Creating a membership site is a great way to drive recurring revenue and build your online community.
But how do you set it up, and what content do you include?
Maybe you’re curious about what the format looks like. Or maybe you’re ready to start your own site, but not sure of next steps. Either way, seeing how others have succeeded with membership sites is helpful in making decisions along the way.
In this article, we’ve put together 13 examples of membership sites created by Thinkific users to inspire you in creating your own.
But before we jump into the examples, let’s make sure we’re clear on what membership sites are!
Quick refresh: What is a membership site?
A membership site is a hub where members can access training content and an exclusive community for a recurring fee. This area is protected by a login, so only paying members can access your content.
Once students subscribe to your services they can learn at their own pace as they receive new content from you every month. Your goal is to draw new members into your community, while retaining the ones you have to maximize their lifetime value for your business.
Related article: If you want to learn the keys to running a successful membership site, check out our guide on how to create and run membership site.
With that in mind, let’s get into the membership site examples on Thinkific, and have a look at what makes them work!
13 Successful Membership Site Examples To Inspire You
1) Olive Knits
At age 11, Marie Greene learned to knit at her grandma’s side. Today, she’s passing on that knowledge and passion to knitters worldwide. Her Knit Camp sets members up with twelve new patterns per year—including complete tutorials, live webinars, tips and tricks, and access to the Knit Camp online community.
For knitters who aren’t ready to commit, Olive Knits offers original patterns at an affordable price. And Marie keeps her blog regularly updated, with topics ranging from design inspiration to perfect shoulder stitches.
The Samurai has plenty to teach even if you don’t sign up for an online membership. His wealth of free instructional videos serve to inspire amateur woodworkers. For more detailed breakdowns of projects, you can purchase plans online. Once you step into the dojo, though, you take your apprenticeship to a new level.
The Samurai Carpenter has more than 250 detailed videos to offer members, as well as over 28 online courses. Content is added monthly, so students always have access to new projects—from crafting a wooden mallet, to putting together your own workbench, to building the cedar hot tub of your dreams.
Offering free content up front is a great way to give prospective students a taste of what’s in store if they subscribe to your membership.
If you plan to double down on your YouTube channel as a form of marketing like The Samurai Carpenter has, check out this helpful article on how to connect your YouTube to your membership site.
Personal growth author Jennifer Louden believes the key to becoming a great writer isn’t developing an opinion on the Oxford comma. It’s about confronting your fears, overcoming your creative blocks, and learning how to share your voice.
When students join the Writer’s Oasis, they get weekly audio lessons from Jennifer. These lessons act almost as guided meditations, helping writers become grounded and creatively free. Members can also join an online community of writers to support you along your journey. For writers who aren’t ready for a membership, Jennifer’s books—both multimedia, and in print—are available to help writers started.
It’s one thing to learn how to draw. It’s something else entirely to become a great illustrator. The Society of Visual Storytelling offers a broad array of courses covering the technical aspects of putting your ideas on paper. Plus, they offer online critique workshops, and lessons specific to the illustrating profession—like how to perfect your portfolio and promote yourself online.
If students want a lesson on a specific technique—like cross hatching or watercolors—they can buy it individually. But membership gives you access to every course, so you can get a comprehensive education at your own pace. As their student gallery and busy forum attests, the Society of Visual Storytelling has played a major role in kick starting members’ careers.
Lasater.yoga started as a mother and daughter operation. Judith Hanson Lasater, PhD has been teaching yoga since 1971. Her daughter, Lizzie Lasater, has a background in design and yoga instruction. The core of their lessons consist of Judith guiding Lizzie through poses, as well as providing lessons on meditation and the philosophy of yoga. It’s a down-to-earth approach with professional production values, making the sometimes intimidating world of yoga accessible to students of any level.
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In addition to core classes, lasater.yoga’s expanded team offers a range of online lessons, from beginners’ classes, to instructor training, to experiential anatomy. Also, Judith and Lizzie provide personalized mentorship through monthly office hours.
Whether you have dreams of becoming a haute couture designer, or you’d just like to start altering your own clothes, Sew It! Academy is here to get you started. Their lessons let students learn, step-by-step and at your own pace, how to create clothes that you’ll actually want to wear.
Sew It! doesn’t focus on just one demographic. They offer membership covering womenswear, menswear, or a combination of both—as well as a single course membership designed just for kids aged 8–14. Would-be tailors can dip their toes by signing up for a free seven day trial.
All too often, school teachers have their hands full; classroom management, grading, and administrative tasks fill up their workdays, leading to major time crunches and ongoing stress. Kesler Science helps science teachers create great educational experiences for their students by giving them access to lesson packages, labs, educational games, and texts.
With a yearly membership, teachers get a consistent, high quality pool of educational content to draw from—saving them time, money, and stress. There are even “escape room” packages available, which turn science lessons into fully immersive in-class games for students.
“If you’re planning your first membership site, keep it simple. Focus on getting feedback from your members to decide what features and content you should offer. Simplicity is the best approach.”
– Mike Morrison, founder of Membership Guys
Natalie Eckdahl is a seasoned business strategist and high performance coach helping entrepreneurial women build, grow, and scale their businesses. Membership gives you access to weekly and bi-weekly group coaching, pre-recorded content, connections to a community of women entrepreneurs, and more.
Natalie has designed her program to appeal to entrepreneurs at all levels, with three different packages focused on different groups and their needs—from women just getting their businesses off the ground, to seven figure CEOs.
Related article: Did you know that you can create members-only community right in Thinkific? Check out this article on how to create a Thinkific community in your course site, and its advantages over external groups like Facebook.
Tai Chi can help you improve your balance, calm your mind, and treat a wide range of chronic ailments. Dr. Paul Lam is an experienced Tai Chi practitioner helping to bring its “near-magical” benefits to the masses.You may have seen groups of tai chi students practising in parks, or lessons advertised at your local community centre. But online classes give students full control of their schedule—so you can practice Tai Chi wherever, whenever. And for Dr. Lam, the name of the game is specialization.
He offers Tai Chi courses for heart conditions, osteoporosis, or memory. Or students can select a course focused on a specific classical school, like Chen, Sun, and Yang styles. Membership lets students tailor this ancient practice to their needs.
A great takeaway from Paul Lam’s site is don’t be afraid to niche down. As they say, the riches are in the niches.
Related article: want help choosing your first course topic? Check out this article for tips on how to uncover your audience needs and choose a fail-proof course topic.
It only has six strings, but the guitar offers thousands of musical possibilities—from classical (Bach) to classic rock (Tom Petty). With so many options, it can be hard for novice guitar players to know where to start. Guitar teacher Paul Tran takes a fun, intuitive approach. From day one, students learn, play, and practice the music they enjoy by selecting lessons that suit their taste.
Paul helps his members learn comprehensively, at their own pace, adding on modules specific interests—like fingerpicking, or FX pedals. As dozens of client testimonies show, GuitarZero2Hero has a fanbase worthy of an arena rock band.
If you’re a guitarist looking to create a virtual studio like Paul, check out our complete guide on how to teach guitar online, with tips from some of Thinkific’s top online guitar schools.
For students looking to take their weekend drone hobby to the next level, CineChopper University gets members started on the right foot (or rotor).
Their courses provide all the tools you need to become a licensed drone pilot operator, and help get a drone videography business off the ground. To entice new members, CineChopper offers a free search and rescue drone course. So you won’t only get a taste of drone pilot education, but the chance to learn a life-saving skill.
12) Dunbar Academy
Sometimes, Fido does as Fido wants. That’s where dog trainers come in. Taking a training class with your pooch can save your shoes from a future chew session, or avoid embarrassing encounters at the dog park. And having structure and a clear line of command makes dogs happier—they’re pack animals, after all.
Dunbar Academy take members through the basic principles of training—like taking control and showing Fido who’s boss—to high level instruction—like dealing with doggy aggression. For the especially inspired, you can also learn how to start, promote, and run your own training business. If you aren’t sure online dog training is right for you and your pooch, Dr. Dunbar offers a collection of free beginner lessons to get you started. So students can start your training journey in a wag of the tail, with no commitment.
Thais Gibson offers “courses for real life.” Overcoming mental obstacles, dealing with anxiety and depression, forging deeper connections with the people who matter in your life: these are all powerful skills that almost anyone can benefit from.
Membership in the Personal Development School gives students access to all intro modules, workbooks, and the school’s online community. You’ll also get two group coaching events per week and exclusive access to live events.
To keep students informed on her expertise and the support she has available,Thais updates her blog regularly with concise, useful content—potentially life-changing advice you can use now, for free.
I hope these membership site examples have inspired you to think differently about how you could set up your own.
If you already have a membership site we’d love to know… what elements work well to keep your members happy and engaged? Let us know in the comments below!