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Courses vs memberships: how to choose which offer to create?

Courses vs memberships: how to choose which offer to create?

Should you create an online course or turn your idea into a membership? Choosing between courses vs memberships can be challenging if you’re unsure about the vision of your offer. I hope this post will help you to make the right decision!


Creating an online course seems to be a logical next step in many businesses, as it allows you to create some passive income and reach a bigger audience that doesn’t depend on your 1:1 availability.

Either you’re an interior designer, wellbeing expert, nutrition coach, yoga instructor or digital marketer – online courses open your doors to MORE.

However, these days memberships seem to be soaring in their popularity with more and more creators choosing to provide monthly subscription space versus one-time payment course.

What are the key differences between courses vs memberships and how to choose the best fit for your business?

Explore done-for-you course creation support here.

Courses vs memberships: how to choose which offer to create?

What courses vs memberships have in common?

Let’s start with the simplest part and understand what makes courses and memberships a somewhat similar offer that might get you stuck in this decision-making.

Here’s what courses vs memberships seem to have in common:

  • They’re seen as “passive income” although both have their own complexity in this question
  • It’s a chance to expand your business, reach a bigger audience, and potentially explore a whole new level of your entrepreneurship endeavors
  • Many also turn to courses and memberships when they’re ready to leave in-person or 1:1 support altogether
  • Both courses and memberships can be created and presented in plenty of different ways. If it makes sense, you can also combine both offers into one


Courses vs memberships: how to choose which offer to create?

What are the key differences between courses vs memberships

Courses will require more of a starting effort with less of ongoing hands-on work to upkeep the course. However, this does not mean that you can create it and let it be.

Over 8 years of course creation experience, I have seen time and time again how creators revisit their own courses once in a while, sometimes recreating a part of the offer, other times improving the video quality or adding in new resources. Time flies fast and many courses will require some updates.

Memberships, on the other hand, are more of an ongoing to-do list that you have to circle back to regularly to keep the content updated.

Depending on the type of your membership, it might also be Live or group-support focused which wouldn’t need regular content creation per se but would require regular showing up instead.

Courses will make more sense for clear step-by-step guidance from point A to E, while memberships would make more sense if you have the type of content that might require regular updates.

Some of the niches where membership makes the perfect sense would be, for example:

  • Fitness with weekly or monthly video updates, Live classes
  • Nutrition with group support and Q&A’s
  • Self-love, personal growth related topics
  • Fast-changing niches like social media or digital marketing

Niches above are not the only type of topics that can create a profitable membership but they serve as a great example!

Related read: How to create a course in 2024? 


Memberships can be easier to sell as most of them will have a lower price point. 

When the initial investment is lower, your audience doesn’t have to overthink it and both hot and cold audiences can be ready to buy at any point.

When the initial investment is higher, like it would be for most online courses, it often requires a longer “warming up” period in your offer launch campaign.

Memberships can be easier to get started with. You don’t need to have a ton of content in place right away to start offering access to a membership. You can start as simple as with 2x monthly Live calls and eventually pull them into your content library!

However, the monetary success and profit can come slower with the membership type of offer. This won’t always be the case but it’s worth keeping in mind!

If you’re selling spots for $27 and you get 10 people on board, it’s only $270. Sure, the revenue is repeated which is fun. However, it’s hard to see that instant profit with memberships.

(Keep in mind though – depending on your offer, your membership can be priced at ANY price point!!) 

It’s different if you have a big audience and you KNOW they’re ready to invest. Then even a $7 membership can pay off but it won’t always be the case.

With courses, on the other side, the monetary profit might be a bit more instant – still keeping in mind the time you have to put into creating a course.

For example, if you create a course offer for $270 and 10 people enroll, you’ve already earned $2700.

A few of the key questions to consider when deciding between courses vs memberships

  • Do you want for the offer to generate passive income, without your active participation?
  • Is the key goal to provide a space for support?
  • Is the topic of your offer evergreen and long-lasting or always changing?
  • Are you focusing only on one clear goal or are there different levels of your audience you’d like to support?

Related read: Why Circle is the best online community platform. 

Do you want to create a membership?

If this courses vs memberships guide has inspired you to create your own membership, I have the perfect guide for you!

Join us in Savvy Offer Hub Hub where you’ll get instant access to Create Your Membership guide. This course will guide you through all the must-know details of creating a profitable membership:

  • The key elements of a profitable membership offer
  • Various types of memberships to consider
  • The best platforms for creating a membership
  • Quick guide to getting started

Savvy Offer Hub also is a membership on its own so you have a chance to enroll at any point and stay a member for however long it makes sense.

But if creating a course is not on your list just yet, explore other ideas how to start working from home!


Connect and learn more on Instagram and TikTok @coursecreationlab