10 Common Pricing Models For Membership Sites

One of the most important decisions you’ll face as a membership site owner is your pricing model. Choosing the right subscription strategy can affect how your audience perceives the value of your offer and whether they’ll sign up.

There are many different pricing models that suit various membership site niches. For instance, you could charge a standard monthly subscription rate or offer several tiers of membership. While these are popular solutions, other options could work better for your business.

In this article, we’ll go through ten common pricing models for membership sites. Let’s dive right in!

10 Common Pricing Models for Membership Sites

Before you decide on a pricing model, it’s smart to assess your value proposition and ensure that it’s irresistible and easy to understand. A staggering 42% of subscription-based businesses state that this enables them to charge higher membership rates, so it’s crucial to get it right from the start.

Also, consider your financial goals and the engagement of your current audience. It might be hard to convince 10,000 passive followers to subscribe at $10 per month. However, 100 highly committed super fans might be happy to contribute more than that.

Finally, it helps to research your competitors and see what works for them. For instance, subscription box services such as Birchbox usually follow a fixed monthly model. On the other hand, many software developers opt for tiered or lifetime pricing options.

Without further ado, here are ten pricing models for membership sites to consider.

1. One-time fixed rate

This pricing model is by far the most straightforward. Members pay a one-time fee and gain access to all your content. The drawback here is that you lose out on the benefits of recurring revenue. On the plus side, visitors may be more likely to sign up because they don't feel like they're making a long-term commitment.

This model works best for membership sites that don't require a lot of maintenance. For example, fan sites pretty much run themselves, as much of the content is user-generated.

2. Recurring fixed rate

This is the most popular membership model and what first comes to mind for most people when they think of recurring pricing. Subscribers usually pay a monthly fee in this format, although you can also set up custom billing periods such as a quarterly schedule (every three months).

If you choose this option, you’ll have to provide consistent value each billing period. Therefore, you need to ensure that you have a long-term plan and ways to sustain the effort.

A recurring fixed rate works best for websites such as Medium that release regular content. It can also be an excellent option for coaching services, online forums, or subscription boxes for physical products.

To retain members, you could offer incentives such as discounted early renewal. Many companies also provide cheaper multi-year memberships to encourage longer commitments.

3. Tiered pricing

Offering multiple pricing tiers can be an excellent way to differentiate your products. You could offer several packages aimed at different types of customers and their needs.

Most commonly, this pricing model includes three options. The cheapest offers basic features, while the most expensive option is aimed at more advanced users.

Service providers and software developers can adapt well to this model. However, creatives and bloggers can also benefit from tiered pricing and providing different levels of access to their content.

4. Per-User Rate

This pricing setup might be the perfect choice if your product or service is geared toward teams. For instance, many client relationship management (CRM) or project management platforms such as Hubspot charge a fixed or recurrent fee per user.

However, you might experience some revenue loss due to members sharing their login details with others. Streaming services such as Netflix have countered this issue by limiting access to a certain number of devices.

5. Custom Rate

Customers have different needs, so in some cases, tailored rates are a must. For instance, fixed pricing may not be appropriate for enterprise-level software due to the complex requirements of large-scale businesses.

You could also offer add-ons that your customers can combine to build their own customized packages. This way, your members control the features and the price, which makes your proposition more personalized and attractive.

6. Lifetime Membership

Almost any pricing model could be enhanced with an alternative lifetime membership. For instance, apart from your monthly fixed-rate offer, you could also have a one-time payment option for members who want unlimited access to your content without the hassle of renewals.

A discounted lifetime membership can be a smart signup incentive for your early adopters. Software developers or e-learning websites often offer this option in addition to other pricing tiers. However, it may not be the best choice if you release new content continuously or provide ongoing support.

7. Installment Plans

This pricing model is useful if you charge an expensive one-time fee, but some of your customers may not be able to afford the full amount all at once. For instance, many students are on tight budgets, so online courses often offer installment plans.

Typically, there's an initial fee that the member pays and a few recurring payments after that. The exact number is up to you, but many sites have two or three payment plan lengths customers can choose from.

8. Pay As You Go

Usage-based pricing is popular among many IT and mobile phone services to help mitigate high consumption risks. It also promotes better transparency and fairness. For instance, if you use 2GB of data within a month, you’ll only pay for what you consumed rather than a fixed fee.

Apart from web-based services, startups can also use this pricing model as part of their value proposition. However, it can be hard to predict revenue, as costs may vary from month to month.

9. Pay What You Want

Suppose you’re a blogger or a creative who’s passionate about their work, even though you're doing it for free. In that case, a donation-based model could be an ideal way to earn an extra income.

Pay what you want models can also be an ideal option for startups that are still testing their value propositions or don’t want to pressure followers with paid subscriptions.

While you shouldn’t have high expectations with this type of pricing model, customers who genuinely believe in your product are usually happy to support it. To boost your revenue, you can also offer extra incentives to subscribers who donate above a certain amount.

10. Freemium

Lastly, we have “freemium” pricing, which can be a crucial element to your broader strategy. This involves offering a certain level of access to products, services, or content for free, with optional paid upgrades. Unlike free trials, freemium content doesn't expire, enabling your members to test out your offers thoroughly.

Free content can also help grow your subscriber base and establish authority in your niche. Plus, if your freemium product displays a value that subscribers can’t resist, it might help convince them that it’s worth upgrading to a premium membership.


An effective pricing model could easily make or break your website’s success. It’s crucial to consider the value you’re offering to your members, your financial goals, and how you compare to your competitors.

In this article, we talked about ten common pricing models for membership sites. Although, the one you should choose should depend on the type of products or services you’re providing and your unique value proposition.

Do you have any questions about pricing models for membership sites? Let us know in the comments section below!

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Categories: Advice Pricing Trends
About John Hughes

John is a blogging addict, WordPress fanatic, staff writer for WordCandy.co, and a regular contributor to the MemberPress and Easy Affiliate blogs.