Membership vs. One-Off Courses – Which is the Better Business Model?

Shane Melaugh   71

Updated on February 23, 2024

If you want to create an information product business, should you sell individual courses or create a membership site?

The answer seems simple: go for the membership! After all, who doesn't want to get paid every month, forever more?

In reality, things aren't quite that straight forward, though. Read on to find out what the best solution really is...


Understanding Membership vs. One-Off Courses: Key Differences

Before we dive into the comparison between memberships and one-off courses, let's take a moment to understand the two business models and their respective approaches to delivering value to customers.

The Membership Model 

In a membership model, customers pay a recurring fee (usually monthly or annually) to access a library of content, resources, or services provided by the business. This model often offers ongoing value and support to members, fostering a sense of community and loyalty.

Benefits of the Membership Model

  • Predictable recurring revenue stream for the business
  • Opportunity to build a community and cultivate ongoing relationships with members
  • Flexibility to provide regular updates, new content, and exclusive perks to keep members engaged

Drawbacks of the Membership Model

  • Requires continuous content creation and maintenance to keep members
  • Potential for content overload, leading to overwhelm or decreased engagement
  • Members may cancel subscriptions if they feel they're not receiving sufficient value over time

Common example of the membership model: Netflix offers a membership model, where subscribers pay a monthly fee to access a vast library of movies, TV shows, and original content.

Example of a membership model

The One-Off Course Model 

In contrast, the one-off course model involves selling individual courses or digital products for a one-time fee. Customers purchase the course with the expectation of receiving specific knowledge, skills, or outcomes outlined in the course curriculum.

Benefits of the One-Off Course Model

  • Clear and tangible value proposition for customers, often addressing a specific pain point or learning objective
  • Opportunity to generate immediate revenue from course sales without ongoing membership commitments
  • Easier to manage content creation and updates, as courses are typically self-contained and finite

Drawbacks of the One-Off Course Model

  • Limited to one-time revenue per customer unless additional products or upsells are offered
  • Less opportunity for ongoing customer engagement and relationship-building compared to memberships
  • Requires effective marketing and sales strategies to attract new customers and drive course sales

Common example of the one-off course model: Udemy operates on the one-off course model, where instructors create and sell individual courses on various topics, with customers purchasing courses based on their interests or learning needs.

example of one-off course model

5 Reasons One-Off Course Are a Better Business Model

A membership is an alluring option, but my recommendation is to sell one-off online courses instead. Here's a summary of the 5 reasons why online courses beat information based membership sites:

Reason #1: Averages

Let's say you have a membership site and members pay $50/month for access. This should mean that every time a new member signs up, your income increases by $50/month, right?


The reality of any subscription business is that you'll have an average customer lifetime value (CLV). Some members will sign up and stick around for a long time. Some members will sign up and cancel immediately. On average, members will stick around for a limited, predictable number of billing cycles.

For the sake of simplicity, let's say your average is 4 billing cycles. That means every new member at the $50/month price tier is worth a total of $200 to your business.

Sometimes you'll earn more, sometimes you'll earn less. But on average, when a new member signs up, you get $200.

This isn't much different from selling an online course for a one-off price of $200, except that it takes longer to get the full amount.

Averages: The Bottom Line

Charging an ongoing subscription price doesn't translate to getting paid forever.

Reason #2: Content Churn

"Okay", I hear you say "but what if I improve my membership business to get members to stick around for longer? Then I'll earn more!"

An aspect of any subscription business is your retention rate and you can do various things to increase it. For an information based membership, this is more of a downside than an advantage, though.

To keep people sticking around, you can do things like:

  • Create new, member-exclusive content on a regular basis.
  • Host member-exclusive live events, group coaching calls etc.
  • Provide new benefits to members on a regular basis.
  • Create and cultivate a community of some kind, which is exclusive to members.

The problem is that all of these are a lot of work to maintain. What's worse, you have to do at least some of these things, otherwise there's no reason for members to continue paying.

The Secret to Long Term Subscriptions: Pain of Disconnect

Most successful subscription businesses we see online are SaaS (software as a service) businesses. They retain members not so much by continually adding value as by making it painful to quit the service.

Take an email marketing service, as an example: once you've started using it, you're tied in.

Sure, you can move to a different system anytime, but it's a pain in the arse to do so. Especially if you're a power user, it would probably cost you several days to migrate all your contacts, follow-up emails, automations, opt-in forms and so on. Who wants to deal with that?

So, even if your email marketing service doesn't continually add new features and new value for you, you're compelled to remain a member and keep paying, just to keep using the service as is.

Here's the crux of the matter: with an information based membership, we don't have the luxury of pain of disconnect.

Content Churn: The Bottom Line

You have to give members a reason to stick around, which means continuous, ongoing work. Because there's no real pain of disconnect, increasing retention in an information based membership business is difficult.

Reason #3: Scope

So, you've got your membership and you have to keep churning out new content and creating new value, to keep members sticking around. This creates another problem: your membership becomes this infinitely expanding monstrosity.

Counter-intuitively, this actually makes it less valuable, not more valuable.

With a one-off course, you have a much easier time controlling the scope of the product. You can make a course that is focused on a simple promise or outcome: "How to Get Six Pack Abs", "How to Create Engaging Videos" or "How to Resolve Back Pain".

These are simplified examples, but the principle is: you can make a course that aims to deliver one specific outcome and then streamline the course towards that goal. You can make a focused, valuable, simple course. A course that is finished once you made the final lesson.

Scope: The Bottom Line

A one-off course has a clearly defined, limited scope. You can neatly package a product, which makes it easier to create and easier to sell.

Reason #4: Resources

How do you split your time and resources between creating and improving your product and marketing your product?

This is a crucial question for any business owner to answer. If you focus only on your product, you may end up with an amazing offer... that no one knows about. And of course, all marketing and no product doesn't work, either.

If you're trapped in content churn for your information membership site, you're basically forced to spend a lot of time and resource on the product side. You have to keep producing value to retain members, after all.

And that means you have less time and resource available for marketing.

The worst case scenario is that you have a membership with few members. In this case, you aren't making a good amount of income and what you'd really need to do is focus more on marketing. But no matter how many or few members you have, you need to keep creating value for them, to justify an ongoing subscription price.

In other words: content churn in a membership model steals the resources you'd need to invest in marketing.

Resources: The Bottom Line

Selling one-off products allows you to limit the time you spend on product and then focus fully on marketing. Launching 2 or 3 courses in one year is likely going to lead to far better results than spending the same amount of time building out a single, recurring membership site.

Reason #5: Sticker Shock

When we analyzed some of the most successful information businesses on the web, we noticed that they all have something in common: they do limited launches of one-off courses at a high price.

Typically, they will have a course priced between $500 and $2,000, with enrollment only open for a limited period, once a year.

Why is this?

If you have experience selling something for a one off price vs. selling a subscription, the answer is obvious: subscription prices cause massive resistance.

It's generally easier to convince someone to give you a large amount of money, once, than it is to convince them to give you even a small amount of money, over and over again.

Let's go back to our customer lifetime value example: $50/month with an average retention of 4 months = $200 value per new member.

If you keep the product exactly the same, but you simply change the price from $50/month to $300 one time, you're likely to see equal or higher conversion rates as a result. That's how much of a difference that "/month" part of the price can make to your conversion rates.

Sticker Shock: The Bottom Line

People are motivated to avoid ongoing costs. In many cases, you can easily increase revenue in an information business by charging one large lump sum instead of a much smaller, recurring subscription cost.

When Does the Membership Model Work?

It's clear that my recommendation is to sell one-off courses. All things considered, it's an easier and faster way to build a profitable information business.

But that is not to say that subscription prices are never the right choice. There are a few cases in which the subscription model can be superior:

  • For software and service businesses (all of the above applies to information businesses).
  • For coaching and group coaching businesses - especially if your strength and passion is to work with people directly.
  • For established personal brands and "fan" businesses - if people are happy to pay just to be part of your club or are fans who want to support what you do, even if they don't get anything directly in return (see Patreon).

What's your take? Have you tried launching an information membership? Has this post changed your mind on anything? Let me know by leaving a comment!

Next Steps: Selling Your One-Off Courses

I may have convinced you that the one-off course model is the best option, but I'm sure you've still got plenty of doubts. 

  • How do I deliver my one-off courses?
  • Can I deliver enough value that people will pay what I'm asking?
  • How much should I charge for my courses?
  • Isn't it complicated setting up all this software?

These are natural doubts, but I've got some great news for you - it's actually very easy. 

With a great online course builder like Thrive Apprentice, lots of the hard work is done for you. 

You'll be able to access templates for all your lessons, modules, assessments, course overviews, and student dashboards, and then simply add in brand details like your colors and logo. With this starting point, you can then use the visual drag-and-drop editor to get each page looking exactly how you want it. 

Then it's just a case of sharing your knowledge in a logical, engaging way, and before know it, you've got a great online course. 

Your students will able to pay for your courses and access will be restricted only to enrolled students. 

The best part is (unlike with online course platforms like Udemy), you own all your data, you're in complete control of your site, and we don't take any cut from your sales. 

So what are you waiting for?

We've made it quick and easy to scale your online courses, so it's time to act. 

Get Thrive Apprentice and sell your one-time courses!

Choosing Between Membership and One-Off Courses

We've given you an overview of both the membership and one-off course model and delved into the benefits are drawbacks of each. 

For me, one-off courses have a distinct advantage, but remember, every business is different. You might find you agree with me and go the route of selling one-off courses, but equally you might choose to go with a membership. 

Either way, we've got you covered with more great content:

Oh, and one more thing. 

If you want the best platform to sell memberships or one-off courses...

Get Thrive Apprentice today!

by Shane Melaugh  June 4, 2019


Disclosure: Our content is reader-supported. This means if you click on some of our links, then we may earn a commission. We only recommend products that we believe will add value to our readers.

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Leave a Comment

  • Thaks for this information. You have explained it very well. I have understood your video like if was made in spanish , my first language.

  • Thank you so much for writing this. I’ve felt much the same way – that I could never think of a way to make a membership work for my audience/niche. For basically all the reasons you listed above. Yet I keep coming back and wondering if I’m missing something. It’s so validating to hear that I’m not missing out on a life-changing opportunity by sticking to what’s working well (one-off courses) ????

  • Brilliant, as usual – and really timely. I think this is the kind of evidence-based logic we need whenever trends hit the market. Everyone I know wants to build a ‘membership site’ and I’ve often questioned whether it would work for them or drown them in upkeep.

    Thank you for this, Shane.

  • When testing in the past the total revenue was greater for subscription, for me, but the costs were indeed higher. Now, it seems to be shifting as evidenced in the frequency of lifetime subscription offers that I get, that are much more costly than they used to be. Before you could get lifetime offers for less than 12 months of payments quite often, now it is in multiples of years quite often.

  • Hi Shane,

    Great lecture.

    I guess your post arrived just in time to me because I was wondering what business model to follow since everybody is talking about the last fad of having a Membership site.

    Besides, you clarify one concept that I didn’t understand quite well: the launches. With this strategy what I’m gonna do is not only create great content to my blog but also I’ll have time to work on the launch of all my courses.

    Definetely I’m gonna follow this path.



  • I’ve been trying to figure out how to edit the pages generated by Membership Mouse on my Thrive Themes website. They look awful and I was about to go look for a solution where the checkout pages would be somewhere besides my website. This article is very timely and I will give more thought as to whether my online courses should be available by membership or sold individually. Thank you.

  • Great info as always. I used to run a membership based business but as Shane mentions, after 3 months they unsubscribed, nevertheless I had to continue creating more value, for nothing.

  • So in your opinion it would be much better to create a single product, for example an ebook on how to take care for roses and sell it, say, for $50 then to create a membership site with content for, say, 6 months that people would have to pay for to have access to? Well, if I charged $20 for each month, then maybe I would make more money than with an ebook.

    • If you have 6 months of content, it’s a different situation. That’s more like a payment plan on a longer term course. You pay $20/month for 6 months to get the content, right?

      A limited term payment plan causes less resistance than an ongoing subscription. But even here, you’d probably find that a lot of customers would rather pay $120 and get everything at once, than sign up for a 6 month thing.

      • I’m just wondering if they would be willing to pay $120 for an ebook at once. They would probably think that it’s very expensive for an ebook. I have a feeling that it would be more acceptable for them to pay $20 for 6 months. But I’m not sure of course.

      • Let’s make sure to compare apples to apples, here. If you charge $120 for an ebook, people will indeed feel some resistance to that. Books and ebooks just usually aren’t priced like that.

        But if you offer them 1 of 6 chapters from an ebook for $20 and then one more chapter per month, for $20 each… most people would find that offer a lot less enticing than an ebook.

        I 6 month course for $20/month is maybe a better looking offer than a $120 ebook, but that’s not a fair comparison.

      • I think I would have to do a great job with promoting such an expensive ebook. I would have to persuade people that it is worth its price.

  • Dear Shane,
    Your content and recommendations are extremely valuable. Thrive Themes is GREAT! I had it but dropped it because your course creation lacked one vital feature, timed tests, that I needed to reproduce a best selling education product in a new version.
    I teach languages (Spanish/English right now). I set high standards of being able to use the language as well as a native speaker with NO mistakes. Having timed tests tells me if the person knows it as well as a native speaker. Timed testing adds a new dynamic to testing of HOW WELL does the user know the material.
    I had to go with LearnDash because it had the time test/quiz feature. LearnDash if feature rich but not marketing oriented. It is not clear for beginners how it is organized to present a course. And to get it to do “what you want it to do” quickly gets to advanced technical stuff that almost requires you to be a programmer (which I have done in the past). There is a long learning curve.
    Here is my plan. Finish my first version of my new product in Learndash. As I get closer to completion do my marketing with Thrive Themes. If you add a timed testing/quiz feature in the future, I will reconsider doing a future version of my product in your thrive course builder.
    Keep up the good work. Mark Mobley

    • Thank you for your feedback! We are continually working on Thrive Apprentice, so I hope we can be better and stronger when you next consider us. 🙂

      • I knew you would respond. I have made a similar origination to other members of your group with no response. YOU are truly doing great things. Mark

  • I would have to agree with this. I use monthly recurring as my model for group coaching, and one time (or split pay) for courses. That allows me to give the best value to my clients and have the best of both worlds in terms of predictable recurring revenue.

  • I did an extensive amount of research on the membership model a couple of years ago. I think the model is fundamentally flawed. The only way the membership model works is if you have 100% retention.

    If you run the numbers, and I can’t understand why no one seems to have done that, you will find there is a point where new members equal outgoing members. At any retention rate < 100% that point will happen sooner the lower the retention rate.

    Your only choice at this point is to increase the monthly subscription or figure out a way to increase retention.

    I’m not saying either of these choices won’t work but the work required is daunting, Ultimately you’ll need to build out an infrastructure to support that additional work.

    The membership model looks great in the early build-up phase. It starts to bog down as time goes on.

    BTW, I was told by an expert in the field that the average retention rate of a monthly membership was 2 months. That was about what my experience was as well.

    • thanks for your comment! Memberships are definitely not suitable for “infinite growth”, if you will. But then, nothing is.

      It’s an important consideration that with a membership model, you put a cap on the maximum amount your customers can give you, which is usually lower than what you could get for courses. E.g. your most passionate customers will pay the same membership fee as everyone else, but they may buy more courses and at a higher price than anyone else.

  • It seems like membership sites are all the rage nowadays, especially with a few big names pushing the model. I have always stuck to the traditional course model because those are at least a little bit passive, membership sites aren’t passive at all.

    Whenever I get tempted to consider the membership model, I remember myself that Ramit Sethi failed with his membership product as well (Ramit’s Brain Trust). I’m not saying a membership site isn’t possible, but if Ramit couldn’t figure out how to run it profitably, I’m quite sure there’s more to a membership site than meets the eye…

    Another great article Shane, thanks for sharing

    • Another great point! Courses are indeed more hands-off than memberships. Or in other words: you can front-load most of your effort and then take a break.

    • Much the rage indeed. It is interesting to see how Shane tends to have a counter message to most “guru’s” without even attempting to be anti-guru. You never get bandwagon advice with Thrive Themes.

  • Hi Shane,
    Great presentation, for me a real eye opener. I ve been always comparing my Six Sigma courses site with Six Sigma membership sites. They have to generste an enourmous amount of daily content. While the number of members remains the same for many years around 3000. Because the content has to be delivered everyday, the information becomes less and less interesting. The major users of the site become students that want free information and corporate staff from companies that prefer not to invest in peoples’ development and ask them to solve problems using fee resources. In an indirect way this membership business negatively affects our training courses.

    • That’s another interesting point! If you have to keep churning out content, you end up scraping the bottom of the barrel, so to speak.

  • Shane, I just have to say, I don’t know you personally, but I can tell you are a perfectionist and a neat freak (I too am the same way). Now, I mean that in a good way. Why? Because I so LOVE how you break things down. You speak in sequential order – step by step and lead correctly.

    Your perfectionist and neat freak qualities are greatly appreciated by me and it is a breath of fresh air to listen to someone who explains things correctly and cover pretty much all ground as that dispell any confusion straight of the bat. This also reflects within your products as I can see your products are well thought out and everything is neat. So, thank you Shane for being you in such ways. Good job!

    • Thank you very much! I’m a perfectionist indeed. Something I’m not proud of, as I often suffer from it, but I do think I’ve managed to channel my perfectionism into as much use as I can get out of it.

      • I understand the downside to it. I too suffer to some degree from it, but in the end, the quality of the end result is great. Yes, it’s finding the balance to it. But, your videos are great none the less. Thanks.

  • Hi Shane. Thanks! You’ve clarified my thinking. I’ve been wondering about the membership model. But your point about content churn rules out the membership model for me. Whatever I create needs to work around my health. So one-off pricing model will achieve that health need much better than the membership model. Honestly, it’s quite a relief to eliminate membership as an option. The thought of that amount of work involved was quite a burden. I’m very pleased to hear your analysis that the one-off pricing model can actually be more profitable. Nice! Thanks again Shane. Cheers.

  • Thanks Shane. This is so true as I found myself buying one time course than subscription membership too. So is it necessary for a small course price of $200 to give lifetime access and course support?

    • In my experience, there’s very little downside to providing ongoing access and support for a one-off course. Support on information products is usually minimal – it’s not like software where people will experience bugs or don’t know how to install something etc. And ongoing access doesn’t cost you anything either.

  • Thank you, Shane. I think membership can be useful just to get subscribers. You make free content and ask people to subscribe to get access to it. Then you sell your one-off courses.

    • That’s a different story, yes. I’ve been meaning to run an experiment like this for a while, actually. 🙂

  • This just took a huge load off. I’ve had so many people ask me to train them to paint night sky murals, for years, and I’m finally getting to the point where I am planning on setting up the training. But, I’ve heard so many people talk about membership sites for training… and I wanted to do a one-off course, for all the reasons that you mentioned. Besides, I hate subscription courses and software, so I didn’t want to get into that trap of doing that myself. It’s hard enough, for me, to get the course right and put together… let alone having to add new content monthly.

    Thanks for this video, and thanks for the ability with your software to allow me to put my course together!


  • That is a great article Shane, well done on providing some valuable resources! I will be offering one-off courses, makes total sense as you can focus more on marketing! Thank you 🙂

  • Hi Shane,
    One thing you didn’t discuss is the pricing escalation membership model.

    Example: Starting price for founder members is, say, $50/m. New content is made for a while to increase value. (As per your description)

    …But then the price is increased to, say, $75/m (once membership numbers reach a threshold).

    Because leaving and rejoining at a later date would now cost more money each price escalation creates form of “lock-in” – reducing membership churn and increasing lifetime value.

    Also, by notifying your email list of the price increase new members rush in before the price rise. Percieved value also increases (“every month I’m a member I am saving $$ compared to newer members”).

    After a period of time is repeats …each time the price escalates, members join and more are locked in.

    Glipse a discussion about it here:

    ….Yes, there is a limit to how much this can be repeated. But once you get to a certan level you charge an annual fee equivalent to a high priced course (and offer not just the community but also a range of courses).

    Any thoughts or experience of this approach?

    • Thanks for your comment!

      I think that escalating prices like this and grandfathering existing members is a good idea. It adds some of that pain of disconnect I mentioned in the video.

      However, it’s still a very weak incentive compared to a SaaS. It’s better than nothing, but it doesn’t completely eliminate the downsides of the info membership model.

    • Believe it or not … that is exactly what I plan to do. I do have a complete set of content in mind, but if it takes that long to build that all out (I do have a high-quality demand at myself) I have decided to start with a foundational set of content and at a lower membership fee and than do exactly that iterations you have described. I am excited to see how that works out … and thanks for the discussion link.

  • First of all, great article. As usual and I mean that as a compliment of course.
    That made me thinking, cause I am currently working (for months already now) on creating a new membership site for a specific niche. Well, I will stick to the membership thing cause I am still convinced it is the right model for what I am planning to achieve. One essential component of that membership will be – beside exclusive content you can’t get anywhere else right now – the exclusive community of experts in that specific field.
    But, why not combine both models. I will create courses which will be available within the membership but which I will also sell as standalone for those people who do not want the subscription thing.
    I totally understand the restriction many people do have to signup for a recurring payment, but there are instruments to help them convincing and to give them the flexibility they may want. For instance, you may offer – and I will – a 30-day (whatever) satisfaction guarantee where they can get their money back if they decide to leave. In addition, they do have the option to cancel at any time or even to pause their membership for a while if they want.
    Well, I will try it anyway (I have invested too much all ready to let it go now) and we will see if I can succeed. I will keep you posted if you want …

    • Combining both could be useful, yes. I believe the Authority Hacker guys went through a journey like this with their business model. They started with a membership site, then launched individual courses and made those available to existing members and then switched to just courses, since that was more money for less work.

      But having a membership but also doing course launches gives you some additional marketing leverage over having just the membership.

  • A very good article. Again. And a very beautiful demonstration in finesse, as usual. Thanks Shane, this content inspires me and helps me a lot to see more clearly what is most profitable in terms of online courses.

  • Hi Shane,
    Again a great and clear post from you! Thanks. I like the way you set the points with evident based facts, no-nonsense arguments and without Tony-Robbins-like fabricated enthousasm.

    About memberships. It’s all about dependency I think. I am a retired solopreneur offering online and offline courses on meditation. I want to use my time and money as a precious gift, not spoiling a bit of both.
    Around january I migrated my sites from Phoenix/IMU to Thrive. That took me four months! That’s how dependence works. I think I will stay a while with Thrive, with you, Shane, as bonus!

    For my small business I offer a free membership to get leads. The membership gives entrance to online courses. I offer one or two free courses a year as a reward for the membership/emailladress and to keep members on-board. One of them is a meditationcourse with two meditations a month covering a year. For me that’s a one-time-setup.

    I sell the payd online courses only in the membership area like you propose as a one time selling. I just begon with this so I have to experience how it will work.
    My idea is that in this way my emaillist will grow and I get information about the ‘wants’ of my visitors.

    But maybe you have a suggestion to make it better.
    Thanks again for all your inspiration and applyable ideas.

    Hans van Zanten

    • Thank you for your comment!

      Using a membership as a way to generate leads can be a good idea. From a purely economic viewpoint, you have to make sure that the time and effort you invest in this lead generation is worth the revenue you make in the end.

      I think that with a membership, you can build a strong community and fan base, but I’m not sure it’s a good idea to make your courses exclusive to members. What’s the upside of this? Since members aren’t paying, it seems that selling your courses only to members is only limiting your potential reach. Would there be any downside to making your course launches public?

  • Excellent points. Most definitely something to consider.
    I think there’s a bit more to it than that. Ex. you could have a low cost membership leading to higher cost courses and live events. So the purpose of your membership is to build know, like, trust.

    But I agree with you, that for beginners it’s a good idea to start with a one-off product. Personally I started with a membership, and I ran in to all the problems you mention. But I did get to know my people and have made some remarkable changes for my members.

    • There are certainly ways to make it work. But like you say, to get started the membership model is rarely a good idea.

  • Shane, really glad I clicked through – great stuff. Lately, I’m rarely reading blog posts but your email resonated… and, I’m glad it did.

  • Shane, I love how you analysed this out. Personally, I cringe at membership subscription, and as you said, avoid it like plague. Your teaching brings out value to those of us aspiring to laptop lifestyle. A lot to learn from you each time. Thank you, Shane, for passionately sharing your knowledge and empowering individuals like me.

  • Hi Shane,

    really insightful, I have been looking for discussion like this. If you have more on this matter keep them coming!

    My question though is what happens with piracy?
    If one customer has lifetime access to your content like Udemy let’s say stuff are getting out illegally and you don’t even know that this is happening. or they may sell the account on black market.
    Which in my opinion is a disadvantage of “one-off” option.

    Any ideas on that?

    Best regards,

    • Hi John,

      Thanks for your comment! For me personally, the best approach is to not worry about piracy. Some people are going to steal your stuff, but most people aren’t.
      For information products specifically, it’s also worth adding some dimensions to it that make it harder to pirate. If your entire offering is a single PDF, it’s super easy to share illegally. But if you have a multimedia course with videos, PDFs, webinars, comments/community, then not all of it can be stolen and trying to steal as much as possible of it requires a lot more effort.

  • I found this as well. It’s much easier to convince people to pay a one-time fee than joining a subscription service.

    Even pushing yearly options and getting rid of the monthly option made a huge difference. You’ll see this with tools like WebinarJam or even the Thrive Membership.

  • Hey Shane, thank you for this article. Have you seen/used/tested GumRoad as an alternative to SendOwl?


  • I have seen this plugin and I’m in love with it. I want to buy it, but there is something that i need to know.
    I’ve seen some videos when people show how to embed videos on lessons, and I wonder to know which is the size of the video embed, because I don’t like if the size will be small or with a size like 1170X400px, because it dosen’t work for me like that.
    If the videos are shown like your videos in “University” it works for me, but if is not, it dosen’t work.
    Could you please take away the doubt?
    Thank you.

    • Hello Deborah,

      Videos are shown in the proportions of the uploaded video (usually 16:9) and as wide as the visitor’s device allows, up to a maximum width of 1170px. So, on a large screen, the video will typically show at 1170x658px. That’s what you see in Thrive University, as well. This is a good cut-off point because if the video goes wider than this, it starts taking up too much vertical space. As comparison, this is very similar to the default dimensions and scaling of videos that you see on YouTube, if you choose the “Theater Mode” view.

  • Hi,
    I am too in the stage of figuring out my pricing model for IT elearning…
    What about offering several options ?

    1- buying the course for a fixed price with lifetime access.

    2-providing all courses yearly full access for a fixed price (which is like yearly membership).

    3- providing all courses monthly full access for a fixed price (which is like monthly membership)

    So for example, you have like 10-20 courses of more than 50 hours each…

    option 1: each course sold around 100-400 dollars
    option 2: full access membership $29,99/month
    option 3: full access membership $299/year

    What are your thoughts on this ?

  • I’m already a huge fan of Thrive Themes and Shane Melaugh but I was yet again hit with huge value when I googled membership vs one time course and found this great video confirming what I was trying to convey to a client. Thanks Shane for everything you do! Fan for life!

  • It’s so nice to read an article that actually answers my question AND explains it. Very well written. Found this article on google.

  • Hi Shane, very interesting article, thank you. I’m wondering about the best way to sell my online course. It will run over 6 weeks for onboarding new members into specific types of organisations (NFP / hobby based organisations). For these niche organisations I’ve got tons of experience, skilled up and its my passion. I was thinking of charging the organisations that want to use this course to onboard their new members an annual fee, say $350. They can put as many new members (and their existing members) through the program for this annual subscription. I can tailor some of the content to suit them as part of the deal, or charge extra for adding ‘bolt on’ additional modules. What do you think?

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