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? And how can you design your site to convert prospective members?
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!
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
Our selection criteria
Since anyone can create a membership site for any audience, it’s safe to say that the world of membership sites is pretty broad, and there are many things that make them unique. Here are our selection criteria to help you understand what’s interesting about the examples we’ll share:
- Owning a niche – The creators of these membership sites really carved out an interesting niche for themselves. These creators aren’t trying to be everything to everyone, they’re honing in on a niche.
- Originality – These sites scored points because of their new ideas, whether it’s the topic they chose, who they’re targeting, or how they went about implementing their site.
- Impact on members – At Thinkific, we have a special place in our hearts for sites that have a high impact on their members. These membership sites help their members improve their lives and take giant steps forward.
- Member ROI – The examples we’ll share will cover a range of price levels. Since pricing is tied to your member’s perception of ROI, there’s no right or wrong way to price a membership site.
- Passion to profits – A membership site born from a passion for a particular hobby or activity. These examples remind us that anyone with expertise and a passion for sharing it with the world can start a business that they simply can’t wait to wake up in the morning to work on.
- Teacher’s best friend – These membership sites help teachers help educators by creating content that can be used in the classroom to facilitate blended learning or asynchronous learning.
- Site Design – These sites have invested a lot in the look and feel of their site, resulting in a great experience for their users, and we suspect great results for the creator. These sites are following best practices, and they’re making maximizing the use of their web properties to spread the love across their entire business.
- Cool factor – This is sort of like our wildcard, for sites that are just too cool not to share–their idea is really unique, or they’re doing something a unique way.
Membership site examples
Every so often, we come across newer membership site owners who are wise beyond their years–and this is quite literally true of Kidexplorer for a number of reasons.
We first took notice of Kidexplorer after seeing a sudden influx of search engine traffic hitting their site. After meeting with them, we learned that they were launching their Thinkific site as a way to expand from their success on youtube to a platform that they own and control.
They’re a family-run operation that is taking new steps to monetize their successful youtube channel with educational content for kids. If you’re looking to dive into a particular topic, you can take individual classes such as Economics or Fitness for kids, but for $10/month you get all access membership to their content.
They gave away a free course on the U.S. Presidential Election that spread like wildfire through the public school system. Teachers from across the world were using Kid Explorer’s content in their classes to help children understand what all the election fuss was about.
This is a membership site launch strategy that we see work time and time again–offer something for free to a large audience to plant the seed. We suspect they nailed their launch, in part because they already had a large audience to begin with, but also because they’ve cracked the code to creating effective educational content for children. It’s difficult for adults to know whether or not they’re teaching in a way that resonates with children. But Kidexplorer has the unique advantage of having their children as the instructors, which gives them valuable input on how their content can be designed and delivered in a way that children understand.
What stood out
- Teacher’s best friend: Kidexplorer has found a niche creating content for children, by children–something clearly valued by teachers for use in the classroom. They indicate a trend we’d love to see more of our course creators capitalize on… The resourcefulness and agility of for-profit educational businesses that support the public school system with blended learning content.
- Cool factor: Because of their unique approach leveraging the lens their children view the world through to develop more effective content, their impeccably timed launch during the election, and the fact that they’re a family-run operation, Kidexplorer is a pretty cool membership site.
2) 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.
What stood out
- Passion to profits: Unless your intent is to sell your knitting creations, knitting is thought of as more of a hobby than a business. But Olive Knits has taken their passion for knitting, and created a business from it by sharing it with the world. You can replace knitting with virtually any hobby that you’re passionate about.
- Price Range: Olive Knits is able to accommodate a variety of commitment levels. You can either sign up for their Knit Camp, purchase their patterns at an affordable price, or learn from their blog for free.
The Samurai has plenty to teach even if you don’t sign up for 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 upfront 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.
What stood out
- Owning a niche: With hundreds of detailed videos containing step by step instructions, the Samurai Carpenter wasn’t shy when it came to carving out a niche in the carpentry space for themselves.
- Site Design: When you hit their home page, it’s immediately apparent how much value they can provide–with free instructional videos and free carpentry plans to download. They are using their blog to embed videos free videos from their youtube channel, with calls to action to purchase premium educational content from them.
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 Weekly 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 get started.
What stood out
- Owning a niche: There are lots of competitors who aim to help writers– but there are far fewer that touch on the soft skills that speak to the inner-challenges that writers have, like procrastination or writers-block.
- Originality: There’s a lot of useful resources out there for how to become a better writer, but the Weekly Oasis is an interesting one because it touches on the softer skills involved in the mindset that makes writers tick.
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.
What stood out
- Site Design: We expected a membership site focused on visual storytelling to have a beautiful site, and were not disappointed. You probably wouldn’t know that they’re using two different platforms for their front and back end, because they’ve done an excellent job at integrating their brand look and feel across their entire site.
- Member ROI and passion to profits: Their value proposition is the very first thing you’ll see when– “Your Clear Path To Becoming A Working Illustrator”. Society of Visual Storytelling bridges the gap between being good at drawing and making a career of it.
Lasater.yoga started as a mother and daughter operation teaching yoga online. Judith Hanson Lasater, Ph.D. 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.
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.
What stood out:
- Member ROI: Part of their core offering serves current and aspiring yoga teachers. They’re helping their members take their yoga instruction careers to the next level.
- Passion to profits: It’s pretty obvious that the Lasaters are passionate about what they do. They’ve found a way to monetize that passion, and they’re helping others turn their passion for yoga into a profitable business.
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.
What stood out
- Passion to profits: It’s easy to think, “wouldn’t it be nice if I could get paid for my hobby?”; it’s another thing to actually execute on it. Sew it! Academy is another example of a creator who has made their passion a business. Mimi started a blog as a hobby, she needed an outlet, and always loved to sew. Starting a blog gave her the ability to share her passion for sewing and design with others, which has now evolved into a vibrant community built around an educational business.
- Site Design: Sew it! Academy has a beautifully designed site. The value proposition is front and center when you reach their site, “Want to learn to sew and design your own clothes?” As you scroll down the page they do an excellent job of demonstrating value before they ask you to sign up… They acclimate new visitors with a welcome video, highlight who can benefit from their academy, tangible learning outcomes, and what differentiates them.
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.
What stood out
- Teacher’s best friend: Kesler Science is a great example of how for-profit course creators can build a business that supports the public school system with resources for blended and asynchronous learning. For example, if a teacher is looking for 5E lessons, Kesler Science has over 100 lessons across physics, earth science, chemistry, biology, and more.
- Site look and feel: We liked a few aspects of their site that were done very well: The value proposition, and informativeness. The value proposition is clear “Engaging Lessons for Busy Science Teachers.”, and in a few scrolls, prospective teachers are able to choose from a variety of rabbit holes to go down.
“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.
What stood out
- Member ROI and price range: It’s hard to miss the impact BizChix can have on their members–high achieving, entrepreneurial women who want to take their business to new heights. BizChix has a variety of packages ranging from 1-on-1 to group coaching sessions that lead to high member ROI, with package options that accommodate different commitment levels from $10,000+ to $600/month.
- Impact on members: Due to the nature of their content, and the fact that it’s tailored towards one niche audience, we believe that the value of the education they target towards a specific group has a high potential for impact on the lives of their members.
Related article: Did you know that you can create a 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.
What stood out
- Site Design: Their website is very well designed. Immediately after reaching their site, you can see their value proposition front and center, and an introduction video that does the selling for them. As you scroll down, there is helpful information on Tai Chi, before reaching their tiered pricing packages.
- Impact on members: The business Paul is in has the potential to positively impact their members. Their website does a very good job at demonstrating all the ways Tai Chi can benefit you–whether for energy, arthritis, memory, heart conditions, and more.
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.
What stood out
- Passion to Profit: Guitar is another example of a passion that many people could turn into a profitable business. Paul didn’t just stop at online courses and memberships when he set out to launch his guitar school on Thinkific, he also has a free Ebook, and merch that you can purchase online.
- Site design: It’s clear that Paul understands the concept of providing value to your users and setting up a sales funnel. By giving away a free ebook front and center on the page, he’s able to bring people who aren’t quite ready to purchase into his sales funnel to convert later on.
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.
What stood out
- Site Design: If there are two common threads shared by successful membership site creators, it’s (1) nailing their value proposition, and (2) providing value upfront. The value proposition here is evident: “Easy, Effective & Enjoyable Dog Training Techniques.” We also liked that they’re giving away 8 free courses that you can take, which give them a chance to demonstrate value before someone commits to a $20/month membership.
- Cool Factor: It would be an understatement to say that Thinkific is fond of dogs. Bonus points for creating impactful content that leads to a better world for dogs and their owners.
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.
What stood out
- Impact on members: Another example of an impactful membership site that can improve the lives of its members… They have carved out a unique proposition of “courses for real life”, in the fairly crowded wellness space.
- Site Design: Their website has a slider that rotates through positive comments left by their members–a great example of using member testimonials to do the selling for you, We loved the order in which things were placed on the website… The testimonials are above, Thais’ bio, and it’s important to understand why. Your membership site isn’t about you, it’s about your members and the value they’ll receive from membership. Potential members are far more interested in the outcomes your site can provide than your qualifications.
We hope these membership site examples have inspired you to think differently about how you could set up your own.
Want to learn more about membership sites? Check out one of these related articles!
- The Top 5 Membership Retention Strategies For Sustainable Growth
- 7 Steps To Building An Online Community (With Examples)
- How To Create A Wildly Successful Membership Website
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 our community for course creators!