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How memberships strengthen independent media

It's the community of members that forms around a project that help keep independent media projects strong.

Clickbait over quality content – that seems to be the mantra for many online media outlets today. This is often driven by their dependence on advertising revenue and the struggle for reach. No wonder audience trust is in decline.

But there are still plenty of people who are dissatisfied with this situation and seek out high-quality content online – thoroughly researched stories, captivating conversations and well-executed entertainment.

And it's those people who form loyal communities around independent creators. By that we mean the journalists, podcasters, bloggers and Youtubers who deliver authentic, high-quality online content rather than simply chasing clicks.

However, these creators often have a problem: they don't know how to generate regular income from their projects. They struggle to keep their projects afloat and pay their designers, photographers and other colleagues.

This is where memberships come in. A membership model allows creators to earn sustainable support from their community. (Opens in a new window) As it turns out, the people who appreciate the work of these creators are often more than willing to pay money to show their support.

The key to independence: The power of community

As with a subscription, members support a project by paying a regular, recurring sum. But while subscribers might pay to receive a print copy or digital access to a newspaper, memberships are not simply about purchasing a product.

What makes memberships different is the close relationship that develops between the creator and their community. This is what members value and pay for. In other words, if you become a subscriber, you have to pay, but if you become a member of a project, you want to pay. The motivation is fundamentally different.

But memberships also differ from donations and crowdfunding. In contrast to these models, members don’t just help out once, but provide sustainable support.

At the same time, creators can also offer their members benefits, to thank them for their support. This might be a shoutout in a podcast, a personalised postcard or access to exclusive articles, videos or podcast episodes. At Steady (Opens in a new window), we've found that in many cases, members aren’t paying for what they will get in return – instead, they are primarily motivated by enabling the creators they value to get on with their work.

The following chart illustrates the difference between four types of business models: subscriptions, ads, donations and memberships. The combination of personal connection, benefits and a focus on community are what make memberships so special:

It is only logical for creators to ask their community for support, as they are invested in the project’s longevity, too.

Do you have a blog, podcast, Youtube channel or other project? With Steady you can mobilize your community and offer memberships. It's easy to set up and registration is completely free.

🤓 Read more: What is Steady? (Opens in a new window)

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