Building a niche membership site can be a great way to build passive income. Membership sites are very popular and if you have knowledge and skills you would like to share, this can be a very lucrative way to monetize a blog. As long as subscribed members are willing to remain subscribed, you can expect a steady income flow.
What is a niche membership site? A niche membership site has a section that is accessible exclusively to members only. For this reason, a site member pays a monthly or yearly fee in order to access the exclusive content. Non-members generally have limited access to the site, whereas paying members can also access premium content.
This guide covers how you can create a niche membership site to make recurring passive income. This is a fantastic passive income stream that you can implement on your current blog, or on a completely new website.
Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Niche Membership Site
The steps involved in building a niche membership site include choosing a niche, deciding on your membership model, and building your website. Let’s have a look at these steps in detail.
1. Choosing Niche Topic That Excites You
If you have 500 members and they each pay $10 a month, then you have a system in place that can make you $5,000 a month.
There is a reason it’s called a niche membership site and not just a membership site. The site should have something specific to offer to a select audience. The good thing about membership sites is that you don’t need tons of traffic to make money. You need to answer a specific problem that your target audience has.
For instance, traveling is an industry, not a niche. But business travel is a niche. You can take it one step further and focus exclusively on private business travel, which is a niche within a niche. Focusing on a “niche within a niche” or narrowing your audience can help you attract a smaller subset of a community.
In our previous example, you could offer this audience exclusive tips and tricks to get cheaper plane tickets, avoid waiting lines, and travel comfortably. Any information, products, or services that other business travellers cannot easily get their hands on for free online may be of interest to them in a membership site.
Finding a Niche You Are Passionate About
People don’t just join a membership site – it has to offer something unique. If what your site is offering can easily be found elsewhere on the web for free, chances are high that your site visitors will leave your page as soon as they are asked to become paying members.
A good way to ensure you get members who are willing to pay is to venture into a very unique niche. A niche is just a topic that focuses on, or is built for, a narrow group of people with a common, specific interest. Your blog could cover an underground hobby or skill. You could also have a membership site that offers unique technical knowledge on a subject.
When you cover specific topics with an angle that is in demand, many people will willingly pay a monthly or yearly fee for the provided information. With a hundred or a thousand members, you can obviously see how much recurring income you can make off a membership site every month.
Following Your Passions to Stay Motivated
Before anything, the niche you choose should be something you are passionate, or at least interested in. Otherwise it will be hard to keep motivated until your membership can flourish. One way to choose a great nche is to also be part of it. It may be hard, for instance, to write about how to grow succulents, if you have never owned one before.
Being Knowledgeable on Your Niche
When choosing a niche or topic, you should also ensure that you already are very knowledgeable on the subject. You will need to provide value that people will pay for and don’t already possess or can’t find for free online.
For instance, if you have mastered how to make passive income blogs, and you have a lot of YouTube followers, then there is a very good chance that starting a membership site on the same subject would provide you excellent income.
Income School is an excellent example of this. They offer a membership site teaching how to build successful blogs without any spammy SEO tactics. Their site provides incredible value to their users. It includes 13 courses that are constantly updated, a podcast that has new episodes every few months, a very active and helpful community, recommended tools and more. There is so much value in their membership site that it’s hard not to remain a part of it.
Considering a Niche With High User Engagement
Since the goal is to create a membership site that provides you with a passive income stream, you should consider a concept that can keep moving forward without your input.
For instance, your membership site could essentially be a forum site where members share knowledge on various topics. In such cases, even without your input, the website can keep offering the users fresh content. Since members are paying to have access to the site, they will be highly motivated to participate in the discussions involved. This will obviously make your work a lot easier.
Considering a Niche That is Evergreen
However, some membership sites may be very demanding of your time. We gave the example of Project 24 by Income school (learn more about Project 24 our Resource Page), but the founders, Rick and Jim, constantly have to update their course content because it is not evergreen.
Evergreen content is content that will still be relevant many years from now. The tactics and tools to build successful niche blogs are constantly evolving. If you were to practice methods that worked 20 years ago, they won’t work today. Rick and Jim are constantly trying and testing new things for their community to ensure they have all the tools they need to learn and build niche sites.
An example of an evergreen niche would be succulents. These plants are popular year-round and the ways to tend to them probably won’t change in 10 years from now! One of Jim’s friends owns a niche site on this topic and offers a membership to access her course. She is making very good money from this (over $200,000 per year). You can watch their interview below or learn more here on our Course Resource Page.
2. Deciding on a Membership Site Model to Use
Membership sites have different business models. Here are some models to help you decide on the best one for your needs. Be attentive because some models are more passive than others.
The Forum or Community Model
As per its name, this site gives members access to a private forum. The benefit of this kind of site is that the members can provide new and fresh content themselves, and you can take a backseat to all the discussions going on and still earn a monthly membership fee. This is a more passive model but you probably won’t be able to charge premium prices for members to access it.
The Premium Model
With his niche membership model, you charge a small membership fee, but after members join, they will have to pay additional fees to get access to the exclusive products such as courses, unique eBooks and so forth. The best thing about this site is that the members will feel obliged to make a purchase to justify paying a membership fee. You will however, have to offer excellent materials that will be enticing for your members to purchase.
The Course Model
Your site can offer its users access to a course behind a membership pay-wall. If you have knowledge on a topic you can easily create a course and sell it behind a paywall. Make sure to choose (fairly) evergreen topics or you will constantly be updating your course.
Dripped Out Model
In this case, the members are given access to one aspect of a product over a particular duration. For instance, it could be a fitness course which touches on several topics that are only available after several days or months. This creates a sense of excitement so members stay hooked over a long period of time.
3. Deciding What Membership Fees to Charge
Each membership site is different, based on what it has to offer. For instance, if you just offer information that helps people to further explore a hobby, you may have to charge a low fee. But, if, like Income School you offer a ton of value (multiple courses that are constantly updated, podcasts etc) people will feel enticed to join and stay. In that case you could charge a premium price and make it a monthly or yearly recurring cost to remain a member.
4. Building Your Niche Site
Now that you have figured out who you would like to address, all you need is to create your site if you do not yet have one. Luckily, Income School’s Project 24 teaches how to build blogs that you can monetize through ads. Once your blog is up and running, it will be the right time to create your membership area.
To learn how to build a passive income blog, we highly recommend Income School’s Project 24 (see our Course Recommendations for more info). Becoming a member will teach you how to build a blog you can monetize in a variety of ways. Their course will help you choose a successful blog, teach you how to build your audience and get traffic, and then monetize your audience with ads. Once you are ready you can setup the membership section of you site and start selling premium subscriptions to your traffic!
How Passive are Niche Membership Sites?
A niche membership site can be incredibly passive. With a forum niche site, you can literally go for years without adding any new content and the membership numbers could still keep growing organically. However, it’s important to note that some membership site models only provide regular recurring income, not specifically passive income. If you choose a topic that is not evergreen, and constantly needs to be updated, you will need to provide your members fresh new content and extra value, and that may require updating your membership content from time to time. Otherwise you will lose members.
You do not need to spend a fortune to create a niche membership site. Armed with your knowledge on a particular subject, you only need to pay for a domain, hosting, WordPress and a membership plugin, and your site can be up and running. If you would like to learn how to create your site and drive traffic, check out Income School’s course (it will really save you a lot of time and money in the long run). The tools you need can cost you between $500 to $1,500 plus, depending on what you choose to use. After adding enough content to your site, you will be good to go. This will take time and effort, we will look into that later.
Making a successful niche membership site can seem a little daunting if this is new to you, but it’s not difficult. Once you have enough members and they become active participants in your community, odds are that the site will have a life of its own and your input will not always be necessary to maintain it.
It definitely takes time to build a successful niche membership site. Obviously, you need time to build your site, create content, build your membership area, and then market your site to get paying members. You also have to offer unique and high-quality content or digital products that will make people want to pay for a chance to join your site as members. That will take a while, however, if you want to cut down the time it takes and stay motivated in the process of building your site, we highly recommend Income School’s, Project 24.
This passive income method is low risk. First of all, you do not have to spend much financially, as you only need money to get your site up and running. After that, you only need to add the content that will attract members. If the idea doesn’t seem to take off, you can always find other ways to monetize the site passively even if members don’t pay a fee. There may be risks related to the niche you choose so be aware of this (ex. Medical, seasonal, not evergreen etc).
Seasons should not affect the success of your niche membership site. If the site discusses a broad subject that is of interest to your members throughout the year, then you have nothing to worry about as they will keep paying their membership fees all throughout. However, if your niche is incredibly seasonal, there may be significant dips in membership numbers at various times of the year. Be aware of this when choosing a niche.
ROI (Return on Investment)
A membership site can yield very high return on investment. As we have said, once the site has active members, it can keep growing its membership base over time even without you needing to keep updating the content. You can also monetize your site in other ways to boost your passive income, for example with ads, sponsorships, other premium content and print on demand for example.
How do I create passive income for my website? There are many ways to create passive income for your websites. For example, you can monetize your website with ads, premium ads, sponsored content, memberships, print on demand (merchandise), drop-shipping, eCommerce, and digital downloads (eBooks and courses).
Can you make money with niche websites? You can make money with niche websites. According to Income School, by monetizing your site with Google Ads and a YouTube channel, you can expect about 1,000$/month once your site reaches 30,000 monthly page views.