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Membership vs. Subscription

Choose the right Definition for your online program

The current trend in online courses and programs is to create membership sites.

As an online program creator, I understand the need for a regular income and the inclination toward a membership program. But do not confuse subscription and membership, it is two different way to serve.

Your participants will have different expectations and you wouldn’t want to disappoint them by selecting the wrong label for your offer.



It offers your learners or followers an exclusive experience. In real life, it would be a club giving you access to dedicated facilities, opening hours or space to gather. In the virtual world, the same feeling of belonging to a club will be called community or tribe. It suggests a VIP care where members will enjoy benefits such as access to exclusive content, access to the teacher, group calls, dedicated group on social media or discounts on retreats, for example.

As a coach, a therapist, or a healer, it can be the occasion to share more intimate or personalize content to a dedicated audience. As a healer, it can be an opportunity to hold the space with specific energies and support a process with a deeper connection.

But a membership implies a consistent presence for your participants.



It offers to your participants your usual content but with a monthly payment. You give access to a program with regular release or offer access to the entire collection of your program for a monthly fee.

In real life that would be like a magazine subscription or a Netflix one.

The subscription can offer a little extra or bonus but is more of a commercial gesture than an obligation.

Having this in mind, you do not have to choose one over the other; they can be complementary.


Different level of access to your services

Your followers or learners do not have the same needs or cashflow. Offering options will be beneficial to you and them.

You may have experienced their engagement process yourself by starting to follow someone on social media. And slowly wanting more, you then leap to a paid course or a subscription or even enrolled for a membership or individual session packages.

Simply put, you tested the temperature of the water before deciding to jump in the pool and enjoy a program. It is a natural behaviour as online we have no other way to start trusting a person than discovering them at our pace.

Part of your audience will be interested in the free content only. The reasons for this can vary from lack of money, a feeling that what they get for free is sufficient or their need to get to know you better before stepping to a paid option. Being of service to them is not a waste of time; they may speak about you and thus bring you more followers, meaning more potential clients. And they may also, when the time is right for them, become a client.

Other will be interested in a paid subscription to access part or all of your course or videos would go through monthly or annual fee. Usually it would be people that prefer working alone, or that cannot afford the membership yet. Still, they want to access what you have to share or teach and are ready to pay for your services.

Then you have people interested in a paid membership where they can access all your content. But they would also expect a personal touch such as members monthly webinar, discount on new courses or retreats, and access to a community. The membership content and value depend on you, so use your imagination on what would make it unique. It can also take the form of an exclusive club with fixed number of participants (ie. 20-50 spots available per year).


Keeping your followers and clients’ interested

Whatever the format, your clients or followers’ interests need nourishing. Being it on your free platform, a subscription, or a membership, they need to feel that you are alive.

Not only will it stimulate them, but it will also show them that you care and value them. One easy way to evaluate that impact is to observe how you feel when you feel that you are more than a number or a name on a mailing list.

Presence can take different forms, such as a monthly content release (a meditation, a recipe, tips, or workbook) or with webinar session. But keep in mind that your presence and consistency will define if they keep following/paying you or not.


Am I ready to launch a membership or a subscription offer?

People registering for a subscription or a membership will expect to see new content available regularly. For instance, you would not subscribe to a magazine releasing each year the same content or to Netflix if there were no new series on the catalog.

Therefore, you should be ready to offer your learners new content periodically. If you are unsure of what your offer will look like in a year, then prefer offering programs with a starting and a finishing date and opt for a one time or monthly payment.

Last but not least, if you are starting with a one-off program, try to select a hosting platform that will allow you to evolve with the time to subscription or membership. That will enable you to grow your online programs or school stress-free rather than worry about having to move your content to other providers at some point.


Enjoy creating the program of your dreams and should you feel that you could get results faster by being supported, feel welcome to book a free orientation call with me.

Christel Mesey

Christel Mesey

Online Course Creator’s Coach – Author & Course creator – CEO of

I’m helping coaches and therapists birth their online programs or courses with ease, helping them feel confident that they will offer a great learning experience to their learners.

I genuinely believe that online training is the future of education and personal growth. It opens the door to alternative ways of teaching beyond borders and cultures.

If you have wisdom and knowledge to share, I’d love to support you in the journey to share it with the world.

I’ll help you to expand your comprehension of online pedagogy and learning tools, using my experience of course creation and comprehensive understanding of online systems potential.

I’ll support you during the creation process through coaching, NLP, or even energy healing should you need to. These practices help me to understand and tune into your universe. They allow me to walk you comfortably through the process of offering your services online while feeling aligned with your heart and dedicated to your clients.