One of the trickiest aspects of working for yourself is knowing how to value yourself. As a video creator, you likely know this struggle all too well. When it comes to selecting pricing options for your content, you have to thread the needle of confidence and competitiveness — confidence in the value your videos will bring to your audience, and competitive in terms of affordability.
So, if you’re panicking, don’t worry. We’ve got you. Here’s how to price your membership site.
Membership pricing models
There’s an almost dizzying amount of ways content creators can price their membership websites, and oftentimes the type of content you’re producing will impact how much you should charge for your membership. Before we get into that, let’s examine the different membership pricing models.
This is a pricing model where your members pay a predetermined and consistent fee for access to your video content. In this model, the membership fee is typically set at a fixed amount, and your members will be charged the same amount regularly — whether it’s monthly, annually, or another type of billing cycle.
With fixed pricing, your members know up front how much they’re going to be charged, providing transparency and predictability. This model is used in many different membership websites, including those offering premium content, exclusive resources, online courses, community forums, or other member-only benefits.
Tiered pricing is where you’ll offer different levels or “tiers” of membership with varying features, benefits, and costs. Instead of providing a one-size-fits-all membership option, you can structure your membership plans into multiple tiers to cater to different audience needs and preferences.
Here’s a quick breakdown of how tiered pricing typically works:
The basic tier is the entry-level membership option, offering the essential features at a lower cost. This is suitable for audiences who want access to your content without additional bells and whistles.
These tiers are designed for audiences who need more and are willing to pay a higher price. Intermediate tiers may include additional resources, content, or services that aren't available in the basic tier, such as downloadable assets, direct engagement with you, etc.
The premium or pro tier is the highest level of membership, offering the most extensive set of features, exclusive content, personalized services, or priority access. This tier is targeted at audiences who are willing to invest more for a comprehensive and premium experience.
This is probably one of the more popular pricing models, and one you’ve likely encountered a lot as a consumer. It’s a tried and true strategy of offering audiences access to your videos on a recurring basis in exchange for a regular payment. This model is commonly used by streaming services, news websites, online courses, and other membership-based businesses.
Note: With this model, you could consider offering free trials to entice potential subscribers. This allows audiences to experience the premium features before committing to a paid subscription. Plus, you’ll have their email address, so you can send them resources and newsletters to nurture them into paid subscribers down the line.
One-time fee/lifetime access
This model is pretty self-explanatory. “One-time fee” or “lifetime access” is where audiences pay a single upfront fee to gain access to your site’s video content for an indefinite period, often referred to as a lifetime membership.
This pricing model is often used as an alternative to subscription-based models where users pay recurring fees at regular intervals, like with a monthly membership. The appeal of a one-time fee with lifetime access is that audiences make a larger upfront payment (sometimes discounted) but avoid ongoing costs. It can be an attractive option that offers financial flexibility and encourages long-term commitment from your followers!
Donation/pay what you want
This pricing model is where audiences have the option to contribute a voluntary payment amount for accessing your video content. In this model, audiences choose to pay any amount they wish (including zero!) to become a member or gain access to your membership site. It provides flexibility for audiences to support you based on their perceived value.
Keep in mind that this model relies on the goodwill of users and their willingness to support you. So, it might not be for you if you’re hoping to scale quickly, earn recurring revenue, and ramp up your video monetization.
Finding the pricing sweet spot
Now that you have a better sense of the different types of pricing models, you have a decision to make! Fortunately, there’s a few different ways you can approach making the selection that’s best for your membership website — and your profits.
Testing price points
The market is ever-evolving. There really isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to choosing price points for your videos and site, so . . . experiment! Don’t be afraid to try a subscription-based approach first, and then pivot to tiered pricing. Conversely, maybe you can test offering your audiences a one-time fee, and then — once that picks up traction — move to fixed pricing. The point is to not be afraid to test, or to lean on your existing members as evidence of what is (and isn’t) working.
Don’t be turned off by this marketing term. Many of you are already conducting market research by just consuming video content from other creators! As we’ve said before, creators are consumers first. Take note of how other creators are pricing their membership websites and — perhaps more importantly — their audience size and level of engagement. Which leads us to . . .
You have a lot of data to review by way of user reviews, testimonials, and social media engagement. Read and listen to audience chatter — both on other membership websites, and your own — to learn how best to serve your growing audience.
The most effective way to set pricing for your membership site is by observing your audience behavior, and listening to what they have to say.
As you consider these three things, don’t forget one key ingredient that will position you to truly maximize your return: You. And I don’t just mean your charming personality and charisma. I mean the whole you. Everything that you’ve invested into your membership site (like your production gear, software subscriptions, time, etc.) contributes to the overall quality and health of your content. Unless you have a stream of endless money and resources, it’s important to be intentional and wisely selective about your investments.
And that’s where Switcher comes in.
How to price online courses
As a complete video platform, Switcher’s features aim to streamline the entire production process for creators who have goals of growing their membership website.
We provide more accessible gear, simplified production, more tools with fewer subscriptions, video membership tools that work with any website (or no website at all), integrated tools for creation, hosting, distribution, and monetization. In short: Switcher helps video creators maximize profits simply by streamlining and simplifying the creation and admin processes.
Take e-learning instructors, for example. With just one, single subscription, you can create multicamera e-learning videos and livestreams, embed them on your membership website, compile online course playlists, and then enable Gated Content to earn directly from students.
To set the appropriate price for your online course, we first recommend downloading this free curriculum planning template. Whether you’re an experienced online educator, or building a course from scratch, our e-learning course planning template will help transform your ideas into lesson plans.
From here, you’ll be able to apply what we’ve outlined above to help you choose the pricing model that’s best for you, your membership site, and your audience.
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About the Author
Julian R. Vaca is an actor, writer, and marketer. His work has appeared in The Nerd Daily, Writer's Digest, and more. His debut Young Adult series "The Memory Index" is available wherever books are sold. Connect with Julian on Instagram: @JulianRayVacaAll posts by Julian R. Vaca