and webinars.

B. Providing Excellent Customer Service

Good customer service is critical to the success of any business, and a membership website is no exception. Make sure you respond promptly to members' inquiries and address any concerns they may have. You can also consider creating a knowledge base or FAQ page that answers common questions members may have.

C. Analyzing Your Website's Performance

You need to measure the success of your membership subscription websites regularly. Keep track of your website's analytics to see how it's performing. Identify areas that need improvement and make adjustments as needed. You can also consider asking for feedback from your members to understand their needs better.

Carla Knits membership website template

Image taken from Strikingly


To summarize, transitioning from a free community to a paid membership website involves several steps. First, you need to establish your membership website using a platform like Strikingly. Next, you'll need to create a membership model that works for your community by deciding on pricing, membership levels, and benefits. After that, it's time to communicate with your community about the upcoming changes and implement the transition. Finally, you'll need to maintain a successful membership website by providing valuable content, excellent customer service, and regularly analyzing your website's performance.

Transitioning from a free community to a paid membership website may seem daunting at first, but it can provide numerous benefits for both you and your members. By using a platform like Strikingly, you don’t have to ask yourself how to start a membership site. You can easily create and customize a membership website that fits your community's needs. You can also establish a steady stream of income that can help you sustain and grow your community.

If you're considering creating a membership website, don't hesitate to explore the possibilities with Strikingly!