Should your online course be a membership or subscription?

You decided to create an ONLINE COURSE, yeahhh!

But after some exploration on the web, you discovered that the latest trend is to create a membership program to generate a regular income. As a result, you are now wondering how to transform your online course into a MEMBERSHIP.

Well, before overwhelming yourself with how to proceed, let’s dive a bit into the subscription and membership universe to understand to answer a simple question: is it really what you need and want to do?

As an online program creator, I understand the need for a regular income and a membership program’s inclination. 

But do not confuse a subscription plan and a membership offer; it is two different ways to serve. Your participants will have different expectations, and you wouldn’t want to disappoint them by selecting the wrong label for your offer.

Whenever you are just starting with your first-ever online course or if you already have some programs published, you want to be very clear on the journey you want to offer to your participants.


Create a journey for your participants

Depending on where you are in your journey, your reputation is not yet fully established. Therefore potential clients can feel cautious about enrolling with you for a high price or long-term engagement with you.

That is where having a stand-alone program can add value to your offer. It does not have to be big or long, but it has to help your participants to experience your style and a tangible result (something they can activate in their life during your program).

Then you can extend an invitation to your membership or subscription program. 

Some participants will be interested in a subscription to access part or all of your course and enjoy working autonomously, at their pace. Others will prefer to have personalized support, an accountability group, or connects with other participants experiencing the same program.

And some may not have the budget for a membership yet but would love to start working with your program. Thus, the subscription will allow participants to move forward despite money constraints (and maybe, later on, they will upgrade to a membership).

But if you want to propose both options, you have to ensure that quality will be present at every level. Should you feel your program requires individual or group support, do not try to sell it as a subscription (you would not want to have a bad review and diminish your program’s reputation).


A subscription is ideal for giving access to your usual content (one course or a bundle of courses) with a monthly payment. You can either release your content weekly or monthly, or in bulk for a monthly fee. Somehow it is like a magazine, Gaya, or Netflix subscription; your participant pays for accessing your content without expecting extras.

Should you want to, your subscription offer could propose a little bonus but is more of a commercial gesture than an obligation.


It offers your learners or followers an exclusive experience. If your program were in real life, it would look like a club giving access to dedicated facilities, opening hours, or space to gather. It would provide a sense of belonging to an exclusive club, a community, or a tribe. It suggests care for the members that are similar to VIP corner.

In the virtual world, the same feeling of belonging and VIP implies that members could enjoy benefits such as access to exclusive content, access to the teacher, group calls, dedicated groups on social media, or discounts on retreats.

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

But a membership implies a consistent presence and interaction with your participants, so you want to be ready to dedicate time and energy to that type of offer.

What about offering both?

So should your online course be a membership or subscription? Well, maybe both… Now you do not have to choose one over the other; A membership and subscription can be complementary. Your followers or learners do not have the same needs or cashflow. Offering options could be a way to make your program accessible to two different audiences or to allow them to start with one option and evolve to the other if it feels optimal for them.

So are you 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, to know if your online course should be a membership or subscription, ask yourself if you are ready to create and provide new content and/or presence regularly (once a week or once a month at least).

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.

Finally, if you start with a one-off program, don’t overwhelm yourself exploring membership or subscription options just now. 

Test the water, experiment, and see if you enjoy teaching online. However, try to select a hosting platform offering opportunities to create a membership or subscription program. 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 your dreams program, 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

%d bloggers like this: