Membership sites for video creators provide the power of platform control. When you host on other platforms, they dictate the rules of the game.
Make it your game instead.
If you’re a video creator looking to make a full-time living creating and distributing your own content, you may believe that creating a membership profile on Patreon is your best option.
But is it?
There’s no doubt that Patreon has provided a solid platform for video creators looking to earn a living from their craft. Launched in May of 2013, the Patreon platform has given thousands of video creators the chance to build a paid membership audience and earn some great money while doing what they enjoy.
And while it’s true that many video creators have earned a substantial amount of money on the Patreon platform, there is now a much better (and more profitable) way to build a paid membership following.
As with all technologies, the technology that runs membership sites has changed and improved. The most successful video creators today know that to create a highly successful membership site, they need to:
- Build a site that’s completely customized to their business model
- Keep all of the money they earn, rather than give a percentage to a third-party
- Have complete and total control over how memberships are charged and maintained
- Have 100% independence
To that end, it’s time to look at a game-changer in the world of membership sites. As a serious video creator, you don’t want to miss this opportunity.
Membership Sites Work
From the early days of Patreon, the platform appealed to video creators because it provided a simple way to earn a great living by producing videos that people wanted to watch.
Video creators that succeeded on Patreon understood that the best way to get paid subscribers on the platform was to publish great content on free video sites like YouTube. Then, to earn an income from becoming popular on YouTube, they started putting exclusive video content behind the paywall of a Patreon membership.
For many video creators, this formula worked well.
Since the beginning of Patreon, they’ve promised video creators:
- A way of making more money by providing exclusive video content to fans
- Direct access to fans that pay for a membership to your Patreon account
- An independent way to run a business without relying on ads or paid sponsorships
The issue has always been that, by relying on Patreon for membership income, video creators put their own success into the hands of a single corporation rather than themselves. That means that you’re subject to all of their Terms and Conditions, even if you don’t know exactly what they say or mean.
In recent years, Patreon has even been known to censor content or completely remove channels if they don’t agree with the content posted. When that happens, all of your paid members (and a full-time living) can be deleted at the drop of a hat
But beyond that, it’s not easy to brand yourself properly when working under Patreon’s membership umbrella. Generally speaking, almost all membership sites on the Patreon platform look identical. And that’s not good for your brand.
There must be a better option than Patreon to build your own profitable membership site: An option that provides you with:
- Total freedom in how your online brand is presented to the public
- Complete ownership of your video content
- Every penny of the membership fees you charge, without deducting a percentage for “convenience”
- 100% control of the video content you create, even if it’s controversial or outside of the accepted narrative
- An easy-to-use platform that demonstrates your professionalism and long-term commitment to your paying members
- The ability to interact with your members in real time
- A voice that’s independent from advertising
The good news is that a better option does exist. And it’s been hiding in plain sight for quite some time.
Video Creators Should Sell Memberships
A lot of video creators hesitate at the thought of selling paid memberships to view their content. The goal is to get people to watch what you do, and if you charge then that will reduce the number of viewers. And if you’re hesitating at the thought, perhaps you believe that charging for content is a fast way to lose viewers and become irrelevant.
In 2015, YouTube, which had launched as a free platform for video sharing, decided it was time to charge. The new alternative (which is another way of saying subscription) was an ad-free option for viewers.
Why Pay for Free?
People will pay for fewer (or no) interruptions. Many streaming services have learned that people will upgrade their subscriptions to avoid having to sit through commercials. The service makes money from the upgrade or from the ads, which works out for the service either way.
People will pay for the experience. Every weekend in the south, thousands of people crowd into stadiums and pay heavy prices to watch games they could watch at home. Those that go to the games will tell you they pay as much for the experience as they do the stadium. When it comes to video, make the paid memberships an experience above the free by adding chats or answering questions directly.
People will pay to be special or to stand out. If everyone can’t have it then it must be better. You can upgrade your membership by limiting certain levels.
People will pay for convenience. When you make things easier for a small fee, people will gladly offer up that fee to keep from having to do the extra work to procure the free.
Building a membership site provides additional opportunities for building a living wage with your video creation.
More Reasons to Build a Membership Site
You’ve spent countless hours researching and putting out content within your niche. Your viewers recognize how valuable your content is.
The question is, do you?
Pretend for a moment that you woke up this morning and decided that you wanted to start a business as a mobile app developer. You’ve never learned code and don’t know where to start. But you want to become an expert without leaving your own house.
What would you do?
Chances are, you’d start looking up free YouTube videos and begin to learn the basics. But when it comes to developing detailed apps with custom functionality for clients, would you expect to find that contenta available to consume for free?
Of course not.
In fact, you’d gladly pay $80 for a membership to a video series that teaches you to build mobile apps that clients are willing to pay for.
The same principle holds true for the information you share in your videos. Your knowledge is extremely valuable. Don’t give it all away for free when there are many people who will pay for it without batting an eye.
Establishes Your Authority
It’s important to stand out from the crowd – for people to see your unique perspective and to connect those ideas to your brand.
Building a membership site allows you to show that voice and brand off in the perfect way for your business and for your listeners. The exclusivity of the members-only content can drive listeners to dig in deeper after they encounter and embrace your authority through the introductory levels.
Remember to use your free content to both provide the viewers and visitors with a lot of value and to build a sense of trust that leads them into wanting to learn more by becoming a paid member.
Not only will you develop authority with your members, but you will begin to stand out as an authority in your industry.
Your Supporters Want You To Succeed
There are those who visit your site who are actively engaged with you, with your content, and with each other. Those supporters are sharing your videos and telling others how much they like what you are creating.
The people who are at your site and watching your videos on a regular basis want you to succeed. And it’s not just because they enjoy other people’s success.
In reality, your most committed audience knows that if you’re not making any money producing videos, eventually you’re probably going to stop putting out content.
Viewers that follow you closely count on your insights and takes. They set aside time to watch and listen to what you have to say in your videos. You become a part of their daily lives in more ways that you know. And when you stop making videos, they won’t have your voice in their world any longer.
Many of your fans will pay to become members if it means you’ll continue putting out great content for them to consume. And when you do, they’ll become long-term paying members that create a source of stable income for you.
It’s Time To Launch Your Own Independent Membership Website
Did you know that nearly 40% of the entire Internet is now powered by the WordPress CMS (content management system)?
And with good reason:
- 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 video membership site
- Anyone, even someone who lacks basic CSS or HTML knowledge, can easily build a WordPress website within 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.
While there are thousands of themes to choose from, Kadence Theme is one of the best options on the WordPress theme market. It’s powerful and simple to use even for those who don’t know (and don’t want to know) coding. Kadence Theme provides many normally premium theme features in a free solution.
With it, you’ll be effortlessly building your own new, independent video membership site within minutes.
Looking for more information about WordPress? The Ultimate Guide to Launching a WordPress Website in 2021 from iThemes.com provides an in-depth look at what it takes to get your video membership site started.
WordPress is the Best Platform for Membership Sites
WordPress is your best option for building a membership website for several important reasons:
WordPress was created to be simple for novices to use, while robust enough to give web design professionals more tools than they could ever use.
For the most part, you’ll find that developing a website using WordPress is almost as easy as using a word processing program. And 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 design and implement all the gory details of your membership site. 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 standard WordPress site immediately becomes your main source of revenue.
Brand Yourself With Your Own Domain
When you promote your paid membership area, would you rather send your video viewers to patreon.com/mycoolchannel or mycoolchannel.com?
Which one do you think better establishes you as an authority in your field? Which gives you the most credibility and will most impress your viewers?
The answer is simple: Your own domain name.
Building a WordPress membership site will give you exactly that.
10 Investments for Successful Video Membership Sites
Keep these principles at the forefront of your mind as you begin to grow your paid membership numbers using WordPress and the Restrict Content Pro plugin:
1. Stay fresh and up to date.
Paid members are always looking for new content.
2. Be consistent.
Make sure you let them know when they can expect it (i.e. daily at 8 am, every Tuesday at 5 pm, every first of the month at midnight). Consistency helps you and helps your visitors.
3. Be engaged.
Routinely interact directly with your paid members. It means more to them than you may realize.
4. Create exclusive opportunities.
Invite members to exclusive Q&As and other events where you’ll be live, on camera, and present.
5. Develop community.
On your membership site, provide paid members with a way for them to interact with each other and have conversations about your video content and niche.
6. Expand your reach.
Continue putting out high-quality free content on YouTube and other video platforms, while directing viewers to exclusive content on your membership site.
7. Find your price point sweet spot.
Don’t charge too much or too little for a membership. Research your competition to find the sweet spot
8. Don’t settle.
Act big. Think bigger.
9. Build an email list.
Utilize email drip campaigns to keep in close touch with your members.
10. Stay invested.
Be in it for the long haul. It is a “one step at a time and one word at a time” journey. Think of content building and membership site growth as a marathon, not a sprint.
Start Your Own Video Membership Site Today
Maybe you’re not ready to quit Patreon quite yet. If you’re earning a substantial amount of membership money from it, you certainly shouldn’t drop your Patreon account quite yet.
But to reach your full independence and success as a video creator, start today building your own WordPress membership site. When it’s ready to release, begin directing your audience to it rather than your Patreon account.
In short order, you’ll find a much more committed group of members that will keep paying you as long as you keep putting out great content. And you’ll never need to worry about Patreon cutting you loose.