When Gumroad announced the official release of tiered membership in November this year, it opened up a world of possibility for its users.

As a creator, being able to charge your community subscribers on a recurring basis is an important step in scaling a business. As Gumroad themselves say, “knowing when your biggest fans will pay you next adds stability and predictability to your income”. Outside of revenue, it’s also good for business to be able to charge your members or subscribers different prices depending on their needs, preferences or budget. For many creators—including ourselves here at Makerpad—there’s no ‘one size fits all’ in terms of packages and pricing, and offering a tiered membership can help encourage more reluctant customers to make a commitment.

What is a membership community?

In essence, it’s a curated group that people pay to be a part of. Usually, those people are united by one or more common interests, such as hobbies, lifestyle choices, religions, health, entertainment, business, blogging—the list is endless.

Needless to say that for people to part with money for a membership, the content or experience they’re paying for needs to be in line with the price charged. Members might pay anywhere from $5 to $500 (and more) a month to be privy to the knowledge on the other side of the paywall. Seeing the huge opportunity for earning money at scale, more and more individuals are launching their own membership communities. By charging regular fees, entrepreneurs have created six-figure businesses around a whole plethora of topics.

There are loads of platforms you can use to host your community; Tribe, People and Discourse are a few choices. We use Circle for its ease of use, cool list of features, and for the fact they actually understand what it takes to build a community so pay attention to small details. Circle is an integrated community platform, meaning it connects with the tools you already use, and can be branded up so it looks and feels just like part of your website.

Instead of managing your tribe of members, fans or subscribers on an entirely separate platform like Facebook or Slack, apps like Circle enable creators and community hosts to build and engage their people in an integrated, simple and inclusive way. And of course, you don’t need to know how to code to get it working in your creator stack.

Why membership communities work

To step away from tech for a sec and look at the psychology going on underneath, the concept of community—both virtual and real life—taps into our need as human beings to have contact with other people. Whether we’re connecting with others over coffee or through a screen, we thrive when we’re part of a community (and struggle when we’re not).

It figures, then, that virtual communities work well in a world where people are increasingly disconnected from one another physically. This has only been compounded by the global pandemic, and apps have been quick to respond: in the past month alone Squarespace, Luma, Gumroad and Superpeer have all announced new membership features. 

From a business perspective, membership communities work not only because of the fiscal benefit of regular paying members, but also because there’s power in the insights, knowledge and attention that large communities of people offer.  

Automating your membership community set-up and management

If you’re looking to set up and start growing your own membership community, then there are a few basic steps you’ll want to tick off in order for things to be as simple and hands-off as possible. Having hundreds or thousands of people to manage manually will unnecessarily cost you a lot of time, effort and money. By automating a few simple steps, you’ll free yourself up to spend time where it’s needed most: nurturing your superfans.

In our educational tool-path How to build and manage a membership community with Gumroad, we take you through the end-to-end steps to set up and run your own membership community.

First, we show you how to use Gumroad’s tiered membership feature to create price points for your product. Before setting up Gumroad in this way, you’ll need to know what your product is and what makes it great so you can write copy on its key selling points and decide what to charge. Once you have all this info, you can watch the first tutorial and follow the steps to set up your own Gumroad tiered membership products. We also show you how to embed your Gumroad membership tiers into another site, for example one set up with Carrd.

In the second tutorial, we show you how to connect your Gumroad setup with Circle and Convertkit so your new paying members are automatically welcomed into your community without input from you. Using Zapier, you can tag your members depending on the tier they purchase in Gumroad, then use Convertkit to send a personalised email appropriate to their membership tier and get them set up correctly in Circle.

Finally, we walk you through how to connect Gumroad and Airtable so you can easily manage your membership subscriptions on an ongoing basis.

Watch the full tool-path ->

We hope you find the tool-path useful; let us know your thoughts in the Community!