You can build an income with membership sites for journalists even if you aren’t a journalist for a major network or mainstream publication. Being an earth-moving journalist doesn’t need to begin with a prestigious education or a resume that’s filled with A-list publications. AT the root of great journalism lies a hunger to tell the story.
Journalism begins in the heart. And successful journalists possess similar traits:
- Curiosity that never fades
- The ability to engage on a deeper level than others
- A moral compass that’s well-developed
Journalism is a lot more than just a job. Rather, it’s a deeply held belief.
It’s more than a step-by-step method. It’s an art form.
After all, anyone that can hold a paintbrush can learn the basics of painting. But it’s the soul of the painter that elevates painting into an art form.
The same holds true in the world of journalism: Anyone with a keyboard and a monitor can craft a story. But the reason the story is being told is what transforms it from writing into journalism.
Bring Back Independent Journalism
The best journalism in the world isn’t informed by a news agenda or pushed by biased editors. Rather, it comes from a driving internal desire to present the truth exactly as you see it.
But how can you create journalism from the heart while still earning a lucrative living? Don’t all journalists need to eventually tame their craft and join the world of corporate journalism to earn a decent living?
The answer is no.
Today, countless genuine journalists are breaking 100% free from corporate journalism. They’re doing this by earning substantial and recurring income streams when their readers join their exclusive membership sites. And we’re going to show you exactly what you need to do to make this happen for yourself.
It’s time to bring back independent journalism, and you’re about to lead the way.
The Beginning of Membership Sites
Membership sites have been around since people figured out how to block content from non-subscribers. But in May of 2013, Patreon launched a platform that offered a simple way for content creators to earn a substantial living. The payment options were templated and all you had to do was create your levels and then put out great content that people are willing to pay a small monthly (or yearly) fee to gain access to.
Successful journalists who jumped on the popularity of Patreon quickly figured out the best way to get new paid subscribers: They published high-quality content on platforms that readers could consume for free. Then, to capitalize on their popularity on the free platforms, these journalists began putting exclusive content behind the paywall of a Patreon membership.
And it worked.
Membership content allows journalists to:
- Have a way to escape the treadmill of getting paid by page views, or writing for pennies on the dollar. Instead, journalists can focus on high-quality content for their biggest readers
- Set up a system to eliminate trolls and noise. Instead, you can focus on creating content for the readers that matter the most
- Develop a pattern of dependable revenue. Having an added revenue stream allows you to be more selective with the brands you write for and the advertisers you work with
The problem has always been that, by relying on outside platforms for membership income, journalists needlessly put their own success into the hands of a third-party entity. That means that you’re subject to all of their Terms and Conditions, even if you don’t take the time to read them.
In recent years, outside platforms have been known to censor content or remove membership accounts completely if they don’t agree with the content posted. When that happens, all of your paid members (and your full-time living) can be deleted in a moment’s time.
What’s more, it’s difficult to properly brand yourself when you’re working under the umbrella of someone else’s platform. For the most part, all Patreon membership sites look the same.
You are different and your membership site should show your unique brand and voice.
What you need is a membership site that will give you:
Your Brand Your way
You have complete freedom when you build membership sites for journalists so your highlight your distinctive voice.
Full Ownership of Your Content
You own what you create – no charging copyrights with other platforms
Absent of Convenience Fees
You keep the membership fees you charge instead of the platform taking a percentage and paying you what’s left.
Be Controversial (If You Want
Total control of the content you create, no matter how controversial. You say what you want to say but be sure to keep it consistent with your voice and brand.
Simple But Professional
You want to keep it simple so you can invest your time in content creation. At the same time, you want it to be professional to show your investment in your paying members
It’s important to be able to engage with your members in real-time in a way that works for you and for them.
Control of Ads
An independent voice that doesn’t require advertisers or clickbait for income but that can include ads that align with your voice and brand.
The exciting news is that WordPress offers you all of this and so much more!
Why It’s Better to Own Your Membership Site for Journalists
Running your own membership site gives you exponentially more freedom to operate your business exactly the way you choose. It can be substantially more profitable than building out an outside platform.
When you sign up with other platforms, you’re given a template of how your membership site is going to work. This includes how it looks, how much you can charge for memberships, how often membership fees are charged, and how you’ll receive them (after they deduct their fees).
Basically, you’re working within their chosen parameters. Running your own membership site gives you complete freedom to build your brand from the ground up.
How Do I Launch My Own Membership Website?
Today, almost 40% of the Internet is powered by the WordPress content management system (CMS). That’s only one of the many WordPress stats you can find that proves the power of the CMS.
And there are many good reasons for that.
- WordPress is 100% free and open source
- There are thousands of free and premium plugins and themes that can help you turn your site into almost anything you can imagine, including a membership site for your journalism
- Anyone, even someone who lacks the most basic CSS or HTML knowledge, can easily build a WordPress website in minutes
- WordPress website security is simple when you use a plugin such as iThemes Security Pro
- WordPress is incredibly versatile
- Google gives WordPress a 99% rating for SEO-friendliness
To start building your site, all you need to do is secure your own domain name, download the free WordPress open-source software, sign up to a reliable WordPress website host, and run their one-click WordPress installation.
From there, you can begin searching for a free or premium theme that fits the desired mood of your membership site. While there are thousands of themes to choose from, Kadence Theme is one of the best options out there for journalists. It gives you premium theme features in a free solution, and you’ll be effortlessly building your new site in minutes.
Benefits of Using WordPress For Your Membership Site
WordPress is your best option for building a membership website because:
It’s Easy To Learn and Use
Even if you get stuck, there are countless subjects covered in the WordPress Help Forums that will answer your simplest or toughest questions with ease.
One Easy-to-Use Plugin Transforms Your Site Into a Professional Membership Site
This is where the WordPress membership site magic happens.
No, you don’t need to know how to write code to build a membership site on WordPress. After your site is up and rolling, all you need to do is download and install the Restrict Content Pro plugin.
Immediately, you’ll have a full-featured, powerful membership site that’s ready for you to customize in any way you see fit. What’s best, it will integrate seamlessly with almost any WordPress theme.
Restrict Content Pro will allow you to:
- Lock away all of your exclusive content, while giving access only to your paid members
- Offer discount codes based on a percentage or flat rate discount
- Automate email communication with members
- Create as many subscription packages as you’d like
- Easily manage all of your paid memberships
- Create reports that help you grow your business
With this plugin, your WordPress site immediately becomes your main source of revenue.
You Brand Yourself With Your Own Domain
Would you rather send your readers to patreon.com/yourbrand or yourbrand.com when you promote your paid membership website?
Which one do you think more establishes you as an authority in your field? Which gives you the most credibility and will most impress your readers?
The answer is simple: Your own domain name.
And your own website.
Build Membership Sites for Journalists
Perhaps you’ve been reluctant to start selling memberships to your content. If you’re like a lot of journalists, you may believe that charging for your content is the fastest way to lose readers.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. Within the world of journalists, who do you look to as the biggest authorities within their niches? How did they become authorities?
When the average reader consumes free content, the first thing they want to know is: “What makes this person an expert on this subject?” And you likely have some good answers to that question.
Then, if the content is exceptional, or even life-changing, the next question a listener might ask is: “Why are they giving this information away for free?”
This is where you establish your authority. By conveying to readers that your deepest insights can only be found in a paid membership area, you establish tangible value for the most important information you share.
Building a paid membership site with exclusive, members-only content automatically creates an environment of authority by showing readers that your content is only for insiders who are hungry for the full story. And if your free content provides the reader with value, you’ll build a sense of trust that leads them into wanting to learn more by becoming a paid member. Many print newspaper outlets now offer online subscription options proving this pattern to be a profitable path.
In time, your authority within your niche, as well as your membership numbers, will rise.
Membership Sites for Journalists Connect You with Your Fans
Have you ever spent time interacting with the fans who most enjoy your journalism? Do they ever share with you how much your work has meant to them?
The people who read your work on a regular basis want you to succeed. Your regular readers know that if you’re not making decent money doing what you do, eventually you’re probably going to stop doing it.
Fans that follow you closely count on your insights and takes. They set aside time to read what you have to say. You become a part of their daily lives in more ways than you know. And if you stop, they won’t have your voice any longer.
There’s a very good chance that many of your biggest fans will pay to become members if it means you’ll continue putting out great content for them to consume.
Keys to Success for Membership Sites for Journalists
Invest in your success. As you begin to grow your paid membership numbers using WordPress and the Restrict Content Pro plugin you need to be thinking about how to increase your success.
1. Keep it Fresh
Paid members will be looking for new content. Have an editorial calendar and plan that will help you meet those expectations.
2. Be Engaged.
Make time to interact directly with your paid members. Make the membership special and even more than they expected. Engagement is key to all success.
3. Create Special Events
Offer exclusive Q&A sessions or other events where you will be live and available for interaction.
4. Build a Community
Create opportunities for your members to interact with each other. The stronger the community the more solid your foundation for growing success.
5. Spread the Word
Continue creating quality content for other sites that will introduce you to new readers and encourage them to visit your membership site.
6. Do the Research
Take time to figure out what your direct competition is charging for memberships so you will be positioned to find the sweet spot. You don’t want to charge too much and scare away your community, but you don’t want to charge too little and steal from yourself.
7. Stay in Touch
Create lead magnets that allow you to grab the email addresses of non-members. Have all members register with an email address. Now use those email addresses to stay in touch. Develop email drip campaigns to keep your content in front of your readers.
Start Your Own Membership Site Today
To reach your full independence and success as a journalist, start building your own WordPress membership site. Then, begin directing your audience to it.
In short order, you’ll find a much more committed group of members that will stay with you as long as you keep putting out great content.