4 Types of Membership Sites That Will Crush it This Year

By Sean Ogle •  Updated: 07/06/24 •  10 min read

Let’s face it, the internet has evolved.

Making money online, passive income, lifestyle business – whatever you want to call it – it’s more difficult than it used to be.

It’s still entirely possible to build, but the things that worked 5 years ago, aren’t necessarily working quite as well as they are now.

Affiliate marketing has evolved.

Blogging has evolved.

Freelancing has evolved.

And so have membership sites and information products.

And that last one is what we’re going to talk about today: membership sites.

There are all types of different ways to create a membership site, and these days the definition of what that is, can be a little bit blurry.

But right this year, I think these 4 relatively unique ways of making money are going to become more common and kill it for creators, business owners and marketers. Read on to see what they are.

4 Types of Membership Sites That You Should Consider This Year

1) The MicroFan: How Tiny Payments Can Add Up to a Big Win

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard of author Mark Manson. Or at the very least, you’ve heard of his book: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F%!$.

It’s hands down one of the most successful books of this decade. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F

While Mark has done a lot of things right with growing his brand and his business, one of my favorite strategies is something he’s been doing since well before the book came out.

He has an audience of millions of readers who love his writing.

Well as someone who’s primary business goal in life is simply to write, outside of buying an author’s book there aren’t many ways to directly support them.

To fix that, Mark added a page to his site where you can become a micro supporter for 4 bucks a month. That’s less than the cost of beer each month, but by doing it you’re helping support his work, while also getting cool benefits just for supporters (subscribers-only content, Q&A etc.).

So rather than connect members of his community to each other, he uses the MicroFan model to allow people to get a little bit closer to him and get more of the work they’re excited to read.

Regardless of how big your website or brand is, you can implement this same model. It might only get you a few bucks in the beginning if your audience is small, but over time it can add up in a big way.

2) The MicroCommunity: Leveraging a Niche Within a Niche to Support a Small Underserved Market

This is the type of membership site I’m most excited about, because it’s the one I’ve personally had the most success with.

Let’s use my golf website Breaking Eighty as an example.

Golf is an industry. It’s tough to be successful only targeting an industry – it’s too broad.

Golf travel is a niche. Getting better, that’s what my blog focuses on.

Members of top 100 golf courses, who like to travel, enjoy hosting people at their home course, and like to geek out about golf on the internet?

Now that’s a niche, within a niche.

And if you can find a tiny, but ravenous niche to build a community around? You’ve got serious potential for a micro-community business.

I created The Eighty Club specifically for these people, and we now have over 200 members in the Club.

Another example I like is the Dynamite Circle. It’s kind of the more advanced version of Location Rebel Academy. It’s a small community for digital nomads who are already running successful online businesses, usually while traveling or being nomadic.

This is a tiny subset of the entrepreneurial community, but the people who fit that mold are dying to have a community of people like them.

So by identifying a niche, within a niche, within an industry – you have the potential to service an audience of people who are dying for more resources around that thing they love. These micro communities represent a much better opportunity than big, bulky membership sites that target too broad of an audience.

3) The Patreon:  Now Creatives of All Types Can Find Monetary Support

We all know the archetype of the starving artist. In fact, many artists of all types (musicians, photographers, painters etc) have a sense of pride of fitting into this archetype and feel like they need to be this way to truly be recognized as a master of their craft.

That’s a bunch of BS.

With the resources given these days creators and artists of all time should be able to do the thing they love, and get paid for it.

And Patreon is by far the easiest way I’ve seen for these types of creators to get compensated for their work, outside of say, selling a CD or a painting.

Patreon allows you as a creator to sign up, and give your fans a way to pay you for your work on a monthly basis.

Maybe you have a weekly comic you put out online, or you’re a musician who puts out music on YouTube each month.

It can be tough to make money doing that. And for your fans who want to support you, it can be tough for them to find a way give you money.

Patreon connects those two things.

It allows people to donate on a monthly basis to you because they enjoy your work and want to support you.

Calling this a membership site is a little bit of a stretch, but right now for creators who don’t have big brands or websites of their own, it’s the best way I know of to begin creating a new revenue stream while still allowing you to do the work you love.

4) The YouTuber: YouTube Wants You to Stay on YouTube

Finally, this one is a little more targeted and a little more advanced, but I wanted to mention it because I think this will be huge.

Chances are you’ve heard the stat that YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world. BILLIONS of searches go through the site each year.

And you know what YouTube’s goal is when you’re on the site?

It’s to keep you on the site.

And the best way they can do that is to continue to give tools to their creators that make it worth their while to try and get people to stay on YouTube, vs. going to their own website or other social channels.

So, what are they doing about this?

Right now they are testing out a feature where creators can add memberships directly on their channels.

I first learned about this when I stumbled upon the option to join on Matti Hapooja’s channel.

An example of the new YouTube membership on Matti Haapoja's channel.

An example of the new YouTube membership on Matti Haapoja’s channel.

Matti is one of my favorite filmmaking creators to follow, and for $4.99 you can join his membership which gets you access to some of his photography filters, and a members only Q&A once a month. Not bad for 5 bucks a month.

The play is genius really, because it creates the ultimate win/win/win.

Right now you have to have 30k subscribers or more in order to try out this feature – so for most of us, it’s simply not feasible. That being said, it wouldn’t surprise me to see this drop in time as it becomes more prevalent and rolled out on more accounts.

So if you’re someone who is focusing specifically on video content with your business, this is something to keep in mind.

There you have it, those are 4 different membership sites that I think have the most potential for growth in 2019.

But what about the traditional information product and membership community?

It begs the question….

Are Information Products Dead?

One of the biggest changes we’ve seen over the last few years is the fact that information is much more accessible than it once was.

10 years ago, you could create a product that truly had unique information that you can’t get anywhere else.

Now you can get hundreds of classes and curriculum from places like Harvard and MIT for free. And because there is so much out there, it’s much harder to build a business strictly on selling information.

However, that’s not to say it can’t be done or doesn’t have it’s place. Much of the information out there is a barrage of ideas, tactics, lies, and junk.

Sorting through what works, what doesn’t, what’s real, what’s false? That in and of itself is a lot of work.

Where the opportunity is, is to take a unique process that has been proven to work, and create guided solutions for problems people have.

Take Location Rebel Academy for example.

There’s literally a limitless amount of information online about how to build a business.

But we focus specifically on walking you through each step, in order, of how to build the skills, find the niche, and launch the business that will help you make enough to leave your job and begin the next phase of your life.

Or build what I call a “bridge business”“.

Since 99% of the stuff out there is just a mess of information, some useful, some not, having a system and process makes you stand out.

But often, even that won’t be enough to help you cut through the noise and be successful.

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People > Information

In 2019 the value is in the community. If you’re able to bring together like minds to help people socialize and support each other in a way that is difficult for them to get elsewhere?  That’s what people are looking for, and that’s one of the best ways to make the concept of a traditional information product work in 2019.

A tested process that leads to a specific outcome, and a community of people who are working towards a shared goal. That’s why our Academy continues to thrive in 2019, whereas so many other information only products have died off.

What’s cool about the times we’re living in right now, is that everything is in flux. Technology is changing, business is changing, politics are changing – so for the savvy entrepreneur who is willing to try a lot of unique ideas, there’s a chance you’ll hit on something fresh that might work great that other people haven’t thought of.

And I think starting with the core of those 4 ideas above, is a good place to build from.

So what do you think? What type of online businesses and membership sites do you think are going to thrive this year? Let me know in the comments.

Sean Ogle

Sean Ogle is the Founder of Location Rebel where he has spent the last 12+ years teaching people how to build online businesses that give them the freedom to do more of the things they like to do in life. When he's not in the coffee shops of Portland, or the beaches of Bali, he's probably sneaking into some other high-class establishment where he most certainly doesn't belong.
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5 comments on "4 Types of Membership Sites That Will Crush it This Year"

  1. Annie McGuire says:

    Bravo Sean! Last month I canned 4 month’s worth of grinding site work to throw all my energy into building my branded info-product membership site where learning is fun. I’m looking to launch next month. Your article was a real boost. I’m so glad I’m one of your followers. 🙂

    1. Sean Ogle says:

      That’s awesome, Annie! Be sure to shoot me a note with a link once it goes live 🙂

  2. Todd Denen says:

    Love the info about YouTube and their new Membership sites. As always, thanks for sharing.

  3. Matt says:

    Great post, Sean! Nice job spotting these emerging trends. I especially like the niche within a niche and YouTube membership options. Keep up the great posting!

  4. Hello Sean,
    Thanks for the great article. In today’s changing world, we as entrepreneurs need to evolve with the times.
    I am impressed with all the four ideas, but I feel that 1. MicroFan, and 2. MicroCommunity, are tops.
    Keep up the good work!

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