Membership sites for visual artists provide a place for creatives to share their imaginations, grow a business, and build a firm foundation for their art.
Over the last several years, membership sites for visual artists have been growing in popularity. The more visual artists embrace technology, the more technology rises up to meet the needs and business plans of the artists.
For years, membership sites such as Patreon have shown visual artists that fans are more than willing to pay to support their favorite artists. This is especially true when the fans get exclusive content in exchange for their membership fees.
Membership sites are an obvious win/win for both artists and fans alike.
Unfortunately, Patreon charges its own fees and takes a direct cut of membership revenue. Beyond that, when you use Patreon for building your memberships, you’re not in complete control of pricing changes or policy guidelines.
Did you know that it’s easy to skip right over Patreon and create your own exclusive membership website instead? By creating your own platform and running your own site, you’ll have 100% control over how you organize your membership program. You’ll be able to:
- Build a site that’s completely customized to the way they want to do business
- 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
- Keep 100% independence
Let’s take a look at how simple it is to start your own membership site. You’ll also learn why membership sites are the perfect way for visual artists to build a non-traditional, sustainable, long-term revenue stream.
Patreon Was Just the Beginning
Patreon began to knock out a niche for itself in 2014. Since that time, it has given visual artists the opportunity to earn a substantial living by building a paid membership audience on the Patreon home site. This new way to tap into patrons of the arts served to supplement the more traditional way that visual artists build a living.
But the Patreon membership model is only the beginning of finding membership site success. And if you’re just now thinking about promoting a Patreon membership page to your fans, it may be difficult to break through the huge wave of artists already making a living on the site.
Since the beginning of Patreon, they’ve promised artists:
- A way of expanding earning potential by offering members behind-the scenes access to raw files and walk-throughs of the creative process
- An opportunity to connect with their biggest fans who love their work the most
- A way to diversify their income streams and create more recurring income
The issue has always been that, by relying on Patreon for membership income, artists put their own success into the hands of a corporation rather than themselves. This means that you’re subject to all of their Terms and Conditions, even if you don’t know exactly what they say, or don’t care to study legalese.
It’s their way or the highway. It may not seem like an issue until something you share or say becomes an issue and the platform pulls the rug out from under without any notice.
In recent years, Patreon has even been known to censor content or completely remove membership pages if they don’t feel the content fits their platform. When that happens, all of your paid members (and, potentially, a ton of recurring revenue) can be deleted with very little warning.
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, as a visual artist, that’s not good for your brand.
There must be a better option than Patreon to build your own profitable membership site. How would you feel about a website that provided:
- Total freedom in how your online brand is presented to the public
- Complete ownership of your content
- Every penny of the membership fees you charge, without deducting a percentage for “convenience”
- 100% control of the content you create, even if it’s controversial or outside of the “norm”
- An easy-to-use platform that demonstrates your long-term commitment to your paying members
- The ability to interact with your members in real time
- A voice that’s independent from advertising (unless you choose to bring advertisers on board. And if you do, you’ll be able to choose which advertisers run on your membership site)
The exciting news is that a better option than Patreon is out there. And it couldn’t be easier to get started.
How To Launch a Membership Website As a Visual Artist
In 2021, nearly 40% of the Internet is 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 custom 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.
From there, you can begin searching for a free or premium theme that fits the desired mood of your membership site. You’ll find hundreds of free and premium themes that are tailored toward visual artists.
And while there are literally thousands of themes to choose from, Kadence Theme is currently one of the best options on the WordPress theme market. It gives you a ton of premium theme features, all within a free solution.
With Kadence Theme, you’ll be effortlessly building out the design of your own new membership site within minutes.
4 Benefits of Using WordPress For Your Membership Site
WordPress is your best option for building a membership website for several reasons:
1. It’s Simple
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.
2. 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 code all of the operational details needed to turn a standard WordPress site into a 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 memberships.
With this plugin, your WordPress membership site can become your main source of revenue.
3. Sell Your Art and Merch (And a Lot More)
Membership websites can be tailored in any way you’d like. You’ll be able to:
- Create an area to sell art or other fan merchandise
- Keep your fans in-the-know about upcoming projects
- Create a blog with free content for everybody, and premium content exclusively for paying members
- Release new world premier works of art that your paying members get to see before anyone else
The possibilities are endless.
4. Brand Yourself With Your Own Domain
When you promote your paid membership area, would you rather send your fans to patreon.com/myart or myart.com?
Which one do you think better establishes you as a serious visual artist? Which gives you the most credibility and will most impress your fans?
The answer is simple: Your own domain name. And a WordPress membership site will give you exactly that.
Visual Artists Should Sell Memberships
THEY might say that it’s called a “starving artist” for a reason, but you don’t have to agree. Developing your membership website will provide you with more opportunities to create income streams to stave off the starving artist syndrome.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if earning a living as an artist was as simple as creating beautiful pieces of art that people couldn’t wait to buy? Wouldn’t it be even better if you could create those pieces at will, any time you wanted to?
Of course, it doesn’t always work that way. And that’s why you need to start your own membership site to support your career.
There are three key reasons you should start selling your own memberships as a visual artist.
It’s Difficult To Earn a Living Selling Art
Of course, there are some major exceptions to the term “starving artist.” Some artists can demand such a high price from each piece of work that they can live a good life selling only a few pieces each year.
But even they could greatly benefit from running a membership site.
Starting a membership site allows artists to create an environment where paying members gain exclusive access to all the behind-the-scenes moments of the artist’s life and creative process. In return, their recurring membership fees create a stream of income that an artist can count on month after month and year after year.
This is one key reason why starting your own membership site is a no-brainer. Not only do you have the membership income, but now you have an audience that desires to see (and purchase) your art.
Membership Sites Provide a Way To Fund Ongoing Projects
If you’re working on a long project or one that doesn’t have a known end date, it can be difficult to keep a steady stream of income flowing in the interim.
Your membership site will give you the perfect way to fund these kinds of ongoing projects. By offering exclusive content to paying members, you can continue to build your membership income stream while you meticulously work to complete your artistic masterpiece.
Consider allowing your paid members “inside of your world” when working on long-term projects. They’ll love being a part of the creative process, and will stay with you for the long haul.
Your Talent Deserves To Be Rewarded
Don’t you think that your skills, talent, and personality are worth a lot more than what you’re earning right now?
Your fans probably do.
Unfortunately, there’s an unspoken belief that the most talented artists in the world never make it big or figure out how to earn a meaningful living from their craft. But if your biggest dream is to earn a great living as an artist, a properly-run membership site is the perfect solution.
Keys to Success for Visual Artist 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:
- Paid members are always looking for new content. Make sure you let them know when they can expect it (i.e. daily at 8am, every tuesday at 5pm, every first of the month at midnight)
- Routinely interact directly with your paid members. It means more to them than you may realize
- Invite members to exclusive Q&As and other events where you’ll be live, on camera, and present
- On your membership site, provide paid members with a way for them to interact with each other and have conversations
- Don’t charge too much or too little for a membership. Research what other visual artists are charging for memberships to find the sweet spot
- Act big. Think bigger
- Utilize email drip campaigns to keep in close touch with your fans
- Be in it for the long haul
Start Your Own Membership Site Today
There’s never been a better time than now for visual artists to capitalize on the popularity of membership websites. And when you consider that you can get yours started for only a few hundred dollars, it becomes obvious that the benefits far outweigh the risks.
Start earning a great living as a visual artist today by inviting your fans into the world of your membership website. It may be one of the most profitable works of art that you ever create.