Should You Create an Online Course or a Membership Site
If you’re someone who loves to teach or is an expert on a specific topic, you should consider reaching out to a wider audience. This way, you can make your skills and ideas profitable and start getting paid for your hard work and time.
A great way of doing that is by creating either an online course or a membership site. A membership site provides users with access to regular content and a community to engage with, once they’ve subscribed to a monthly or annual membership plan.
On the other hand, an online course has a one-time fee but provides a limited amount of content. This means that users can pay a one-time fee to get access to a single lesson or multiple lessons, not fresh content throughout the month.
Depending on the type of content and your goals for the future, deciding on what’s the right option for you can be a challenge. In this article, we’ll go over a few things you might want to consider before deciding whether to create a membership site or an online course.
A COMPLETE STEP-BY-STEP CHEATSHEET
TO CREATING, LAUNCHING & GROWING A SUCCESSFUL MEMBERSHIP WEBSITE
Questions to ask yourself when deciding whether to create an online course or a membership site
Let’s take a look at a few important questions you may want to ask yourself before choosing to create an online course or create a membership site.
#1. Can you create engaging content regularly?
One of the most important factors that will help you decide between the two options is whether you can create fresh content for your audience every day or not. You need to consider the topic you cover and decide if it’s ideal for you to create content regularly for your students.
It’s best to not have students subscribe to a membership plan if they won’t have access to regularly updated content. Instead, if you don’t have fresh new topics that can be shared with your students as lessons, creating a detailed online course is a better idea. This way, you don’t compromise on the quality of work you do and your audience will see much more value in your content if they have to pay for it once.
A membership site requires you to provide regular new content for topics that are covered in your membership program. This ensures students stay engaged with your content every day and don’t bail out of their monthly subscription early. Members will find more value in paying a monthly fee and having access to fresh content every day. As a result, you’ll have to put in more time and effort in creating content and keeping members engaged.
#2. Are you willing to do this long-term?
Are you considering doing this long-term? Or you’re just planning to do it during your summer holidays and keep it going as a side hustle? These questions are important in deciding what’s the best option for you.
Membership sites require a long-term commitment and don’t really start “working” instantly after you launch your site. In simpler words, you need to provide new content regularly and keep your members engaged or they will consider canceling their monthly subscription. It’s a lot of work for someone who’s looking to do this part-time.
On the other hand, online courses don’t require a long-term commitment from you and start generating sales usually soon after you launch them. In other words, online courses can be compared to doing projects once a year, you don’t have to commit to building and creating a community around a topic for the whole year.
However, online courses can also require additional attention from you. This means that you will have to put in some extra time after creating the online course in customer support queries and helping resolve any issues learners run into.
#3. Do you cover longer topics or shorter ones?
Depending on the topics you cover, it can be a challenge to decide whether to go for the long-term membership site or create multiple lessons in the form of an online course.
Membership sites work the best if you want to help your audience solve their problems by producing helpful content. This way, you can provide content to your members for ongoing problems or longer topics and help keep them engaged for the whole duration of their subscription period.
But if you have an end goal with covering your topics, creating online courses might be the best option for you. Online courses are comprehensive and can help solve a problem quickly. This means that students can quickly go through your content and solve their problems, without having to constantly come back for new solutions. Although, online courses may also have a decent number of topics covered in them but not as detailed as one would expect in a membership program.
#4. Does an online community matter to you?
An online community is the heart of any good membership site. This is where members can visit and engage with your content and find like-minded people. Online communities are a big thing for membership sites as it offers a better learning experience for members. You can answer and respond to your student’s questions and help solve any problems or confusion they might have regarding the topic covered in your membership program. As a result, members find it much easier to stay engaged with your content throughout the subscription period.
However, looking at this from a different perspective, this also means you need a lot of extra time to do all this extra work of creating and managing an online community. There’s always the option to mod some members of your community to handle all the time-consuming work for you and manage the community.
On the other hand, online communities are also a thing for some online course instructors. The communities work and function the same way but without much interaction from the course instructor. Students don’t expect interaction with you when they face problems, they’re usually out to share with the community of people just like them. This can be beneficial for you as it can save you a lot of time and work in dealing with customer support
#5. Do you require recurring income?
One of the most important factors that can help you decide between the two almost similar options is income. Do you require a stable, recurring income every month or year? Or do you want to do this as your side hustle?
A membership site can provide a stable recurring income monthly, quarterly, or yearly – it all depends on what your membership subscription plans are. This also means that members also expect you to keep providing them more value against their money by giving them access to engaging content regularly. But if they don’t find value in your content, it’s hard to generate a monthly or annual income stream as members won’t be willing to subscribe to you again next month.
On the other hand, online courses are a bit more predictable. This means that when you create an online course and sell it in your market, that’s when you expect some income back. You don’t have to worry about the uncertainty of people subscribing to you next month or not, students just need to buy your online course once. It can generate variable income depending on the topics your course covers, your market, or the niche your online course covers. In addition to these factors, it also depends on your competition.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Should I create an online course or a membership site?
A: The choice between creating an online course or a membership site depends on your goals and the type of content you want to offer. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to consider your target audience and the business model that aligns with your objectives.
Q: What is the difference between an online course and a membership site?
A: An online course is typically a structured program with specific learning objectives. It is designed to deliver content in a sequential manner, allowing students to progress through the material at their own pace. On the other hand, a membership site provides ongoing access to a library of resources, such as courses, tutorials, forums, or exclusive content, often for a recurring fee.
Q: Which option is better for an online business?
A: The choice between creating an online course or a membership site depends on the nature of your business and the needs of your target audience. If you have a well-defined curriculum and want to deliver specific knowledge or skills, an online course may be more suitable. However, if you want to build a community and provide continuous value to your members, a membership site can be a better option.
Q: How do I create a membership site?
A: To create a membership site, you will need to choose a membership platform that fits your needs. There are various platforms available that provide features like content protection, recurring payments, and community building tools. Once you have selected a platform, you can start building your site by creating and organizing your content, setting up membership levels, and creating a user-friendly interface for your members.
Q: How do I create an online course?
A: To create an online course, you will need to choose a course platform that supports your course creation and delivery needs. Look for a platform that allows you to upload and organize your course materials, create quizzes and assessments, and track student progress. Then, you can start developing your course content, including videos, slides, documents, and interactive elements, to deliver a comprehensive learning experience.
Q: What is the difference between a membership site and an online course platform?
A: While both a membership site and an online course platform can provide a way to deliver content to your audience, they have different focuses. A membership site is geared towards building a community and providing ongoing value to members through access to a variety of resources. An online course platform, on the other hand, is specifically designed to deliver structured educational content in a sequential manner.
Q: Which business model is best for creating and selling online courses or memberships?
A: The best business model depends on your goals and the type of content you want to offer. If you have a well-structured course with specific learning objectives, selling individual courses might be the most appropriate model. On the other hand, if you have a variety of resources and want to provide continuous value, a recurring membership fee can be a more sustainable business model.
Q: Can I have both a course and a membership on the same platform?
A: Yes, many platforms allow you to offer both online courses and memberships. This can be a great way to provide different levels of access to your content and cater to a wider audience. You can offer individual courses for one-time purchase, while also providing a membership option for those who want ongoing access to all your resources.
Q: How do I decide between building a membership site or selling online courses?
A: The decision between building a membership site or selling online courses depends on the type of content you want to offer and the value you want to provide to your audience. If you have a variety of resources and want to build a community, a membership site might be the better choice. If you have a well-structured course with specific learning objectives, selling online courses individually may be more appropriate.
Q: What are the advantages of starting a membership site?
A: Starting a membership site has several advantages. It allows you to build a community around your content, foster engagement and interaction among members, and provides recurring revenue through membership fees. Additionally, it allows you to continuously offer new content and updates to your members, creating ongoing value and fostering long-term relationships.
Q: What are the advantages of starting an online course business?
A: Starting an online course business allows you to leverage your expertise and knowledge by creating educational content that can reach a wide audience. It gives you the opportunity to share your expertise, provide value to your students, and generate revenue through course sales. Online courses also have the potential for scalability, as they can be accessed by students from anywhere in the world.
Depending on what your aims are for the future, it’s much easier to decide whether you want to create and run a membership site or create an online course for your students. If you’re looking to do this full-time, a membership site might be the better option for you, but if you’re looking to do this as a part-time thing, creating online courses for your audience will work the best.
Let’s go over a few pointers that can help you decide whether to create an online course or a membership site:
- If you’re thinking of creating an online membership site, the first thing you should consider is if you can generate content regularly or not. Members paying a monthly fee will want to have access to fresh content regularly or else they will cancel their subscription.
- Think about whether you’re ready to commit long-term to a membership site or want to go for a more casual, short-term approach by creating online courses.
- If you’re looking for a recurring income stream, memberships are the way to go for you. But if you want a more project-based income, online courses are the best option for you.
Now that we’ve covered all the questions you should have in mind when deciding between the two options, hopefully, you’re in a better position to take the next steps.
Do you have any other points in mind that can help readers decide whether to create a membership site or an online course? Let us know in the comment box below