Ep 21 | What is the Difference Between a Course and a Membership

Do you currently have an online course or membership?  I'd love to hear all about it!

listen on Amazon Music button
Google Play
Listen on iHeartRADIO button

I'm obsessed with online memberships and courses.  I've taken quite a few.  And it's been good for me because I've seen some that work well and some that don't work so well.  This way I can make your experience the best.  And this isn't about me selling to you, although we'll talk about my course and membership, it's mostly about helping you understand the difference between the two so you know which path is the right one for you.

There are so many reasons why I love this path for my online business.  It supports my 1:1 consulting income.  It's ongoing, recurring revenue, and allows me to plan a little more for what's coming in.  Then I can work with the businesses 1:1 that I truly feel passionate about and want to work with.  That's what we'll be talking about today.

Why you shouldn't have a membership or course.

It might feel like EVERYONE has an online course or membership these days.  And it might feel oversaturated and that you should do it because everyone has one.  Or you shouldn't do it because the information is all available for free.

I have an online course that teaches you how to build your own website using Divi.  Maybe that's crazy because there are all sorts of courses and free YouTube videos that you can get.  But I did it anyway, because the way I teach is different and the program we put together is different, and the support that we offer is different.  You would come to me for the course because you don't want to do it through Google, you want someone to teach you, guide you and help you through it.

Same with our membership, which helps you market your website once you have it and get more traffic and get more sales.  All information you can find.  But often you find little snippets here and there but it can be hard to put it all together to figure out the strategy that works best.  Those are the two products we've created.  The Website Laboratory is launching for the first time right now, with doors closing October 3rd.  And I'm really excited about being able to support small business owners in this way.

Memberships also create great recurring income.  I know if I have x amount of people that have signed up, then I can start to understand retention rates and know about how much you'll generate each month.  At $39/month, if I get 10 people in, that's an additional $390/month.  If I get 100 people in, that's an additional $3,900 a month.  That's great income!  It's also awesome because I can now support more business owners without adding a ton more time to my schedule.

When I work 1:1 with clients there is only so much time I can give.  The only way I can make more money is to increase my billings because I can't add more time in the day.

I love to diversify income in this way.

Why do I have both a course and a membership?

This is an ongoing evolution as we learn more about our audience, what they want and timing.

Some courses have a start and end date.  They drip the content and support you during that time.

Some courses are open all the time and you can sign up whenever you want and go through the material.  They typically have a set amount of modules.  It is what it is and there isn't a ton of support afterward.

When it's a membership, it's ongoing monthly content.  I have a core set of content that is in my membership.  We go live 4x a month with additional training.  There's typically a Facebook group for ongoing conversation and engagement.  And you're there to provide ongoing support for people in whatever it is your topic is about.

If it's helping people create a YouTube channel, landscape their backyard and grow a garden, how to understand their own vehicle.  Whatever it is, you can get hyper-specific about a topic and build a community around it.  What I love about it is it's not as much about you as the teacher, it's about the community of people that are all coming together for a like-minded cause.

My membership is geared towards small-business owners that can't afford a consultant but want help with their marketing.  It's not going to be just about me teaching, which will provide tremendous value, it's about SBO that are struggling with the same problem being able to find support in a community where they can get feedback and ideas from each other and bounce ideas off each other.

So if I come in and ask a questions like, “I'm seeing a change in my social media is anyone else experiencing this?” Then they can get validation that an algorithim changed, or ideas for how they might be able to do it better.  This is what I love about it and the value it provides.

The course is great. It can make a transformation for people.  We will always have our course.  But I feel like it doesn't build that same kind of community as a membership does.  It's also a different amount of work.  On the plus side, I won't have to adjust mine much, if at all, now that it's done.  It's recorded and uploaded, and we may make some tweaks here and there, but everything is there.  I can relaunch over and over again and make money off a product I've already created.  I don't have to create content on a regular basis.  All I have to do is promote it as often as I want to and support people for the 8 weeks we drip out the content and then I can take a break.

With a membership, you need to generate content on a regular basis and with a course you don't.  These are all things to consider when you decide how you want to show up in your business, how you want to show up for your students and what you have the time and capacity to do.

It doesn't have to be crazy over the top.

Our videos we did in Zoom.  We did screen schares and the presentations we created in Canva.  Or we did screen share of us working on the website.

For direct to camera, I use desk lamps for lighting.  I recorded into Zoom again and put up contact paper on my wall for the background.  I bought it on Amazon for maybe $20 and put it up on my wall.

We aren't doing fancy video shoots.  It's more about the content than how it all looks.  We focused this year on high-quality content.  And as our program grows we'll uplevel our video but I don't want that to be the thing that stops you from doing this.

You don't have to do direct to camera. We didn't for most of it.

I really think a course or membership for your business can make a big impact.  Mine was born out of the fact that as I was out talking to amazing business owners they needed websites desperately and help with marketing.  But they couldn't afford a consultant.  They're new in their business and it can be expensive.  So I wanted to do something to serve all of those folks.  Then I can continue to work with 1:1 clients that can afford.

Hopefully one day- my students that are in the Website Laboratory and Your Starter Site will be able to get to the point where they can offload some of it to a VA, or someone in house or a consultant.  But at that point they'll KNOW what they're doing and what they're looking for.

It's really about empowering people.  They've done their work, they know how it works, they know what they're looking for and what they expect the results to be.  They'll know what questions to ask when it comes to hiring someone.  We are empowering you to get it done.  And that's really the power in the membership and the power in the community.

This is true in anything.  I'm in several memberships.  I have a business coach online, I'm in a YouTube membership, I've done some Podcasting training and it's all helped to get me to where I am today.  It helps to keep learning and keep up with trends.  And as I'm learning, I'm now getting to the point where I'm purchasing additional services from people in those communities.  There are certain things that I don't want to do anymore.  

As you start to grow and build within those communities people will continue to buy from you.

Let's say you teach people to garden.  Odds are you also have a gardening shop or physical product.  As they work through your program and get to know your process it's much more likely that they'll continue to buy the other products you have because they know you, trust you and love the results you've already given them.  It's a great way to get introduced to people, build know, like and trust, and generate income.

Especially if you're a service-based business you probably hear all the time, “can I just pick your brain for a minute,” and in the beginning, I did that all the time.  I'm passionate about what I do and want to share with people and help them see results.  But we're not in the business to be greedy, but we are in the business to make money and support our families.

You have that knowledge that you've learned.  I've learned mine by trial and error but also spending money on learning so I can put the best version of my self out there working with all of my customers.  I spent that time and money to learn, as did you to learn your craft, so you deserve to be paid for the work you do.

Memberships and courses are a great way to do that.  You can provide something that's affordable for them, gets them results and keeps them moving forward.

Time Stamps

(2:39) Why I like memberships and courses
(4:09) Income benefits
(5:14) Why do I have both?
(9:00) Keep it simple
(10:30) Make a bigger impact
(12:33) Keep people buying from you.


Website Laboratory
The First Click Community Facebook Group
Website (re)Design Workbook



Submit a Comment

We love creating the podcast. If you like what you learned here please give us a tip and help us offset our production costs.

When you leave a review it helps this podcast get in front of other nonprofits that could use the support. If you liked what you heard here, please leave us a review.

You're in! Check your email for more important information.

Your Starter Site

Get on the Waitlist!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Show me the offers!

Check your inbox for the link to see the offers.

Download our Tech Checklist

Check your email to access your guide.

Download our Guide

Check your email to access your guide.

Download our Guide

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Download our Guide

Check your email for your download!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Share This