January 4, 2023

15 Key Membership Site Models

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A membership site model is the most profitable, scalable and flexible online business model! There are endless possibilities when you use a powerful membership plugin such as Digital Access Pass (DAP)! You can mix and match different membership models to create your own unique model.

In this post, I'll break down different types of membership models supported by DAP.

But before we do that, let's talk about one of the biggest membership site myths!

You can only start a membership site if you offer some sort of memberships/subscriptions.

Not true!

The best way to start a membership site is in fact with just a freebie (build your audience) or a one-off product/course.

Sell it individually first (proof of demand and your stuff works) before adding memberships to the mix. 

Then introduce different types of memberships.

15 Key Membership Site Models

DAP supports all types of membership site models. 


Choosing the right membership model that aligns with your business goals and keeps your members happy is crucial for the success of your membership site. The main thing is to set clear expectations and communicate regularly with your members.


Each product has 4 core elements - content, billing, access and delivery!


Let's take a look at the 15 key membership site models supported by DAP, and also how to set up these 4 core elements in different membership models. 

1

The Drip-Feed Model

You can set a release schedule for each piece of content and DAP will make it available to your members based on that schedule.


Use day-based dripping (access released X days after joining), or date-based dripping (available on a specific date).


Here's how day-based dripping works:

 

Say John joins membership today.


John will get instant access to any content that's set to drip on day 1, and the next day, he'll get access to any content set to drip on day 2.


If Jill joins membership tomorrow, she won't won't get access day #2 content yet as it's her day #1! She will get instant access to day #1 content but will have to wait a day for day #2 content.


Here's how date-based dripping works: 

Content #1: Drip date set to Jan 1st and end on Jan 3rd. 

Content #2: Drip date set to Jan 1st and end on Jan 30th. 

Content #3: Drip date set to Feb 1st and end on Feb 15th. 


Say John joins your membership on Jan 4th.


John cannot access content #1 as the end date of that content is Jan 3rd and John joined on Jan 4th.


John can access content #2 as even though the access started on Jan 1st (before John joined), the content access end date (Jan 30th) is in future and John has active access between start and end date of that content.


On Feb 1st, John can access content #3 as long as John still has an active membership.

Content Element:

You can use any type of content - pdf, video, audio, files, WordPress content, etc. and assign a drip schedule to it! 

Billing & Access Element:

Billing can be weekly/monthly/yearly/custom etc.  You can also offer a free or paid trial.


Access is based on payment.  It's automatically extended upon each payment. The length of extension depends on the billing cycle. If it's monthly billing, each payment makes users eligible for another 30 days of access. 


Users will lose access if they cancel. Whether they lose access instantly or lose access at the end of the payment cycle, is up to you. It's a configurable option in DAP.


Delivery Model

Instant – Make all of your content available immediately.

Ongoing – Release new content on an ongoing basis. Set it to drip on day 1 when it's ready so it's instantly available to existing members.

Content Drip (Day-Based) – Release content based on a set schedule. You can use day-based dripping where drip schedule is applied to a member's start date - X days after joining.

Content Drip (Date-Based) - Make the content available on a certain date (Eg: Monday, 28th December) or between a certain "date" range.
 

2

The Freemium Model

In a membership site context, a freemium model means you can give away some of your premium content for free to give people a taste of what you have in your membership site. The objective of this model is to get the users hooked to your free content or service where they won't want to lose them, thereby motivating them to subscribe to the paid plan. 


There are 2 ways you can do this.

Free Trial

Give members free access during the trial period but if they cancel after the trial ends, they'll lose access. Whether you give them full access or limited access during the trial duration, is up to you.

Users need to enter their credit card info upfront during signup but billing will only start after trial ends.

This works great for service-based memberships or software where they will no longer have access to the service or software if they cancel after trial ends, but if it's just a content-based site and you are concerned about users accessing content and cancelling after the trial period ends, you may want to drip out the products / content so they can't get access everything during the trial period.

If you use an ongoing access model where they get access to what you have now but won't have access to ongoing content or products / courses that you release in future, and other benefits (such as community), the free trial option will work well in this case as well.

Free Tier

You can add a free tier that enables access to some of the content or features but not all. Users will have limited but free access. They can signup for free without having to enter their credit card details to access the content.

They can login just like paying members but they will have restricted access to different parts of your membership site.

It's up to you whether you differentiate between the free tier and paid tier by service or by content.

For e.g., all members get the same content but only premium members will have access to your services (coaching, done-for-you, etc., or you can give free access to a course or 2 but they need to signup for the paid plan for full access to your membership.

Content Element

You can use any type of content - pdf, video, audio, files, WordPress content, digital products, downloads, courses, trainings, challenges, etc. 

Billing & Access Element:

No payment during the trial period if you use free trial. After the trial ends, billing can be weekly/monthly/yearly/custom etc.  


Delivery Element:

Instant – Make all of your content available immediately.

Ongoing – Release new content on an ongoing basis. Set it to drip on day 1 when it's ready so it's instantly available to existing members.

Content Drip (Day-Based) – Release content based on a set schedule. You can use day-based dripping where drip schedule is applied to a member's start date - X days after joining.

Content Drip (Date-Based) - Make the content available on a certain date (Eg: Monday, 28th December) or between a certain "date" range.
 

3

The Fixed Membership 

Users are billed and get access for a specific period of time.


After the period ends, typically members lose access but if you want them to keep access even after membership expires, you can do that! Also, billing can be however you want - one-time or payment plan (fixed number of payments).

Content Element

You can use any type of content - pdf, video, audio, files, WordPress content, digital products, downloads, courses, trainings, challenges, etc. 

Billing & Access Element:

Users make full payment upfront and get access for the duration membership is open, or users make a payment a fixed number of payments (weekly, monthly, etc.) and keep access for that duration. 

Delivery Element:

Instant – Make all of your content available immediately.

Ongoing – Release new content on an ongoing basis. Set it to drip on day 1 when it's ready so it's instantly available to existing members.

Content Drip (Day-Based) – Release content based on a set schedule. You can use day-based dripping where drip schedule is applied to a member's start date - X days after joining.

Content Drip (Date-Based) - Make the content available on a certain date (Eg: Monday, 28th December) or between a certain "date" range.
 

4

The Online Course

You need a membership software to run a membership site but you don't need to offer memberships in order to use a membership software.


You can use DAP as a LMS! You don't need a different LMS platform. DAP's LMS will allow you to create an amazing experience for your students and it's loaded with features for course creators!


Don't use a pure LMS platform for your courses because you can't seamlessly scale it and add other products/services to the mix as you can do with a membership platform.
That's the benefit of using a versatile membership software such DAP! It can be just a LMS and/or a full-fledged membership platform.


You can break down your course into modules and lessons, or just lessons. Sell it individually (for a one-time fee or payment plan) and/or with membership.


For e.g., I started one of my membership sites (MembershipSiteChallenge.com) back in August 2022 with just one paid challenge (14 day membership challenge). 


Then added multiple lead magnets (worksheet, training, quiz, etc.).

Launched a list building challenge


A few months later, I introduced a yearly VIP membership. 

Added an eBook.

Added templates for my VIP members..

Added pre-built quizzes for my VIP members.


Made all the products/content FREE for the yearly VIP members. People can purchase it individually or become a VIP and get full access to the entire site.


All using Digital Access Pass (DAP).


You can use a membership plugin such as DAP to create/offer just freebies & one-off products/courses. When you are ready, add monthly/annual membership that includes access to premium content/products/courses, and/or some type of service (coaching/done-for-you), community etc.

Content Element

You can use DAP's course builder to create your online course. Your lessons could have any content you want - text, video, audio, PDF download, etc. 


DAP's course builder will allow you to use DAP's built-in course template to build your course, or you can use WordPress pages to create your lessons and make it part of your course in DAP.


If you want to use WordPress pages for course content, you can create the lesson content using any page builder.


If you use DAP's built-in template, you'll have the option to either use DAP's builder to build the course, or use DAP's course template / layout but use own page builder for the lesson content.

Billing & Access Element:

Billing can be one-time (full payment upfront), payment plan or recurring.


If you want to offer one or more of your courses as part of your membership, but also sell it individually, here's how to do it.


When you setup the billing portion of your course, set it up with the right course price. This is the price you want to charge if someone wants to buy just that course.


Also create a separate membership product and use the "product chaining" feature in DAP to automatically grant access to all or selected courses when someone signs up for the membership. 


If you want to offer different memberships with access to different courses, you can do that do. Create as many memberships / levels / tiers as you want, and assign the courses to it using the product chaining feature. 


Delivery Element:

Instant – Make the lessons available instantly.

Content Drip (Day-Based) – Release lessons based on a set schedule. You can use day-based dripping where drip schedule is applied to a member's start date - X days after joining.

Content Drip (Date-Based) - Release lessons on a specific date (Eg: Monday, 28th December). This is what I use to offer my challenges as it starts on a specific date. 

Conditional (action-based) - Release the next lesson only after users click on the "mark as complete" button to indicate they have completed the current lesson.

Conditional (time-based) - Release the next lesson only if users spend configured amount of time on the current lesson. They can't go to the next lesson until then.

Result-Based:  You can add blocking quizzes using DAP's integration with our quiz plugin - SmartQuizBuilder.com (SQB) where user's need to pass the quiz or get a specific score or more (in %) to get to the next lesson. 

Task-Based: You can create custom tasks and get users to complete specific / custom tasks before they can go to the next lesson. This is part of our gamification feature but you'll need our GameOfPoints.com plugin to use this feature. This plugin is free with our elite license.

5

All Access Model

Give members instant access to everything you have (courses, trainings. etc.), and ongoing access to new content you add. Release new content every month to keep members from downloading and cancelling.


You can use a combination of content, service and community to make the "all access model" a no-brainer for your members.


You can add different membership tiers and only make the "all access pass" available to the highest tier! I do this with my VIP membership where my VIP members get access to everything I have currently, and anything else I add in future, as long as they don't cancel their membership.

Content Element

You can use any type of content - pdf, video, audio, files, WordPress content, digital products, downloads, courses, trainings, challenges, etc. 


You can also offer different types of services such as one-on-one coaching, group coaching, mastermind, done-for-you, etc.


You can also offer exclusive access to community as part of your all-in-one package.

Billing & Access Element:

Billing can be one-time (lifetime access) or recurring.


If you have different products (digital products, downloads, courses, trainings, etc.) that you want to make available with your all access membership, you can use the product chaining feature in DAP to automatically give access to these products when they signup for membership, and remove access if they cancel membership. 


Delivery Element:

Instant – Make all of your content available immediately.

Ongoing – Release new content on an ongoing basis. Set it to drip on day 1 when it's ready so it's instantly available to existing members.

Content Drip (Day-Base
d) – Release content based on a set schedule. You can use day-based dripping where drip schedule is applied to a member's start date - X days after joining.

Content Drip (Date-Based) - Make the content available on a specific date.

6

The Digital Product Model

Offer different types of digital products and downloads for a one-time fee. After the purchase, users will receive access to the protected content or download. You can give users limited or lifetime access to the product.

Content Element

A product is made of one or more pieces of content.


You can use any type of content - pdf, video, audio, files, eBook, checklist, worksheet, WordPress content, downloads, trainings, etc. 

Billing & Access Element:

Billing can be one-time payment with limited-time access or one-time payment with lifetime access.

Delivery Element:

Instant – Make all of your content available immediately.

Ongoing – Release new content on an ongoing basis. Set it to drip on day 1 when it's ready so it's instantly available to existing members.

Content Drip (Day-Base
d) – Release content based on a set schedule. You can use day-based dripping where drip schedule is applied to a member's start date - X days after joining.

Content Drip (Date-Based) - Make the content available on a specific date.

7

The Service Model

The service model is based on delivery of a service. For e.g. you can offer a done-for-you service where you can help clients with actual implementation / setup and/or offer one-on-one, group coaching or mastermind.

Content Element

You can include helpful workbooks, checklist, PDF, templates, etc. with the service you offer. 

Billing & Access Element:

Billing can be one-time or recurring.

Delivery Element:

Actual delivery of the service is not tracked by the membership platform but the content you offer with the service, you can make it available instantly, ongoing or drip it out.

For e.g., as part of my VIP membership, I offer a group coaching service.

As long as users are active and paying for the VIP membership annually, they get the invite to my exclusive, monthly group coaching calls.

I also make the call recording available to the VIP members. 

I manage all of this using DAP.  I've created a course called "VIP Call Recordings" and make each call recording (video) available in the form of a lesson. 

8

Tiered Membership Model

Each tier has distinct benefits and values. We use the tiered membership model to sell DAP licenses (basic, platinum, elite) where each tier has different benefits but all have the same core DAP features.


Say that you want to offer 4 membership tiers:

FREE, Basic, Platinum, Elite


Each tier has access to different products and services.


Create the Memberships

1. Setup the elite tier first. Set it up as a "membership" in DAP.

2. Setup all of the content that's part of this tier.

3. Setup billing / access element of this membership. How will you charge users for this tier? Monthly, Annual, etc. And how much do they have to pay each month/year?

4. If users of this tier get access to individual products/courses etc. you have in your membership site, simply use product chaining feature to give access to all of these products/courses.


Now when the elite tier is ready, clone it.

Rename it to platinum.

Remove content that's only available to elite.

Remove chained products / courses that's only available to elite.

Update billing/access details for platinum.


When it's ready, now clone it again and rename it to Basic.

Follow the same steps as above for platinum. 


And finally clone it and rename it to free membership.

Make sure it has the right content / products, and remove billing. Change it to FREE.


Now you have 4 membership tiers!


Member Dashboard

DAP comes with a member dashboard builder that will allow you to showcase the products/content that the logged-in member has, and also the ones they don't have yet (upsell).


Test the dashboard! 


To test, just use the backend admin interface to give a test user access to the membership. Then login as the user and see if the member dashboard is showing the right details. If not, update the dashboard configuration in DAP member page builder.


Payment Buttons

Create a payment button to sell the highest tier. 

Test it.

Make sure everything is working as expected.

Now clone the button, update the product name to platinum and test. 

And so on.


You can use our shopping cart plugin for DAP - SmartPayCart.com (SPC) to create payment buttons, connect to your payment processor (PayPal, Stripe, Authorize.net) and sell it! 


SPC is made for DAP. You don't have to recreate your products / memberships in SPC. Just create payment buttons in SPC to sell each DAP product.

9

Group Membership Model

DAP's group account feature will allow you to create and sell group memberships where a member (group owner) can purchase a group account that includes a set number of seats for sub-accounts. The group owner can then manage membership access for sub-accounts under them.

This is something pretty much all top membership plugins will allow you to do. However, you can do a LOT more with DAP's group management feature!


Group Account Configuration
1. Create as many group memberships as you want.
2. Configure each group differently (price, number of seats, products that can managed by group owners, etc.).
3. Configure the number of seats the owners of each group membership can manage.


Group Rules
You can configure the 'products' a group owner can manage.

So say a teacher signs up for a group account. The teacher can manage subs under them - add, remove, give access to the product, etc.


Say that you do not want to allow the teachers to give their students access to the same product as them. Say you want to give students access to different products/courses.

You can do this in DAP.

You can configure the products your group owners can manage. It could be the same product that the owners have or completely different set of products!


Group Admins can View Student Course Progress
You can create a group admin-facing page where group account owners (teachers, team leads, coaches, etc.) can monitor course progress of their subaccounts, view quiz answers/score, find the total time spent by their subaccounts on each lesson, and more!


Group Dashboard Features
1. A fully customizable, click/edit group dashboard page template that you can create in seconds and publish it in the member's area for group owners.
2. Group owners can grant access to subs (or remove access from subs).
3. Pagination and search feature so group owners can find their subs. This is very helpful when group owners have hundreds of subs.
4. Group owners to add subs one-at-a-time or do a csv bulk import.

Keep Accounts in Sync


1. Payment stops, access stops.

When a group owner makes a subscription payment, you can configure DAP to automatically extend subaccount's access to the group owner assigned products. If payment stops, subs will automatically lose access. You can configure this in the DAP Setup >> Config Page >> Group Membership tab.


2. Match sub-account's access with group owner's access. 

When a group owner adds a sub, you can configure DAP to set sub's access end date to be the same as the group owner's access end date, regardless of when they receive access.


Administrative (site-owner) Functions

1. As a site admin, you can manually assign sub-accounts to any group owner.
2. When you delete group owner account, you can get DAP to also remove all subs under it.
3. You can view group relationships (parent, subs, etc.).

10

Free Membership

You can use DAP for both free and paid offers!


One of the ways you can increase the perceived value of your membership is by offering a "free membership". Users don't have to enter their credit card details to get access. Just their name/email. 


Add all of your freebies to this tier. Upsell paid products in your member dashboard under "you might be interested in" section.


Say that you offer 5 different freebies from your site.

1. Create 5 different FREE products in DAP so you can offer each one of these freebies individually.


2. Then create a FREE membership product (one time product with limited-time or lifetime access) and use product chaining to automatically give users access to the individual freebies.


3. Create a signup form for the free membership product. 


4. If users signup for it, they'll be rewarded with access to all of your freebies. They don't have to signup for each individually. 


Users can access all freebies under one account. 


5. Create a signup form for each individual lead magnet as well. Publish it on the opt-in page and continue to promote the lead magnets individually as well as your free membership.  


6. When users login and go to the member dashboard, they can access all of the freebies. They'll also find all the other paid products you have in the "you might be interested in" section. 

11

The Online Community Site

Bring your members together in one online community. You can charge a fee for access to private groups and forums, or make it free for all members.


You can also allow access to different group/forums based on membership levels and use it as an incentive to get people to join your highest tier.  


You can integrate DAP with free WordPress-based forum plugins but the integration is limited. You can configure DAP to sync users to the forum and only allow registered members to post in your forum, but can't control "view" access unless the forum platform itself allows only registered members access to view / post.


You cannot restrict access at membership level.


However, if you want a full-featured forum software that will give you greater control over many details, allow you to protect content at a thread or forum level, and want tons of user and admin features, then we highly recommend going with BuddyBoss.


It has a slightly bigger learning curve than the simple WP forum plugins, and require more setup and maintenance overall but you can control access at membership level!


You can refer this documentation on BuddyBoss and DAP integration

12

The Hybrid Model

This is the most popular membership model - a combination of different membership models explained above!

For e.g., a membership site that includes online courses, weekly coaching calls, and a community component. Combine different membership models to offer a great membership experience.


You can mix and match different membership models and create your own unique membership offering!


To implement a hybrid membership structure:

1. Understand what your members want and need.
2. Develop products, services and benefits that address and solve their specific desires and problems.
3. Give users different options. Create a hybrid membership model that makes it easy for people to join and aligns with the way your members want to pay.
4. Test and adust accordingly.

13

The Magazine Model

A Magazine Subscription Model is a very Profitable Membership Site Model but DAP is one of the very few membership plugins that fully supports this model.

Recently we received a pre-sales email from a user who asked some great questions about magazine subscription model:  


 "I'm looking for a membership plugin that will do the following:
- Person purchases a membership and gets access to the current month's content, but not previous months content.
- As long as they are a member, they get ongoing content that is published each month on the first of the month.
- I would want to have a Member's Area or Dashboard where they can view all the content that they have available to them.
- I need a place like a Shop or a store page to show them previous month's content that they don't have access to, that they could purchase each one separately.

Does your plugin support these features?"


Yes, DAP fully supports these features.


This user picked DAP for her membership because there's no plugin that has a better implementation of magazine model than DAP!

14

Pay-per-post Model

Want to sell individual pieces of content such as audio, video, PDF files, WordPress content, without creating a product?


You can do this using DAP's pay-per-post feature!


Allow users to buy or rent your content, or signup for a membership.


You can also create an instant content store with a buy, rent or membership purchase option!

15

Free & Paid Funnels

You can use our cart plugin - SmartPayCart (SPC) to create all types of funnels - lead magnet funnel, sales funnel, member funnel, product-launch funnel, etc.


Charge for content in many different ways - one-time, recurring,  free, trial, payment plans, credits, etc.


You can also add order bump offers to your order form (checkout page). You can fully design/customize the bump offer. You can even offer a free membership trial as an order bump.


SPC is the only cart plugin that also supports "multiple order bumps". You can add not just one, but multiple order bump offers to your checkout. Users can simply check a box next to each offer to add to their order. Order bumps are one of the easiest ways to increase average order value by 30-50%.

DAP is the most versatile and flexible membership plugin for WordPress. No matter what membership model you decide to go with, there's a great chance that DAP will support it! 

Pick a model that works best for your needs and helps your members accomplish their goals.

The key is to set clear expectations. Create a content / service calendar. Set a publishing schedule. Be consistent with it. 

Also, more and more membership sites are finding success with service model!

Add some kind of service to your offerings - whether it's a done-for-you service, templates, coaching, etc., anything that helps save them time, money and effort!

If you can convince your members that you are the right person to help them through case studies, testimonials, video explanation, etc., they'll pay for it and stick around for a long time! 

List Building Challenge

If you are struggling to generate traffic and grow your email list, you are not alone. One thing that will definitely help is my list building challenge where you'll learn:

✔️ How to generate traffic - organic and paid
✔️ How to get people to signup for your stuff - free and paid

It's a self-paced challenge. Just spend 1 hour a day on it. Watch the video. Implement what you learned. You'll be done in 14 days! If you get stuck anywhere, I'm here to help.


Start a Newsletter

Marketing is about education and building lasting relationships with your audience. People are not just going to buy your stuff. You'll have to earn their trust.

The most valuable asset you can build in 2023 is an engaged audience that trusts you.

The easiest way to do this?

Start a newsletter!

If you have one but you are not able to get people to signup for it, let's change that this year! Ok?

If you are worried about what to send and how to make time for it, the cool thing is:

✔️ You don't have to send it every week. Send it once every 2 weeks.

✔️ You don't have to create a video or write a long blog post for your newsletter, however, once you have created content for your newsletter, you might as well take advantage of it and add it to your blog / video for SEO benefits.

✔️ Not sure what to send? Get feedback from your audience in terms of what they want more of in your newsletter and that will help you with ideas for newsletter content.

Recently I noticed how successful newsletters have one thing in common... which is how / where they seek feedback and create content based on that.

Take my  newsletter challenge where I'll show you how to do this and a lot more! It's a 7 day challenge and enrollment is open now.


Invest in the Right Tools / Services

If you need help getting it all done, consider spending that $ on the right tools, services and people to make your life easier.

If you have a membership site but it's not taking off and you need help planning and taking it to the next level, do this:

✔️ Grab a license of DAP today
✔️ Become a VIP member today
✔️ Schedule your call with me so we can plan things out for you.
✔️ Execute.
✔️ Join the VIP calls. Participate and ask questions. Get the most out of each call.


Launch your Product

People only care about one thing.

Will your product solve the problem they have?

Everything else you are busy 'perfecting' like the button color, size, shape, placement, font-size, etc., won't make a difference. It's really not that important and can wait! You can make things perfect later!

✔️ Launch
✔️ Get feedback
✔️ Get testimonials
✔️ Iterate and improve.

Keep the main thing the main thing.

Sell each product individually. Make it part of your funnel after you have sold these products individually.

Here’s to 2023! Let’s make it a good one!

Subscribe to my YouTube Channel

Have you subscribed to my YouTube channel yet? If not, be sure to subscribe as I publish several videos on list building, memberships, courses, etc. that you'll find valuable!


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