State of Membership blog

State of Membership 2023 

There’s no shortcut to running a successful membership business. From finding your niche to attracting new members and creating exclusive content, it’s harder than ever to build an engaged and profitable community online.

That’s why we created our first-ever State of Membership report, where we collected insights from thousands of membership business owners about their goals, challenges, and achievements that they’ve experienced in 2023. 

In this post, we’ll walk you through all the trends we uncovered in detail – and provide some tips on how to implement them – so you can feel more confident about running and growing your own membership business this year. 

We’ve compiled details from thousands of creators and business owners to uncover the trends that make membership businesses successful.

If you don’t have time to read the full thing, feel free to jump to the section that you’re most interested in here: 

Table of Contents

Key takeaways 

There are tons of surprising stats in this post, but we first wanted to share the strongest trends that came out of our State of Membership report to highlight how membership businesses are operating in 2023. 

  • Trend #1 – The biggest industry for memberships is health & wellness/fitness & athletics.
  • Trend #2 – Most membership business owners create their own websites and use Squarespace as their preferred CMS. 
  • Trend #3 – Over half of membership business owners are solopreneuers. 
  • Trend #4 – 70% of memberships include a content library, a collection of digital resources like videos, images, PDFs, webpages, blog posts, etc. 
  • Trend #5 – The membership businesses we surveyed had a wide range of pricing — from $1 memberships to thousands of dollars per membership. 
  • Trend #6 – 75% communicate with members via an email marketing tool, like Mailchimp or ConvertKit.  
  • Trend #7 –  The primary forms of marketing used by membership business owners to find new members are a website/blog, email list, social media and referral/word of mouth.
  • Trend #8 –  The number one reason for starting a membership is to help others/make more of an impact in the world. 
  • Trend #9 – The most challenging aspect of starting and growing a membership is marketing.
  • Trend #10 –  Less than 25% of membership creators market via paid ads. Memberships are being largely filled organically!

About our respondents

You might be wondering who the data is coming from. To create our report, we surveyed thousands of membership business owners from around the globe. Here’s a bit more about them:

  • These creators are from 142 countries, with the majority in the United States,  United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada. 
  • Our customers do business in 49 currencies. Over 77% use USD. 
  • Most membership business owners are Millennials. However, nearly a third are over age 50. 
  • 52% of membership business owners are solopreneurs. Most others have small teams of 2-3. Only 4% have teams of 6+.
  • 50% of business owners have a job outside of running their membership. 
  • The top three industries are health & wellness/fitness & athletics (24.8%), education (19.8%), and business/entrepreneurship (14.9%), although there are more than a dozen industries surveyed in the report. 

Membership business is a popular side hustle, full-time job, or "second career" for creators of all ages.

Building a membership site

The first step to launching a membership business is creating a website, but that doesn’t mean all business owners have to learn to code or hire a professional web designer. In fact, more than 75% of creators that we surveyed stated that they made their own website, while 20% used a freelancer. Only a small fraction (2.4%) used a web design agency. Great news for solopreneurs!

The majority (61.9%) use Squarespace, which is the platform we usually recommend to creators as it’s the most user-friendly and offers tons of beautifully-designed website templates. The other top CMS platforms were WordPress, Notion, and custom HTML. 

State of Membership CMS

There are many paths to a successful membership site, and DIY is a well-traveled one!

Top digital products to include in a membership

There’s no exact science on what to include in a successful membership, but we uncovered one common theme from our survey – the majority (nearly 70%!)  of memberships include a content library. A content library can be any collection of digital resources that you want to provide your members, like videos, courses, PDFs, newsletters, blog posts, etc. 

What you choose to offer your members is highly dependent on what niche you’re in and what your skillset is. To give some ideas, here’s a 
look at other digital products that creators include in their memberships: 

  • Digital downloads
  • Online courses
  • Community forums
  • Member directories
  • Video conferencing
  • Affiliate programs
  • Digital magazine or newspaper
  • Paid newsletter
  • Private podcast
State of Membership digital products

Pricing, plans, and revenue trends

One of the biggest questions new membership business owners have is “how much do I charge for my membership?” We’d love to provide you with an exact answer, but pricing is a bit more nuanced and can vary greatly from membership to membership. Let’s take a look at what our respondents had to say about their tiers, plans, and revenue.


Offering different tiers in your membership can have many benefits. For instance, you might offer a free tier that allows members to get access to some of your exclusive content, but only paying members get access to the full package.

However, our research shows that offering multiple tiers is not always a key to success. In fact, half of all business owners surveyed offer just one tier, while 75% of the businesses with multiple tiers offer just two or three tiers. In other words, keeping your membership tiers simple may lead to more success!

State of Membership tiers

Plan Types

When you think about paying for a membership, you might think about a monthly fee for ongoing access. However, according to our survey, only 44.4% of business owners are accepting payments this way! Others take one-time or multiple payments. There are valid reasons for each of these methods, though.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • 44.4% recurring payment – This payment method is popular because it’s generally the most accessible and affordable entry point for new members. And, they help the membership creator continue to earn income as they add more value to their membership over time.
  • 46.3% one-time payment – This method can be a great way to offer life-time access to a membership at a discounted rate, or to sell access to individual digital products, like an ebook or online course.
  • 9.1% multiple payment – This payment method is most commonly used for higher-priced items, like a master class or coaching program, because it lowers the initial cost.


Turns out offering a free trial was not a common practice among membership business owners. Only 10.8% of paid plans offer a free trial, and the median trial length is 7 days. Despite these stats, offering a free trial can be one of the best growth levers for memberships as it gives potential customers a sneak peek into your community before fully committing. 


Now, let’s talk revenue! Interestingly, offering a membership isn’t the only income stream for many entrepreneurs. In fact, over half of the creators we surveyed reported their membership is a side-hustle, earning less than 25% of their business income from membership sales. But, nearly 30% of respondents say that they earn most of their income from membership sales.

Here are some additional revenue highlights from the report:
  • The average number of members is 156.
  •  The price of a membership varied a lot, from a dollar to thousands of dollars per membership!
    • One-time payments averaged $375.67, with a median price of $99.
    • Multiple payments averaged $236.27, with a median price of $133.
    • Recurring payments averaged $226.05, with a median price of $49.

While many memberships are part of a larger businesses, they are increasingly becoming the core of a business. Recurring revenue from the membership model helps small business owners earn more income with their time.

Marketing a membership program

Whether through social media, your blog, or email, the way you communicate with current and potential members is key to maintaining and growing a successful membership business. In this section, we’re going to take a look at the most popular platforms and channels creators use for marketing and communication.

Communicating with current members

When it comes to reaching out to current members, most of our survey respondents use multiple channels to connect with their audience (75%), with the most popular channel being an email marketing tool like Mailchimp or ConvertKit. This makes it easy to schedule out email campaigns, track analytics, and design branded email templates for a polished, professional look.

Business owners also communicate through: 

  • Direct email (e.g. Gmail) – 48.8%
  • Private social media  (e.g. Facebook Group)  – 37.6%
  • Phone or text message – 24.2%

Finding new members

Marketing your membership is inevitably one of the most daunting parts of running a business. Whether you’re not sure what to share, or simply don’t know where to share about your business, you’re not alone. Don’t worry about mastering every single social media platform – just start with a couple of channels where your target market spends their time, and invest in those.

Here’s a peek at the top platforms membership business owners use: 

State of membership marketing

Social media

90% of creators we surveyed use social media in some capacity for their business. This doesn’t mean you need to worry about becoming the next Instagram influencer or post something every single day, but it does mean that utilizing social media to market your membership is basically a non-negotiable. 

So, we asked the million-dollar question, “how often do you post on social media?”

Here’s what respondents had to say:

State of membership social media


Unlike social media, many of our respondents don’t regularly utilize their blog to promote their membership. In fact, nearly 30% of creators don’t have one to begin with!
State of membership blogging

Less than 25% of membership creators market via paid ads. Memberships are being largely filled organically!

Membership goals and challenges

There are several reasons why creators start membership businesses, and you might be surprised that many of them have nothing to do with money! Our survey revealed that the #1 goal for starting a membership is to help others/make more of an impact in the world, followed by to share my knowledge and expertise. 
Here’s a look at additional responses:
State of membership goals
And as with any business, there are plenty of challenges that come along with running and growing a membership. Survey respondents agreed that marketing their memberships is the hardest part about the job, followed by scaling the business and building a website. 
State of Membership challenges
Choosing a membership platform was fourth on the list and challenging for half of membership business owners. With so many platforms available, it can be tough to determine which one is the right fit for your business, and a minimum, it’s important to find a tool that takes care of: 
  • Member experience & navigation 
  • Content security 
  • Content organization 
  • Design customization & branding 
  • Member billing options

Success stories

Learning about the achievements of our customers has been the best part of crafting the State of Membership report. Whether it’s more income, more members, or more freedom, we love celebrating great creators. Here are a few of our favorite stories featured in the report!
"I made 60k last year from my membership! I also believe I'm making a difference and providing a valuable resource for parents of kids on the autism spectrum."
"Launched my membership and immediately turned around a decline in overall revenue (I'd hit the ceiling with Patreon & their content organization). About to hit 2,000 paying members!"
"We had a record month that we hadn't seen since before the pandemic. We had 188 new sign ups!"
"Within the last year our increase in members has allowed me to hire two employees so I can spend less time on logistics and more time on the creative!"

"Success" looks different for different membership creators. Success can be income earned, new members joined, or the time freedom created.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re looking to launch your membership or grow an existing one, we hope our State of Membership report will give you the confidence boost you need to take the next step toward selling your membership and gaining financial freedom! For the full report of insights from thousands of membership creators, download the free State of Membership now!

We’ve compiled details from thousands of creators and business owners to uncover the trends that make membership businesses successful.