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How to Sell Memberships With an Online Course

Ayesa LubagMarketing Content Specialist

Ayesa Lubag,

Marketing Content Specialist

Nov 02, 2021

Sticking to a single product line means restricting yourself from a world full of possibilities. If your training website is focused on a single product line, whether it’s selling online courses or in-person training, you’re limited to a single sales channel.

Instead, you should consider expanding to include subscriptions and membership as a payment option for your online courses. There are certain factors that you need to consider before stepping into the membership selling business. We’ll offer some actionable tips on how to sell memberships with an online course in your business so you can make the most of a new revenue model.

Changing Your Revenue Model

When your business is based on online training and courses, your revenue depends on the launch cycle. Every launch will lead to a flow of revenue in your bank account. That makes this model a short-term injection of cash.

A lack of marketing at the start of the launch cycle can cripple your business for the season. And besides marketing, there are other reasons too that can lead to the failure of launch. For example, maybe the timing was odd, or the key affiliates couldn’t make it work. This makes your revenue model vulnerable.

In the long run, this vulnerability can hinder the growth of your business. It isn’t a reliable source of stable income, so you won’t be able to forecast the flow of revenue throughout the year. When you transform your business with a membership or loyalty program, your revenue model will become more predictable and consistent.

You won’t have a large amount of cash flow at certain times of the year. Instead, you will have smaller amounts flowing in monthly. You will have to be patient while getting used to this model, but it will leverage growth over time.

5 Ways to Sell Memberships

Switching from selling individual online courses to selling memberships can be challenging to integrate with your already established terms and processes. However, with proper guidance, you can ace it smoothly without any trouble. Here are five ways to sell memberships with an online course.

1. Onboarding, Engagement, and Retention

According to a recent survey conducted by digital course developer Brainstation, 90% of their graduates found jobs within six months of graduation. The usefulness of online courses has made them very popular today, particularly during the pandemic. This makes selling one-off courses simple, but convincing buyers to get a membership can still be a challenge.

You can use training management software to grow your courses by automating repetitive tasks so you can focus on engaging your attendees. You also have to ensure that the students are assimilated into your membership community properly. It is your responsibility to keep them engaged every month.

Your focus needs to be to onboard new members, engage, and retain them. You can use community management software to increase retention and boost engagement. Developing a solid strategy is vital to give the subscribers a continuous reason to stick around.

2. Change in Marketing Plan

Targeting potential students to sign up for online courses is very different from convincing them to actually buy subscriptions. For an online course, you will only be required to do short bursts of intense promotion and marketing at the start of launch cycles. The cycle continues from the opening of the course enrollment until the end of it, which is the ideal time to run promotion and marketing campaigns.

On the other hand, you need to kick-off a launch event to encourage students to subscribe when you start a membership program. Then you can make your marketing strategy more gradual and consistent. Begin before the start of the course cycle to encourage maximum engagement.

3. Discount Offers for Course Members

When you switch your business model to selling memberships, you need to consider your existing students. How will you handle the transition?

It can be beneficial to leverage a pre-established community of loyal course members and create hype and excitement about the membership program by giving them offers. The offer should be intriguing enough to convince existing members to become subscribers.

Perhaps you can offer for them to join for free or pay an extremely low price for a whole year subscription. Otherwise, they won’t be willing to spend their money again on resources they’ve already been charged for.

4. Premium Services

When you’re offering membership to your course members, you need to ensure that you provide something more valuable than just discounts. Your membership should offer premium services that go a step above what they were already getting in the courses.

So while you’re marketing your membership program, you need to tell people why they should get the membership and not just the course. Some training websites even go so far as to build dedicated membership websites to provide a premium user experience.

You can develop a customized learning portal and use unique branding – logos, colors, layout, etc. It is also essential to choose a high-quality host for your course website. According to web developer Alexander Williams from Hosting Data, shared hosting represents the best hosting choice for most businesses.

“This is the most popular, common, and least expensive type and probably the hosting you’ll buy as a newbie or small-to-medium sized business,” says Williams. “You have what you need to manage your site, creating a unique look without needing years of coding experience. For the vast majority of sites, you won’t need to worry powerwise, with low amounts of traffic coming in.”

Besides all of this, there’s another essential element that your custom portal should include. It should deliver and recommend courses according to the interests of each client. For example, if they are interested in leadership training, then only recommend them your leadership courses and related topics of interest.

5. Coupons, Bundles, and Member Management

Discounts are always a great way to engage customers. However, the membership program also needs to be supported with perks in bundling, coupons, and member management to recruit and manage subscriptions and gain recurring revenue.

In bundling, you can offer the students a collection of fixed training courses for less than it costs to purchase each item separately. You can even give them the liberty to pick their own set of courses within a set theme. For coupon management, you can set up campaigns that offer limited discounts on separate courses and bundles.

One of the most effective ways to attract customers to buy a membership is by comparing member and non-member pricing in a particular arrangement. For example, you can present them side by side to show how memberships add value to their experience.

You can gain two benefits from this approach. First, when your members visit the website and see the membership prices lower than the original prices, their faith will be reaffirmed in your added value. Second, when existing customers spot the difference in pricing and realize they are missing out on being a non-member, they will want to subscribe too.


Memberships can be a massive mindset shift for your course members. So you need to transition in a way that doesn’t become overwhelming for them. Never force them into buying you a membership, but instead, look for ways to market yourself that convinces them of the benefits of subscribing. If you apply these tips to your online course business model, you can increase revenue and take your business to the next level.

Author Bio

Nahla Davies is a software developer and tech writer. Before devoting her work full time to technical writing, she managed – among other intriguing things – to serve as a lead programmer at an Inc. 5,000 experiential branding organization whose clients include Samsung, Time Warner, Netflix, and Sony.

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