Online course vs. membership: which is better for you?

Online course vs. membership: which is better for you?

Should you create an online course or a membership website?

We’ve been in the membership website business for over 16 years and have seen it evolve from a fledgling industry to one of the most prevalent online models out there.  If you want to generate recurring revenue online, a membership website is the easiest, fastest way to share your content.  

The SubHub platform, for example, provides an all-in-one system for posting content, taking recurring payments and processing renewals through Stripe or PayPal.  It doesn’t get much more seamless or painless than that.  

But if you have recently started thinking about offering paid membership content on your website, it may have also occurred to you to package your content as an online course. 

Fortunately, you can create an online course in your SubHub site just as easily as membership content.  

Let’s say you’re a yoga instructor and you have a number of short videos demonstrating various poses.  Some are fundamental poses for beginners, some are of medium difficulty, and some are for advanced learners.  And within those categorizations, you have poses that focus on different areas of the body. 

You could offer 3 membership levels for beginner, medium and advanced users, and allow members to view the content by category within those levels.  But you could also present the material as a course with the videos only available to view in a particular order. And now you’re wondering which path to choose.  

Before you launch (ie Now) is the best time to weigh the two options and decide which way you want to go. In a nutshell, here are the primary differences between a course and a membership:

Is there a start and end time?

Courses typically have a start and end time. Whether it’s a few hours or a few weeks or months, your students start at the beginning of the course and complete a set curriculum.  Payment is usually a one-time fee or a fee paid in 2-3 installments.  A membership, however, presents ongoing content that members can view from the time of sign-up.  The timeframe of the membership is typically never-ending. It runs until and unless the member cancels their subscription.

Should the content be consumed in a particular order?

Often a course module will offer lessons that students need to consume in order.  Lesson 1 is introductory content, Lesson 2 is a bit more advanced, and so on.  Each piece of content builds on the previous.  Membership content typically is not dependent on the user seeing it in a particular order.

What is your long-term strategy?

Courses attract loyal followers.  Typically you will offer a course at a higher price than a membership because it’s going to go in-depth into a particular topic.  More than likely your ideal prospects for that course are people who are already your followers or at least have heard of you or been referred.  A membership will probably cost your user much less per month.  At the lower price point, you can use the membership to build your audience up to the point where they will be willing to take a deeper dive with you using a course format.

If you’re still undecided, consider this:

You can also have the best of both worlds by offering a course as part of your membership.  

A free or discounted course makes a great incentive to sign up for a recurring membership.

Whether you choose course, membership or both, the SubHub platform’s easy-to-use interface makes it simple and fun to publish your content and make money as a teacher, trainer, coach or expert in any field.

Open a free trial of the platform today and try it out to see how it works.  We’d love your feedback at [email protected]

Should I format my content as an online course or membership site?

It really depends on how you want to deliver your content. Is there a start and end time? Should the content be consumed in a particular order? What is your long-term strategy?

Can I offer a course as part of a membership?

A free or discounted course makes a powerful incentive to sign up for a recurring membership.

Should I charge more for my course or my membership?

Typically your course will cost your members more than a membership. You can use the membership to build your audience up to the point where they will be willing to take a deeper dive by enrolling in your course.

Which platform should I use for my course or membership?

You can create an online course or membership content with the SubHub platform.

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