Subscription Website Pricing – Fixed vs Recurring

When offering an online subscription or membership, you’ll need to figure out a pricing model that makes sense. Specifically, should you charge a one-time fee (fixed) or ongoing fee (recurring)?

Answering this question requires thought and consideration around your business and your product or service. Here are a few questions to ask yourself when considering your options.

1) Your Offer

How is your offering (i.e. product or service) meant to be distributed? Is it a single thing that can be consumed at any pace/time – i.e. a research report. Or is it a series of things that should be consumed in sequence with progress – i.e. an online certification course.

The structure of your offer will influence how you should price the subscription. For example, a research report could be a one-time cost whereas an online course might revolve around a 3-month subscription. Either way, the amount of time it takes to consume your offer should influence the pricing model.

2) Your Commitment

Do you plan to contribute regularly to your offer or is this a one-and-done type of commitment? Many people have the assumption that they can just create content, dust their hands off and then watch the subscriptions roll in. This rarely works, and when it does, it usually only works one-time. Your one-time effort will yield one-time sales.

On the other hand, if you want to grow a recurring subscription base you’ve got to stay committed and contribute regularly. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. If they’re paying you monthly shouldn’t they expect new updates/value on a monthly basis? You better believe it. The best subscription sites have active contributors who generate new content regularly. This keeps their offers relevant and their members engaged.

3) Your Audience

Who are you selling subscriptions to, exactly? Are these people with disposable income, or people that live frugal lifestyles. For example, college students will be very resistant to recurring memberships. It’s another form of debt that piles onto their existing build up of bills with little income. They would be much more inclined to consider a one-time fee if they’re interested in your offer.

In contrast, a stay-at-home mom might have some money to blow and find your monthly subscription attractive. For her, a monthly fee is just another living expense, not another hole in her pocket. So she’ll be more inclined to consider various pricing options and pay on a monthly basis.

The audience [or buyer] of your product/service should always factor into how you price your subscriptions.

Now there are plenty of other factors and influences to consider when pricing a subscription. But these three will always play an important role, so keep them in mind when making decisions.

Contact us if you need help setting up your subscription model. We help startups and entrepreneurs with this all day long!

Ali Jafarian

Ali is the founder of MemberDev. He's a serial entrepreneur and software engineer with over 15 years of experience building technology. Ali's spent the last decade focusing on membership websites and the subscription business model. He enjoys helping small businesses with early stage development and growth.

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